Monthly Archives: March 2011

Intellectual Property Rights

Classic Books postcard

As a writer and photographer, I’m often territorial about my words and images, so I can understand any creative person getting huffy or even litigious when their intellectual property is used without permission. If I want some pithy quotes, I use the words of a long-dead people, always crediting them, of course.

I designed a greeting card using a photograph I took of old books my mother has collected. I added some quotes from five long-dead authors and philosophers about books and then posted the card on a Print on Demand (POD) site where I have many products. The card is to be a small gift for my fellow book club members (Shhh, don’t tell them.)

A few days later, I received an email from the POD site informing me that my “design contains an image or text that infringes on intellectual
property rights. We have been contacted by the intellectual property right holder and at their request we will be removing your product from …’s Marketplace due to intellectual property claims.”

There was no clue which element might have offended, so I pressed the POD site to find out. Was it one of the publishers listed on the book spines in the photograph? I couldn’t imagine that it would be any of the people I quoted. They’d all been dead at least seventy-five years, when copyrights expire. I realize that copyright issues are much more complicated than that (after all, lawyers are involved) and some copyrights can be renewed. I’ve recently learned that even many versions of the Bible are copyrighted. The King James version, however, is in the public domain.

A plaque featuring Mark Twain's words about Australia is on Writers Walk on Circular Quay of Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia. Somehow I must have known I'd meet up with Mark Twain again when I took this photograph.

This was the advice I’d been given about Fair Use. “Public domain works are works whose copyrights were issued before 1923. Many authors choose to use quotes only from people who have been dead more than seventy-five years because their quotes are now considered “Fair Use” under the public domain. Copyrights are good for the duration of the author’s life and for seventy-five years beyond their death. It is generally safe to use quotes from authors who died 1936 or before.”

The POD site fingered the complainer: Mark Twain, or, more accurately, the representatives of Mark Twain. “We have been contacted by the licensing company (I won’t name them) who represent Mark Twain, and at their request, have removed the product from the …  Marketplace.”

I went to the Mark Twain Rep site where I read: “We work with companies around the world who wish to use the name or likeness of Mark Twain in any commercial fashion. The words and the signature “Mark Twain” are trademarks owned and protected by the Estate of Mark Twain. In addition, the image, name, and voice of Mark Twain is a protectable property right owned by the Estate of Mark Twain. Any use of the above, without the express written consent of the Estate of Mark Twain is strictly prohibited.”

Since I make no money from this blog, I hope Twain’s representatives don’t hunt me down here. I’m not even putting Mark Twain or his real name Samuel Clemons in the tags.

Mark Twain was very concerned about protecting his work from pirates, even though he also fussed over nitpicking copyright laws. He wanted the profits from his works — and he was sure there would be plenty of them — to continue to go to his daughters after his death. In Twain’s day, copyright protection expired after 42 years.

Twain is one of the most widely known authors in the world and is still kicking up a fuss today. A publisher recently republished  a politically correct version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by substituting the word slave for the N word, which provoked a lot of discussion — and more sales.

In November 2010, the first of three volumes of Twain’s autobiography were published complete and unexpurgated for the first time by the Mark Twain Project a hundred years after Twain’s death. Twain had said that he wanted to suppress the publication of some of his more biting comments for a hundred years, but Twain shrewdly also knew that this new version would start the clock ticking on new copyright protection.

Here are two discussions about Twain and copyright:
Mark Twain’s plans to compete with copyright “pirates” (in 1906)

The Mark Twain Project’s Discussion of Copyright and Permissions.

About the Politically Correct Version of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

Here’s a link to the revised greeting card minus the Mark Twain quote.   I did use a quote from Abraham Lincoln and another from Kenkō Yoshida (or Yoshida Kenkō), a Japanese Buddhist monk, who died around 1350.  I think I’m safe there, but you never know.

Love of Books Card.

“A day is coming, when, in the eye of the law, literary property will be as sacred as whisky, or any other of the necessaries of life.” ~ Mark Twain ~

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Australia, Authors, Books, History, Humor, Life, Novels, Presidents, Travel

Scarlet, Feline Princess

Scarlet awaits visitors in her beautifully decorated room at Wayside Waifs. As beautiful as the "hug" room is at the shelter, she wants a forever home.

By Michelle C. 

Hello, my name is Scarlet and let me stop you before you make any jokes about Gone with the Wind, or asking me if I did it in the library with the candlestick! Been there, heard that!

Okay, now about moi. Check out my photo. Are those not the most soulful eyes you’ve ever seen. (See photo below) I’m quite the lovey and a favorite of the staff and volunteers here. If they had Miss Congeniality here, I think I’d win, I really do. I’m also quite the fashionista. I’m wearing a lovely and soft brown, tan and white outfit. These neutral shades will go with everything including your drapes, couch and bedspread. They’re classics and never go out of style. I have a short, smooth coat, erect ears and a long tail. Stunning!

I have made one fashion faux paw, however. My footwear doesn’t match. One front paw is grey and the other is tan. I could really use someone with your fashion sense to help make sure I don’t have another embarrassing wardrobe malfunction like that again. When I strut my stuff through our home, I always want to look my best. After all, there might be a camera somewhere.

I’ll watch you while you get dressed to go to work and make sure your lipstick goes with your blouse or that your tie goes with your sport coat. I’ll meet you at the door when you get home to see what kind of day you had and will tell you all about mine. I’ll have spent time napping and eating, of course; watching the birds and squirrels outside, and supervising the front door to make sure those annoying junk ads weren’t left on our door. Luckily for me, there won’t be another cat living with us, so I can have all your attention when you get home.

A perfect pink decor for a little princess. Scarlet even has her own monogrammed pillow.

I’ll show you how much I appreciate you earning our living by rubbing up against your legs and letting you pet me. When I’ve had enough for a while, I’ll swish my tail a bit to say “enough already, save some for later”. I’m quiet and shy and I’m a bit hesitant to meet new people, so you’d have to give me a little time to adjust. I have to be cautious. I started to fall for a very nice woman and found out she wore white after Labor Day. No-no!

I like to play and hope you would too. My favorite toy is a green fleece spider they gave me here. The color doesn’t really work with my outfit, but these people here are so nice and have worked so hard to make me comfy and find a good home, I didn’t have the heart to say anything, especially since they gave me my own special bed. (Nobody else here has one like that, so you know I must be pretty special, huh?)

Princess Scarlet relaxes in her bed, waiting for someone to take her home.

I also have my own room now and if I do say so myself, it’s quite something. I am definitely the Princess of Pink: pink rug, pink stuffed animals, pink cat bed etc. Check out my photo of me in my special cat bed. That goes home with me too. Only the best for me – that’s why I’m picking you for my family. I can just tell by the way you’re reading my bio that we’re perfect for each other. Come get me and take me home to your castle now!

Fashionably yours
Princess Scarlet

As told to Michelle C. at Wayside Waifs by Scarlet.  Michelle writes many of the biographies of the cats at Wayside Waifs, a no-kill animal shelter for cats, dogs and small animals in Kansas City, Missouri.

I didn’t write Scarlet’s romantic biography above, but I did take her portrait, seen below.  I wrote this limerick in honor of the wonderful kitties in need of homes at Wayside Waifs.  If you think I’ve turned into a crazy cat lady, you’re right!

There once was a kitty from Wayside

Who groomed her fur with great pride.

When visitors came to call

Kitty knew how to enthrall

Soon finding a forever home in which to abide.

The last line is a little awkward.  Any suggestions?  I’d love to read any limericks or poems you might want to add in the comments. If you want to adopt a dog or cat from Wayside Waifs, click on Wayside Waifs.

Tabby Princess Postcard postcard

Princess Scarlet.

Scarlet relaxes in her Hug Room.

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Filed under Cats, Life, Literature, Pets, Writing

Radiation Dose Chart

Radiation Dose Chart

This is a chart of the ionizing dose of radiation that a person can absorb from various sources, including the amount we receive from sleeping next to someone, eating a banana, getting a chest x-ray, sitting in front of a computer screen for a year, an airplane trip from New York to California and the radiation from the destroyed Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, after the earthquake and tsunami.   Click on the chart twice to get a larger view.

Here’s a post explaining the chart and its origins from its designer. It also includes information on how to help people in Japan, who suffering from the devastating effects of the earthquake and tsunami as well as those who had to be evacuated from the area around the damaged nuclear reactors.

Here’s a British Environmentalist explaining “Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power”

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Filed under Environment, Life, Natural History, Nature, Technology

He’s Not Heavy, He’s My Brother

Hanky Warning:  This video might make you cry.

My mushiness over animals has increased exponentially since I started volunteering at an animal shelter.  I was already a big sap before I started work at Wayside Waifs.

I know it’s just a drop in a very big bucket, but I’ve donated money to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support.  The link is at the bottom.  If you’re on Facebook, search for “Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support”.   It provides updates on the work it’s doing.

Some people may ask: “Why bother with animals when so many people are suffering in Japan?”

Here’s what Scott Simon of NPR had to say on March 19, 2011:

A news crew from Fuji TV saw a couple of dogs this week, lying in the wreckage of Mito, Japan.

A dog with brown and white splotches seemed to hover over one with gray, black and white splotches. Both dogs looked grimy. The second dog didn’t seem to move.

When the dog with brown and white splotches came toward the crew, they thought it was warning them to stay away. But it returned to the other dog, and put a paw on its head.

Then they understood: the dog was sticking by his friend, and asking for help.

Japan is a nation of pet lovers. Most families have a dog or cat, birds, a rabbit, or other pets in their apartments.

When I covered Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, it seemed that the commonest reason people who stayed through the storm gave for refusing to evacuate was, “I couldn’t leave my pet.” But earthquakes strike suddenly. People can get stuck at work, school, or in panicked transit, leaving pets to fend for themselves.

Among the thousands of volunteers who have been mining the rubble of the earthquake are Japanese Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support, who look and listen for dogs and cats among the ruins.

To those who might find such relief work frivolous when so many people are hungry and homeless, Animal Rescue and Support says, “. . . helping the pets in Japan is to help people. All of us who are animal lovers can relate to what it would feel like to be reunited with a pet after a disaster.”

The dog with brown and white splotches and his friend with gray, black and white splotches were rescued, and are in a veterinary clinic in the Ibaraki Prefecture.

Kenn Sakurai, the president of a dog food company, who has been among the volunteers, says on Facebook:

“. . . The one which came close to the camera is in the better condition. The other . . was weak. . . But please know that those two are just the tip of the iceberg. There are more and we need help.”

I noticed another, smaller story this week. An 11-month old Tibetan mastiff puppy named Hong Dong, or Big Splash, went for 1.5 million U.S. dollars in China. Tibetan mastiffs are massive, fluffy status symbols there. Hong Dong has been raised on beef, chicken, abalone, and sea cucumber. His breeder told Britain’s Telegraph, “He is a perfect specimen.”

The million-dollar puppy that’s been fattened with abalone, or the grimy dog with brown and white splotches who stood over his friend until he found help: which do you think of as a perfect specimen?

How to donate to Japan Earthquake Animal Rescue and Support. The Humane Society also is providing aid to Japanese animals.

Here’s another link to donate: World Vets Prepares First Responders To Japan.

To help the Japanese people, you can give to the Red Cross and The Salvation Army. This is the link I used to donate to The Salvation Army in Japan.  Salvation Army Quake Relief.

Below is a photograph I took in 2002 of  The Temple of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan.  The Japanese people have a long tradition of strength, beauty and endurance, and they will re-build.  Below the photograph is a translation of the Japanese in the video.

Temple of the Golden Pavilion, Kyoto, Japan Postca postcard

UPDATE: CNN and the UK Telegraph have both reported that the dogs have been rescued since the footage aired, and are both receiving veterinary care; the more seriously wounded dog is at a clinic in the city of Mito, while the protective spaniel-type dog is receiving care at a shelter in the same town.
Here is an English translation of the voiceover exchange between the two reporters in the clip (translation courtesy of Toshiyuki Kitamura):
We are in Arahama area. Looks like there is a dog. There is a dog. He looks tired and dirty. He must have been caught in the tsunami. He looks very dirty.
He has a collar. He must be someone’s pet. He has a silver collar. He is shaking. He seems very afraid.
Oh, there is another dog. I wonder if he is dead.
Where?
Right there. There is another dog right next to the one sitting down. He is not moving. I wonder. I wonder if he is alright.
The dog is protecting him.
Yes. He is protecting the dog. That is why he did not want us to approach them. He was trying to keep us at bay.
I can’t watch this. This is a very difficult to watch.
Oh. Look. He is moving. He is alive. I am so happy to see that he is alive.
Yes! Yes! He is alive.
He looks to be weakened. We need to them to be rescued soon. We really want them rescued soon.
Oh good. He’s getting up.
It is amazing how they survived the tremendous earthquake and tsunami. It’s just amazing that they survived through this all.

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Filed under Animals, Cats, Dogs, Pets

Living at the Edge of an Active Volcano

Offering to Pele, HawaiianVolcano Goddess Postcard postcard
This bouquet of anthurium and ginger flowers  is a gift to Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of fire, lightning, dance and volcanoes.  The bouquet was left at the edge of the summit caldera of Kīlauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Kīlauea is one of the Earth’s most active volcanoes and is considered one of its most dangerous. Kīlauea and its Halemaʻumaʻu caldera were traditionally considered Pele’s sacred home, and Hawaiians visit the crater to offer gifts to the goddess.

My husband and I visited Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in February 2011, but we were a month too early for the latest big show at Kīlauea when a crater floor collapsed in early March.  Scientists reported lava blasts 65 feet high in the volcano, and more than 150 small earthquakes have hit the region since the collapse.

The Big Island of Hawaii's Pu'u O'o crater is seen on Sunday, March 6, 2011. The crater floor collapsed on Saturday causing new eruptions along the east rift zone. (AP Photos/Tim Wright)

Despite the danger, or perhaps because of it, Kīlauea is the most visited tourist site in Hawaii.  From the house where we stayed in Hilo, we watched a new cruise ship arrive every day full of  tourists who were bussed to the volcano for a quick visit.

Steam rises from the summit crater of Kilauea Volcano in early February 2011. This is a view from the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum observation deck.

The crater appears harmless from the observatory deck at the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, but the volcano can erupt suddenly as Hawaiians discovered in  1790 when a group was caught in an unusually violent eruption. Many were killed and some of their footprints in the lava can still be seen.

Plants take hold in a relatively recent lava flow west of Kalapana, Hawaii. This lava moved into a neighborhood of houses, destroying some and isolating others. You can see a plume of steam from the volcano in the background.

The Pu’u O’o cone now erupting so spectacularly has been continuously erupting in the eastern rift-zone since 1983, making it the longest rift-zone eruption of the last 200 years.

Lava surrounded this house, leaving it intact, but it has been abandoned.

When we visited Kīlauea, we didn’t see any activity other than a little steam in the summit crater, a hint of red in cracks on the crater floor and a parade of steam vents along the road. There was a faint whiff of sulfur in the air.  (If you want really sulfurous air, you need to visit Yellowstone National Park.)  Okay, I was disappointed.   I was hoping for a quivering red-hot river of lava. I wanted spurting fountains.   I’m sure any area with active eruptions and toxic gases would be kapu (forbidden) to tourists.  I was hoping for a sudden lava spurt before rangers herded the tourists to safety.
One of the roads in the park was closed because of recent lava flows, and now with the most recent eruptions more of the park is closed.  The closed road used to continue to another entrance to the park near the town of Kalapana, but that part of the road is now covered by a lava flow.

We drove to Kalapana, where lava has flowed into neighborhoods as recently as a month earlier, destroying some homes.  Steam rose from the most recent flow. Homes are surrounded by the mounds of black lava flows, some are still inhabited, others abandoned.

Bouquets of orchids adorn every table at this Kalapana cafe, set in a lush tropical forest. Just a few miles away, lava has destroyed the forests and 200 homes in recent years.

Just a few miles away from the area of damaged and lost homes, people live in the lush tropical town of Kalapana. You can sit among the palm, banana and mango trees, surrounded by hibiscus shrubs, without a hint that Kīlauea rages just beyond the treetops.  What is it like to live in paradise with the possibility of destruction — literally hellfire and brimstone — so real?
The Kalapana area gained notoriety when the 1990 Kīlauea lava flow from the Kupaianaha vent destroyed and partly buried most of the town and some nearby subdivisions. The lava flow that destroyed Kalapana erupted from the southeast rift zone of Kīlauea. Along with the destruction of Kalapana were those of the nearby town of Kaimū and Kaimū Bay, both of which now lie buried beneath more than 50 feet of lava. More than eight miles of highway and at least 200 homes and other structures have been destroyed by lava since the mid-1980s. The lava flow also created a new coastline. Since 1983, several hundred acres of new land has been added to the Big Island.

People live at the edge of the lava flow from Kilauea.

Hawai’i Volcano Fast Facts:
Kīlauea is one of five shield volcanoes that form the island of Hawaii, which is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands.  The volcanoes erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. These volcanoes are (from oldest to youngest):
  • Kohala—extinct (northernmost)
  • Mauna Kea—dormant
  • Hualālai—active but not currently erupting (Last erupted in 1801 and is expected to erupt again.)
  • Mauna Loa—active, partly within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the world’s most massive volcano.
  • Kīlauea—active, has been erupting continuously since 1983; part of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and one of the world’s most active volcanoes. (southernmost)

Kīlauea is the second youngest of  the volcanoes that have created the more than 100 islands in the Hawaiian archipelago, as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaii Hotspot.  Lōʻihi Seamount is the newest volcano in the chain.  It lies 22 miles off the southeast coast of the Big Island at 3,000 feet under sea level.

A couple walks on a trail near the Thurston Lava Tube in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The terrain in the park ranges from lush rain forest to shrub land to dry almost desert-like conditions.

Kīlauea means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language, referring to its frequent outpouring of lava.  About 1,000 gallons of molten lava flow out of active vents every second.  Nearly 2 billion cubic yards of lava rock have come from Kīlauea since its current eruption period began in 1983.

Video of Kilauea Volcano erupting in March 2011.

Kīlauea Iki trail traverses Kīlauea Iki Crater.  Click on the photo to get a full-size view of the crater, taken from Kīlauea Iki Overlook.  You can see a glowing red vent issuing a plume of steam on the crater floor.

Hawaiian Islands Map.

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Filed under Life, National Parks, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Travel

Thumbs up to Jimmy, a Cat with a Thumb

Check out my post on polydactyl cats by clicking here.

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Filed under Cats, Humor