Monday, August 24, 2009

Sad, mad and bad...

Kashin, the elder of the two groovy elephants at the Auckland Zoo died yesterday. Her health problems got the better of her and her passing has made me sad. I knew her when she was a young girl. She arrived years ago (1972) when I was a young nipper in primary school. It was a big story and I remember how excited we all were. I have always loved the zoo (I went on to do a Masters degree in Zoology) and it never fails to give me a thrill when I visit. Last time I went with my son and his mate we were all enthralled by a dust up between a trio of meerkats and an unwelcome guest in their enclosure. It was amazing to see the three little musketeers successfully ganging up against a very large and aggressive peacock. While I am fascinated by the drama of nature in action, I have also always admired the dignity and soulfulness of the elephants. I hope Kashin knew how much she was loved.

I was also saddened about the results of the smacking referendum. It gives me the willies that so many people were so keen to preserve their right to smack. Ack. What kind of message does it send to our children? Nick Brown had it right in the NZ Herald this morning when he said the current legislation isn't there to punish parents who use the occasional smack, its to ensure the people who use excessive force can't claim 'reasonable force for discipline' to defend their actions. And isn't this legislation also about wanting to do better as parents, as a community, as a society? The referendum was a step backwards and I am horrified at how NZ responded.

The google settlement is another twisted piece of verbiage. I can either opt in and get some (most likely inadequate) recompense for the use of my material but know that my books can be digitised and potentially reach a wider audience then they may otherwise do or I can opt out which means no recompense unless I fight Google on my own, and either a) they digitise my material anyway without any payment to me or b)they don't digitise my books and the chance for obscurity yawns wider than it would have otherwise. Well, gee - don't you just love those options? This falls in to the, damned if you do, damned if you don't category. Many groups are encouraging authors to opt out partly because no one knows where this is all headed. My real chagrin is reserved for Google who have just gone ahead and digitised because they can. No one has stopped them and despite there being real financial consequences for all authors its like an out of control freight train we are powerless to stop. And lets face it, its not like its a gravy train. As it is, most authors get paid diddly for hours, days, weeks, months, years of work. This just takes more from us with little or no reward. And i can't imagine for one minute that Google are doing this just to benefit mankind. Or authors. They are a business. And they may just make money out of this at our expense. Shame on you Google.


Fifi Colston said...

I agree!!!! on all your points.
And now that they want to cut night classes, I guess we can stay at home and whack the kids for our entertainment and their education.
I found it interesting that the highest ratio of poeple voting to get away with smacking their kids occurred in the regions where child abuse is the biggest problem. Says something about screwed family values doesn't it?

Gillian Spraggs said...

"or b)they don't digitise my books and the chance for obscurity yawns wider than it would have otherwise."

Opting out of the settlement still leaves you with the possibility of including your books in Google Book Search by way of the Partner Program, should you wish to do this, now or at some future date.