Monday, April 25, 2011

Richard Branson, Earth Day, immortality and... green oil?

Wow. For a week when I was so busy, how did I publish so few articles? "Only" nine new articles this week -- shocking!

Oh well, that just means you have a ton to look forward to in the coming weeks, because quite a few goodies are in progress.

But enough teasing about the future. Here are this week's links, starting with my two Extinction Countdown columns for Scientific American:

Richard Branson wants to release endangered lemurs in the Caribbean

Deadly forest fire leads to resurrection of endangered tree

Next, an article for Mother Nature Network, updating a story I've been covering for the past six weeks:

Man connected to Auburn tree-poisoning case assaulted, goes on radio show

Now we come to the usual batch of blogs for Green Hands USA. Half of these are for events that are now past, but what the heck, read them anyway, you might learn something:

Which Oil Companies Are Greenest?

Newest HP Products Use 50% Less Energy

What Are You Doing for Earth Day This Year?

The Best Way to Cut BPA from Your Diet? Eat Fresh Foods

Have an Eco-Friendly Easter

41 Unusually Green Things to do for the 41st Earth Day

Finally, here's one from the archives (re-posted last week on this very blog), an essay for writers called Immortality Guaranteed.


Friday, April 22, 2011

From the archives: Immortality Guaranteed

(Here's an essay I wrote several years ago for a writers' newsletter or magazine. I'm sorry to say I lost track of exactly when and where it was originally published, but the advice it contains is still pretty solid, so here it goes, represented now for posterity.)


By John R. Platt

Once you hit adulthood, the powers that be start telling you that no matter how little you might own, it’s time to draw up at least a simple will. But for writers, artists and other copyright holders, a simple will just isn’t enough.

The copyrights on our works extend for 75 years after we die, but if we don’t take care of things properly, those copyrights could end up languishing in the hands of the state, or the state could end up deciding who our stories belong to after we die. I think that just about every author out there has some illusion of their works creating an immortality for them, and that won’t happen if you don’t plan ahead for the future distribution of your work.

First things first. Go see a lawyer. The following is not official legal advice, and you can’t do all of this on your own.

What you want to do is appoint a Literary Executor to handle your copyrighted properties in the case of your death. This could be a relative, a friend, an agent, or even a library or university (though they’ll mostly only want the works of “notable” authors, and they’ll want to control all future rights). This person or institution will then have both rights and responsibilities over your intellectual property. You can assign whatever rights you want, and also certain responsibilities. You can even assign multiple executors if you see the need.

Establishing an executor helps to answer several important questions regarding how your works are handled after you die. Do you want a specific relative to own your stories? Do your relatives even want control of your works? Do you want someone to work constantly to keep your works in print? To whom do you want royalties to go? If your executor becomes unable to handle their duties, do you have an alternate?

If you worry that you might approach a time when you would still be alive but unable to properly manage your copyrights, you can also set up a living trust, someone who has the right to take care of your properties until you die, at which time, an executor might take over.

These rights can not be assigned fully in a will, and really, should not be sprung upon the recipient when you die. Make arrangements before-hand if you can. If you want immortality, or at least a few years of being read after you die, you need someone who will look out for you as much when you are gone as when you did when you were alive.

Go do this while you are able. You can always change things every few years as your copyrights change and your associates and family change or die off. But once you die, it’s too late. You might want your stories to live forever, but sorry to say, you won’t.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Climate change, UFOs, the rare mountain bongo and...nannies

This week brought a wild mix of articles, mostly about environmental topics, but a few touching on other oddities of life.

First, let's look at this week's three Extinction Countdown articles for Scientific American:

Wolves lose, tigers gain, penguins in peril and other updates from the brink

Australian mathematicians say some endangered species "not worth saving"

Mountain bongo faces extinction after more than a century of decline

Next, we have our usual big batch of posts for Green Hands USA:

Five Ways to Cut Your Junk Mail

How Walkable Is Your Neighborhood?

Which Airlines Fly the Greenest Skies?

Locavores: Find Free Fruit in Your Neighborhood

Fight Global Warming by Blocking Spam

How to Plan A Carbon-Neutral Wedding

Now, a mix of articles for Mother Nature Network:

Climate change arguments explained

FBI opens online vault, revealing UFO, Roswell files [Nearly a week later, this is still the most popular story on]

10 things childcare providers won't tell you [This was actually a rewrite/expansion of another author's MNN article that was then published at Yahoo! Green]

Finally, on a different note, one of my MNN articles inspired artist Ian Bunn to create this: "Of everything that I do this most rewarding" -- Pretty cool.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This week's articles: career advice, a rescued turtle, green tips and a honey badger

This week brought a bunch of tech features that I think came out really well.

First up, we have my profile of a groundbreaking engineer for IEEE's The Institute:

Lauren Christopher: Hall of Famer

Next, here's this month's article for Today's Engineer:

Career Focus: Is Now the Right Time for Engineers to Become Entrepreneurs?

And here's another one for The Institute, for IEEE members:

Overhaul of Consultants Database Could Boost Chances of Getting Hired

Now let's get to the usual eco-themed articles. There was only one Extinction Countdown column for Scientific American last week, but there should be three this week:

Dramatic rescue of a century-old turtle in Vietnam could help save species from extinction

My two articles for Mother Nature Network this week were extremely popular:

20,000 customers leave in response to CEO's elephant-shooting video

Crazy honey badger video goes viral

And last, but not least, we have my six weekly tips for Green Hands USA, some of which logged record traffic:

What's Your Water Footprint?

Is This the Year You Switch to An Electric Mower?

What's Your Paper Footprint?

5 Ways to Use Less Energy While Watching TV

Telecommuting Twice a Week is Like Getting a $3,400 Raise

Show Your Love: Don't Buy Dirty Gold

There's lots more coming up this week. But for now, enjoy reading this batch!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Saving the world, one article at a time

This coming week will see a ton of new, cool articles (follow me on Twitter for links as each story goes live), but last week was pretty cool, too. Here's the run-down:

First, my usual two Extinction Countdown columns for Scientific American:

Scientists advise politicians to keep politics out of endangered species decisions

Human virus linked to deaths of two endangered mountain gorillas

Green Hands USA keeps buzzing along. Here are this week's six "green tips" blogs:

Be Green: Eat a PB&J

Free iPhone App Helps You Avoid Pesticides

Protect Nature: Keep Your Cats Indoors

Can Fast Food be Green?

Sustainable Coffee is in Demand

Save Paper: Create A Document That Can't Be Printed

I have several articles for Mother Nature Network in the pipeline. Here's the one that appeared last week:

GoDaddy CEO criticized for killing an elephant

More soon!