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Saturday, April 21, 2001

Once upon a more na´ve time, I would have taken a federal judge's word about a controversial decision, especially if I could see both sides of the question but didn't have enough information to make a judgment myself. That was before. That was when I believed the courts were free from politics and prejudice.

Now I wonder why an Atlanta judge would side with the Margaret Mitchell trust over an author and publishing house with plans to publish a novel based on Gone With the Wind, from a perspective not presented in the original. I wonder if there isn't a sinister reason behind the decision, having nothing to do with the merits.

Instead of putting the matter to rest, the judge's ruling makes me want to read this book and decide for myself. It makes me feel that my rights are being violated, and I'm being deprived of words I want to hear. The judge is telling me I shouldn't be allowed to hear these words, and that seems wrong somehow, contrary to principles of freedom.

On the other hand, how do I know? The author and publisher call their work a parody, but the judge calls it piracy. He says that scenes are lifted from the original, and that the book constitutes an unauthorized appropriation of characters rightfully belonging to the Mitchell estate. And I can certainly agree that authors have rights to their own creations, and others should be prevented from stealing them.

I think I'm leaning toward the author, Alice Randall, because Houghton Mifflin thought enough of her novel to publish it. I guess I'm saying I trust their judgment on a matter of literary merit and law. They believe Randall has expressed a point of view that not only is ignored in the original, but offended by it.

And as I mentioned in an earlier entry, I really want to read The Wind Done Gone. Right or wrong, that's the selfish root of my philosophical conclusion.

sun and clouds

I should probably be flattered that birds don't just come around when I'm feeding them. They actually want to live in my house with me. Black phoebes have built a nest under the eaves, and baby starlings are currently making an incredible racket in the attic.

At first I tried to discourage them. I chased the phoebes away many times a day for the longest time, but they kept coming back. I sprayed one nest with jets of water from the garden hose, and they rebuilt in another location. They won out, mostly because I gave up, but also because I admired their persistence.

The starlings are a different matter. I don't like them, and I'll do whatever it takes to keep them from coming back. But I won't do anything to harm the nestlings. I guess it's a weakness.

Today I had a couple of house finches surveying the spot above my front door. I've read that it's good luck to have finches nesting under your eaves, and I've pretty much decided that I don't have much control of the matter anyway.

Not that there aren't ways of controlling the situation. A kind reader suggested the products offered by Bird-X, when I complained about the starlings a few days ago. I checked out the site, and the means of controlling birds and other critters seem both humane and effective. I'll be looking into them further, I think.

But I've decided that for now I'll let the finches build here if that's what they want. I can always use a little good luck. I'm trying to keep them away from the front door, though. That's a little too close for comfort, theirs as well as mine.

As kindly as I feel toward the non-starling birds, I have no qualms about doing what's necessary to get rid of the real garden pests. I was a ruthless snail killer today. I bought a special bucket and went to work picking the snails off the iris leaves and dropping them in. I also bought another pair of gloves, just for this particular task.

Last time I did this I used a hammer on them, but this time I was more merciful. Salt is an instant killer, and it's cheap and clean. All I had to do afterward was tie up the ends of the plastic bag and put it in the garbage can. I have no remorse for this killing spree. In fact, I got a lot of satisfaction out of it.

Since the disposal company failed to empty my yard waste container this week, I couldn't pull any weeds. Well, I could have, but I would have had to bag them. So I went to work on the snails instead. Bending over so many times (I must have disposed of a hundred of them) did a number on my back, so I took the rest of the day off from anything strenuous.

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You can earn some money for the American Cancer Society, at no cost to yourself, by going to this site and listening to a song or two. Read the explanation in John Scalzi's April 20 Whatever.

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