Posts by Mike Dickison

  • Southerly: Getting There is Half the Fun, in reply to Jen Hay,

    That would explain the odd pieces of piratical paraphernalia I keep finding. You'll be pleased to know, though, that the last traces of David's blood will have been washed from the driveway by the torrential freezing rain we've been having in Dunsandel.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Environmental league tables…,

    Thanks for the plug, Russell! By the way, if anyone has any corrections of my working, or links to published research that's relevant, do leave a comment on the blog posting—it's a work in progress.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fact and fantasy,

    If you actually read that international study in PLoS, as not many people seem to have, you find out why we're ranked 18th-worst for environmental impact. And it's not because of our greenhouse gas emissions (which the authors count as average, but they don't seem to include cow farting) or water pollution (also average, by their measure; they didn't measure freshwater habitat degradation).

    We're #13 for fertiliser use on arable land (which is only about 2% of our land area: fertiliser on pasture wasn't counted at all). Has over-fertilising of crops even been on the radar in the 100% Pure conversation?

    We're also #1 in the world for endangered animal species—which means birds (because we have hardly any mammals or amphibians). NZ does have quite a few threatened bird species, most of which we can't blame on current National government policies. I don't think the number would be much different if DoC had had adequate funding for the last 20 years, because species decline and recovery is a slow process. We're #1 because we're a small island country, which always increases the number of endangered species (the PLoS study admits they haven't corrected for that). We're also #1 because we were settled so recently—recently enough that a few vulnerable species are still hanging on, whereas the other countries in the world wiped out theirs thousands of years ago.

    So we should be a bit careful about citing that "18th worst" ranking to support Mike Joy's areas of concern—freshwater ecology—because the study doesn't have much to say about that.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Capture: BOTY Potty., in reply to Islander,

    You should probably contact the NZ Ornithological Society (http://osnz.org.nz/contact-us/regional-recorders) then, just for the record, as a 1950s sighting of koreke would be like seeing a live huia in 1982, or a Laughing Owl today. In fact because NZ quail disappeared so quickly it's even more amazing that a breeding population were able to hang on, undetected by ornithologists for at least 75 years, in a place as well-explored as Canterbury. So it would be good to get a record of the details into print.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Capture: BOTY Potty., in reply to Islander,

    Seeing NZ Quail in the 1950s would be takahe-rediscovery-level amazing, as they went extinct in Canterbury about 1875. But there aren't many other candidates apart from California Quail: Australian brown quail are only in the North Island, chukor are big, partridges I think were not introduced until later. So it's a puzzle.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: At Last, David Haywood's 2010…,

    Sue, I agree that one of the sole reasons for publishers still existing is they can take a financial risk on a big print run which might not sell.

    But when print-on-demand becomes widespread in NZ, this advantage disappears. One copy is printed and mailed for each order, so if the book bombs the author loses their time and effort but that’s all.

    What will then be left for publishers to do?

    • Editing, proofreading, design: plenty of freelancers for that.
    • Marketing: Yeah right. Anyway, there are also freelancers that will happily help with publicity.
    • Distribution: Selling online. The author could choose to give a discount to the trade so the book could appear in bookstores. Or maybe they wouldn't.
    • Quality control: publishers won't take a gamble on something that won't sell. Ergo, publisher = will sell = (sort of) good. There are lots of models on the internet for sorting through crap, though; the trick will be applying these methods to books.

    Winners: readers, authors. Losers: publishers, bookshops. For a sneak preview, see the music industry.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: At Last, David Haywood's 2010…,

    I'm really only familiar with my ukulele book, but of the $20 cover price I get $1.50, and the retailer makes $10–12. And I only get a 40% discount if I want to order copies myself, so it actually makes more sense for my publisher to sell to me than to the book trade…

    So $6 a copy profit (selling them myself) rather than $1.50 (via a bookseller) would make a difference, and since the book's sold about 7000 copies in two years that would put me in David's impecunious bracket.

    The arguments for self-publishing, with a website providing some kind of gatekeeper function, are getting stronger.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Southerly: Refugee Status,

    So happy to see the indomitable kiwi spirit shining through. Moral support and pikelets are what keep this country going. They are the mortar and bricks no earthquake can topple (to over-extend the metaphor).

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Grade-A lunacy. With your money.,

    To be fair, they're probably trying to protect people from using copyrighted images.

    No, Te Papa already had a very clear and separate image copyright policy on the site (which incidentally claimed Te Papa owned copyright on scanned public domain images, something else I took them to task for, but that's another story). This was a blanket prohibition on linking to web pages in general.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Grade-A lunacy. With your money.,

    Until at least late 2007, Te Papa had a proscription on linking to their web pages without permission. (They've since dropped that, and now have quite reasonable T&C.) But seriously: Te Papa? Our Place? I guess it was a sign that someone didn't have a clue.

    When I enquired in 2007, Te Papa replied, “We are not aware of any legal obstacles to this approach. It affords us some level of protection against inappropriate linking that could be damaging to our various interests.” A marvellous piece of nonsense.

    Since Feb 2010 • 11 posts Report Reply

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