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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Decluttering and Plagiarism?

From Ecclesiastes:
What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;there is nothing new under the sun.

And indeed there is not. I love reading books about personal finance, tightwaddery, decluttering, and the like, even though they all say pretty much the same thing. That is why I buy these books from thrift stores or check them out of the library. I do like owning a few; it is good to get an inoculation of frugality or decluttering now and again.

A few days ago, I picked up a new one: The 15-Minute Organizer by Emilie Barnes. Published in 1991 by a Christian press, the author thanks all her Titus women in her dedication. Chapters cover the usual suspects: decluttering, organizing, all problem areas for me, all blissful to read about.

Here is the beginning of her chapter exhorting you to declutter: We live in a world of mass production and marketing. We must learn to sort and let go of certain things, or else we will need to build a huge warehouse to contain everything . . .Years ago, when we got something we kept it until it wore out. But today it may never wear out before we tire of it. Yet it seems just too good to dispose of.

We often have things not because of an active decision to keep them but because we have not made the decision to get rid of them.

On an average, people keep things several years after their usefulness has passed. Perhaps we overbuy and have supplies, materials, and tools left over. The things we liked years ago are not what we like or enjoy today., but we hang on to them, thinking that someday we may use them again.

Good advice. But it sounds awfully close to the exhortation in the very first decluttering/organizing book I ever read: Totally Organized by Bonnie McCullough. I picked up T.O. for 50 cents at a library discard sale. I didn't even KNOW there were books on such topics. Truly, this book changed my life. I still have problems, but at least I know what I should be doing! Thank you Bonnie. I probably read this book 50 times. That is why Ms. Barnes's prose rang a bell. Here is my beloved Bonnie McCullough:

It's hard to throw things out. In days gone by, when you got something you kept it for life or until it was worn out. But now we live in a world of mass production and marketing, and to survive you either have to build a warehouse or learn to sort and let go. We often keep things, not because of an active decision to keep them, but because we have not made a decision to get rid of them. On average, people keep things five years after their usefulness has passed. . .Sometimes we overbuy and have supplies, materials, and tools left over and they mount up over the years. . . .The things we enjoyed ten years ago are not the things we enjoy today . . . (pp. 122-23)

Emilie Barnes has more than 20 books to her name! I would guess that one of her uncredited research assistants did wrong here....but who knows?

Anyway, great advice ladies. And I suppose this has turned into a recommendation for Totally Organized. In addition to her advice on organizing, McCullough has a great section on budgeting and money management.


Simply said...

Weird--those two passages are very alike. Although I have to say that I like the jist of both of them.

Shelley said...

Wow - I thought people got into trouble for plagiarism. Does that only happen in schools? I've noticed that Kerry Greenwood has lifted ideas from Dorothy Sayers - a line here, a mythical financial fund there. It's not really plagiarism but I don't care for it all the same. How disappointing for you to find such a big chunk 'borrowed'.

Duchesse said...

It is not "weird", it is theft.

I also am disappointed when an author cobbles together a book in a graceless cut and paste style from articles I've already read. But that's not stealing- they acknowledge the sources. Still, it's intellectual laziness.

kamran said...

I am using to check plagiarism.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Simply--Yes, the ideas are good, but I'd give credit to Bonnie, where it is due.

@Shelley--There's a lot more than one would think and it's amazing how little is noted. Kerry Greenwood--???not sure who that is, but if it's literature, I suppose it would be an "allusion" to Sayers. The rules are kinda slippery.

@Duchesse--Hit the nail on the head. Early in her career, Martha Stewart got in trouble for plagiarizing recipes--there can't be copyrighted, but the names can be. So many books on all subjects seem slapped together from other books on the same subject.

Funny about Money said...

hmh. McCullough is 1986. Isn't that something? Wonder who else Ms. Barnes ripped off...