Amos Yee is one of the greatest living defiers of classification

You know you’re doing something right when Amos Yee gives you a shout-out (02:34) in the midst of a passionate, funny, enlightening rant. Praise from Caesar is praise indeed.

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GNU & Improved GIFs

PromisedLand2460

Big ups to my friend Barry Israelewitz, who wrote a shell script for ffmpeg (based on this article shared in this comment by Paul Wise) and taught me how to use Terminal on my mac to make much better animated gifs than Flash exports directly. Currently it’s significantly more work than just exporting .gif from Flash, because I have to instead export a PNG sequence, import the frames to Quicktime 7, and export as a new .mov to use as an input file for making the gif. This may be streamlined a little bit in the future, but for now at least I can make higher quality gifs if I need to.

Below are close-up details of single frames. “Before” is here, “after” is above.

before

before

after

after

Here’s a smaller-sized (because fewer frames) animated gif for side-by-side before-and-after comparison:

before

before

after

after

Much better, no? Plus using Terminal is METAL.

Reddit IAmA today, 2-4pm EST

DeathKillCycleAMAProof? Here’s your proof.

Head on over here between 2 and 4pm EST today, Friday February 27.

UPDATE: Reddit is not allowing me to post. On my own IAMA. Granted, this IAMA was set up by someone else, who said he had duly submitted my handle (Nina_Paley, created a week ago) to the mods. But it didn’t work. I was on the calendar, but I can’t respond to questions. I am not happy about this but mods aren’t responding, so I give up. You can AMA on Twitter instead.

UPDATE 2: after half an hour the problem was corrected, and I went back and answered questions.

 

 

Reddit AMA – Friday February 27

I’ll be doing a Reddit AMA next Friday February 27, along with Sherwin Siy of Public Knowledge, for Fair Use Week. We’ll be on 2-4pm EST, a.k.a. 1-3pm CST. Ask Me Anything!

Dvorak Diary #2: Offline

On a recent trip to Trivandrum, India, I decided to try learning to touch-type in Dvorak (after decades of hunt-and-peck in QWERTY). Here I share some excerpts of my “Dvorak Diary”.

japan-earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-unforgettable-pictures-wave_33291_600x450

Tuesday, December Thirtieth, Two thousand fourteen….

I have been kinda ‘offline’ since returning. The last legs of my flights were awful, and I still haven’t recovered, though at this point it’s probably jetlag more than exhaustion that has me failing to connect to ‘my’ world and identity. I haven’t felt connected online, and am concerned about how I let Facebook information just wash over me with no real engagement on my part. It’s a hell of a lot of information to just suck through me like a stream. I surely have more than enough information rattling around in my head already. Maybe it’s time to let it settle, to digest it and let it adjust to the habitat of my mind and maybe make something of itself instead of just washing through like a tsunami. I feel less satisfied being an information node than a full human animal. Jetlag reminds me I am an animal, and no amount of information can heal my exhausted body. I recently read that staring into screens is terrible for sleep – I read that staring into a screen, ha ha – so last night I didn’t check email or read Facebook.

Is Facebook the television of today? It’s not broadcast, and it can be useful sometimes, but I become very passive with it, especially at night when I turn to it in my insomnia.

This Land Is Mine is yours

Due to horrific recent events, This Land Is Mine has gone viral again.

Here’s a reminder that you don’t need permission to copy, share, broadcast, post, embed, subtitle, etc. Copying is an act of love, please copy and share. Yes means yes.

copying is an act of love, please copy and shareAs for the music, it is Fair UseThis Land Is Mine is a PARODY of “The Exodus Song.” That music was sort of the soundtrack of American zionism in the 1960’s and 70’s. It was supposed to express Jewish entitlement to Israel. By putting the song in the mouth of every warring party, I’m critiquing the original song.

 

Next New No-No

Sigh. No one “owns” Sita Sings the Blues, or any of my Free works, but things like this fraudulent copyright claim keep happening:

false copyright claim

false copyright claim

I’ve never had any problem with Next New Networks. I like its founder Fred Siebert. Since I believe the folks at Next New Networks are cool, maybe they could assist with a “teaching moment” and figure out where along the chain of bureaucracy this happened. It would be helpful and enlightening for many to see just how easy it is to make a false copyright claim in YouTube’s hair-trigger content ID system.

Since Sita Sings the Blues is now CC-0 “Public Domain”, I can’t go legal over things like this, nor do I want to. I do wonder what happens with fraudulent claims over other Public Domain material. Do different entities just randomly claim PD works and then duke it out with each other? If PD material can be claimed by big corporations, that will exclude small players from using it because they don’t have the resources to challenge said false claims. But don’t get me started.

ME_402_CensorshipVsCopyright1-640x199

 

Update: Mike Schmitt, who took the screenshot at top, says,

“BTW, the copyright claim flags the 0:34-second mark in the trailer, which is the exact point at which the percussion-heavy song starts. So AFAIK it’s a content claim against the song (since there seems to be some confusion here). The same entity holds a copyright claim against the other Sita trailer on my channel, which starts with a different song.
ETA: the video in question is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI0ehPVUGzs “

Tupi’s Kickstarter now live

Remember when I pleaded for good Free vector animation software? The Tupi project just launched a Kickstarter campaign and I’m a backer.

Tupi’s strength is its simplicity; it’s great for kids and anyone new to animation. It doesn’t yet have the power I need to produce feature films, but its development is a good thing for all of us. Since it’s FLOSS (Free Libre Open Source), any innovations made in Tupi can be applied to other Free programs, and anyone who wants to customize it can. Oh, and it’s free – you can download and start playing with it right now.

Copycamp Talk

“40 Years in the Desert,” a talk I gave at Copycamp in Warsaw, Poland, on November 26 2012. Audio is a bit messed up until 02:49, so just start there. I talk a bit about Questioncopyright.org and Minute Memes, liberally quote Rick Falkvinge, mention Fair Use and Creative Commons before getting into Intellectual Disobedience. Toward the end I discuss Seder-Masochism’s release plan.

The SHOCKING photos that violated Facebook’s policies!

Update: The account is now unblocked, with this message from Facebook:

I’m so sorry for the inconvenience caused, there was a temporary misconfiguration in our photo review systems which caused a very small subset of users to be incorrectly enrolled in one of our checkpoints. There was no issue with your original photo, we have a combination of automated and human-review systems dedicated to keeping people safe, and a bug caused one of these systems to incorrectly enroll a small number of users into checkpoints.

We have since remedied the issue, and remediated all affected accounts. Please let me know if you or others are still experiencing any difficulties.

+++++

This morning I posted this adorable photo on Facebook:

Nut the cat hugging my face. Photo by Theodore Gray

Being a cute picture of a cute cat, it got a lot of “likes” and comments. A few hours later I followed up with this photo (accompanying text in the caption):

Another photo of Nut and me. Here you can see in more detail how Nut presses her face as hard as she can into mine. She does this all night, by the way. If I move my face away, she rearranges herself to grip the back of my head as tightly as possible. If I'm face-down on the pillow, she slides her paws under into my eye sockets and mashes her head into my ear. It's very cute but I don't think I could stand it every night.

Shortly thereafter, FB wouldn’t let me view my feed, instead giving me this message:

“We noticed you may be posting photos that violate our Community Standards. Help make Facebook better by cleaning up your photos and removing friends that post nudity or other things that violate our standards.”

Then it took me directly to all my photos and said,

“To keep your account active, please remove any photos that contain nudity or sexually inappropriate content. Check the box next to each photo you need to remove.”

I didn’t have a single dirty photo to check, so I checked none and then clicked the box that said, “I have checked all my photos that violate Facebook’s policies.” For that, I was rewarded with this:

“Because you uploaded photos that violate our policies, you won’t be able to upload photos for 3 days.

“If you have other photos on the site that violate our policies, be sure to remove them immediately or you could be blocked for longer. After this block is lifted, please make sure any photos you upload follow Facebook’s Policies.”

Followed by another checkbox that says,

“I understand Facebook’s policies and I won’t upload any photos that violate these policies.”

But I haven’t checked that box yet, because I really don’t understand Facebook’s policies. At all. Maybe Franz Kafka could explain them to me. Can you?

UPDATE: several hours later, I still can’t see my FB home page/news feed. This is what I continue to get instead:

This Land Is Mine

I envisioned This Land Is Mine as the last scene of my potential-possible-maybe- feature film, Seder-Masochism, but it’s the first (and so far only) scene I’ve animated. As the Bible says, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

This Land Is Mine from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide

Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Early Man

 

Early Man
This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.

Canaanite

 

 

Canaanite
What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Ancient Egyptian

 

 

Egyptian
Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…

Assyrian

 

 

Assyrian
….Assyria controlled it other times.

Israelite

 

 

Israelite
The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.

Babylonian

 

 

Babylonian
Then the Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.

Macedonian/Alexander

 

 

 

Macedonian/Greek
Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!

Greek

 

 

Greek/Macedonian
No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.

Ptolmaic

 

 

Ptolemaic
Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)

Seleucid

 

 

Seleucid
More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.

 

Hebrew Priest

Hebrew Priest
This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.

Maccabee

Maccabee
Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…

 

Roman

 

Roman
….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…

Byzantine

 

 

Byzantine
….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.

 

Caliph

 

 

Arab Caliph
Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.

Crusader

 

 

Crusader
After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Egyptian Mamluk

 

 

Mamluk of Egypt
Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.[7]” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.

 

Ottoman Turk

 

Ottoman Turk
Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.

Arab

 

 

Arab
A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.

 

British

British
The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.

Palestinian

 

 

Palestinian
The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….

European Jew/Zionist

 

European Jew/Zionist
Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…

Hezbollah

 

 

PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah
….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation Organization, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

State of Israel

 


 

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/TerroristState of Israel
Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.

 

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist
Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?

Angel of Death

 

 

 

and finally…

The Angel of Death
The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.

 

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Alternatives to Youtube

With all the false copyright claims happening on Youtube, I’m lately asking myself why I use it at all. I guess the main reason is the Network Effect: Youtube is the most popular video host, so that’s where most people go to find videos. If my vids aren’t on Youtube, there’s a chance they won’t be found.

But I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason, in light of all the Content ID abuse. Thanks to Brewster’s comment yesterday, I’m embedding archive.org video below. If this works, it’ll be an ideal alternative.

Another alternative to Youtube is Vimeo. I’ve had problems with Vimeo’s speed, and have embedded videos fail to load. But maybe those problems will resolve.

Copying Is Not Theft from Nina Paley on Vimeo.

A bonus feature of both of these: they don’t seem to use Flash (which my current Chrome browser doesn’t support anyway).
Anyone care to comment on the quality of the archive.org and vimeo embeds above?

Youtube’s Content ID abuse is out of control

Today I received not one but two fraudulent copyright claims on my Free and Copyleft work (instances of Sita Sings the Blues and All Creative Work is Derivative). I’ve also received fraudulent claims on Copying Is Not Theft, as have others who have re-posted it and translations.

This is why I’m looking into Chinese video hosting. When China starts looking like a Free Speech haven, something is really wrong with the United States.

Is Chinese video hosting the answer?

Youtube has been so rife with Content ID abuse – including multiple false claims on our Free Culture anthem, Copying Is Not Theft – I decided to try a Chinese video host. I’m embedding it here just to test how it works. So far the audio seems a little out of synch – anyone else getting that? Comments welcome below.

Kids Today

This afternoon I gave a Sita Sings the Blues talk to a roomful of 15-to-17-year-olds. Near the end I explained Free Culture and my stance against copyright, which led to some interesting discussion. Turns out most of them are manga fans, and familiar with publishers’ complaints about scanned and translated manga shared freely online. They all read them anyway (except one, who prefers to read entire manga in the bookstore). I asked them how they would choose to support artists they liked (once they had some disposable income) and they said:

  1. Donate buttons – with the qualification that they want to know as much as possible about where the donation is going. They said honesty and transparency are important.
  2. Kickstarter – They all knew about it (which was notable because none of them had heard of Flattr) and valued pitch videos that explained how the money would be used.
  3. Custom drawings
  4. Merch
  5. Physical copies
  6. Live Shared Experiences, including ballet, museum exhibits, and concerts. The event aspect was important; they wanted to be able to say, “Remember that one time when that awesome show was here…” They agreed seeing things in person is a more powerful experience than seeing things online, and worth spending more on. One said she would buy CD at a live show because “it reminds you of the show.”
  7. One said he would support artists by promoting their work to his friends.

Semi-related, I took an informal poll of how many would prefer to read a book on paper vs. an e-reader. The vast majority said paper, but what they really seemed to want was dual formats: paper copies to read comfortably and collect, and digital copies to search and reference. Makes sense to me. Only two of them had iPads, and none used them for “enhanced eBooks.”

My favorite quote of the afternoon:

“We don’t want everything for free. We just want everything.”