My account of the Total Eclipse of August 21, 2017

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It was very hot. We found a country cemetery (Ingram Hill Cemetery, outside Harrisburg IL) on a hill at the last minute. It had shade trees as well as open spaces, and a beautiful view. The great hills of Shawnee National Forest rose in the distance. A huge storm cloud hovered in the east. We’d been anxious that morning about clouds; the radar showed scattered rainstorms. There were other clouds around the horizon, but over our cemetery was all clear.

The eclipse was in progress by the time we got there. We wouldn’t have guessed; it was bright and hot. My weather app said “feels like 104F.” Just sitting in ____’s non-air-conditioned car was exhausting enough for me to break open my emergency electrolyte drink. We sat under a tree and walked out from time to time to gaze at the eclipse-in-progress with our Schnuck’s mylar-and-cardboard glasses. I pressed mine over my sunglasses and saw a fat crescent gradually get slimmer.

After a while everything looked the same, except I could take off my sunglasses. There was a puzzling, “is it getting dimmer? I can’t tell” period. Then we could tell: it was getting dimmer. Soon the quality of light was similar to late in the day, except it was coming from directly overhead. The shadows weren’t long, as you’d expect. The crescent was very slim now. We marveled at how bright the sun still was in spite of being mostly covered.

My eyes felt confused, like my irises were twitching open and closed trying to find the right level. The light was from overhead, but got dimmer and dimmer. ____ said it was like moonlight, only warmer and brighter.

Then, suddenly, it got dark. Not “very” dark, not night-time dark; just-after-sunset dark. The clouds on the horizon glowed pink and orange. Overhead was dark blue. We couldn’t see any stars or planets, whether because our eyes hadn’t adjusted, or because a mid-day eclipse with the sun at its zenith doesn’t darken the sky enough, we still don’t know. The corona was exactly like the pictures, except brighter. It was white-hot bright. The moon was a black disc. It looked like an eye in the sky.

Per other accounts, I kept saying “oh my god” as I looked around the
darkened landscape with a sunset directly overhead. Listening to myself I sounded like I was having sex for the first time.

Every day I unconsciously (and occasionally consciously) orient myself to the rays of the sun. It’s like sensing gravity: gravity is always “down,” whether you’re consciously paying attention or not. Sunlight is always coming from the sun, its qualities – strength, color, direction – always indicating where the sun is. The eclipse gave every indication the sun was setting, but it was directly overhead. It was wonderfully disorienting, as if gravity itself shifted and we were floating.

Then the shadow passed and it was suddenly brighter again, though very dim for mid-day. We put our eclipse glasses on again and saw the thinnest crescent, but that was enough to change everything back to day. The shadows returned, and soon the regular mid-day chorus of birds and insects did too. We marveled, stunned and delighted and moved, at what we had just seen.

Gradually we felt the temperature rise. We’d barely noticed the oppressive heat subside, until it came back. We chatted with some of the local people who had taken in the eclipse at the cemetery near us. Fortunately no one blared music, and although we weren’t completely alone, we had a lot of space to ourselves.

Then we drove home.

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Total Eclipse

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It looked kinda like this.

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.

Best Haggadah Ever

This is the best Haggadah ever. It contains profanity, so if you don’t like swears maybe don’t click the link. But if you don’t mind swears, or like them, and you’re Jewish or Jewy or philosemitic or just have a thing for Passover, you should check out The Fucking Haggadah.

Crazy Sewing Machine Lady

fancy Minnesota A cabinet

I guess it’s happened – I’ve turned into a sewing machine collector. No one needs more than one sewing machine, but I just obtained my fifth. I’ve wanted a treadle machine since I started quilting a few years ago, and when I came across this beauty on Chicago’s Craigslist, I couldn’t resist.

Minnesota A sewing machine

She stitches! Came with one bobbin wound with ancient thread. No belt yet (I ordered one this morning) so I used the hand wheel. I’ve also ordered 2 additional bobbins, and some 100-year-old unused needles on eBay. I threaded the shuttle myself after reading up on it online. It’s a Davis, Long.

There were lots of dropped stitches and thread nests in the back, but as I adjusted the tension disc and whatever the screwpost thing on top is (foot pressure?) it got better. The machine was very well oiled before it was stored however many years ago. It moves pretty smoothly.

Minnesota A

Officially this is a Channukah present from Theo. I’m a lucky gal.

 

R.I.P. Roger Ebert

I am so grateful I got to meet Roger Ebert in 2009, when he screened Sita Sings the Blues at Ebertfest. He couldn’t speak then, but he stood onstage while his computer’s synthetic voice read his comments and looked intently in my eyes to make sure I was taking it in. He really wanted me to receive his gift, which was hard because it was so generous.

Roger Ebert and Nina Paley at Eberfest 2009. Photo by Chris Anderson

Here is his longer review of Sita Sings the Blues, which brought many, many viewers to it.

“Congratulations on Reproducing!”

This piece of perfection comes from Dinsoaur Comics. Posted here because I love it.

Electric Dog’s Flash Animation Power Tools

electric dog :: flash animation power tools logo

I’m finally using this great plugin for Flash, that even works with Ye Olde Macromedia Flash 8 (considered by most animators to be the best version ever made, far superior to Adobe’s crippled messes). The Library Symbol renaming tools alone have made me a fan.

The Public Domain Review

The Public Domain may not be growing (thanks to endless retroactive copyright term extensions) but it still contains a “whopping plentitude.” The biggest challenge to users is simply discovering PD works in the first place. Fortunately the Open Knowledge Foundation (one of the best Free Culture organizations anywhere) has just given everyone a leg up with its new web site, the Public Domain Review. From their About page:

The Public Domain Review aspires to become a bounteous gateway into the whopping plenitude that is the public domain, helping our readers to explore this rich terrain by surfacing unusual and obscure works, and offering fresh reflections and unfamiliar angles on material which is more well known.

Go there to find all kinds of delicious images, texts, sounds, and other treasures that, thanks to our collective cultural amnesia, are as fresh and exciting as anything Big Media tries forcing down our throats today.


Above: Princess Nicotine, and early stop-motion silent film, featured on The Public Domain Review.

BOUNCE BOUNCE BOUNCE

Troll Sena

With the tagline, “Offended Hindus uprising against Anti-Hindus!” Troll Sena is the World’s best (and possibly only) Hindu Nationalist parody site. Covering such outrages as Ban Valmiki Filth!, Raavan Ballsphemy!, Shame of Khajuraho!, and Cowardly Cow Outrage!, they’re barely distinguishable from the real thing. Or maybe they are the real thing. Who cares?

shame

Success! Sita Sings the Blues Once Again Viewable on German Youtube

After one or two (or more?) years of being blocked on German Youtube, the full-length noncommercial Sita Sings the Blues movie is once again viewable in Deutschland:

I assume this is because last week I posted this video, complaining about why my 100% legal and painstakingly and expensively licensed movie was blocked in Germany:

Apparently many Germans are none too pleased with GEMA themselves, as indicated by interesting comments here. Some industry shills weighed in as well, but it looks like popular sentiment is against them. The story was shared widely, including in Der Spiegel and the New York Times online editions.

It’s not clear how an American YouTube user is supposed to contest takedowns in Germany. When I was in Berlin recently, it was suggested I find a German lawyer to take some sort of action. At the very least, I would need someone in Germany to contest the takedown on my behalf. I imagine that would have been a slow and possibly expensive process. Then I thought of making this video. Although it took some work (writing a statement – yes I know it’s an imperfect statement, I did the best I could with the knowledge I had – shooting the video, recording the audio via a separate mic, transferring files, editing, compressing, etc.) it was less work than managing an international legal process. And it got results fast! Better still, it contributed to ongoing debates about GEMA and Intellectual Pooperty in general.

My thanks to everyone who helped spread the word about this, and especially people in Germany who checked the Sita Sings the Blues URL and confirmed when the movie was blocked, and when it was unblocked.

Censorship Vs. Copyright

I’m crossposting this from Mimi & Eunice today because it is one of my best ever and I’m impatient for everyone in the world to see it.

They're totally different!

What distinguishes
Copyright from Censorship?

The profit motive.

There’s one more day to back the Mimi & Eunice’s Intellectual Pooperty minibook project! The above comic won’t be in it, alas, since I just drew it yesterday and the book is already at the printer. But there will be 40 other fine selections from the IP category, in full color.

A Wonderful Day

I’ve mentioned quilter Leah Day here before, and will mention her again. Leah “e”-teaches me and countless others how to Free Motion Quilt via her online Free Motion Quilting Project. I wrote about her refreshingly open attitude and progressive business model on Techdirt a few months ago. But I’m posting today to bring your attention to her new informational copyright page, which is so beautiful it almost brings a tear to my eye. This is how it’s done, people.

The Free Motion Quilting Project logo

I am awesome

I was neither prepared nor in a particularly good mood when I did this “webinar” for Agora I/O. It was eerie having a “conversation” in which I could neither see nor hear the other participants. It was just me and my own voice, with questions and comments occasionally popping up in text on another webpage. Because of that, I couldn’t read anyone’s body language and try to pre-emptively smooth things over and “people please”; I could only speak my mind. Which I did. Which, upon reviewing, was a pretty great thing. You may not like me, but I sure do!

The fun starts about 8 minutes in, and gets better as it goes along. If you know about my story and Sita Sings the Blues, you can skip what comes before that, which is a basic recap.