Thursday, January 22, 2009

Everything I know, I learned from my parakeet.

Photo Creative Commons by Kent K. Barnes.

I don’t like fingers. I don’t care how much you’ve been told that parakeets like to sit on peoples’ fingers. Just because some expert says we’re supposed to like something doesn’t mean that all of us do. Put your finger in my face and I’ll snap at it. I’ll be perfectly happy to hop on your shoulder, your head, your arm, a pencil - anything but a finger. Fingers are verboten. End of discussion.

Horseplay is fine. Get too rough with me, and I’m outta there.

Puh-leeze don’t load down my cage with bird toys. I know you love me. Show it some other way. Let me out of the cage more often. Play with me. Put me on your shoulder while you do your homework or watch TV. Face time is a lot more important than stuff.

I love music (hey, I’m a bird!). Just don’t play it too loud. Too much of a good thing makes it bad.

Don’t vent your frustrations on me with verbal or physical abuse. I’ve had nothing to do with whatever it is that’s bugging you. I fully sympathize, but only if you treat me with respect. Otherwise, I’m outta there.

I like to fly to the downstairs bathroom mirror, clamp my feet to the bottom of it and peck furiously away at my reflection. I know it looks strange to you, but don’t rag on me too hard for it. We all have our strange little quirks.

Sorry about those little um, artifacts that I leave around occasionally. We birds don’t have sphincter muscles, so we can’t control our “emissions” the way you humans can. Please make allowances for that.

Tell your mother that I’m sorry if I embarrassed her when I landed on her head as she walked into the room. Like I said, I’m a bird. That’s the kind of thing we do. Our sense of decorum is different from yours, but please know that I mean well.

Please clean up the bottom of my cage a little more often, OK? You don’t like it when your own living space gets gross. Neither do I.

(Dedicated to Lightning).

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Are there any copy rights left?

A while back, I linked to a couple of Youtube clips showcasing cartoonist Nina Paley and her reinterpretation of the Indian epic, Ramayana. Well, according to Question Copyright, the licensing fees demanded by the publishers of the 80-odd year-old blues numbers she's included in the film's soundtrack were so exorbitant as to all but kibosh the project, which has been three years in the making.

Ms. Paley is currently trying to raise money to pay back the loan she took out to cover the licensing fees. She's also given a 42-minute interview about the situation, which you can download from, or watch below.

In other news, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is seeking public input on the contentious issue of Digital Rights Management, or DRM. For those of you watching in black-and-white, DRM is digital code applied to audio files which can make it difficult or impossible to move them from one device to another or to even simply play files that you've legally bought and paid for. Some content providers, most notably, include potentially-troublesome DRM in their proprietary audio files even if the author and publisher object to it.

The FTC's comment form can be found here. If you're going to be in Seattle on March 25th, 2009, you can comment in person at an FTC "town hall".

(Many thanks to for bringing these and other crucial issues to our attention, day after day!)