Celebrate the Women’s March with 24 Goddess GIFs Created by Animator Nina Paley: They’re Free to Download and Remix

As millions of women, men, and friends beyond the binary gear up for Women's March events around the world this weekend, we can’t help but draw strength from the Venus of Willendorf in Graphics Interchange Format, above.

Like the pussy hats that became the most visible symbol of last year’s march, there’s a strong element of humor at play here.

Also respect for the female form.

As Dr. Bryan Zygmont notes in his Khan Academy essay on the Venus of Willendorf, her existence is evidence that “nomadic people living almost 25,000 years ago cared about making objects beautiful. And … that these Paleolithic people had an awareness of the importance of the women.”

Animator Nina Paley has taken up our Paleolithic ancestors’ baton by creating two dozen early goddess GIFs, including the Venus.

As further proof that sisterhood is powerful, Paley is sharing her unashamedly bouncy pantheon with the public. Visit her blog to download all 24 individual goddess GIFs. Disseminate them widely. Use them for good! No permission needed.

Paley is no stranger to goddesses, having previously placed the divine heroine of the Ramayana front and center in her semi-autobiographical feature length animation, Sita Sings the Blues.

She’s also incredibly familiar with rights issues, following massive complications with some vintage recordings her Betty Boop-ish Sita lip-synchs in the film. (She had previously believed them to be in the public domain.) Unable to pay the huge sum the copyright holders demanded to license the tunes, Paley ultimately decided to relinquish all legal claims to her own film, placing Sita Sings the Blues in the public domain, to be freely shared, exhibited, or even remixed.

If Paley's the poster child for copyright issues she’s also a shining example of deriving power from unlikely sources.

As she wrote on her website nearly ten years ago:

My personal experience confirms audiences are generous and want to support artists. Surely there's a way for this to happen without centrally controlling every transaction. The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging, and I'm happy to be part of that. But we're still making this up as we go along. You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to share money with me. People have been making money in Free Software for years; it's time for Free Culture to follow. I look forward to your innovations.

As for Paley's own plans for her goddesses, they’ll be a part of her upcoming animated musical, Seder-Masochism, noting that “all early peoples conceived the divine as female.”

Download Nina Paley’s Goddess GIFs here. Watch Sita Sings the Blues here. March ever onward!

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her on February 8 for Necromancers of the Public Domain, when a host of New York City-based performers and musicians will resurrect  a long forgotten work from 1911 as a low budget, variety show. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

What is the Secret to Living a Long, Happy & Creatively Fulfilling Life?: Discover the Japanese Concept of Ikigai

Ikiru, one of several Akira Kurosawa films routinely described as a masterpiece, tells the story of Kanji Watanabe, a middle-aged widower who, three decades into a dead-end bureaucratic career, finds out he has just one year to live. This sends him on an urgent eleventh-hour quest to find something to live for. The picture's The Death of Ivan Ilyich-inspired script originally bore the title The Life of Kanji Watanabe, but Kurosawa chose to rename it for the Japanese verb meaning "to live" (生きる). And anyone who wants to truly ikiru needs an ikigai.

A combination of characters from the Japanese words for "living" and "effect" or "worth," ikigai (生き甲斐) as a concept has recently come to attention in the West, not least because of last year's bestseller Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and‎ Francesc Miralles. (Note: You can get the bestseller as a free audio book if you sign up for Audible's 30-day free trial program. Get details on that here.)




Writer on health and longevity Dan Buettner has also done his bit to promote ikigai, interpreting it as "the reason for which you wake up in the morning" in a TED Talk based on his research in the places with the longest-lived populations in the world, a group that includes the Japanese island of Okinawa.

"For this 102-year-old karate master, his ikigai was carrying forth this martial art," Buettner says of one Okinawan in particular. "For this hundred-year-old fisherman it was continuing to catch fish for his family three times a week." He notes that "the two most dangerous years in your life are the year you're born, because of infant mortality, and the year you retire. These people know their sense of purpose, and they activate it in their life, that's worth about seven years of extra life expectancy." This phenomenon has also come under scientific study: one paper published in Psychosomatic Medicine found, tracking a group of more than 40,000 Japanese adults over seven years, "subjects who did not find a sense of ikigai were associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality."

We in the West have long looked to the traditional concepts of other cultures for guidance, but the Japanese themselves, a population among whom dissatisfaction with life is not unknown, have long scrutinized ikigai to draw out useful lessons. "There are many books in Japan devoted to ikigai, but one in particular is considered definitive: Ikigai-ni-tsuite (About Ikigai), published in 1966," writes the BBC's Yukari Mitsuhashi. "The book’s author, psychiatrist Mieko Kamiya, explains that as a word, ikigai is similar to 'happiness' but has a subtle difference in its nuance. Ikigai is what allows you to look forward to the future even if you’re miserable right now."

Akira Kurosawa, who painted his movies when he couldn't find the money to shoot them, stands as a towering example of someone who found his ikigai in filmmaking, which he kept on doing it into his eighties. In Ikiru, he guides the bewildered Watanabe into an encounter with ikigai in the form of a young lady who quits her job in his office to make toy rabbits: more arduous work than the civil service, she admits, but it gives her a sense of satisfaction that feels like playing with every child in Japan. This inspires Watanabe to return to find his own ikigai, if only at the very end of his life, in campaigning for the construction of a neighborhood playground. But one year with ikigai, if you believe in the power of the concept, beats a century without it.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Every Episode of Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Painting Free Online: 403 Episodes Spanning 31 Seasons

Whether your New Year’s resolution involves taking up painting, managing stress, cultivating a more positive outlook, or building a business empire, the late television artist Bob Ross can help you stick it out.

Like Fred Rogers’ Mr Rogers' Neighborhood, Ross’ long-running PBS show, The Joy of Painting, did not disappear from view following its creator’s demise. For over twenty years, new fans have continued to seek out the half-hour long instructional videos, along with its mesmerizingly mellow, easily spoofed host.

Now all 403 episodes have been made available for free on Ross’ official Youtube channel. That covers all 31 seasons.




It’s said that 90% of the regular viewers tuning in to watch Ross crank out his signature “wet-on-wet” landscapes never took up a brush, despite his belief that, with a bit of encouragement, anyone can paint.

Perhaps they preferred sad clowns or big-eyed children to scenic landscapes of the sort that would not have looked out of place in a 1970's motel.... Or perhaps Ross, himself, was the big draw.

Like Mister Rogers, Ross spoke softly, using direct address to create an impression of intimacy between himself and the viewer. Twenty years in the military had soured him on barked-out, rigid instructions. Instead, Ross reassured less experienced painters that the 16th-century ”Alla Prima” technique he brought to the masses could never result in mistakes, only “happy accidents.” He was patient and kind and he didn't take his own abilities too seriously, though he seemed like he would certainly have taken pleasure in yours.

Ross' Land of Make Believe was a character-free natural world, in which many of the same elements appear over and over.  According to Five Thirty Eight culture editor Walt Hickey’s statistical analysis, trees reigned supreme. The real life landscapes he observed as first sergeant of the U.S. Air Force Clinic at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska became his lifelong subject, and by extension, that of untold numbers of home viewers.

His devotees may be content just seeing "happy little trees” and "pretty little mountains” bloom on canvas, but in an interview with NPR, Ross’ business partner, Annette Kowalski, suggests that he would not have been.

The gentle, forest-and-cloud-loving host was also an ambitious and highly focused businessman, who used TV as the medium for his success. Every folksy comment was rehearsed before filming and he stuck with the permed hairdo he loathed, rather than scrapping what had become a highly visual brand identifier.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Watch all 31 seasons of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting here, or right here on this page. Official Bob Ross painting kits are widely available online, or source your own using a cobbled together supply list.

Season Three

Season Four

Season Five

Season Six

We will continuing adding seasons to this list as they become available.

Season Seven

Season Eight

Season Nine

Season Ten

Season 11

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

Season 16

Season 17

Season 18

Season 19

Season 20

Season 21

Season 22

Season 23

Season 24

Season 25

Season 26

Season 27

Season 28

Season 29

Season 30

Season 31

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her resolution is to spend less time online, but you can still follow her @AyunHalliday.

Woody Guthrie Creates a Doodle-Filled List of 33 New Year’s Resolutions (1943): Beat Fascism, Write a Song a Day, and Keep the Hoping Machine Running

On January 1, 1943, the American folk music legend Woody Guthrie jotted in his journal a list of 33 “New Years Rulin's." Nowadays, we'd call them New Year's Resolutions. Adorned by doodles, the list is down to earth by any measure. Family, song, taking a political stand, personal hygiene -- they're the values or aspirations that top his list. You can click the image above to view the list in a larger format. Below, we have provided a transcript of Guthrie's Rulin's.

1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
4. Shave
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight

We wish you all a happy 2018.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Note: This fine list originally appeared on our site back in 2014.

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How to “Hijack” Amazon Prime for Good: Short Video Shows How Prime & Other Instant Delivery Services Can Easily Help the Homeless

Today, it's 18 degrees in New York City, 4 degrees in Chicago, and 13 degrees in Boston. It's damn cold, especially for the homeless.

Keep this in mind as you watch Rob Bliss' short video above. In a poignant video, he points out how services offering the immediate delivery of products and services could easily help the homeless. While he uses Amazon Prime as an example, the same idea could be extended to services like DoorDash, GrubHub, and UberEats (which is apparently now outgrowing the taxi business in some cities).

via Swiss Miss

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

What Is Procrastination & How Can We Solve It? An Introduction by One of the World’s Leading Procrastination Experts

I don’t know about you, but my tendency to procrastinate feels like a character flaw. And yet, no amount of moralizing with myself makes any difference. Feeling bad, in fact, only makes things worse. Perhaps that’s because—as Tim Pychyl, Associate Professor in Psychology at Carleton University argues—procrastination is not a moral failing so much as a coping mechanism for painful feelings, a psychological avoidance of tasks we fear for some reason: because we fear rejection or failure, or even the burdens of success.

Pychyl should know. He's made studying procrastination the basis of his career and runs the 20-year-old Procrastination Research Group. Procrastination is a “puzzle,” he theorizes (the title of one of his books is Solving the Procrastination PuzzleA Concise Guide to Strategies for Change). Solving it involves understanding how its pieces work, including our beliefs about how it operates. Pychyl's lecture above addresses graduate students charged with helping undergraduates who procrastinate, but its lessons apply to all of us. In his first slide, Pychyl outlines four typical beliefs about procrastination:

It’s me

It’s the task

It’s the way I think

It’s my lack of willpower

Pychyl wants to debunk these notions, but he also argues that procrastination is “something we seem to understand very well” in popular parlance. One of his slides shows a typical “successories”-type poster that reads, “Procrastination: hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.” While Pychyl doesn’t use judgmental language like “laziness,” he does acknowledge that procrastination results from ideas about short- versus long-term gain. We want to feel good, right now, a drive common to everyone.

The next poster reads “if the job’s worth doing, it will still be worth doing tomorrow.” The notion of the “future self” plays a role—the you of tomorrow who still has to face the work your present self puts off. “What are we doing to 'future self?'” Pychyl asks. “If we can just bring future self into clearer vision, lots of times the procrastination may go away.” This has been demonstrated in research studies, Ana Swanson notes at The Washington Post, in which people made better decisions after viewing digitally-aged photographs of themselves. But in general, we tend not to have much consideration for "future self."

A final successories slide reads, “Procrastination: by not doing what you should be doing, you could be having this much fun.” This is one of the most pervasive forms of self-delusion. We may convince ourselves that putting difficult things off for tomorrow means more fun today. But the amount of guilt we feel ensures a different experience. “Guilt is a paralyzing emotion,” Pychyl says. When we put off an important task, we feel terrible. And often, instead of enjoying life, we create more work for ourselves that makes us feel purposeful, like cooking or cleaning. This “task management” game temporarily relieves guilt, but it does not address the central problem. We simply “manage our emotions by managing our tasks.”

The word procrastination comes directly from classical Latin and translates to “put forward” that which “belongs to tomorrow.” This sounds benign, given that many a task does indeed belong to tomorrow. But prudent planning is one thing, procrastination is another. When we put off what we can or should accomplish today, we invoke tomorrow as “a mystical land where 98% of all human productivity, motivation, and achievement are stored.” The distinction between planning or unavoidable delay and procrastination is important. When delays are either intentional or the consequence of unpredictable life events, we need not consider them a problem. “All procrastination is delay, but not all delay is procrastination.”

So, to sum up Pychyl’s research on our attitudes about procrastination: “we think we’re having more fun, but we’re not”; “we think we’re not affecting future self, but we are”; and “it’s all about giving in to feel good,” which—see point number one—doesn’t actually work that well.

While we might minimize procrastination as a minor issue, its personal costs tell us otherwise, including severe impacts to “performance, well-being, health, relationships, regrets & bereavement.” Procrastinators get sick more often, report higher rates of depression, and suffer the somatic and psychological effects of elevated stress. Procrastination doesn’t only affect our personal well-being and integrity, but it has an ethical dimension, affecting those around us who suffer “second-hand," either because of the time we take away from them when we rush off to finish things last-minute, or because the stress we put ourselves under negatively affects the health of our relationships.

But procrastination begins first and foremost with our relationship to ourselves. Again, we put things off not because we are morally deficient, or “lazy,” but because our emotional brains are trying to cope. We feel some significant degree of fear or anxiety about the task at hand. The guilt and shame that comes with not accomplishing the task compounds the problem, and leads to further procrastination. “The behavior,” writes Swanson, turns into “a vicious, self-defeating cycle.”

How do we get out of the self-made loop of procrastination? Just as in the failure of the “Just say No” campaign, simply shaking ourselves by the metaphorical shoulders and telling ourselves to get to work isn’t enough. We have to deal with the emotions that set things in motion, and in this case, that means going easy on ourselves. “Research suggests that one of the most effective things that procrastinators can do is to forgive themselves for procrastinating,” Swanson reports.

Once we reduce the guilt, we can weaken the proclivity to procrastinate. Then, paradoxically, we need to ignore our emotions. “Most of us seem to tacitly believe,” Pychyl says, “that our emotional state has to match the task at hand.” For writers and artists, this belief has a lofty pedigree in romantic ideas about inspiration and muses. Irrelevant, the procrastination expert says. When approaching something difficult, “I have to recognize that I’m rarely going to feel like it, and it doesn’t matter if I don’t feel like it.” Feelings of motivation and creative inspiration often strike us in the midst of a task, not before. Breaking down daunting activities into smaller tasks, and approaching these one at a time, gives us a practical roadmap for conquering procrastination. For more insights and research findings, watch Pychyl’s full lecture, and listen to him discuss his research on the Healthy Family podcast just above.

Related Content:

The Neuroscience & Psychology of Procrastination, and How to Overcome It

How Information Overload Robs Us of Our Creativity: What the Scientific Research Shows

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Where Are They Now? An Animated Mockumentary Reveals What Happened to Your Favorite 1980s Cartoon Characters After Their Heyday

It's a cautionary tale about what happens when the world you prepared yourself for changes and leaves you behind. Coldly, and sometimes without warning.

Above, watch Steve Cutts' 2014 animated mockumentary, "Where Are They Now?". Starring Roger and Jessica Rabbit, and featuring cameos by Garfield and The Smurfs, the short film revisits cartoon characters who had it all in the 1980s. Then hit the skids in the early 90s. Hard. "We had done our jobs," says an aged Jessica Rabbit. "Now we were forgotten about. Obsolete." It's a bleak picture that Cutts paints. But, it's not all bad. He-Man became a wealthy lingerie designer. We could all use a well-thought-out Plan B.

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