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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Do You Appreciate Either Bats or Haiku?


Today, April 17th, is both National Bat Appreciation Day (the flying kind, not the swinging kind) and National Haiku Poetry Day.
H

Or, if you prefer, you can combine the two.

bats-in-blanketsNo one here would be shocked to hear we had bats in our belfrey several years ago. I've always been fond of them, as they are considered highly auspicious to the Chinese. The homonym for the word "bat" is the same as that for "fortune" or "blessings."

The first indication of our new housemates was the mystifying little black dots that kept appearing on the glass coffee table in the living room. The next sign was the high-pitched squeakings and scrabblings directly overhead. Soon it was clear there were bats -- many bats -- in the tiny attic crawl space, and just as clearly they had to go, but how to get rid of them? The crack under the eaves they were flying in and out of was a good 40 feet off the ground. Besides, we wanted them to hang around, not only because they're a protected endangered species but because they eat mosquitoes.

For the first step, pNut studied commercial bat boxes and then built the tiny mammals two new boxes to move into, once we could figure out how to get them out of the attic.

Batshit

Bat guano drifts like
Black snow from my ceiling fan
Built them a new home

low bat house
Bat box to the left of upstairs window, adorned with golden bats.

After several weeks of studying the bats' numbers and habits we convinced our macho Santa Cruz mountains friend Robert, who was used to tall ladders, to humanely relocate the little fellas. For weeks we counted the bats as they flew out the tiny crack under the eaves at dusk. One evening, after all had left the roost and were on the wing, Robert climbed the tall metal extension ladder he'd lashed to the side of the house and emptied a can of spray insulation foam into the cracks. He angrily climbed back down after being stung by a wasp but we gradually cajoled him into climbing back up to install the second bat box over the now sealed entrance.  

It was a few weeks until the bats returned, but they never found their way back inside, and soon little bat guano pellets began to regularly appear beneath the two gilded bat boxes.


Bats' Revenge

Zyante Robert
Ascends the silver ladder
Ow! Wasp bite! I quit!

bat house
Naturally, they chose the highest and most inaccessible peak for their domicile.

How about you?
Ever had to evict tiny livestock without harming them?
Ever written haiku?

If not, consider this an open thread!


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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

In Oakland, California, every McDonald's in the city but one was shut down beginning at 8:00 AM for an hour in a coordinated  show of force to demand $15 and a union.

All the actions then converged on the remaining McDonald's - at 45th & Telegraph - for a final shutdown action.  Robert Reich, UC Professor and former Secretary of Labor, visited the action and may have spoken.

This afternoon at 1:00 PM there will be a march from Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland to Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley Campus, where the largest rally ever in the East Bay for the Fight for $15 will be being held.  Thousands are expected, converging from all over Northern California.

Below are tweetpics from actions around the globe on this International Day of Action in the fight for a living wage.

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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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What Story or Stories Stuck With You This Week?



1) That Right There is What Patriotism Looks Like

I can't get it out of my mind, the first interview on Wednesday night with Feidin Santana, the young man who revealed his video of Walter Scott's murder after carefully considering the ramifications to everyone. His calm idealism about what is right, the earnestness with which he struggled to be precise about what he actually registered at the time versus what he saw later on his video, and his openness about his fear of reprisal made him the most heart-breakingly perfect man to be behind that camera.

It was his final words that addressed the gap between the ideal United States and the reality he had just taken in that made me well up and have kept a hold on me ever since.

If you haven't watched the whole thing, please find time to do so. You will love this man's integrity. Otherwise, forward to his final comment at 12:30.

(My own transcription, not an official one. Any errors are mine.)

Anything you want to add? Anything I didn't ask you?

Well, I guess I um....This is a very complicated situation and I'm from Dominican Republic. And in Dominican Republic we look for the authority of the United States, you know, we follow over here you know, the way it's treated over here you know, the people, you know? Not just Dominican Republic, the whole Hispanic countries, you know, and all over the world.

You look up to us?

Yes. I don't think this is a good way, to, you know, for us to see this, you know?

What do you hope happens because you captured that scene on your cell phone? What do you want to come from this?

Well I hope, like I say, I'm putting myself out here to talk and to express this cannot be happening. Not just in north Charleston, but in the whole nation, I would say in the whole world. This needs to stop. The cops taking advantage of their power, to the minority and to the people.

I wonder what lessons Feidin Santana has learned and will continue to learn. I want to say he learned that empathy and truth and justice are strong enough to overpower very real and justified fear. I want him to continue to believe that the only way your country can reach its ideal is for you to push it towards that ideal.




2) On a Lighter Note: Driving Lessons

I can't get this one out of my head either, for different reasons. Put yourself in the young lady's shoes when you read that, for security reasons, Secret Service Agents Taught Malia How to Drive.

Now, I don't know what your learning-to-drive experience was like, but I have a feeling this arrangement made for some highly illuminating instructions, far more informative than if she'd gone out to drive around the parking lot with her dad slamming his imaginary brakes.

And, while Malia still has to be followed by security, she still can get in her car and drive away, probably once or twice around the traffic circles and then back home, but hey. She gets to drive. And she's being taught how to drive by bad-asses.

What lessons would you like the Secret Service to give you?

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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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How Well Do You Know What Your Bodily Noises Indicate?




I subscribe to various WebMD newsletters because you can never know enough about modern medicine, IMO, including what people are googling. Admit it...you have googled your bodily symptoms, perhaps including some of a rather personal nature. The following questions are gleaned from various WebMD quizzes, so the answers are real, with an additional h/t to my pNut's personal expertise.


laughing kidSo, halt your eructations and off-gassings, belay your borborygmus, placate your peristalsis, and try to behave like adults while you see how many questions about your normal bodily functions you can answer correctly.

1) How fast can a sneeze clock in at?


2) How loud is the loudest recorded burp? As loud as a food processor, a chainsaw, or a motorcycle?


3) Can trying to stifle a fart make it louder?


 

4) Can holding a sneeze be dangerous?


5) Are loud stomach gurgles a sign of intestinal trouble?

 

6) If you can hear your own heartbeat what is it most likely caused by?


 

7) Is tinnitus more likely as you get older?


8) How many times a day does a person eating their normal diet pass gas?


9) Americans say "ah-choo" when they sneeze, Filipinos declare "ha-ching," and the Japanese call their sneezing noise "hakashun." What does Tom Cotton say when he sneezes?


 

10) Can having sex cause you to sneeze?




Baby elephant freaks out at own sneeze:
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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

 photo berkeley-homeless-3-27-15_zpslcmcmrkm.jpg

There are those who call Berkeley's streets home. And then there is the Berkeley Downtown Association. Those on Berkeley's streets probably don't think much at all about the BDA per se  - they just want a safe place to keep their stuff and to sleep. The BDA, on the other hand, thinks about the homeless all the time. The BDA wants development. It does not want the homeless in downtown Berkeley, and while it will go to great lengths to sound compassionate and reasonable about their plight, it has gone to even greater lengths to eject the homeless from Berkeley's downtown.

 photo berkeley-homeless-sleep-not-crime_zpsbxjxme2o.jpg

Two years ago the BDA sponsored and financed a sit-and-lie ballot initiative to criminalize homelessness. It narrowly failed.

Around that time the BDA also created its own army of "hospitality ambassadors" who patrol downtown Berkeley cleaning up trash (good), assisting tourists (good) and harassing the homeless (bad). They had been restrained in how much harassment they could get away with without raising the hackles of Berkeley's civil libertarians until... the number of homeless began to increase. And increase some more. And "Something had to be done." Then...

Just weeks ago the BDA exerted its political muscle and convinced six of the nine members of Berkeley's City Council (they didn't need much convincing) to put into motion the process for passage of criminalizing ordinances that would push the homeless away and effectively into Alameda County's jails - to Declare War on the Homeless (Part I).

Although nothing has yet been enacted, in beginning the process the BDA and the City Council sent a loud and clear message to the Berkeley police, BDA's ambassadors, and the online trolls who have no other purpose in life but to write nasty and subtly threatening comments about the homeless: it was open season on people in the streets.

And so this came to pass:


Berkeley 'Hospitality Ambassador' Punches Homeless Man in Face, Continues the Beating. Homeless Man Arrested.


We watch as one of BDA's ambassadors and a man face off, just inches apart and screaming at each other (obvious no-nos to begin with on the part of the so-called ambassador). Then the BDA employee delivers a hard right to the man's jaw, and commences pummelling him. Mayhem ensues.

All this would have been bad enough, if not for what happened afterwards. The ambassadors reported the incident to their supervisors but blatently lied about what happened.

"((The)) report did not represent the extent and severity of the altercation, describing the event as an act of self-defense by the ambassador"
Why not lie, after all, for who would believe homeless people over them? (Not unlike a number of instances of police reports describing beatings for which video was later revealed)

Hours after the confrontation, on Friday evening, March 20th, the police came and arrested the homeless duo, taking them off to jail for the weekend. On Monday, they were arraigned and for whatever reasons copped to various misdemeanors in a plea deal.

... both already had entered no contest pleas Monday for misdemeanor battery, and were sentenced to two years of probation. According to the district attorney's office, they received credit for time served, will have to pay into a restitution fund, and will be subject to law enforcement searches and prohibited from possessing weapons. They also were ordered to stay away from the downtown Berkeley CVS.
Unbeknownst to almost everyone the above video had been recorded, and it was posted sometime on Sunday. Not 'til Thursday, however, did it get any attention when a local newspaper, Berkelyside, wrote up the story and embedded the video on their website.

 photo berkeley-homeless-flyer-dba_zps08sjwnrq.jpg

As you might imagine, then the shit hit the fan. The BDA ambassador who threw the first punch was fired and the other one suspended. The story got picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle and The UK's Guardian in Friday's editions. The youtube video has been viewed almost 35,000 times (as this is being published). BDA officials profusely apologized (mostly for being caught on video, we assume). Of course it was too late - the two victims were now injected (or re-injected) into the criminal injustice system.

The City Councilor who sponsored the new legislation stated during the debate on it (to guffaws) that she did not wish to criminalize the homeless. And yet even before the proposals are implemented we have prima facie evidence that, unlike Dorothy, her wishes are not coming true (or maybe they are).

 photo berkeley-homeless-keys-not-handcuffs_zpscddp7ov2.jpg

Let's be clear: by the very act of proposing such legislation, let alone enacting it, something similar to what happened here was bound to happen, if not sooner, then later.  And it may in fact have already happened more than once - just not caught on video.

We've soon enough seen the result of effective carte blanche given to the DBA and the Berkeley Police to "deal" with the homeless and "enforce our laws." Do we need to wait until someone is much more seriously injured, or even killed, before realizing and effecting what study after study has shown - criminalizing the homeless is not the answer.

-----

Credits:

These pictures were first published on the First They Came for the Homeless Facebook, credited to 'Menefee.'  

FTCftH also posted the following statement:

The war on the poor is happening now in Berkeley. The Downtown Business Association represents the money. The people who don't have any don't count. Get the homeless away from the businesses. Make it so they can't be on the sidewalk. This is the plan. Unfortunately for them, we know it's our sidewalk too. And we aren't giving up our rights because of a few greedy people.
Statement from an East Bay Community Law Center legal activist:
Osha Neumann, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center, said, "Multiple times in the past couple months, private citizens have recorded Berkeley Police arresting homeless people with disabilities in ways that resulted in injuries. This incident differs only in that the shirt is yellow rather than blue.

Just last week, the DBA brought to Berkeley's City Council a slate of six new anti-homeless laws that criminalize everyday activities. This isn't a coincidence. When the DBA pushes for criminalization, police and ambassadors feel pressured to use force to push homeless citizens out of public spaces. We don't want to see just the one guy who got caught fired: We want the DBA to end its campaign of criminalization and brutality against homeless people. If they want to address homelessness, then they need to be good faith members of the community, and participate in public processes like the Homeless Taskforce."

Discuss
Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Would You Like to Have Technologically Assisted Memory?



Disclaimer: I am not on Facebook, I don't use any wearable technology, and I haven't invested in any of these stocks.

Wearable-Technology

Facebook has just launched an app known as "On This Day" in which your posts from a year ago at this time are reprised. If this sounds mildly horrifying, have no fear: If your relationship status has changed or your pootie died or you experienced an epic case of food poisoning a year ago you won't get prompted to remember those things. Just the pleasant things. Because the Book of Face knows what you want to recall. Alternatively you can choose Timehop which can revive everything you ever did on any social media platform for any day in the past to throw that back in your face. Now that fabulous night of drunk-blogging naked selfies or tweet-fighting that Breitbart troll can be instantly recalled!

In other relive-your-life technology and inspired by GoPro's wearable sports cameras, a company called Lifelogger has created a wearable camera that creates a continuous log of your life so that you may film, archive, retrieve and re-live your favorite memories any time you like. Yup, your life's events can now be stored in the Cloud and live-streamed for infinite instant solipsistic nostalgia.

Seriously. What could go wrong?

It seems that as the media has discovered mindfulness all over again as a means of soothing modern life's overload, other insidious forces want to see you tethered even more firmly to your technology.

Naturally, not everyone is up to speed yet.

Wearable-technology (1)
Are you getting all this?

We have our own time-machine here at Daily Kos, of course.


To search your own history for a year ago today just click on the search box, enter your name under "By Author(s)", choose either comments or diaries and enter last year's date to see what was on your mind or who you were actively flaming that day. Oh look, somebody had a birthday, I wonder who?

Search comments

What were you up to a year ago at this time?
Or, if you're more interested in the present, what are you up to today?

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Background:

 photo berkeley-post-office-generic_zpsa20d581c.jpg

For at least two and half years The City of Berkeley and its residents have been fighting the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way. They even went so far as to rezone land in the Historic District the Post Office is a part of to preclude commercial use of the properties within it. (This would theoretically make it less attractive for the United States Postal Service (USPS) to sell the property.)  The saga of this fight, the ensuing Occupation of the downtown Post Office, and the national fight against the privatization of Postal Services has been documented in numerous diaries here at Daily Kos by yours truly. (references herein and at the bottom).

In early November, 2014, the City of Berkeley and the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed suits in tandem to stop the sale of the downtown Post Office, immediately after USPS announced that they had a buyer under contract for the property. The suit claims that USPS has failed to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the National Historical Preservation Act (NHPA), bypassing proper procedures (such as an environmental review and proper protection mechanisms for New Deal artwork inside the building) in its haste to sell.

 photo polb-stop-the-sale_zps0e6df9c3.jpg

Several weeks later the buyer backed out of the sale, and, to make a long story short, the Post Office then filed a "Motion to Dismiss" on, among other grounds, the claim that since the Allston Way Post Office was no longer under contract to be sold, there was no case. Berkeley countered with the assertion that the Post Office still intended to sell the building, as evidenced by its April 19th, 2013 "Final Determination" to relocate services out of the building and ultimately sell it, the USPS's July 18th, 2014 decision on appeal to uphold its April 19th decision, and the fact that the property was still listed for sale on the USPS's website of available-for-purchase buildings.

On March 26th, after submission of written arguments and rebuttals, Judge William Alsup of the United States District Court, Northern California heard oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss.

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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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How Do You Celebrate the Onset of Spring?

equinox 2015

So, what makes today Freaky Friday? It's a confluence of true events, including:

  • The first day of spring, aka the vernal equinox, in the northern hemisphere
  • A Supermoon, which is a full or new moon that occurs during the moon's closest approach to Earth on its elliptical orbit
  • A full solar eclipse (though not visible in the U.S.)
  • A day of the year in which you can balance a raw egg on its end
egg_Quaglin1
Strangely, I find this trick of cosmic balance works every day of the year

That last item was folkloric news to me but Snopes, as always, moves in for the buzz-kill:

The Chinese are often cited as having originated the practice of standing eggs on end during the equinox. Just as the equinox symbolically restores balance to the world by signalling its rebirth after a season of darkness, the equinox literally balances the day by dividing it into equal portions of darkness and light. If the symbol of fertility, eggs, could be balanced on end during a day equally divided between day and night, this was a sign that all nature was in harmony.

Nonetheless, the vernal equinox brings no special egg-balancing properties with it. Standing an egg on its end is something just about anyone can do any day of the year; the feat simply takes the right egg and a little trial and practice. Since the vast majority of people never see or try balancing eggs on their ends on any day other than the equinox, though, many of them come away from the experience believing that something special must have occurred on that particular day.

Our spring ritual invariably involves a trip to Table Mountain for the wildflower displays.
Table Mountain view
attribution: Z & B Johnson's Adventures

Table Mountain poppies and lupin
attribution: Jason Branz Photography, jasonbranz.com

Table Mountain Ravine Falls
Ravine Falls - North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve Photo by Greg Mitchell (outside Oroville, in Butte County, California)

When we moved to Paradise in 1990, a new wildlife artist friend took me to Table Mountain. I watched in horror she threw off her clothes, declared "It's the rites of spring!" and plunged into the frigid pool beneath the waterfall. Though I was 20 years her junior she still couldn't goad or shame me into joining her.

What will you do to acknowledge the equinox? Howl at the moon? Spring clean your house? Plant something? Dig out from underneath a blizzard? Stand an egg on its end and declare yourself Master of the Universe? Whatever you do, take a deep breath and enjoy the thought of (eventually) leaving winter behind.

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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Tuesday night, March 17th, to a packed crowd, the Berkeley, Californa City Council voted 6-3 on a plan to banish the homeless from O'Berkeley declare war on the homeless.


 photo berk-homeless-march-3-17-15_zps9ympaazt.jpg
Homeless, advocates and supporters march before the City Council meeting.

Ignoring testimony from academics who had done research on homelessness and criminalization at UC Berkeley, ignoring references to studies that repeatedly showed that criminalizing the homeless did not work, ignoring pleas from those who serve the homeless that criminalizing homelessness would only make their jobs more difficult by denying services to those with warrants and/or arrest records, ignoring reference to Federal recommendations such as

"the Obama administration has cautioned cities against trying to cope with homeless populations by passing laws against 'act of living' crimes like sleeping or sitting... 'Criminalization policies further marginalize men and women who are experiencing homelessness, fuel inflammatory attitudes, and may even unduly restrict constitutionally protected liberties.'",
despite threats of lawsuits, ballot initiatives and the fact that Berkeley Measure S, a measure to criminalize the homeless in 2012, had been defeated, despite testimony from formerly homeless people stating that what they needed to get off the street was assistance, not fines and jail time, despite the fact that the use of police to enforce these laws will inevitably lead to selective enforcement and tragedy (such as the murder of Anthony Hill in Georgia, a mentally disturbed, naked and unarmed man, by an officer), despite the callousness demonstrated by the measure, which would make it a crime to "deploy a blanket" and prevent the homeless from cooking, and despite questionable (at best) parliamentary procedure, the resolution, proposed by Council member Linda Maio, was enacted.
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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Who Had the Most Influence In Raising You?



Were you primarily raised by your parents? Or did a grandparent, sibling, family friend, neighbor, or foster family step in? Were you raised by a village, a committee, wolves, zombies or immigrants?

Mom told the story over and over: On the day I was brought home from the hospital I was immediately handed over to my eager 14 year old sister with the words she had long been waiting to hear, "Here's your baby."

Mary, who had always adored infants and never recovered from that obsession (at age 72 she still loves to babysit!), took me into her arms and doted on me ever after. She wheeled me around in a stroller well past my toddler-hood. She flagged down the Good Humor truck and bought me ice cream with her baby-sitting money. I was brokenhearted when she married when I was only seven, but I soon realized I hadn't lost her. I spent countless weekends at her new home where she let me read contraband (True Confessions and True Crime magazines), drink Coke, bake cakes from a mix and play dominoes and Pinochle with her friends.

I understood early on that Mary wasn't the 'smart one' in the family, but she was all heart, and she made sure I was always loved and held and played with. She and her taxi-driving and often unemployed husband were solidly blue collar and lived in the dumpy parts of town. I learned about welfare and how taking on and loving foster babies boosted their income. When she moved out of town I learned how to ride the RTD and Greyhound lines to visit her. I learned how to cook with commodities and how to turn other people's cast-offs into money at the weekly Swap Meet held at the drive-in theater.

Without her I would have been lost in my large family in those early years. I think she gave me a great foundation.

Government Surplus CheeseBox-757415 (1)
Say Cheese.

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Reposted from Connect! Unite! Act! by smileycreek
A daily series, Connect! Unite! Act! seeks to create face-to-face networks in each congressional district. Groups regularly socialize but also get out the vote, support candidates and engage in other local political actions that help our progressive movement grow and exert influence on the powers-that-be. Visit us at Daily Kos every morning at 7:30 A.M. Pacific Time to see how you can get involved. The comment thread is fun and light-hearted, but we're serious about moving the progressive political agenda forward.

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Ever Had Buyer's Remorse?

(h/t silks' comment yesterday for today's question)

FacepalmWhat's the most regrettable purchase (or purchases!) you ever made? Were you under the influence of any particular emotion when you did so? While nobody likes wasting money we sometimes make that dumbass purchase out of hope, fear, greed or exhilaration. I've certainly wasted my share of money on magical wrinkle creams and various pieces of exercise equipment (though not on the famous Thighmaster, or anything else hawked by Suzanne Somers). There is no need to point out the evident failure of the promises behind these products.

I made my dumbest damn purchase in many years during our Thanksgiving trip to Denver last year. In the course of walking and exploring the Cherry Creek area near our hotel we decided to take a quick turn through the mall, mostly to pick up some high-octane coffee somewhere. We don't shop in malls. I hate malls. It was more like visiting an upscale human zoo than actual shopping.

When an adorably tiny young woman in a kiosk held out her hand to me with a luminous smile on her face I hesitated....and she pounced on that hesitation. In her hand was a dab of liquid she invited me to smell. Yes, very nice. My hair was frizzy from the high altitude dryness and she offered to smooth it out with a bit of free product. She had a lovely exotic accent, and as we started chatting she grabbed an unusual looking curling iron with flat tongs and, taking a lock of my hair in her hands, instantly transformed it into a long ringlet. I laughed like crazy at my transformation into adult Shirley Temple, we both started joking with her, and before I knew it I was perched on a stool while she expertly styled my hair for dinner with my in-laws as she told us about her life in Istanbul and pressed more little packets of free goop into my hands.

I scoffed at the exorbitant price of the ceramic curling iron but as we talked the price of the appliance eventually dropped by half (though it was still stupid expensive). A lifetime guarantee was proffered, and several full-sized bottles of free products were thrown in. Forgetting I couldn't fit any of them into my carry-on bag I just kept accumulating incentives and stories and I ended up walking away with an absurdly priced curling iron I haven't used since because, well....ringlets. My in-laws adored them. Need I say more? Did I mention I hate malls?

My friend Bob has an equation for this type of encounter: Time in equals involvement. This very sharp young woman knew that the longer she kept me talking and the more free stuff she gave me the closer she got to her sale.

I hope she made a good commission. She'll probably be very successful in this country.

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What Type of Humor Do You Enjoy...or Not?


Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog.
Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.

~~ E. B. White
The Element of HumorAt the risk of dissecting the frog, I'll note that psychologists have uncovered four basic humor styles. While your basic style of humor doesn't change much throughout life, people do use various approaches in their day-to-day lives. Some styles are beneficial for self and others while other styles can be more harmful the the group or the individual.

See if someone specific comes to mind as you read each basic humor style.  

Affiliative humor is used to benefit relationships without deprecating self or others by giving everyone something non-threatening to laugh at together. It might be used to break the ice, charm a group or ease tensions in a way that brings people together.

Self-Enhancing humor helps you cope with life's difficulties by laughing at your own quirks or life's foibles in a positive way without putting anyone down, including yourself. As a personal style of coping with difficulty it's a way of finding amusement in the absurdities of life.  

Aggressive humor is at the expense of others and instead of a we're-all-in-this-together vibe it creates an us-against-them atmosphere where someone is going to be the loser. While it may look playful or all in good fun the hidden intent may be to cast someone else as the "other" by disparaging them.

Self Defeating humor is at the expense of yourself as a means of gaining others' approval or as a way to cover up your own feelings of depression or inadequacy so nobody ever knows how you really feel.

I think we each use all four styles of humor in different situations, but are most automatically comfortable with a certain style. I'm mostly uncomfortable with the aggressive style, probably because I'm plagued by a Republican brother who uses it to denigrate everyone who doesn't agree with him. But I do enjoy an edgy stand-up comic like Lewis Black who isn't attacking anyone who's in a position of weakness. Satire at the expense of those in power is funny, while satire or mockery aimed at someone who is considered "less than" never is. As I heard Elon James White say at NN14, political  humor is hard. Leave it to the experts who expend a great deal of time and energy honing the skill to walk right up to the line but not cross over it...much.

Besides the style of humor that characterizes your approach to life there's also the matter of what type of humor makes you laugh. I'm not sure if they are one and the same...what do you think?

So, what type of humor do you enjoy...or not?
Give us examples!

Witty, urbane, highbrow or sophisticated?
Slapstick, juvenile or sophomoric?
Silly, goofy, hyperbolic or absurd?
Black or morbid humor?
Dry or deadpan?
Blue or scatological?
Storytelling, anecdotes, stand-up or joke-telling?
Puns, visual jokes?
Caustic, biting, insulting, sarcastic or mordant?
Parody or ridiculous?
Satirical or ironic?
Situational, farcical, or screwball?
Sitcoms? Chevy Chase movies? Monty Python?
Other???

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