31 December 2016

2017 | The Pit Of Man's Fears

Via FB
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

28 December 2016

10 December 2016

Amy Dickinson Nails It

Ask Amy column
Baltimore Sun | 28 Nov 16

And, similarly:
Attributed to actress Deborah Messing on Twitter | Via FB

09 December 2016

08 December 2016

Caga Tio

Natalia Zakharova/Getty Images
From the website:
... Caga Tió, the “shit log."
The tradition begins on the evening of December 8th, with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a public holiday celebrating Mary’s preservation from original sin. On this night, Catalonian families assemble their version of a Yule log, called Tió de Nadal. The log consists of a hollow wooden block propped up on stick legs. It’s decorated with a smiley face and adorned with a blanket to keep him warm. On his head he wears a jaunty red woolen beret, called a barretina, which is traditionally worn as a symbol of Catalan identity.
Every night until Christmas Eve, Catalonian children approach the log, offering him an assortment of food and drink (usually vegetables, nuts and water) in an effort to jumpstart the log’s digestive tract. The payoff comes on Christmas Eve, when the children, armed with sticks, surround the log and literally beat the shit out of him. When the abuse is complete, the children retreat to their bedrooms to pray for a plentiful haul, while their parents hide presents and candies underneath the log’s blanket.
At long last, the children return to the scene of the crime to lift up the log’s covering and reveal what presents Tió de Nadal has released from the depths of its bowels; if the parents are lucky, the log will gift them with a urinated stream of white wine. The log signals the end of the festivities by dropping a deuce of smelly salt herring. Centuries ago, when the tradition was initially established, families would burn the logs and spread the ashes across their crops, stables and beds, in an attempt to increase fertility and prosperity.
In Spain, creating the logs is such a lucrative line of work that artists, known as tionaires, have created entire businesses around the ritual. These artisans begin preparing the wood in February, so the logs will be dry and ready to decorate by summer. The finished products are sold at Catalan Christmas markets, with some artists accepting requests for made-to-order logs in the style of superheroes or comic book characters. Some families purchase multiple logs of various sizes and replace them every few days, creating the illusion that the log is growing, slowly becoming bloated with both poop and presents. 
Merry Christmas, tomB

30 November 2016

27 November 2016

24 November 2016

Jabba Wishes You A Happy Thanksgiving

Via FB | First posted in 2015

17 November 2016

Guide to Ethical Purchasing

This website rates companies and/or CEOs based on where they made political contributions, mostly in the 2016 election.
Data gathered from the Center for Responsive Politics (www.opensecrets.org), www.campaignmoney.com, and the Federal Election Commission (www.fec.gov). 
Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge where PAC money is going and who is contributing, and this list may not be completely accurate (or inclusive) so feel free to contact admin@ethicalpurchasing.info if you have additional information.

Red: Companies that contributed to Trump/Pence campaign (or Ted Cruz), whose CEO’s publicly endorsed Trump, and/or who support more extremist right-wing policies/organizations
Yellow: Companies who have contributed to both GOP/Democrat candidates. Those closer to the red zone favor GOP candidates.
Green: Companies who contributed to HRC and/or other Democrat candidates, and/or whose CEOs who have publicly supported HRC and/or liberal causes.

16 November 2016

How to Effectively Lobby Your Congressperson

Emily Ellswoth in Jezebel:
It’s been almost a week since the election, and maybe you’re ready to throw off the sackcloth and ashes and get to work. Combining the anger, bargaining, and depression stages of grief can lead to powerful actions, and now is the time to channel that energy into specific activism that will serve as a barrier between you and whatever legislation and policies come down in the next four years.
I worked for Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Congressman Chris Stewart (R-Utah) from 2009 to 2014 as a state office-staffer. My full-time job was to listen to constituents and make sure their voices were heard by their elected officials. After nearly six years on the job, I got a good idea of what types of activism worked and what didn’t. I learned that a coordinated effort with a large group of people goes a long way toward influencing change. Here’s how to make that happen.
Recognize how congressional representatives and their staffs work
Members of the House of Representatives have small budgets and a small staff of a dozen or so people and a handful of interns. Senators have much larger budgets and staff, but they also represent a larger constituency, meaning they run into similar problems with trying to listen to everyone in their state.
Because elected officials represent hundreds of thousands and even millions of people, they rely on a few systems to try to prioritize and respond to constituent correspondence in many forms. Social media is not as powerful because it’s easy to ignore and impossible to tell if you live in their district or state. Emails and letters are usually grouped by topic and counted, and mass mailings of form letters that address the topic generally are sent in response.
This is why responses rarely respond directly to your concerns and feel often feel impersonal. Your messages are tracked and put into reports for the representative to read, and a few are selected by staffers for the representative to look at individually. With hundreds of letters and emails coming in every day, it’s impossible for staff to always recognize which are most important or for the representative to read them.
Understand why phone calls and in-person meetings are more effective
Because emails and other written correspondence is so easily batched by computer programs, a hundred or a thousand emails on a subject both require the same amount of effort by staff. Phone calls are more effective because they require a staffer to be on the phone with someone and respond to questions immediately.
Calling your representative’s DC office might feel more natural because they are the office primarily responsible for managing legislation. However, the state office staffers are usually from your state and part of the community you live in—they are truly local. Also, state office numbers are less likely to be busy or have a long hold. Significant volumes of calls in a state office also require coordination by the DC and district office staff and get noticed right away.
From time to time, I had large groups of people come into our state office by appointment and share their stories. This was particularly effective with immigration and climate change groups who brought in experts to answer questions. They gave perspective and knowledge we would not have had otherwise. It is easy to get an appointment with a local staffer or a DC staffer, and these relationships pay off.
For those who are unable to make phone calls or in-person visits for any reason, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean your voice goes unheard. Most constituents have never contacted their representative, so you’re miles ahead of your neighbors. Sending emails and letters as part of a coordinated effort make a difference and send a message.
Get involved with local advocacy groups
Advocacy groups do more than spend money on lobbying in Washington, DC. Many of them have local chapters organize and make connections with members of congress and their staff. The most effective ones understand that a direct connection with the staff is just as important as meeting with the representative.
Advocacy groups research the most important pieces of legislation and where they are in Congress. They know who is on which committees and can organize phone trees, email campaigns, and in-person meetings to put pressure on elected officials. They organize and activate so you don’t have to be an expert on everything and you can be as involved as you’d like.
These groups also present an opportunity for those who live in districts or states where they largely agree with their representatives. They need your volunteer and monetary support for areas where there is more work to be done.
Know who to call and what to talk about
As angry as you might be about the election, the electoral college, or the president-elect’s tweets, your member of congress does not have control over these things. Be informed about who your member of congress is and what role they play in the federal government. Do not call your House of Representatives member asking for Supreme Court confirmation hearings, because those hearings happen in the Senate—call your senator instead.
Similarly, do not bother calling a representative’s office if you do not live in their district. Most offices ask where you live and do not record opinions from outside their districts and states. Instead, focus on encouraging your own representative when you agree with them or pushing for more action.
Keep your phone calls brief and ask questions that a staffer must answer. For instance, rather than calling in with a rant about obstructionist policies (completely legitimate, but easy to ignore), come up with a natural script with specifics such as bill numbers and it’s place on the schedule so the staff knows you know what you’re talking about.
Make sure you ask your question in a way that is respectful and requires an answer. If they dodge the question, you can ask it again, voice your opinion, and then ask that it be recorded. If the staffer doesn’t know enough about the issue (often an intern), you can ask to speak to a senior staffer or the legislative director who will know more about the policy and the representative’s position.
Now is the time to begin grassroots organization. Get involved in a few key issues that are relevant in your state and that are important to you. Reach out to groups that already have networks and begin volunteering. Put your representatives’ numbers in your phone. You’ll be ready now and on January 22nd.
Read the series tweets that prompted this article here.

Emily Ellsworth is a freelance writer, editor, and social media marketer. She worked for Congressman Jason Chaffetz from 2009-2012 as his Provo district office manager and for Congressman Chris Stewart from 2013-2014 as his constituent services manager. During the 2016 election, she was a part of the group Republican Women for Hillary and ran a local chapter in Utah.


13 November 2016

11 November 2016

Getting Woke | The 7 Stages of White People Getting Woke

Jamie Varon in Complex:
We all watched as Matt McGorry went from the cute prison guard in Orange is the New Black to that woke white guy who’s using his celebrity influence to raise awareness around injustice and inequality. Thanks to the Internet and the removal of media gatekeepers, we’ve seen a growing number of prominent celebrities ... wake up to the harsh realities that people of color face. Anyone who can access the web has a voice now, and while the Internet can be a breeding ground for hatred, it's also a place where we can learn from each others' experiences. 
I know I'm not alone in waking up to the subtle and insidious ways that racism permeates the lives of so many Americans. Although I doubt most white people believe we're living in a "post-racial America," hearing stories from POCs about their experiences with racism is eye-opening. From rampant police brutality and heightened incarceration rates to socioeconomic inequality and job discrimination, there's an entire segment of America that many white people are unaware of. 
At least, that's until they wake the hell up, and see what's going on around them. When white people go from oblivious to activist, there’s a certain pattern that emerges. Here are the seven stages of getting "woke" ...
Varon's seven stages are recognition, research, feel, connect, defend, purge, and dream.

Read the rest of the article here.

Safety-Pin Movement

Randall Aubrey in The Daily Kos:
In the wake of "Brexit," the UK's referendum to leave the European Union, hundreds of thousands of British citizens took to wearing a safety pin on their lapel, a quiet and dignified gesture intended to signal to their immigrant brothers and sisters that they stood in solidarity with them against the tide of fear and hate that drove the Brexit decision.
Simply put, I say that, in the wake of Trump's election, we repeat the practice here in the states. Too many reports have already flooded the airwaves indicating a sharp increase in racially-motivated violence and intimidation across the country, and while this simple act may not change that, it will demonstrate to those who are the targets of such aggression in your community that they have allies on the streets, and not just the Internet.

Leonard Cohen | 1934-2016

Heartfelt, true, relevant, cynical, hopeful, evocative. visceral, validating. Suzanne and Hallelujah may be his best-known songs, but Everybody Knows has always been my favorite.

Read the Rolling Stone article on his life and music here.

Listen to the original studio version of Everybody Knows here.
Read the lyrics to Everybody Knows here.

10 November 2016

Dunning-Kruger Effect | Illusory Superiority

Loveland, Colorado | October 2016 | Nate Gowdy
The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University, occurs where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence — or specifically, their incompetence — at a task and thus consider themselves much more competent than everyone else. This lack of awareness is attributed to their lower level of competence robbing them of the ability to critically analyse their performance, leading to a significant overestimate of themselves. In simple words it's "people who are too stupid to know how stupid they are".
... The Dunning-Kruger effect is a slightly more specific case of the bias known as illusory superiority, where people tend to overestimate their good points in comparison to others around them, while concurrently underestimating their negative points. The effect has been shown by experiment in several ways, but in this case Dunning and Kruger tested students on a series of criteria such as humour, grammar, and logic and compared the actual test results with each student's own estimation of their performance.
Those who scored well on these tests were shown, consistently, to underestimate their performance. This is not terribly surprising and can be explained as a form of psychological projection: those who found the tasks easy (and thus scored highly) mistakenly thought that they would also be easy for others. This is similar to the aforementioned "impostor syndrome" — found notably in graduate students and high-achieving women — whereby high achievers fail to recognise their talents as they think that others must be equally good.
More interestingly, and the subject of what became known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, those who scored lowest on the test were found to have "grossly overestimated" their scores. And what about the underachievers who overestimated their performance? In the words of Dunning and Kruger: This overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these domains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.
Source | Journal Article  

07 November 2016

Via FB

06 April 2016

Sad Pants

Manohar Sapre via FB

27 March 2016

Happy Easter

Ms. Lanny-yap's all-time favorite.

23 March 2016

National Puppy Day

Bisou and Edgar | 2009

18 March 2016

Presented Without Comment | Wind And Wankpuffins

Via FB

Edgar Mitchell, 1930-2016

from a fifth grader | via FB

Wankpuffin is my new favorite word.

16 March 2016

Squatty Potty | Pooping Perfection

Only the addition of monkeys and bacon could make this better.

Thanks, tomB

16 February 2016

Henry Lizardlover Loves Lizards

YouTube via The Poke

From the website:

Henry Lizardlover raises many lizards in his home. In time, Henry's pet lizards developed superior qualities, unusual calm and trust around people, they became willing to pose in human like ways for photographs. Henry enjoys sharing his ideas and experience on IGUANA BEHAVIOR AND HEALTH CARE... and to promote cultivation of conscious lizard love, because lizard love is the fulfilling of the law.

24 January 2016

Blizzilla 2016 | Baltimore City

4:00 pm 22 January 2016

1:00 pm 23 January 2016

7:30 pm 23 January 2016

11:00 am 24 January 2016

Blizzilla 2016 | Speed Hump

Steve Daviss in Hamilton

23 January 2016

11 January 2016

Bryan Lewis Saunders | Under The Influence



Nitrous and Valium

Pruno (Prison wine)

Bath Salts


It’s a topic that’s inspired endless debate—the link between art and creativity and brain-altering chemicals. Usually, the drugs are a lifestyle choice of "creative" types. In the case of artist Bryan Lewis Saunders, they were a key part of the process and end product.
Saunders, a performance and visual artist, undertook a high profile experiment in creativity, starting several years ago whereby, according to the artist, he created a series of self-portraits, each one done under the influence of a different substance—pretty much an A to Z assortment, from prescription meds like Abilify and Xanax to crystal meth. Over the weeks he’d create amazing pieces, suffer mild brain damage and end up hospitalized—all for the sake of art and creation.
... While this was all done in the name of art, Saunders is quick to say that the drug use is nothing to be proud of. "To be honest I’m not proud to be on any drugs in any pictures. I think drugs make me look really ugly. And I’m really a six trick pony, but the world only likes one of my tricks. Each year 500,000 kids around the world discover drugs and so the virus never dies." Saunders, who started creating a self-portrait a day in 1995, has done over 8,600 self-portraits ...
More at FastCoCreate | Bryan Lewis Saunders

09 January 2016

Matt Bucy | Of Oz The Wizard

Vimeo via FB

An alphabetized version of the entire film ...

More at CinemaBlend

Differences Between Sadness And Depression

In the United States, close to 10 percent of the population struggles with depression, but sometimes it can take a long time for someone to even understand that they are suffering. One difficulty in diagnosis is trying to distinguish between feeling down and experiencing clinical depression.
A new TED-Ed video can help someone make the distinction. With simple animation, the video explains how clinical depression lasts longer than two weeks, with a range of symptoms that can include changes in appetite, poor concentration, restlessness, sleep disorders (either too much or too little), and suicidal ideation. The video briefly discusses the neuroscience behind the illness, outlines treatments, and offers advice on how you can help a friend or loved one who may have depression.
Unlike the many pharmaceutical ads out there with their cute mascots and vague symptoms, the video uses animation to provide clarity about the mental disorder. It’s similar in its poignant simplicity to the HBO short documentary, “My Depression,” based on Liz Swados’s book of the same name.
GOOD Magazine | TED-Ed on YouTube

04 January 2016

Importance Of Electing A Mentally Healthy Narcissist

This is a severely excerpted selection from an open letter by Craig Malkin, a psychologist who studies narcissism. The original letter was posted online in Psychology Today.
... As an expert on narcissism, I'm not especially worried that narcissists might make it to the White House. According to research, they've always been there. And that shouldn't scare us anyway, because, just to be clear: Being a narcissist is not a diagnosis. It never has been. Narcissists are people higher in narcissistic traits than the average person, and while they may or may not be disordered, they all share one thing in common: They feel special. Some feel special enough to lead a nation, in fact. What we should be far more concerned about is not whether politicians are narcissists -- most are -- but how healthy they are.

... Politicians are groomed by us -- by our applause, by our polls, by our votes. Whatever you seem to love or hate, they'll embrace or reject. So be careful what you applaud or attack. It matters what they-- and all the little future leaders watching them -- think you want in a leader.

  1. Do applaud careful reflection.
  2. Don't applaud insults.
  3. Do applaud feelings.
  4. Don't applaud manipulation.
  5. Do applaud collaborative behavior.
  6. Don't applaud black-and-white thinking.
  7. Do applaud apologies.
  8. Don't applaud evasiveness.
  9. Do applaud curiosity.
Learn more at Dr. Malkin's FB page.

Presented Without Comment

All via FB