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What to do if your family actually is like that 'SNL' sketch about Adele.

Sometimes 'Saturday Night Live' hits too close to home.

It's Thanksgiving ... during a dramatic election season ... right after a string of hot-button and highly polarizing news stories have made waves here in America.

You know what that means.


GIF via "The Office."

Your Thanksgiving has somewhere between ... oh, I'd say an 80-100% chance of featuring awkward-meets-passive-aggressive-meets-offensive remarks from loved ones this year. (Sorry.)

It's sort of a rule of thumb that at every Thanksgiving, the two topics most people agree should not be brought up — politics and religion — definitely will be brought up.

Will Donald Trump Make America Great Again™? Is Hillary's email scandal really a scandal? Is Larry David a better Bernie Sanders than Bernie Sanders? Do you have to pronounce the exclamation point when you mention Jeb! Bush? You better saddle up because those questions (and so many others) will without a doubt be voiced just as Cousin Jerry passes the green bean casserole.

This Thanksgiving family phenomenon was captured brilliantly (and hilariously) by "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend.

In the sketch, just as these arguments are peaking, a politically polarized family is able to find unity around the table thanks to the magic of "Hello" by Adele (the episode's musical guest).

GIFs via "Saturday Night Live."

As seen in the clip below, it's hysterical. But it also begs the question: How should I respond when my family makes absurd and offensive remarks that absolutely should not go unchecked?

Well, #1, remember: They're family. And you (probably) love them. Don't resort to any mean-spirited name-calling you'll regret by Black Friday. (Stay calm ... take deep breaths ... everything will be OK.)

And #2, be prepared. If the conversation goes there (and again, chances are it will), have the facts ready to unload. Because, as you know already, they're on your side.

Here's how to respond to the three outrageous remarks from the sketch that you might actually face on Thursday.

Juuust in case Thanksgiving dinner suddenly feels like a sketch comedy show.

1. "Why is it that your ... friends ... keep antagonizing the police?"

Oh, the good 'ole "Are cops racist?" debate. (I can already hear Aunt Mary explaining why #AllLivesMatter amongst the clatter of cutlery on fine china.)

If you have a family member who doesn't think racism plays a big role in our justice system — and if you're white, you probably do — you can use this powerful tool we have called data to make your point.

Here's what to use in response: Racial inequality exists in our justice system and law enforcement. No, that doesn't mean all cops are maliciously racist. But it does mean that implicit bias — subconsciously allowing stereotypes to affect our behavior — does affect all of us (cops or not).

In terms of police arrests, there's a "staggering disparity" between whites and blacks in America. As far as jail time? Black people are ordered significantly longer sentences than their white counterparts for committing the same crime and punished more severely when it comes to drug violations. All of this, compounded with the fact that black Americans are far more likely to be killed by police, sort of puts the "racism is dead" argument to bed.

So, of course, Aunt Mary, all lives matter. But because of far-reaching racial injustice throughout our society, it's important to specifically point out that black ones do, too.

2. "I heard the refugees are all ISIS in disguise."

OK, so Uncle Bob probably won't say something as outrageous as all refugees are members of ISIS. But you probably will hear something along the lines of, "We can't let 'em in because #NationalSecurity."

It's disappointing that this line of thinking has influenced several governors and presidential candidates on the subject because the facts don't really add up.

Here's what to use in response: America's vetting process for potential refugees is multilayered and rigorous (the White House doesn't just, you know, yell, "All aboard!" and close the door after the last person hops on an imaginary ship coming from the Middle East).

Six of the nine attackers in Paris identified so far are European nationals — not Syrian refugees.

The process, which takes more than a year (or often much longer) for the average applicant to complete, is comprised of background checks, in-person interviews, and medical evaluations. The process is halted or abandoned altogether if anything remotely indicating a red flag surfaces.

Furthermore, Syria's refugee crisis doesn't actually have much to do with the attacks in Paris ... like, at all. Six of the nine attackers identified so far are European nationals — not Syrian refugees.

And as Vox points out, it would have been (much) easier for the terrorists in Paris to enter the U.S. posing as tourists than as Syrians escaping war in their country.

Bottom line: The process to screen refugees has been thorough and effective. We shouldn't stop helping those in need simply out of fear.

3. "There weren't any [people who are transgender] around when I was younger."

Nope, nope, nope.

Unfortunately, the idea that being transgender is some modern-day invention is nothing new. But it's certainly wrong.

Here's what to use in response: Being trans can be tough. You face higher rates of discrimination in housing and employment and are generally more at risk of violence. Sadly, our collective intolerance has resulted in an alarmingly high suicide rate among people who are transgender.

It wasn't until pretty recently that mainstream America even began discussing these issues in any substantial way. And a lack of social awareness in generations past meant being transgender wasn't even a thing to be cognizant of to older Americans.

"Although the word 'transgender' and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century," the Human Rights Campaign explains, "people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history."

It's only because of relatively recent strides in visibility that more people are becoming aware of trans issues and knowingly befriending folks who are transgender.

Just because you don't realize something exists doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

So there you have it. When life hands you ignorant remarks from family members, make fact-based arguments (in a calm voice) and put their comments in their place.

But if all else fails ... there's always Adele.

Check out the entire sketch below:

Pop Culture

Airbnb host finds unexpected benefits from not charging guests a cleaning fee

Host Rachel Boice went for a more "honest" approach with her listings—and saw major perks because of it.

@rachelrboice/TikTok

Many frustrated Airbnb customers have complained that the separate cleaning fee is a nuisance.

Airbnb defines its notorious cleaning fee as a “one-time charge” set by the host that helps them arrange anything from carpet shampoo to replenishing supplies to hiring an outside cleaning service—all in the name of ensuring guests have a “clean and tidy space.”

But as many frustrated Airbnb customers will tell you, this feature is viewed as more of a nuisance than a convenience. According to NerdWallet, the general price for a cleaning fee is around $75, but can vary greatly between listings, with some units having cleaning fees that are higher than the nightly rate (all while sometimes still being asked to do certain chores before checking out). And often none of these fees show up in the total price until right before the booking confirmation, leaving many travelers feeling confused and taken advantage of.

However, some hosts are opting to build cleaning fees into the overall price of their listings, mimicking the strategy of traditional hotels.

Rachel Boice runs two Airbnb properties in Georgia with her husband Parker—one being this fancy glass plane tiny house (seen below) that promises a perfect glamping experience.

@rachelrboice Welcome to The Tiny Glass House 🤎 #airbnbfinds #exploregeorgia #travelbucketlist #tinyhouse #glampingnotcamping #atlantageorgia #fyp ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

Like most Airbnb hosts, the Boice’s listing showed a nightly rate and separate cleaning fee. According to her interview with Insider, the original prices broke down to $89 nightly, and $40 for the cleaning fee.

But after noticing the negative response the separate fee got from potential customers, Rachel told Insider that she began charging a nightly rate that included the cleaning fee, totaling to $129 a night.

It’s a marketing strategy that more and more hosts are attempting in order to generate more bookings (people do love feeling like they’re getting a great deal) but Boice argued that the trend will also become more mainstream since the current Airbnb model “doesn’t feel honest.”

"We stay in Airbnbs a lot. I pretty much always pay a cleaning fee," Boice told Insider. "You're like: 'Why am I paying all of this money? This should just be built in for the cost.'"

Since combining costs, Rachel began noticing another unexpected perk beyond customer satisfaction: guests actually left her property cleaner than before they were charged a cleaning fee. Her hypothesis was that they assumed she would be handling the cleaning herself.

"I guess they're thinking, 'I'm not paying someone to clean this, so I'll leave it clean,'" she said.

This discovery echoes a similar anecdote given by another Airbnb host, who told NerdWallet guests who knew they were paying a cleaning fee would “sometimes leave the place looking like it’s been lived in and uncleaned for months.” So, it appears to be that being more transparent and lumping all fees into one overall price makes for a happier (and more considerate) customer.

These days, it’s hard to not be embittered by deceptive junk fees, which can seem to appear anywhere without warning—surprise overdraft charges, surcharges on credit cards, the never convenience “convenience charge” when purchasing event tickets. Junk fees are so rampant that certain measures are being taken to try to eliminate them outright in favor of more honest business approaches.

Speaking of a more honest approach—as of December 2022, AirBnb began updating its app and website so that guests can see a full price breakdown that shows a nightly rate, a cleaning fee, Airbnb service fee, discounts, and taxes before confirming their booking.

Guests can also activate a toggle function before searching for a destination, so that full prices will appear in search results—avoiding unwanted financial surprises.


This article originally appeared on 11.08.23

National Autistic Society/Youtube

"Diverted" educational video shared through the Too Much Information Campaign.

Everyone who lives with autism experiences it somewhat differently. You'll often hear physicians and advocates refer to the spectrum that exists for those who are autistic, pointing to a wide range of symptoms and skills.

But one thing many autistic people experience is sensory processing issues.


For autistic people, processing the world around them when it comes to sight, smell, or touch can be challenging, as their senses are often over- or under-sensitive. Certain situations — like meandering through a congested mall or enduring the nonstop blasting of police sirens — can quickly become unbearable.

This reality is brought to life in a new video by the U.K.'s National Autistic Society (NAS).

The eye-opening PSA takes viewers into the mind of a autistic woman as she thinks about struggling to stay composed in a crowded, noisy train.

It's worth a watch:

The PSA hit especially close to home for 22-year-old actress and star of the video Saskia Lupin, who is autistic herself. "Overall I feel confused," she said, of abrupt changes to her routine. "Like I can't do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

She's not alone.

According to a study cited in NAS' press release, 75% of autistic people say unexpected changes make them feel socially isolated. What's more, 67% reported seeing or hearing negative reactions from the public when they try to calm themselves down in such situations — from eyerolls and stares to unwelcome, hurtful comments.

The new PSA aims to improve that last figure in particular.

It's part of the organization's Too Much Information campaign — an initiative to build empathy and understanding in allistic (i.e., not autistic) people for those on the spectrum.

Autism Awareness Day, campaign, World Autism Awareness Week

Campaign by National Autistic Society created to share the autistic experience to the world.

Photo from Pixabay

"It isn't that the public sets out to be judgmental towards autistic people," Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, said in a statement in 2016. It's just that, often, the public doesn't "see" the autism.

"They see a 'strange' man pacing back and forth in a shopping center," Lever explained, "or a 'naughty' girl having a tantrum on a bus, and don't know how to respond."

Well, now we do.

Instead of staring, rolling your eyes, or thinking judgmental thoughts about the young person's parents, remember: You have no idea what that stranger on the train is going through.

“We can't make the trains run on time," said Lever. But even the simplest, smallest things — like remembering not to stare and giving a person some space and compassion if they need it — can make a big difference.


This article originally appeared on 03.28.18

Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15

How to clear a stuffy nose instantly.

With cold season upon us, there's no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose.

Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.


Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.


Watch the YouTube video below:

This article first appeared on 9.8.17.

Pop Culture

A brave fan asks Patrick Stewart a question he doesn't usually get and is given a beautiful answer

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through.

Patrick Stewart often talks about his childhood and the torment his father put him and his mother through. However, how he answered this vulnerable and brave fan's question is one of the most eloquent, passionate responses about domestic violence I've ever seen.



WARNING: At 2:40, he's going to break your heart a little.

You can read more about Heather Skye's hug with Captain Picard at her blog.


This article originally appeared on 06.26.13.