Eps. 155 – How to Fix A Broken Record; Guest, Amena Brown

Today my guest is Amena Brown.  Amena is a poet, speaker, author, podcaster, and event host. Today we will discus her work and her book: How to Fix a Broken Record: Thoughts on Vinyl Records, Awkward Relationships, and Learning to Be Myself (DJ Opdiggy’s music is featured in this episode.)

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Lady Evelyn Cornelia – Scratch Dispatch 1

The following is a transcript message from Lady Evelyn Cornelia to fans, supporters, and friends of the podcast and of her majesty.

Dear Subjects,

I am well.

You may have noticed the rather menacing photo of me circulating. It is featured here to help you understand.


It is not a flattering image particularly, but I am pleased that it is circulating if it produces the proper attention in the general public and gives pause to friends of the show who, unlike you–my dear favorite listeners, have been a bit stingy with their monies toward our efforts. 


The podcast needs more support, and now it’s purrsonal.


We all feel the financial pinch occasionally. It wasn’t that long ago that I had to switch to more chicken in my diet and fewer trips to my catnip resource person, just to do my part. But, we do what we can. 

Because I went down to six trips purr week, there was a significant lull in my enthusiasm toward humans at the beginning of this month. I took it out on the corner of the blue lounge chair. First, I acted as though I was stretching and then…whoops… I just got my claws stuck.


Then, I pulled them in and out a few times. But after this point, I simply got lost in my work and forgot to be sly about any of it. I did some shredding, because, of course, my catnip dose was off, as I mentioned earlier.


I have a few things I’d like to leave you with to reflect on as you enjoy the coming weeks and until you hear from me again, which I know you very much look forward to.


  1. Never assume that cats have short memories. We don’t. We remember and the pee on the rug is no accident. It could be from a real or imagined slight 3 years ago. And, why it happened is really none of your business. Try to do better next time and it won’t happen at all.
  2. Remember that wet counters or floors are gross and no one, least of all us like to touch them. Simply wipe up and no harm will come to you.
  3. Grabby children are demons. The should be banished from earth. Keep them in a pen outdoors where they belong and throw them food if you have to nourish them.

If you’d like advice on life, love, or catnip, please send in your queries. I’d be delighted to help.

That’s all for now, my lovelies. Ta!



How to Be Miserable in 3 Easy Steps [SSL73]

another Wednesday audio delivery!

This is Soul School Lesson 73 (SSL 73)

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(feature photo is a Creative Common image by Elvin – Zilverbat called “Angry Young World”)

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EPS 30: Why is it funny? A neuroscientist on humor studies

  • What makes something funny?
  • Can the science behind what makes us laugh teach us something about how to make better decisions, or how to getting along better with others?
  • Why do some people find things offensive that others find hilarious?
  • What factors influence humor and can they be altered for desirable outcomes?
  • Can the brain recover from major damage and how plastic is it?

All these questions and many more are studied using experiments and FMRI brain scans at the Goel Neuroscience Lab at Toronto’s York University to unlock the role of emotion in decision-making, mental systems, and human behavior.

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Dr. Vinod Goel is my guest today. He is a neuroscientist of note, but he is currently on sabbatical in Zurich, so he will not likely be joining us for our LIVE discussion portion on humor on October 13.

Enjoy my recorded conversation with him for the podcast and scroll down for shownotes.

Caleb Warren, behavioral researcher from the Humor Research Lab, with Pete McGraw author of the Humor Code,  is stepping in to answer your questions and discus the science of humor on October 13 HERE(or click to watch the replay)

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The way the brain understands a joke works the same way any mental set shifts work. By studying what the brain does with humor, we can understand how the brain understands and perceives the world in symbols, language, abstraction, and in social contexts. Using FMRI scans that study of the brain has revealed some interesting and surprising findings.


Basic jokes rely on non verbal set ups that become funny when the expectation is not met and advance jokes are semantical and often involve a shift in thinking about a social norm.


Why uneducated people get offended at jokes.


Physical humor and language-based humor. It depends on triggers.


Study show that tickling rats cause a kind of laughing response. Are they REALLY laughing?


How are humor develops, starting in childhood and moving toward abstract concepts. The social context and the semantic network of association develop to understand much more.


His study of the role of emotion in reason and decision-making.

The impetus was watching American politics.


The manipulation of emotion in advertisements to bring people to an illogical conclusion. Different portions of the brain are not used that would help make a good and logical decision.


Arguments laden with emotion don’t engage the reasoning part of the brain found in the left dorsal lethal prefrontal cortex. Instead brain activation happens in the medial ventral prefrontal cortex.

Studying war veterans with brain damage in the medial ventral prefrontal cortex could reason just fine but not if the medial ventral was damage. This part of the brain filters out the emotional content so we can make wise decisions.


His findings show the individuals with more education and with higher IQ, and better working memory capacity care better at compensating for the differences and detect if there is emotion playing into the decision at hand.


Brain plasticity and what can be healed.


The strange case of the normal woman they scanned who had the shockingly atrophied brain hemisphere. Her working hemisphere took over all the functions of the damaged hemisphere.


One of the surprises in his recent research that exploded the common perception in the field of neuroscience.

The visional perception parts of the brain that are not near the frontal lobe but help us in reasoning.


Dr Goel ideas about why humor is such an important part of the human experience.

Humor allows us to entertain ideas in a non threatening and safe environment or forum where we can positively interact.


The distinction between humor and pleasure and between laughter and humor.


Laughing disorders and occasions where laughter doesn’t include mirth. Laughing yoga and the “holy laughing” phenomenon.

Where in the brain laughter is sourced. Feigned laughter is shown to come from a different part of the brain than genuine laughter.


Laughing and yawning can both be phenomenon.


Laugh tracks used in comedy shows to make us perceive the show as more funny.


Often humor is relying on the violations of social norms. The science behind why Archie Bunker is no longer funny for most people.


On what makes something classically funny.


Dr Goel children don’t think he’s funny.


The brain chemistry of humor in the reward centers of the brain.


“Humor is a very sophisticated marker of intelligence.”