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The Dude, The Port Huron Statement, and The Seattle Seven

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I was, uh, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. The original Port Huron Statement.
Not the compromised second draft. And then I, uh... Ever hear of the Seattle Seven?

- The Dude, The Big Lebowski

Fans of The Big Lebowski will no doubt recognize The Dude's lofty claim to fame above. And while the Port Huron Statement was indeed a real document, I hope The Dude will abide one small correction—only one draft of the statement is known to exist. But since The Dude felt it important enough to mention, we should probably at least know the basics.

The Port Huron Statement was written in 1962 as the founding manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society – a left-leaning political activism organization that rose to prominence and eventually fizzled out during the 1960s. A key issue throughout the work of the SDS was their advocacy of participatory democracy – a political system wherein constituents wield power, as opposed to ceding that power to elected representative

The Port Huron Statement, which draws its name from that fact that it was written in Port Huron, Michigan, was designed as the SDS’s guiding treatise on social issues. It begins with the following simple statement: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

From there, the document discusses and proposes a variety of actions to address the economy, the Military-Industrial complex, the warfare state, McCarthyism, discrimination, nuclear disarmament, and a host of other weighty issues. It is nothing if not ambitious. (Though one topic not covered in the Port Huron Statement is how to appropriately address the plight of someone breaking into your home and urinating on a really great living room rug that ties the room together.)

The document  - which can be read in its entirety here – wraps up with this poetic culmination: “If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.”

The Dude also associates himself with the Seattle Seven — "That was me and, uh, six other guys" — another very real piece of the Vietnam era. The Seattle Seven were the most famous members of the Seattle Liberation Front, an anti-war organization formed in Seattle just as the SDS was breaking apart. The reason The Dude mentions the Seattle Seven is because one of the members was a man named Jeff Dowd. Dowd later moved to LA, where he became a film producer and close friend of Joel and Ethan Coen – the genius writer/director team behind The Big Lebowski. And Dowd is credited with being the inspiration for the character of The Dude – a fact that he confirms on his website and through appearances at various colleges, conventions and the annual LebowskiFest. [Image courtesy of jeffdowd.com.]

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25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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