Archive for the 'humor' Category

Feb 27 2010

Reincarnation Ruminations

Published by under humor,personal

[It's Saturday. To hell with science and skepticism.
I'm in a different sort of mood. And so this . . . .]

Perhaps a half-dozen times in my life I have pondered the question, “If, after I die, I could come back as any type of animal, what would I be?”

My answers have included “eagle” and “dolphin.” Funny, I never considered “centipede.” During my speed-obsessed boyhood years I may have responded “cheetah.”

It has recently dawned on me that underlying the question is a sort of global recycling notion. You spend your days in one shape and then, presto, are re-formed into another. Is Hinduism thus “the greener religion?”

There is some truth to the reincarnation-as-global-recycling idea. All large mammals such as ourselves, however, go through the crucial step of becoming microbes and worms in our first turnaround before we eventually wind up as grass then rabbits then coyotes.

Today, as I think about what I’d like to come back as, I know I wouldn’t want to be an eagle. Though flying would be a thrill, I wonder if birds find it thrilling or merely a way of getting from here to there.

Flying aside, I’m afraid I would miss having hands. What if I got the urge to read a book? Just opening it would be a difficult task with a forearm that terminates in feathers.

Furthermore, the thought of cold carrion for breakfast or fish guts for lunch doesn’t do much for my present set of taste-buds.

Then there’s the problem of celebrity. The eagle is virtual royalty in the animal kingdom. I’d hate being pursued far and wide by the National Geographic paparazzi.

In my next life I also wouldn’t want to come back as a dolphin.

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Feb 17 2010

Good Writing Plus

honor societies

xkcd is my current favorite comic. The writing is great, and the stick figures, somewhat surprisingly, are a definite plus. And the topics: fantastically suited to those at the area of the intellectual bell curve not customarily catered to. Science, philosophy, meta-cognition of human social and emotional quirks . . . .

Later today I’m going to be clicking over to the most recent version of the blog carnival, Scientia Pro Publica. Number 21, Darwin’s 201st Birthday Edition, has been posted. Will this carnival become my current favorite? It could. I love the idea behind it. And it certainly has potential. What I hope to find is an abundance of is smart writing on truly educational topics.

No, no NASCAR, no celebrity gossip.

Was that elitist of me? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. Our culture puts such things as athletic ability on a pedestal, but intellectual ability, well, don’t flaunt that. It’s in poor taste.

This is getting close to a rant, so I better put the brakes on . . .

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Jan 13 2010

My Kind of Humor: Two Samples

Published by under humor,personal

First, a wacky cartoon, “Self-Description” from xkcd -


Second, a news-parody from the “local” section of the Onion -

Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian

LOUISVILLE, KY—At first glance, high school senior Lucas Faber, 18, seems like any ordinary gay teen. He’s a member of his school’s swing choir, enjoys shopping at the mall, and has sex with other males his age. But lately, a growing worry has begun to plague this young gay man. A gnawing feeling that, deep down, he may be a fundamentalist, right-wing Christian.

That’s a hilarious twist on things.

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Jan 02 2010

XKCD Knows Science

Published by under humor

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Dec 27 2009

RP) Too Much Tongue in the Cheek of this Science News

Published by under humor,skepticism



(Recycled material: I’m in holiday/travel mode. This material first posted on Dec. 29, 2008)

A Joke Atop a Joke

I think we can all agree that this headline is a joke, if not a double joke:

Head And Neck Injury Risks In Heavy Metal: Head Bangers Stuck Between Rock And A Hard Bass

I don’t get it: stuck between a rock and a fish? Was it a largemouth or a smallmouth bass?

Sometimes going obtuse is the best response to a bad pun. And thus the double joke. The title wording contains a joke of sorts, and the joke is so bad it is a joke.

But is the entire article itself a joke? And if so, in what sense of the word? You decide.

Here’s a paragraph describing the science:

The average head banging song has a tempo of about 146 beats per minute. The authors suggest that at this tempo head banging may cause headaches and dizziness if the range of movement of the head and neck is more than 75º. They report that at higher tempos and greater ranges of motion there is an additional risk of neck injury.

This research “news release” appeared on the ScienceDaily website, along with countless other sites.

Check out the final paragraph:

Luckily, there are a number of possible ways to protect against these injuries, write the authors. These include calling for bands such as AC/DC to play songs such as “Moon River” instead of “Highway to Hell”, public awareness campaigns headed by musicians such as Cliff Richard and the labeling of music packaging with anti-head banging warnings.

In what sense(s) of the word was this article a joke?

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Dec 16 2009

Beauty and Humor

Published by under humor,nature photos


Can something be beautiful and humorous at the same time? Excuse the armchair conjecture here, but it seems to me that humor involves, in part, viewing something non-seriously, while the perception of beauty relies upon a seriousness, albeit one with positive emotional hues.

Put another way, can you perceive something as beautiful while giggling?

Hmm. Maybe if two distinct parts of your brain are simultaneously active.

The above photo is of white crepe myrtle blossoms. Below, a news headline from the Onion.

Sumerians Look On In Confusion As God Creates World

Members of the earth’s earliest known civilization, the Sumerians, looked on in shock and confusion some 6,000 years ago as God, the Lord Almighty, created Heaven and Earth.

According to recently excavated clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform script, thousands of Sumerians—the first humans to establish systems of writing, agriculture, and government—were working on their sophisticated irrigation systems when the Father of All Creation reached down from the ether and blew the divine spirit of life into their thriving civilization.


Beautifully humorous?

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Dec 08 2009

Science and Humility

Published by under freethought,humor

To be humble means to be closer to the earth (c.1250, from O.Fr. humble, earlier humele, from L. humilis “lowly, humble,” lit. “on the ground,” from humus “earth.” [source]). There are at least two ways that science helps us to be more humble.

1. By exposing our essential animal nature. Human beings are basically upright alimentary canals, empowered by muscles, guided by brains.

2. By bringing to our eyes and minds the grandeur of a vast universe. A universe that favors us not a whit. (At least not according to the deep-space images provided by the Hubble Telescope and other sources. As far as I am aware, no image of Jesus or “Mother Mary” has appeared in one of them yet.)

Oh sure, in our own relatively small circles we are big deals. But on a greater scale?

In the past 24 hours I encountered two pieces of humor that illustrate the varieties of human hubris.

First, this headline from The Onion: Sports Illustrated Sportsman Of The Year Award Important, Sports Illustrated Reports.

Second, this cartoon from

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Dec 02 2009

The Sock-Puppet Function of Belief

Published by under humor,religion

PZ Myers, on his blog Pharyngula, recently had a post titled, God is a sockpuppet. His title perfectly fits this very funny comic:


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Nov 25 2009

Pre-Thanksgiving Humor Break

Published by under humor

We’re having a small Thanksgiving get-together at our place this year. Perhaps that is why this Onion news-parody hit my funny bone as it did:

Grandma Concerned About Dinner Roll Count

ROCKFORD, IL—Local grandmother Eileen Stafford, 78, expressed concern Monday over the number of dinner rolls she should have on hand for this year’s Thanksgiving meal, appearing distressed when discussing the implications of there being either too many or possibly too few.

Ha! Earlier today I actually had a discussion with my wife about the optimal cranberry sauce. I kid you not.

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Nov 12 2009

Thursday Chuckle Break

Published by under humor

How can you not guffaw over this headline from the Onion? – Super Monkey Collider Loses Funding

The collider, which was to be built within a 45-mile-long circular tunnel, would accelerate monkeys to near-light speeds before smashing them together. Scientists insist the collider is an important step toward understanding the universe, because no one can yet say for certain what kind of noises monkeys would make if collided at those high speeds.

Damn. Without the SMC how are we to determine what fundamental elements of monkeys exist within us?

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