Category Archives: science

Do You Tell a Lot of Bad Jokes? People Hate You.

From Live Science:

Research by a Washington State University linguist found that people who tell bad jokes often endure an astonishing outpouring of hostility from the listeners.

“These were basically attacks intended to result in the social exclusion or humiliation of the speaker, punctuated on occasion with profanity, a nasty glare or even a solid punch to the arm,” said researcher Nancy Bell.


First, such canned humor often disrupts the natural flow of conversation. And jokes that fail to deliver humor are a violation of a social contract, so punishing the teller can discourage similar behavior in the future.

Finally, a stupid joke insults the listener by suggesting that he or she might actually find it funny, Bell said.

“Being selected as an appropriate audience for a stupid joke suggests that there is something amiss with the hearer’s sense of humor,” Bell said.

There’s something comforting to me about that study. I’ve probably been guilty of telling way too many bad jokes, but I never understood why I sometimes react so negatively to people who continuously bark out failed one-liners. I often feel an urge to give the bad joke-teller a swirlie or a wedgie, and that’s not a normal impulse of mine, as I’ve never been much of a bully.

But yes, it is a little bit insulting to be told a bad joke, because the teller seems to think that you are as moronic as he is.


Photo of the Day

The photo is from Yahoo! in celebration of World Water Day.

Pakistan’s Daily Times explains:

LAHORE: Water shortage is one of the greatest threats to human beings, the environment and global food supply. Within the next 25 years, more water conflicts can emerge not only within the countries but between them as well.

It is the importance of water in the lives of individuals and nations that the United Nations Conference on Environment Development, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, declared March 22 as World Water Day (WWD). Since then, the day has been celebrated across the world.

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas (yes, that’s a little embarrassing, but it’s a long story) and what struck me most about that place is its location in the desert with all of its buildings, tourists, and wasteful fountains and the water use those things entail. It’s hard to imagine how that city can continue to use water at current levels for long into the future while maintaining its status as a major city for in which people live and play.

From Channel 8 in Las Vegas:

The news coming from the Southern Nevada Water Authority Thursday about the valley’s future water supply is worrisome. Unless we act quickly, there will be no water for hundreds of thousands of Las Vegas Valley residents in just three years.

In the US, when we think about problems with water, we tend to think of Third World nations where access to clean drinking water is severely limited. That’s a serious problem to which we should devote attention and resources.

But Americans are living in a fantasy world if they believe that water issues will never be a problem in the US.

Daylight Saving Time Bad for Your Health?


From Live Science:

“We are placing these people back into February. We are dealing with a public health issue and the extension of Daylight Saving Time at both ends is extending the period of year in which people are most vulnerable to depression.”
—Michael Terman, Columbia University Medical Center


Daylight Saving Time effectively snatches a morning hour and adds it to your evenings. That means 7 a.m. Daylight Saving Time is equivalent to 6 a.m. standard time, so your typically sunlit mornings will be dark. The morning darkness could keep your biological clock in winter mode.

“We know for the population as a whole that depressive symptoms become worse during the winter months,” Terman said.

Winter blues, affecting about 35 million Americans, are a mild form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which affects as many as 12 million Americans. Symptoms of SAD include depression, sleep problems, cravings for sweets and other carbohydrates, sluggishness and headaches. The doldrums begin to ramp up some time in the fall and typically remit by the second week of May, Terman said.

“We are making the sun rise even an hour later than it otherwise would during a period when these symptoms should be beginning to improve,” Terman said in a telephone interview.

It’s funny, when daylight saving time starts every spring, I do feel a little more sluggish than usual at first, and I’m also bitter about losing that extra hour of sleep. That first week is pretty damn hellish.

But, on the bright side, when things start to warm up in April and May, there’s nothing better than being able to be outside eating and consuming cocktails until 8:00 or 9:00 PM. It’s good practice for the summer when DST, allows us even more hours of outdoor evening fun.

I love sunset bocce ball at 9:30 in June, so I guess I’m able to suffer an irritating week in March.

Homeschooling Banned in California?


A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

“At first, there was a sense of, ‘No way,’ ” said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. “Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation.”

The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.

The parents said they also enrolled their children in Sunland Christian School, a private religious academy in Sylmar (Los Angeles County), which considers the Long children part of its independent study program and visits the home about four times a year.

I’m not a big fan of homeschooling. I see it largely as movement of right-wing Christians who want to prevent their children from learning about things like evolution and tolerance. I also worry that many kids who are home-schooled may grow up lacking social skills in dealing with people who are different from them and that deficit will make it difficult for them to deal in a real world that is full of rich cultures, beliefs, and attitudes.

That being said, this ruling from the Cali appeals court is disturbing. People and parents have the right to live their lives as they see fit, even if that means educating children in ways that are not state-approved. I think most parents who care for and love their children are fit to provide those kids with educations that they deem to be appropriate, even if the state doesn’t like that the parents might be indoctrinating in a certain way.

People who enjoy freedom of thought and the freedom to live their lives in their own way ought to be enraged by this decision.