pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Tue Dec 31 18:42:14 EST 2002
Subject: Year-End Humor
Dear Readers -
Now that holiday sentiment is giving way to the challenges of facing
another year, some doses of humor might be in order, including
research to determine the world's funniest joke.
Happy New Year! --Peter Kindlmann
First, as what should have been part of the recent "Followups"
mailing, I point you to a very enjoyable article about Barbie (one
> OF ALL the forces against which resistance is futile, Barbie ranks
> right up near the top. Any poor innocent who assumed that this piece
> of anatomically challenged plastic, devised in 1959, had been left on
> the toy shelf beside other relics of the era is evidently not the
> parent of a pre-school girl. Cult-like, Barbie draws her flock with a
> heady mix of marketing, magic and the colour pink. "So you think that
> if you can keep your daughter out of a pink tutu, she'll have more
> chance of becoming a brain surgeon? Just try it sometime", wailed the
> novelist Allison Pearson recently of her failed effort to withhold the
> doll from her daughter. She went on:
> "One day, in an attempt to stem the toxic tide, I brought home a
> Scandinavian doll which looked like a Barbie designed by a feminist
> committee: a wholesome small-breasted individual wearing khaki, she
> clearly worked at something useful in developing countries. Alas, this
> poor social democrat never got to meet the Barbies. "It's a boy!" my
> daughter yelled in horror, before dropping the liberal compromise in
> the bucket her baby brother reserved for drowning snails."
Secondly, let the "Desiderata" Christmas message be amended by its
National Lampoon version, brought to my attention by Indy Crowley.
> Go placidly amid the noise and the waste and remember what comfort
> there may be in owning a piece thereof.
> Avoid quiet and passive persons unless you are in need of sleep.
> Rotate your tires. Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself and
> heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys; know what to
> kiss and when.
> Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
> Wherever possible, put people on hold. Be comforted that in the face
> of all aridity and disillusionment and despite the changing fortunes
> of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance.
> Remember the Pueblo. Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle and
> Know yourself; if you need help, call the FBI. Exercise caution in
> your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you --
> that lemon on your left, for instance. Be assured that a walk through
> the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet. Fall not in
> love therefore; it will stick to your face.
> Gracefully surrender the things of youth, birds, clean air, tuna,
> Taiwan; and let not the sands of time get in your lunch. Hire people
> with hooks. For a good time, call 555-4311; ask for Ken. Take heart
> amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough
> cheese; and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it
> could only be worse in Milwaukee.
> You are a fluke of the universe; you have no right to be here, and
> whether you can hear it or not, the universe is laughing behind your
> Therefore make peace with your God whatever you conceive Him to be --
> Hairy Thunderer or Cosmic Muffin.
> With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world
> continues to deteriorate. Give up.
> by Tony Hendra
> performed by National Lampoon
> on National Lampoon Radio Dinner LP
> (1972 Blue Thumb Records)
Finally, let me assure you that the subject of humor itself is a
subject of deadly serious research, and will likely become even more
so. Herewith a British study to identify the world's funniest joke.
URLs being fragile things, the first two referred to in that Scout
Report item above no longer work. I reproduce the Scout Report item
below, with the first URL corrected. The second doesn't have an
British Research Leads to World's Funniest Joke
The World's Funniest Joke-Official
The British Association for the Advancement of Science
Dr. Richard Wiseman
The New York Friars Club
Under the direction of Dr. Richard Wiseman at the University of
Hertfordshire with assistance from the British Association for the
Advancement of Science, the world's funniest joke was revealed on
October 3, 2002. The study, which asked Internet users to submit their
favorite jokes and rate the jokes of other contributors, amassed over
40,000 jokes and an amazing 2 million comments. The study also
revealed some interesting results, such as regional preferences for
certain types of jokes. For example, Americans and Canadians
apparently prefer jokes that make others look foolish, whereas persons
from the UK and Ireland enjoyed jokes that involved word play.
The first link leads to a new story highlighting some of the study's
research findings (including the world's funniest joke). The second
link will take users to the Web site of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science, which helped sponsor the research. The
third site is a link to LaughLab, the site where the research was
conducted, which also contains a variety of information about
different data collected during the study. The fourth link leads to
Dr. Richard Wiseman's site, the lead researcher on the project. The
fifth site is maintained by Professor David Chalmers of the University
of Arizona and is devoted to philosophical humor. The sixth and final
site leads to that bastion of New York humor, the Friars Club, which
features a collection of jokes and a complete listing of Friars Clubs
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