Category Archives: Humor

Amusing Monday: Jokes to tease people with special knowledge

They call them “intellectual” jokes, because you must have special knowledge about science, literature, language, art, religion, philosophy or some other field for the jokes to make any sense.

You can find these jokes scattered across the Internet. At first, they may leave you annoyed, especially when you can’t figure them out and the author has not bothered to explain them.

On the other hand, they can be an opportunity to learn something new. Wikipedia can be a great place to jump into any of these inside jokes and add to your overall knowledge. And if you understand these jokes without any help, you may feel just a little smarter than the average joe.

I’ll share 10 of my favorite intellectual jokes with you. Please let me know what you think — either in the comment section below or to my email. Your comments will help me decide whether I should ever offer this brand of humor again.

Water

I’ve put what I hope are reasonable explanations for each joke at the bottom of this post, in case you can’t figure them out.

1. Two men walk into a bar. The first orders H2O. The second says, “I’ll have H2O, too!” The second man dies.

2. Three logicians walk into a bar. The bartended asks, “Do all of you want a drink?”
The first logician says, “I don’t know.”
The second logician says, “I don’t know.”
The third logician says, “Yes!”

Tree

Pumpkin

3. Q: Why do engineers confuse Halloween and Christmas?
A: Because Oct 31 = Dec 25

4. A Buddhist monk approaches a hotdog stand and says, “Make me one with everything.”

5. Did you hear about the man who got cooled to absolute zero?
He’s 0K now.

Beer

6. An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first orders a beer; the second orders half a beer; the third orders a quarter of a beer; and so on.
After the seventh order, the bartender pours two beers and says, “You fellas ought to know your limits.”

7. Pavlov is sitting at a bar when the phone rings. “Oh, no,” he said. “I forgot to feed the dog.”

8. Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. A cop pulls him over and says “Do you have any idea how fast you were going back there?” Heisenberg says, “No, but I knew where I was.”

Speed

9 . Einstein, Newton and Pascal are playing hide and seek. Einstein covers his eyes and starts counting. Pascal runs off and hides. Newton stands in front of Einstein and draws a square on the ground, one meter on each side. Newton then steps into the middle of the square. Einstein reaches 10 and uncovers his eyes. He spots Newton and exclaims, “Newton! I found you! You’re it!”

Newton smiles and says, “You didn’t find me; you found Pascal!”

10. The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”

The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

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Amusing Monday: Amazing nature photos from around the world

Some of the best photographers in the world contribute to National Geographic magazine. So it’s no wonder that a photo contest sponsored each year by the publication draws in some incredible photographs.

Last year, more than 7,000 entries were submitted by amateur and professional photographers from 150 countries, and I would expect an equal number this year. The deadline has passed for submissions in 2014, and the winner of the $10,000 grand prize plus several runners-up will be announced later this month.

For now, with permission from National Geographic, I’d like to share 10 water-related images from a gallery of the judges’ favorite photographs for 2014. To see more pictures, visit National Geographic’s Photo Contest 2014 Galleries.

When Gregory Lecoeur jumped into the Salish Sea near Vancouver Island’s Race Rocks, the water was cold, visibility was poor and the current was strong. When he sensed shadows moving about him, he slowed his movements. Soon, curious Steller sea lions were trying to play with his camera and nibble his fingers.
When Gregory Lecoeur jumped into the Salish Sea near Vancouver Island’s Race Rocks, the water was cold, visibility was poor and the current was strong. When he sensed shadows moving about him, he slowed his movements. Soon, curious Steller sea lions were trying to play with his camera and nibble his fingers.
Rick Loesche caught this decisive moment in the life of a crab, which was about to be eaten on Sanibel Island, Florida.
Rick Loesche caught this decisive moment in the life of a crab, which was about to be eaten on Sanibel Island, Florida.
Dave Kan was finishing up a photo shoot in Queensland, Australia, when a kangaroo appeared out of nowhere and bounded across the edge of a lake on the Noosa River, as if the animal were walking on water.
Dave Kan was finishing up a photo shoot in Queensland, Australia, when a kangaroo appeared out of nowhere and bounded across the edge of a lake on the Noosa River, as if the animal were walking on water.

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Amusing Monday: Actors lend their voices to ‘Nature is Speaking’

The environmental group Conservation International has a message to share: “Nature doesn’t need people. People need Nature.”

Celebrity voices — including those of Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford and Robert Redford — have been delivering this message by playing the roles of “Mother Nature,” “The Ocean” and “The Redwoods.” In their roles, they talk about their relationships with humans, while the videos display beautiful images appropriate to the subject. (When viewing, be sure to go full-screen.)

The three mentioned above are joined by other actors in this project, known as “Nature is Speaking.” The latest video features Penelope Cruz, who plays the role of “Water” in a film released two weeks ago. Her character asks:

“Where will humans find me when there are billions more of them around? Where will they find themselves? Will they wage wars over me, like they do over everything else.”

The message from “Water” comes across in softer tones than the one from “The Ocean” (Harrison Ford), in which we hear a more ominous message about humans:

“I don’t owe them a thing. I give; they take. But I can always take back.”

To understand this view of Nature, Conservation International has posted a written statement called “Our Humanifesto.” The organization also has invited some folks with special knowledge about the various subjects to post blog entries. Read their essays in HumaNature.

In addition to the videos shown above, check out the full list of films completed so far in the “Nature is Speaking” project, or choose from the list below:

Amusing Monday:
Flying fish for increased survival, savings and fun

The “salmon cannon,” a pneumatic-tube device destined to replace some fish ladders, got plenty of serious attention this fall from various news organizations.

You may have seen demonstrations by the inventor, Whoosh Innovations of Bellevue, that showed adult salmon shooting unharmed through flexible tubes. For dramatic effect, some videos showed the salmon flying out the end of the tube and splashing into water. Among those who found the device amusing were commentators for “CBS This Morning” and “Red Eye” on Fox.

For a laugh, comedian John Oliver recently took the idea in a different direction, aiming his personal salmon cannon at celebrities including Jon Stuart, Jimmy Fallon and… Well, if you haven’t seen the video (above), I won’t spoil it for you.

All this attention has been a surprise for Vince Bryan, CEO for Whooshh, who told Vancouver Columbian reporter Eric Florip that he has spoken with hundreds of news organizations and potential customers from throughout the world.

“It was a nice boost because it says one thing, that people care a lot about the fish, and two, that there really is a need,” Bryan was quoted as saying.

A good description of the potential applications for the “salmon cannon” was written by reporter Laura Geggel of Live Science. Meanwhile, Reuters produced a nice animation showing how the tube works. And a video on the Whooshh Innovations YouTube channel, shown below, provides a clear demonstration how the transport system can work for both humans and fish.

Amusing Monday: ‘If we cared about the environment …’

“I can’t believe we lost the glaciers!”

It’s one of the many sardonic lines in a new BuzzFeed video called “If we cared about the environment the way we care about sports,” which you can view below.

BuzzFeed is an off-the-wall website that has somehow morphed into serious journalism while holding onto its humorous and satiric side.

On YouTube, BuzzFeed Central is where you will find at least four channels of odd and humorous videos. I’m not sure how to sort through all these weird videos, but I found several amusing clips that are related to our water theme:

Amusing Monday: Video shows transformation
of Seattle’s waterfront

I’ve always heard that downtown Seattle and its waterfront area were built on a massive amount of fill, but I never knew how massive until I viewed the video on this page.

According to the researchers involved, Seattle is “one of the most dramatically re-engineered cities in the United States.”

The video was completed two years ago, but I had not heard of it until I read a recent blog post by archeologist Peter Lape, researcher Amir Sheikh, and artist Don Fels, who together make up the Waterlines Project. The three have collaborated to study the history of Seattle by focusing on how the shorelines changed over time. As they state in the blog post for the Burke Museum:

“For more than ten years, we’ve worked as an informal group, known as the Waterlines Project, to examine Seattle’s past landscapes. Drawing from data gathered by geologists, archaeologists, historians and other storytellers, we are literally unearthing and imagining our collective pasts…

“What have we found? Among other things, Seattle is one of the most dramatically re-engineered cities in the United States. From the dozen or so settlers who founded it on Coast Salish land in 1851 to its current status as America’s fastest growing city, hardly a decade has gone by without its residents taking on some major ‘improvement’ projects affecting its shorelines.”

The maps and photos collected during the Waterlines Project will take you back to another time. Thanks to photographer Asahel Curtis, much of the history of our region has been preserved for us to see. Some of his notable photographs on the waterfront theme:

Amusing Monday: Glowing fish are both beautiful and amazing

Science merges into art in new studies of biofluorescence, in which researchers identify colorful marine creatures that glow in the dark. Their ultimate goal is to figure out why.

Biofluorescence is essentially the “black light” effect, in which organisms absorb a narrow frequency range of blue light and transform it into other colors, such as green and red. In deep water, blue is the only frequency of light that makes it through.

Until recently, there was no technology to capture images of fluorescent fish in extremely low-light conditions. Artificial light ruins the effect, and older low-light cameras were too bulky to travel underwater. New cameras developed at Yale University changed the ability of research divers to capture colorful images of sea creatures and bring them back to the surface for further study. So far, more than 180 biofluorescent fish species have been identified.

David Gruber, John Sparks and others are trying to figure out if there is a reason that some fish produce a glow. They would also like to know which of the other creatures are able to see them in the darkness. Check out the article in the journal PLOS ONE published Jan. 8.

Gruber notes that camouflage fish — those able to blend in with their surroundings in regular white light — are often those that stand out brilliantly in fluorescent light. He speculates that fish of the same species are better able to see them, offering advantages in communication and mating. For the sake of these glowing fish, it would be nice to learn that their predators cannot spot them so easily.

The natural beauty of these fluorescent patterns is not overlooked by Gruber and his associates.

“I just find a real serenity and beauty being on the reef at night,” Gruber says in the first video on this page. “And now when we add on this kind of fluorescent layer, it’s like being on another planet.”

Last week, National Geographic published the latest installment in its Emerging Explorers series featuring Gruber and including a new video about his studies called “David Gruber: Seeing the Ocean in Neon.”

Amusing Monday: Fascinating videos score high in E360 contest

Last month, “Yale Environment 360” announced the winners of a video contest with a focus on environmental themes. I found the videos fascinating and very well done, although they may not fit my normal definition of “amusing.” I think you’ll enjoy them.

Click on image to view “A Red Dirt Town," the second-place winner in the Yale Environment 360 contest.
Click on image to view “A Red Dirt Town,” second-place winner in the Yale Environment 360 contest.

“Yale Environment 360,” or “E360” for short, is a thoughtful online publication published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental studies. It is filled with reports and opinions on many environmental issues.

Clicking the image on this page will take you to the second-place winner in the contest, titled “A Red Dirt Town: An Enduring Legacy Of Toxic Pollution in Southern Waters.” Producer Spenser Gabin tells how the community of Anniston, Alabama, has been forced to cope with a legacy of PCB pollution from a Monsanto plant located upstream.

Gabin focuses on two main characters, Frank Chitwood, the Coosa Riverkeeper, who is attempting to get the rivers and lakes posted with warnings, and David Baker, a community activist who was one of the first to begin cleanup at the Monsanto site. Baker’s brother, who played in a PCB-contaminated area as a child, died at age 16 from cancer of the brain and lungs.

“A Red Dirt Town” was actually my favorite of the three.

The winning video in the contest is “Badru’s Story: Inside Africa’s Impenetrable Forest,” an account of Badru Mugerwa, who manages a network of cameras to document the loss of biodiversity and effects of climate change on Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The film was produced by Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele.

The third-place winner is “Peak to Peak: An Intimate Look at
The Bighorn Sheep of the Rockies.”
Produced by Jeremy Roberts, the video captures images of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and their playful lambs, while biologist Jack Hogg talks about their behavior and describes how climate change may affect their future.

The contest rules prevent the entrants from showing their videos anywhere but on “E360” for at least 60 days, So I’m not able to embed the videos at this time.

Contest judges included “E360″ editor Roger Cohn, “New Yorker” writer and “E360″ contributor Elizabeth Kolbert, and documentary filmmaker Thomas Lennon.

Another fascinating video produced for “E360″ is “The Colorado River: Running Near Empty,” which takes award-winning photographer Pete McBride back to his home area in Colorado. From there, he follows the Colorado River until it runs dry short of its historic delta in the Sea of Cortez.

Remember the “Raise the River or Move the Ocean” blog from earlier this year? It featured Robert Redford and Will Ferrell feigning a debate about the future of the Colorado River. I still get a laugh from those videos, which manage to help educate us about the issue.

Related websites:

Raise the River Facebook page

Save the Colorado

Amusing Monday: Amazing drones bring us new stories to tell

Unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones, are taking over the world. At least it seems that way. If you don’t believe me, search for “drone” on YouTube. You’ll find amateur aviation specialists — and a variety of professionals — demonstrating what drones can do. Some of the things are pretty amusing.

I’ll mention some water-related drone stories below, but the first video on this page shows a hawk attacking a drone owned and operated by Christopher Schmidt, a 30-year-old software developer. I think Chris did a nice job of protecting the bird by throttling down the props on his Phantom FC40 quadcopter. The final result is a great up-close view of an angry bird, well deserving of a place in “Amusing Monday.”

Chris was using the drone to get images of changing leaves in Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Mass., last Wednesday, when he saw a bird circling a good distance away. The circling continued as the bird moved closer to the drone.

“Overall,” he told me in an email, “I was surprised by how quickly he moved from 400 feet away to on top of the quad. When he was very nearby, my initial thought was, ‘Okay, stay still, so he can avoid it’ — which obviously didn’t work out for me.”

Christopher Schmidt with his Phantom drone. Photo courtesy of Christopher Schmidt.
Christopher Schmidt with his Phantom drone.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Schmidt.

He said he saw no evidence beforehand that the bird was upset or likely to attack. Over the six months he owned the drone, nothing like that had happened, except for a few crows squawking at the aircraft. After he posted the video, he learned from bird experts that immature red tail hawks have not yet learned to hunt efficiently, so they may attack anything that moves.

As the hawk attacked, Chris cut power to the props, which caused the quad to drop. The bird hit the chopper and it flipped. Chris was unable to recover the flight, still worried about the bird, though he powered back up at the end.

“If I had done nothing,” he wrote, “I expect the quadcopter would have done the flip (which it did) and immediately recover — possibly losing about
10 feet of altitude. My fear in that case was that the hawk would still
see it as a threat and come back a second time. Well, really, it was
about a half second, so I was not really thinking that much through it.

“I still would do the same thing if I had to do it all over, even if it might have put the quadcopter at less risk.”

The hawk appeared to be fine after the attack. Photo courtesy of Christopher Schmidt
The hawk appeared to be fine after the attack.
Photo courtesy of Christopher Schmidt

As it turns out, the quad sustained almost no damage from falling out of the sky and hitting the ground, except for a slightly bent landing gear. And the hawk was no worse for wear.

Lots of media have been using the footage that Chris took. Based on a suggestion from a coworker, he is donating any money raised from YouTube ads to the American Audubon Society. Thanks to Gene Bullock of Kitsap Audobon for alerting me to this video.

OK, so what are some other odd things that drones can do? How about helping out with an ALS ice bucket challenge? In the second video, Austin Hill of Spark Aerial uses a massive DJI S1000 Octocopter to lift a bucket of ice water and pour it rather slowly on his head.

I’ve shown you videos of the Flyboard®, an apparatus developed in France by Franky Zapata. See Amusing Monday, Oct. 15, 2012. Martin Schumacher goes one better by using a DJI Phantom and GoPro Hero 3 to shoot an up-close demonstration video around Saint-Tropez in Southeast France.

It was only a matter of time before someone got the idea to use a drone for fishing — no matter how inefficient that might be. Check out this 7-minute video by NightFlyer (the action starts about 5 minutes in) or this shorter 1.5-minute video by RYOT. Both these guys now have fish stories to tell. But, after all that work, even they would admit that the fish they caught are rather amusing.

On a more serious note, there are many legal issues related to drones, which are not yet approved by the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use, and there are many concerns related to privacy. People also are raising questions about whether drones should ever be used for hunting or fishing. Michael R. Shea tackles the subject for “Field and Stream” magazine.

If sportsmen are thinking about using drones, game wardens are not far behind, as they consider how drones might be used to catch poachers. “National Geographic” looks at the use of drones in high-seas fisheries enforcement.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington vetoed a bill that would have limited the use of drones by law enforcement. He then set up a task force to look at the entire subject. A representative of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said in one task force meeting that there could be applications for enforcement and research by the agency. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force is expected to make recommendations before next year’s legislative session.

Amusing Monday: Studies that tickle the funny bone

Did you know that if you eat dinner with an overweight person, you are likely to eat more food. But if you eat with a slim person, you are likely to eat less?

Did you know that if you swear out loud after stubbing your toe or striking your finger with a hammer, that your swearing can actually reduce your perception of the pain?

Did you know that if you watch a funny movie with a group of friends, the movie will seem funnier than if you watch the movie alone? That may seem obvious, since people tend to react to each other. But did you know that the same movie can seem funnier even if your friends are watching the movie somewhere else, such as a place where you cannot see or hear them?

These are apparently the findings of real scientific studies, as reported by “Seriously, Science?” a blog on Discover magazine’s website. Finding such oddly revealing — and sometimes seemingly silly — research studies was the idea of Meredith Carpenter and Lillian Fritz-Laylin, two biologists who studied at the University of California, Berkeley. The blog was originally titled “NCBI ROFL,” for National Clearinghouse for Biotechnology Information – Rolling on the Floor Laughing.

The blog originally had more of a satiric edge, poking fun at some of the research topics. (Sex and bodily functions are frequent themes.) We are left to wonder who is coming up with these ideas — and who is paying to carry out this research.

Like most satires, “Seriously, Science?” looks for the humorous side of the work, generally ignoring any real value the studies may have.

“Some studies that sound funny do have a valid purpose in a specific field that may not be obvious to an outsider looking in,” Carpenter told Kim Carollo, a reporter for ABC News.

Fritz-Laylin recalled a research project designed to find out what happens to the human foot if it gets run over by a car.

“They took a bunch of feet from cadavers, put them in shoes and rolled over them,” Fritz-Laylin told Carollo. “It’s useful to find out about that, but it’s mind-boggling to imagine them setting it up.”

The video on this page shows Carpenter and Fritz-Laylin in a five-minute talk for Ignite, which has the motto, “Enlighten us, but make it quick.” We see them here in 2011 putting on a slide show describing 20 of their favorite research findings.

If you’d like to read more about the three studies mentioned at the top: 1) Dining with heavyweights, 2) swearing at pain and 3) watching comedies

On a related note, the Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded a couple weeks ago (Sept. 18) at Harvard University. The 10 prizes in various fields are deemed to be the best research that “makes people laugh and then think,” as outlined by the website “Improbable Research.” The website contains ongoing reports of humorous and oddball studies, including some rather elaborate discussions as only real scientists can do. The Ig Nobel prize is a play on the word ignoble, which means either humble or dishonorable.

You can read about this year’s winners of the Ig Nobel Prizes on the Winners Page. The second video on this blog entry, though long, is rather amusing, as many of the Ig Nobel Prize winners explain the importance of their research. The presenters of the awards are none other than genuine Nobel Laureates who have come to enjoy the fun. Here is a quick description of the various projects:

PHYSICS: Researchers measured the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.

PSYCHOLOGY: Researchers amassed evidence showing that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than early-risers.

PUBLIC HEALTH: Researchers investigated whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.

BIOLOGY: Researchers carefully documented that when dogs defecate and urinate, they prefer to align their body axis with Earth’s north-south geomagnetic field lines.

ART: Researchers measured the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, compared to a pretty painting, while being shot in the hand by a powerful laser beam.

ECONOMICS: The prize went to the Italian government’s National Institute of Statistics, which proudly stepped up to fulfill a European Union mandate requiring each country to increase the official size of its national economy by including revenues from prostitution, illegal drug sales, smuggling, and all other unlawful financial transactions between willing participants.

MEDICINE: Researchers promoted a method of treating “uncontrollable” nosebleeds with nasal packing, using strips of cured pork.

ARCTIC SCIENCE: Researchers tested the reactions of reindeer when confronted by humans disguised as polar bears.

NUTRITION: The title of the research paper speaks for itself: “Characterization of Lactic Acid Bacteria Isolated from Infant Faeces as Potential Probiotic Starter Cultures for Fermented Sausages.”

If you find these amusing, you can read about previous Ig Nobel Prize winners on the Winners Page, following this year’s winners.