Is Humor Dead?

A somewhat sad study undertaken by Costa Coffee has found that the British people no longer know how to tell a good joke.  Apparently, more than 33 percent of the UK adult population claims it simply doesn’t know even one real rib-tickler.  Some of them say it’s because they forget the punch line; others, that they are just embarrassed, and a few simply put it down to the fact that they are just not quite in the right mood.

But really, when you think about it, is this situation really so surprising?  Given that close to 70 percent of survey responders claimed to not have gotten positive feedback from those individuals to whom they were telling the joke, why would they want to try again and face that potential embarrassment once more?  Ten percent said they hated being the center of attention, which is also what happens when telling a joke and has been off-putting this large factor of non-joke tellers.

So what else can explain this relatively new phenomenon?  Is it possible new technologies have something to do with it and can take the blame?  One in five of those surveyed said it is way easier to text a joke as if it bombs, you don’t have to look stupid.

SMS’ing Killing Jokes?

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There has been an argument that the reason the Brits are losing their humor can be put down to the fact that texting has become so popular in recent years, individuals are now shying away from one-on-one, face-to-face joke telling.  Indeed, the survey found that almost a third now choose to send jokes via SMS rather than relate them face-to-face.  As well, a somewhat lower percentage – 13 percent – choose to e-mail jokes and 5 percent try to make others laugh through some kind of social networking site.

But, at the end of the day, this situation really is a little sad and doesn’t say much for societal progression.  According to Paul Tonkinson, a comedian, “the findings from the survey show that technology seems to have taken over as the best way to tell a joke, which is a result of the modern age we now live in.  Brits are famed for their sense of humor and it’s a great loss to our culture that so many of us can’t tell a good joke any more. Remembering all the detail in a joke and delivering a punch line with impact does take a certain amount of skill and flair – which some are better at than others.”

Come on Brits, don’t be shy; get out there again, learn to trust and start bringing humor back to the table…face-to-face.

Real Batmobile Created in Ohio

Casey Putsch, an Ohio resident, Batman fanatic and aspiring racing driver, has created the world’s first real Batmobile. In a five-month project, Putsche created a car that is powered by jet turbines, which can reach 180 mph.

Registered and Insured

According to the inventor, the most amazing part of the car is the military spec turbine engine used in Navy helicopters. Modeled after the Batmobile featured in 1989’s Batman Returns, the car is registered and insured for the streets.

Speed Limitations and Attention Disorders

Putsch said: “The car’s greatest limitation for top speed is drag. It has really wide tires and the Batmobile body has loads of inherent and parasitic drag with its design. My car’s top speed is between 165mph and 180mph- although I’m not saying I know how it handles at high speed. The reaction I get is a mixture between complete shock and pure excitement. You could have a parking lot of Veyrons, Aventadors and McLarens and everyone would be looking at this car. I know from experience.”

He continued, “It transcends the car world and breaks down the boundary between fiction and reality with people. When people see it, they are mesmerized- even little old ladies are getting their cellphones out for a picture and video.”
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“I can build almost anything,” he said. “Hopefully, with a bit of backing, I will make it all the way to Indy and bring home a 500 win.”

For the full article, click here.

Privacy Issues Brought Into Focus with New Roadside Cameras

A new technology is sweeping the country which privacy advocates are beginning to become more wary of: license plate readers. These readers are high-tech cameras mounted along roads and highways which can read the license plates of close to 2,000 cars every minute, giving police the ability to identify and track criminals faster than ever before.

This technology has long been used in Europe, but in the United States it is only recently infiltrating into the public sphere. It is now in all of the 50 states and it is especially useful at the U.S. – Mexican border, helping to stem the tide of drugs, illegal money, and weapons smuggling across the border. A contract was awarded in October by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency worth about $350 million to increase the use of these cameras along the border, where, at the moment, thousands of license plates are already being processed by this system each day.

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Critics argue that innocent people can become easy targets for tracking. “It’s like being forced to walk around with a bar code that a scanner can pick up — except that it’s your car,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which advocates for consumer and privacy rights. “This is one of those privacy places where the rubber really meets the road.”

Computer Games for Your Health? Indeed.

Certainly, when most people think about computer games, they don’t equate them with health and fitness.  Some academic institutions like Champlain College are trying to change that.  Computer gaming designers are looking to develop games aimed at helping people to improve their health.

For instance, one company, Hoozinga Game Media, is working together with the Vermont Health Department to promote a new game that is intended to help smokers to quit. As Amanda Crispel, the program director of game design, game art and animation at Champlain and the CEO of Hoozinga Game Media, explained, “Khemia, which is Latin for “alchemy,” is designed to give smokers looking to kick the habit something to do with their minds and hands for the five to ten minutes a cigarette craving typically lasts.”

Similarly, at Columbia University’s Teachers College, a team of professors and students has developed a game to stop smokers.  The game, for mobile devices, has players breathing into the device’s microphone to mimic smoking.
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One researcher, Debra Lieberman, from UCSB agrees that computer games can become valuable tools for dealing with health problems.  She cautions, however, the games need to have a strong backing in research both in the design and in the follow through to see if they are working.