"Sigmund Freud thought humour stemmed from a feeling of superiority or incongruity, while Mark Twain suggested that its secret source was not joy but sorrow," Peter Hutchison writes for The Daily Telegraph. "Now, scientists claim to have put an end to the argument once and for all. Humour, they say, stems from a benign violation of the way the world ought to be. People find an incident humorous when it goes against the normally accepted way of things, providing it is harmless, the research claims. … The study, published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science, found it was up to each individual to decide whether the situation is benign or not."
A judge has denied a Pittsburgh-area man's petition to legally change his name to Boomer the Dog. Gary Guy Mathews, 44, of Green Tree, Pa., said he filed for the name change in June because he is a fan of the short-lived NBC television series called Here's Boomer that featured a dog that rescued people, Associated Press reports. Judge Ronald Folino said the name change could result in confusion in business records and public documents, and could confuse an emergency dispatcher during a crisis.
A Davenport, Iowa, restaurant owner said he'll pay a fine after his head chef was videotaped kissing and licking toads in the kitchen. The Scott County Health Department reviewed video footage this week and called in the chef and owner of the restaurant Osaka to issue a $335 (U.S.) ticket. Food inspector Lindsay Gorishek said several violations were committed during the video. On the tape, which was posted on YouTube, chef Christopher Turla is seen with two small toads on the prep table. He kisses the toads a few times, licks them, then stuffs them in his mouth. The owner said his chef is just a funny guy who needs more training in restaurant sanitation.
Source: Associated Press
Dry up, old drinkers
"If you feel like you can't drink the way you used to, you're not alone," Tara Parker-Pope writes for The New York Times. "An aging body is more sensitive to alcohol than a younger one. The National Institutes of Health's Senior Health website … issued new warnings about alcohol and aging, reminding people 65 and older that even a few drinks can hit them harder than in their youth. The reason is that older people metabolize alcohol more slowly, and they also have less water in their bodies. … The National Institutes of Health site says that people over 65 shouldn't consume more than seven drinks a week, and that they should have no more than three drinks on a given day."
Sometimes the pea wins
"A Massachusetts man who was rushed to hospital with a collapsed lung came home with an unusual diagnosis: A pea plant was growing in his lung," BBC News reports. "Rod Sveden had been battling emphysema for months when his condition deteriorated. He was steeling himself for a cancer diagnosis when X-rays revealed the growth in his lung. Doctors believe that Mr. Sveden ate the pea at some point but it 'went down the wrong way' and sprouted. … Mr. Sveden said the plant was about half an inch in size."
Icing the kicker
When a football player is about to try for a field goal, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports, "An opposing team's coach can simply 'ice' a kicker and make it harder for them to put the ball through the goal posts. A new study by the University of San Diego says that kickers are less likely to make a field goal in a high-pressure situation if the opposing team's coach calls a time out just as they're about to tee things up." Psychology professor Nadav Goldschmied reviewed data from six National Football League seasons and found that kickers who'd been iced scored only 66.4 per cent of the time. By comparison, kickers who were not iced had an 80.4-per-cent success rate.
Vending machines and you
"Your thumbprint might soon be the key to an afternoon candy bar," Myfoxny.com reports. "A Massachusetts-based vending machine company is joining the growing ranks of companies that are field-testing new technologies. Next Generation Vending and Food Service is experimenting with biometric vending machines that would allow a user to tie a credit card to their thumbprint. 'For a certain demographic, that is pretty cool,' says company president John Ioannou. … There are other innovations that are being tested outside the United States, including machines that use retinal scans to identify and charge consumers for their purchases."
After 34 years, the Cathy comic strip will end in early October, the Chicago Tribune reports. Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite wouldn't let on how the strip might end, quipping, "If I had the sort of brain capable of planning two weeks ahead, I would never have been able to create the strip for the last 34 years."
Thought du jour
"If it were not for these stories, jokes, jests, I should die; they give vent - are the vents - of my moods and gloom."
- Abraham Lincoln