How soon after a tragedy is it OK to joke about it?

The funny thing about most tragedies and disasters is that they eventually become the subject of jokes. A classic example of this phenomenon is this chestnut: “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” But, of course, as any comedian will tell you, when it comes to humor, timing is everything. You don’t want to be too soon with your jokes about tragedies. Julie Beck has an instructive piece HERE about some serious research into the use of such jokes: Humor is a real and helpful coping strategy. From the darkest...

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Lincoln would be proud: Illinois ranks fifth among the cussingest states

Ordinarily, I’m a stickler for reliable methodology in social research, but I’ll make an exception in this case. I’m simply not going to dispute any study suggesting that we Illinoisans are more foul-mouthed but also more courteous than our Wisconsin brethren. If that sounds contradictory…well, social science can be a complicated matter. The story is HERE: [The Marchex Institute] examined more than 600,000 phone calls from the past 12 months. The calls were placed by consumers to businesses across 30 industries,...

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What single word is the most widely understood across cultures and languages?

I don’t know if those pricey Rosetta Stone courses offer this lesson, but they should: When you’re traveling abroad, there’s one word in particular you would do well to remember. Jennifer Schuessler has the story HERE: Are there words that are universally understood, across all countries and cultures? A team of linguists has proposed one: “huh.” Huh? In a paper published on Friday in the journal PLOS One, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands announced that they had found strikingly...

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Is the campaign against genetically modified crops basically a bunch of anti-scientific hooey?

Michael Specter SAYS the answer to the question in the headline above is affirmative: I recently watched “OMG GMO,” Jeremy Seifert’s aggressively uninformed “documentary” about the corporate duplicity and governmental callousness that he says drives the production of genetically engineered crops—which are, in his view, such barely concealed poisons that he actually dressed his children in full hazmat gear before letting them enter a field of genetically modified corn. Seifert explained his research process in an interview with Nathanael...

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Taking ownership of the R-word

Warning: This powerful clip from the Showtime series “Shameless” includes an F-bomb. It also includes other potentially offensive words, which is the whole point. [youtube]http://youtu.be/xiSc5ImaWKM[/youtube]

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