Oddities: Age Record, Nonnews, and Humor

  • Early to bed, early to rise. Hamida Musulmani says, “I only eat what I grow. I am fine, it is only my eyes that cannot see properly.” The Lebanese woman has documents that put her age at 126. (The New Zealand version of the Reuters article adds: “Many titleholders [of the world’s oldest living person] have been exclusively or largely vegetarian, but others have bucked the trend by being cigar-smoking, chocolate-loving, alcohol-imbibing carnivores.” Sadly, it lists none of them. A web page titled simply “The Oldest Human Beings” lists a whole bundle of record-holders of the title, but does not mention their eating/drinking habits.) (Reuters: “Lebanese Woman Could Be World’s Oldest — at 126” [June 15, 2004])
  • Watch Lobster. It’s always fun when an article takes a complete non-story—something that would possibly pass as an interesting anecdote in casual conversation—and tries to pretend it’s actually something worth reporting. I’m not saying I don’t enjoy these articles, because, after all, they provide good excuses for using sentences like “[w]hatever the motive, the lobster has nothing to worry about.” But you have to wonder where in the chain of editorial responsibility someone actually had the thought, “wow! they found a lobster next to a watch—and in the ocean, no less!” and then proceeded to think “I bet that’ll make a good news article.” (AP: “Lobster found guarding watch off England” [June 17, 2004])
  • I’ll bet that’s funny. Ha ha. A preliminary study at Dartmouth indicates that humor “detection” and humor appreciation are handled by two separate areas of the brain. An interesting study, but obviously not the last laugh. More questions raised than answered and so forth. (Scientific American: “Sitcoms on the Brain” by Marina Krakovsky [June 14, 2004] via BoingBoing)