Category: Humour

Humour

Evolution is awesome

I think we often tend to underestimate the intricate wonder of evolution, and by extension of life in general. It is not only incredible, but it is also scary, bizarre, funny and inspiring.

One of the best examples of this is the Mantis Shrimp, which was featured on the webcomic The Oatmeal recently. But there are many more. In fact, there is a whole blog dedicated to the weird and wondrous creations of evolution. Very appropriately, it’s called, WTF, Evolution?

It showcases some of the weirdest animals known to creation. Including lizards that can shoot blood from their eyes, frogs that incubate their eggs in their stomach and ridiculously garish caterpillars. All complete with a pithy little caption as to why they might have evolved in such a way.

My favourite so far is the mating practices of the leopard slug:

Yeah, this blog has devolved into slug porn. Who would have thought?

Four Yorkshiremen in reverse

Today, I came across an interesting blog post by Dave Snowden who apparently is something of an expert when it comes knowledge management (whatever that is).

Snowden writes about the dangers of rose tinting — that is trying to map out a route to some ideal future instead of working in the present and relating to the real problems at hand.

His point being that idealists tend to be unable to embrace dissent and learn from it, and so they seek and encourage confirmation rather than conflict. That means that when a group of idealistic, like-minded people get together, it can easily devolve into a sort of Monty Python’s “Four Yorkshiremen” sketch in reverse, where they encourage each other to develop bigger and bigger utopian fantasies that can encompass all needs and suggestions and thus avoid any dissent.


Drawing of the four Yorkshiremen found on Wowox.com

I’ll be the first to admit to having a utopian bent, so for me this is a welcome warning. I do try to be realistic about the scope of what I’m doing. I find the mental image of “Four Yorkshiremen In Reverse” to be a rather powerful reminder of the danger of such rose tinting.

Snowden goes on to say that you won’t change things by lecturing people on how old fashioned their thinking is. This is similar to Euan Semple’s credo that “to rescue someone is to oppress them.”

Instead of lecturing, Snowden suggests that you put people “into situations and give them tools where old ways of thinking are not sustainable and they have to act differently. If they work it out for themselves it’s sustainable.”

That is certainly something to ponder.

Let’s be honest here

This week’s XKCD struck a chord with me:

This reminds me of one of my all-time favourite songs, “Slow Emotion Replay” by The The:

The more I see
The less I know
About all the things I thought were wrong or right
and carved in stone

So, don’t ask me about
War, Religion, or God
Love, Sex, or Death
Because…

Everybody knows what’s going wrong with the world
But I don’t even know what’s going on in myself.

Listen to the song here.

More weird and wonderful web comics

A vital part of my Google Reader feeds are web comics. And from time to time I still happen upon new web comics to add to my feed collection. Here’s two which I haven’t mentioned here before.

Pictures for sad children is a quietly sad comic featuring simply drawn characters expressing very honest and simple desires that resonate deeply in a ever more complex world. There is no frustration in their contemplation of the world, only a wonderfully disarming honesty. Like this:

Atomic angst

A softer world is not really a comic at all. Sure, it presents itself through a standard layout of three panels, each containing part of a photo. Together, the three photo panels frame the sordid, candid, and poetic prose that describe unexpected situations, recall sore memories, make bold manifestos – all sparkling in their brevity:

ok?

indeed

Another thing that I enjoy immensely about both comics is the facts they use the hidden picture “alt text” to add a little secret extra dimension to the comic, often twisting the words or pointing out hidden details in the art. Just hover your mouse cursor over the images to get the text (but note that the alt text on my blog is stuff that I have put in. To get the original comic alt text, you should go to the sites themselves).

Have fun.

Facebook sociality in real life

Found in Jyri Engeström‘s presentation on Social software:

The Internet is powerful at distributing information. It lowers the transaction cost involved in social relationships and both developers and users have taken advantage of this to favor communication with more people than we would ever communicate with face to face. Social software has thus focused on increasing the Dunbar??s number of circa 150 people who we are supposed to be able to have meaningful relationships with.

It’s interesting to see how people are developing rules for whom to ‘friend’ on social networks like Facebook. I now have 172 friends on Facebook, a great part of whom I haven’t seen for years. In that way, Facebook isn’t helping me sustain a Dunbar number greater than 150, but it does help me maintain a great number of latent relationships which I suppose I could rebuild if the right occasion arose. There is some sort of comfort in that, I guess.

Jon alone

One of my all-time favourite comics is Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a comic strip about a six-year old boy and his friendship with his stuffed toy tiger. The strip is a celebration of the vivid imagination and playfulness of the child, to whom the tiger appears alive and talkative. While to everybody else, it’s just an inanimate stuffed toy tiger.

Now, consider Garfield. Probably the best-selling comic strip in the world. The basic premise is that you have a fat, ego-centric cat who enjoys annoying his lonely owner. The sarcastic drive of the cat dominates every other character in the strip. But what if Garfield was just a figment of poor Jon’s imagination?

Well, now, with Garfield minus Garfield, we can see what Jon’s life would be without Garfield. As the introduction reads:

Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life? Friends, meet Jon Arbuckle. Let??s laugh and learn with him on a journey deep into the tortured mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness in a quiet American suburb.

You need to read a few pages to get the full desperation and crazed loneliness that the comic conveys. But then it’s downright startling.

The dark corners of the Internet

My friend Kristian, who really should have a blog, often sends me lovely stories and links which he digs up from the dark and musty corners of the Internet. It’s the sort of things that weblogs originally were meant log: A catalogue of surprises, of the never-ending weirdness, humour and imagination of human-kind. In a good way, mind.

Though there’s no real rhyme or rhythm to the links I receive, they’re always fascinating, and often do they expose surprising traits of modern society through what was once pop culture. Like this 1960s speculation of what USA of would be like if it was the USSA (aka the United Soviet States of America),
a comic book adaption of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment with Batman starring as Raskolnikov, or an archive of the instances of Superman being a dick to his friends:

Jimmy Olsen Kong

I really can’t imagine how any publisher can justify printing something so bizarre. Contrasting this shameless appeal for attention is the work of Henry Darger, which, much like most of Kafka’s oeuvre, was never meant to be published or even shown to anybody. I cannot help but wonder how many people like him now use the Internet to publish their innermost thoughts anonymously, in that way multiplying the dark and wonderful corners of the Internet…

Witty gamers

The new trend among video gamers appear to be making video game reviews in the form of bile-overflowing, yet extremely witty films.

One of these reviewers goes by the supremely unfortunate moniker “Yahtzee”, who presents a new review each week under the title Zero Punctuation, which subtly hints that the main trademark of the reviews is a non-stop hilarious gabbing at whatever game he happens to review. A good example of his style can be found in his review of the latest installment in the Tomb Raider saga:

Another witty gamer is the Angry Video Game Nerd – formerly known as the Angry Nintendo Nerd (though he had to change his nom-de-plume in order to avoid unhappy interest from certain Italian plumbers). The nerd makes humorous, though at times rather long-winded, reviews of old Nintendo and Atari video games, showcasing just how primitive they were. But it is not so much the games themselves, as it is the Angry Nerd’s ability to look back upon the pop culture which fostered these games in the first place. The best example of that is probably his excellent review of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for the Nintendo:

It gets even better when he goes on to describe his old indulgence with the pubescent amphibians even further by reminiscing the Turtles movie trilogy.

Oil addicts

I just came across British comedian and activist Rob Newman‘s show “The History of Oil” – it is an enlightening, provoking and funny view on the role of oil in global politics in the past century and what role it’ll be playing in the future, what with the Crisis in the Middle East, Peak Oil and all those other nasty buzz phrases.

Best of all. there is a highly recommended 45 minute cut of the show freely available for your viewing pleasure.