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On Christmas Shopping and Siri

This is my first post written with the help of Siri. Let's see how well she does. Now, you might wonder how various commas and periods and ?'s get into this post and it's really quite easy: all I have to do is say "period" at the end of a sentence. And a period appears. Or "question mark," and one appears at the end of sentence like this? I like the idea of a hands-free post. It does mean that I will have to go back and do some minor editing. But, I can write a post on my way to work, on my way to the office as I commute, which is sort of like feeding two birds with one feeder, which I believe is the PC way now of saying kill two birds with one stone.

I was speaking with a friend yesterday and I was asking her how she puts together her Christmas list for shopping. Having grown up in a Jewish household it was always quite simple for my parents. All they had to do was figure out what they're going to get me for each night of Hanukkah so at the end of Hanukkah there were basically eight presents, give or take.

So I wondered how people put together Christmas lists. I'm sure some of it depends on how many children there are, what the budget is, etc. But still, with only one day to open presents, it leaves me wondering how one decides when enough is enough or how many presents to buy. So when I put this question to my friend, she said she has a very simple rule: Each child gets one thing they need, one thing to read, one thing to wear, and one thing they want. (Plus a bonus gift!) I thought that was a nice formula.

So my question for you flossers is: what's your formula for Christmas shopping? Is there a rhyme or reason? Siri and I request that you discuss in the comments below.

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Watch 18 Minutes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus Seinfeld Bloopers
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Sometimes you just need to settle in and watch professional actors cracking up, over and over. That's what we have for you today.

In the two videos below, we get a total of 18 minutes of Seinfeld bloopers, specifically focused on Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When Louis-Dreyfus cracks up, Seinfeld can't help but make it worse, goading her. It's delightful.

Sample quote (during an extended break):

Seinfeld: "We won an Emmy, you know."

Louis-Dreyfus: "Yeah, but I didn't."

Her individual Seinfeld Emmy arrived in 1996; the show started winning in 1992. But in September 2017, Louis-Dreyfus—who turns 57 years old today—set a couple of Emmy records when she won her sixth award for playing Selina Meyer on Veep.

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The Funniest Word in the English Language? 'Booty,' According to New Survey
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Some words, regardless of their meaning, are simply more chuckle-worthy than others. To determine which expressions in the English language are truly the most comical, Smithsonian reports that psychologists at the University of Warwick in the UK conducted a survey in which they asked people to rate the “humor value” of a sampling of chosen words. They recently published their findings in the journal Behavior Research Methods.

The researchers selected nearly 5000 words, and then used Amazon’s online crowdsourcing tool Mechanical Turk to ask more than 800 individuals to rank the humor value of 211 randomly chosen words from the list, on a scale from 1 (humorless) to 5 (humorous). Likely not surprising to anyone with younger siblings, the funniest word ended up being “booty,” with an average ranking of 4.32. In descending order, the remaining top 12 words—which all received a score of 3.9 or higher—were “tit,” “booby,” “hooter,” “nitwit,” “twit,” “waddle,” “tinkle,” “bebop,” “egghead,” “ass,” and “twerp.”

Why these words are so funny remains fuzzy. But when they analyzed their findings according to age and gender, the researchers did find that sexually suggestive words like “orgy” and “bondage” tended to tickle the funny bones of men, as did the words “birthmark,” “brand,” “chauffeur,” “doze,” “buzzard,” “czar,” “weld,” “prod,” “corn,” and “raccoon.”

Meanwhile, women tended to laugh at the words “giggle,” “beast,” “circus,” “grand,” “juju,” “humbug,” “slicker,” “sweat,” “ennui,” “holder,” “momma,” and “sod.” As for people under the age of 32, they were amused by “goatee,” “joint,” and “gangster,” while older participants liked “squint,” “jingle,” “burlesque,” and “pong.” Across the board, all parties were least amused by words like “rape,” “torture,” and “torment.”

Although humor is complex and dependent on elements like syntax and delivery, the study's researchers say that breaking comedy down to single-word units could demystify its essence.

“The research initially came about as a result of our curiosity,” said Tomas Engelthaler, the study’s lead author, in a press release. “We were wondering if certain words are perceived as funnier, even when read on their own. It turns out that indeed is the case. Humor is an everyday aspects of our lives and we hope this publicly available dataset allows future researchers to better understand its foundations.”

[h/t Smithsonian]

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