Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'funny'

Adult fare on YouTube, for a change..

September 5th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Yes, an entire calculus limerick, resurrected from my 1992 joke book, has been made into a YouTube video by my old friend Stu Savory. (Calling him my “good old” friend would make him sound older and less good, so I’ll leave it there.)

The limerick is a fine old mathematical chestnut, most likely created by a real practitioner who invoked Gausswhen trying to tie his cravat and thought of Klein bottles when he heard the milkman’s cart rumble by. With blessings upon Stu’s head, I am not that old.

I hope all my readers will show their support for YouTube’s new adult content by favoriting Stu’s video early and often.

Tags: funny · geeky · Metablogging · Science · Wide wonderful world

The amorous singing oxygen atom is baaaack

June 14th, 2009 · Comments Off on The amorous singing oxygen atom is baaaack

The oxygen atom, thinking about the scientist Eve

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

From today’s NY Times Tierney Lab blog:

Dr. Wilczek, an M.I.T. physicist who grew up in Queens, sang a Gilbert and Sullivanish song, centered on the frustrations of an oxygen molecule in love with a human being.

The big revelation is that this physicist isn’t a bad a singer. He may have a bit of vibrato, but he’s also got a lot of bravado. And he definitely stayed on key for the entire performance.

After a while, he was so engrossed in what he was doing, that he began to move–though, I must report, he’s no James Brown. Nevertheless, the audience where I sat–heavy-duty academic types– had to repress their own desires to start dancing. Who says that scientists have to be solemn and boring?

Who indeed? The song was the re-setting by Marc Abrahams ( for his Ig Nobel opera Atom and Eve, in which Frank played the baritone lead to friendly acclaim.

And there was more Tierney Lab news from Frank’s appearances at the NY Science Festival–or perhaps I should say instead there was Nothing.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Science · Wide wonderful world

To duck or not to duck?

June 2nd, 2009 · Comments Off on To duck or not to duck?

Those familiar with this blog may have noticed that ducks tend to float through its pages like a theme, perhaps, I hope, from a dreaming composer and not so much, I hope, like that annoying drum riff that the worst guy in the band loves to play.

Sinister ducks, rubber ducks, ducks in and out of water, even (way back in 2003) my first Flash animation Quack-Don’t-Quack.

So it is understandable that a clever person who knows me well, such as for instance a Nobel Laureate who is married to me, would think of me as somebody who would like this video making fun of Pat Robertson for comparing gay marriage to sex with ducks.

And I cannot resist in turn passing this on to you also, but let me just say that as much as I do like ducks, I do not like them THAT way.

But I do really, really like this song.

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Wide wonderful world

Sinister steampunk ducks

May 26th, 2009 · 2 Comments

You think you have seen sinister ducks?

Bwa ha ha — you haven’t seen sinister ducks until you’ve seen these ducks.

Tags: funny · Wide wonderful world

Venus with iPhone and Nobel Laureate

February 10th, 2009 · Comments Off on Venus with iPhone and Nobel Laureate

Venus in clouds over Nymphenberg

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Wow, what an iPhone can do. It can capture the crescent shape of the planet Venus in a sky still blue and pink and green with twilight.

And an iPhone can motivate Frank Wilczek to start taking photographs for just about the first time since I’ve known him.

You hear a lot about how new technology “empowers” people, but somehow when I hear that, I think of other people, people much less savvy than (ahem) we are.

I am really enjoying seeing more of the world through Frank Wilczek’s eyes now, including a photo of what I look like to him.

Though I wouldn’t have minded more photos of me in my twenties!

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · Wide wonderful world

Why not to bang into wild boar with your Volvo

January 28th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Josephine Zarkovich’s "Little Deer"

Originally uploaded by allaboutgeorge

In the road ahead, you see a huge elk and a wild boar. What should the average cautious driver do?

Thanks are due to Sweden’s Älgskadefondsföreningen (‘Elk damages fund association’) for the answer to this important but neglected question: the average wild-boar collision costs $4,700 to repair, while an elk costs $3,700 and a deer only $2,200.

“The reason that wild boars cause the greatest material injury is that the wild boar’s centre of gravity sits at the same height as the car’s front end. The impact is strongest where the car’s most expensive components are housed,” explained a researcher.

The obvious remedy is to drive off the road, as far as necessary, to try to collide with a regular deer instead. This solution is chosen by 6 out of 7 in Sweden, where last year’s accident toll included 5,118 with elk, 2,462 with wild boars, but 30,982 with deer.

Tags: funny · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

What is even worse than an oxymoron?

January 25th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Bush in flight suit: "Karl Rove told me to stick a sock in it."Mission accomplished!” said Frank, over dinner tonight. We all looked at him. “It just doesn’t mean what it used to mean now, does it?” he said.

“Neither does ‘Heckuva job,'” pointed out someone else.

There should be a word, maybe something based on “oxymoron,” for expressions that used to mean “[something]” but now mean “[ha-ha-ha-NOT-something].” Heckuva job on creating so many, Team Bush!

Since I’m suggesting it, maybe I should make up said word, but since nothing suggests itself I won’t.

But that’s OK, because what I will do is “take full responsibility.”

Tags: Editorial · funny · language · politics

Image: “TheWhiteHouse” moves from Bush to Obama

January 20th, 2009 · Comments Off on Image: “TheWhiteHouse” moves from Bush to Obama

TheWhiteHouse Twitter stream, before and after

TheWhiteHouse Twitter stream shifts from Bush to Obama

Bright line and text labels were done by me.

Election of Barack Obama was done by us.

Tags: Editorial · funny · Wide wonderful world

NYC-loving author Donald Westlake will write no more

January 3rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

Snow-covered lion on Columbia campus

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Kind, cynical funny mystery writer Donald Westlake died on New Year’s Eve. If you don’t know the prolific Westlake or his funny goofball career criminal Dortmunder, you should fix that. Westlake was a ninja at making a huge mess of funny and surprising stuff that gets sorted out to your stunned but smiling satisfaction in his last few pages.

One of my Dortmunder favorites, Don’t Ask, starts with Dortmunder in a traffic-stuck frozen fish truck but lurches him forward into the theft (more than once) of an 800 year-old femur disputed by two angry countries.

More Westlake wonders, all of them suitable to keep you happy on airplanes, even when jostled by turbulent weather or children…

Trust Me On This

Newswoman Sara Joslyn goes to work at notorious tabloid and runs afoul of murder mystery while working on stories of century-old twins, a star’s honeymoon, and a “body in a box”; romance as a bonus with great police intervention which I’m restraining myself from describing.
Baby, Would I Lie?

Sara Joslyn again, now working for cute boss Jack at a trendy New York magazine called Trend, re-meets some of her tabloid pals in Branson country-western land and gets tangled up in an even more tricky mystery.

Begun in 1986 and/or 1990, according to its preface, this book recounts a struggle carried out by one angel and one demon against God’s plan for the end of the universe. Remarkably similar in its premise to Gaiman and Pratchett’s Good Omens (1990), which I also love, this book takes a different pathway, both darker and funnier, to — but of course I don’t want to spoil the ending.

I am now regretting I never wrote Westlake any fan mail — this blog post must now suffice. He was a true craftsman whose work made the world better, not least by making us laugh.

Tags: funny · Wide wonderful world · writing

Only a game? Arrrgh!

December 28th, 2008 · 4 Comments

The civilized veneer of chess is deservedly rrrrrripped away in this fine video, which I found via I shed some of my bitterest bad-sportsmanship tears over a chess game, and although I was less than ten years old when I shed them, I remember that near-defeat agony clearly today. It was only a near-defeat because my Aunt Harriet unaccountably failed to capture my undefended queen, and instead moved her own queen into a spot where I could take it.

If chess savagery featured on BoingBoing, somebody would be crying out for a unicorn chaser. Would the savage unicorn in this video suffice? It certainly seems to be chasing the other chess pieces.

Tags: funny · Wide wonderful world