In the realm of psychology, there are three general theories that explain how humor works. According to the most common explanation for humor—the tension release theory—we experience, for a brief period after hearing a joke or looking at a cartoon, a tension that counterbalances what we assume about the situation being described or illustrated against what the comedian or cartoonist intends to convey. The tension is released only when the joke or cartoon is understood.

The second most popular theory of humor, the incongruity resolution model, involves the solving of a paradox or incongruity in a playful context. This theory is based on the deep relationship that exists in the human brain between the laughable and the illogical. As a species, we place great value on logic. Even so, we will playfully accept a situation that is highly unlikely or even impossible … as long as the scenario depicted in the cartoon is coherent and logically consistent with its theme. Incongruity resolution usually takes a little longer than tension release and occurs in two stages. First, expectations about the meaning of a joke or cartoon are jarringly undermined by the punch line of the joke or the caption of the cartoon. This leads to a form of problem solving aimed at reconciling the discrepancy. When we solve the problem, the pieces fall into place and we experience the joy that accompanies insight. Failure to get the point of a joke or cartoon causes the same discomfort we feel when we cannot solve a problem.

Finally, the superiority theory emphasizes how mirth and laughter so often involve a focus on someone else’s mistakes, misfortune, or stupidity. … The superiority theory lends itself especially to an explanation of cruel and hostile humor: the situation depicted in the joke or cartoon could never happen to us, hence our amusement. In a word, we feel superior to the person suffering misfortune.

In practice, most humor incorporates aspects of all three of those theories.

Theories of how humor works.

Myth #2: “Sear your meat over high heat to lock in juices.”

The Theory: Searing the surface of a cut piece of meat will precipitate the formation of an impenetrable barrier, allowing your meat to retain more juices as it cooks.

The Reality: Searing produces no such barrier-liquid can still pass freely in and out of the surface of a seared steak. To prove this, I cooked two steaks to the exact same internal temperature (130^0F). One steak I seared first over hot coals and finished over the cooler side of the grill. The second steak I started on the cooler side, let it come to about ten degrees below its final target temperature, then finished it by giving it a sear over the hot side of a grill. If there is any truth to the searing story, then the steak that was seared first should retain more moisture. What I found is actually the exact opposite: the steak that is cooked gently first and finished with a sear will not only develop a deeper, darker crust (due to slightly drier outer layers-see Myth #1), but it also cooks more evenly from center to edge, thus limiting the amount of overcooked meat and producing a finished product that is juicier and more flavorful.

And 6 other myths about cooking steak. 

How to compose a successful critical commentary

How to compose a successful critical commentary

Following a Star, Kerry Applies Personal Touch

Following a Star, Kerry Applies Personal Touch

This is a map of NYC by MapBox showing smartphone usage according to Twitter data. iPhone is red, Android green and Blackberry purple. 

The urge to eat and the urge to procreate are basic, natural and deliciously intertwined … and certainly no other method of seduction is as healthful or nourishing. No matter what else may go wrong, at least you’ve had a good meal.

It may be worth noting here the three sorts of appetite… as applicable to sexual hunger as to gastronomic.

  1. Appetite that comes from hunger. It makes no fuss over the food that satisfies it. If it is great enough, a piece of raw meat will appease it as easily as a roasted pheasant or a woodcock.
  2. Appetite aroused, hunger or no hunger, by a succulent dish appearing at the right moment, illustrating the proverb that hunger comes with eating.
  3. The type of appetite that is roused at the end of a meal when after normal hunger has been satisfied by the main courses, and the guest is truly ready to rise without regret, a delicious dish holds him to the table with a final tempting of his sensuality.
On the importance of knowing how to cook for your date. 

An app that records what you heard five minutes ago

An app that records what you heard five minutes ago

Fun fact of the day: lake Taal in the Phillipines is an island within a lake within an island within a lake within an island.