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The Science of Sarcasm June 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Humor, Life.
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Katherine P. Rankin, a Neuropsychologist, Studies Sarcasm – NYTimes.com
What you may not have realized is that perceiving sarcasm, the smirking put-down that buries its barb by stating the opposite, requires a nifty mental trick that lies at the heart of social relations: figuring out what others are thinking. Those who lose the ability, whether through a head injury or the frontotemporal dementias afflicting the patients in Dr. Rankin’s study, just do not get it when someone says during a hurricane, “Nice weather we’re having.”

“The left hemisphere does language in the narrow sense, understanding of individual words and sentences,” Dr. Chatterjee said. “But it’s now thought that the appreciation of humor and language that is not literal, puns and jokes, requires the right hemisphere.”

American farms’ answer to illegal immigration is to grow crops in Mexico June 3, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Food.
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American farms’ answer to illegal immigration is to grow crops in Mexico – International Herald Tribune
Scaroni owns VegPacker, a California and Guanajuato-based company that grows lettuce, celery, cauliflower and other vegetables. VegPacker has struggled after forking out millions of dollars to launch its Mexico division two years ago.

The problem is that cheaper labor in Mexico often is offset by lower productivity and high training costs, especially when it comes to enforcing U.S. food-safety standards.

“The only thing that’s cheaper down here is diesel fuel and the labor per day,” Scaroni said. “My productivity is down 40 percent” from U.S. levels.

“I’m very concerned about the future of agriculture in the U.S.,” he added.

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