George Rucker's Newsletter for August 23, 2016

Another week, another Tuesday,

I want to say I was inundated with duck jokes last week but alas I cannot.  I guess I will need to revert to some chicken jokes.  I will start with one that has been around forever, 1847 actually, which is a long time.

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" is a common riddle joke? The answer or punch line is: "To get to the other side."

It is often falsely labeled as an example of anti-humor, in which the curious setup of the joke leads the listener to expect a traditional punch line, but they are instead given a simple statement of fact. However, many fail to realize that the riddle is actually a pun concerning the attempted suicide of the aforementioned chicken. The "other side" referenced in the punch line of the joke refers to the afterlife that the chicken hopes to reach by being run over by a car and achieving death.

I bet you did not know that.  The other side was in reality death and it still in use today.

There are ‘quips and quillets’ which seem actual conundrums, such as this: ‘Why does a chicken cross the street?  Are you ‘out of town?’   Do you give it up?’   Well, then: ‘Because it wants to get on the other side!’

The joke had become widespread by the 1890s, when a variant version appeared in the magazine Potter's American Monthly:

Why should not a chicken cross the road? It would be a fowl proceeding.

There are many riddles that assume a familiarity with this well-known riddle and its answer, for example by supplying a different answer, such as "it was too far to walk around."  One class of variations enlists a creature other than the chicken to cross the road, in order to refer back to the original riddle. For example, a turkey or duck crosses "because it was the chicken's day off," and a dinosaur "because chickens didn't exist yet." Some variants are both puns and references to the original, such as "Why did the duck cross the road?" "To prove he's no chicken.”

Other variations replace side with another word often to form a pun. Some examples are "Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other slide" or "Why did the whale cross the ocean? To get to the other tide." A mathematical version asks, "Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?" "To get to the same side." Alternatively, the punch line can be regarded as the chicken "getting to the other side" as a euphemism for death, and crossing the road being its method of suicide.

Another class of variations, designed for written rather than oral transmission, employs parody by pretending to have notable individuals or institutions give characteristic answers to the question posed by the riddle.  As with the lightbulb joke, variants on this theme are widespread.

I saw two duck jokes in there . . .  Why did the duck cross the road?  Because it was the chicken’s day off.

Why did the duck cross the road?  He wanted to prove he was no chicken.

OK, now lets get those duck jokes rolling or more chicken jokes will be coming.


While fishing for lobster, a lobsterman caught an ultra-blue lobster in Plymouth last week.  I have seen pictures of some blue lobsters before but none a s blue as this one.

Why Are Lobsters Blue, and Why Does Cooking Turn Them Red?

 Q. Why do lobsters turn from dark blue-green to red when boiled? And why are they that dark color in the first place?

A. A relatively simple explanation for the color change emerged in a study published in 2002: Heat changes the shape of a protein called beta-crustacyanin in the shell, relaxing its bonds with the pigment astaxanthin. The freed pigment reflects wavelengths of light in the red spectrum.

But it turned out that the heat-related shape change accounted for only about a third of the color difference, according to a 2005 study by Dutch researchers in The Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The new research pointed to a complex quantum-physics interaction that would account for a much larger shift — and for the living lobster’s original color.

When the red pigment is fully hidden in the enclosing protein, it absorbs all wavelengths of light, red as well as blue and green, so the lobster appears black.

The previous research had found that the red pigment molecules were grouped in pairs within the crustacyanin, crossing each other in a tight X formation. The Dutch researchers calculated that they interfered with one another, causing shifts in their quantum energy states, thus altering the wavelengths of light that are absorbed.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy to examine protein-pigment interactions, the researchers found that this effect was a large one, suggesting that it is the primary source of lobster color.

This article was a little technical for me so I looked for another . . .

A lobster of a different color

Most lobsters are colored a mottled dark greenish brown. In rare cases, a lobster of a different color (colormorph) appears. Exotic lobsters in shades of blue, white, yellow, black, and red have been reported from time to time since the earliest lobster harvests. Perhaps the most unusual colormorphs are the "calico" lobsters appearing as marbled black and orange/yellow; or "half-and-half" lobsters with a line straight down their backs where two colors meet.

Calicos and half-and-halves are hatched that way and they stay that way (until cooked!) because the basic color pattern in lobster shells is inherited just like the color of hair in humans and other mammals.

However, some of the blue, brown, green, red, and black tones can be genetic or they can have other causes. In some instances lighter/darker shades can be influenced by diet, sunlight, and bottom type. For example, if you put a blue lobster in a holding system and its color becomes normal over a period of time, that lobster is undoubtedly not a 'genetic blue." It was probably blue as a result of a dietary deficiency.

Lobsters get their characteristic color, not only from genetics, but, also from the foods they eat. A natural-colored lobster fed a diet of squid will turn blue. A lobster deprived of all prey that eats phytoplankton (floating plantlike critters) appears pale blue.

Lobsters need to eat things that eat plants to get a carotenoid (pigment found in carrots) called astaxanthin (relative of pigment found in carrots), which binds to a protein in the lobster's shell. If lobsters do not get carotenoids from their diet, they can not bind the pigment because only plants can manufacture carotenoids.

The protein to which astaxanthin binds in natural-colored lobsters is blue in lobster shells and green in lobster eggs. When the astaxanthin is not in the diet, would-be natural colored lobsters appear blue because the blue pigment in the protein expresses itself.

So, then, why do lobsters turn red when you cook them? Because the carotenoid is allowed to express itself. Heat breaks up protein bonds. When you cook a lobster the bond between the protein and the carotenoid breaks down and the red color becomes visible.

How, then, do you explain live red lobsters? A live red lobster is red because its genetically based protein-astaxanthin complex is red—not because it has free astaxanthin!

That should be easier to understand.  It is also the end of this weeks letter.


Have a great day,



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