Since 1999, researchers at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. have tracked my amusement level to a rolling average; for reasons too complex to fully get into, this datapoint is combined with several others (ocean salinity, migratory bird patterns, the price of tea in China) and the results are used to determine whether or not the Federal Reserve raises interest rates.
As you can see in the chart above (click for larger version), the index has done remarkably well for several years running, with the exception of 2001.* Unfortunately, however, careful observers of the RAI have picked up on an alarming new trend. My amusement levels, tracked in the standard unit of measure (JDV, or “joie de vivres”) are trending perilously low. Outward symptoms of this are everywhere, from reduced output on the jonsonblog to less frequent & less interesting posts on metafilter, to a general malaise of the funny bone when it comes to even recognizing & appreciating the alarmingly funny in the regular world.
Scientists & other top experts are confounded as to the source of the precipitous drop off in the RAI, given the increasing adorableness of the Little Baby Cupcake, the continued stable & happy marriage and the marathon like decade of steady gainful employment. A paralyzed Ben Bernanke can only watch helplessly as the nation idly meanders on, blissfully ignorant of the looming peril.
*September 11th changed everything