The commander of an Israeli Air Force base has sentenced a soldier to 21 days in jail for yawning during his memorial speech to mark the anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. It appears that the yawn unbecoming a soldier was aggravated by his failure to cover his mouth.
Some interesting yawn facts both work for and against the military crackdown on yawning. First, 55 percent of people will yawn within five minutes of seeing someone else yawn. That threatens an entire regiment of yawners. Since the average yawn lasts six seconds, you can have a cascading effect of continual yawning that can last hours in a closely packed military base. On the other hand, yawns are common among athletes at major sporting events — suggesting that it is not boredom but anticipation that can produce yawning.
Yawning is so basic a human response that artist Joseph Ducreux did his sel-portrait committing that act (above).
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