This page contains various stories, puns and jokes chosen from those I receive from friends, in particular from Berthe Choueiry. I hope you'll enjoy them too.
Letter to the Editor
Measurement techniques by University Professors
Why God Will Never Get Tenure At Any University
How to Install software
Weather Forecasting by University Professors
How to hunt elephants
Differences in the sciences
Shooting Yourself in the Foot
Military Aircraft Consumer information form
Importance of PhD advisors
Faculty meeting report
Problem solving by software engineers
Rediscovering the wheel
Rhimes and tidbits contributed by Dick Mason
Letter to the Editor. (This document is said to have been published in the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning in June 1991, but it may have originated as the result of self-organizing processes in cyberspace (contributed by Jens Kuntze)
Dear Sir, Madam or Other
Enclosed is our latest version of MS#83-02-22RRRR, that is the re-re-re-revised revision of our paper. Choke on it. We have again rewritten the entire manuscript from start to finish. We even changed the goddamn running head. Hopefully we have suffered enough by now to satisfy even you and your bloodthirsty reviewers.
We shall skip the usual point-by point description of every single change we made in response to the critiques. After all, it is fairly clear that your reviewers are less interested in details of scientific procedures than in working out their personality problems and sexual frustrations by seeking some kind of demented glee in the sadistic and arbitrary exercise of tyrannical power over hapless authors like ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches. We do understand that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths that you have on your editorial board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren’t reviewing manuscripts they would probably be out mugging old ladies or clubbing baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviewers, C was clearly the most hostile, and we request that you do not ask him not to review this revision. Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four of the five people we suspect of being reviewer C, so if you send the manuscript back to them the review process could be unduly delayed.
Some of the reviewers comments we couldn’t do anything about. For example, if (as reviewer C suggested) several of our recent ancestors were, indeed, drawn from other species, it is too late to change that. Other suggestions were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and benefited. Thus, you suggested that we shorten the manuscript of 5 pages, and we were able to accomplish this very effectively by altering the margins and printing the paper in a different font with a smaller typeface. We agree with you that the paper is much better this way.
Our perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions 13 through 28 by reviewer B. As you may recall (that is, if you ever bother reading the reviews before writing your decision letters), that reviewer listed 16 works that he/she felt we should cite in this paper. There were a variety of different topics, none of which had any relevance to our work that we could see. Indeed, one was an essay on the Spanish-American war from a high-school literary magazine. The only common thread was that all 16 were by the same author, presumably someone whom reviewer B greatly admires and feels should be widely cited. To handle this, we have modified the introduction and added, after the section "Review of Relevant Literature", a section entitled "Review of Irrelevant Literature" that discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the most asinine suggestions in the other reviews.
We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and will finally recognize how urgently deserving of publication this work is. If not, then you are an unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human decency. You ought to be in a cage. May whatever heritage you come from be the butt of the next round of ethnic jokes. If you do accept , however, we wish to express our appreciation of your deep and skillful scholar insights. To repay you for your kindness and help, we will be happy to review some manuscripts for you; please send us the next manuscript that any of these reviewers authors submits to your journal.
Assuming that you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked the paper much better the way we originally wrote it, but that you held the editorial shotgun to our heads and force us to chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge, expand, shorten, and in general convert an meaty paper into stir fried vegetables. We couldn’t, or wouldn’t, have done it without you help.
Measurement techniques by University Professors (readapted by Ugo Bardi)
During the great war in 1914-1918, all armies were in such need of men that even university professors were enlisted as common soldiers. It is said that once, during one of the bloody battles of the time, a general badly needed data about the enemy he was facing. So he decided to send out a scout. Of all his men, many were wounded and the only one he could find in good shape was a rather old, bespectacled fellow. The general ordered this man to volunteer for the mission, and sent him out of the trench, towards the no man's land. After several hours, the man comes back, his beard dirty of mud, his glasses half broken, but otherwise unharmed. The man snaps on attention and says:
"Mission accomplished, general!"
"Very good, soldier. Now tell me, how many enemies have you seen out there?"
"General, there are 1007 enemies there!"
"1007? Ah, good, very good.... but... are you sure?"
"Yes, general, I am sure. You see, as a civilian I was a university professor, and I am always precise in what I say!"
"Ah, good. Really good, soldier..... But, how did you manage to count all of them.....?"
"Easy: I went across the enemy lines, I looked out and I saw three enemies on a little hill on the left; then I saw four enemies on a little hill on the right; and in the middle, well, there was such a crowd they had to be at least a thousand!"
Why God Will Never Get Tenure At Any University (from Berthe Choueiry)
1. Only published one book
2. It was in Hebrew.
3. It had no references.
4. He did not publish it in referenced journals.
5. Some doubt He even wrote it Himself.
6. He is not known for His cooperative work
7. Sure, He created the world, but what has He done lately?
8. He did not get permission from any review board to work with human subjects.
9. When one experiment went awry, He tried to cover it up by drowning all the subjects.
10. When sample subjects do not behave as predicted, He deletes the whole sample.
11. He rarely comes to class-just tells His students to read the Book.
12. It is rumored that He sometimes lets His Son teach the class.
13. Although He only has 10 requirements, His students often fail His tests.
14. He expelled His first two students for learning.
15. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountain top.
Tenure Letter (from Berthe Chouery)
Dear Fellow Scientist:
This letter has been around the world at least seven times. It has been to many major conferences. Now it has come to you. It will bring you good fortune. This is true even if you don't believe it. But you must follow these instructions:
- include in your next journal article the citations below.
- remove the first citation from the list and add a citation to your journal article at the bottom.
- make ten copies and send them to colleagues.
Within one year, you will be cited up to 10,000 times! This will amaze your fellow faculty, assure your promotion and improve your sex life. In addition, you will bring joy to many colleagues. Do not break the reference loop, but send this letter on today.
Dr. H. received this letter and within a year after passing it on she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Prof. M. threw this letter away and was denied tenure. In Japan, Dr. I. received this letter and put it aside. His article for Trans. on Nephrology was rejected. He found the letter and passed it on, and his article was published that year in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the Midwest, Prof. K. failed to pass on the letter, and in a budget cutback his entire department was eliminated. This could happen to you if you break the chain of citations.
1. Miller, J. (1992). Post-modern neo-cubism and the wave theory of light. Journal of Cognitive Artifacts, 8, 113-117.
2. Johnson, S. (1991). Micturition in the canid family: the irresistable pull of the hydrant. Physics Quarterly, 33, 203-220.
3. Anderson, R. (1990). Your place or mine?: an empirical comparison of two models of human mating behavior. Psychology Yesterday 12, 63-77.
4. David, E. (1994). Modern Approaches to Chaotic Heuristic Optimization: Means of Analyzing Non-Linear Intelligent Networks with Emergent Symbolic Structure. (doctoral dissertation, University of California at Santa Royale El Camino del Rey Mar Vista by-the-sea).
Weather Forecasting by University Professors (old joke, readapted by Ugo Bardi)
This story takes place sometime last century in a German town, small but large enough to have a university. Winter is approaching, and the woodsmen are out in the woods chopping trees. Now, the bourgmaster is a precise man, and wants to know exactly whether there will be enough wood for heating. So, he goes to see the chief meteorologist of the university, Herr Professor Krantz. "Herr Krantz", says the bourgmaster,"I am worried that the city has enough wood for this winter. Could you tell me something about how this year's winter will be?" Herr Krantz says: "No problem, I'll make some observations for you". So said, he inflates a big balloon, loads some bizarre instruments, and he himself boards on and takes off up in the air.
After some time high in the sky, Herr Krantz lands back and says: "I am certain that we shall have a very cold winter" So the bourgmaster goes back to town and orders more wood to be cut. All woodsmen rush to the forest chopping trees as fast as they can. The work goes on, but the bourgmaster is still worried. So he goes back to see Herr Krantz and asks whether he can tell him something more. Herr Krantz rides again his balloon, and after another excursion in the sky comes back saying: "This is going to be a terrible winter! It will be tremendously cold". So, the bourgmaster orders all available men to the forest to cut as much wood as they can. Peasants, artisans and everyone rush out of town and great piles of wood start to accumulate.
But the bourgmaster is not completely satisfied yet, and he goes to ask again to Herr Krantz who, this time, comes down from the sky muttering about "glaciation", "snowball earth" and the like. After that, even women and children, and the bourgmaster himself, go out chopping trees. After several days, all woods around town are cut bare and tremendous piles of wood rise up everywhere. Everyone is tired, but happy for having done what they had to.
The bourgmaster, also tired and happy, goes again to see the meteorologist. "Herr Krantz", he says, "thank you very much for your cooperation, you did a lot to help us. But, I'd like to ask you, what is exactly that you see up there that tells you so much about the weather of the coming winter?" Herr Krantz shakes his head "Well, scientific meteorology is still a developing field, so it is difficult to make long-term predictions. But of one thing I am sure: everytime I was up there I saw more people in the forest cutting wood like madmen. Really, it has to be an exceptionally cold winter; otherwise why would they bother so much?"
How to hunt elephants (from Marie Odile)
MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left.
EXPERIENCED MATHEMATICIANS will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise.
PROFESSORS OF MATHEMATICS will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A: 1. Go to Africa. 2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope. 3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west. 4. During each traverse pass, a. Catch each animal seen. b. Compare each animal caught to a known elephant. c. Stop when a match is detected.
EXPERIENCED COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate.
ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE PROGRAMMERS prefer to execute Algorithm A on their hands and knees.
HARDWARE ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.
ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the first animal they see N times and call it an elephant.
CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do.
OPERATIONS RESEARCH CONSULTANTS can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings.
SOFTWARE LAWYERS will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.
VICE PRESIDENTS OF ENGINEERING, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely prehunted before the vice president sees them. If the vice president does happen to see a elephant, the staff will: (1) compliment the vice president's keen eyesight and (2) enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.
SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALES PEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens.
SOFTWARE SALES PEOPLE ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant.
HARDWARE SALES PEOPLE catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as desktop elephants.
Differences in the sciences From: Marie-Odile.Jordan@avignon.inra.fr (Marie-Odile Jordan)
The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?" The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Engineers think that equations approximate the real world. Scientists think that the real world approximates equations. Mathematicians are unable to make the connection...
A Mathematician, a Biologist and a Physicist are sitting in a street cafe watching people going in and coming out of the house on the other side of the street.
First they see two people going into the house. Time passes. After a while they notice three persons coming out of the house. The Physicist: "The measurement wasn't accurate.". The Biologists conclusion: "They have reproduced". The Mathematician: "If now exactly 1 person enters the house then it will be empty again."
An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are shown a pasture with a herd of sheep, and told to put them inside the smallest possible amount of fence. The engineer is first. He herds the sheep into a circle and then puts the fence around them, declaring, "A circle will use the least fence for a given area, so this is the best solution." The physicist is next. She creates a circular fence of infinite radius around the sheep, and then draws the fence tight around the herd, declaring, "This will give the smallest circular fence around the herd." The mathematician is last. After giving the problem a little thought, he puts a small fence around himself and then declares, "I define myself to be on the outside!"
An economist, computer programmer and an operations researcher were all applying for the same job. The interviewer presented them with a business problem and asked each of them to return the next day with a solution.
The economist showed up with bags under his eyes. He had obviously had a late night. In his presentation he brought up graphs and spoke about cost curves, demand and market trends. All this confused the interviewer.
The computer programmer appeared to have stayed up all night. She took out her lap top and described the computer code she had written. She even discussed the theory behind the mathematical formulas. When she ran her model it went smoothly coming up with a precise answer with a range of error and probability associated with alternative results. This confused the interviewer even more.
Finally the operations researcher came up to give his presentation. He appeared to be well rested. He did not have any charts, slides or even a computer. The interviewer was a little perplexed. The OR sat down across from the interviewer with a note pad. Then the interviewer asked if he had come up with a solution to the problem. The OR replied, "What do you want it to be?"
The OR got the job.
Famous sentences (From: email@example.com (Ruth Stalker))
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
"I have travelled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957
"But what is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.,1977
"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in radio in the 1920s.
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." --Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone With The Wind.
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." --Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M Post-It Notepads.
"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'" --Apple Computer, Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.
"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.
"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." --Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the unsolvable problem by inventing Nautilus.
"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon" --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.
"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981
Shooting Yourself in the Foot (from Berthe Choueiry)
The proliferation of modern programming languages (all of which seem to have stolen countless features from one another) sometimes makes it difficult to remember what language you're currently using. This guide is offered as a public service to help programmers who find themselves in such dilemmas.
C: You shoot yourself in the foot.
C++: You accidentally create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical assistance is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying, "That's me, over there."
FORTRAN: You shoot yourself in each toe, iteratively, until you run out of toes, than you read in the next foot and repeat. If you run out of bullets, you continue anyway because you have no exception-handling ability.
Modula2: After realizing that you can't actually accomplish anything in this language, you shoot yourself in the head.
COBOL: Using a COLT 45 HANDGUN, AIM gun at LEG.FOOT, THEN place ARM.HAND.FINGER. on HANDGUN.TRIGGER and SQUEEZE. THEN return HANDGUN to HOLSTER. CHECK whether shoelace needs to be retied.
LISP: You shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds ....
BASIC: Shoot yourself in the foot with a water pistol. On big systems, continue until entire lower body is waterlogged.
FORTH: Foot in yourself shoot.
APL: You shoot yourself in the foot, then spend all day figuring out how to do it fewer characters.
Pascal: The compiler won't let you shoot yourself in the foot.
SNOBOL: If you succeed, shoot yourself in the left foot. If you fail, shoot yourself in the right foot. Concurrent Euclid: You shoot yourself in somebody else's foot.
HyperTalk: Put the first bullet of the gun into foot left of leg of you. Answer the result.
Motif: You spend days writing a UIL description of your foot, the trajectory, the bullet, and the intricate scrollwork on the ivory handles of the gun. When you finally get around to pulling the trigger, the gun jams.
Unix: % ls foot.c foot.h foot.o toe.c toe.o % rm *.o rm:.o: No such file or directory % ls %
Paradox: Not only can you shoot yourself in the foot, your users can too.
Revelation: You'll be able to shoot yourself in the foot just as soon as you figure out what all these bullets are for.
Visual Basic: You'll shoot yourself in the foot, but you'll have so much fun doing it that you won't care.
Prolog: You tell your program you want to be shot in the foot. The program figures out how to do it, but the syntax doesn't allow it to explain. 370 JCL: You send your foot down to MIS with a 4000-page document explaining how you want it to be shot. Three years later, your foot comes back deep-fried.
Ada: After correctly packaging your foot, you attempt to concurrently load the gun, pull the trigger, scream and shoot yourself in the foot. When you try, however, you discover that your foot is of the wrong type.
Assembly: You try to shoot yourself in the foot only to discover you must first reinvent the gun, the bullet, and your foot.
AIRCRAFT-SPACE SYSTEMS-MISSILES From: Marie-Odile Jordan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Please fill out and mail this card within 10 days of purchase
Thank you for purchasing a McDonnell Douglas military aircraft. In order to protect your new investment, please take a few moments to fill out the warranty registration card below. Answering the survey questions is not required, but the information will help us to develop new products that best meet your needs and desires
. 1. _Mr. _Mrs. _Ms. _Lt. _Gen. _Comrade _Classified _Other
First Name________________Initial____Last Name_______________________ Latitude________________________Longitude____________________________ Altitude____________________Password, Code Name, Etc.________________
2. Which model aircraft did you purchase? _F-15 Eagle _F-16 Falcon _F-117A Stealth _Classified
3. Date of purchase: Month___________Day___________Year____________
4. Serial Number____________________
5. Please check where this product was purchased:
_Received as Gift/Aid Package
_Sleazy Arms Broker
6. Please check how you became aware of the McDonnell Douglas product you have just purchased:
_Heard loud noise, looked up
_Recommended by friend/relative/ally
_Political lobbying by Manufacturer
_Was attacked by one
7. Please check the three (3) factors which most influenced your decision to purchase this McDonnell Douglas product:
_Recommended by salesperson
_McDonnell Douglas Reputation
_Advanced Weapons Systems
_Negative experience opposing one in combat
8. Please check the location(s) where this product will be used:
_Misc. Third-World Countries
9. Please check the products that you currently own, or intend to purchase in the near future:
Product Own Intend to purchase
ICBM Killer Satellite
10. How would you describe yourself or your organization? Check all that apply:
_Corrupt (Latin American)
11. How did you pay for your McDonnell Douglas product?
_Suitcases of Cocaine
You Your Spouse
13. To help us understand our Customers' lifestyles, please indicate the interests and activities in which you and your spouse enjoy participating on a regular basis:
Activity/Interest You Your Spouse
Default on Loans
Watching Sports on TV
Mutually Assured Destruction
Thanks for taking the time to fill out this questionnaire. Your answers will be used in market studies that will help McDonnell Douglas serve you better in the future -- as well as allowing you to receive mailings and special offers from other companies, governments, extremist groups, and mysterious consortia. Comments or suggestions about our fighter planes? Please write to:
McDONNELL DOUGLAS CORPORATION
Marketing Department Military Aerospace Division
P.O. Box 800 St. Louis, MO 55500- USA
Importance of PhD advisors (from "Fortune", reported by Berthe Choueiry)
In a forest a fox bumps into a little rabbit, and says, "Hi, junior, what are you up to?"
"I'm writing a dissertation on how rabbits eat foxes," said the rabbit.
"Come now, friend rabbit, you know that's impossible!"
"Well, follow me and I'll show you."
They both go into the rabbit's dwelling and after a while the rabbit emerges with a satisfied expression on his face. Comes along a wolf. "Hello, what are we doing these days?"
"I'm writing the second chapter of my thesis, on how rabbits devour wolves."
"Are you crazy? Where is your academic honesty?"
"Come with me and I'll show you."
As before, the rabbit comes out with a satisfied look on his face and a diploma in his paw. Finally, the camera pans into the rabbit's cave and, as everybody should have guessed by now, we see a mean-looking, huge lion sitting next to some bloody and furry remnants of the wolf and the fox.
The moral: It's not the contents of your thesis that are important -- it's your PhD advisor that really counts.
Faculty meeting (contributed by Edgar Choueiry)
Here are the minutes of the last faculty meeting I attended at the venerable Nassau Hall.
Today's faculty meeting was quite a solemn affair except of course for Prof. Wittingshouse's incorrigible tradition of pinching the imposing derriere of Prof. Welma Plump the Dean of Feminist Studies. As always, this resulted in Welma launching a full-palm slap towards the ducking Wittingshouse, missing him and striking instead the poor gin-soaked and ancient Prof. Belch who mistook the blow for a flash of inspiration from his muse and immediately started a recitation of the obscure Elizabethan love poem "Thou are mammoth and never-quitting, spare my furniture from thy sitting"
In order to restore order to Nassau Hall, the university Provost, the Chancellor in-excelsior, the Vizier Emeritus of the Board of Trustees, the Vice-Comptroller of the Office of the Grand Ex-Checker and the Dean of Important Affairs all broke into the opening chorus of "Duck Soup". Soon after order was restored, the faculty voted unanimously (1 in favor and 85 abstaining) to add the following courses to the Princeton curriculum:
1) Aqueducts and Undercurrents in Periclean Athens: What really happened when the Ancient Greeks flushed.
2) Virginity and Licentiousness in the Medieval Mind: 13th century precursors to Madonna
3) Lacan, Derida, Foucault and Groucho: Three frogs and the only man who understood them
4) Calculus and Arithmetic Topology of Algebraic Geometry
5) The Linguistics of Grunts among the Aborigines of Cleveland
6) Cacophony, Assonnance and Tonality in the Music of Nine Inch Nails
7) Percussion with Various Body Parts
8) Social Norms and Etiquette in the Ming Dynasty: How noodle slurping actually started
9) Squinting 101
10) Romanticism and the Lyrical Tradition in the Bronx
11) Spinoza, His Thoughts and Favorite Deli Cuts
Finally, in the spirit of all-inclusiveness, the course previously titled "The psychology of the unconscious" has been expanded and re-titled "The psychology of the unconscious and dead-drunk". >
Software Engineers (contributed bt Berthe Choueiry)
How many software engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
1.None. "We'll document it in the manual."
2.None. It's a hardware problem.
3.One, but if he changes it, the whole building will probably fall down.
4.Two. One always leaves in the middle of the project.
5.Four. One to design the change, one to implement it, one to document it, and one to maintain it afterwards.
6.Four, plus one senior analyst to manage the project, one technical writer to correct the spelling and grammar of the one who documented it, one light bulb librarian, a sales-force of at least five to drum up enough users who want to turn the light on, 274 users to burn out the new bulb, at which point we go to tender for another light bulb change,...
7.Five. Two to write the specification program, one to screw it in, and two to explain why the project was late.
8.Wait! Maybe the bulb isn't broken. Let's try it again.
9.It's hard to say. Each time we separate the bulb into its modules to do unit testing, it stops working.
10.The change is 90% complete.
11.We looked at the light fixture and decided there's no point trying to maintain it. We're going to rewrite it from scratch. Could you wait two months?
12.Only one, but she's not available. She's the only programmer we have who can get the <insert name here> software ready to ship to customers, and that's higher priority, you know.
13.Of course, as everyone knows, just five years ago all it took was a bunch of kids in a garage in Palo Alto to change a light bulb
Rediscovering the wheel (By Eric Drexeler)
Bad ideas adopted through ignorance of refutations. Transportation researchers, concerned with bumpy wheels, pursue work on the square wheel. They reason that it is superior to higher polygons, since it has fewer bumps; further, since its fewer corners probe the height of the ground at fewer points, it is less sensitive to typical bumps on a road. Bearing researchers are familiar with arguments that the decisive issue is bump magnitude rather than number, but the transportation research community remains ignorant of them. Work on the square wheel goes forward under a major defense contract, and major intellectual effort is misinvested.
Bad ideas maintained despite outsider's refutations. Later, when financially and intellectually committed square-wheel researchers hear of the bump-magnitude issue, they ignore it in their publications and research roposals. Lacking links, critics can't easily make their arguments visible. With sufficient effort they might make their point, but they have no real incentive to try. Investment of intellectual effort in the square-wheel program continues, and the knowledgeable say, That's life.
New thinking twisted by misinformation. Observing the major effort in square wheel development, others make plans for square-wheel vehicles. They focus formidable engineering skills on developing tough suspension systems and motors with extraordinarily high starting torque. An exploratory research effort begins on the more challenging triangular wheel, with its promise of eliminating a bump.
New ideas generated but not pursued. One researcher looks beyond polygons and considers the idea of a round wheel. But this doesn't fit with the researcher's other interests and seems like too small a point for a paper, and so is not published. The idea remains as a marginal note scrawled in a copy of the Journal of Earth/Vehicle Interfaces. Investment continues in what should have become an obsolete idea.
Good ideas neglected through ignorance. When the round wheel is finally proposed, few know whether to take it seriously. Most readers of the proposal have no way to know whether it makes sense, since it involves abstruse, interdisciplinary considerations of geometry, structures, and kinematics. Investment still continues in obsolete ideas.
Good ideas neglected because refutations are suspected. Mutterings are heard: "Round wheels - wouldn't they violate conservation of friction, or something? In any event, they sound too good to be true." Again, investment continues in obsolete ideas.
New thinking undermined by ignorance. The round wheel is at last accepted by a substantial community, and development is under way. The promise is clear, but many haven't heard of it. The failure of the square-wheel program to produce commercially viable results (despite its use for rough-terrain military vehicles) has left the transportation community wary of wheels. Considerable effort is invested in plans for sled-based systems for several years.
Old ideas redundantly pursued out of ignorance. In later years, this becomes proverbial, and is called reinventing the round wheel.
Last revision April 1999),