A New Tax System

In the year 2000 a Goods and Services Tax (VAT!) was introduced in Australia. Concomitant with it was a new tax ruling. Here is part of it. Australian Tax Code, Section 165-55
For the purposes of making a declaration under this subdivision, the Commisioner may:
  1. treat a particular event that actually happened as not having happened; and
  2. treat a particular event that did not happen as having happened and, if appropriate, treat the event as
  3. having happened at a particular time; and
  4. having involved a particular action by a particular entity; and
  5. treat a particular event that actually happened as:
  6. having happened at a time different from the time it actually happened; or
  7. having involved particular action by a particular entity (whether or not the event actually involved any action by that entity).
I did not make it up! You may check the Tax Office URL for it.

Why DNS should be case-sensitive

Or at least you should tactfully use hyphens in your domain name.
The following World-Wide Web domains are real:
  1. Who Represents, a database for agencies to the rich and famous:
  2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views: Well, it was too good to last! This site was recently disabled.
  3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island:
  4. Need a therapist? Try
  5. Looking for native species? Check out The Mole Station Native Nursery at -- link dead now, pity. They got smart and changed their name to!
  6. And one discontinued: A Tuscan battery charging service (not the Italian branch of PowerGen in the UK):
[Source: various, including New Scientist 18 Feb 2006 and Australian Doctor.]

Product Warnings and Instructions

These days of opportunisitic litigations have given rise to curious defensive product warnings and instructions. I share a few goodies with you below. Send me your favorites!
ON TESCO'S TIRIMISU DESERT - Do not turn upside down. (Printed on the bottom of the box.)
ON MARKS & SPENCER BREAD PUDDING - Product will be hot after heating
ON PACKAGING FOR A ROWENTA IRON - Do not Iron clothes on body
ON BOOTS CHILDRENS COUGH MEDICINE - Do not drive car or operate machinery
ON NYTOL (A SLEEP AID) - Warning: may cause drowsiness
ON A KOREAN KITCHEN KNIFE - Warning keep out of children
ON A STRING OF CHINESE MADE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS - For indoor or outdoor use only.
ON A JAPANESE FOOD PROCESSOR - Not to be used for the other use
ON SAINSBURY'S PEANUTS - Warning: contains nuts
ON AN AMERICAN AIRLINES PACKET OF NUTS - Instructions: open packet, eat nuts.
ON A SWEDISH CHAINSAW - Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands
ON A PACKET OF SUNMAID RAISINS - Why not try tossing over your favourite breakfast cereal?
ON A SUPERMAN CONSTUME - This suit does not enable the wearer to fly
ON A STEERING-LOCK (bar-like anti-theft device to prevent moving steering wheel) - Caution, remove before driving car
ON A WINDSHIELD SUNSHADE - Remove before driving car.
ON A BOX CONTAINING A SHOWER CAP (in a five-star hotel at Eliat, Red Sea, Israel) - Nylon shower cap. Fits one head.
ON A NEW ZEALAND CIVIL DEFENCE POSTER exhibited around Christchurch (thanks to John Adeane of ChCh who reported it to the SMH Column 8 of 1 May 2002): In event of a Tidal Wave, don't go down and stand on the beach to watch it come in.
COLUMN 8, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 Jan 2007: "My husband and I, and our three children, have recently moved to New York," Sarah Silverton writes. "We're finding life in the litigious US quite an adjustment. Firstly, our six-year-old son Oliver was almost barred from a birthday party because I had not signed an 'accident waiver,' and then Santa felt compelled to attach the following notice to the scooters he delivered: 'Warning. This object moves."'

Shakespeare's Plays in the Style of Ludlum

The fatwah'd author Salman Rushdie is a Shakespeare buff. The New Yorker reports a gathering of literary luminaries at which Rushdie was asked to display his legendary word skills by an impromptu re-naming of Shakespeare's Hamlet in the style of Robert Ludlum (you know, The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Icarus Agenda, etc). Without hesitation (and no prior warning!) Rusdie volunteered The Elsinore Vacillation -- the audience exploded in glee and admiration. A fluke, surely, challenged his co-writers. How about more? Well, Rushdie quickly followed, as more plays were suggested, with (here's where your high school or college education will be measured for its breadth ..) The Dunsinane Deforestation, The Capulet Infatuation, The Rialto Forfeit, The Solstice Entrancement, and The Kerchief Imputation. Amazing!

Then I thought maybe given enough time and effort I could trot out some too. Here are my weak efforts -- The Spousal Domestication, The Equine Barter, The Agincourt Engagement, The Transvestite Deception, and The Ides Premonition. E-mail me your attempts. I could not do one for The Tempest.


A frog walks into a bank and goes up to the teller, Patty Black. He says, "I'd like a loan." Patty Black replies, "Do you have any collateral?" The frog says, "Yes, Patty Black, I have a pink ceramic elephant." Patty Black says, "Well, I'll have to check with my boss, I'll be right back." Patty Black leaves the room and goes into her bosses office. She says, "Sir, there is a frog out there who wants a loan and he has a pink ceramic elephant for collateral. I shouldn't give it to him, should I?" Her boss says, "It's a knick-knack, Patty Black, give the frog a loan."


There was this African chief at the turn of the last century whose obsession was to conquer other chiefs and take their thrones as trophies. These thrones he would collect and display in the second level of his magnificent palace just above his own luxurious throne. This palace was renowned for its construction that was in keeping with the best of tradition -- everything was made of grass and leaves.

One day, the chief was on his throne receiving some ambassadors when the trophy thrones above him proved to be too heavy and the straw paltform collapsed. The thrones fell on him, and sad to say, he joined his ancestors in the happy hunting grounds.

Which just goes to show that people who live in grass houses shouldn't stow thrones.


A prisoner who was about to be executed by firing squad was asked by the captain if he had a last request.
Prisoner: "Can I have a nicotine patch?"
Captain: "An unsual request! Won't you rather have a last smoke?"
Prisoner: "No, I gave up smoking last month."
Captain: "Well, I'll have to ask the Colonel." [Exits]

[Captain returns]

Captain: "Sorry, the Colonel says regulations prevent us from giving you a nicotine patch."
Prisoner: "What regulations?"
Captain: "They were drawn up by the General who is a Computer Science graduate trained in the best of software engineering practice; his professors taught him the dictum Never Patch The Executable."

On Heresies

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off. So I ran over and said "Stop! Don't do it!" He said "Why shouldn't I?".
I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" He said, "Like what?"
I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?" He said, "Religious."
I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?" He said, "Christian."
I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" He said, "Protestant."
I said, "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?" He said, "Baptist!"
I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist church of god or Baptist church of the lord?" He said, "Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you original Baptist church of god, or are you reformed Baptist church of god?" He said, "Reformed Baptist church of god!"
I said, "Me too! Are you reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1879, or reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915?" He said, "Reformed Baptist church of god, reformation of 1915!"
I said, "Die, heretic scum", and pushed him off.

How to Write Letters of Reference

You know the tired old joke about writing great letters of recommendation for people that you want to get rid of pronto? Well, this is suddenly not so funny anymore as the latest revelations of the recent NSW Royal Commission has shown that life more than imitates art. I owe this to a Ken Knight in his letter to the Sydney Morning Herald. First, he recounts a competition run by the New Statesman on such letters. The winner, fictional of course, is one written for"Young Woodley", a schoolboy who had a passionate affair with his housemaster's wife. The letter says that Woodley was "a precocious lad frequently called upon to perform duties more usually the responsibility of a housemaster".

Hmmm. Ken Knight then goes on to quote a (real!) letter produced at the Royal Commission written for a teacher forced to resign from a private school because of his admitted buggery with boys during a school excursion. The letter refers to his "policy to extract from students performances neither they nor their parents could have expected".

This is a classic. If you want to get rid of an employee who is completely unproductive (hangs out at the water cooler all day, busybody with everyone else's work but his/her own, etc), here's what you say when you are asked for a letter of recommendation without being dishonest: "You will be exceedingly lucky to get this man (woman) to work for you." Your proverbial ar*e is covered if the new employer complains to you in 6 months -- all you do is ask him/her to please re-read your letter carefully.

Malaysian Hokkien English Version of Little Red Riding Hood

Once upon a time hor, got one girl Little Led Liding Hoot. She want to go Ah Mah house. Morning alleady she go out one, she got take come one basket to put flower. She dowan to walk long-long, so go take short cut. Wah! She donno got one animal follow her one hor. She happy-happy walk until she come to Ah Mah house.

"Ah Mah, Ah Mah! I come, open door leh!" she talk. Then Ah Mah say "Come in lah, I never close one."

Little Led Liding Hoot open the house and go inside door...oh solly solly! She open the door and go inside the house, she got see her Ah Mah on top of the bed. She go ask Ah Mah.

"Ah Mah, how come your eye velly big one hor?"
"So I can see you mahh!" Ah Mah say back.
"Ah Mah, how come your ear velly long one hah?"
"So velly eegee to hear you one what."
"Ah Mah, how come...."
"Ai yah, so many question one ah you...never die before is it?"
"Solly lah Ah Mah, I donno mah that's why I ask."
"What solly solly! Now I want to eat you. I not Ah Mah, I animal one you know!"

Wah! Little Led Liding Hoot velly scared one, she scleam velly loud but late alleady, the animal alleady eat her. She now inside stomach one. Suddenly got one people, cut wood one, go inside the house. He want to save Little Led Liding Hoot, he go and cut animal stomach and take out elything. But alamak, too late lah, Little Led Liding Hoot become shit alleady.

Simplification of the English Language

Having chosen English as the preferred language in the EEC, the European Parliament has commissioned a feasibility study in ways of improving efficiency in communications between Government departments. European officials have often pointed out that English spelling is unnecessarily difficult; for example: cough, plough, rough, through and thorough. What is clearly needed is a phased programme of changes to iron out these anomalies. The programme would, of course, be administered by a committee staff at top level by participating nations.

In the first year, for example, the committee would suggest using 's' instead of the soft 'c'. Sertainly, sivil servants in all sities would resieve this news with joy. Then the hard 'c' could be replaced by 'k' sinse both letters are pronounsed alike. Not only would this klear up konfusion in the minds of klerikal workers, but typewriters kould be made with one less letter.

There would be growing enthusiasm when in the sekond year, it was announsed that the troublesome 'ph' would henseforth be written 'f'. This would make words like 'fotograf' twenty persent shorter in print.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reash the stage where more komplikated shanges are possible. Governments would enkourage the removal of double leters whish have always been a deterent to akurate speling. We would al agre that the horible mes of silent 'e's in the languag is disgrasful. Therefor we kould drop them and kontinu to read and writ as though nothing had hapend.

By this tim it would be four years sins the skem began and peopl would be reseptiv to steps sutsh as replasing 'th' by 'z'. Perhaps zen ze funktion of 'w' kould be taken on by 'v', vitsh is, after al, half a 'w'. Shortly after zis, ze unesesary 'o kould be dropd from vords kontaining 'ou'. Similar arguments vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters. Kontinuing zis proses yer after yer, ve vud eventuli hav a reli sensibl riten styl. After tventi yers zer vud be no mor trubls, difikultis and evrivun vud find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drems of ze Guvermnt vud finali hav kum tru.

Nothing New Under The Sun

"We trained hard ..... but it seemed that every time we would be reorganised .. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization"
Allegedly Petronius, 210 B.C., but in fact an amusing fabrication done in the style of the "Memoirs of Hadrian" by Margaret Yourcenar, which I think is the best fictional autobiography ever written.

Elastic PI

The primary purpose of the DATA statement is to give names to constants; instead of referring to pi as 3.141592653589793 at every appearance, the variable PI can be given that value with a DATA statement and used instead of the longer form of the constant. This also simplifies modifying the program, should the value of pi change.
-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers

This is perhaps in deference to what once happened in the State Legislature of Indiana, which passed a law to fix the value of pi at 3.0 exactly, to make things easier for school kids.

Deductive Reasoning I

Man: "Hi there new neighbor, it sure is a mighty nice day to be moving."
Neighbor: "Yes, it is and people around here seem extremely friendly."
Man: "So what is you do for a living?"
Neighbor: "I am a professor at the University, I teach deductive reasoning."
Man: "Deductive reasoning, what is that?"
Neighbor: "Let me give you an example. I see you have a dog house out back. By that I deduce that you have a dog."
Man: "That is right."
Neighbor: "The fact you have a dog, leads me to deduce that you have a family."
Man: "Right again."
Neighbor: "Since you have a family I deduce that you have a wife."
Man: "Correct."
Neighbor: "And since you have a wife I can deduce that you are heterosexual."
Man: "Yup."
Neighbor: "That is deductive reasoning."
Man: "Cool."

Later that same day...

Man: "Hey I was talking to that new guy who moved in next door."
Neighbor2: "Is he a nice guy?"
Man: "Yes, and he has an interesting job."
Neighbor2: "Oh, yeah what does he do?"
Man: "He is a professor of deductive reasoning at the University."
Neighbor2: "Deductive reasoning, what is that?"
Man: "Let me give you an example. Do you have a dog house?"
Neighbor2: "No."
Man: "Fag."

The Logician Husband

A wife asks her husband, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk and if they have avocados, get 6."

A short time later the husband comes back with 6 cartons of milk.

The wife asks him, "Why did you buy 6 cartons of milk?"

He replied, "They had avocados."


Just after Creation the Lord noticed that the original male-female pair of snakes were not reproducing. He summoned them and said, "I thought I told everyone to go forth and multiply?" The snakes replied, "Yes Lord, but we cannot." The Lord was annoyed and thundered, "And why not?" To which the snakes answered, "You see, Lord, you made us Adders."

We could have stopped here (small groan), but actually the Lord got real sore and threatenned, "I don't give a sh**, just go forth and multiply!".

A week later when the Lord visited, Lo! -- was he pleased. Adders here, adders there, adders everywhere. He called for the original pair. "Congratulations", he said, and then not without some bafflement inquired, "How did you do it?" The ingenious pair replied, "It was simple, Lord. We used logarithms."

Alternative ending, "Fibonacci coached us."

Shaw and Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton, the extremely rotund novelist, once had tea with George Bernard Shaw, the extremely emaciated playwright. Chesterton teased Shaw, "Heavens, Shaw, you look as if there is a famine in Britain!" To which Shaw replied, "And Chesterton, you look as if you are the cause of it!"

Deductive Reasoning II

This is an oft repeated story much enjoyed by freshman classes in logic after they are shown that from the premises P and -P, and the tautology P /\ -P => Q, the proposition Q follows.

Archbishop of Canterbury: Mr Russell, I am told that you logicians have shown that from a contradiction, any conclusion will follow.
Bertrand Russell: Yes your grace.
Canterbury: Ah, well, from 2 = 1, can you show that you are the Pope?
Russell: The Pope and I are two, are we not?
Canterbury: Indeed.
Russell: Well then, since two equals one, the Pope and I are one, so I am the Pope.


During the break after a logic paper presentation, the audience made its way to the toilets. Long queues resulted. Said one logician out loud, "This is the best empirical demonstation that P => Q."


Two couples, one English and one Czech, went river fishing in the Northern Territory of Australia. The men decided to go first, leaving behind their wives to set up tent, so that they can catch fish for lunch. Shortly after they left, the wives heard blood-curdling screams, and they rushed to the river bank to see their husbands gone, but two bloated crocodiles lounging nearby. They feared the worst, and rushed back to their campsite to call the park rangers on their mobile.
When the two rangers arrived, armed with crocodile guns, all four hurried to the river bank. This is the reported conversation.
Ranger 1: Jeeesuz! Looks like the crocs got a f**king meal! There's a male croc and a female croc!
Ranger 2: Too bloody right! Look, shoot them both, then cut open the female first.
Ranger 1: OK! [Shoots both crocs, then cuts open the female]
English woman [sceaming]: Oh God, that's my husband the female crocodile had eaten!
Ranger 1 to Ranger 2: Shall I cut open the other croc?
Ranger 2: Well, there's no hurry now, for it's clear as hell that the Czech's in the male.

Real Story I

I heard this from Anton, a South African mathematician visiting the functional analyst Brailey Sims in Newcastle. (Brailey, if you read this, please email me corrections of spelling, etc!) The eminent Polish logician Pelshinski, then editor of Studia Logica, organised an important Logic Conference in Warsaw in the days of central planning. Just a few weeks before the conference, his assistant came to him and the following paraphrased conversation took place.

Assistant: "Professor, we cannot hold the conference!"
Pelshinski: "Why not?"
Assistant: "Professor, I do not know how to tell you, but I'll try -- there is no toilet paper!"
Pelshinski: "Well, go and buy some!"
Assistant: "Professor, we tried, but the factories said none was being produced. They said there was no source of raw material, no paper available!"

Pelshinski was not a man easily defeated -- not when he comes from the tradition of ingenuity that gave us Banach, Tarski, Lindenbaum, Mostowski, .... He thought hard, and then -- *! insight !*

Pelshinski: "Where is the key to the storage room?"
Assistant: "Which storage room, Professor?"
Pelshinski: "The one where we keep the years and years of rejected manuscripts submitted to Studia Logica. I have found the factories a source of raw material."

This story must be a consolation to the many who have received rejection notices from Studia Logica that their efforts did nevertheless contribute to the comfort of fellow logicians.

Toilet Icons

This was told to me by a colleague who was visiting the old Yugoslavia. He was due to give an invited talk, and just prior to that he visited the toilet. To impress his hosts, he memorized the Cyrillic words labelling the men's and the women's. He started his lecture by addressing his audience in what he assumed were the Slavic words for "Ladies and Gentlemen". Like they say in court transcripts, a titter ran through the audience. He was later to find out that what he had said was "Skirts and Pants".

Model Theory

I kid you not, while Lowenheim-Skolem (LS) were two persons, Burali-Forti was only one person.

My logic professor once told our class that in order to have one's name engraved in the annals of mathematics, the theorem that one discovers does not need to have a long or deep proof. Example? He cited Vaught's Test , which you might recall as saying for a theory T, if it is K-categorical for some infinite K, then T is complete.
If you have forgotten the proof, here it is. I remember doing it as an exercise as a graduate student to confirm my professor's comment. Enjoy!
Well, if T is not complete, there is B such that T U {B} and T U {-B} have models M and N, respectively. Then use LS to obtain two models M1 and N1 of cardinality K, elementarily equivalent to M and N respectively. Then by K-categoricity, M1 and N1 are isomorphic, hence elementarily equivalent, contradicting either B or -B in one or the other.

Zeno's Paradox Re-visited

You might remember Zeno's paradox, but in case you don't here it is again. Zeno argued that motion is an illusion. Now, by motion he meant movement, and not the rude kind that involves bowels but the Newtonian kind. He did this by the Achilles (A) and the Tortoise (T) parable. For argument's sake, say A runs 10 times faster than T can crawl. Then let T be placed 10 meters ahead of A at the start of a race. When A has moved 10 meters, T has moved 1 meter, so T is now still 1 meter ahead of A. Then when A has covered that 1 meter, T has gone 1/10 meter ahead. Etc. So, A will never ever pass T. Poor Zeno, it was reported that he found this logic so persuasive that he did not bother to move again, a kind of ontological constipation perhaps?

But the naughty version of it is a bit sexist (feminists, please reverse male and female roles in this story!). It goes like this. A psychologist wanted to test the difference in logical thinking between engineering and mathematics majors, and for this purpose he set up an experiment in which the subjects were respectively a male Mathematics and a randy male Engineering undergraduate. He showed them into the lab. At the far end of the long, narrow room was a luscious semi-clad bimbo. His instructions were like so: "Fellas, I have in my hands a buzzer that I will sound every minute. Everytime I do that, you can walk half the distance that remains between yourself and the lady. Should you ever reach her, you will find her most accommodating. Do you wish to participate in the experimemt?"
Math major: "You don't fool me. This is the equivalent of the Zeno Paradox, so I am not wasting my time. I am going home, 'Bye." [Exeunt]
Engineering major: "Hee, hee! I am staying. I estimate that in 10 minutes, I will be close enough for all practical purposes."


The same psychologist as above wanted to see how a physicist and a mathematician solved problems. He devised two experiments.
Experiment I: He placed an empty bucket in the first corner of a room, opposite to the second corner which had a tap. Then in a third corner he had some combustible material. His instructions to them were: "I will start a fire in the third corner by burning the stuff. Your task is to put it out." Well, both the physicist and the mathematician did the obvious thing when their turn came -- they took the bucket from the first corner, went to the second where the tap was, filled it with water and then rushed to the third corner and poured it onto the fire.
Experiment II: He then said to them: "For the next experiment, I will vary the initial conditions of the first experiment and you solve the same problem." He then placed the bucket, but now already filled with water, in the first corner -- nothing else changed. He then started the fire as before. The physicist solved the problem by taking the bucket directly to the fire and put it out with the water.
When the experiment was repeated for the mathematician, he picked up the bucket of water and emptied it on the spot, and put it down. He then announced, "I'm done", despite the now raging fire in the third corner.
When the psychologist asked him to explain, the mathematician said "Well, as you can see, I have just reduced the second problem to the first, for which I had shown there is a trivial solution."

Obscure Facts

As all of you know, Saddam Hussein, the Monster of Iraq, is actually a Frankenstein creature of the United States under Reagan, who supported and armed him so that he can fight the Iranians on their behalf. This is not unusual U.S. policy. It has the realpolitik justification that "he may be a Monster, but at least he is our Monster". Like Pinochet, Noriega, Batista, Suharto, Franco and various assorted Facist thugs ... What is not common knowledge however is that Saddam's Foreign Minister for many years, Tariq Aziz, is a Christian.

Olivia Newton-John is a grand-daughter of the Nobel-laureate physicist Max Born.

Albinoni did not compose Albinoni's Adagio. It was composed by 20th century musicologist Remo Giazotto using an Albinoni fragment. But this Adagio is now in the top 20 baroque pieces.

The Yagi antenna, mainstay of TV reception, was invented by Uda. Yagi merely translated the paper describing the design from Japanese to English.

The vast majority of clay tablets left behind by the earliest literate civilization -- the Sumerian civilization -- were dreary records of land holdings, financial transactions, inventories of warehouses. Who says prostitution is the oldest profession? I bet accountancy is.

Eroll Flynn was the son of a Tasmanian geology professor. Flynn attended Sydney Grammar, but was sacked for indiscipline.

Karl Friedrich Gauss was too chicken to publish his construction of a non-Euclidean geometry. He only revealed it after Bolyai and Lobachevsky annouced their constructions.

In his famous Lectures on Physics, Richard Feynman confessed that nobody knows why Hamiltonians (or Lagrangians) work.

The favorite aunt of reactionary ex-premier of Queensland Joh(annes) Bjelke-Petersen was the Tasmanian lesbian, conservationist and novelist Marie Bjelke-Petersen (1874-1969). He was her favorite nephew too.

The main source for renewal of methane in the earth's atmosphere is the flatulence of bovine herds.

If all the alleged relics on display of the cross on which Jesus was crucified were collected, their weight would be that of a small timber plantation.

The Catholic doctrine of Papal Infallibility dates back only to the ninteenth century (1870)! The meeting of cardinals that installed the doctrine waited until the American (U.S.A.) delegation left for home before voting on it. It might have been lost had the Americans stayed. Incidentally, not everything His Holiness pronounces is Infallible. He has to do so ex cathedra , (lit. Latin, from the chair) which is a special state of authority ordained by the Almighty.

While on this Catholic business, the Immaculate Conception refers to the birth of the Virgin Mary (and not of Jesus). She had to be free of original sin (that's why her conception is immaculate, see?). This doctrine dates from 1854, pronounced by Pope Pius IX.

The Olympic Torch is an invention of the Nazis at the Munich Olympics, the very same Olympics in which the black American athlete Jesse Owens easily beat the ``Aryan'' heroes of Hitler and consigned the racist ideology of the Nazis to the ridicule that it deserved. However, no one should underrate the evil genuius of Hitler's propagandists, who were adept at inventing highly emotive (Jungian archetypal?) symbols -- witness the Torch.

The word evolution does NOT occur in Darwin's Origin of Species. You can verify that by looking at the on-line version that I have provided a link to -- just use the edit button on your browser and hit the "find" option.

The United States has a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, on the island of Cuba.

There is only one building in modern Corinth which has Corinthian columns. In fact, as far as I can recall from my several visits to Corinth, there are very few buildings which have any kind of columns at all, and those are usually the simpler Doric or Ionic ones.

REAL NAMES of Famous (and Infamous) People:

Ted Codd, inventor of relational databases, did a PhD thesis at my alma mater, the University of Michigan; his thesis was on cellular automata.

David Hume, perhaps the greatest empirical philosopher who ever lived, believed that black people were of a different species from white people.

George Orwell always noisily slurped his tea from the saucer into which he poured it from the teacup, to show his solidarity with the working class. (When I was a small boy, I loved to do this with my coffee when my father took me and my brothers to the local coffee shop in our KL suburb.)

On the same note, Igor Stravinsky ("Firebird", "Petrouchka", La Sacre du Printemp") noisily slurped his soup all his life.

Japanese men are the greatest users of condoms in the world (per head of population). However, they don't buy them. The major mode of condom sales in Japan is by door-to-door "skin ladies" (like the Avon ladies elsewhere), and it is the Japanese wives who buy them.

Fortune Cookies

Friends of mine and Yokelin's (that's my spouse!), Miew Ling and Stephen Choi, pointed out years ago that if you take any fortune cookie saying and add "in bed" to it, a lot of amusing sense can be made of the result. Here's an example. Fortune cookie: "You will meet a long lost school friend in unusual circumstances soon" in bed. Incidentally, fortune cookies are unknown in Chinese cusine -- they are an invention of Chinese restaurants in the United States.

Body and Soul

This is a report I got from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Manila: A Catholic bishop is urging Phillipine brides not to wear revealing dresses during wedding ceremonies, a report said yesterday. Auxiliary Bishop Teodoro Bacani said: "There are times when instead of saying `The Body of Chirst', I am tempted to say, `Christ, what a body!'"


Smith was desperate after he began to suffer from a most embarrassing affliction. Instead of the silent (but possibly deadly) farts that others inflicted on their neighbors, his sounded loudly like so: "Honda, Honda". OK, before you suck up to a certain auto manufacturer and report me for libel, I will just say that the limitations of English phonetics prevent me rendering Smith's anal sound effects without commiting an unintended homonymic association. Smith went from doctor to doctor to no avail. As they say in the trade, when he was at the end of his tether, a friend suggested he visit a new kind of specialist trained by the exotic Tibetans. In the Tibetan language this specialist is loosely rendered a "Fartologist". To cut a long story short, Smith was examined very closely by the specialist, and lo! -- he spotted what all the others had missed. In a delicate but simple excision, he removed a little boil, then fed Smith a bowl of baked beans. Within a few minutes, Smith did a silent but deadly, and was soooo grateful. Here is the conversation.

Smith: How did you do it, doctor?
Specialist: Well, you had a boil that was exuding some abscess.
Smith: But I don't understand. How did that cause my problem?
Specialist: Oh, that you English should know. For it is you who observed that Abscess Makes the Fart Go Honda.


During the development of a new jet fighter aircraft the wings on the prototypes kept snapping off where they joined the fuselage. The test-pilots who only barely survived by ejecting in time were terrified. No amount of re-design seem to solve the problem, so the aircraft company in desperation offered its employees a huge reward to come up with diagnoses. To the surprise of the top engineers, old Jenkins the janitor meekly said he had an idea. Well, desperation breeds opportunities, so they asked him to explain. In reply he merely requested a power drill, and when supplied one he climbed onto the wings of the latest prototype and proceeded to make holes a few inches apart where the wings joined the fuselage. "Now, get your test pilot to fly the fighter", Jenkins advised. Sceptical, but curious, the engineers did. Lo! The jet fighter passed with flying (pun intended) colors. No more wing snapping. Amazed, the engineers surrounded Jenkins amidst all the celebration and asked him how he had hit upon such a clever solution that evaded all the engineering brains. Here is Jenkins' response.

"Ladies and gentlemen, even though I did not not have the benefit of university training like you, I am an observant chappie. You see, as janitor one of my duties is to change the toilet rolls in the loos when they run low. Now, you know how toliet paper has rows of holes separating sheets? Well, how often have you seen toilet paper actually tear along these holes?"


These days when it is politically incorrect to stereotype ethnic groups, a rare pleasure can be obtained by merely hinting at the characteristics which once used to cause much merriment. Here is an old one. "What is the difference between heaven and hell?"

In heaven the English are the policemen, the French are the cooks, the Germans are the engineers, the Greeks are the philosophers, the Swiss are the bankers, the Italians are the lovers. In hell, the English are the cooks, the French are the philosophers, the Germans are the policemen, the Greeks are the engineers, the Swiss are the lovers, the Italians are the bankers.

Deductive Reasoning III

An engineer, a mathematician and a philosopher were travelling by train in the South Island of New Zealand, home of much more sheep than people. On passing a mountainside full of sheep, they spied one lone black sheep amidst the sea of white sheep.

Engineer: Oh, look, there are black sheep in New Zealand.
Mathematician: You surely mean there exists at least one black sheep in New Zealand!
Philosopher: Hmmm ... both of you have drawn an unwarranted conclusion. Surely the only thing we now know is that in New Zealand there is at least one sheep that is black on one side!

Ever heard of "Potemkin Sheep"?


Many of us have to write reviews of papers submitted to journals and conferences, or of musical and other performances. These are thankless but necessary obligations. How to do so creatively is a challenge, so it is good that we have examples to follow. Here I will gradually accumulate gems -- send me your favorites!

Dr Johnson's review of a manuscript sent to him: "Your manuscript is both original and good. That which is original is not good, and that which is good is not original."

A review of a singer's performance the previous evening: "Miss Primrose sang like there was no tomorrow, and one could only regret that she was mistaken".

Commenting on a rather dreadful submission the reviewer quipped "Mmmm... fills a much needed gap in the literature...(pause)" Note the pause is an essential part of the line. -- (Acknowledgements to Liz Sonenberg and John Lloyd, who recalled it from an unattributed source.)

Rejection slip that might have been sent to the author(s) of Genesis: "This chapter does not cite prior work." Mercifully, there weren't any reviewers around then.

Here's a review attributed to Groucho Marx: "I have your book in my hands. It has sent me into a paroxysm of laughter. Someday, I intend to read it".

I cannot remember who reacted to his reviewer thus, but it is a classic: "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review in front of me. Soon, it will be behind me."

A reviewer was watching the rehearsal of an opera. The soprano was going full voice ahead. There were few in the audience, but a man was seated next to the reviewer. It was clear to the reviewer that the soprano was, to be charitable, not terribly good. As the aria progressed painfully, when he could stomach no more, he turned to the stranger next to him and whispered, "Oh Heavens, isn't she awful!" The stranger stiffened and replied, "I beg your pardon! She is my wife!" Dreadful seconds passed before the poor reviewer managed to recover. He then apologetically mumbled, "I'm sorry. I meant the aria was awful". To which the stranger icily replied, "I wrote it."

School Kids' Howlers

Children are highly creative, and often without even realizing it. Here are some samples from school essays, exam answers, etc.

Milton wrote "Paradise Lost". Then his wife died. After that he wrote "Paradise Regained". This is a sample from the best collection of history student bloopers.

"The equator is a managerie lion running around the earth."

"The physicist Flemming invented a way to remember current, magnetic and electric directions by using his right hand. For that reason it is called Flemming's right hand rule. But actually, anybody's right hand will also do."

Science Jokes

Who says that science is humorless? You will split your sides laughing at this ever-expanding collection of Science, Math and Computing Jokes.


If like me you are unable to understand Postmodernism, fear not. Lack of understanding need not be a barrier to erudition! There is now at hand assistance from computer science, viz., an automatic Postmodernist Essay Generator . Try it! Related to this is the Sokal Hoax. See also what the Skeptics have to say. While you are there, you might want to visit the main skeptics page too.

Why stop there?!! Using jargon, one can also write pseudo-scientific computer science papers. Try this automatic CS paper generator from MIT jokers.


I owe this to J.P. Martino published in "The Institute", our IEEE broadsheet.

The Russian airline Aeroflot has a flight which goes from Moscow to Prague via Warsaw. One day, the plane stopped at Warsaw and a couple got on and seated themselves on the starboard side of the aircraft. On takeoff, the aircraft gyrated violently and crashed. The accident investigation board concluded that the aircraft became unstable in flight because it had a pair of conjugate Poles on the right-half of the plane.


The philosopher David Hume closely examined two central themes in science -- causality and induction. Of the former, an interesting fact highlighted by Gore Vidal in his essays is that wisdom is no guarantee of correctness. The great emperor Justinian, who gave the western world the famous (legal) Code, also got a law enshrined in the Roman empire making sodomy a crime. The reason was that sodomy is destructive to public order, not because it undermined morals (heck, until the ideas of St Paul subverted western civilization, private sexual acts were of no concern to anyone), but because it was obvious to all that sodomy caused earthquakes.

Junk Science

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "dihydrogen monoxide." And for plenty of good reasons, since it can: 1. Cause excessive sweating and vomiting. 2. It is a major component in acid rain. 3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state. 4. Accidental inhalation can kill you. 5. It contributes to erosion. 6. It decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes. 7. It has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients. He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew that the chemical was water. The title of his prize winning project was, "How Gullible Are We?" He feels the conclusion is obvious.


The following appeared in The Daily Telegraph, Monday, January 5, 1998.
ON the subject of the law, Police News reports the following exchange which allegedly took place in an American court:
LAWYER: Before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
L: Did you check for blood pressure?
D: No.
L: Did you check for breathing?
D: No.
L: So, it was possible the patient was alive when you began your autopsy?
D: No.
L: How can you be so sure?
D: Because his brain was sitting in a jar on my desk at the time.
L: But could the patient have been still alive nevertheless?
D: It is possible that he could have been alive and practising law.

Law Court

Thanks to an anonymous author for this joke! An English anthropologist was doing research in an isolated African village, the tribal chief asked if he would like to attend a trial his people were conducting that afternoon.

"You`ll be surprised," said the chief, "at how well we`ve copied your country`s legal procedures. You see, we have read accounts of many English trials in your newspapers, and incorporated them into our judicial system."

When the Brit arrived at the wooden constructed courthouse, he was truly amazed to see how closely the African court officials resembled those of England. The counsels were suitably attired in long black robes and the traditional white powdered wigs worn by all British jurists. Each argued his case with eloquence and in proper judicial language. But he couldn`t help being puzzled by the occasional appearance of a bare-breasted native girl running through the crowd waving her arms frantically.

After the trial, the anthropologist congratulated his host on what he had seen and then asked, "What was the purpose of having a seminude woman run through the courtroom during the trial?"

"I really don`t know," confessed the Chief, "but in all the accounts we read in your papers about British trials, there was invariably mentioned something about `an excited titter` running through the gallery."


There is a marvellous episode in "Yes Prime Minister" in which Sir Humphery is being pestered to appoint a rather dull but long-serving Anglican bishop to the See of Canterbury (the holder is the Archbishop of Canterbury). Sir Humphery was not sympathetic, and his response was along the lines of "Yes, yes, I understand the man's frustration -- long time no see".


Have you heard about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac? He spent all night sleepless wondering whether there is a Dog.
The same dyslexic finally discharged his agnosticism and sold his soul to Santa. He went on to found the DNA -- the National Association of Dyslexia.
Yeah, now do you know why there aren't any constipated mathemticians? Because they can always work it out with a pencil ...
And, do you know how the cops described the body of the Dracula who had committed suicide? Autoexec.bat.


Mary Poppins was traveling home, but due to worsening weather, she decided to stop at a hotel for the night. She approached the receptionist and asked for a room for the night.
"Certainly madam," he replied courteously.
"Is the restaurant open still?" inquired Mary.
"Sorry, no," came the reply, "but room service is available all night. Would you care to select something from this menu?"
Mary smiled and took the menu and perused it. "Hmm, I would like cauliflower cheese please," said Mary.
"Certainly, madam," he replied.
"And can I have breakfast in bed?" asked Mary politely.
The receptionist nodded and smiled.
"In that case, I would love a couple of poached eggs, please," Mary mused. After confirming the order, Mary signed in and went up to her room for the night. The night passed uneventfully and the next morning Mary came down early to check out. The same guy was still on the desk.
"Morning madam...sleep well?"
"Yes, thank you," Mary replied.
"Food to your liking?"
"Well, I have to say the cauliflower cheese was exceptional, I don't think I have had better. Shame about the eggs, though....they really weren't that nice at all," replied Mary truthfully.
"Oh...well, perhaps you could contribute these thoughts to our Guest Comments Book. We are always looking to improve our service and would value your opinion," said the receptionist.
"OK, I will...thanks!" replied Mary....who checked out, then scribbled a comment into the book. Waving, she left to continue her journey.
Curious, the receptionist picked up the book to see the comment Mary had written.


An upset young lady showed up at the hospital reception desk.
Lady: "I want to see the uptern"
Receptionist: "You mean you want to see the intern?"
Lady: "Uptern, intern -- who cares? All I know is that I haven't demonstrated for 3 months and I think I am stagnant!"


Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, died. As he was much loved by all, the Bishop decided to give him a big sendoff by auditioning a replacement for him. This new campanologist will sound the bells in honor of Quasimodo. After listening to many candidates, the Bishop saw that the last one was a man with no arms. "How do you expect to replace our dear Quasimodo if you have no arms?", asked His Grace. The man replied, "Your grace, just try me and you will see!" The Bishop, more out of curiosity than anything else, agreed. The man proceeded to the bells, and then using his face , hammered out many delightful tunes to the amazement of all. Needless to say, he got the job. On the day of the funeral, he played marvellously and earned great applause. Unfortunately, in the final flourish he got a bit carried away and slipped while rushing to bash a big bell with his left cheek, and he plunged to his death. A horrified crowd gathered around him and only parted when the Bishop appeared. "Who was this man?" they all asked. "I do not know", said the Bishop, " but his face sure rings a bell!"

Well, everyone now decided that this late campanologist also deserved a sendoff similar to that for Quasimodo. The auditions were done again, and to cut a long story short, one man stood out by his insistence that he be given the job. Trouble was, he looked extremely unhealthy, fat, puffy, pale, etc. But he said to the Bishop, "Your Grace, I must have this job, for I am the brother of your most recent bell-ringer. I am almost as good as him, and I want honor his memory in the best way I know." The Bishop was moved, and gave him the job. Again, to cut a long story short, at the funeral, this new campanologist was as good as his word, ringing beautiful tunes for his brother's sendoff. But alas, in the last flourish, he got too excited and collapsed due to heart failure. As people parted for the Bishop, they asked him, "Who was this man?" To which His Grace replied, "I do not know, but he sure is a dead ringer for his brother!"

The Chinese Hell

In Singpapore near the National University there is the Haw Par Villa, built by the two brothers Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par, who made their fortune inventing and selling the panacea "tiger balm". (This, by the way, has nothing to do with `tiger shows' of Malaysian fame, sad to say ..., but see below.) The villa is actually a series of dioramas depicting Chinese, Buddhist (hence also Hindu) legends and beliefs. The one I really like is the Chinese (pre-Buddhist) idea of Hell, how evil-doers are punished for various crimes. Here is a picture of one diorama I took during a visit to PRICAI'98 in which you can see what can happen to miscreants. Warning!! The picture is R-rated, and not for the sqeamish! The brave ones among you should scroll the picture back and forth, up and down, to relish the details.

Now that you are back, I'll share an observation with you. Few of the Chinese crimes have to do with the seven deadly sins (you know, the ones our Christian friends are worried about -- anger, sloth, greed, envy, gluttony, pride, lust), but all have to do with disruptions of civil order. Now you can understand what it is that drives the Confucianist governments of Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, China, Taiwan and Japan. Oh, I had thought to print and laminate copies of this picture for my two sons, but I guess they are now immune to such worries, having grown up in Oz and been corrupted by the Jeffersonian ideas of liberty, fraternity and equality (hey, I know, but these were actually copied by the French from the great American founding fathers).

The Cure All

Tiger balm (see above) is a great ointment that my mom and all her relatives swore by. It is a heavily mentholated salve that is excellent for headaches, tummy aches, wind, heatiness (ho ho! unless you are Asian you wouldn't really understand this -- but loosely it means that you either have too much Yin or too much Yang), stuffy noses, eczema, etc. It made the Haw brothers millionaires. But in Eastwood, a suburb of Sydney next to mine, there is a Chinese take-out which aspires in juices to the success of the Haw brothers in ointments. Here is a photo of its ambition.

Obedient Children?

In my parents' days in the Far East, arranged marriages were the norm. One's parents selected one's wife or husband, often with the aid of a professional match-maker who doubles as a private detective. Why private detective? Heck, looking for a suitable match for your client's son or daughter involves carefully profiling candidates. Taking the candidates' parents words for character reference has to be the most stupid thing to do -- you ever heard any mommy or daddy do a poor sell on their kid? So, what a good match-maker does is to engage in (let's not beat about the bush) espionage. Try to catch the candidates off-guard, ask their enemies, find out how they behave when they are angry (that's how they will treat their spouses in the inevitable quarrels) -- you get the picture. The match-maker's reputation depended heavily on the history of past matches -- how successful they were, how happy the matched couples have become, did these couples raise stable families, etc. Come to think of it, this is known today as a track record . The idea of arranged marriages was not a bad one. Passion, which plays a dominant role in today's marriages, is ephemeral. The lasting things are those which out-last passion. My generation lost that equanimity, and yielded to passion, with mixed and often tragic results. This was compounded by many years of watching Amercan sitcoms in which love conquered all, and every family crisis got resolved in the half hour of peak-time entertainment. Have you ever wondered why some of your friends have such unrealistically high and romantic expectations of marriage and family life? Ask them how much TV they watch! Today, we would not even dare suggest to our children that, perhaps, they should think again about their choice of boyfriends or girlfriends. However, I take great comfort that even in the humblest of the animal kingdom these postmodern problems are also present.

Birthday Card

Pavlos Peppas is a colleague of mine, an academic in the University of Patras (Greece), and he shares a birthday with me. He is privy to my food habits, so in 1998 he gave me a near-unique birthday card he found in a shop. Here is a reproduction of it. I kid you not, the name on it is as it appears in the card!

Jakuns Galore

The somewhat offensive term "jakun" is used to describe a super-country-bumpkin in Malaysia. The offensiveness comes from the fact that it is actually the name of a native tribe which shunned the trappings of modern civilization -- and goodness, they may be a lot wiser than most of us in this decision! They used to come to town occasionally to trade, and were renowned for their disregard of social graces. In my research group, jakun behavior is widespread. It has become a bit of an in-joke, and we have even conferred honorary jakun status on some of our distinguished visitors! One day, in the Wizard of Id series, I found this most appropriate cartoon.


A story, apocryphal no doubt, told about our recent foreign minister Gareth Evans, and the Chinese Embassy in Canberra, concerned the lost dog of the then Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. When his dog went missing, all kinds of jokes circulated -- particularly the unkind ones. One said that Patten's office advertised in the Hongkong Standard as follows: "DOG Lost: Governor Patten's favorite corgi, answers to the name of `no. 26 with black bean sauce'". Now, apparently when Gareth Evans was asked off the record whether he thought Patten will ever get back his dog, Evans said, "Of course not. I heard Chairman Deng Xiao-Peng eats a puppy a day". Well, some idiot then approached the Chinese Embassy to ask for a reaction to this `insult'. The Embassy said to come back next day for an official response. The next day, the response was allegedly, "His Excellency very much regrets the exaggeration of the Minister -- Chairman Deng is not so greedy. One puppy a week is more than enough for him". Here is a Wizard of Id cartoon that shows the land of Id in the same light.


A Russian couple were walking down the street in Moscow one night, when the man felt a drop hit his nose. "I think it's raining", he said to his wife. "No, that felt more like snow to me", she replied. "No, I'm sure it was just rain", he said. Well, as these things go, they were about to have a major argument about whether it was raining or snowing. Just then they saw a minor communist party official walking toward them. "Let's not fight about it", the man said, "Let's ask Comrade Rudolph whether it's officially raining or snowing". As the official approached, the man said, "Tell us, Comrade Rudolph, is it officially raining or snowing?" "It's raining, of course", he replied, and walked on. The woman insisted: "I think Comrade Rudolph is wrong, I know that felt like snow" But the man quietly said: "Ssh, Rudolph the Red knows rain, dear"

Epistemic Logic, Belief Revision, Multi-agent Reasoning ...

I teach courses in Epistemic Logic, Default Logic, Belief Revision, Multi-agent Reasoning, etc. These are fun things! One of the exercises I hand out to students is to formalise, using the logics I have taught, this Wizard of Id cartoon, or more accurately, the reasoning going on in the peasant's mind .


Three migrant women studying English were discussing the daughter of a friend. "Melanie, she and her husband are thinking of adopting a baby. She is inconceivable", said W1. "Yes, yes, but you have the wrong word. Melanie, she is unbearable", replied W2. "No, no, both of you have said it wrong -- Melanie, she is impregnable!", countered W3.

Deductive Reasoning IV

Here is a way to prove that your friend who is with you that he/she is not where you are.
You: Hey, you are not here!
Friend: What do you mean, of course I am here!
You: Well, you are not in Timbuctoo or Kamchatka?
Friend: Of course I am not in Timbuctoo or Kamchatka.
You: Then you must be somewhere else!
Friend: Of course I am somewhere else.
You: Aha! Then you are not here!!

Naming as Necessity

This title is of course a parody of Saul Kripke's classic Naming and Necessity, which is in the long tradition of logistic and philosophical treatments of language initiated by Gottlob Frege. (Some would say Plato -- there those who maintain seriously that all philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato!) It was Frege who made the distinction between "sense" and "reference", to be succeeded by later philosophers who made the "intension" and "extension" distinction. I owe to my friend John Sowa this very graphic way of illustrating the latter distinction. The extension of the word COW is the set {Daisy, Mooey, Belle, ...}, a listing of all the individual cows in the world. (Ok, smarty pants, don't even think of asking about past cows, future cows, etc!) The intension of COW, on the other hand, may be something like this: It is an animal that has four legs, gives milk, eats grass, moos, etc.. Which brings me to the story below.

My two sons attended Eastwood Elementary School near where we lived. At EES, there was a much-loved teacher by the name of Mrs Speck. Mrs Speck was married to a school bus driver, and his was one of the busses that took the EES children home from school. Naturally, all the kids greeted him "Good afternoon, Mr Speck", "Goodbye, Mr Speck". Trouble was, his name was not Mr Speck! That was the name of Mrs Speck's first husband, but she kept her name for professional reasons. The new husband was the only husband that the kids had seen, so the name by which they called him was completely rational. "Mr Speck" found it more convenient to accept his label than to try to explain to a bunch of 6 year olds why he is not Mr Speck. The point of all this is that as far as the kids are concerned, Mrs Speck's present husband, the bus driver, is indeed Mr Speck in "sense" but the "reference" is actually someone else! "Mr Speck" accepted that name as a necessity. His acquiescence in this is also a perfect exemplar of the notion of a role type.

Deductive Reasoning V

Joe, a probability theorist, was known to his friends as being fearful of flying on aircraft because he was worried about people carrying a bomb on on board. One day, to his colleague John's surprise, John discovered that Joe was in the same plane on the way to London as him.

John: "Hey Joe, what a surprise! I thought you were terrified of the prospect of someone carrying a bomb on a plane. Are you over that now?"

Joe: "Well, not quite John. You see, I calculated from past statistics that the probability of a person carrying a bomb on any one flight is 0.0001, so one every ten thousand flights a nut with a bomb will be on board. But the decisions to carry a bomb are independent events, and you know the theorem about the joint probability of such events. So, the probability of TWO people carrying their own bombs on one filght is 0.0000001. This is one in ten million! I will never fly that many times in my lifetime. So you see, these days when I fly, I CARRY MY OWN BOMB.


A traveller in the desert was surprised to see an Abbey of the Sisters of Mercy appearing out of the shimmering distance. Tired and thirsty the traveller went inside, seeking refreshment.
'How can I help you, my son?' said a friendly Sister.
'Do you have anything to drink?'
'Well, we have koala tea.'
Although dubious about this unheard of beverage, the traveller asked for a cup and was seated on the verandah of the Abbey.
After a short time the Sister re-appeared and offered a cup to the traveller. Upon taking a drink, the traveller was shocked to get a mouthful of fur! He indignantly asked the Sister what was going on.
'Didn't you know, my son? The koala tea of mercy is not strained.'

Non-monotonic Reasoning I

Non-monotonic reasoning is the kind of non-classical reasoning that permits a reasoner to complete a theory by assuming defaults of one kind or another. For instance, if I say I have a dog you would normally infer that it is a live pet dog that lives with me, and not a stuffed dog that lives with my son in college. I did not give you the information you (sanely) assumed, but they are the normal "defaults". One species of default closure is the "closed world assumption (CWA)", and it works like this. I tell you "positive things" like "My car is black" and "My mother-in-law is in Kuala Lumpur". Then you infer some (perhaps many!) negative things like "Your car is not white", and "Your mother-in-law is not in Sydney" -- although I did not tell you the latter two. Notice that a car can in fact be two-tone -- both black and white, but not "normally" so.

Now, look at this Wizard of Id cartoon and you will see a lovely example of the Closed World Assumption at work!

Parallel Processing

Hello, if you think parallel processing began in computer science, think again. Here is a lovely precedent that must surely pre-date any operating system. I found this in a Stockholm restaurant at IJCAI'99.

Grice's Implicatures

Grice, a linguist and cognitive scientist, proposed a number of maxims that encapsulated conventions that are observed in ordinary conversation. They are "implicatures" that are similar to the defaults in non-monotonic reasoning, in that they assume social conventions as a basis for logical inference. For instance, if I ask "Do you know the time?", it is not really a question -- you could merely answer "yes" if that is the case, but unless you told me the time after that, it would be considered to be a breach of convention -- but is actually a request . Likewise, if you are looking under the hood of your car and I remark "Looks like you have a spot of trouble", I am referring to the car, not the difficulty that has arisen because your wife discovered you have a mistress. Well, now, look at this Hagar the Horrible cartoon and you will see a lovely example of Grice's implicature failing!


We all know some cute palindromes, those sentences that spell forward and backward the same, e.g., "Able was I ere I saw Elba". Such strings are also the quintessential context-free languages, processable by pushdown stacks in linear time. People who invent palindromes are palindromists. Now, here is a question. What kinds of cars does a palindromist like to drive? Answer: A Toyota, and a Race Car.


Is information stored semantically ("by meaning") or syntactically ("by symbols") in our heads? Here is a story that provides evidence for the former.
A talk-show host by the name of Conny Jarson was preparing to introduce a famous Linguistics Professor. He was nervous in the week leading up to the show because her name was Professor Franny. He worried that he might forget the "r" in her name, leading to him introducing her as Professor (in the American slang) Female Genitalia. So, for most of the week preceding the show, whenever he had spare time he would rehearse quietly to himself "She's Professor Franny, there's an R in it, She's Professor Franny, there's an R in it, She's Professor Franny, there's an R in it ...".
Come the evening of the show, he was confident he had licked the potential gaffe. He proceeded with the introduction after Professor Franny had appeared on the stage.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we are most privileged to have with us this evening one of the most distinguished researchers in the study of natural language semantics ( * thinks to himself, THERE IS AN R IN HER NAME! *) -- may I introduce to you Professor CRUNT!"


What is a sadist? A person who is kind to a masochist.

What is a Puritan (or alternatively, a Christian or Muslim Fundamentalist)? A person who lives in the fear that somewhere, someone is enjoying himself/herself.

What is the operation needed to cure eternal cynics? It is the optorectomy, which severs the nerve connecting the eyeball to the arsehole to cut out the shitty outlook in life.

What is Chicken Teriaki? It is a gourmet dish named after the longest surviving kamikaze pilot.

More Definitions

The Washington Post recently published a contest for readers in which they were asked to supply alternate meanings for various words. The following were some of the winning entries:

Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
Carcinoma (n.), a valley in California, notable for its heavy smog.
Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent
Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightie.
Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
Gargoyle (n.), an olive-flavored mouthwash.
Bustard (n.), a very rude Metrobus driver.
Coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon.
Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
Semantics (n.), pranks conducted by young men studying for the priesthood, including such things as gluing the pages of the priest's prayer book together just before vespers.
Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified demeanor assumed by a proctologist immediately before he examines you.
Marionettes (n.), residents of Washington who have been jerked around by the mayor.
Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddish expressions.
Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts.
Frisbatarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your soul goes up the roof and gets stuck there.

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are some recent winners:

Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn't get it.
Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very high.
Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of obtaining sex.
Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously.
Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like a serious bummer.
Glibido: All talk and no action.
Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

And, best of all...

Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an a$$hole.

Useful English System conversions/units:

Only the Shameless

I will record here delightful displays of shamelessness. Send me your favorites!

Alan Clarke was asked, "Is it true that your family has skeletons in the cupboard?" To which he replied, "My dear boy, I could hardly close the doors".

Chain Letter

At last, a chain letter with a point.....
This chain letter was started in hopes of bringing relief to other tired and discouraged men. Unlike most chain letters, this one does not cost anything. Just send a copy of this letter to five of your friends who are equally tired and discontented. Then bundle up your wife or girlfriend and send her to the man whose name appears at the top of the list, and add your name to the bottom of the list. When your turn comes, you will receive 15,625 women. One of them is bound to be better than the one you already have. At the writing of this letter, a friend of mine had already received 184 women, 4 of whom were worth keeping. REMEMBER this chain brings luck. One man's pit bull died, and the next day he received a Playboy swimsuit model. An unmarried Jewish man living with his widowed mother was able to choose between a Hooters waitress and a Hollywood supermodel. You can be lucky too, but DO NOT BREAK THE CHAIN! One man broke the chain, and got his own wife back again.

Police Forces

A competition was held among three police forces -- the American, British and Brazilian Police. They were told that for each team a rabbit would be released and they were given two hours to capture it. First to go was the British Police. The team went into a huddle, planned carefully how to divide the search area, set the bait, and lay in wait to trap the animal without hurting it. Lo! the British came back in an hour with the rabbit in their hands, cute and warm, munching a carrot. Next, the Americans had a go. No problem! They called in Apache helicopters to carpet-bomb the area, and within 20 miunutes they produced the burnt cinders of the rabbit. Then it was the turn of the Brazilian Police. The team went into the bush. After a few minutes there were blood-curdling screams that went on and on. Half an hour later they emerged with a wild pig in tow. The poor pig was bleeding all over, and yelling, "Stop beating me, oh, please stop! I confess I am a rabbit, I swear I am the rabbit!"

Touring India

My friend John Sowa was the source of this delightful recounting of the travels of a linguist colleague who visited a part of India after a conference. He hired a taxi to take him into the countryside as he wanted to see villages, hills and lakes. The taxi driver was a Sikh. Sikhs, as you know, are the most fearless ethnic group in India. As the linguist was being driven at high speed and cheerful abandon through villages -- chickens flying -- and around narrow mountain roads -- just avoiding strolling cows, the Sikh driver would keep turning his head to the back and conversing with the (by now) very nervous linguist. Being the concerned driver-host that he was, the Sikh was keen to allay his client's obvious nervousness. He turned around and assured him (all the time still driving!), "Sir, do not worry, we Sikhs are the best drivers in India!" Then he turns back and keeps driving. A short while later, he turns around again, "And sir, do you know why we Sikhs are the best drivers in India?" Linguist: (sweating) "No, why are you Sikhs the best drivers in India?" Driver: (turning around once more, while increasing speed) "Because, sir, we Sikhs are not afraid to die!"


Exercise: How do you punctuate the sentence "Fun fun fun worry worry worry"? One answer: "Fun, period; fun, period; fun, no period -- worry, worry, worry".

Deductive Reasoning VI

Do our minds use diagrams or visual imagery to reason? Not just aid in reasoning, but actually arrive at a logical conclusion? My friend Aron Sloman, Prof of CS at Birmingham, makes a cogent case for it in his analysis of what people do when asked if it is possible to remove one's underpants without removing one's pants. This is not a frivolous exercise! This planning exercise is lovingly and meticulously dissected by Aron for its default assumptions, in which the feat is successfully completed in several ways. One involves removing the underpants by looping it over one's head! The evidence is very strong that people solve such topological tasks by visual imagery, "running a video in their heads". Aron was inspired by a Mr Bean episode in which he (Mr Bean, not Aron!) had to exchange his underpants for his swimming trunks in a public beach. Aron's paper Diagrams in the Mind? is is a joy to read for its scholarly yet witty treatment of this topic. Click this to get to his paper.

Deductive Reasoning VII

Many unimaginative students think logic is dull and pedestrian. Now, while there are many ways to persuade them of their error, the legendary Monty Python has one way that would appeal to those of a salacious frame of mind. (Thanks to Dan Garcia for this.)

Such is Life

Life is full of unpleasant surprises. How one reacts to them is, at best, idiosyncratic. But culture largely frames the boundaries of how one does that. The observations in Shit Happens are intended to be funny, but contain germs of bitter truth.

Real Story II

I was privileged to attend the retirement dinner of Prof Peter Jarrett, founding profesor of computer science at the University of Birmingham, in December 2000 when I was on sabbatical leave there. He told this wonderful story of when he was Dean of Science and addressed a meeting of the mathematicians. The Vice-Chancellor ("President", for my American friends) was with him because Peter was to sell to the mathematicians the VC's plan to get the Pure, Applied and Statistical Mathematicians to merge into one School. Now, anyone who has had to deal with academic mathematicians will know how jealous they are of their independence. As Peter rose to speak to the 80 or so assembled mathematicians, a loud hissing permeated the audience. Peter waited for it to abate a little, then said, "There is always hissing when the pure waters of heaven hit the fires of hell". The audience dissolved in laughter, and the tension was happily discharged. Peter then told us that this most apt piece of humor was not original with him, but that he had heard it form a talk show host a few weeks before. As chance would have it, the following week Peter met this personality and thanked him for providing him (Peter) with the picturesque humor. The personality replied, "It is not original with me either -- it was the Rev Ian Paisley who first said it!".

And in case you happen to be like the American Christian fundamentalist preacher Rev Jerry Falwell who did not know who is Ian Paisley, an Oxford Union debater informed him thus: "Mr Falwell, the Rev Ian Paisley is the Ayatollah Khomeini of Northern Ireland!"

Never Too Late

The following is a report from the Malaysian newspaper Sun 19 Jan 2001, entitled "20 year old Iranian man marries 77-year-old virgin".
Tehran, Wed: A 20-year old Iranian man has married a 77-year-old virgin in a village in the east of the country, newspapers said today. They said the youthful groom, Hesam Khalili, had wed septugenarian Fatemeh Jamshidi Khakhi in the village of Gonabad in Khorasan bordering Afghanistan. Ali Pourhossein, a local civil servant responsible for registering marriages, approved the match between the young man and what newspapers called the "happy girl". Weddings between aged grooms and youthful brides are relatively common in Iran, but seldom the other way around. The official IRNA news agency speculated the groom had wed his ageing bride so as to cut off his two years of military service. (Norman's comment -- IRNA officials clearly have no spark of romance in their souls.)

Inherited Design Principles

When we see a space shuttle sitting on the launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are the solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol at a factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRB's might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line to the factory runs through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRB's had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than a railroad track, and the US standard railroad gauge (the distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used ?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.
Why did the English people build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Okay ! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing ?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.
So who built these old rutted roads?
The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts?
The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing, thus, we have the answer to the original question.
The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot. Specs and bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses .
So a major design feature of the shuttle, which is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a horse's ass.

What's in a Name?

Three men, a British, an American and a Malaysian were sitting together on a plane.

The British introduced himself to the other two, "My name is Bond, James Bond."

The American replies, "My name is Damme, Van Damme, Claude Van Damme, Jean Claude Van Damme".

Not wanting to be left out, the Malaysian joined in, "My name is Agung, DiPertuan Agung, Yang DiPertuan Agung, Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung, Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung, Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung, Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung, Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agung."

Groan No_17

Nelson Mandela is sitting at home watching TV and drinking a beer when he hears a knock at the door. When he opens it, he is confronted by a little Chinese man, clutching a clip board and yelling, "You Sign! You sign!"

Behind him is an enormous truck full of car exhausts. Nelson is standing there in complete amazement, when the Chinese man starts to yell louder. "You Sign! You sign!"

Nelson says to him, "Look, you've obviously got the wrong man", and shuts the door in his face.

The next day he hears a knock at the door again. When he opens it, the little Chinese man is back with a huge truck of brake pads. He thrusts his clipboard under Nelson's nose, yelling, "You sign! You sign!"

Mr Mandela is getting a bit hacked off by now, so he pushes the little Chinese man back, shouting: "Look, go away! You've got the wrong man! I don't want them!" Then he slams the door in his face again.

The following day, Nelson is resting, and late in the afternoon, he hears a knock on the door again. On opening the door, there is the same little Chinese man thrusting a clipboard under his nose, shouting, "You sign! You sign!"

Behind him are TWO very large trucks full of car parts. This time Nelson loses his temper completely, he picks up the little man by his shirt front and yells at him; "Look, I don't want these! Do you understand?

You must have the wrong name! Who do you want to give these to?"

The little Chinese man looks at him very puzzled, consults his clipboard, and says:

[Get your Chinese accent ready .....]

"You not Nissan Main Dealer?"

Groan(s) No_18

Who is the inventor of the jock-strap? Answer: Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense.

The following exchange is between the mother of a newborn infant boy and the obstretic surgeon:
Surgeon: Mrs Trump, I'm afraid your baby boy was born without eyelids. But we can fix that problem if you permit us to circumcise him and and use that skin as a replacement eyelid. After all, we have very skillful plastic surgeons here.
Mrs Trump (horrified): But doctor! Won't that make him cock-eyed?
Surgeon: Au contraire Mrs Trump! It will in fact give him great fore-sight.

Groan No_19

A Snail went to buy a car. He found the one he was looking for -- a racy white sports car -- but he asked the salesperson, "Can you paint big red "S's" on the sides?" The salesperson, eager to please, replied that was no problem, but can Mr Snail come back in two days to pick it up? Deal done. Two days later the Snail comes back, sees the car and is pleased as punch. He gets the keys, and is about to drive off when the salesperson could no longer contain herself. She asked, "Sir, if you don't mind me asking, why did you want the sides painted with big S's?" Snail: "Ah yes, of course. When people see me driving this sporty car with the red S's, they will say Look at that S-car go! ."

Role Types

An old cowboy went to a bar and ordered a drink. As he sat there sipping his whiskey, a young lady sat down next to him. She turned to the cowboy and asked him, "Are you a real cowboy?" He replied, "Well, I've spent my whole life on the ranch, herding horses, mending fences, and branding cattle so I guess I am." She said, "I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about women. When I shower, watch TV, everything seems to make me think of women." A little while later, a couple sat down next to the old cowboy and asked him, "Are you a real cowboy?" He replied, "I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian."

Groan No_20

This is an almost true story. A renowned modal logician is also a dirty old man. He had a clever line at conferences which he used when he fancied some cute female graduate student giving her first paper. At 11pm he would knock on her hotel door and the conversation might go like this:
Professor: Hello, can I come in?
Female Grad Student: Oh hello, professsor, what can I do for you?
Prof: I was wondering if we could discuss an accessibility relation?
FGS: I'm afraid I am not feeling transitive or symmetric tonight, so you will probably have to be reflexive.

Another one was reported to me by Mark Ryan on the way in which the loss of the eminent logician Quine was announced in some quarters. Quine proposed that the meaning of existential quantifiers be explained as follows: "To be is to be the value of a variable". His sad departure for the Logic Valhalla was announced as "I regret to inform you that Quine is no longer the value of a variable."

Yet another was told to me by my colleague Waleed Kaddous. Apprarently Descartes went to a tavern with a friend. The friend asked Descartes, "Hey Rene, would you like a beer?" Descartes replied, "I think not", and immediately vaporized.

Whitlam on Chairman Mao, or a Marxist Counterfactual

At the 2001 meeting of Australian Labor Party (that's the Social Democratic party for my European friends) faithfuls to celebrate a century of left-wing commitment, ex-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was asked to recount his meeting with Chairman Mao just after Australia had recognized the Peoples' Republic of China. (And, no, this act of the newly elected Labor Government did not cause the sky to fall, as was much feared by the Conservatives who, strangely, call themselves Liberals in Australia.) Whitlam said that when he arrived at Beijing, the Australian Ambassador cautioned him that he should be careful when meeting Chairman Mao as the latter is not known for small talk. Mindful of this, Whiltlam's opening statement to the Chairman the next morning was, "Chairman, today is the 10-th anniversary of the death of President Kennedy. How different do you think the world would be if it had been Premier Krushchev who had died then instead of Kennedy?" (This kind of speculation is called a counterfactual -- see below.) The Chairman thought for a while, then smiled and said, "Well, I really don't know, but this much we can be sure -- Aristotle Onasis would not have married Mrs Krushchev instead." This story brought the house down.

Horn Clauses I

In (program) logics a clause is a disjunction L1 \/ ... \/ LN of literals. A Horn clause is one that has at most one non-negative literal, and hance can be re-written as A <-- B1, ... , BN where A, B1, ... BN are atoms. Horn clauses are very nice because their satisfiablity problem is in class P, and this is entirely due to the fact that at worst they have only one atom in the head (which is what the consequent of the implication is called). One day I happened over morning coffee to get carried away with the beauty of this property, repeating with unbridled glee, "Horn clauses have only one atom in their heads!" One of my graduate students Kevin Irwig saw a lovely opportunity for a pun, saying, "Well, so does Tony Abbott!" Mr Abbott is the leading extreme right-winger in the current (conservative) government. Henceforth, "Horn clause" shall be almost a synomyn for "Airhead" in our group, except that the former applies to unthinking politicians and extreme ideologs.

Horn Clauses II

This I owe to my colleague (the Knowledge Acqusition expert) Paul Compton's doctoral student (2002) Tri Cao. Tri is a TA for the Logic and Logic Programming sophomore course in our School, the course instructor being another of my colleagues (the Recursion Theoretic Learning and Logic expert) Eric Martin. Eric expects a lot from his students, but due to the "watering down" of the curriculum in terms of theory -- this is a world-wide phenomenon -- they are sinking in the mass of definition, theorem, proof that he expects them to master. Tri, as a bright and conscientious TA, tried hard to rescue them. Today (1 May 2002 -- MAYDAY! MAYDAY!) he reported that it got really bad. From the preceding Horn Clause I story, you know that a Horn Clause can be written as as A <-- B1, ... , BN. It is traditional to call A the head and B1, ... , BN the body of the clause. ALL (yes, I mean that, no exceptions) students of Logic past their second or third lecture would also know that <-- is the implication (written backward here). Tri asked his tutorial section, "Well, we call A the HEAD and B1, ... , BN the BODY of the clause. You all know what <-- is ?" ANSWER from someone in the section, "Yes, it is the NECK". This is EIGHT weeks into the semester, so may the Lord have mercy on us all!

Decreasing Biodiversity and the Lowering of the Karma Hurdles

My graduate students seem to fall into two categories. All of them are witty and clever, but one lot is seriously religious and the other is scatalogical. Allen Courtney, one of the latter, worried aloud over lunch the other day about what the threats to biodiversity might be doing to the previously high standards for re-incarnation. Let me explain his concern. By the Laws of Karma, if you were a baddie in this life you get re-born as, say, a stray kitty. If you were really bad, you get re-born as the cockcroach that will be baygonned. And if you were Maggie Thatcher or Augusto Pinochet, you will come back as a low-life ebola virus. Now, with decreasing biodiversity, Allen reckons that the worst mass extinctions are in the primitive life forms, then in species like the marsupials and the monotremes. This will have the effect that the opportunities for being re-born low will be vastly diminished. It's like the "grade inflation" phenomenon we see these days -- even George Dubbya Bush got C's at Yale, nobody fails anything. Soon even the most heinous of inside-traders and junk bond dealers, and pyramid sellers, and rapacious capitalists may not have to be re-born as the leeches that was once their natural destiny! Leeches may be have to be reserved for the Hitlers and Stalins and Maos, so rare they will soon become.

Experimental Science

From the Sydney Morning Herald, Spike Column, 16 July 2001.
It's drawing a long bow, unless you can think of a more appropriate expression (and to be frank we don't want to hear about it if you can), but AAP reported yesterday that scientists believe Australian research into the amount of bacteria carried in flatulence could lead to long-term economic benefits. The experiment was set up by microbiologist Luke Tennent, who enlisted the aid of a colleague's 8-year-old son who, in the name of science, pulled down his pants and farted on a petri dish from a distance of five centimetres. Overnight the petri dish, filled with a wide-spectrum growth medium, sprouted visible lumps of two types of bacteria usually found in the gut and on the skin. "We figure what happened was the fart blasted out and made this little enteric [gut bacteria] zone and the splatter ring around that was actually where the fart - the velocity of the fart - caught skin bacteria from the cheeks and blew it onto the plate," Mr Tennent said, possibly giving just a little too much detail. The experiment was inspired by a nurse who phoned Triple J's science show to ask whether she had contaminated an operating theatre by farting in the sterile environment. Host Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (a Julius Sumner Miller Fellow at the University of Sydney's Science Foundation for Physics), sponsored the experiment, saying: "Maybe some kid somewhere will think, 'Oh yeah, maybe science can be fun' and then go and study science and then further down the line make Australia fabulously wealthy by the research they do." Mr Tennent agreed that "populist pseudo-science" experiments could help increase the popularity of science as a career.

Groan No_21

The U.S. Congress faction controlled by the religious right tried unsucessfully to stop genetic engineering of a new type of maize. Evidently, the aim of this engineering was to increase the size of the maize grain by inserting a gene from giant squashes, causing the tiny pores of the grain to stiffen and become tumescent. The Congressional faction was worried because the project was entitled Hard Pore Corn .

Groan No_22

Two priests ran a fish-and-chips shop. A customer appeared and asked for a bag of fish-and-chips. Priest: "Yes, of course you can have one, but you'll have to wait a few minutes for the other priest to come back. You see, he's the fish friar, and I am only the chip monk."

Groan No_24

(Thanks to Rodney Brooks.) The Dalai Lama was being chauffeured to the U.N. in New York when he suddenly burst out, "Chauffeur, please stop here for a few minutes!" C: "Why, Your Holiness?" DL: "I have to get a hot dog from the hot dog man!" So the chauffeur stopped the limo and the DL got out to the hot dog stand. Hot Dog Seller: "Why, it's His Holiness the Dalai Lama! What can I do for you, Your Holiness?" DL: "Make me One with Everything!"

The Herald Sun's 25 Best Newspaper Headlines of 2000

  1. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say
  2. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
  3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  4. Drunks Get Nine Months in Violin Case
  5. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  6. Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
  7. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
  8. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
  9. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
  10. Teacher Strike Idles Kids
  11. Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead
  12. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
  13. Miners Refuse to Work After Death
  14. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
  15. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
  16. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
  17. War Dims Hope for Peace
  18. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
  19. Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
  20. Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
  21. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
  22. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Space
  23. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
  24. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
  25. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Tame Wild Life

From the Sydney Morning Herald, Column 8, 23 July 2002: Amazement by Taronga Zoo visitors at seeing a kookaburra flying free (Column 8, Saturday) took Shirley McLachlan, of North Rocks, back a few years when she visited Phillip Island to watch the fairy penguins parade up the beach at night. "At the end of the parade, the tour operator asked for questions. One American lady: 'How long did it take you to train them to do this?"'

Improbable Words

This is an expanding collection of improbable words, but they really exist, or should! Most definitions (exceptions noted) by courtesy of the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary. Send me your favorites!


Counterfactual Pronunciation: "kaun-t&r-'fak-ch&-w&l, -ch&l, -shw&l; Function: adjective; Date: 1946 : contrary to fact. (Collegiate Dictionary)

This is also known in grammar as a subjunctive. In high school you were undoubtedly subjected to such boring examples of counterfactuals as: "If the Spanish Armada had succeeded, the English would today be Catholic". To liven things up in your grammar or logic classes, I suggest you use the example cited by Stephen Pinker in his book The Language Instinct of the Yiddish counterfactual: "If my grandmother had balls, she would have been my grandfather".

Re-naming Roads

From the Sydney Morning Herald 16 Jan 2003, Column 8: Uralla Shire Council is changing the names of a number of streets and roads, says Tony Sevil, of that town. "One name change has already occurred, one that I feel more aptly reflects the activities in that particular area. Mount Chocolate Lane has been re-named Treatment Works Road."

Pilgrims' tails

Also from the Sydney Morning Herald 16 Jan 2003, but the Spike column. Hemorrhoid sufferers are massing in Portugal to moon a saint in order to cure their affliction, the Jornal de Noticias reports. The faithful are making a pilgrimage to a church 250 kilometres north of Lisbon, to bear their behinds to a 13th-century priest, Saint Goncalo, who they believe can cure the condition. The saint also does a line in curing acne and another in helping women find husbands. A doctor and practising Catholic, Antonio Amador, told the newspaper that when, several years ago, a young woman with severe acne wanted to pray nude, the local priest would not allow it, as he was "a bit conservative". But mooning the saint is OK?

Malaysia's stability

My country of origin, Malaysia, has been buffetted in the past by all kinds of turmoil like the race riots of 1969 and the Asian finance crisis (badly mis-named, it was actually caused by western institutions, but that is another story). However, it is very stable in other ways.

Chinese Names in Malaysia

I grew up in Malaysia which is like a huge melting-pot of races, and within each race there were dialects. The Chinese there (many not so pure anymore, having Malay ancestry too) spoke different dialects. A name that sounded auspicious in one can cause much amusement in another. Worse, many Chinese names can be mortally catastrophic in English, or monumentally heroic. My cousin told me of two shops in Ipoh facing each other with the respective names "Wee Kan Fatt" and "Soh Kian Wee". In case these sound too improbable, at least the second one has "Soh Kian Wee" is in fact a quite common name.

Mozart's Real Name

Wolfgang Armadeus Mozart's original name was (no kidding!) "JOANNES CHRISOSTOMUS WOLFGANG GOTTLIEB MOZART". See the program notes of a SFS performance for the details. If you do not want to read it, here is the relevant bit:

"JOANNES CHRISOSTOMUS WOLFGANG GOTTLIEB MOZART, who began to call himself Wolfgango Amadeo about 1770 and Wolfgang Amadeus in 1777 (but Amadeus only in jest and in the combination "Wolfgangus Amadeus"), was born in Salzburg, Austria, on January 27, 1756 and died in Vienna on December 5, 1791."

How the heck did he get "Armadeus?" Well, Mozart so loved Italian music that he gave up "Gottlieb" (German for Godlove) in favor of its Italian translation (Ama = Love; Deus = God). He is a truly fightening composer, so awesome in produtivity of great music that Tom Lehrer said on his (Lehrer's) birthday when he was 37 "It is a sobering thought that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years."

Mozart's "jest" is a good example of how a nickname in jest can "get stuck". When I was a little boy (some would say I am still one ...), I used to love pulling faces. My mom would warn me, "Norman, one day you will get stuck!" Here are some nicknames of my high-school mates, boys and girls, that have "stuck" -- Fantastica (girl), Dog-face (boy), Gun-slinger (girl), Aerodrome (girl), Sampan (girl -- it's a very small boat), Donald (boy -- as in "Duck"), Rock-and-Roll (boy), Bandit (boy), F2 (boy). De-coding these is your exercise for the week :-).

The Number of the Beast

Numerology, like palmistry and astrology, are marvelllous pseudo-sciences in which almost anything can be "predicted". But they are nothing compared with the ways in which some can detect the presence of the devil in the most innocuous of contexts. Mathematics, you would have thought, should be an exception. No such luck! Number theory, acknowledged by professional mathematicians to be the purest of their disciplines, is full of hidden satanic presence.

The F Word

There were only ten times in history the "F" word was legitimately used:
  1. "Scattered f___ing showers....My ass!" --- Noah, 4314 BC
  2. "How the f___ did you work that out?" --- Pythagoras, 126 BC
  3. "You want WHAT on the f___ing ceiling?" --- Michelangelo, 1566
  4. "Look at all those f___ing Indians!" --- Custer, 1876
  5. "It does so f___ing look like her!" --- Picasso, 1926
  6. "Where the f___ are we?" --- Amelia Earhart, 1937
  7. "Any f___ing idiot could understand that." --- Einstein, 1938
  8. "What the f___ was that?" --- Mayor Of Hiroshima, 1945
  9. "Ah come on Monica, who the f___'s going to find out?" --- Bill Clinton,1999
  10. "Jeez, I didn't think they'd get this f___ing mad." --- Sadaam Hussein 2003

Why spelling mistakes happen

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

The Croation Way of Draft Dodging

Many are the creative ways of draft dodging. The Croation way has to be on of the most creative.

Groan No_25

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she lay her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm so sorry, your pet has passed away."
The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure? "Yes, I'm sure. The duck is dead," he replied. "How can you be so sure", she protested. "I mean, you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."
The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few moments later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom.
He then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog and took it out and returned a few moments later with a beautiful cat.
The cat jumped up on the table and also sniffed the bird from its beak to its tail and back again. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly, jumped down and strolled out of the room.
The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck." Then the vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys, and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.
The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!" she cried. "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?!!"
The vet shrugged. " If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20. But what with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it all adds up!"

Groan No_26

Far away in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, two prawns were swimming around in the sea - one called Justin and the other called Christian.
The prawns were constantly being harassed and threatened by sharks that inhabited the area. Finally one day Justin said to Christian, "I'm fed up with being a prawn, I wish I was a shark, then I wouldn't have any worries about being eaten."
A large mysterious cod appeared and said, "Your wish is granted" and lo and behold, Justin turned into a shark. Horrified, Christian immediately swam away, afraid of being eaten by his old mate.
Time passed (as it invariably does) and Justin found life as a shark boring and lonely. All his old mates simply swam away whenever he came close to them. Justin didn't realise that his new menacing appearance was the cause of his sad plight.
While swimming alone one day he saw the mysterious cod again and he thought perhaps the mysterious fish could change him back into a prawn.
He approached the cod and begged to be changed back, and, lo and behold, he found himself turned back into a prawn. With tears of joy in his tiny little eyes Justin swam back to his friends and bought them all a cocktail. (The punch line does not involve a prawn cocktail it's much worse).
Looking around the gathering at the reef he realised he couldn't see his old pal. Where's Christian?" he asked.
He's at home, still distraught that his best friend changed sides to the enemy and became a shark", came the reply.
Eager to put things right again and end the mutual pain and torture, he set off to Christian's abode. As he opened the coral gate memories came flooding back. He banged on the door and shouted, "It's me, Justin, your old friend, come out and see me again."
Christian replied, "No way man, you'll eat me. You're now a shark, the enemy, and I'll not be tricked into being your dinner."
Justin cried back "No, I'm not. That was the old me. I've changed" . . . . . . . .
"I've found Cod. I'm a Prawn again Christian".

Dangerous Sub-titles

Because this joke is somewhat in bad taste, and morevoer it recounts an actual event I place it one level beyond this text. You will then have to consciously click here to access it.

Can you read this?

Olny srmat poelpe can. I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter byistlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed tihs fdoawrd it !!

Groan No_27

(Thanks to Steve Speirs)
A tourist in Vienna is going through a graveyard and all of a sudden he hears some music. No one is around, so he starts searching for the source. He finally locates the origin and finds it is coming from a grave with a headstone that reads: Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827. Then he realises that the music is the Ninth Symphony and it is being played backward! Puzzled, he leaves the graveyard and persuades a friend to return with him.By the time they arrive back at the grave, the music has changed. This time it is the Seventh Symphony, but like the previous piece, it is being played backward.

Curious, the men agree to consult a music scholar. When they return with the expert, the Fifth Symphony is playing, again backward. The expert notices that the symphonies are being played in the reverse order in which they were composed, the 9th, then the 7th, then the 5th. By the next day the word has spread and a throng has gathered around the grave. They are all listening to the Second Symphony being played backward. Just then the graveyard's caretaker ambles up to the group. Someone in the crowd asks him if he has an explanation for the music. "Oh, it's nothing to worry about" says the caretaker. "He's just decomposing."

Performance Appraisal

For everyone who has ever had an evaluation - just remember, it could have been worse. These are actual quotes taken from Federal Government employee performance evaluations. 1. "Since my last report, this employee has reached rock-bottom and has started to dig." 2. "I would not allow this employee to breed." 3. "This employee is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definite won't be." 4. "Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap." 5. "When she opens her mouth, it seems that it is only to change feet." 7. "This young lady has delusions of adequacy." 8. "He sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them." 9. "This employee is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot." 10. "This employee should go far, and the sooner he starts, the better." 11. "Got a full 6-pack, but lacks the plastic thingy to hold it all together." 12. "A gross ignoramus -- 144 times worse than an ordinary ignoramus." 13. "He doesn't have ulcers, but he's a carrier." 14. "I would like to go hunting with him sometime." 15. "He's been working with glue too much." 16. "He would argue with a signpost." 17. "He brings a lot of joy whenever he leaves the room." 18. "When his IQ reaches 50, he should sell." 19. "If you see two people talking and one looks bored, he's the other one." 20. "A photographic memory but with the lens cover glued on." 21. "A prime candidate for natural de-selection." 22. "Donated his brain to science before he was done using it." 23. "Gates are down, the lights are flashing, but the train isn't coming." 24. "He's got two brains cells, one is lost and the other is out looking for it." 25. "If he were any more stupid, he'd have to be watered twice a week." 26. "If you give him a penny for his thoughts, you'd get change." 27. "If you stand close enough to him, you can hear the ocean." 28. "It's hard to believe he beat out 1,000,000 other sperm." 29. "One neuron short of a synapse." 30. "Some drink from the fountain of knowledge; he only gargled." 31. "Takes him 2 hours to watch '60-minutes'." 32. "The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead"

How to avoid catching colds, etc

There is a simple and cheap way to avoid catching colds, etc -- a way to build up your immune response! The medical community is too conventional and squeamish to reveal it!! In the interest of public service I spread the good news.

Mat Saleh

In Malaysia the Malay name "Mat Saleh" is used to mean "white person" -- i.e., a Caucasian. The origin of this peculiar usage was recounted by a VI classmate of mine, Zaman Khan, now the top-ranking police officer in the Federal Territory. Here it is. "By the way do you know the origin of 'Mat Salleh'? In the early days Penang was a popular RR spot for the British mariners. As ususal one enjoyment was drinking. The locals were annoyed with the drunks and complained to the Governor about the disorderly behavior of the sailors. The governor in trying to please the local dignatories said in English, 'Well, these are mad sailors!' The locals thought that was a name and they pronounced it as Mat Salleh."

Deductive Reasoning VIII

Boswell was the constant companion of the famed Dr Johnson and recorded almost everything that the latter said. On a trip to Scotland they were in Edinburgh. Going down a street they paused when they heard two women loudly arguing from the second storey windows of their adjacent houses.
Johnson: "They will never come to an agreement."
Boswell: "How do you know?"
Johnson: "Because they are arguing from different premises!"


It was entertainment night at the Senior Centre.
Claude the hypnotist exclaimed: "I'm here to put you into a trance; I intend to hypnotize each and every member of the audience"
The excitement was almost electric as Claude withdrew a beautiful antique pocket watch from his coat. "I want you each to keep your eye on this antique watch." he said. "It's a very special watch. It's been in my family for six generations"
He began to swing the watch gently back and forth while quietly chanting, "Watch the watch, watch the watch, watch the watch."
The crowd became mesmerized as the watch swayed back and forth, light gleaming off its polished surface.
Hundreds of pairs of eyes followed the swaying watch, until, suddenly, it slipped from the hypnotist's fingers and fell to the floor, shattering into a hundred pieces.
"SHIT" said the Hypnotist ...
It took three days to clean up the Senior Centre.

Ijok By-Election

I owe this joke to my classmate Zaman Khan, who was merely transmitting local gossip to me!
In April 2007 there was an important Malaysian by-election (not erection) at the Ijok constituency. To improve relationships the authorities decided to twin Batang Berjuntai town (in Ijok constituency) with Batu Melintang town in Ulu Kelantan. However, to really twin the two towns they changed Batang Berjuntai to Batang Melintang and Batu Melintang to Batu Berjuntai. By the way near Selangor and Negri Sembilan border - not far from Mantin - there is a kampong named Batang Benar - the real club.
Non-Malay speakers, use a dictionary to translate the above!

President Sukarno

There is an amusing story of the late President Sukarno -- actually a much misunderstood man for whom I have much admiration. You may remember that at that time Bung Karno was playing a delicate game to keep Indonesia non-aligned, which I still think was a great policy. Well, both the CIA and the NKVD (old KGB) were out to "get" him. This story is about a trap that the NKVD laid for our hero when the Russians invited him to visit Moscow. Aware of his legendary sexual prowess -- you know, "sentiasa berdiri tegak" :-) -- they supplied him with TWO beautiful slavic blondes each night in his hotel room! Of course they were NKVD agents, and of course the room had secret cameras that recorded everything! After Bung Karno went home to Jakarta, one evening the Russian ambassador invited him to dinner at the embassy. Very nice dinner! After coffee and cakes the ambassador asked, "Mr President, would you like to watch some Russian movies?" Bung Karno was a movie fan, and an even greater fan of beautiful movie stars, but don't let me get distracted .... He of course said, "Yes!". So they all adjourned to the movie room of the embassy. You guessed it!! The movies were of Bung Karno having a great time with the slavic blondes, TWO at a time! With sound effects! Well, at the end of the show the Russian ambassador expected that Bung Karno will from then on listen to what the Russians want and do as they say -- blackmail is standard procedure for the NKVD and the CIA. The ambassador said, "Well Mr President, we can come to a simple agreement". Bung Karno interrupted him and said, "I know, I know. It's OK., no need to spell it out. I will ask my office to pay you for the trouble of making the movies, but look, can you also make 10 copies for me so that I can give the movie to all my friends?" It was reported that the Russian ambassador felt like committing suicide.

More seriously, Bung Karno was a man of great vision. He, Nehru and Zhou Enlai had a common view of how to deal with the Russian-American conflict, which was NOT to take sides. Unfortunately the Americans managed to get Suharto to do their dirty work for them and massacre hundreds of thousands of alleged Communists and lefist supporters.

Shortest Essay Contest

This is a story of a 16 year old boy from New Hampshire who won the world's shortest essay competition. He was awarded a scholarship at the University of Harvard for his imagination and humour ..... Here's an example of absolute brilliance...

Shortest Essay:

An English university creative writing class was asked to write a concise essay containing the following elements:

1) Religion 2) Royalty 3) Sex 4) Mystery

The prize-winner wrote:

"My God, " said the Queen, "I'm pregnant. I wonder who the father is."

Groan No 28

A mom was concerned about her kindergarten son walking to school. He didn't want his mother to walk with him. She wanted to give him the feeling that he had some independence but yet know that he was safe. So she had an idea of how to handle it. She asked a neighbor if she would please follow him to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, so he probably wouldn't notice her. The neighbor said that since she was up early with her toddler anyway, it would be a good way for them to get some exercise as well, so she agreed.

The next school day, the neighbor and her little girl set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor boy he knew. She did this for the whole week.

As the boys walked and chatted, kicking stones and twigs, Timmy's little friend noticed the same lady was following them as she seemed to do every day all week. Finally he said to Timmy, "Have you noticed that lady following us to school all week? Do you know her?"

Timmy nonchalantly replied, "Yeah, I know who she is."

The friend said, "Well, who is she?"

"That's just Shirley Goodnest," Timmy replied, "and her daughter Marcy."

"Shirley Goodnest? Who the heck is she and why is she following us? "

"Well," Timmy explained, "every night my Mom makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, 'cuz she worries about me so much. And in the Psalm, it says, 'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life', so I guess I'll just have to get used to it!"

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift His countenance upon you, and give you peace.

(Numbers 6:24-26)

May Shirley Goodnest and Marcy be with you today and always.

Groan No 29

From Column 8 of the Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2007, this account. Professor Steven Evans writes that walkers with small branches or fronds (Column 8, yesterday) reminded him of the tale of the anthropologist cataloguing South American folk remedies. A tribal witchdoctor showed him a fern used to cure constipation. When the anthropologist expressed doubts, the witch doctor told him: "With fronds like these, who needs enemas?"

Groans No 30 (short ones!)

These won an international contest for short puns.

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? His goal: transcend dental medication.

A woman has twins and gives them up for adoption. One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in Spain ; they name him "Juan." Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. Her husband responds, "They're twins! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him..... A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says "I've lost my electron." The other says "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. "But why?", they asked, as they moved off. "Because," he said, " I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

The friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

Two fish swim into a concrete wall The one turns to the other and says "Dam!"

And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. No pun in ten did.

Groan No. 31

From the Sydney Morning Herald Column 8, 27 Nov '08.
We thought we'd done with the power puns, but couldn't resist (get it?) this, from James Smith, of Cooparoo, Queensland. "Years ago, I have the capacity to recall, two rheostats had to be replaced on our old-time electric stove. Was that Ohm, Ohm on the range?"

Groan No. 32

So this classics professor goes to a tailor to get his pants mended. The tailor asks, "Euripedes?" The professor replies, "Yes Eumenides."

Real Sicko

Careful, this is a very sick joke!
Bill and Ben went into a western saloon for a drink just before closing time. Bill saw a spittoon brimming with glutinous phlegm in the corner of the bar and said, "Bet you $10 you wouldn't take a sip at that."
Ben regarded the spittoon with distaste but because he was short of beer money replied, "I'll do it for $50."
"Right", said Bill, "you're on." Other customers watched incredulously.
Ben put the bowl to his lips and began to sip. Bill started to feel quite queazy at the sight.
"Ok, ok,, stop, stop! You've won your bet!"
But Ben didn't stop. He continued drinking and drinking, making loud gurgling noises. Bill started to retch, and other customers ran outside to vomit.
Finally Ben completely drained the spittoon, and wiped his mouth.
"Why didn't you stop when I said? asked Bill.
"I couldn't", said Ben looking rather green. "It was all in one piece!"

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