The Rabbit’s Thesis
One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the fine weather. The day was so nice that she became careless and a fox snuck up behind her and caught her.
“I am going to eat you for lunch,” said the fox.
“Wait!” replied the rabbit, “You should wait at least a few days.”
“Oh, yeah? Why should I wait?”
“Well, I am just finishing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.’”
“Are you crazy? I should eat you tight now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit.”
“Not really, not according to my research. If you like, you can come into my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced by my data, you can go ahead and have me for lunch.”
“You really are crazy!” But since the fox was curious and had nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit. The fox never came out.
A few days later the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to set upon her.
“Wait!” yelled the rabbit, “You can’t eat me right now.”
“And why might that be, my furry little appetizer?” said the wolf.
“I am almost finished writing my thesis on ‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.’”
The wolf laughed so hard it almost lost its grip on the rabbit. “Maybe I shouldn’t eat you. You really are sick…in the head. You might have something contagious.”
“Come and read it for yourself. You can eat me afterward if you disagree with my conclusions.”
So the wolf went down into the rabbit’s hole…and he never came out.
The rabbit finished writing her thesis and was out celebrating in the local lettuce patch. Another rabbit came along and asked, “What’s up? You seem so happy!”
“Yup, I just finished writing my thesis.”
“Congratulations. What’s it about?”
“‘The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.’”
“Are you sure? That doesn’t sound right?”
“Oh, yes. Come and read it for yourself.” So together they went down into the rabbit’s hole.
As the entered, the friend saw the typical graduate student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial work was in one corner of the room. To the right there was a pile of fox bones and to the left a pile of wolf bones. And in the middle was a large, well-fed lion.
The moral of the story: The title of your thesis doesn’t matter. The subject of your thesis doesn’t matter. The research of your thesis doesn’t matter. All that matters is: Who is your advisor?
* * * * *
Hallelujah! Hell is full!
A college drama group presented a play in which one character would stand on a hidden elevator in the floor and announce, “I descend into hell!” A stagehand below would then pull a rope, the elevator mechanism would go down, and the character would descend out of sight. The special effect was greeted each night with rousing applause. However, one night when the actor announced, “I descend into hell!” he descended only a foot when the elevator’s rope became entangled in the pulley. No amount of tugging on the rope could make him descend further. One student in the audience jumped up and yelled: “Hallelujah! Hell is full!”
* * * * *
The heaviest element known to science was recently discovered by university physicists. The element, tentatively named administratium (chemical symbol Bs), has no protons or electrons, which means that it’s atomic number is 0. However, it does have 1 neutron, 125 assistants to the neutron, 75 vice neutrons, and 111 assistants to the vice neutrons. This gives it an atomic mass number of 312. The 312 particles are held together in the nucleus by a force that involves continuous exchanges of meson-like particles called memos. Since it has no electrons, administratium is inert. However, it can be detected chemically because it seems to impede every reaction in which it is present. According to one of the discoverers of the element, a small amount of adminstratium made one reaction that normally takes a second take over four days. Adminstratium has a half-life of approximately six months, at which time it does not actually decay. Instead it undergoes a reorganization in which assistants to the neutron, vice neutrons, and assistants to the vice neutrons exchange place. Some studies have indicated that the atomic mass number actually increases after each reorganization. Research at other laboratories seems to indicate that adminstratium might occur naturally in the atmosphere. According to one scientist, adminstratium is most likely to be found on college and university campuses, in large corporations, and at government centers near the best appointed and best maintained buildings.
* * * * *
The Math Pill
A somewhat advanced society has figured how to package basic knowledge in pill form. A student, needing some learning, goes to the pharmacy and asks what kind of knowledge pills are available.
The pharmacist says, “Here’s a pill for English literature.” The student takes the pill and swallows it and has new knowledge about English literature!
“What else do you have?” asks the student. “Well, I have pills for art history, biology, and world history,” replies the pharmacist.
The student asks for these, and swallows them and has new knowledge about those subjects. Then the student asks, “Do you have a pill for math?”
The pharmacist says, “Wait just a moment,” and goes back into the storeroom and brings back a whopper of a pill and plunks it on the counter.
“I have to take that huge pill for math?” inquires the student. The pharmacist replied, “Well, you know…math always was a little hard to swallow.”
* * * * *
Some actual (so it is claimed) excerpts from college course evaluation forms:
1. “The textbook is almost useless. I use it to kill roaches in my room.”
2. “He teaches like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high.”
3. “Help! I’ve fallen asleep and I can’t wake up!”
4. “The recitation instructor would make a good parking lot attendant. He tries to tell you where to go, but you can never understand him.”
5. “The class is worthwhile because I need it for the degree.”
6. “Textbook is confusing; someone with a knowledge of English should proofread it.”
7. “Problem sets are a decoy to lure you away from potential exam material.”
8. “He is one of the best teachers I have had…He is well-organized, presents good lectures, and creates interest in the subject. I hope my comments don’t hurt his chances of getting tenure.”
9. “I would sit in class and stare out the window at the squirrels. They’ve got a cool nest in the tree.”
10. “Information was presented like a ruptured fire hose-spraying in all directions-no way to stop it.”
11. “I never bought the text. My $60 was better spent on the Led Zeppelin CDs that I used while doing the problem sets.”
12. “The course was very thorough. What wasn’t covered in class was covered on the final exam.”
* * * * *
While a friend and I were visiting the Naval Academy in Annapolis,Maryland, we noticed several students on their hands and knees assessing the courtyard with pencils and clipboards in hand. “What are they doing?” I asked our tour guide. “Each year,” he replied with a grin, “The upperclassmen ask the freshmen how many bricks it took to finish paving this courtyard.” “So what’s the answer?” my friend asked him when we were out of earshot of the freshmen. The guide replied, “One.”
* * * * *
Teaching Math Through the Decades
Teaching Math in 1950: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?
Teaching Math in 1970: A logger exchanges a set “L” of lumber for a set “M” of money. The cardinality of set “M” is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set “M.” The set “C,” the cost of production, contains 20 fewer points than set “M.” Represent the set “C” as a subset of set “M” and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set “P” for profits?
Teaching Math in 1980: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. Her cost of production is $80 and her profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.
Teaching Math in 1990: By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? How did the forest birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down the trees? Don’t worry…there are no wrong answers.
Teaching Math in 2010: A logger opens an e-business lumber yard and makes 400 million dollars in six months when his company goes public, despite the fact that he has yet to sell a log over the Internet. When are you going to open an e-business and go public?
Teaching Math in 2011: A logger sells all of the stock in his e-business lumber yard for $100. He sells his Lear jet and his beach house in Bermuda to pay off creditors. He is depressed and 40 pounds overweight. How long will it take him to cut down a 130-foot oak tree with a hand saw?
* * * * *
Questions and Answers from British Exams
Q. Name the four seasons. A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar
Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink. A. Filtration makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists.
Q. How is dew formed? A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire.
Q. What causes the tides in the oceans? A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight.
Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on? A. If you are buying a house, they will insist you are well-endowed.
Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections? A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.
Q. What are steroids? A. Things for keeping carpets still on stairs.
Q. What happens to your body as you age? A. When you get old, so do your bowles and you get intercontinental.
Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty? A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery.
Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes. A. Premature death.
Q. How can you delay milk turning sour? A. Keep it in the cow.
Q. How are the main parts of the body categorized (e.g., abdomen)? A. The body is in three parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and theabdominal cavity the five bowels, A,E,I,O, and U.
Q. What is the fibula? A. A small lie.
Q. What does ‘varicose’ mean? A. Nearby
Q. What is the most common form of birth control? A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium.
Q. Give the meaning of the term ‘caesarean section.’ A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome.
Q. What is a seizure? A. A roman emperor.
Q. What is a terminal illness? A. When you are sick at an airport.
Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature? A. Mushrooms. They grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas.
Q. Use the word ‘judicious’ in a sentence to show you understand its meaning. A. Hands that judicious can be soft to your face.
Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean? A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.
Q. What is a turbine? A. Something an Arab wears on his head.
* * * * *
Martha Stuart Adapts to Prison Life
[Here’s a humorous piece illustrating the power of being a Creator in the face of adversity.]
Hello and welcome to “Martha Stewart’s Prison Living.” You know, incarceration doesn’t have to mean the end of a gracious and creative lifestyle. As regular listeners have learned, the term ‘good enough’ is simply not in my vocabulary. In just a few short weeks here in the women’s minimum security facility at Danbury, Conn., I’ve discovered dozens of ways to transform prison living into a warm and cozy experience. Believe me, you don’t have to settle for taping ripped-out photos from a 4-year-old People magazine to your cell wall. Take parsley, for example. This common little herb–ignored or derided by many on the outside–has myriad uses for gracious prison living. Ask your bi-weekly visitors to bring you a bunch or two when they come. Stored properly, in about 1-inch of water in your toothbrush cup, parsley will stay relatively fresh for up to 10 days. Remember, parsley must never be kept in direct sunlight, something that shouldn’t be a problem in most federal prisons. Besides its crisp, outdoorsy fragrance, parsley provides a spot of welcome color in any cell and looks especially nice perched atop a brushed stainless steel institutional sink or toilet seat. Obviously parsley is ideal for sprucing up dreary, carbohydrate-heavy prison lunches and dinners. Pick a particularly pretty sprig to carry with you for, say, a T.G.I.F. dinner or bring an extra sprig for a cellblock mate and make it a really special occasion. Speaking of carbohydrates, the mashed potatoes in most penal facilities make an excellent substitute for glue or paste. This can come in very handy if you want to add real pizazz to those old People Magazine pinups by creating a custom-made, decoupage mural for your cell. And while you’re being creative with food, don’t forget: Almost any flavor of jam or jelly makes a lovely lip gloss. My current favorite is Concord grape, but strawberry’s nice, too. I like to use my jam/jelly lip gloss every day, but it looks especially nice when I “dress up” by affixing a sprig of parsley to my prison jumpsuit. Most of the time I use a staple I’ve pulled out of a People Magazine to pin on my little green boutonniere. Sometimes I just tuck the parsley behind one ear for a jeune fille effect. That’s all for today. Next time on “Martha” we’ll talk about keeping hands and feet soft with mayonnaise and an easy way to turn ketchup and paper napkins into festive partyware.
* * * * *
Out of the Mouths of Babes
[Here are examples of youngsters between 5-10 years old becoming “aware” of the ways of love and relationships.]
WHAT IS THE PROPER AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Eighty-four. Because at that age you don’t have to work any more, so you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom. (Judy, 8)
Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife. (Tommy, 5)
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
On the first date, they just tell each other lies, and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date. (Mike, 10)
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
Never kiss in front of other people. It’s a big embarrassing thing if anybody sees you. But if nobody sees you, I might be willing to try it with a handsome boy, but just for a few hours. (Kally, 9)
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO FALL IN LOVE?
Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life. (Roger, 9)
If falling in love is anything like learning to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes to long. (Leo, 7)
HOW IMPORTANT ARE GOOD LOOKS?
If you want to be loved by somebody who isn’t already in your family, it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful. (Jeanne, 8)
It isn’t always just how you look. Look at me. I’m handsome like anything and I haven’t got anybody to marry me yet. (Gary, 7)
WHY DOES LOVE HAPPEN BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE?
No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. (Jan, 9)
I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful (Harlen, 8)
HOW CAN YOU GET SOMEONE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU?
Tell them that you own a whole bunch of candy stores. (Del, 6)
Don’t do things like have smelly green sneakers. You might get attention, but attention ain’t the same thing as love. (Alonzo, 9)
One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it’s something she likes to eat. French fries usually works for me. (Bart, 9)
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO PEOPLE EATING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT ARE IN LOVE?
Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food. (Brad, 8)
It’s love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it’s just like their hearts are on fire. (Christine, 9)
HOW DOES A PERSON LEARN TO BE A GOOD KISSER?
You learn it right on the spot when the gooshy feelings get the best of you (Doug, 7)
It might help if you watched soap operas all day. (Carin, 9)
HOW CAN SOMEONE MAKE LOVE LAST A LIFETIME?
Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work. (Tom, 7)
Don’t forget your wife’s name. That will mess up the love for sure. (Roger, 8)
* * * * *
Future Writers of America
These are actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays:
Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
He spoke with wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
She grew on him like she was E. coli and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh like that sound a dog makes just before he throws up.
Her vocabulary was as bad, as, like, whatever.
He was a tall as a six foot three inch tree.
The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge free ATM.
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7 pm instead of 7:30.
Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
The hailstones leaped up off the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
Long separated by cruel fate, the star crossed lovers raced across a grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resemble Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.
John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant and she was the east river.
Even in his last years, grandpappy had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.
Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a landmine or something.
The Ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids with power tools.
He was deeply in love, and when she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
She was as easy as the TV guide crossword puzzle.
Her eyes were like limpid pools, only they had forgotten to put in any pH cleanser.
She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
Her voice had that tense grating quality, like a thermal paper fax machine that needed a band tightening.
It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
* * * * *
HOW DO YOU SPELL POTATO?
[Perhaps hand this item out along with your urgings to proof read research papers or essay tests before handing them in, especially if you have any students who used to be a US vice-president.]
If GH can stand for P as in Hiccough
If OUGH stands for O as in Dough
If PHTH stands for T as in Phthisis
If EIGH stands for A as in Neighbour
If TTE stands for T as in Gazette
If EAU stands for O as in Plateau
Then the correct way to spell POTATO should be: GHOUGHPHTHEIGHTTEEAU
* * * * *
EVEN THE EXPERTS MAKE MISTAKES!
[Perhaps hand this item out before you return a test.]
Made a mistake? Experienced a failure? Fallen short of your goals? Feeling discouraged? Feeling like quitting? You’re in good company. Consider the following blunders:
“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” –Drillers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” –Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” –Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873.
“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” — Western Union internal memo, 1876
“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” –Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” –H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers Films, 1927
“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” –Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.
“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” –David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings to invest in the radio in the 1920s
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” –Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.” –Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone with the Wind.
We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” –Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” –Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.” –A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
“So we went to Atari and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ‘No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ‘Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.'” –Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak’s personal computer.
“You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can’t be done. It’s just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training.” –Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the “unsolvable” problem by inventing Nautilus.
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” — Bill Gates, 1981
* * * * *
THE PROCRASTINATOR’S CREED
[Perhaps add this item to the directions/deadlines for a major course project or use it with a time-management lesson.]
1. I believe that if anything is worth doing, it would have been done already.
2. I shall never move quickly, except to avoid more work or find excuses.
3. I will never rush into a job without a lifetime of consideration.
4. I shall meet all of my deadlines directly in proportion to the amount of bodily injury I could expect to receive from missing them.
5. I firmly believe that tomorrow holds the possibility for new technologies, astounding discoveries, and a reprieve from my obligations.
6. I truly believe that all deadlines are unreasonable regardless of the amount of time given.
7. I shall never forget that the probability of a miracle, though infinitesimally small, is not exactly zero.
8. If at first I don’t succeed, there is always next year.
9. I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
10. I shall always begin, start, initiate, take the first step, and/or write the first word, when I get around to it.
11. I obey the law of inverse excuses which demands that the greater the task to be done, the more insignificant the work
that must be done prior to beginning the greater task.
12. I know that the work cycle is not plan/start/finish, but is wait/plan/plan.
13. I will never put off until tomorrow, what I can forget about forever.
* * * * *
HOW TO WRITE A PAPER
by Dave Barry
1. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
2. Read over the assignment carefully, to make certain you understand it.
3. Walk down to the vending machines and buy some coffee to help you concentrate.
4. Stop off at the third floor, on the way back and visit with your friend from class. If your friend hasn’t started the paper yet either, you can both walk to McDonald’s and buy a hamburger to help you concentrate. If your friend shows you his paper, typed, double-spaced, and bound in one of those irritating see-thru plastic folders, drop him.
5. When you get back to your room, sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well-lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
6. Read over the assignment again to make absolutely certain you understand it.
7. You know, you haven’t written to that kid you met at camp since fourth grade. You’d better write that letter now and get it out of the way so you can concentrate.
8. Go look at your teeth in the bathroom mirror.
9. Listen to one side of your favorite cd and that’s it, I mean it, as soon as it’s over you are going to start that paper.
10. Listen to the other side.
11. Rearrange all of your CDs into alphabetical order.
12. Phone your friend on the third floor and ask if he’s started writing yet. Exchange derogatory remarks about your teacher, the course, the university, the world at large.
13. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
14. Read over the assignment again; roll the words across your tongue; savor its special flavor.
15. Check the newspaper listings to make sure you aren’t missing something truly worthwhile on TV. NOTE: When you have a paper due in less than 12 hours, anything on TV from Masterpiece Theater to Sgt. Preston of the Yukon , is truly worthwhile, with these exceptions: a) Pro Bowler’s Tour b) movie starring Don Ameche.
16. Catch the last hour of Soul Brother of Kung Fu on channel 26.
17. Phone your friend on the third floor to see if he was watching. Discuss the finer points of the plot.
18. Go look at your tongue in the bathroom mirror.
19. Look through your roommate’s book of pictures from home. Ask who everyone is.
20. Sit down and do some serious thinking about your plans for the future.
21. Open your door and check to see if there are any mysterious trench-coated strangers lurking in the hall.
22. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well lighted place with plenty of freshly sharpened pencils.
23. Read over the assignment one more time, just for the hell of it.
24. Scoot your chair across the room to the window and watch the sunrise.
25. Lie face down on the floor and moan.
26. Leap up and write the paper.
* * * * *
HOW TO WRITE GOOD
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
4. Employ the vernacular.
5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
8. Contractions aren’t necessary.
9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
10. One should never generalize.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
14. Be more or less specific.
15. Understatement is always best.
16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
18. The passive voice is to be avoided.
19. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
21. Who needs rhetorical questions?
22. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
by Sally Bulford
* * * * *
Life Long Learning
As I’ve Matured…
I’ve learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.
I’ve learned that one good turn gets most of the blankets.
I’ve learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.
I’ve learned that whatever hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t compare yourself to others – they are more screwed up than you think.
I’ve learned that depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
I’ve learned that it is not what you wear; it is how you take it off.
I’ve learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you’re finished.
I’ve learned to not sweat the petty things, and not pet the sweaty things.
I’ve learned age is a very high price to pay for maturity.
I’ve learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.
I’ve learned that 99% of the time when something isn’t working in your house, one of your kids did it.
I’ve learned that there is a fine line between genius and insanity.
I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.
* * * * *
Comprehensive Final Exams
Instructions: Read each question thoroughly. Answer all questions. Limited to one blue book.
Time limit – four hours. Begin immediately.
Compose an epic poem based on the events of your own life in which you see and footnote allusions from T.S. Eliot, Keats, Chaucer, Dante, Norse mythology and the Marx brothers. Critique your poem with a full discussion of its metrics.
Write a piano concerto. Orchestrate it and perform it with flute and drum. You will find a piano under your seat.
Explain Mona Lisa’s smile.
Using accepted methodology prove all four of the following That the universe is infinite; that truth is beauty; that there is not a little person who turns off the light in the refrigerator when you close the door, and that you are the person taking this exam. Now disprove all of the above. Be specific; show all work.
Take a position for or against truth. Prove the validity of your position.
You have been provided with a razor blade, a piece of gauze, and a bottle of Scotch. Remove your own appendix. Do not suture until your work has been inspected. You have fifteen minutes.
Create life. Estimate the differences in subsequent human culture if this form of life had developed five hundred years earlier, with special attention to the probable effects on the English Parliamentary system. Prove your thesis.
Estimate the sociological problems that might accompany the end of the world. Construct and experiment to test your theory.
Develop a realistic plan for refinancing the national debt. Trace the possible effects of your plan on Cubism and the wave theory of light.
Employing principles from the major schools of psychoanalytic thought, successfully subject yourself to analysis. Make appropriate personality changes, bill yourself, and fill out all medical insurance forms. Now do the same to the person seated to your immediate left.
Create a generalized algorithm to optimize all computer decisions.
2,500 riot-crazed students are storming the classroom. Calm them. You may use any ancient language except Latin or Greek.
Explain the nature of matter. Include in your answer an evaluation of the impact of the development of mathematics on science.
Disprove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Construct an experiment to prove your position.
The disassembled parts of a high-powered rifle have been placed in a box on your desk. You will also find an instruction manual, printed in Swahili. In ten minutes a hungry Bengal tiger will be admitted to the room. Take whatever action you feel is appropriate. Be prepared to justify your decision.
Outline the steps involved in breeding your own super high yield, all weather hybrid strain of wheat. Describe its chemical and physical properties and estimate its impact on world food supplies. Construct a model for dealing with world-wide surpluses. Write your Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
There is a red telephone on the desk behind you. Start World War III. Report at length on its socio-political effects, if any.
Transform lead into gold. You will find a tripod and three logs under your seat. Show all work including Feynman diagrams and quantum functions for all steps. You have fifteen minutes.
Describe in detail. Be objective and specific. Extra credit: Define the Universe. Give two examples.
* * * * *
SIGNS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Information booklet about using a hotel air conditioner, Japan:
COOLES AND HEATES: IF YOU WANT JUST CONDITION OF WARM AIR IN YOUR ROOM, PLEASE CONTROL YOURSELF.
Car rental brochure, Tokyo:
WHEN PASSENGER OF FOOT HEAVE IN SIGHT, TOOTLE THE HORN. TRUMPET HIM MELODIOUSLY AT FIRST, BUT IF HE STILL OBSTACLES YOUR PASSAGE THEN TOOTLE HIM WITH VIGOR.
In a Nairobi restaurant:
CUSTOMERS WHO FIND OUR WAITRESSES RUDE OUGHT TO SEE THE MANAGER.
On the grounds of a private school:
NO TRESPASSING WITHOUT PERMISSION.
On an Athi River highway:
TAKE NOTICE: WHEN THIS SIGN IS UNDER WATER, THIS ROAD IS IMPASSABLE.
On a poster at Kencom:
ARE YOU AN ADULT THAT CANNOT READ? IF SO, WE CAN HELP.
In a city restaurant:
OPEN SEVEN DAYS A WEEK PLUS WEEKENDS.
One of the Mathare buildings:
MENTAL HEALTH PREVENTION CENTRE.
A sign seen on an automatic restroom hand dryer:
DO NOT ACTIVATE WITH WET HANDS.
In a cemetery:
PERSONS ARE PROHIBITED FROM PICKING FLOWERS FROM ANY BUT THEIR OWN GRAVES.
On the menu of a Swiss restaurant:
OUR WINES LEAVE YOU NOTHING TO HOPE FOR.
Hotel brochure, Italy:
THIS HOTEL IS RENOWNED FOR ITS PEACE AND SOLITUDE. IN FACT, CROWDS FROM ALLOVER THE WORLD FLOCK HERE TO ENJOY ITS SOLITUDE.
Hotel lobby, Bucharest:
THE LIFT IS BEING FIXED FOR THE NEXT DAY. DURING THAT TIME WE REGRET THAT YOU WILL BE UNBEARABLE.
Hotel catering to skiers, Austria :
NOT TO PERAMBULATE THE CORRIDORS IN THE HOURS OF REPOSE IN THE BOOTS OF ASCENSION.
Supermarket, Hong Kong :
FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE RECOMMEND COURTEOUS, EFFICIENT SELF-SERVICE.
In a Swiss mountain inn:
SPECIAL TODAY – NO ICE-CREAM.
Airline ticket office, Copenhagen:
WE TAKE YOUR BAGS AND SEND THEM IN ALL DIRECTIONS.
* * * * *
It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.
I began to think alone… “to relax,” I told myself…but I deep down inside I knew I had a problem. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time. I even began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop.
I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, “What is it exactly we do around here?”
Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.
I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, “I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking at work, you’ll have to find another job.” This gave me a lot to think about.
I came home early after my conversation with the boss. “Honey,” I confessed. “I’ve been thinking.”
I know you’ve been thinking,” she said, “and I want a divorce!”
“But, Honey, surely it’s not that serious.”
“It is serious,” she said, lower lip aquiver. “You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money.”
I knew I was making a big mistake, but I couldn’t help pointing out her faulty syllogism. She began to cry and stomped out of the room. Desperately needing some Nietzsche, I headed for the library. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors…they didn’t open. The library was closed. What was I going to do! As I sank to the ground, a poster caught my eye: “Friend, is thinking ruining your life?”
And that’s when I began my life as a recovering thinker. I joined Thinker’s Anonymous and haven’t missed a meeting since that fateful night. Thinker’s Anonymous saved my marriage and my job. The program is brilliant. First we share how we have avoided thinking since the last meeting. Then we break into small groups and help each other not to think about what’s just been said. But the best part of the meeting is at the end when we watch the non-educational videos. Last week we had a double feature: “Porky’s” and “Dumb and Dumber.”
* * * * *
HELL OF A QUESTION
The following is (supposedly) an actual bonus question given on a University of Washington chemistry midterm. The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues via the Internet, and it spread throughout higher education.
THE QUESTION: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant. One student wrote the following:
I need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of the religions and since people do not usually belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives us two possibilities:
1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2) Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Teresa Banyon during my freshman year that “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I have still not succeeded in have sexual relations with Ms. Banyon, then Number 2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.
The student (so the story goes) received the only “A.”
* * * * *
POSSIBLE DISSERTATION TOPICS
PHYSICS: What is the speed of dark?
BUSINESS: How can employers develop a workforce of gruntled employees?
BIOLOGY: After eating, do amphibians have to wait one hour before getting out of the water?
HOTEL AND RESTAURANT MANAGEMENT: If white wine goes with fish, do you serve white grapes with sushi?
LINGUISTICS: What are five other words for synonym?
CRIMINOLOGY: If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
LABOR RELATIONS: When sign makers go on strike, should they carry picket signs?
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY: If a cow laughs unexpectedly, does milk come out of her nose?
PHARMACY: What happened to Preparations A through G?
PEDIATRICS: If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?
SOCIOLOGY: How much peer pressure do hermits experience?
PSYCHOLOGY: Why is the past so full of memories?
OCEANOGRAPHY: How much deeper would the ocean be if sponges become extinct?
HISTORY: When George Washington was asked for identification, was showing a quarter sufficient?
ARCHITECTURE: What is the most common response of apartment building residents when their downstairs neighbors put in a skylight?
CITY PLANNING: What are the ramifications of changing all city streets to one-way dead-ends.
PHILOSOPHY: If you play a blank cd all night on high volume, will mimes in the neighborhood complain?
ENGLISH: Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
POLITICAL SCIENCE: How does the United States government explain the coexistence of free speech and phone bills.
* * * * *
Buying Term Papers
A student had a paper due on Monday, but he spent the week partying. Early Monday morning he logged on to an Internet site that sold term papers to college students. As an average student, the young man was worried that it would look suspicious if he suddenly handed in a brilliant essay, so he was pleased to find that there were papers available for an A grade, B grade and C grade. He bought a C paper, typed his name on the title page, printed it out and handed it in.
Not long after, he received the assignment back with the professor’s comment in red. “I know where you got this paper because I wrote it myself twenty years ago!” The student’s heart began beating furiously, and he broke out in a sweat as he read on. “I always thought the paper deserved an A, so now I’m going to give it one!”
* * * * *
Reasons Why the English Language is So Hard to Learn
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people: Recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible. PS: Why doesn’t “buick” rhyme with “quick”?
* * * * *
MBTI Types Prayers
ISTJ: Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.
ISTP: God help me to consider people’s feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.
ESTP: God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.
ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.
ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.
ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don’t mind my asking).
ESFP: God help me to take things more seriously, expecially parties and dancing.
ESFJ: God give me patience, and I mean right NOW.
INFJ: Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)
INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta
ENFP: God, help me to keep my mind on one the-Look a bird- ing at a time.
ENFJ: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?
INTJ: Lord keep me open to others’ ideas, WRONG though they may be.
INTP: Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
ENTP: Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.
ENTJ: Lord, help me slow downandnotrushthroughwatido.
* * * * *
FOR LEXOPHILES (LOVERS OF WORDS)
1. A bicycle can’t stand alone; it is two tired.
2. A will is a dead giveaway.
3. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.
4. A backward poet writes inverse.
5. In a democracy it’s your vote that counts; in feudalism, it’s your Count that votes.
6. A chicken crossing the road: poultry in motion.
7. If you don’t pay your exorcist you can get repossessed.
8. With her marriage she got a new name and a dress.
9. Show me a piano falling down a mine shaft and I’ll show you A-flat miner.
10. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
11. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine was fully recovered.
12. A grenade fell onto a kitchen floor in France resulted in Linoleum Blownapart.
13. You are stuck with your debt if you can’t budge it.
14. Local Area Network in Australia : The LAN down under.
15. He broke into song because he couldn’t find the key.
16. A calendar’s days are numbered.
17. A lot of money is tainted: ‘Taint yours, and ‘taint mine.
18. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
19. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
20. A plateau is a high form of flattery.
21. The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison: a small medium at large.
22. Those who get too big for their britches will be exposed in the end.
23. When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.
24. If you jump off a Paris bridge, you are in Seine.
25. When she saw her first strands of gray hair, she thought she’d dye.
26. Bakers trade bread recipes on a knead to know basis.
27. Santa’s helpers are subordinate clauses.
28. Acupuncture: a jab well done.
29. Marathon runners with bad shoes suffer the agony of de feet.
Note: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced
* * * * *
Obituary of the late Mr. Common Sense
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since
his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as: Knowing when to come in out of the rain; Why the early bird gets the worm; Life isn’t always fair; and Maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6 -year- old boy charged with
sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly
student, only worsened his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Tylenol, sun lotion or a band-aid to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 3 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I’m A Victim.
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.
–Submitted by Steve Davis, Ohio University (Source Unknown)