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5 months Ago

 

Podunk City, USA

Published by marco on

 Surprised cowWhen you grew up in the countryside, you tend to have to prove the extreme rurality of your origin to others who share a similarly bucolic provenance. Should I become embroiled in future such contests of micturial prowess and find myself in trouble, struggling to triumph against a backwoods foe prodigiously well-equipped with a backwoods background that threatens to overshadow my own, I will rest assured that I can break the glass in case of such an emergency to retrieve the following link to end the discussion.

Oh, you guys used to tip cows when you got drunk?

Wow, that’s crazy.

No, really.

Sexual misconduct with cows reported in Herkimer Co. (Herkimer Evening Telegram)

“They were caught on videotape after a local farmer set up a camera in his barn after noticing his cows all of a sudden appeared anxious and were not producing as usual.”

So the farmer filmed them filming themselves “hav[ing] sexual contact with several cows”? Will Ilion police be pressing charges against the farmer for producing bestiality porn as well?

 

7 months Ago

 

The Internet will consume you

Published by marco on

The following screenshot of the post What is an example of a “useless/worthless PhD” or its opposite? by Mathbosss (Reddit) presents a prime example of how the Internet actively works to consume your every waking moment.

 Screenshot of a /r/math post

I found the conversation quite interesting and somewhat humorous and was sorely tempted to continue. Fortitude intervened.

 

1 year Ago

 

(Semi-)Intellectual jokes

Published by marco on

Recently, the post What’s the most intellectual joke you know? (Reddit) got a lot of play and a tremendous number of suggestions. I dug through what were rated the top 500 replies and extracted and collated my favorites.

Computer Science

  • There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation, naming things, and off-by-one errors.
  • The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”

    The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

Networking

  • I’d tell you a UDP joke, but you may not get it.
  • I prefer IP jokes; it’s all in the delivery.
  • I could tell you a joke about TCP, but I’d have to keep repeating it until you got it.

(Mis)counting

  • There are two types of people in the world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data sets.
  • There are two types of people in the world: Those who crave closure.

The Classics

  • An Irishman goes to a building site for his first day of work, and a couple of Englishmen think, “Ah, we’ll have some fun with him!”

    So they walk up and say, “Hey, Paddy, as you’re new here make sure you know a joist from a girder…”

    “Ah, sure, I knows” says Paddy, “twas Joyce wrote Ulysses and Goethe wrote Faust.”

Math & Physics

  • A hundred kilopascals go into a bar.
  • Entropy isn’t what it used to be.
  • Q: What do you get when you put root beer in a square glass?

    A: Beer

  • Q: What does the “B” in Benoit B. Mandelbrot stand for?

    A: Benoit B. Mandelbrot.[1]

  • First Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t win.
    Second Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t break even.
    Third Law of Thermodynamics: You can’t stop playing.

  • A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, the statistician yells “We got ‘em!”
  • An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician just got out of a lecture regarding the geometry of 4-dimensional space.

    The engineer says, “I had a really hard time visualizing in four dimensions.”

    The physicist says “Oh, it’s easy, just think of the 4th dimension as time”

    The mathematician says “It’s even easier than that − just think about n-dimensional space and then set n to 4”

Romans & Germans

  • A Roman walks into a bar and asks for a martinus.

    “You mean a martini?” the bartender asks.

    The Roman replies, “If I wanted a double, I would have asked for it!”

  • A German walks into a bar and asks for a martini.

    The bartender asks “dry?”

    He replies “nein, just one”

  • According to Sigmund Freud, what comes between fear and sex?

    Fünf.

  • Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control at Paris airport.

    “Nationality?” asks the immigration officer.

    “German,” she replies.

    “Occupation?”

    “No, just here for a few days.”

Engineers & Economists

  • A pastor, a doctor and an engineer are on a golf course behind an especially slow group.

    When the marshal comes around, they decide to ask him what the deal is.

    He tells them the slow play is because it is a group of blind firefighters, who saved the clubhouse from a fire that blinded them, so they get to play for free.

    The pastor proclaims “That is terrible, I will say a prayer for them.”

    The doctor says “I can contact an ophthalmologist friend who has done wonders with the blind.”

    The engineer asks “Why don’t they just play at night?”

  • An engineer, an economist, and a philosopher are hiking through the hills of Scotland. On the top of a hill they see a black sheep. “What do you know,” the engineer remarks. “The sheep in Scotland are black.” “No, no”, protests the economist. “At least one of the sheep in Scotland is black.” The philosopher considers this a moment. “That’s not quite right. There’s at least one sheep which is black from one side.”

Heisenberg

  • I hear Heisenberg and his wife are having problems; When he has the time, he doesn’t have the energy, and when he has the position, he can’t get the momentum.
  • Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. Cop pulled him over and says “Son, do you have any idea how fast you were going back there?”
    Heisenberg said, “No, but I knew where I was”

  • The cop says “You were doing 100 miles an hour” to which Heisenberg replies “Great, now I’m lost”.

Philosophy & Linguistics

  • Your mother is so classless, she could be a Marxist utopia.
  • What do you get when you cross a joke with a rhetorical question?
  • What’s the difference between ignorance and indifference? I don’t know and I don’t care.
  • A Buddhist monk approaches a hot-dog stand and says “make me one with everything”.
  • Sometimes to sound smart I just masturbate a big word into a sentence even when I don’t know its meaning.[2]
  • It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.
  • Due to cultural sensitives and issues with genocide, Crayola is going to stop using the the name Indian Red. They’re going to change it to Khmer Rouge.
  • Werner Heisenberg, Kurt Gödel, and Noam Chomsky walk into a bar.

    Heisenberg turns to the other two and says, “Clearly this is a joke, but how can we figure out if it’s funny or not?”

    Gödel replies, “We can’t know that because we’re inside the joke.”

    Chomsky says, “Of course it’s funny. You’re just telling it wrong.”[3]

  • Jean-Paul Sartre is sitting at a French café, revising his draft of Being and Nothingness. He says to the waitress, “I’d like a cup of coffee, please, with no cream.”

    The waitress replies, “I’m sorry, Monsieur, but we’re out of cream. How about with no milk?”[4]

  • Four dons were walking down an Oxford street one evening. All were philologists and members of the English department. They were discussing group nouns: a covey of quail, a pride of lions, an exaltation of larks.

    As they talked, they passed four ladies of the evening. The dons did not exactly ignore the hussies—in a literary way, that is. One of them asked: “How would you describe a group like that?”

    Suggested the first: “A jam of tarts?” The second: “A flourish of strumpets?” The third: “An essay of trollops?”

    Then the dean of the dons, the eldest and most scholarly of them all, closed the discussion: “I wish that you gentlemen would consider ‘an anthology of pros.’ “

  • A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day and said “In English, a double negative forms a positive. But in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However,” he pointed out, “in no language in the world can a double positive form a negative.”

    But then a voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

[1]

Mandelbrot is a mathematician most commonly associated with fractal geometry. The play here is on the nature of fractals (citing the article Fractal (Wikipedia)):

“Fractals are typically self-similar patterns, where self-similar means they are “the same from near as from far”.[3] Fractals may be exactly the same at every scale, or, as illustrated in Figure 1, they may be nearly the same at different scales”
[2] This one would work equally well with “expectorate”, “micturate” or “defecate”, depending on whether the audience would appreciate the shock value of the original choice.
[3]

Again, from Reddit, as explained by someone more familiar with Chomsky’s linguisitc theories than I:

“[…] but Chomsky is a linguist who is famous for his theory of linguistic competence. To put it on a bumper sticker, his theory holds that “performance does not equal competence”. In other words, he thinks that linguistic analysis should be concerned with the “ideal” version of language, which he distinguishes from the version actually spoken by the speakers of the language. One of his reasons for this is that the performed version of the language can include errors by the speaker that do not actually shed light on the language itself.

“So in the joke, Chomsky is saying that the ideal version of the joke is funny, even if the spoken version of the joke is not. He believes that there is a distinction between an ideal competently spoken version of the joke and the actually spoken version of the joke, and that the ideal version of the joke is the “real” version.”

[4]

As nicely explained in the joke thread on Reddit:

“Sartre wrote about choice, but that joke is obviously referencing his notion of nothingness, which he took to mean a physical nothing, rather than the simple lack of a something. He famously put this to analogy with his story about Pierre. You go to the café to meet your friend Pierre, but when you arrive, he’s not there. What you feel is the active LACK of Pierre. You look around expecting to see him but you do not. He is a nothingness that is felt. So the joke about “no cream” is turned around with a nothingness of milk.”
 

Geoguessr: Geography lessons in the real world

Published by marco on

I’ve recently discovered (via Kottke.org) a deceptively simple game called GeoGuessr, which works as follows:

  1. The game shows a random location using Google Streetview
  2. The player has to click as close as possible to the location on the inset map
  3. The game rates your guess based on distance from the actual location and comes up with a score (6500 points seems to be the maximum)
  4. Repeat 5 times
  5. Tally up the score

Depending on how you play, you may or may not care about the score. Kottke at the link above writes that “Using Google in another tab is cheating!” If you play that way, the score will help you figure out how well you guessed. However, the game is—in my humble opinion—much, much better if you look up the location in another Google Maps instance.

How can that be? Why, because it’s just really not that easy at all, even if you “cheat”.

 Everything's in Cyrillic. Good luck!Some of the locations drop you into the middle of a vast desert with no signs of human habitation. Some of them will be in locations where you don’t know the alphabet or writing system. You’ll have your fingers crossed that the country you’re lost in uses Arabic numerals for its roads or perhaps at least includes an anglicized version of its city names in major highway signs.

And count your lucky stars if you at least get into a modern StreetView; there’s still data for the States and Australia that dates back to 2009, which is of quite low quality. Try reading a street or highway sign in those places.

We got 32368 points on this one (try it yourself), nailing the location within a few dozen meters in most cases. If you don’t fee like trying it, you can just view the locations.

Highlight the next paragraph if you want to see the locations.

Our locations were in Omsk, Làrach Mòr (Scotland), Esashi, Japan, the middle of nowhere in Australia (Tambo) and northeast of Johannesburg in South Africa.

If you’re going to try it, don’t read the next paragraph either.

 No landmarks at all. Enjoy! How do you even search this on a US keyboard?We would find landmarks on signs like “Dirk’s Place” or “Club Hotel Motel” and “Fanny Mae’s Food and Fuel” or the “Top Tucker Great Grog” which we found on Flickr and pointed us toward Tambo in Australia. For Omsk, we used an online Cyrillic keyboard to enter street names in Russian (we had to search around since “Pushkin Street” was as likely to narrow things down as “Elm Street” would in America). In another case, we relatively quickly recognized that we were in Japan, but had to cruise the streets until we saw signs with Arabic numbers and Latin alphabet city names to narrow things down. Without extra help, we would have still missed our guess by hundreds of kilometers, if only because we have no idea where highway 115 is in Japan without looking it up.

It turns out that the version of the game in which you “cheat” takes a lot longer than the one where you just guess as best as possible without looking up anything. We tried again (try it yourself) and managed to best our previous score by a paltry few points (32386 points this time), but also noticed that the game was whisking us off to almost the same countries as in our previous attempt. If you don’t feel like playing it, you can still view the locations we visited.

Again, highlight the next paragraph if you want to see the locations we visited.

This time, we were transported to just outside Kiev, along the coast in Brazil, south of São Paolo, near Shimoda, Japan, west of Lesotho in South Africa and a small, rural town in Romania.
 

2 years Ago

 

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert: November wrap-up

Published by marco on

The last week’s worth of Daily Shows and Colbert Reports had some very good moments, so I thought I’d summarize and link to the stuff I found interesting. To start off, the show November 28, 2012 – Frank Oz (The Colbert Report) included a really strong “The Word” segment, shown and transcribed by yours truly below.

The Word – Sisters are doing it to themselves (The Colbert Report)

In this clip above, Stephen addresses a column by Fox News staff columnist Suzanne Venker—a so-called journalist to whom I would ordinarily not pay any attention but Stephen did such a sterling job of destroying her throwback viewpoint that I couldn’t resist—in which she wrote that women aren’t getting married as much anymore because … they are unattractive to men. She argues that men haven’t changed at all, so they can’t be the problem, something that is self-evident to the enlightened. Women are to blame because they are “angry…also defensive”. To which Stephen responds:

“Women are angry and defensive. You want proof? Go up to any single woman and say: the reason you’re not married is because you’re angry and defensive. (bullet: wear a cup.)

“And, not only are these shrill harpies scaring good, quality men away from marriage, but they’re also making these men deadbeats. Venker says that women have “pissed [men] off [and] undermined their ability to become self-sufficient in the hopes of someday supporting a family. Men want to love women, not compete with them.”

“Yeah! Men hate women who compete with them; that’s why it’s so rare for men to be attracted to women in the workplace. I mean, what man wants a woman providing the money while he stays home to do what? Witness his child taking its first steps? I’ve seen people walk before and, frankly, babies aren’t that good at it.

“Men want paperwork; we want a grinding commute to sit in a cubicle all day long, taking crap from that jerkoff Rick. Luckily, Venker see a way to liberate women and men from these liberate women: all that ladies have to do is [Venkman again] “surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs. If they do, marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.” Yes, just surrender, and those men will come out of the woodwork, like cockroaches in a darkened crab-shack.

“But ladies. Ladies, you can do more…by doing less. Maybe you could go without voting. Or stop talking…that’s mysterious. I mean, what are you girls thinking? (bullet: Am I in Saudi Arabia?) I mean, follow Miss Venker’s advice and you single gals will be able to live out every woman’s wildest dream: marrying a man who doesn’t want you to achieve anything.

“And, as a man, on behalf of women everywhere, thank you Susan Venker, I trust you will lead the charge by getting out of the writing business; clearly, it’s not in your nature. And that’s the word.”

The interview with Frank Oz in the same show was pretty funny, as was Colbert’s portrayal of a Powerball winner squirrel-shaped pools at the top of show, so check out the full episode if that sounds good to you.

Next up is an episode of the Daily Show featuring an interview with Neil Young (who is pretty good), but is preceded by two stellar segments:

  1. A monologue by Jon, exposing John McCain and Lindsey Graham’s hypocrisy vis à vis their near-feral focus on Benghazi and their heaping of approbation on Susan Rice for it. Jon and his staff do a nice job digging up video to show the two senators supporting Condaleeza Rice in a similar situation—similar, except that Condaleeza actually knew she was wrong (and lied about it)—whereas it’s perfectly plausible that Susan Rice was just wrong.[1]
  2. …and then a segment by Jason Jones[2]Consultants without Bordersa—about U.S. campaign advisors who go abroad to spread the love and bring the gift of the U.S. campaign style and advertising to other, more benighted countries.

November 28, 2012 – Neil Young (The Daily Show)

The main guy Jones interviews, Tad Devine, is so stunningly tone-deaf that it’s hard to believe he wasn’t in on the joke. A partial transcript follows.

Tad: You know, listen, every place is not like our country in terms of the stage of development of democracy. U.S. political consultants just have a lot more experience.”

He goes on to give an example of a case he worked on in Ireland where he found a link to the Playboy site from the opposition’s web site … and the opposition’s last name was Rabbitte. Comedy gold! Democracy gold! Jason Jones responds: “And just to think, that meaningless titty scandal might have gone un-utilized.” Tad concurs with a lopsided, loopy grin.

A little later, Jones asks him about another campagin, this one in Bolivia, where Tad helped elect a guy he describes as having a “great mustache…and an awesome llama ad”. He goes on:

Tad: Listen, it’s very complicated there. And, unfortunately, after he was elected, there was insurrection—riots—in the streets. Ultimately, he was forced to resign.
Jason: American-style democracy, undone by the will of the local people.
Tad: It was a very difficult situation.
Jason: How did you pick yourself up?
Tad: You know…I went on to the next campaign.
Jason: God bless you, sir.
Jason: (voiceover) And their perseverance is rivaled only by their generosity.
Tad: It’s been great to travel to these places and work with people…
Jason: And to do all this, without getting paid, it’s just incredible…
Tad: Well, I do get paid for it.
Jason: Yes, but, less than you do here [America].
Tad: Sometimes I get paid less and sometimes I get paid more.
Jason: Right, well, financial compensation doesn’t diminish the volunteer spirit. (Emphasis added.)
Tad: Well, I’m someone who enjoys the work and is happy to have the opportunity to do it.
Jason: A hero.
Jason: (voiced over the graphic below) They say that a hero can save us and, lucky for the rest of the world, we have plenty of those.”

And, finally, there is another Daily Show, with a John Hodgman segment (in his role as plutocrat) and an interview with the always-witty (and oh-so-dry) Calvin Trillin. A couple of bits of his wisdom and wit[3]:

“[…] I think we think of something like [Trump running for President] the way that dentists think of tooth-decay: it’s a pity, but where would business be without it.”
“Calista Gingrich, aware that her husband has cheated on and then left two women with serious illnesses, tries to make light of a bad cough.”

November 29, 2012 – Calvin Trillin (The Daily Show)

Here’s a partial transcript of the John Hodgman bit:

Hodgman: Now that you’ve reëlected Obama, I and the other deranged millionaires can no longer afford American workers’ pricy demands. I mean, I hate to say it, but we might just have to start shipping jobs overseas.
Stewart: What…start? Companies have been shipping jobs overseas for years now. That’s not a…
Hodgman: And I hate to say it, but once Obamacare kicks in, I just might have to technically make everyone a part-time employee in order to avoid having to pay their health insurance.
Stewart: That’s a pretty standard corporate tactic, for years now, believe me, I know, I’m at Viacom, that’s all they do, throw people [makes shuffling motions with hands]
Hodgman: Well, and no matter how hard you work, I might just have to keep your wages stagnant.
Stewart: That’s already the case! … John, all these threats that you and your fellow CEOs have been making are really exactly what these CEOs have already been doing for thirty years now. What’s the difference?
Hodgman: The difference? Well…we used to be motivated by profit; now, we’re doing it out of spite.
(Emphasis added.)

[1] It’s adorable how no one actually criticizes Susan Rice for her actual deficiencies: her unswerving support for Israel and her appalling reaction to the latest attacks on Palestine. She is extremely belligerent and is a potentially more jingoist Secretary of State than even Hillary Clinton (hard as that is to believe). There is also news that she is heavily invested in oil companies (to the tune of millions—she’s not a poor woman) and will move to green-light the Keystone pipeline as quickly as possible.
[2] Spoiler alert: amazingly enough, Jones keeps his pants on throughout.
[3] Trillin’s wit is quite evocative of the style of Mark Twain; I’m 2/3 of the way through The Innocents Abroad and Twain was an utter master of sarcasm and biting wit.