Friday humour - July 09, 1998

     From Tony at Bluehaze:

An unfortunate side-effect of getting so many good contributions over
the last 8 or 9 months is that many of the earlier ones have gradually
become buried in the "in tray".  Anyway, don't assume that I've chucked
something away just because it hasn't turned up yet.

For today's lot, I'll dig well back and unearth a few of these earlier
ones.  First up - a short report that may make you think twice before
sending off for those pink videos (forwarded on for your interest by
Nicki A-O):

                              True Story

Australian Police have been totally unable to recommend a prosecution
for the following scam:

A company takes out a newspaper advertisement claiming to be able to
supply imported hard core pornographic videos.  As their prices seem
reasonable, people place orders and make payments via cheque.  After
several weeks, the company writes back explaining that under the
present law they are unable to supply the materials and do not wish to
be prosecuted.  So they return their customers money in the form of a
company cheque.

However, due to the name of the company, few people ever bother to
present these to their banks.

The name?  "The Anal Sex and Fetish Perversion Company"

     Hmmmmm!?  Okay - this next one was forwarded on by Aryeh
     Seligmann and Michael Lim Shek Sia:

The US Standard railroad gauge (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

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 questions.  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 the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to
accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

     Now it's time to hear from Debbie Storer - another cheery ex-port
     who left CSIRO and moved all the way over to WA (to better, brighter
     things) a cupla years back ...



SUBJECT: Letter of Recommendation

    Chris Peterson, my assistant programmer, can always be found
    hard at work in his cubicle.  Chris works independently, without
    wasting company time talking to colleagues.  Chris never
    thinks twice about assisting fellow employees, and he always
    finishes assignments on time.  Often Chris takes extended
    measures to complete his work, sometimes skipping coffee
    breaks.  Chris is a dedicated individual who has absolutely no
    vanity in spite of his high accomplishments and profound
    knowledge in his field.  I firmly believe that Chris can be
    classed as a high-caliber employee, the type which cannot be
    dispensed with.  Consequently, I duly recommend that Chris be
    promoted to executive management, and a proposal will be
    executed as soon as possible.


         Project Leader


                             Subsequent Memo

SUBJECT: The Previous Letter of Recommendation

    That idiot was reading over my SHOULDER while I wrote that report
    sent to you earlier today.  He thought I was unaware of his presence.
    He was wrong.

    Kindly read only the odd numbered lines (1, 3, 5, etc.) for my true
    assessment of him.


          Project Leader


      Our next contributor wishes to remain anonymous (all I can say
      is that she is from this site :-).  Meant to pass it on several
      months back, but somehow it got buried in the collection:

A guy walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "I want you to give
me 12-year scotch, and don't try to fool me because I can tell the

The bartender is skeptical and decides to try to trick the man with
5-year scotch.  The man takes a sip, scowls and says, "Bartender, this
crap is 5-year scotch.  I told you I wanted 12-year scotch."

The bartender tries once more with 8-year scotch.  The man takes a sip,
grimaces and says, "Bartender, I don't want 8-year scotch like this
filth.  Give me 12-year scotch!"

Impressed, the bartender gets the 12-year scotch, the man takes a sip
and sighs, "Ah, now that's the real thing."

A disgusting, grimy, stinking drunk has been watching all this with
great interest.  He staggers unsteadily over and sets a glass down in
front of the man and says, "Hey, I sink thash really fah-wout what you
c'n do.  Try thish one ..."

The man takes a sip, and immediately spits out the liquid and cries,
"Yechhh!  This stuff tastes like piss!"

The drunk's eyes light up: "Yeah ...!  So, now ... how old am I?"

              Now, time for our regular safety spot:


Element:        Woman

Symbol:         WO

Discoverer:     Adam

Atomic Mass:    Accepted as 53.6kg, but known to vary from 40kg-200kg

Occurrence:     Copious quantities in all urban areas


1. Surface usually covered with painted film.

2. Boils at nothings, freezes without any known reason.

3. Melts given special treatment.

4. Bitter if incorrectly used.

5. Found in various states, ranging from virgin metal to common ore.

6. Yields to pressure applied at the correct points.


1. Has great affinity for gold, silver and a range of precious metals.

2. Absorbs great quantities of expensive substances.

3. May explode spontaneously without prior warning or for no reason.

4. Insoluble in liquids, but activity greatly increased by saturation in

5. Most powerful money reducing agent known to man.


1. Highly ornamental, especially in sports cars.

2. Can greatly aid relaxation.

3. Very effective cleaning agent.


1. Pure specimen turns rosy pink when discovered in natural state.

2. Turns green when placed close to a better specimen.


1. Highly dangerous except in experienced hands.

2. Illegal to possess more than one although several can be maintained at
   different locations as long as specimens do not come into direct
   contact with each other.

     There used to be a very clever and entertaining BBC Radio
     programme called "My Word" (which perhaps ought to be compulsory
     listening as part of English for today's school kids, judging by
     the level of literacy displayed on many web pages and news
     posts these days).  Anyway, this next contribution (from "that"
     list out west) reminded me of one segment from that show:

There are two legionnaires in the desert, and they've been separated
from their unit and are lost.  They've been wandering for several days
without food and water, and are nearly resigned to the fact that they
will soon die from dehydration, when as they reach the top of a sand
dune, they see a big, bustling market laid out before them.

Naturally, they can't believe their eyes and think it's a mirage, but
as they draw closer, they can hear the stallholders' cries, and they
eventually reach the market and realise that it's really there.  So the
legionnaires rush up to the first stall they can and cry to the
stallholder,  "Stallholder, we have been travelling in the desert for
many days, and have had no food or water.  We shall surely die soon
unless you have some you can sell us - tell us, do you have any
sustenance for us?"

The stallholder shook his head and replied "I'm sorry, French
legionnaire type people, but all I have to sell is a load of bowls
full of jelly, topped with custard and cream, and lovingly sprinkled
with hundreds and thousands."

The legionnaires look at each other, mildly surprised, and move on to
the next stall, where they ask the stallholder, "Mr purveyor of fine
foodstuffs and the like, we have been travelling through the desert
for days, deprived of the necessary beverages and foodstuffs which are
required for survival.  We shall surely die soon, unless you can sell
us some skins of water."

The stallholder looked at them embarrassed, and confessed "Gentlemen,
tragic as I admit it is, I have none of the ingredients necessary to
life for which you ask me...all I have to sell is this large bowl of
jelly topped with custard and cream and sprinkled with hundreds and
thousands, with a little cocktail cherry in the middle at the top -
there," he said, pointing out the glace cherry. "I cannot help you.."

The legionnaires look at each other in desperation, and run on to the
next stall, where they demand of the stallholder, "Look mate," (cos
they'd stopped talking funny all of a sudden) "we need water or we'll
die.  We've been travelling without water for days and need some now,
"Do you have any you can sell us?" The stallholder looked at his
curl-ended shoes in shame as he confessed, "Sorry, fellas, all I have
to sell you is a bowl of jelly, with custard, cream and hundreds and
thousands.  I can't help you.  I'll have to condemn you to a long and
lingering death through dehydration."

The legionnaires were really worried by this point, and they went
through the market, stall by stall, asking each stallholder whether
they had any water they could sell them, and thus save their lives,
but each stallholder gave the same reply, all they had to sell was a
bowl of jelly with cream, custard and hundreds and thousands.

Dejected and resigned to their grim fate, the legionnaires left the
desert market and walked off into the setting sun.  As they did so,
one turned to the other ..and said, "That was really odd - a big
market in the middle of nowhere, and all they sold was bowls of jelly
with custard, cream and hundreds and thousands." The other turned to
face his companion and replied "Yes, it was a trifle bazaar".

     Next one's in the same vein - forwarded on by Alf Katz (one of
     my ex-Elevator engineering colleagues):

This frog was really down on his luck.  All he had left in the world was
this little ceramic figurine his mother had willed him when she croaked.
He decided he'd go to the bank and get a loan so he could improve his lot
in life.  He wrapped up the figurine and hopped on down to the local bank.

When he got to the bank, the bank receptionist directed him to a loan
officer by the name of Mr. Paddywack.  Mr. Paddywack took one look at the
frog and knew his day was ruined.

"Ok", he said, "what can I do for you?"

Well, I'd like a small loan," the frog said,"so I can get back on my feet."

"We don't usually lend money to frogs," Paddywack said. "Do you have
anything in the way of collateral?"

The frog held up the figurine and said, "Well, I have this."

Paddywack rolled his eyes and said, "I'm going to have to ask my manager."

He went to find the manager, and told him, "You're not going to believe
this.  There's this frog out here, who wants money.  He has this figurine
for collateral.  Have you ever heard of something so dumb?"

The manager scowled at him, and said:
"For God's sake, it's a knickknack, Paddywack.  Give the frog a loan."

        And to finish off - some more Einstein quotes, forwarded
        on by David Magnay:

                ALBERT EINSTEIN QUOTES (1879-1955)

It is best, it seems to me, to separate one's inner striving
from one's trade as far as possible.  It is not good when one's
daily break is tied to God's special blessing.

It may affront the military-minded person to suggest a regime
that does not maintain any military secrets.

It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but
it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you
described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.

So long as they don't get violent, I want to let everyone say what
they wish, for I myself have always said exactly what pleased me.

Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a
valuable gift and not as a hard duty.

Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.

When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two
minutes.  When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems
like two hours.  That's relativity.

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned
my contempt.  He has been given a large brain by mistake, science for
him the spinal cord would fully suffice.
This disgrace to civilisation should be done away with at once.
Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country
stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignoreable
war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an
action!  It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is
nothing but an act of murder.

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not
certain; as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called
research, would it?

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.

When asked to describe radio, Einstein replied:
"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat.  You pull
his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles.  Do you
understand this?  And radio operates exactly the same way: you send
signals here, they receive them there.  The only difference is that
there is no cat.

God doesn't play dice.

God may be subtle, but He isn't plain mean.

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World
War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

If A equals success, then the formula is A = X + Y + Z.
X is work.  Y is play.  Z is keep your mouth shut.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.

Man usually avoids attributing cleverness to somebody else --
unless it is an enemy.

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.

I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity,
and I'm not sure about the former.

Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at
all comprehensible.

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem.  It has
merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.

You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though
nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from
mediocrities.  The latter cannot understand it when a man does
not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly
and courageously uses his intelligence.

A man's ethical behaviour should be based effectually on
sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is
necessary.  Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be
restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

What _really_ interests me is whether God had any _choice_ in the
creation of the world.

If one studies too zealously, one easily loses his pants.

Through the release of atomic energy, our generation has brought
into the world the most revolutionary force since prehistoric
man's discovery of fire.  This basic force of the universe cannot
be fitted into the outmoded concept of narrow nationalisms.  For
there is no secret and there is no defence; there is no
possibility of control except through the aroused understanding
and insistence of the peoples of the world.  We scientists
recognise our inescapable responsibility to carry to our fellow
citizens an understanding of atomic energy and its implication
for society.  In this lies our only security and our only hope -
we believe that an informed citizenry will act for life and not
for death.

If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.
[End Fri humour]

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