Friday humour - July 21, 2000

     From Tony at Bluehaze:

    Last weeks puzzle from Cr Mad Mick in Blairland seemed to cause a certain
    amount of consternation with (mainly incorrect) answers flying all over
    the place.  The question was:

    MARY is 24.  MARY is twice as old as ANN was when MARY was as old as ANN
    is now.  How old is ANN now?

    Here's the answer as Mick gave it:

    It is more an English grammar puzzle than a mathematical puzzle.  Start
    with the facts then juggle.  Mary is 24.  Ann was 12 sometime in the past.
    The sentence now needs to be broken down and re-worded:
    e.g. Mary (24) is twice as old a Ann was (12) when she was at Ann's present
    age.  So Ann was 12 when Mary was at Ann's present age.  The only way it
    works is at the mid-point between 24 and 12.  6 years ago Mary was 18, and
    when Mary was 18, Ann was half Mary's present age (12).  So Ann is 18.

    Mike Horne, Ron Kerpen and probably a few others solved it analytically.
    (Some even got the right answer ;-)  My solution went like this:

    Let X = number of years ago that "Mary was as old as ANN is now".  So,
    (1) M = 2(A-X)  [ie: MARY is twice as old as ANN was, ie: ANN was A-X then]
    (2) M-X = A  [ie: X years ago, MARY was as old as ANN is now]
    Now substitute 24 for M, and get
    (3) 24 = 2A-2X,  ie 12 = A-X
    (4) 24-X = A
    Subs (2) into (1) gives: 12 = (24-X)-X, ie: 24-2X
    So 12 = 24-2X, ie: 2X = 24-12, ie: X = 6
    So from (2), A = M-X = 24-6 = 18

    (Hmmm ... maybe Mick's is simpler ...? :-)

    One or two people even suggested that the total amount of time lost in
    CSIRO and elsewhere with this puzzle in the past week could repay half the
    National Debt.  (I doubt that though ... 10% at most :)

    One for next week (also slightly mathematical):

    Imagine a polished metal sphere the size of the sun with a steel band
    around the equator flush against the surface.  The band is then cut,
    and an additional one metre is added to its overall length.  It's then
    re-welded together and put back.  Would there now be enough space between
    the band and the sphere to slip a 1mm thick playing card?  (Assume the
    circumference of the sun = approx 4.4 million Km)

    Onto humour.  First is from David McCallum - he sent this dog humour in
    a while back (just after we had that flurry of cat humour :-)

              I love my master;
              Thus I perfume myself with
              This long-rotten possum.

              I lie belly-up
              In the sunshine, happier than
              You ever will be

              Today I sniffed
              Many dog behinds - I celebrate,
              By kissing your face.

              I sound the alarm!
              Paper boy - come to kill us all -
              Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

              I sound the alarm!
              Garbage man - come to kill us all -
              Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

              I lift my leg and
              Whiz on each bush. Hello, Spot -
              Sniff this and weep.

              How do I love thee?
              The ways are numberless as
              My hairs on the rug.

              My human is home!
              I am so ecstatic that I have
              Made a puddle

              I Hate my choke chain -
              Look, world, they strangle me!
              Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack Ack!

              Sleeping here, my chin on your foot
              No greater bliss ...
              Well, maybe catching rats.

              Look in my eyes and
              Deny it. No human could
              Love you as much I do

              The cat is not all Bad
              She fills the litter box
              With Tootsie Rolls

              Dig under fence - why?
              Because it's there. Because it's
              There. Because it's there.

              I am your best friend,
              Now, always, and especially
              When you are eating.

              My owners' moods are romantic
              I lie near their feet.
              I fart a big one.

       This next one's from Ian Madsen (good material for an English class :-)


                                  Version #1

  Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is all about.  You are generous, kind,
thoughtful.  People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me for other men.  I yearn for you.  I have no feelings
whatsoever when we're apart.
I can be forever happy - will you let me be yours?


                                  Version #2

  Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is.  All about you are generous, kind,
thoughtful people, who are not like you.  Admit to being useless and inferior.
You have ruined me.  For other men, I yearn.  For you, I have no feelings
whatsoever.  When we're apart, I can be forever happy.  Will you let me be?


    This next one was also sent in by Ian, and by David McCallum as well:

  Excerpts from a recent NZ High Court decision (Southland Times, New Zealand)

"What is the modern world coming to when a gang of thieves arrive at the
place they are going to rob in a taxi?"  Justice Morris asked the defendants
in a robbery case at the Auckland High court. "I despair of the future for
our country when a group of louts like you lack the intelligence to take even
basic precautions to avoid detection."

Before sentencing Singeli Senivuga and Veileba Jobesa (two illegal Fijian
immigrants) for their part in the robbery of 5 protective helmets and 400
puncture repair kits from a Mt Eden bicycle shop, Justice Morris continued:
"It has been put to me that the reason you were so easily apprehended after
the robbery was that you had no getaway car.  According to your defence counsel,
that is because you forgot to ask the taxi to wait for you while you committed
the crime.

But even more stupidly, you had telephoned the taxi service in the first place
and asked to be picked up at your home, so even if you had got away it would
have been a simple matter to locate and arrest you later."

The judge then added: "Why couldn't you steal a car beforehand, like everybody
else?  You tell me it's because you don't have licences, but I preside
daily over cases involving professional criminals who don't care about such
trivial matters.  You are imbeciles.  I hereby sentence you both to five years

       And just before we go to the pics - these little gems from Dilbert
      (More True Tales of Induhviduals) off our westerly-type list:

                       MORE TRUE TALES OF INDUHVIDUALS

At Denver International Airport, there are emergency exits, the type with
alarms if they are opened.  Printed on the doors are signs that say, "In an
emergency, push and hold door for fifteen seconds until doors open."

[Editor's note: There is a name for people who stand in the emergency doorway
for fifteen seconds during a real emergency: "flattened."]
                                #   #   #   #   #

I went to lunch with a new employee who was not familiar with the city.
On the way back, he decided to stop at a bookstore.  Hours later, my boss and
I realised that he had not returned.  Fearing the worst, we called down to
our crack security guards and asked, "If you needed to take someone to the
hospital, where would you take him?"

The guard asked me to hold.  A few minutes later he came back with the official
answer: "the hospital."
                                #   #   #   #   #

My office is near Orlando, FL.  An Induhvidual in my office noticed several
people leaving the building.

She asked me, "Where is everyone going?"

I told her we were going to watch the shuttle launch.

She asked, "Why?  Is it outside?"

       To the ever popular visual material now - first up, one passed on by
       Steve Harding to show just how the Olympic spirit has now hit Oz!

    Ar, mate, it's the TORCH! Click here

       And one from John over at the Museum of Victoria (Oz):

    A cute note:  Click here

       Rosalie Louey sent this one in:

    Homer:  Click here

       And here are a couple of related ones from Tim (he also sent
       an explanatory note, which I've added to the bottom of the first one):

    Low approach: Click here
    Very low approach: Click here

       One (of several) from David over at Telstra (the rest next week):

    Nice sign: Click here

       Finally, a silly game (and again I've mislaid the contributer's name).
       It's a titch lewd, BTW, so don't run it in front of your boss.  It's
       also fairly large (140K), so Steve's kindly put it up over at
       Digitronics.  Oh - and it's an "exe" file, so it'll only run on a PC,
       and you'll be asked to "Save" it (then you'll need to find it and
       double-click on it):

    Whack (X-Rated): Click here

       Onto our second last contribution now - but it's long!  An appraisal of
       Oz by British author Douglas Adams.  Australians (who even now still
       suffer slightly from a cultural cringe) just _love_ hearing what people
       from other countries think of them, so most of you (being Oz) should
       find this somewhat entertaining.

       Forwarded yesterday by Lars (our Effort Logging contractor from last
       year), and also (a few months back) by Dave EPA Moors:

                             THE CONFUSING COUNTRY

Australia is a very confusing place, taking up a large amount of the bottom
half of the planet.  It is recognisable from orbit because of many unusual
features, including what at first looks like an enormous bite taken out of
its southern edge; a wall of sheer cliffs which plunge deep into the girting
sea.  Geologists assure us that this is simply an accident of geomorphology
and plate tectonics, but they still call it the "Great Australian Bight"
proving that not only are they covering up a more frightening theory, but
they can't spell either.

The first of the confusing things about Australia is the status of the place.
Where other land masses and sovereign lands are classified as either continent,
island, or country, Australia is considered all three.  Typically, it is
unique in this.

The second confusing thing about Australia are the animals.  They can be divided
into three categories: Poisonous, Odd, and Sheep.  It is true that of the 10
most poisonous arachnids on the planet, Australia has 9 of them.  Actually, it
would be more accurate to say that of the 9 most poisonous arachnids, Australia
has all of them.  However, there are curiously few snakes, possibly because
the spiders have killed them all.  But even the spiders won't go near the sea.
Any visitors should be careful to check inside boots (before putting them
on), under toilet seats (before sitting down) and generally everywhere else.
A stick is very useful for this task.

Strangely, it tends to be the second class of animals (the Odd) that are more
dangerous.  The creature that kills the most people each year is the common
Wombat.  It is nearly as ridiculous as its name, and spends its life digging
holes in the ground, in which it hides.  During the night it comes out to eat
worms and grubs.

The wombat kills people in two ways: First, the animal is indestructible.
Digging holes in the hard Australian clay builds muscles that outclass Olympic
weight lifters.  At night, they often wander the roads.  Semi-trailers (Road
Trains) have hit them at high speed, with all 9 wheels on one side, and
this merely makes them very annoyed.  They express this by snorting, glaring,
and walking away.  Alas, to smaller cars, the wombat becomes an symmetrical
launching pad, with results that can be imagined, but not adequately described.

The second way the wombat kills people relates to its burrowing behaviour.
If a person happens to put their hand down a Wombat hole, the Wombat will
feel the disturbance and think "Ho!  My hole is collapsing!" at which it
will brace its muscled legs and push up against the roof of its burrow with
incredible force, to prevent its collapse.  Any unfortunate hand will be
crushed, and attempts to withdraw will cause the Wombat to simply bear down
harder.  The unfortunate will then bleed to death through their crushed hand as
the wombat prevents him from seeking assistance.  This is considered the third
most embarrassing known way to die, and Australians don't talk about it much.

At this point, we would like to mention the Platypus, estranged relative of the
mammal, which has a duck-bill, otter's tail, webbed feet, lays eggs, detects
its aquatic prey in the same way as the electric eel, and has venomous barbs
attached to its hind legs, thus combining all 'typical' Australian attributes
into a single improbable creature.

The last confusing thing about Australia is the inhabitants.  First, a short
history: Some time around 40,000 years ago, some people arrived in boats from
the north.  They ate all the available food, and lot of them died.  The ones
that survived learned respect for the balance of nature, man's proper place
in the scheme of things, and spiders.  They settled in, and spent a lot of
the intervening time making up strange stories.

Then, around 200 years ago, Europeans arrived in boats from the north.  More
accurately, European convicts were sent, with a few deranged and stupid people
in charge.  They tried to plant their crops in Autumn (failing to take account
of the reversal of the seasons when moving from the top half of the planet
to the bottom), ate all their food, and a lot of them died.

About then the sheep arrived, and have been treasured ever since.  It is
interesting to note here that the Europeans always consider themselves vastly
superior to any other race they encounter, since they can lie, cheat, steal, and
litigate (marks of a civilised culture they say) - whereas all the Aboriginals
can do is happily survive being left in the middle of a vast red-hot desert,
equipped with a stick.

Eventually, the new lot of people stopped being Europeans on Extended Holiday
and became Australians.  The changes are subtle, but deep, caused by the
mind-stretching expanses of nothingness and eerie quiet, where a person can sit
perfectly still and look deep inside themselves to the core of their essence,
their reasons for being, and the necessity of checking inside your boots every
morning for fatal surprises.  They also picked up the most finely tuned sense
of irony in the world, and the Aboriginal gift for making up stories.

Be warned.  There is also the matter of the beaches.  Australian beaches are
simply the nicest and best in the entire world.  Although anyone actually
venturing into the sea will have to contend with sharks, stinging jellyfish,
stonefish (a fish which sits on the bottom of the sea, pretends to be a rock,
and has venomous barbs sticking out of its back that will kill just from the
pain) and surfboarders.  However, watching a beach sunset is worth the risk.

As a result of all this hardship, dirt, thirst, and wombats, you would expect
Australians to be a dour lot.  Instead, they are genial, jolly, cheerful, and
always willing to share a kind word with a stranger, unless they are an
American.  Faced with insurmountable odds and impossible problems, they smile
disarmingly and look for a stick.

Major engineering feats have been performed with sheets of corrugated iron,
string, and mud.

Alone of all the races on earth, they seem to be free from the 'Grass is
Greener on the other side of the fence' syndrome, and roundly proclaim that
Australia is, in fact, the other side of that fence.  They call the land "Oz",
"Godzone" (a verbal contraction of "God's Own Country") and "Best bloody
place on earth, bar none, strewth."  The irritating thing about this is they
may be right.

There are some traps for the unsuspecting traveller, though.  Do not under any
circumstances suggest that the beer is imperfect, unless you are comparing it
to another kind of Australian beer.  Do not wear a Hawaiian shirt.

Religion and Politics are safe topics of conversation (Australians don't care
too much about either) but Sport is a minefield.  The only correct answer to
"So, howdya' like our country, eh?" is "Best {insert your own regional swear
word here} country in the world!".

It is very likely that, on arriving, some cheerful Australians will 'adopt'
you on your first night, and take you to a pub where Australian Beer is served.
Despite the obvious danger, do not refuse.  It is a form of initiation rite.
You will wake up late the next day with an astonishing hangover, a foul-taste
in your mouth, and wearing strange clothes.  Your hosts will usually make
sure you get home, and waive off any legal difficulties with "It's his first
time in Australia, so we took him to the pub.", to which the policeman will
sagely nod and close his notebook.  Be sure to tell the story of these events
to every other Australian you encounter, adding new embellishments at every
stage, and noting how strong the beer was.  Thus you will be accepted into
this unique culture.

Most Australians are now urban dwellers, having discovered the primary use
of electricity, which is air-conditioning and refrigerators for holding beer.

        Typical Australian sayings:

* "G'Day!"

* "It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

* "She'll be right."

* "And down from Kosciusko, where the pine clad ridges raise their torn and
   rugged battlements on high, where the air is clear as crystal, and the
   white stars fairly blaze at midnight in the cold and frosty sky.  And where,
   around the overflow, the reed beds sweep and sway to the breezes, and the
   rolling plains are wide.  The Man from Snowy River is a household word
   today, and the stockmen tell the story of his ride."

        Tips to Surviving Australia:

* Don't ever put your hand down a hole for any reason whatsoever.  We mean it.

* The beer is stronger than you think, regardless of how strong you think it is.

* Always carry a stick.

* Air-conditioning.

* Do not attempt to use Australian slang, unless you are a trained
linguist and good in a fist fight.

* Thick socks.

* Take good maps.  Stopping to ask directions only works when there are people

* If you leave the urban areas, carry several litres of water with you at
  all times, or you will die.

* Even in the most embellished stories told by Australians, there is
  always a core of truth that it is unwise to ignore.

        See Also:

"Deserts: How to die in them"
"The Stick: Second most useful thing ever"
"Poisonous and Venomous arachnids, insects, animals, trees, shrubs, fish and
sheep of Australia, volumes 1-42"

       And as always (if you've read this far), last is certainly not least.
       This one's also from David McCallum:

  The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to
  generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse,
  the best strategy is to dismount.

  In modern education and government, however, a whole range of far more
  advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

1.  Buying a stronger whip.

2.  Changing Riders.

3.  Threatening the horse with termination.

4.  Appointing a committee to study the horse.

5.  Arranging to visit other countries to see how others ride dead horses.

6.  Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

7.  Re-classifying the dead horse as "living impaired".

8.  Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

9.  Harnessing several dead horses together to increase the speed.

10. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's

11. Doing a productivity study to see if lighters riders would improve the
    dead horse's performance.

12. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less
    costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially
    more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.

13. Re-writing the expected performance requirements for all horses.

14. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
[ End Friday humour ]

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