Friday humour - August 11, 2000

     From Tony at Bluehaze:

    Some new Darwin awards this week!  But first up -the puzzle department.
    Last weeks effort didn't elicit too many responses (although Nicki tells
    me Noam solved it via some calculus).  And just in case you missed it:

    A straight, round hole is drilled through the centre of a solid metal
    sphere and out the other side.  If this hole is exactly six inches long,
    what is the volume of the remaining material?

    The key to solving this puzzle is noticing that there's apparently not
    enough data given.  You weren't given the diameter of the sphere, nor
    were you given the diameter of the hole.

    So you may assume that the result doesn't depend on them - hence, just
    calculate the most trivial case: a six-inch diameter sphere, and a six
    inch long and infinitely thin hole through it.  In such a case, the
    left over volume equals the initial sphere volume (since the volume of
    the drilled hole -> 0 in the limit).

    And using V=(4/3)*pi*r(cubed) and plugging in r=3 gives a result of 36pi
    cubic inches.

    Using more complex formulas you can prove that 36pi is indeed the volume
    of the remaining material, regardless of the size of the original sphere.
    (Remember, the hole must be exactly six inches long.  If the sphere is
    as large as the sun, the hole would have be very wide indeed and the
    remaining strip of material very, very thin.)

   Okay - to the humour (I'll skip the puzzle for this week).  Darwin Awards!
   Now I know what you're thinking - the 1999 awards were a bit tame
   (especially after earlier ones we've seen, such as the guy who fitted a jet
   engine onto his car, and that classic about the deckchair fitted out with
   helium balloons) - but I reckon that these two, as just turned up by James
   Powell, are getting back to the high standard we'd come to expect:

                         YEAR 2000 DARWIN AWARD NUMBER 1

(New York) Stewart had always been interested in science.

During a demonstration at his high school, Stewart saw that the elements
Lithium, Sodium, and Potassium all react with water.  While assessing the
periodic table, he noticed they were all in the same row, and became more
reactive as they increased in mass.  The last naturally occurring (*) element
in that column was Cesium, an extremely reactive metal that catastrophically
explodes in contact with water.

Stewart used most of his money to buy a small amount of Cesium, just 10 grams
(enough to blow up a city block), from eBay with the help of his father and
a credit card.

When the ampoule of Cesium arrived, he took it for a boat ride.  After cracking
the vacuum-sealed glass container, he threw the Cesium out into Lake Erie ...
and was never seen again.

One can only assume that he was instantly blown to smithereens by the chemical
reaction.  People heard the blast on the coast 5 miles away.  Perhaps he should
have opted for a less reactive metal, and only blown up a few fish.

The lesson?

Don't wash your hands with Cesium.  It will have an adverse affect on your


[ Cs certainly isn't 'naturally occurring, but maybe the author just means
 'obtainable'.  It is fairly rare though - current world reserves of Cs
  amount to all of 10e8 grams, and it sells for around $(US)61/gram. (FH Ed) ]

    ... and the 2nd one:

                         YEAR 2000 DARWIN AWARD NUMBER 2

My senior year of college opened with the customary research projects, grad
school applications, and the like.  But that all changed two months ago.  Some
of you may have heard rumours of the bizarre accident that I was involved in.
Here is the truth, unabridged, for those who actually want to know.

In the second week of school, the society of physics students held a roughly
annual welcome back party.  As tradition dictates, we made our own ice cream
with liquid nitrogens (77 deg Kelvin) as the refrigerant and aerator.  We
spilled a little liquid nitrogen onto a table and watched the tiny little
drops dance around.

Someone asked, "Why does it do that?"

That may have been the point of no return.  As is traditionally my role, I
answered that the nitrogen evaporates at the surface of the table, which creates
a cushion of air for the drop to sit on, and thermally insulates the drop, which
minimises further evaporation.  That's why a drop dances around without boiling,
without touching the table, and without spreading out like a pool of water.

Then I continued, mentioning that the very same principle makes it possible
to dip one's wet hand into molten lead, or drink liquid nitrogen without
injury.  I had done the latter several years earlier in a cryogenics lab,
and remembered the physics of how it worked.

Naturally those around me were sceptical. "It will freeze your whole body.
Remember Terminator 2?"

But I was sure of myself.  I had done it before, and I believed in the physics
behind it.  So I unhesitatingly poured myself a glass and took a shot.

Simple.  Swallow - blow smoke out your nose ... impress everyone!

Within two seconds, I collapsed to the floor, unable to breathe or indeed do
anything except feel intense pain.  The ambulance arrived.  The police arrived.
The journey to the hospital.  The attempt to explain to baffled ER staff how
something like this could happen.  Then I passed out.

I woke up the next morning connected to beeping machines.  It turns out that,
in accordance with popular belief, you really should not drink liquid nitrogen.

I subsequently learned a few things about liquid nitrogen.  While you can safely
hold it in your mouth and blow neat smoke patterns, you should never, ever
swallow.  The closed epiglottis prevents the gas from escaping, so expanding
gas is forced into your body.  And your oesophagus naturally constricts around
anything inside it, so that even though there is a thin protective gas layer,
the oesophagus will manage to make contact with the liquid nitrogen.

I also learned that my memory was flawed.

When I'd done the trick six years ago, I'd put it into my mouth and I hadn't
swallowed.  (Over time, that fine line between parlour trick and fatal accident
must have blurred.)

I was badly burned from epiglottis to stomach bottom.  The gas had expanded to
fill my chest cavity, and the pressure collapsed a lung.  After what I'm told
was a gruelling all-night surgery, they removed part of my stomach and ran my
entire digestive system on a machine.  I was on a breather for a day - until my
lung was restored.  There are a few considerably uglier details which I
will spare you.

They were however impressed with my recuperative skills.  I could breathe on
my own after a few days.  I could sit up in bed after a week, and was walking
and eating in two.  At eight weeks, I'm virtually healed except for a number
of unsightly scars.

And there's good news!  I am the first documented medical case of cryogenic
ingestion.  Read the New England Journal of Medicine.  Three articles are in
review now, and will be published soon.  My little adventure has left me with
the nickname Nitro-Mike, a tendency to tell bad physics jokes at department
meetings, and an occasional blurb in the school paper. "Let's make Mikey
drink it.  Hey!  Mikey likes it!"

      And following the Concorde disaster, this one (as just passed on by both
      David McCallum and Steve [redacted]) is currently doing the rounds:

1.  Did you hear that one of the Concorde pilots asked the other if he was
    going home after his shift.  (He said no - he was just going to crash at
    the hotel)

2.  The European Commission have met and declared that Concorde's impeccable
    safety record will stand.  They have declared that the hotel was in the

3.  Affluent German tourists choose to fly Concorde.  (They'd not be seen dead
    on anything else)

4.  So many German tourists.  So few Concordes ...

5.  The French Killed more Germans on Tuesday than in 2 world wars.

6.  Q: How do you fit 100 Germans into a small French hotel?  A: On a Concorde.

7.  I know that the Germans like to get to the sun-loungers first, but isn't
    this just a bit ridiculous?

8.  Overheard at the Hotelissimo, Gronesse:
    "Waiter!  There's a Concorde in my soup."

9.  Air France have just introduced a new express service for their premium
    travellers which guarantees you can be off your plane and in your hotel in
    under two minutes.

10. Q: Why is Concorde such good value for money?
    A: You get your hotel thrown in for free.

     And just before we move onto the non-ASCII stuff for the week ... from
     Ian's other 50% - Olivine Madsen (who's just joined our list), we just
     received these two ...

        What would have happened if it had been THREE WISE WOMEN ...
        instead of THREE WISE MEN?

They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby,
cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.

       But what they would have said when they left ...?

"Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that gown?"

"That baby doesn't look anything like Joseph!"

"Virgin, my arse!  I knew her in school!"

"Can you believe that they let all of those disgusting animals in the house?"

"I heard that Joseph isn't even working right now!"

"And that donkey that they are riding has seen better days too!"

"Want to bet on how long it will take until you get your casserole dish back?"


     ... and ...

A man walking along the beach at Portsea was deep in prayer.  Suddenly the
clouds opened above his head and in a booming voice the Lord said, "Because
you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The man said, "That's a good idea!  Can you build me a bridge to Tasmania so
that I can drive over and go trout fishing anytime I like?"

The Lord said, "Hang on a second - your request is very materialistic, and not
too easy either.  Think of the logistics: the supports required to reach the
bottom of Bass Strait; the concrete and steel it would take.  I could do it,
but it's pretty hard to justify on any sensible cost-benefit basis, and I'm
not sure that it would really be a good idea to satisfy such a worldly request.
Why don't you take a little more time, think about it a bit more, and maybe
come up with a wish more worthy of both of us."

The man thought about it for a long time.

Finally he said, "Lord, I have been married and divorced four times.  All of my
wives said that I am uncaring and insensitive.  I wish that I could understand
women.  I want to know how they feel inside, what they are thinking when
they give me the silent treatment, why they cry, what they mean when they say
'nothing'.  I would really like to be able to make just one woman truly happy."

After a few minutes God said, "You want two lanes or four on that bridge?"

      Time for the non-ASCII stuff.  Olivine Madsen passed on a few pictures
      with the ASCII stuff ...

     Wonder Woman ... Click here
     Calvin Kline: Click here
     Colgate smile ... Click here

      And Rosalie Louey just passed this on ...

     Golf: Click here

      One from Steve [redacted]:

     Good ride: Click here

      And a few from David Magnay (last one's fairly large - about 20 seconds
      to load, at least):

     A sign: Click here
     Another sign: Click here
     Career Women: Click here

      This is a great little collection from Nestor at ANL (and fairly large, so
      again hosted over on Steve's server so you can get it "nice and quick"):

     Quacks: Click here

      This last one is an audio file from Melbourne radio station 3MMM.  (And
      again I've lost track of the contributor ... please let me know!).  The
      original was a compressed WAV, but I've set it up as an RA (RealAudio)
      file to make things a little easier:

     Radio Quiz: Click here

     Okay, back to ASCII stuff again now, and this one from David McCallum:


          By Dave Barry

1.  Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the
    same night.

2.  If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not
    achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be

3.  There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4.  People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want
    you to share yours with them.

5.  And when God, who created the entire universe with all of its glories,
    decides to deliver a message to humanity, He WILL NOT use, as His messenger,
    a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle.

6.  You should not confuse your career with your life.

7.  No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

8.  When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual
    who perceives a solution and is willing to take command.  Very often,
    that individual is crazy.

9.  Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance.

10. Never lick a steak knife.

11. Take out the fortune before you eat the cookie.

12. The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.

13. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason
    why we observe daylight savings time.

14. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that
    you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from
    her at that moment.

15. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make
    a big deal about your birthday.  That time is age 11.

16. "The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender,
    religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside,
    we ALL believe that we are above average drivers.

17. The main accomplishment of almost all organised protests is to annoy people
    who are not in them.

18. A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.

19. Your friends love you anyway.

        And a short-ish one from Maria Harding:

A small-town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand in
a trial - a grandmotherly, elderly women.

He approached her and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know me?"

She responded, "Why, yes, I do know you, Mr. Williams, I've known you since
you were a young boy.  And frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me.
You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them
behind their backs.  You think you're a rising big shot when you haven't the
brains to realise you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper
pusher.  Yes, I know you."

The lawyer was stunned.  Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the
room and asked, "Mrs. Jones, do you know the defence attorney?"

She again replied, "Why, yes I do.  I've known Mr. Bradley since he was a
youngster, too.  I used to baby-sit him for his parents.  And he, too, has
been a real disappointment to me.  He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking
problem.  The man can't build a normal relationship with anyone and his law
practice is one of the shoddiest in the entire state.  Yes, I know him."

At this point, the judge rapped the courtroom to silence and called both
counsellors to the bench.  In a very quiet voice, he said with menace,
"If either of you asks her if she knows me, you'll be jailed for contempt!"

       And finally for this week - this collection of three just arrived from
       Jenny Chong (an ex-colleague from over at the ex-elevator place):

                             TWO BROTHERS (anon)

Once upon a time two brothers who lived on adjoining farms fell into conflict.
It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing
machinery, and trading labour and goods as required without a hitch.  Then the
long collaboration fell apart.  This began with a small misunderstanding and
it grew into a major difference, and finally this exploded into an exchange
of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on John's door.  He opened it to find a man
with a carpenter's toolbox. "I'm looking for a few days work" he said.
"Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there.  Can I help you?"

"Yes," said the older brother. "I do have a job for you.  Look across the
creek at that farm.  That's my neighbour, in fact, it's my younger brother.
Last week there was a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river
levee and now there is a creek between us.  He can only have done this to spite
me, but I'll go him one better.  See that pile of lumber curing by the barn?
I want you to build me a fence -- an 8-foot fence -- so I won't need to see
his place any more.  Cool him down, anyhow."

The carpenter said, "I think I understand the situation.  Show me the nails
and the post-hole digger and I'll be able to do a job that pleases you."

The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter
get the materials ready and then he was off for the day.

The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing.  About
sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job.

The farmer's eyes opened wide, his jaw dropped.  There was no fence there at
all.  It was a bridge -- a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the
other!  A fine piece of work -- handrails and all -- and the neighbour, his
younger brother, was coming across, his hand outstretched.

"You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I've said and done."

The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the
middle, taking each other's hand.  They turned to see the carpenter hoist his
toolbox on his shoulder. "No, wait!  Stay a few days.  I've a lot of other
projects for you," said the older brother.

"I'd love to stay on," the carpenter said, "but, I have many more bridges to



The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

I did not object to the object.

The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.

They were too close to the door to close it.

The buck does funny things when the does are present.

A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

After a number of injections my jaw got number.

Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend


A woman takes a lover during the day, while her husband is at work.  Her 9
year old son comes home unexpectedly, so she puts him in the closet and shuts
the door.  Her husband also comes home, so she puts her lover in the closet,
with the little boy.

The little boy says, "Dark in here."

The man says, "Yes, it is."

Boy - "I have a baseball."

Man - "That's nice."

Boy - "Want to buy it."

Man - "No, thanks."

Boy - "My dad's outside."

Man - "OK, how much?"

Boy - "$25.00"

In the next few weeks, it happens again that the boy and the lover are in the
closet together.

Boy - "Dark in here."

Man - "Yes, it is."

Boy - "I have a baseball mitt."

Man - "How much?"

Boy - "$75.00"

Man - "Fine."

A few days later, the father says to the boy, "Grab your glove.  Let's go
outside and toss the baseball for a while!"

The boy says, "I can't ... I sold them."

The father asks, "How much did you sell them for?"

Boy: "$100.00"

The father says, "That's terrible to overcharge your friends like that.  That's
way more than those two things cost.  I'm going to take you to church and make
you confess."

They go to church and the father makes the little boy sit in the confessional
booth and he closes the door.

The boy says, "Dark in here."

The priest says, "Don't start that shit again."
[ End Friday humour ]

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