Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

Unnecessary Truncation

September 19, 2013

We should consider every day lost

-Friedrich Nietzsche

You miss 100% of the shots

-Wayne Gretzky

People often say motivation doesn’t last.

-Zig Ziglar

I hated every minute

-Muhammad Ali

We can’t help everyone

-Ronald Reagan

We all have dreams, but…

-Jesse Owens

I don’t know the key to success

-Bill Cosby

I don’t know where I’m going

-Carl Sandburg

Your time is limited

-Steve Jobs

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed

-Mark Twain

… life is not worth living


You can never cross the ocean

-Christopher Columbus

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said

Maya Angelou

Fall seven times

-Japanese proverb

I would rather die

-Vincent Van Gogh

It does not matter


These quotes are culled from top Google hits, meaning many of them are probably false attributions, even in untruncated form.


January 30, 2012

Outrun a Tiger

Alice and Bob were walking in the woods when a snarling tiger jumped out in front of them.

Alice bent down and starting changing into running shoes.

“Why are you doing that?” asked Bob. “You can’t outrun a tiger.”

“I don’t have to out…” said Alice before the tiger sank its razor-sharp death teeth into the soft flesh around her jugular. It takes at least a minute to change shoes, and the tiger was only, oh, let’s say 20 meters away to begin with.

Then the tiger killed Bob, too. Not because it was hungry. Just because it lived for the moment when it saw the life go out of its victims’ eyes.

Moral: Tigers are nature’s perfect killing machine. By the time you see one, it’s already too late.

Looking For Keys

A drunk man was in the parking lot outside a bar, looking intently at the pavement under a streetlight. A woman came out of the bar, tottering back and forth some as she walked over to the man and asked, “Oh, did you lose your keys here?”

“I don’t know where I lost them. Probably over there by my car, I guess,” said the man.

“Then why are you looking under the streetlight?” asked the woman.

“Because there’s light here,” said the man.

The woman seemed to think this was ridiculous.

“Look,” said the man. “I suppose there’s about a five percent chance I lost my keys under this streetlight, but if I did lose them here, there’s a ninety percent chance I’ll find them. That makes four and a half percent chance that I’ll find my keys by looking here. On the other hand, there’s a thirty percent chance I lost them in a similarly-sized area around the vicinity of my car, but it’s so dark that even if they are there, there’s only a ten percent chance I’ll find them. If I search near my car I only have a three percent chance of success. Therefore I’m acting logically by looking under this streetlight, even though I don’t think this is where my keys are.”

“Oh, I um…” said the woman.

“Hey,” said the man. “Why don’t you just give me a ride? My place is only two miles away, and I would gladly pay you a fair price for your inconvenience. I can come back tomorrow and look some more when there’s light.”

“You’re weird,” said the woman. Then she shot pepper spray in the man’s eyes.

Moral: Everyone hates nerds.

Zen and the Teacup

A Westerner wanted to learn Zen, so he went to visit an old Zen master in a humble, secluded hut.

The Zen master, on hearing the man wanted to learn, invited his guest in for tea. The master filled the man’s cup all the way up, and the tea started pouring out over the brim and onto the table.

“Stop!” said the Westerner. “You’re overfilling it.”

The Zen master calmly replied, “Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

“This was a bad idea,” said the Westerner. “You’re crazy.” Then he went back home and tried to live his life as best as he could. He still had good times and bad times, but he was a little less likely to believe any given person had all the answers. Also, before he flew home he bought a samurai sword that looked really cool and authentic and stuff and once it even helped him get laid.

Moral: Just because you act super-calm while you’re doing something doesn’t make it wise.

Food for the brain

December 17, 2011

I’m not sure why, but someone on Quora wanted to know what you can learn from eating a book. So here you go:

If you eat a book, you might learn

  • whether you can stomach Chuck Palahniuk
  • how to Chew Your Own Adventure
  • that you need a cookbook cookbook
  • that you don’t have to finish a book just because you start it
  • that Finnegan’s Wake is indigestible
  • you’d rather rush to eat salmon than eat Salman Rushdie
  • that some things are worse than airline food
  • that “eat three squares a day” isn’t to be taken literally
  • that you can get away with murder by feigning insanity
  • what people mean when they say, “His words are coming out his ass!”

I was looking up “serendipity” in the dictionary when I unexpectedly discovered serenity.

December 14, 2011

The blog has been dormant recently. I’ve put more effort into and Quora. (You can see my profiles on those sites here: Phys.SE, Quora)

I figure I can cross-post content that I like, though. Here’s my answer on Quora to “What is serendipity?”

Serendipity is when

  • your alphabet soup spells out “Eat me.”
  • there’s a rock in your shoe, and it completes your collection.
  • you take a summer job herding sheep and wind up falling in love (consequences notwithstanding).
  • you buy an old used book, and the margin contains a proof of Fermat’s last theorem.
  • you take your dog to the park and there’s an Ultimate tournament going on.
  • you’re on a camping trip and it starts raining. A moment before, you had been thinking your oatmeal was too dry.
  • you decide to try to hold out a couple extra days before doing laundry, and then a dread virus triggers the zombie apocalypse.
  • you get in an accident with a truck carrying avocados, and you just bought a huge bag of tortilla chips
  • right before you get up for a bathroom break, the FedEx guy arrives. Your cheating ex sent you more flowers.
  • you write a tongue-in-cheek Quora answer just as a lark, and hundreds of people upvote it, and then some guy gives you a boat.

Thermal energy of a gas

November 11, 2010

If we have a gas with some heat, the atoms are all bouncing around and stuff. Their kinetic energy is

KE = 1/2 m v^2.

But momentum is given by mv = p, so we can rewrite the energy as

KE = 1/2 pv.

Everyone knows pv = nRT, so

KE = 1/2 nRT.

The kinetic energy of the motion of molecules is just the temperature of the gas!

(PS – this is a joke, but it actually gets the right answer for a 1-dimensional ideal gas. See wikipedia Thermal Energy)

Roll Call

November 6, 2010

I remember homeroom one day in high school during my junior year. My friend Howard was home with the flu that day.

Mr. Lotz was yelling out our names for attendence. “Stacy Walker?”


“Donald Young?”


“Howard Yu?”

Of course there was no answer.

“Howard Yu?”

There was finally starting to be a little agitation in his voice.

“Howard Yu?”

“Fine, thanks,” I said, “but Howard is home sick with the flu.”

Where Babies Come From, an essay

September 22, 2010

I can write essays really good because I went to school and there was the teacher and the teacher teached me how to write essays and you have to have a good title that says what you are going to write about and you need facts from like the encyclopedia and stuff but you can’t just copy it because that’s purgatory and it is pretty bad like you can go to jail and in jail they have something called “rape” and if my mom hears you say “rape” she will say it is a bad word and never to say it again and then she shivers and puts her hands over her face and runs away and won’t talk for a couple of days and stuff but if my dad hears you say “rape” nothing will happen because I don’t have a dad so I learned real good how to write essays and its like this special gift I have to write them and bring people joy so I wrote this essay for you to make your life a little happier.

You should begin your pair of graphs with a topic sentence. For example, you could start by saying, “You should begin your pair of graphs with a topic sentence.” Then you should talk about topic sentences. I can climb all the way up the big tree next to the monkey bars and yesterday I climbed all the way up there and the tree was shaking and it was trying to make me fall but I didn’t fall because I’m too good at climbing trees.

For example, you have to say “for example” and “according to” then cite your source and its credentials a lot in your essay. According to Mrs. Benny if you don’t say them five times then your essay is really bad and you will probably get a D which means you are dumb. One time, my friend got a D and then the next day his house burned down and his baby sister got eaten by a chimpanzee and he cut himself on a broken bottle and got AIDS from a bum and 103 people killed themselves in a cult in Wisconsin and a million people starved to death in Rwanda and also he stubbed his toe.

This is the next pair of graphs. According to Eric Schlosser, noted essayist and author of Fast Food Nation, I am almost done. There is one more thing I have to tell you. After that that will be it. Then I will be finished the essay. According to Jesus, the Son of God, this was a very good essay and deserves an A++++ 100% plus extra credit and a hand job.

Have You Ever Noticed a Panda Is Just A Fat, Slow Zebra?

September 16, 2010

At the end of the summer I took a crack at doing stand up comedy in front of an audience of the students at the camp where I’m a TA. There are a few jokes written for the occasion and a lot of one-liners culled from the last couple of years of me writing them down when I get one. There’s a weird moment where the video cut out and I filled in the missing audio later, but it comes back in a few seconds.

Flat Priors and Other Improbable Tales

September 8, 2010

Some collected and invented stories about erroneous thinking in probability.

A Visit

It’s night. You are coming downstairs for a glass of water. You hear a creaking sound and look around a corner to see a man in a ski mask opening your front door. “What are the odds?” you think. “Normally that guy would have set off my burglar alarm and been scared off by the loud wailing, but he happened to stop by for a visit just one minute after the power went out.”


You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!


About 100 billion people have ever lived, and there are about 7 billion people alive now. Therefore about 7% of people are extremely long-lived.


A man makes it through a long battery of physical and psychological tests and finally achieves his lifelong dream of joining the astronaut program. He immediately takes up heavy smoking. “What gives,” asks his friend. “I thought you were a health nut.”

“I am,” replies the man. “Anybody who smokes a lot will probably die of lung cancer.”

“Why would you want to die of lung cancer?” his friend asks.

“A shuttle explosion will kill you in two seconds,” he replies. “But now I’m gonna die of lung cancer, and that’ll take at least forty years.”

Hitchhiker’s Guide

It is known that there is an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the product of a deranged imagination.
-Douglas Adams

Foreign Lands

In a certain country, people always name their first child a name that starts with “A”, their second child a name that starts with “B”, etc. Families in this country are anywhere from one to ten children; equal numbers of families have each. It is a tradition in this country for each father to randomly select one of his children each day to accompany him on a walk.

When visiting this country, you meet a man out walking with his daughter, who he introduces as Evelyn. You now know the man has at least five children. If he had exactly five, your chances of meeting the one whose names starts with “E” are 1/5. If he had more, say eight, your chances of meeting the one whose name starts with “E” are 1/8. Therefore, you conclude that it is most likely that Evelyn is the oldest child. You realize there was nothing special about Evelyn, and conclude that any time you meet a man walking with his child in this country, he is most likely to be walking with the oldest one.


Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.


While rummaging around in his parents’ attic, Sean comes across an old love letter to his mother. It’s from Rodrigo Valenzuela, a man he never knew, to his mother. It refers to “nights of fevered frenzy and mornings of muted passion”, is signed, “a mi amor”, and asks when her husband will be away again. The letter is dated eight months before Sean’s birth date. He looks in the mirror, wondering why he didn’t inherit his parent’s fiery orange hair and why salsa music has always stirred his soul.

Sean looks up information on paternity tests, and finds that if you send in one sample of DNA as the suspected father and one as the suspected child, the test will report a probability, which represents the probability that a man with the “father” DNA would sire a child at least as genetically different from him as the “child” DNA. Thus, a low percentage, like 0.001%, means that a true child would have only small chance of being as different from the father as the “child” sample is. This is the result we expect if the child is not from the father. A high percentage, like 60%, means the “child” and “father” DNA are very close, and is what we expect if the man is the true father.

Secretly, Sean collects a sample of the DNA of the man he’s always called “dad” and one of his own and sends them in for testing. As a control, Sean also collects a sample from his own son, and a second sample from himself and sends this sample in as well. Finally, Sean hunts down Rodrigo Valenzuela using Facebook, “friends” him, studies his “likes” and “interests”, uses them to befriend Roderigo in real life, asks to borrow his car, and steals a hair from the headrest. He sends in a third sample of Rodrigo and himself for testing.

Two weeks later the test results come back. Sean isn’t shocked. The probability for him and his “dad” is a scant 0.00004%. The probability from Roderigo and himself is 7%. Finally, the result from his son is 74%. Sean realizes that there’s some natural variation in the test, but the evidence is still clear: Roderigo is his true father.

The next day the clinic and says there’s been a mix up. They accidentally switched the samples from Sean and his son, so the 74% was actually the result of testing Sean’s son in the “father” role and Sean in the “child”. Sean is understandably upset. He goes to bed that night thinking that although Roderigo may be his father, it’s ten times as likely that his own son will, in the course of his life, discover time travel and go back to impregnate Sean’s mother.

Flat Prior

On whether or not the Large Hadron Collider would create a black hole that would consume Earth:

John Oliver: So, roughly speaking, what are the chances that the world is going to be destroyed? Is it one in a million, one in a billion?

Walter Wagner: Well, the best we can say right now is about a one in two chance.

JO: Hold on a second. Is the, if, 50 – 50?

WW: Yeah, 50-50.
WW: It’s a chance. It’s a 50-50 chance.

JO: You keep coming back to this 50-50 thing. It’s weird, Walter.

WW: Well, if you have something that can happen and something that won’t necessarily happen. It’s either gonna happen or it’s gonna not happen. And, so it’s, the best guess is one in two.

JO: I’m not sure that’s how probability works, Walter.

from The Daily Show

Ode To The Stinkiest Palindrome

July 16, 2010

Story 1

A rope hangs over a pulley. On one side is a monkey. On the other is a bunch of bananas. The monkey and the bananas weigh exactly the same, the rope is massless and unstretchable, and the pulley turns frictionlessly. Does the monkey get the bananas?

Yes. The monkey pulls up on the rope, then poops, becoming lighter. The bananas sink and the monkey climbs up on top the pulley and then hauls the bananas up.

Story 2

Answer: Just before you die, you see a light at the end of a long tunnel. Coming out of the light is the silhouette of a distinguished older gentleman in formal attire. He’s a man who appears to know everything. “It’s your final moment here on Earth,” he tells you. “This is the last thing you’ll do here.”

“What is poop?” you reply.

“That’s right for eight hundred dollars,” says Trebek. “So long kiddo. See you in Double Jeopardy.”

Story 3

You go to the zoo and are standing at the chimpanzee cage. A wizened old matriarch looks right at you and she seems almost human. Suddenly you get pegged from the side by an object coming out of nowhere. The damn chimps threw it at you! What is it? You look down. It’s a rotten banana.

Gross! You go to the bathroom to wash up. You wash and wash, mesmerized by the soap bubbles and flakes of skin twirling down the sink drain. Just as you’re leaving, you feel something squish under the heel of your brand new shoes. What is it? You look down. It’s souvenir baby seal some kid dropped.

You pick it up and take it outside. You look everywhere, but you don’t see a kid who looks like they need a seal. You do see a beautiful woman, so you smile and give her the seal. She thanks you and asks if you want to grab a giraffe coffee at the safari cafe, which is a normal cafe except that everything you buy has an animal name and costs three times as much. You order a safari dead cow burger. One of the toppings looks funny. It’s like a light brownish smear. What is it? You sniff it, then cautiously take a lick. It’s tahini.

The beautiful woman really like you. She takes you back to her place and puts on some Coltrane. She grabs you to dance and swirls and swirls until you topple together, falling eternally until everything is red silk and dizzying kisses. You reach down and feel something soft and warm. What is it? You look down to investigate. It’s her puppy, crawling under the sheets.

You impregnated then married the beautiful woman. You’re standing in the waiting room, pacing. A doctor in a white gown comes out and says your last name, preceded by “mister”. You’re not used to being called that.
“What happened?” you ask.
The doctor looks tired, but happy after the grueling 174-hour delivery. “Your wife is fine,” he says.
“And the baby?”
He gives you a wan smile. “Congratulations,” he says. “It’s a healthy little poop.”
“Sorry, Freudian slip. It’s a healthy little girl.”