More highbrow science jokes

The July 5 Independent presents what it says are “the most highbrow jokes in the world.” There are 25 on the list and a few extras in the text. I doubt that most readers here will find many of them “highbrow,” though.

Here are the one I like the best, plus two I don’t understand. (But, like a proton, I’m positive the readers will explain those to me.) There seems to be a high concentration of physics jokes as compared, to, say, chemistry or physiology jokes.

An electron is driving down a motorway, and a policeman pulls him over. The policeman says: “Sir, do you realise you were travelling at 130km per hour?” The electron goes: “Oh great, now I’m lost.”

A Roman walks into a bar,  holds up two fingers, and says:  “Five beers, please.”

What do you call two crows on a branch? Attempted murder.

Did you hear about the man who got cooled to absolute zero? He’s 0K now.

This is my favorite:

A 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.

And these I don’t get:

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

A TCP packet walks into a bar, and says to the barman: “Hello, I’d like a beer.” The barman replies: “Hello, you’d like a beer?” “Yes,” replies the TCP packet, “I’d like a beer.”

h/t: Barry

197 Comments

  1. Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    The Mandelbrot one is fractal function gag.

    The TCP one is about the confirmation exchanges that happen when TCP packets are sent between network nodes.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      Ha ha you beat me to it!

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      Still don’t get it.
      Yes, TCP ‘acks’ data (not necessarily on a per packet basis, btw: it just acks the position in the byte stream), but then the ack isn’t acked again. They MAY be referring to the four-way handshake during session setup, but that STILL doesn’t make it a funny joke.

      • Jim
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Isn’t it to do with the sliding window protocol, where if the data is in doubt, it resends the entire packet?

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        I think this refers to the SYN/SYNACK/ACK connection protocol.

        • TheBlackCat
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

          I think the problem is that the packet repeats back the request again, so the request is repeated twice rather than three times. It would probably be better as:

          A TCP packet walks into a bar, and says to the barman: “Hello, I’d like a beer.” The barman replies: “Hello, you’d like a beer?”, then hands the packet a beer

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            and then the acknowledgement: the TCP packet says “beer received” or “Thanks”. 🙂

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

            In a TCP connection, the connecting host sends a SYN (SYNCHRONIZE) request. This is the customer saying “Hello, I’d like a beer”.

            Then the listening host responds with a repeat of the SYN request in a SYNACK packet. This is the bartender saying “Hello, you’d like a beer”.

            Then the original connecting host sends to the server an ACK packet. This is the customer saying “Yes”.

            Then the server sets up the data structures associated locally with completing the connection, in anticiipation of arriving DATA packets on that connection. This could be likened to handing the customer a beer, the connection, the thing the customer asked for. The beer isn’t really a part of the connection protocol, it is the subject refered to by the connection protocol, it is the result of the three packet exchange.

            • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

              You should try this in a standup routine at an open mike sometime.

              Killer stuff!

              😉

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

                Yes. Hilarious, eh? hehe.

                Funnier even than the one about my uncle the gynocologist playing golf with my cousin the proctologist. They only play two holes and then quit. When my urologist nephew joins them the play three. They could go further with an orthodontist, but they really want an ENT specialist to join them. They could nearly complete the front nine.

                Okay, that was bad, but I just made it up on the fly, so give me a bit of credit.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

                Yes, orifice jokes are always a good standby.

              • mordacious1
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

                That’s the best reason to become a Gastroenterologist, job security (there will always be openings).

  3. Steve Reilly
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    If Mandelbrot’s middle initial is “B.”, then his name becomes something like a fractal.

    • Steve Reilly
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Wow, that made no sense. I really should think about these things before I post!

      • TheBlackCat
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        It made sense to me, but I am probably not the best person to ask.

  4. Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    The Mandelbrot joke is brilliant! It’s because of his work on fractals, where the same pattern is repeated at different scales.

  5. Palindromemordnilap
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    The Mandelbrot set relies on recursion. So: X = (Benoit X Mandelbrot).

    • docbill1351
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Yeah, that recurred to me when I read the joke!

      • merilee
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        LOL (recursion joke)

      • AdamK
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Recurred to me too, only less so.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      X = (Benoit X Mandelbrot).

      The explanation in a nutshell!
      Congratulations.

  6. Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    These Mandelbrot explanations are pretty fractal, too!

  7. a_tr
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Mandelbrot – fractals – self-similarity

  8. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    A TCP packet walks into a bar, and says to the barman: “Hello, I’d like a beer.” The barman replies: “Hello, you’d like a beer?” “Yes,” replies the TCP packet, “I’d like a beer.”

    I got this one – it’s handshaking over a network where information is sent and repeated back to establish a connection.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      As opposed to UDP, which does not verify delivery.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Spot on (:

  9. kevinj
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The Mandelbrot one I think is due to the fact whenever you zoom down into a mandelbrot diagram you get the pattern repeating.

    TCP is when you start a session there is a three way handshake.
    SYN (from client)
    SYN-ACK (from server)
    ACK (from client)

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Three way handshake?
      Don’t you mean the three stages of one handshake?
      The client offers his hand -> the receiver takes the client’s hand in his -> they shake.

      • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Yes. “Three-way handshake” sounds like, well, a racy sort of handshake.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Or something that you thought would be racy but just ends up mundane.

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

          Perhaps a Masonic thing.

          • lisa
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

            Just be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

            • lisa
              Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

              And never ask a bunch of scientist to explain a joke…

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        The handshake metaphor isn’t very apt, because there is never a mutual action that meets in the middle. It is always a sequence of unilateral actions. It’s more like tapping each other on the shoulder, or lobbing objects at one another to get each other’s attention.

  10. Darth Dog
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Scott Adams did a Dilbert column a long time ago that used the same joke as the Mandelbrot joke but I think did it better. Dilbert says he is working on “The TTP Project”. When asked what TTP stands for, he says “The TTP Project”.

    • TheBlackCat
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      This is actually pretty common in software, it is called a “recursive acronym”.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursive_acronym

      Some examples:

      WINE: WINE Is Not an Emulator

      LAME: LAME Ain’t an MP3 Encoder

      There is also at least one doubly-recursive acronym:

      HURD: HIRD of Unix-Replacing Daemons
      HIRD: HURD of Interfaces Representing Depth

      • Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        The most famous one of course being GNU:
        “GNU Not Unix”

        • TheBlackCat
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          Agreed, but I wasn’t sure as many people would be familiar with Unix as they would with Emulators or MP3s.

          • Andrew
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

            Don’t forget PHP which stands for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor!

        • Coin
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          And of course BING – Bing Its Not Google

      • BillyJoe
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        For all you ever wanted to know about recursion and more, read Douglas Hofstadter’s “Escher, Godel, Bach: the Eternal Golden Braid”. He invented the term “recursive acronym”.

        • jeremyp
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:06 am | Permalink

          It’s “Gödel, Escher, Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid”

          It contains the following entry in its bibliography:

          “Gebstadter, Egbert B. Copper, Silver, Gold: an Indestructible Metallic Alloy. Perth: Acidic Books, 1979. A formidable hodge-podge, turgid and confused — yet remarkably similar to the present work. Professor Gebstadter’s Shandean digressions include some excellent examples of indirect self-reference. Of particular interest is a reference in its well-annotated bibliography to an isomorphic, but imaginary, book.”

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

            I’ve read Gebstadter.

            In the bibliography was mentioned a book I’ve been trying to find for years:

            Gelbfarben, Eberhard B., Kupfer, Silber, Geld: Eine nict zerstőrbare Metalverschmelzung. Koblenz: Auflősbare Bucher, 1799. Es besteht eine merkwurdige ahnlichkeit mit dem jetzt zu händem Buch.

  11. Diana MacPherson
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I liked the Roman one and I thought this one was funny too:

    How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb? A fish.

    • Woof
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      I thought that one ended with “… and one to fill the bathtub with brightly colored machine tools.” There was something about a giraffe as well.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        The answer I usually use is, “Three. One to fill the bathtub and the other to feed the giraffe.”

        Although this is one of those jokes where you can give anything as a punch line as long as it is suitably absurd.

        I heard a VERY old version of the Roman joke: “Romanus ambulabat in foro duos digitos habet, et dicit: ‘Quinque beers velit.'”

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

          Well, that made me obsessively geek out on the Latin.

          I like my Latin better: romanus ambulans in foro duos digitos ostendit et dicit, “vende quinque cervisiae!

          I put “romanum” in lower case or this could be translated as the Roman forum since in Latin you only capitalize proper nouns.

          I used a gerund (the imperfect past tense wasn’t right – people goof those up all the time). Also, it should be vende – the imperative not the third person present tense. I also preferred “ostendo” – “show” for the two fingers as “habet” is just “has”.

          What is funny is these are all similar, common Latin mistakes in Life of Brian that ends up getting the person writing lines and lines of the correct way to say “Romans go home!”. I used Romani ite domum to get bonus points on many an exam (my professors would give us bonus points on Classics exams for any correct phrase written in Latin or Greek.

          • Gabrielle Guichard
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

            “since in Latin you only capitalize proper nouns.” Are you sure there were 2 alphabets?

            • Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

              You mean two cases?

              /@

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

              Yeah what Ant said – do you mean upper and lower case? If so, yes I’m sure.

          • Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

            I regret not taking the opportunity to study Latin in the sixth form.

            /@

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

              I regret not studying lots of things too….it’s why I want a youthful immortality. You could learn so much and make good jokes with it too.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

              I’m also rethinking my Latin. I can’t decide if saying “sell” would have the implied “to me” or if you’d have to explicitly say it. If so, it would look like this: romanus ambulans in foro duos digitos ostendit et dicit, “vende mihi quinque cervisiae!”

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            There, now it’s perfection:

            romanus introiens in popinae duos digitos ostendit et dicit, “vende mihi quinque cervisiae!”

            • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

              cervicias; object not subject.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

                Yes! I think it was just a typo as I knew it was accusative and then I just kept copying and pasting without looking at since I was obsessing over the word, popina.

              • Filippo
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

                Were it ablative one could just peel it away.

      • Chris
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        The version that I know is as follows:

        Two: One to change the light bulb, one to hold the giraffe, and one to fill the bath with brightly coloured machine tools.

    • docbill1351
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      I suppose depending on how the Roman held up his hand the bartender could have replied, “Up yours, too!”

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Funny, that reminded me of the big Twitter discussion I had about the origin of “The Finger”. I had some Classics folks on it and apparently it does go back to the Roman period where that’s how they checked a hen for eggs so it was an obscene gesture even then. However, I don’t think the two finger one was used in the Roman period so you could still make the joke but it would be anachronistic. 😀

        • Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          This may be myth, but the two-finger gesture supposedly arose at the Battle of Agincourt. The English longbow archers were devastating the French, so the French king ordered that the two string-plucking fingers should be amputated from any captured archer. So the English archers got into the habit of proudly displaying to the foe that they still possessed the two relevant fingers.

          I’d have thought the French would simply have slaughtered any English archer they captured, but maybe not.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

            I think I heard something like that too. I wonder…..hmmmmmm

          • TheBlackCat
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

            Considering the importance of archers, it might have been an attempt at psychological warfare that backfired. That happens sometimes.

            Not saying it is true, just plausible.

        • BillyJoe
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          “I don’t think the two finger one was used in the Roman period”

          I surely hope not. |:

  12. Timothy Hughbanks
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Not being an IT guy, I didn’t get the TCP joke either. The “handshake” to which previous commenters are referring is more fully explained on the Wikipedia page on Transmission Control Protocal, It says,

    TCP is a reliable stream delivery service that guarantees that all bytes received will be identical with bytes sent and in the correct order. Since packet transfer over many networks is not reliable, a technique known as positive acknowledgment with retransmission is used to guarantee reliability of packet transfers. This fundamental technique requires the receiver to respond with an acknowledgment message as it receives the data.

    …which seems to be what in going on in the TCP beer order.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      See Diana McPherson post #8 for the short version (;

  13. GC1000
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    TCP is an error checking protocol (“Transmission Control Protocol”) browsers use when they connect to the web. So I guess it’s an “error checking” joke, I guess (although it seems more like a literal analogy than a joke to me).

    • jeremyp
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      No it’s not. It’s a protocol for delivering data across the Internet. It’s a connection oriented, reliable error checked protocol meaning that applications that use it don’t have to worry about whether the packets have all arrived and are in order.

      It’s the protocol that virtually all applications on the Internet use.

      The joke is talking about the handshaking sequence that TCP clients and servers use to set up a connection.

  14. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Here’s two of my own.

    A sociologist and a dermatologist meet at a nudist colony. The sociologist says to the dermatogist: “Have you read Marx?”

    The dermatologist replies: “Yes, I think they’re from the wicker chairs.”

    Descartes has been drinking in a bar. The bartender asks, “Have another?”
    Descartes says “I think not”. Then he disappears.

    • Mario
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      The sociologist vs. dermatologist joke is awesome!

      I am still baffled by the Cartesian joke, though.

      • Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        I think, therefore I am – NOT!

  15. gbjames
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Very funny. Especially the last two.

  16. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I liked the crow joke.

    • Bob Fry
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t understand the crow joke, can you explain?

      • mordacious1
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        A group of crows is called a “murder”…

  17. Owlglass
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Also see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursive_acronym

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      See replies to post #10 (;

  18. Jeremy Nel
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    The Euripides one made me giggle!

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      But it would make a classicist furious. (Bad joke, but shows off my pointless erudition)

      • BillyJoe
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        Would it help if the tailor was an Italian?

  19. TheBlackCat
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I don’t get the first or third one.

    Some of my favorites:

    If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the precipitate!

    Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?
    A: Pierre de Fermat: I just don’t have room here to give the full explanation.

    Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing as division.

    Man is the lowest-cost, 150-pound, nonlinear, all-purpose computer system which can be mass-produced by unskilled labor.
    -NASA in 1965

    Why are elves chaotic?
    Brownian motion…

    This is a one line proof… if we start sufficiently far to the left.

    When your statics problem becomes a dynamics problem, you’re in trouble

    He thought the formula for water was H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O

    A polar bear is a rectangular bear after a coordinate transform.

    CPU: Central Propulsion Unit. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny spinning wheel that’s powered by a running rodent — a gerbil if the machine is a 286 model, a ferret if it’s a 386, and a ferret on speed if it’s a 486.

    • Steve Reilly
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Absolute zero is zero Kelvin or “0K”. And since the electron knows its speed it’s position is (if I understand Heisenberg correctly) indeterminate.

      (Those are the ones you meant, right?)

      • TheBlackCat
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

        Oh, I get it now. Stupid, I should have gotten that one.

        I got the one about absolute zero, the one I don’t understand is the one about crows.

        • Steve Reilly
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

          A group of crows is called a “murder”. By the way, I don’t get the Brownian motion one. I know what Brownian motion is, but how do elves figure into it?

          • TheBlackCat
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:59 am | Permalink

            A “browny” is a type of fairy.

            • Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

              Huh. I thought it was a reference to Amy Brown.

              /@

              • TheBlackCat
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

                Highly unlikely.

                Browny (or Brownie) has been a well-known form of household spirit or fairy in England for centuries and is pretty common in English-language literature, particularly children’s literature. The Brownies, which is the name for junior Girl Scouts in English-speaking countries, are named after the creature.

                So just by numbers, chances are it is referring to a well-known mythical creature going back centuries rather than a single, apparently obscure, fairly recent artist.

              • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

                Well, since Brownian option is actually named after someone called Brown…

                As to Amy’s apparent obscurity, I guess that depends on your awareness of popular culture. 😉

                /@

              • TheBlackCat
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

                Considering Brownian motion is already named after someone named Brown, I am not sure the joke really works that way.

                As for relative obscurity, I think the respective sizes of their wikipedia entries might be helpful there.

          • TheBlackCat
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            Okay, I didn’t know that. So I never would have gotten it.

            • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

              “Murder” is a well-known collective noun for crows and is pretty common in English-language literature…

              😀

              /@

              • TheBlackCat
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

                Probably, but I wasn’t claiming it wasn’t about crows.

              • Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

                Nor was I saying I didn’t know what brownies are… but you decided to offer a patronising info dump anyway.

                /@

          • jwthomas
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

            In Celtic folk lore Elves, Brownies and Faeries are different, not interchangeable entities. I know you don’t care, but expertise in mythology is seriously underrepresented in these discussions.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

              expertise in mythology is seriously underrepresented in these discussions.

              I don’t know if it was intentional, but this seems very funny to me. It’s like putting the words “mythology” and “expertise” together makes my brain pop a circuit breaker. But I suppose a true expert would know how to settle a dispute about whether it’s brownies or fairies that like to sip dew drops at sunrise.

              • BillyJoe
                Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

                Fairies?
                Try faeries. |:

    • bonetired
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      The HIJKLMNO was a very famous Telegraph (London of course!) crossword clue

      More here …

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1532914/A-few-of-her-favourite-clues.html

      • Posted August 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

        @bonetired

        Thanks for the link.

        Ha! I coarsely thought the joke concerned the letter after HIJKLMNO.

  20. michaeljefisher
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    One day the great philosopher Socrates came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, “Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?”

    “Wait a moment,” Socrates replied. “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test. It’s called the Triple Filter Test.”

    “Triple filter?” asked the acquaintance.

    “That’s right,” Socrates continued. “Before you talk to me about my student let’s take a moment to filter what you’re going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?”

    “No,” the man said, “actually I just heard about it.”

    “All right,” said Socrates. “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not. Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?”

    “No, on the contrary…”

    “So,” Socrates continued, “you want to tell me something bad about him, even though you’re not certain it’s true?”

    The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued.”You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter — the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?”

    “No, not really…”

    “Well,” concluded Socrates, “if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?”

    The man was defeated and ashamed. This is the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

    It also explains why he never found out that Plato was shagging his wife

    • Sheila B
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Excellent…

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

      LOVE the punchline! 🙂

    • Filippo
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

      “The Triple Filter Test” reminds me of “The Four-Way Test” I saw years ago on the wall of my high school gymnasium:

      1. Is it the truth?

      2. Is it fair to all concerned?

      3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?

      4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

      Appears 2. and 3. are combined to form Socrates’s “Goodness.” I gather that “beneficial” is in the ballpark of “useful.”

  21. Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    These reminded me of this joke:

    A new zoo was finishing up its enclosures when it received a wildebeest. The wildebeest enclosure was completely unfit for occupancy, so they did the next best thing and put it in one of the more finished enclosures that only needed the wall tiles to installed. The next morning when they checked up on the wildebeest, they found to their surprised that the tiles had all been expertly installed. Amazed, the staff put the wildebeest into another, similar enclosure that just needed tiling to be finished. The next morning, once again, all the tiles had been installed. At the news conference the next day, after the head of the zoo explained what happened, one reporter asked, “Just what do you have here?” whereupon the head of the zoo replied, “It’s a typical gnu and tiler, too.”

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      Lol. I’ve not heard many jokes with punchlines that can be filed under “nineteenth century Presidential campaign slogans”.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 2:03 am | Permalink

        Obviously a US reference. I was about to ask, but decided to google “nineteenth century Presidential campaign slogans”, and surprising found in Wikipedia:

        Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too – 1840 U.S. presidential slogan of William Henry Harrison and his Vice President, John Tyler.

        Boy, is that one obscure reference for a joke.

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink

          Isn’t Google great?

          Yes, it’s an odd thing that this little slogan is very commonly taught in US public school history in connection with President William Henry Harison, who is most famous for dying after 6 months in office from a lung disease (I think either TB or pneumonia). It’s not very important in American history, and I think its catchy rhythm and alliteration are the only things responsible for it being so persistent and widely known.

          I think most Americans know the slogan, but most don’t really know anything about Tippecanoe, which was a battle between the US army and a confederacy of Native American tribes under the leader Tecumseh, who were fighting against the westward expansion of US settlers. They forced the Indians to retreat and Harrison declared victory and was regaled as a hero. But it was a kind of early version of Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” moment, it was premature. The Indians regrouped and fought on more fiercely.

          And here is a connection to British history, because Tecumseh’s warriors later allied with the British against the US in the War of 1812.

          Later, a famous Union General, William Tecumseh Sherman was named after him, as were some US naval vessels.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tecumseh

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

            A correction: Harrison died after only 30 days in office of pneumonia.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

            I had a motor mower named after him. Or at least, the motor was. Quite what Tecumseh’s influence was on internal combustion engine design I never found out.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

              Maybe they discovered oil on land that was stolen from his tribe…

  22. Steven Obrebski
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    The Fish answer to the surrealist joke appears in another series of
    jokes having to do with the question : Why did the chicken cross the road?
    I have cribbed a few answers from various sites. Google “ philosophers
    why the chicken crossed the road” to get a bunch of sites. They are also
    available in French and Spanish.

    Why did the chicken cross the road?
    Salvador Dali: The Fish.
    Ernest Hemingway: To die. In the rain.
    Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?
    Hamlet: That is not the question.
    Donne: It crosseth for thee.

    Kafka: Hardly the most urgent enquiry to make of a low-grade insurance clerk who woke up that morning as a hen.

    Thomas de Torquemada: Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I’ll find out.

    Karl Marx It was historically inevitable.

    Richard Dawkins: It had selfish genes.

    Daniel C. Dennett: We must take an intentional stance towards that chicken, even though its mind wasn’t reverse-engineered.

    Stephen Jay Gould: It is possible that there is a sociobiological explanation for it, but we have been deluged in recent years with sociobiological stories despite the fact that we have little direct evidence about the genetics of behaviour, and we do not know how to obtain it for the specific behaviours that figure most prominently in sociobiological speculation.

    Hippocrates: Because of an excess of phlegm in its pancreas.

    Thomas Hobbes: For self-preservation.

    • TheBlackCat
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Colonel Sanders: I missed one?

      • Steven Obrebski
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

        Julius Caesar: To come, to see, to conquer.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

          Julius Caesar and women: I saw, I conquered, I came.

          • Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:17 am | Permalink

            seminis jacta est (?)

            /@

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

              Semen is a Latin word so you could just leave it as is.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

            Well, Caesar was a lady’s man.

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Gould could write way better than that.

      • BillyJoe
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Yes, he did it to cover his mistakes.

    • Filippo
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      Third Grader, the chicken crossing the playground instead of the road: to get to the other slide.

      • Steven Obrebski
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        Charles Dickens : It was a far, far better
        road that she crossed than she had ever
        crossed before.

        Tmothy Leary : It was the only trip the
        authorities let it take.

  23. ruhua
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    “What does the “B” in Benoit B Mandelbrot stand for? Answer: Benoit B Mandelbrot”

    This joke plays on the concept of fractal, which contains its whole self within a part of itself. So that, if you zoom in/out on a fractal, you will see the same pattern repeated indefinitely.

    • TheBlackCat
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      Not necessarily. It would be a similar pattern, but not necessarily the same. The fractal Mandelbrot is most famous for, the Mandelbrot set, is not repeated exactly, for example. Others, like the Sierpinski triangle, arrowhead, and carpet are repeated exactly (once you get past the first iteration).

      • michaeljefisher
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        So it’s not repeated before the first iteration? 🙂

        • TheBlackCat
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Ha ha.

          No, I mean later iterations are not repetitions of the first iteration, only of iteration >=2. Iteration 1 is unique.

  24. Pliny the in Between
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    My friends threatened me after I showed them my worst science groaner (at least to date). Shows you why you should never associate with people in the neurosciences. It probably is something funny to fewer than 5 people.

    http://pictoraltheology.blogspot.com/2013/06/humor-obscura-10.html

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Ouch. That gave me a migraine.

      • Pliny the in between
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Then my work was not in vain 😉

  25. michaeljefisher
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Dean, to the evolutionary biology department:-

    “Why do I always have to give you guys so much money, for laboratories and expensive equipment and stuff. Why couldn’t you be like the maths department – all they need is money for pencils, paper and waste paper baskets. Or even better, like the philosophy department. All they need are pencils and paper.”

    • TheBlackCat
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Adding that to my joke file right now.

    • Faustus
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      It’s an even better joke if you replace philosophy with theology.

      • BillyJoe
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        The Theology department don’t need anything. It’s all in their heads.

      • Notagod
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Tell them they will get everything. If they complain it’s because their faith isn’t strong enough.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      What, no armchairs?

  26. TheBlackCat
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    This is my favorite joke of all (I modified it a bit):

    Why Engineers Don’t Write Recipe Books

    Chocolate Chip Cookies:
    Ingredients:

    1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
    2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3 
    3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite 
    4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride 
    5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11 
    6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11 
    7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde 
    8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein 
    9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao 
    10.  236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

    To a 2 liter jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/°F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2 liter reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous.

    To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

    Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460°K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until limited thermal oxidation of the disaccharides has occurred. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25°C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

    • kft
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      Honestly, I would expect engineers to give measurements in mass, rather than volume. Volume neglects packing efficiency for granular components and thermal expansion for everything, which is unacceptable. There’s no way you’ll meet the clients’ specifications with those uncertainties.

    • onkelbob
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t it work better with measures of mass (not weight, or in this case volume)? And yes, many of the European cookbooks I use have measurements in weight, with exceptions for the very small amounts, e.g., salt and baking soda.
      And cultured bovine milk fat makes a a better cookie.

      • TheBlackCat
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Possibly, but the point was to translate an existing, well-known recipe into engineering speak.

        Most cookbooks, in my experience, use volume because tools to measure volume are much easier to come by in the kitchen. Further, due to the weight and bulk of scales, it is much easier to have and store tools to measure a wide range of volumes with good precision than a wide range of masses, at least before the advent of digital scales (which were not common when I found this joke).

        • Gordon
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          I thought it was a US thing because of (?) the dominance of Fanny Craddock pushing standardised measures. Not that common elsewhere

  27. Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    The programmer joke is analogous to things that seem to happen every time I try to run a Python script I’ve written. You never know what you’ll end up with. Or maybe that’s just me.

  28. Jeff Johnson
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I loved #5. Once the electron’s speed is precisely determined, he’s totally lost!

    Here is a joke that has gone around on the Internet so may not be new to everyone, but I like it:

    Three logicians go into a bar. The bartender asks “Do you all three want a beer?”

    The first logician says “I don’t know”.
    The second logician also says “I don’t know”.
    The third one say “Yes.”

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Hmmm…that doesn’t quite work you know…because your premises are actually correct. |:

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        Doesn’t work? I saw this in a cartoon somewhere and I thought it was funny. But sometimes it seems my sense of humor is odd.

        I thought this was funny because when you see the third answer you see there is a logical reason for it, but the bartender might think it’s odd that the third one knows what everyone want. Anyway, maybe it’s too trivial to be funny.

        • BillyJoe
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps I’m overthinking this but…
          It’s a syllogism right?

          Premise 1
          Premise 2
          Conclusion.

          You don’t know your premises are true but, if you assume they are true, then the conclusion logically follows.

          In this example:
          The third logician assumes the other two want a drink (premise 1, and premise 2). He also wants a drink, therefore the conclusion is that they all want a drink. The first two logicians said “I don’t know” to allude to the fact that the third logician cannot actually know for certain that the first two want a drink, he can only assume it (after all, they all went to the bar, right?)

          As I said, maybe I’m overthinking this.

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

            The question is if all three want beer.

            The first logician says “I don’t know”. This means he wants beer, because If he did not want beer, his answer would be “no”. What he doesn’t know is what the next two want.

            Likewise the second would say “no” if he didn’t want a beer, so he must want a beer but doesn’t know what the third wants.

            The third can now infer that the first two must want beer, since neither of them said “no”. Since he wants beer, he can confidently answer the question “yes, all three want beer”, even though the others did not directly say they wanted it.

            • BillyJoe
              Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

              I did overthink it 😦

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 4, 2013 at 12:48 am | Permalink

              Oh yes of course. It only works because the barman said ‘Do you ALL THREE want a beer?’. I was completely baffled till I saw your explanation.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

            Here’s Ambrose Bierce’s definition of “Logic” from the Devil’s Dictionary. I love the image his syllogism example brings up – a ring of men with shovels, poised to strike:

            LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion—thus:

            Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.

            Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore—

            Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.

            This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:10 am | Permalink

              I love the Devil’s Dictionary.

              Obviously his major premise is full of invalid assumptions.

        • Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          It’s simpler than that.

          The first one wants a beer, but does not know whether the second or third one do.

          The second one also wants a beer, but does not know whether the third one does. However, he *does* know that the first one *does* want a beer, because otherwise he would have said “no”. (That conversation would have gone: “Do all you three want a beer?” — “I don’t, so no, we don’t *all* want a beer.”)

          By the time the third one is asked, he knows that if either of the first or second one did *not* want a beer, they would have answered “no”. The fact that they answered “I don’t know” must mean that they do. And as he also wants a beer, he now knows that yes, all of them want a beer, and so the answer is “Yes”.

          I’ve been waiting for months for an opportunity to explain that one.

          • Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            Sorry, now I see someone beat me to it.

            • Matt G
              Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

              Wait a minute – is the question does each want a beer (3 beers for 3 people), or all 3 want a beer (1 beer for 3 people)?

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a good one…

        http://xkcd.com/246/

  29. Faustus
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    My favorite mathematics joke is:
    Did you know that Banach–Tarski Banach–Tarski is an anagram of Banach–Tarski?

    One of Christopher Hitchens’s Vanity Fair articles has a couple of of great philosophy jokes:

    “Many and various are the New York tales that are told of professor Sidney Morgenbesser. During a conference of linguistic philosophers at Columbia University, he interrupted the pompous J. L. Austin, who was saying that while many double negatives express a positive—as in “not unattractive”—there is no example in English of a double positive expressing a negative. Morgenbesser’s interjection took the form of the two words “Yeah, yeah.” Or it could have been “Yeah, right.” On another occasion, he put his pipe in his mouth as he was ascending the subway steps. A policeman approached and told him that there was no smoking on the subway. Morgenbesser explained—pointed out might be a better term—that he was leaving the subway, not entering it, and had not yet lit up. The cop repeated his injunction. Morgenbesser reiterated his observation. After a few such exchanges, the cop saw he was beaten and fell back on the oldest standby of enfeebled authority: “If I let you do it, I’d have to let everyone do it.” To this the old philosopher replied, “Who do you think you are—Kant?” His last word was misconstrued, and the whole question of the categorical imperative had to be hashed out down at the precinct house. Morgenbesser walked.”
    ~ http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2004/02/hitchens200402

  30. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I got a real good laugh from the Mandelbrot joke – and another good one at the notion that the poster didn’t get it.

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Are you having a laugh at our host’s expense?

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Yes.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Well that’s not very nice. Did I laugh at your wrong Latin?

          • TheBlackCat
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

            I don’t know, did you?

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            If you didn’t, you should have. I used Google translate, ’cause my best dead languages are Germanic.

  31. Addie Pray
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    A chemist, and engineer, and a computer tech are in a car when it breaks down.
    “I know what to do,” says the chemist. “We need to heat the C8H18 by 12.3 degrees centigrade which will boil off excess h2o and we will be able to proceed.”
    “No,” says the engineer. “The steel has expanded by .03 microns causing an exponential increase in the frictional coefficient. We need to reduce the temperature via the Kohlberg process which will allow us to start the engine again.”
    The computer tech says “gee, I don’t know what the problem is. Lets turn off the engine, get out of the car, get back in, and try it again.”

    (Needless to say I’m not a chemist or an engineer and the above is unmitigated BS)

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Really? If I have a problem I always reboot first. Doesn’t always work, but it does on occasion. Am I just lucky?

      • Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

        Don’t forget also to close all the windows before you restart the car.

  32. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    A 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.

    He should have come home with 13 loaves.

    • BillyJoe
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Pauline Hanson impersonation:
      Please explain

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

        [Get one loaf of bread.]
        If [there are eggs] then [get a dozen loaves]

        If you interpret “get” as “pick up and buy”, then the two actions [get one] and [get a dozen] are performed seperately and in sequence, so their effects are additive, making thirteen loaves. This would be the most literal, computer-like, algorithmic interpretation of the instructions.

        • BillyJoe
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:35 am | Permalink

          Please write the program based on a literal interpretation of the instructions, I think you will find that you are in error.

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:42 am | Permalink

            internal class Basket : IEnumerable {
            List contents_ = new List();

            public void addItem(object item) {
            contents_.Add(item);
            }

            IEnumerator GetEnumerator() {
            return contents_.GetEnumerator();
            }
            }

            internal class Loaves {
            int count_ = 0;

            public Loaves(int count) {
            count_ = count;
            }

            int Count {
            get { return count_; }
            }
            }

            int Main(string[] args) {
            Basket basket = new Basket();

            basket.addItem(new Loaves(1));
            if (Inventory.HasEggs) {
            basket.addItem(new Loaves(12));
            }
            int totalLoaves = 0;
            foreach(object item in basket) {
            if (object is Loaves) {
            totalLoaves += ((Loaves)item).Count;
            }
            }
            if (totalLoaves == 13) {
            Console.Out.Writeln(“I’m right”);
            } else {
            Console.Out.Writeln(“You’re right”);
            }
            }

            This post is a variation on the joke: that someone would need to see a program like this one to understand the point. It’s a bit absurd.

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:45 am | Permalink

              The editor stripped out type qualifiers in angled brackets on the List class and the IEnumerable and IEnumerable interfaces.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

        His wife gave him two separate instructions:

        1. Buy a loaf of bread.
        2. If they have eggs, buy a dozen (eggs or loaves).

        If he comes home with a dozen eggs but no bread, that would certainly be wrong, because he’s ignored the first instruction. Similarly, if takes “dozen” to mean loaves and comes home with only 12 of them, that would be equally wrong, and for the same reason.

        • Sonja
          Posted August 4, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

          I pictured it this way, with a result of 12:

          public int GetLoavesQty(bool hasEggs)
          {
          int loaves = 1;
          if (hasEggs)
          {
          loaves = 12;
          }
          return loaves;
          }

          • BillyJoe
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 3:31 am | Permalink

            I’m with you Sonja.
            I’ve done some programming though it was a long time ago now, so I’m glad to get some support from someone else. 🙂

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:27 am | Permalink

            This is the obvious and rational interpretation, sort of.

            Obviously the wife wants a dozen eggs, but their is a literal way to interpret it as a dozen loaves.

            The joke is that computers react literally to their instructions, rather than using the kinds of disanbiguating inferences humans can use. So it’s “funny” to joke that programmers think like computers in a hyper literal way. I’m a programmer too.

            What you are doing is correctly explaining the original joke in the obvious way.

            The modified version, with thirteen loaves, doubles down on the joke because a plausible scenario is that first he gets one loaf, then checks the eggs. After all, that was her literal instruction. But there was never an instruction to actually put down the first loaf. You implicitly obliterate the first loaf with your “loaves = 12;” assignment statement. In real life, the first loaf is still in his hands or basket.

            You could change to:

            public int GetLoavesQty(bool hasEggs)
            {
            int loaves = 0;
            if (hasEggs){
            loaves += 12;
            } else {
            loaves += 1;
            }

            return loaves;
            }

            To represent a person checking the eggs before grabbing any loaves, and ending up with 12.

            public int GetLoavesQty(bool hasEggs)
            {
            int loaves = 1;
            if (hasEggs){
            loaves += 12;
            }

            return loaves;
            }

            To represent 13 loaves purchased.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:58 am | Permalink

              That is reminiscent of the website http://www.99-bottles-of-beer.net, which features the old song in every programming language known to man, from Ada through Brainfuck (yes there really is such!) to Z-shell. My favourite is the one in Perl by Andrew Savige, which looks like ASCII art but apparently actually works.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

              Any interpretation that involves a GetLoavesQty() function is, I claim, an unwarranted over-interpretation of the wife’s literal instructions. She did not, after all, preface her remarks by saying “Here is a procedure for deciding how many loaves to buy.” So wrapping the logic (however you construe it) in a planning function is unjustified from a literalist perspective.

              Her only instructions were action statements: (1) pick up one loaf, and then (2) conditionally get 12 of something. Each of them results in actual items in hand (as Jeff points out), not tentative plans in mind. So retroactively revising the plan for statement 1 based on the conditional in statement 2 cannot be correct, because statement 1 is not a plan to be carried out later; it’s an action that has already been executed.

              Which is way more analysis than this joke really warrants.

              • Sonja
                Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:22 am | Permalink

                “Which is way more analysis than this joke really warrants.”

                True, but I have to make one more point:

                Except the only way the programmer could have confused loaves with eggs is if he assumed the conditional was referring to the first instruction.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

                He needed to disambiguate the “dozen”, so he re-used the last noun to appear in a “get” or “pick up” instruction. That needn’t entail any change to the meaning of that previous instruction (which again has already been carried out).

                Think of it as an auto-complete that defaulted to “loaves” and was never explicitly overridden. That seems to me to be the best fit to what the wife actually said (as distinct from what any reasonable person would infer that she meant).

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      Simpler programmer (or logician?) joke.

      “Are you going into town today or tomorrow?”
      “Yes.”

      /@

  33. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Never trust an atom. They make up everything.

    Only about 5% of everything, as it turns out.

  34. phillupino
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    A termite walks into a bar and asks, “Is the bartender here?”

    • mordacious1
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      That one took me a while…

  35. phillupino
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    One day Kierkegaard was driving Hegel in downtown Copenhagen,when suddenly Hegel say,”Soren, I think we have a flat tire.” Kierkegaard replies, “don’t worry I have
    de-spar.”

    • phillupino
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

      sorry, it’s suppose to be de-spare

      • BillyJoe
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        …and tyre.

  36. phillupino
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    A couple of bumble bees were flying around New york when one of them says, “Man,I’m starving is there any place I can eat around here?” His friend said, “Go around the corner there’s a Bar Mitzvah going on.” So he buzzes over and chows down,then flies back to where his friend had been waiting. In the meantime a few more friends caught up with them. “Boy i’m stuffed.” Then he notices they were giving him strange looks. “What!?” “What is that on your head?” “A yamulke!” “A yamulke?” “Your not even Jewish!” They said. Then he said, “Well…I didn’t want them to think I was a WASP?”

  37. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    I liked two (in the Independent) that Jerry didn’t quote:

    “Is it solipsistic in here, or is it just me?”

    What does a dyslexic, agnostic, insomniac spend most of his time doing? Staying up all night wondering if there really is a dog.

  38. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Entirely OT, but the latest Non Sequitur is a good one:

    http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2013/08/04

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

      If it weren’t OT it wouldn’t be Non Sequitur.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

        Oh nice one! 🙂

  39. Lurker111
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    The version of the Uncertainty Principle joke that I heard went like this:

    Heisenberg & Schroedinger are out for a ride. Heisenberg is driving. A cop pulls them over and says to Heisenberg, “Do you know how fast you were going?”

    Heisenberg answers, “No, but I can tell you exactly where I was.”

    In some versions, the joke continues thus:

    The cop is put off and, thinking the occupants of the car have been smoking exotic materials, says, “I need to inspect your trunk.” Schroedinger begins to object, but the cop goes to the back, turns the handle and opens the trunk (it was a period car).

    The cop says, “Hey, you know you have a dead cat in here?”

    Schroedinger says, “Well, NOW I do!”

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      I like the version where, after hearing Heisenberg say no, et cetera, the cop tells him exactly how fast and earns the retort about being lost.

  40. marksolock
    Posted August 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  41. Mark
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I particularly like the Mandelbrot joke as it has ties to evolution for me. Being raised in a conservative environment, I’d believed the error that evolution couldn’t be true (or at least be the whole picture) because you just couldn’t get such a complex world without some sort of designer.

    When I first saw the Mandelbrot set, I was amazed at the infinite complexity that came from such a simple equation. With just a few lines of code, you can get something arguably more complex than the universe. I spent a bit of time exploring the images generated and found things that looked like forests or coral reefs. It was beautiful and the life-changing implication soon hit me. Evolution might be a parallel ‘equation’ from which the complex world could be generated without a designer.

    From there, I wanted to go back and actually learn about evolution. So I bought your book

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:45 am | Permalink

      I get a similar sense of wonder when I look at the Mandelbrot set. How just two short lines of code, repeated, can result in such incredible complexity and self-similarity. (It’s very easy to program, in fact the peripheral considerations of drawing the result on screen and zooming in etc dwarf the ‘business end’ in complexity). And the fact that you can keep zooming in apparently forever without getting to the end of it. Oh, and if you choose an arbitrary point and zoom far enough, chances are you’re looking at a bit of the set nobody’s ever looked at before and probably never will chance to again in the whole of human existence.

      It prompts me to all sorts of questions about what *is* it? Can it be said to ‘exist’? (Obviously, since we can draw pictures of it, and anyone with the exact same settings and coordinates will get an identical picture). Did it ‘exist’ before Mandelbrot discovered it? Presumably, though it had never been ‘created’ before. I guess this is related to the question of whether mathematical theorems ‘exist’ in any real sense.

  42. ampire
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Mandelbrot: a propos recursion jokes… type in “recursion” into google -> “Did you mean recursion?” 😀 hilarious

  43. E.A. Blair
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Erwin Schrödinger walks into his vet’s office and asks the doctor “How’s my cat?”

    The vet replies “Your cat is dead”

    Schrödinger replies, “Sorry I asked”

  44. Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    An Englishman, a Frenchman, a Spaniard and a German are walking down the street together. A juggler is performing on the street but there are so many people that the four men can’t see the juggler. So the juggler goes on top of a platform and asks: “Can you see me now?” The four men answer: “Yes.” “Oui.” “Si.” “Ja.”
    i don’t get it. if the 4 guys can’t see the juggler, they won’t ask him to get on the platform. the juggler wouldn’t have heard a request and wouldn’t say …can you see me now? because no one had said they couldn’t hear him before. the different language answers in my feeble explanation are just distractions.
    would love a funnier answer.


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