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May 31, 2005

America's Army: the game

America's Army: the gameHere's the official, online Army game sponsored by the United States Army. It's an extremely well done site.

Here's a Washington Post article that talks about how it helps the Army meet its recruiting goals.

Tip o' the hat to Ann Althouse.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:05 PM

Fish & chips

Our contributor - who has never heard a pun she didn't like - writes, "Of course, I love this kind of thing."

Lost on a rainy night, a nun stumbles across a monastery and requests shelter there. Fortunately, she's just in time for dinner and is treated to a fish and chips dinner.

After dinner, she goes into the kitchen to thank the cooks.

She is met by two of the brethren. "Hello," one of them says to her. "I'm Brother Michael and this is Brother Charles."

"I'm very pleased to meet you. I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful dinner. Those fish and chips were the best I've ever tasted. Out of curiosity, who cooked what?"

Brother Charles replied, "Well, I'm the fish friar."

She turns the other brother and says, "Then you must be..."

"That's right," says Brother Michael, "I'm the chip monk."

Posted by joke du jour at 07:03 PM

This has to be a goof

But since these forget-me-not panties apparently come from Japan, maybe it's not.

You gotta be kiddin'!protect her privates

Ever worry about your wife cheating?

Want to know where your daughter is late at night?

Need to know when your girlfriend's temperature is rising?

This amazing device will answer all of your questions! These panties can give you her location, and even her temperature and heart rate, and she will never even know it's there! Unlike the cumbersome and uncomfortable chastity belts of the past, these panties are 100% cotton, and use cutting-edge technology to help you protect what matters most.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

Comprehending engineers

"These are old, but still goood," writes our contributor. They've certainly been around a while, but since I haven't blogged 'em yet, here we go. (There are 10, total.)

Take One

Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes, looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Take whatever you want!'"

The other engineer nodded approvingly, "Good choice! I'm sure the clothes wouldn't have fit you."

Take Two

To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Take Three

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!"

The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!"

The pastor said, "Hey, here comes the greenskeeper. Let's have a word with him... Hey, George. Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?"

The greenskeeper replied, "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire, so we always let them play for free anytime."

The group was silent for a moment. The pastor said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."

The doctor said, "Good idea! And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them."

The engineer said, "What?! These guys can't play at night?"

Take Four

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his employer loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They'd tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail.

In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly accepted the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This where your problem is." The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again.

The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly. "One chalk mark: $1. Knowing where to put it: $49,999."

Take Five

What's the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers?

MEs build weapons. CEs build targets.

Take Six

The science graduate asks, "Why does it work?"

The engineering graduate asks, "How does it work?"

The accounting graduate asks, "How much will it cost?"

The liberal arts graduate asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Take Seven

Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designer of the human body. The first said, "It had to have been a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints!"

The second said, "No, no, it was an electrical engineer. Just look at the nervous system and the many thousands of electrical connections."

The last said, "Actually, it had to be a civil engineer. Who else would run waste pipes through a recreational area?"

Take Eight

Most people believe: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Engineers believe: "If it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet."

Take Nine

An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with one's wife or one's mistress. The architect said he enjoyed spending time with his wife, building a solid foundation for their enduring relationship.

The artist said he enjoyed spending time with his mistress because of the passion and mystery he found there.

The engineer said, "Actually, I like both equally well."


"Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman. Then you can go to the lab and get some work done."

Take Ten

An engineer was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent down, picked up the frog and put it into his pocket.

The frog spoke up again, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I'll stay with you for one week."

The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket.

The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and I'll do anything you want."

Again the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.

Finally, the frog asked, "What's the matter?! I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you for a week and that I'll do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"

The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend... But a talking frog? Now that's cool!"

Posted by joke du jour at 07:01 PM

Wounded Warriors Project

Via the Chicago Boyz, I learned about the Wounded Warriors Project. Had I known, I'd have posted this last Friday to accompany the Remember Them post. But better late than never:

The "Wounded Warrior" project seeks to assist those men and women of our armed forces who have been severely injured during the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Many of the injuries are traumatic amputations, gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries that will retire these brave warriors from military service. These wounded soldiers will return to civilian life minus one or more limbs, or with serious wounds or disfiguring scars, and will face greater challenges today obtaining assistance and finding opportunities that would enable them to provide for themselves and their families.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

May 27, 2005

Remember them

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt Col John McCrae, MD, Canadian Army (1872-1918)

Posted by joke du jour at 08:15 PM

Riddle me this

A printable crossword with riddles for clues.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:12 PM

Coming home

An elderly man phoned his son in Chicago. "Look," he told his son, "I hate to ruin your day but your mother and I are getting divorced. I've had it and I'm leaving! And I don't want to talk about it anymore - so you call your sister and tell her."

The son called his sister in Denver and gave her the news. When she heard about it, she went ballistic. She promptly called her father and told him, "You and Mom are not getting a divorce! Bob and I are both flying in tomorrow. Don't do anything until we get there!"

When the daughter hung up, the man turned to his wife and said, "It worked! The kids are both coming to visit - and they're paying their own way!"

Posted by joke du jour at 08:10 PM

Weekend reading 5

1. Very spooky. Steven den Beste reports on these odd events.

Anime News Network Reader Murdered (2005-05-21 23:12:07)

ANN would like to offer our sincerest sympathies to the family and friends of of Simon Sek Man Ng (19) and his sister, who were murdered in their home on May 12th. Simon wrote regularly in his online blog about studying Japanese, which he became interested in through anime. His final blog entry helped police arrest his assailant.

2. An imaginary "scandal" - an article in The New Criterion by Theodore Dalrymple. This one is both amusing and thought-provoking.

3. Stop the Masochistic Insanity. Christopher Hitchens nails it once again:

The violent response to the report of "Quranic abuse" isn't about faith, it's about intolerance.
Is that a great title, or what? In the same way that Dave Barry's always saying, "<strange phrase> would be a great name for a rock band," I'll say Stop the Masochistic Insanity would be a great name for a blog.

4. Mindles H. Dreck writes about a market research report at Asymmetric Information. It's not as off-the-wall as it sounds.

In this post, responding to harrumphing about humour in a bond research report, I mentioned a street research report about achieving happiness. Here it is.

5. The end of the European Union? The Dutch and French vote in referenda on joining the European Union in the coming week.

Whatever the French and Dutch decide in their referenda on the European constitution, the European federal project is dying, says Gwyn Prins.

For the first time, fear really stalks the Rue de la Loi in Brussels, headquarters of the European Commission. It is visceral. We know this because of the increasingly hysterical register of the messages in which the commissioners are sending French and Dutch voters preparing (in their referenda on 29 May and 1 June respectively) to vote down the treaty establishing a federal constitution. If you do so, the European Union nomenklatura is saying, you will bring to Europe economic disaster, a return to internecine war or (most tastelessly and least forgivably) another Holocaust. It is ridiculous hyperbole and therefore all the more demanding of explanation. How did it come to this?

6. And in case you're wondering about a "housing bubble", Angry Bear writes that it's due to speculation. But...

Housing "bubbles" typically do not "pop", rather prices deflate slowly in real terms, over several years. Historically real estate prices display strong persistence and are sticky downward. Sellers tend to want a price close to recent sales in their neighborhood, and buyers, sensing prices are declining, will wait for even lower prices.

This means real estate markets do not clear immediately, and what we usually observe is a drop in transaction volumes. That is my expectation for this year: stable prices (maybe declining slightly on the coasts) and declining volumes. Stable or lower prices will halt speculation and increase the supply. And if rates rise further, or lenders become more discerning, demand will also decrease. Either spells bust for the current bubble.

Tip o' the hat to Jane Galt.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:05 PM


Neat service, says CodeWritinFool.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 26, 2005

What does Grandma know?

Little Tony was staying with his grandmother for a few days. He'd been playing outside with the other kids for a while when he came into the house and asked her, "Grandma, what is that called when people are sleeping on top of each other?"

She was a little taken aback by the question, but decided to tell him the truth. "It's called sexual intercourse, dear."

Little Tony just said, "Oh, OK" and went back outside to play with the other kids.

A few minutes later he came back in and said angrily, "Grandma, it's not called sexual intercourse! It's called bunk beds!"

Posted by joke du jour at 06:50 PM

Greeting cards for men

This is so bad:

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Posted by joke du jour at 06:35 PM

There's Spam...

and then there's this, which arrived in the Inbox this week. It reminds me of the prayers to the Virgin Mary published in the ads section of the local news. Just what we need: Prayer Spam.

Call out Gouranga be happy!!!
Gouranga Gouranga Gouranga ....
That which brings the highest happiness!!

What does Google find? This, this, this and this for starters.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:30 PM

Early memories

No one believes me, but I swear I have the best memory in history.

My earliest memory is of going to a wild party with my father and coming home with my mother.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:20 PM

May 25, 2005

Lip prints

A number of high school girls had begun pressing their lips to the mirrors in the bathroom after putting on their lipstick. This left dozens of little lip prints and every night the maintenance man would remove them. Then the next day, the girls would put them back.

So the principal called the girls to the washroom and then met them there with the maintenance man. She asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was needed to clean the mirrors. The maintenance guy pulled out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it into the nearest toilet and cleaned a mirror with it.

After that meeting, there weren't any more lip prints on the mirrors.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:10 PM

Die, Spammer, die!

Here's a great sentiment! Click to visit the CafePress store that sells these and get the version for your state.

Spammer License

Probably absolutely worthless for doing anything about Spam, but it looks like it would feel good despite that.

The usual CafePress drill: shirts, caps, mugs, mouse pads, et cetera also available.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:09 PM

They do know squat

An article from the Washington Post:

They Do Know Squat About Art
At Auction, Bidders Are Not Moved by Tom Friedman's Feces on a Cube

By David Segal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 19, 2005; Page C01

NEW YORK -- It's little more than a scribble, a quick slash of ink on a 12-by-18-inch piece of plain white paper. If you saw it at the office, you might ball it up and toss it into the trash, or fold it into an airplane and fling it down the hall. It is unlikely you'd do what Christie's auction house did last week: try to sell it for $20,000.

That was the low end of the estimated price for this "ink on paper," as it was dryly described in the Christie's catalogue, by an artist living in Massachusetts named Tom Friedman. It was on display last week during the preview for the house's annual spring auction, where potential buyers and interested gawkers get a chance to sniff over the merchandise before it hits the block. Even in the often mystifying alternative universe of contemporary art -- where you occasionally can't suppress philistine thoughts of the Wait, I could have done that variety -- this piece stood out.

There it was, amid the Warhols and Basquiats, not more than 100 feet from an Edward Hopper, hanging with the titans. "Starting an old dry pen on a piece of paper," explained the Christie's catalogue. Which is to say, this thing is exactly what it looks like.

And 20 grand seemed reasonable compared with another Friedman piece being sold at the same auction. This one, also untitled, is a two-foot white cube with a barely visible black speck set right in the middle of the top surface. Would you like to guess what that black speck is? You're advised to think outside the box.

To again quote Christie's, it is ".5mm of the artist's feces."

Posted by joke du jour at 07:08 PM

The little helper

Here's a truly heartwarming story about the bond formed between a little five-year-old girl and some construction workers. It makes you believe that we can make a difference when we give a child the gift of our time.

A young family moved into a house next door to a vacant lot. One day a construction crew turned up to start building a house on the empty lot. The family's five-year-old daughter naturally took an interest in all the activity going on next door and spent much of each day watching the workers.

Soon the construction crew, all gems-in-the-rough, more or less adopted her as a kind of project mascot. They chatted with her, let her sit with them while they had coffee and lunch breaks, and gave her little jobs to do here and there to make her feel important.

At the end of one week they even presented her with a pay envelope containing a couple of dollars. The little girl took this home to her mother who said all the appropriate words of admiration. Then her mom suggested that they take the two dollar pay she'd received to the bank to start a savings account.

When they got to the bank, the teller was equally impressed and asked the little girl how she got a pay check at such a young age. The little girl proudly replied, "I worked last week with the men building the house next door to us."

"My goodness," said the teller. "So will you be working on the house again this week, too?"

The little girl replied, "I will if those morons at Home Depot can deliver the freakin' sheet rock."

Posted by joke du jour at 07:07 PM

May 24, 2005

Maggie needs a hand

RainForest.jpgMaggie Eisenberger is a teacher with a passion for the rainforests in Central and South America.

She's raising money for a rain forest conservation group named Save The Rainforest by selling the wristband shown here. If I recall correctly, she's asking for a $2.00 donation per band.

If you belong to an organization with similar goals, she has a lower rate for buying batches of them.

If this is your cup o' tea and you want to give Maggie a hand, drop her a line: meisenberger (at) chesterfielddayschool (dot) org. I'm sure she'll be glad to hear from you.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:40 PM

Nerd joke

My son told me this one today.

There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:38 PM

How to fold a shirt

Anyone understand Japanese?

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Posted by joke du jour at 07:36 PM

Blast from the past I

Our contributor (the VMS mail fan) writes:

I found the joke log from 1988 on and thought you might want a copy. Here are some excerpts. The log is attached.

Herewith, one of his excerpts, which first appeared via VMS mail on 19-Dec-88. This will likely be the first of many...

Not long ago, a young man had the urge to streak through a college campus. So donning only his white sneakers and a face mask - and nothing else - he proceeded to streak the campus in the middle of the afternoon.

He happened to run past three women who were talking.

The first woman remarked, "I sure hope that isn't my boyfriend."

The second woman responded, "Well, I know for sure that isn't my boyfriend."

The third woman exclaimed, "Why, that guy doesn't even go to this school!"

Posted by joke du jour at 07:34 PM

May 23, 2005

75 degrees South

...is a weblog kept by Simon Coggins at Halley Station in the Antarctic. This image of the Southern Lights comes from one of his galleries of photos.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:24 PM

Finishing school

There were two fine Southern ladies sitting on the verandah one afternoon, sipping mint juleps. One of them was telling t'other about all the fine things her vehry wealthy husband had given her. She said, "Now, fo' our fust weddin' anniversary, hubbie and I went on a Caribbean cruise!"

And the second lady smiled and said "Why, how nice!"

"And fo 'our second anniversary, he gave me this here diamond bracelet!"

The second lady smiled and said "Why, how nice!"

"And then fo' our third anniversary, he gave me these pearl earrin's set in 24 carat gold!"

The second lady smiled and said "Why, how nice!"

"Now, my deah, you mus' tell me. What does your husband give you?" asked the first lady.

"Well, when we were married, my husband sent me to finishin' school."

"Finishin' school? Why, my deah, what evuh did you learn there?"

"Why, we learned how to say 'Why, how nice!' instead of 'Screw you, bitch!'"

Posted by joke du jour at 08:22 PM


I don't know the source of this. Click for a larger image.

As regular readers know, this isn't my view of SS reform (nor Pablo Serra's). But, to give the Devil his due, I can see how this is amusing.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:20 PM

Playing the red tees

Dave had a week off and decided to play golf every day. Monday morning, he found himself paired with an attractive woman who turned out to be a very good golfer. They started with a few casual bets but by the back nine it had become a full-blown competition.

On the 18th green, Pat sank her long birdie putt for the win. Dave congratulated her and paid off his losses. Pat asked for a ride home and, on the way, told him, "You know, Dave, I haven't enjoyed myself so much on the golf course in a long time. In fact, pull over so I can express my appreciation." He did. They kissed. One thing led to another and soon she gave him the best oral sex ever.

The next morning, they met again on the first tee and played together. They had another magnificent day, enjoying each other's company and playing tight, competitive golf. Again Pat beat him, but she also showed her appreciation on the drive home.

This went on all week, with Dave narrowly losing every day. His male ego was a little bruised, but he wasn't unhappy.

On Friday's drive home, Dave said, "Pat, you've been great to be with all this week and tonight I'd like to return the favor. I made reservations at the best restaurant in town for us and reserved the penthouse suite at the best hotel. What do you say?"

Pat burst into tears. "I can't!"

"What! Why not?" asked Dave.

"Because," she sobbed, "I'm in the middle of a sex change and the doctor hasn't completed that part of me yet!"

"What?!" Aghast, Dave swerved off the road, screeched to a stop and cursed madly, overcome with emotion.

"I'm so sorry," she says. "You have a right to be angry with me."

"You bastard!" Dave screamed, his face bright red."You cheating bastard! All week long you've been playing off the red tees!"

Posted by joke du jour at 08:18 PM

May 20, 2005


A curious blog made up of images of post cards people have sent in. The post cards describe their secrets, which range from the comic to the tragic. Here's an example of the first type (click for a larger image).

Posted by joke du jour at 10:03 PM

Weekend reading 4

It's been a busy week in Lake Wobegon...

1. The Amazing Rise of the Do-It-Yourself Economy is a (free!) article in Fortune.

2. Can 450 economists be wrong? The Cato Institute issued a press release May 11th listing 450 economists who are calling for SS privatization; the list includes 4 Nobel laureates. The folks at Social Security Choice want to know why this is being ignored by the main stream media:

Would it be newsworthy if 450 climatologists signed a joint petition saying that the ozone layer was being depleted? Or, to stay on point, would it be newsworthy if 450 economists jointly agreed that President Bush was WRONG to endorse personal accounts?

3. Hypocrisy Most Holy is the title of a column by Ali Al-Ahmed at OpinionJournal.com. (I think it's available to anyone but if not, use the Continue reading link below.)

The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries--especially the U.S.--provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses.

The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

4. Are the Saudis armed to self-destruct? Daniel Pipes reviews a soon-to-be-released book by Gerald Posner titled Secrets of the Kingdom. I haven't read the book (obviously) but Pipes' review certainly provides food for thought.

5. A price worth paying? is the question the Economist asks about Sarbanes-Oxley.

The cost of all this is steep. According to one study that has attracted a lot of attention, the net private cost amounts to $1.4 trillion. This astonishing figure comes from a paper by Ivy Xiying Zhang of the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Rochester. It is an econometric estimate of “the loss in total market value around the most significant legislative events�—ie, the costs minus the benefits as perceived by the stockmarket as the new rules were enacted. In principle, this ought to reflect all the anticipated costs and benefits, direct and indirect, that impinge on company values. If this number were true, SOX would have to prevent an awful lot of unforeseen losses due to fraud before it could be judged a good buy.

6. And speaking of corporate finance: "The penions crash is here", says George Will.

Hypocrisy Most Holy
Muslims should show some respect to others' religions.

Friday, May 20, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

With the revelation that a copy of the Quran may have been desecrated by U.S. military personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Muslims and their governments--including that of Saudi Arabia--reacted angrily. This anger would have been understandable if the U.S. government's adopted policy was to desecrate our Quran. But even before the Newsweek report was discredited, that was never part of the allegations.

As a Muslim, I am able to purchase copies of the Quran in any bookstore in any American city, and study its contents in countless American universities. American museums spend millions to exhibit and celebrate Muslim arts and heritage. On the other hand, my Christian and other non-Muslim brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia--where I come from--are not even allowed to own a copy of their holy books. Indeed, the Saudi government desecrates and burns Bibles that its security forces confiscate at immigration points into the kingdom or during raids on Christian expatriates worshiping privately.

Soon after Newsweek published an account, later retracted, of an American soldier flushing a copy of the Quran down the toilet, the Saudi government voiced its strenuous disapproval. More specifically, the Saudi Embassy in Washington expressed "great concern" and urged the U.S. to "conduct a quick investigation."
Although considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times, the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia. This would seem curious to most people because of the fact that to most Muslims, the Bible is a holy book. But when it comes to Saudi Arabia we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners who constitute the Wahhabi Sect.

The Bible in Saudi Arabia may get a person killed, arrested, or deported. In September 1993, Sadeq Mallallah, 23, was beheaded in Qateef on a charge of apostasy for owning a Bible. The State Department's annual human rights reports detail the arrest and deportation of many Christian worshipers every year. Just days before Crown Prince Abdullah met President Bush last month, two Christian gatherings were stormed in Riyadh. Bibles and crosses were confiscated, and will be incinerated. (The Saudi government does not even spare the Quran from desecration. On Oct. 14, 2004, dozens of Saudi men and women carried copies of the Quran as they protested in support of reformers in the capital, Riyadh. Although they carried the Qurans in part to protect themselves from assault by police, they were charged by hundreds of riot police, who stepped on the books with their shoes, according to one of the protesters.)

As Muslims, we have not been as generous as our Christian and Jewish counterparts in respecting others' holy books and religious symbols. Saudi Arabia bans the importation or the display of crosses, Stars of David or any other religious symbols not approved by the Wahhabi establishment. TV programs that show Christian clergymen, crosses or Stars of David are censored.

The desecration of religious texts and symbols and intolerance of varying religious viewpoints and beliefs have been issues of some controversy inside Saudi Arabia. Ruled by a Wahhabi theocracy, the ruling elite of Saudi Arabia have made it difficult for Christians, Jews, Hindus and others, as well as dissenting sects of Islam, to visibly coexist inside the kingdom.

Another way in which religious and cultural issues are becoming more divisive is the Saudi treatment of Americans who are living in that country: Around 30,000 live and work in various parts of Saudi Arabia. These people are not allowed to celebrate their religious or even secular holidays. These include Christmas and Easter, but also Thanksgiving. All other Gulf states allow non-Islamic holidays to be celebrated.

The Saudi Embassy and other Saudi organizations in Washington have distributed hundreds of thousands of Qurans and many more Muslim books, some that have libeled Christians, Jews and others as pigs and monkeys. In Saudi school curricula, Jews and Christians are considered deviants and eternal enemies. By contrast, Muslim communities in the West are the first to admit that Western countries--especially the U.S.--provide Muslims the strongest freedoms and protections that allow Islam to thrive in the West. Meanwhile Christianity and Judaism, both indigenous to the Middle East, are maligned through systematic hostility by Middle Eastern governments and their religious apparatuses.
The lesson here is simple: If Muslims wish other religions to respect their beliefs and their Holy book, they should lead by example.

Mr. al-Ahmed is director of the Saudi Institute in Washington.

Posted by joke du jour at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

Office Olympics

A collection of three clips.

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Posted by joke du jour at 10:01 PM

Flash geography quiz

This Flash applet tests you on the locations of the 50 united states.

It's pretty well done, but it's extremely finicky. When you have to drag-n-drop the first state into the middle of a blank continent, it penalizes you if you don't locate it exactly. (Sheesh!)

Posted by joke du jour at 10:00 PM

May 19, 2005

Interesting site

says our contributor.


Abandoned-places.com is a mostly-Flash site featuring a collection of photos and travelogue about locations that are mostly in Europe.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM

New definition for 'Talking Head'

from the Detroit Free Press:

Joke-telling genitals don't get free-speech protection

Judges reject cable TV show host's free-speech defense

May 12, 2005


A penis that tells jokes on late night public access television may be expressive of something. But it is not the kind of free expression protected by the First Amendment, the Michigan Court of Appeals has decided, confirming the indecent exposure conviction of the show's producer and host.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

Do I feel lucky?

You are a South African bush pilot. You flew in some critical medical supplies and had a quick lunch at the hospital. Now it's a stifling 100 degrees in the shade and you're eager to get back up to the cool, high blue yonder.

On the way back to your plane, you discover that the only bit of shade within 10 miles has become very popular. You start calculating the distance to the plane door and wondering...

Posted by joke du jour at 06:08 PM

A bird-brained answer

A contestant on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" had reached the final $1,000,000 querstion. If she answered incorrectly, she would pocket only the $32,000 milestone money.

And as she feared, the million dollar question was no pushover. It was: "Which of the following species of birds does not build its own nest but instead lays its eggs in the nests of other birds? Is it (a) the condor (b) the buzzard (c) the cuckoo or (d) the vulture?"

The woman was on the spot; she didn't know the answer. And she was doubly on the spot because she had already used her 50/50 lifeline and her Audience Poll lifeline. All that remained was her Phone-a-Friend lifeline. And the woman had hoped against hope that she would not have to use it because the only friend that she knew would be home happened to be a blonde. But she had no alternative, so she called her friend and gave her the question with the four choices. The friend responded unhesitatingly, "That's easy. The answer is 'C', the cuckoo."

The contestant had to make a decision and make it fast. She considered employing a reverse strategy and giving Regis any answer except the one that her friend had given her. And considering that her friend, that would seem the logical thing to do. On the other hand, her friend had responded with such confidence, such certitude, that the contestant could not help but be persuaded. "I need an answer," said Regis. Crossing her fingers, the contestant said, "C - the cuckoo."

"Is that your final answer?" asked Regis.

"Yes, that's my final answer." Two minutes later, Regis said, "The answer is... absolutely correct. You are now a millionaire!"

A few days later, the contestant hosted a party for her family and friends, including the friend who helped her win the million dollars.

"Jenny, I don't know how to thank you," said the contestant. "Because you knew the answer to that final question, I'm a millionaire now. And do you want to know something? It was the certainty with which you answered the question that convinced me to go with your choice. By the way, how did you know the right answer?"

"Oh come on..." said the blonde. "Everybody knows that cuckoos don't build nests! They live in clocks."

Posted by joke du jour at 06:06 PM

May 18, 2005

Don't count on it

A policeman stopped a motorist who was speeding. "Officer, I can explain..." the man started to say.

"Just be quiet," snapped the officer. "I'm going to let your cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back." And the officer cut short all of the man's attempts to explain as he took him to jail.

Later the officer looked in on the man and said, "Lucky for you that the chief's at his daughter's wedding. He'll be in a good mood when he gets back."

"Don't count on it," said the man. "I'm the groom."

Posted by joke du jour at 06:20 PM

Pimp my ride

[MPG format. Save.]

Posted by joke du jour at 06:16 PM

Ghosts in the machine

From the Weekend Australian:

DOES the rattling of chains keep you awake at night? Do the wraiths of long-dead relatives join you for family gatherings? If so, a Japanese gadget company has designed the very thing for you: the world's first portable ghost radar.

The pocket-sized device promises to alert its owner to the presence of eight different types of spectre, from "lost souls" to "evil spirits".

Posted by joke du jour at 06:10 PM

How big was it?

from Neal Boortz' Redneck Scrap Book.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:06 PM

May 17, 2005

Black sheep

An astronomer, an engineer, and a mathematician were riding on a train from London to Scotland when they spotted a black sheep atop a hill near the tracks.

"Aha!" said the astronomer. "Now we know that the sheep in Scotland are black!"

"Nonsense," said the engineer. "We only know that at least one sheep in Scotland is black."

"Ridiculous," said the mathematician. "All we can really say is that at least one half of one sheep in Scotland is black."

Tip o' the hat to Michael Williams.

Posted by joke du jour at 05:33 PM

Your whiz is our biz

Wiz_Man.gifI had never heard of The Whizzinator, which its makers claim is "UNDETECTABLE! FOOLPROOF! RE-USABLE!"

But Congress is ready to send a subpoena to the company that makes it. According to Yahoo News:

"Lawmakers objected to attempts to circumvent drug tests with products such as The Whizzinator, a fake penis that can provide a flow of clean urine 'again and again, anytime, anywhere you need it!' according to the Web site www.whizzinator.com."

The Whizzinator comes in a variety of colors. And to complete its offering, Puck Technology also sells dehydrated urine. (Yeef! Where do they get that?)

Tip o' the hat to Clayton Cramer.

Posted by joke du jour at 05:31 PM

Eat Your History

The You Can Find Anything On The Web department is rapidly evolving into the You Can Find a Blog For Anything deparment.

And to illustrate the point, here's Eat Your History.

Posted by joke du jour at 05:30 PM

Don't get caught

...in a bad pose. Don't know where this Photoshop series came from. FARK or Worth1000, maybe?

















Posted by joke du jour at 05:28 PM

May 16, 2005

Inherent differences

Due to inherit a fortune when his sickly, widower father died, Robert decided he needed a woman to enjoy it with him. So he went to a singles bar and searched until he spotted a woman whose beauty took his breath away.

"Right now, I'm just an ordinary man," he said, introducing himself to her, "but within a month or two, my father will pass away and I'll inherit over 20 million dollars."

The woman went home with Robert. And four days later she became his stepmother.

Men are slower learners.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:38 PM

A huge ammo dump

Steve forwards another message from his brother Mike in Iraq. (Mike's the gent who sent the pictures of the sandstorm at Al Asad.)

I spent several days over in Fallujah this week working with our units responsible for the city of Fallujah and the surrounding towns. I'm attaching some pictures of me with some captured enemy weapons and ammunition that they've found this past week. It's amazing how much we continue to dig up. This whole country is basically a huge ammunition dump!

Hope all is well.

These are thumbnails that link to full-size (1600 x 1200) images.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

Shadow action

An interesting story about two monkeys, told with hand shadows.

[WMV format. Save.]

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

Ain't no lie

"$139. At first it seems steep, but this is really cool," our contributor says.


Posted by joke du jour at 07:38 PM

May 14, 2005

How'd you like to wake up to this?

A wall of sand traveling at 60 MPH.

Steve writes, "This is from my brother who is in Iraq." It's 15 images of a sand storm at Al Asad, Iraq on 4/26/2005; click for larger versions. (These are striking photos and very high-quality.)

At this point? Running for cover.

This picture was taken 1 minute later and it's dark as night.

Posted by joke du jour at 02:00 PM

Major breakthrough

Introducing the Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device code-named: BOOK

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use that even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by the fire - yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc. Here's how it works:

BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence and orientation.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable if dropped overboard. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session - even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs made by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional tool: the Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Stylus (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK's appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking.

Look for a flood of new titles soon.

Posted by joke du jour at 02:00 PM | Comments (2)

Weekend reading 3

Looks like too nice a weekend in most of the US to spend it reading, but just in case you have a little time on your hands.

1. Carnival of Tomorrow: A collection of articles on self-replicating robots, space elevators, the End of Cancer and more.

2. "Flat Earther" challenges the "Chicken Littles": It's a global-warming cage match in the Christian Science Monitor. Fred Singer, atmospheric physicist, responds to the students of Middlebury College.

The students awarded Dr. Singer their Flat Earth Award and he reciprocated by opening nominations for the Chicken Little Award.

3. And here's a counter-intuitive thought: Brain Candy.

Twenty years ago, a political philosopher named James Flynn uncovered a curious fact. Americans—at least, as measured by I.Q. tests—were getting smarter. This fact had been obscured for years, because the people who give I.Q. tests continually recalibrate the scoring system to keep the average at 100. But if you took out the recalibration, Flynn found, I.Q. scores showed a steady upward trajectory, rising by about three points per decade, which means that a person whose I.Q. placed him in the top ten per cent of the American population in 1920 would today fall in the bottom third. Some of that effect, no doubt, is a simple by-product of economic progress: in the surge of prosperity during the middle part of the last century, people in the West became better fed, better educated, and more familiar with things like I.Q. tests. But, even as that wave of change has subsided, test scores have continued to rise—not just in America but all over the developed world. What’s more, the increases have not been confined to children who go to enriched day-care centers and private schools. The middle part of the curve—the people who have supposedly been suffering from a deteriorating public-school system and a steady diet of lowest-common-denominator television and mindless pop music—has increased just as much. What on earth is happening? In the wonderfully entertaining “Everything Bad Is Good for You� (Riverhead; $23.95), Steven Johnson proposes that what is making us smarter is precisely what we thought was making us dumber: popular culture.

Posted by joke du jour at 02:00 PM

How to perfect your swing

First, let's watch the video. Then continue reading for step-by-step instructions.


(Images of a topless female; proceed at your own discretion.)

The Step-by-Step Guide To A Better Golf Swing

Golf-2.gifStep number 1: Loosen your upper body.

Golf-3.gifStep number 2: Warm up slowly.

Golf-4.gifStep number 3: Add a little momentum.

Golf-5.gifStep number 4: Oh, yeah... You're ready.

Golf-6.gifNow this is the proper way to transfer weight. Left-right, left-right, left-right...

Posted by joke du jour at 01:59 PM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2005

Google Content Blocker

I thought this spoof was hilarious.

And, since I suspect the site won't be up any longer than it takes Google's lawyers to overnight a letter, if the link doesn't work then you can see a screen capture by clicking the thumbnail.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:30 PM

When the Pope is German

MY KIND OF GUY! says our contributor.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:30 PM | Comments (2)

Huffington's toast

As this New York Times article (reg. reqd.) describes, Arianna Huffington launched a blog this week named The Huffington Post. According to the article,

She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion.

This site, Huffington's Toast, mocks Arianna's blog with a series of posts allegedly written by public figures (including Arianna herself and a few of the "alpha bloggers").

Very amusing, if you follow that stuff. If you visit, be sure to check the links in the blogroll.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:30 PM | TrackBack

Novel facial treatments

from WBAL's (Baltimore) site:

Vaginal Cream Harmful For Face, Doctors Say
Woman Fights Facial Wrinkles With Premarin; Doctors Alert Harm

BALTIMORE -- In an effort to put her best face forward, one woman decided to use a product meant for a different part of the body.

A guest on the television talk show "Oprah" recently shared her secret to fighting facial wrinkles: vaginal cream.

"I have been putting Premarin vaginal cream on my face for 20 years, and it works," said Vicki Mackarvich.

And the most interesting part is that's not the only unusual medication she uses on her face. Check out what she uses for puffy eyes. - JHC

Posted by joke du jour at 07:30 PM

May 11, 2005

Your father's Oldsmobile IV

One in a series of jokes from a decades-old book I came across recently.

The late Dr. Kinsey was questioning a group of men about the number of times they had sexual relations.

In response to his question, a group of men raised their hands to indicate that they had sex every night. Then another group said they had sex ten times a month. A small group said they only did it about four times a month.

Finally, every man in the room had been accounted for except for one man who was sitting in the corner. Dr. Kinsey moved closer to him. "All right, how many of you have sexual relations only once a year?"

"Me! Me!" the man piped up, waving is hand wildly and wearing an ear-to-ear smile.

"Fine," said Dr. Kinsey. "But why are you so excited about it?"

"Because tonight's the night!" the man explained. "Tonight's the night!"

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

Great moments in hook-up history

"I've always wanted to try this," says our contributor.

[WMV format. Save.]

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

Ah, spring!

A party of one
And love is at hand.

Well, maybe you'd call it love.

"May," writes our correspondent, "is International Masturbation Month! Read all about it in this Wired article."

If you'll be in San Francisco on May 28th, you can join the Masturbate-A-Thon. I can think of some people who could be contenders. How about you?

Or, if you're not going to San Francisco, you might find WorldWideWank.com amusing. The quotes are pretty funny and include Jacqueline Susann's classic quip: "Philip Roth is a good writer, but I wouldn't want to shake hands with him."

And, not to be outdone, a town in Brazil declared May 9th to be Orgasm Day.

Tip o' the hat to AnnaBanana, A Small Victory and Instapundit.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

Trivia for adults

Keeping on topic, we have:

Q: What is an Australian kiss?
A: It's the same as a French kiss, only down under.

That sets the tone, if you care to continue...

Q: Why are hurricanes normally named after women?
A: When they come, they're wild and wet. But when they leave, they take your house and car with them.

Q: Why do girls rub their eyes when they get up in the morning?
A: They don't have balls to scratch

Q: What are the small bumps around a woman's nipples for?
A: It's Braille for "suck here."

Q: What do you do with 365 used condoms?
A: Melt them down, make a tire, and call it a Goodyear.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:00 PM

May 10, 2005

On three, everybody! Ready...

for World Jump Day on July 20, 2006?

Join us in the attempt to drive Planet Earth into a new orbit, by letting millions of people jump!

Scientific research has proven that this change of planetary positioning would very likely stop global warming, extend daytime hours and create a more homogeneous climate.

Professor Niesward explains:

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

California in 1850

In 1850, California became a state.

The state had no electricity.
The state had no money.
Almost everyone spoke Spanish.
There were gunfights in the streets.

So basically, it was just like California today except that the women had real boobs.

No idea where this one came from, unfortunately. - JHC

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

What can I say?

...asks our contributor.

The Kansas Department of Revenue very helpfully publishes this tax guidance for the street pharmacists doing business there:

Drug Tax Stamp

The fact that dealing marijuana and controlled substances is illegal does not exempt it from taxation. Therefore drug dealers are required by law to purchase drug tax stamps.

The drug tax is due as soon as the dealer takes possession of the marijuana or controlled substance. Payment of the drug tax will purchase the drug tax stamps. Attach the stamp to the marijuana and/or controlled substance immediately after receiving the substance. The stamps are valid for 3 months. Drugs seized without stamps or having expired stamps may result in criminal or civil penalties which may include fines, seizure of property or liens against real estate.

A dealer is not required to give his/her name or address when purchasing stamps and the Department is prohibited from sharing any information relating to the purchase of drug tax stamps with law enforcement or anyone else.

Purchasing drug tax stamps does not make possession of drugs legal.

This reminds me of Al Capone and his experiences with tax law during the Noble Experiment.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

Beer blogging

Un vaso de cerveza de Pablo - bien fria!In addition to his comedic accomplishments, CodeWritinFool also brews a pretty tasty ale. Here's a glass of his latest batch of Hefe Weizen, a wheat ale. (Click for a larger image.) Luckily, I know him well enough that he gives me some.

This ale has a sweet nose to it: you'd swear you were standing next to a big pile of bananas. But while the aroma is fruity, the flavor is full and nicely tart.

Hefe Weizen is supposed to run in the 4% - 7% range for alcohol content. This particular batch was close to 6%. That's a little bit stronger than American lagers. A couple of glasses of this will remind you of Tom T. Hall's singing.

It's a fine-drinking beer.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 09, 2005

Heaven can't wait

An 85-year-old couple, having been married nearly 60 years, died in a car crash. They had been in good health the last ten years, mainly due to the wife's interest in healthy food and exercise.

When they reached the Pearly Gates, St. Peter took them to their mansion, which was decked out with a beautiful kitchen, master bath suite and jacuzzi. As they ooohed-and-aaahed, the old man asked Peter how much all this was going to cost.

"It's free," Peter replied, "this is Heaven."

Next, they went out back to see the championship golf course. They would have golfing privileges every day and each week the course changed to a new one representing the great golf courses on earth.

The old man asked, "What are the green fees?"

Again St. Peter's replied, "This is Heaven - you play for free."

Next they went to the clubhouse and saw the lavish buffet lunch with the best of all the world's cuisines laid out.

"How much to eat?" asked the old man.

"Don't you understand yet? This is Heaven... It's free!" Peter replied.

"Well, where are the low-fat and low cholesterol foods?" the old man asked timidly.

"That's the best part! You can eat as much as you like of whatever you like; you never get fat and you never get sick. This is Heaven."

The old man looked at his wife and said, "You and your bran muffins... I could have been here ten years ago!"

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

Counting sheep

Jim's buddy Hal wrote, "Something for those that have nothing to do or like in my case, just don’t want to do it. Have fun. P.S. Bet you do it more than once."

Interestingly, it comes from this BBC site.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM

Good news

Victory in Broadcast Flag Case! FCC Has No Authority Says Court.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:02 PM


barcode.jpgNow we're going to have to re-design UPC! I hate when this happens... Can't you people just decide once and for all what the Number of the Beast is supposed to be?

This article from Canada's National Post explains:

Beast's real mark devalued to '616'
Chris Wattie
National Post
May 4, 2005

Satanists, apocalypse watchers and heavy metal guitarists may have to adjust their demonic numerology after a recently deciphered ancient biblical text revealed that 666 is not the fabled Number of the Beast after all.

A fragment from the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament, dating to the Third century, gives the more mundane 616 as the mark of the Antichrist.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

My wife's friend Joan, who lives near D.C., sent this to her.

Mother 1
Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby. Somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother normal is history.

Mother 2

Somebody said if you're a good mother, your child will turn out good. Somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.

Somebody said good mothers never raise their voices. Somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window.

Mother 4

Somebody said you can't love the fifth child as much as you love the first. Somebody doesn't have five children.

Mother 9Somebody said you don't need an education to be a mother. Somebody never helped a fourth grader with her math.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing questions in the books. Somebody never had a child stuff beans up his nose or in his ears.

Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back. Somebody never organized four giggling Brownies to sell cookies.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married. Somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son-in-law or daughter-in-law to a mother's heart strings.

Mother 5

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct. Somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.

Mother 6

Somebody said being a mother is boring. Somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.

Mother 7

Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery. Somebody never watched her "baby" get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten. Or on a plane headed for boot camp.

Mother 8

Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last child leaves home. Somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell her.

Somebody isn't a mother.

Posted by joke du jour at 12:01 AM


Some interesting desktop wallpaper made by our contributor, starting with an odd image he snagged from a web cam. The text link (or the image below) gets you a 1280-wide version if you want to save it.

green splotch

Posted by joke du jour at 12:00 AM

May 06, 2005

How many grandsons

One of the things I miss in the Commentary columns at James Randi's site is the puzzles he used to publish every week. Regrettably, he stopped doing that a few years back.

Since I have a collection of puzzles, I'm thinking of posting one once a week or so - I know I'm not the only person who likes them. Here's a simple one to start with. The answer's in the "Continue reading" section.

Mr. Gubbins, whose age is somewhere between 50 and 70, is fond of telling his friends, "Each of my sons has as many sons as brothers, and the combined number of my sons and grandsons is the same as my number of years."

How old was Gubbins, and how many grandsons did he have?

Gubbins was 64; he had 56 grandsons.

Let N equal the number of sons Gubbins had. Each son had N-1 brothers and, therefore, N-1 sons. Thus Gubbins had N*(N-1) - or (N**2 - N) - grandsons. His age equals the number of sons, N, plus the number of grandsons, (N**2 - N).

But N + N**2 - N is equal to N**2, and so Gubbins' age is a perfect square lying between 50 and 70. Since 64 is the only perfect square between 50 and 70, N**2 = 64 and N = 8. So Gubbins' age is 64 and he had N**2 - N, or 64 - 8 = 56, grandsons.

From 101 Mathematical Puzzles (1977 edition) by Don Reinfeld and David Rice.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:00 PM

Weekend reading 2

This weekend's reading topic is Social Security reform. Check out these sites and posts.

Jane Galt's post on Is the trust fund real? Jane's blog partner, Mindles H. Dreck, has followed up on this topic since Jane's post.

This comparison, in the New York Times, of Chile's reformed pension system to the SS system: The Proof's in the Pension. Since the NYT requires a registration, I've copied this editorial below; click the "Continue reading..." link to see it.

The Social Security Choice blog. This is a group blog and all the members favor reform.

Dave, a libertarian from way back, went off on a populist rant about SS reform last weekend. He makes some good points, particularly
(a) the one about the likely restrictions on private accounts and
(b) how Ponzi schemes can work, if the supporting population (pool of suckers) increases quickly enough. Otherwise, I don't agree with much of it, but his scary predictions are always possibilities.

This video clip from the Club for Growth. CFG is a PAC that backs SS reform. IMO, SS reform ought to be a non-partisan, common sense issue. But then there's that noticable absence of supporters from the Democratic Party. (What's a reformer to do?) As a result, the CFG ad naturally focuses on Republicans.

The Proof's in the Pension


I made a pilgrimage to Santiago seeking to resolve the Social Security debate with a simple question: What would Pablo Serra do?

I wanted to compare our pensions to see the results of an accidental experiment that began in 1961, when he and I were friends in second grade at a school in Chile. He remained in Chile and became the test subject; I returned to America as the control group.

By the time we finished college, both of our countries' pension systems were going broke. Chile responded by pioneering a system of private accounts in 1981. America rescued its traditional system in the early 1980's by cutting benefits and raising taxes, with the promise that the extra money would go into a trust to finance the baby boomers' retirement.

As it happened, our countries have required our employers to set aside roughly the same portion of our income, a little over 12 percent, which pays for disability insurance as well as the pension program. It also covers, in Pablo's case, the fees charged by the mutual-fund company managing his money.

I visited Pablo, who grew up to become an economist, at his office at the University of Chile and showed him my most recent letter from the Social Security Administration listing my history of earnings and projected pension. Pablo called up his account on his computer and studied the projected retirement options for him, which assume that he'll keep working until age 65 and that the fund will get an annual return of 5 percent (which is lower than its historical average).

After comparing our relative payments to our pension systems (since salaries are higher in America, I had contributed more), we extrapolated what would have happened if I'd put my money into Pablo's mutual fund instead of the Social Security trust fund. We came up with three projections for my old age, each one offering a pension that, like Social Security's, would be indexed to compensate for inflation:

(1) Retire in 10 years, at age 62, with an annual pension of $55,000. That would be more than triple the $18,000 I can expect from Social Security at that age.

(2) Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $70,000. That would be almost triple the $25,000 pension promised by Social Security starting a year later, at age 66.

(3)Retire at age 65 with an annual pension of $53,000 and a one-time cash payment of $223,000.

You may suspect that Pablo has prospered only because he's a sophisticated investor, but he simply put his money into one of the most popular mutual funds. He has more money in it than most Chileans because his salary is above average, but lower-paid workers who contributed to that fund for the same period of time would be in relatively good shape, too, because their projected pension would amount to more than 90 percent of their salaries.

By contrast, Social Security replaces less than 60 percent of your salary - and that's only if you were a low-income worker. Typical recipients get back less than half of their salaries.

The biggest problem in Chile is that many workers don't contribute regularly to their pensions because they're unemployed or working off the books. That's a common situation in the developing world, no matter what the pension system is. But if you contribute for at least 20 years, Chile guarantees you a minimum pension that, relative to the median salary, is actually more generous than the median Social Security check.

Still, you may argue, Chileans may someday long for a system like Social Security if the stock market crashes and takes their pensions down with it. The relative risks of the Chilean and American systems are a question for another column. But I can tell you that Pablo is an economist who appreciates the risks of stocks and has no doubt about where he wants to keep putting his money.

"I'm very happy with my account," he said to me after comparing our pensions. He was kind enough not to gloat. When I enviously suggested that he could expect not only a much heftier pension than mine, but also enough cash to buy himself a vacation home at the shore or in the country, he reassured me that it would pay for only a modest place.

I'm not sure how much consolation that is, but I'm trying to look at the bright side. Maybe my Social Security check will cover the airfare to visit him.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM

May 05, 2005

Mondo bizarro


Here's an Italian company that sells caskets - or coffins, if you prefer. Part of its efforts to market these are...

Pin-up calendars and t-shirts. There are some very unusual images in their calendars.

And they have a screensaver, too. It's free.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

Your father's Oldsmobile III

One in a series of jokes from a decades-old book I came across recently.

A man was in bed with a married woman when they heard the door open. "Oh my God!" she gasped. "It's my husband! Quick - hide in the closet!" So the man hurried into the closet and closed the door.

Then he heard a small voice saying, "It's very dark in here."

"Who's that?" he asked.

"That's my mother out there," the small voice said. "And now I'm going to scream."

"Please don't!" the man said.

"OK, but it'll cost you money," the boy said.

"Here's five dollars."

"I'm going to scream!" the small voice said.

"OK... Here's ten dollars."

"I'm going to scream," the voice said again.

Finally, when the boy turned down thirty-five dollars, the man said, "All I have is forty dollars."

"I'll take it!"

At last, the husband left and the man was able to get out of the closet and make a hasty exit.

That afternoon, the mother took the boy with her to go shopping.

"I want to get that bicycle," he said.

The mother said, "No, you can't. It costs too much money."

The boy said, "I've got forty dollars."

The mother asked, "Where would you get forty dollars?"

But the boy wouldn't talk. She began to berate him. He wouldn't respond. She slapped his face. He stood stoicly. Finally, twisting his arm, she dragged him into a nearby church and approached the parish priest. "Father, my son has forty dollars and he won't tell me where he got it. Maybe you can find out?"

The priest nodded. He led the boy into a confessional booth. The boy sat on one side and the priest on the other. The boy said, "It's very dark in here..."

"Now, don't start that again!"

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM


from the BBC:

World's first Hindu theme parkThe World's first Hindu theme park

The aim of the 25 acre park, called Gangadham, is to recreate great moments in Hindu mythology through hi-tech rides, an animated mythological museum, a "temple city", food courts and a sound and light show.

The park is to be on the banks of the Ganges, in the north Indian pilgrimage town of Haridwar.

It is where the Hindu god Vishnu is said to have left his footprint. The town attracts more than 18 million visitors a year.

"There is a huge amount of pilgrim traffic in Haridwar," says Shiv Sagar, the project's chief executive.

"People come to take a bath on the bank of the Ganga river because it is a Hindu belief that this cleanses a person."

What I want to know is: where are Warren and the Hindu Love Gods when you need them?

Posted by joke du jour at 08:02 PM

Signs of humor

Our contributor's subject line for this collection of pop-ups.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:00 PM

May 04, 2005

For all you Cinco-de-Mayons

Here's a little timely advice.


Posted by joke du jour at 07:56 PM

And speaking of drinking

Here's a report from ThisIsLondon.com.

Alcohol is good for your brain...
By Mike Tait, Metro
29 April 2005

It's the news drinkers have waited years to hear - alcohol consumption is good for your brain.

A pint of beer or a glass of wine triggers the growth of new brain cells and boosts memory, scientists say.

However, while moderate drinking can improve the mind, binge-drinking has the opposite effect.

Tip o' the hat to Best of the Web Today.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:54 PM

But tequila's not the only danger

Since we're on this Cinco-de-Mayo-Party-Like-It's-1862 topic, here's an amusing ad courtesy of Dave.

I don't know if this Jamochas place exists - nor does Google, it seems.


Posted by joke du jour at 07:53 PM

And watch out for the frozen custard!

Well, my last post about someone finding part of a finger in her food appears to have been bogus. Ms. Ayala's been arrested.

Nonetheless, the consensus on this report of finding part of a finger in frozen custard is that it's a legitimate complaint.

Posted by joke du jour at 07:50 PM

May 03, 2005

I need one...

says Dave.

Needies are interactive plush dolls inspired by codependent, high-maintenance relationships.

Totally attention-starved, they compete with each other for human affection -- or, getting touch, as they like to say.

And be sure not to miss their theme song:

Posted by joke du jour at 09:08 PM

Audio bleg

Does anyone know where I can find (*coff*) a digital copy of Creedence Clearwater's Lookin' Out My Backdoor? Just about any encoding will do, but MP3 would be preferred.

If you do, post a comment or drop a line. Thanks.

Update (5/9): Got a copy by mail.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:06 PM

Goin' out crazy

Everything AlabamaHere's an Associated Press report that appears at al.com.

Brother, sister arrested on incest charge at Trafford trailer
4/20/2005, 4:57 p.m. ET - The Associated Press

TRAFFORD, Ala. (AP) — A brother and sister were arrested on felony incest charges after the man's wife called sheriff's deputies, who allegedly caught the siblings having sex.

Ronald Stewart Howze, 44, of Trafford, and Lori Ann Rotton, 41, of Smyrna, Ga., were arrested around midnight on April 7, said Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Randy Christian. They remain jailed Wednesday with bond set at $50,000 each.

If convicted, Howze and Rotton could each be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Authorities said Howze's wife believed her husband and his sister were having sex so she called deputies. The wife let the officer into their trailer home, and the deputy saw the siblings having sex in a bedroom, Christian said.

The officer had to twice tell the couple to stop, and the officer's report quoted the man as saying "I guess I'm going to jail" after they finally complied, according to Christian.

Both brother and sister had been drinking, and Rotton was initially taken to a hospital because she appeared so intoxicated, Christian said.

The man told the officer he wanted to "go out crazy" after being diagnosed with cancer, The Birmingham News reported Wednesday.

Tommy McFarland, an attorney representing Howze, said his client told him he could not remember what happened. Howze said he suffers from seizures and asked to see a psychiatrist, according to McFarland.

Rotton is set to make her first court appearance Thursday.

Posted by joke du jour at 09:04 PM

Very thin books

This is a little dated, but some of these titles are even more timely now than they were when I first saw it. (Click for a larger image.)

Posted by joke du jour at 09:02 PM | TrackBack

Your father's Oldsmobile II

One in a series of jokes from a decades-old book I came across recently.

A man who was frightened of dentists delayed seeing one until he had only six teeth left in his mouth.

The dentist examined him and said, "These teeth are finished. Let me do root canal work and all those other things I do, and you'll have a complete new set of choppers in your mouth. Beautiful you'll look, and chewing problems you'll no longer have."

The man was dubious. "I'm a physical coward, Doc. I can't stand pain."

"Who said anything about pain? I'm a painless dentist!"

"You say it, but how do I know it's true?"

"Not to worry," the dentist said. "I did a job exactly like this for another man. I'll give you his name and you can phone him right now. Ask if I caused him any pain."

So the man telephoned George Kaplan in Brooklyn. "Mr. Kaplan," he said, "my name is Al Goldstein. You don't know me, but I'm in the office of your dentist and he says he did a big job on your teeth. Is that correct?"

"Correct it is," said Kaplan.

"OK," said Goldstein. "Now I want you to tell me the honest truth. Did it hurt? Tell me, yes or no?"

"A yes or no I can't give you," said Kaplan, "but I can give you a f'rinstance. Every Sunday I go rowing in Prospect Park..."


"So," said Kaplan, "our dentist finished with me in December. Now it's June and it's Sunday and, as usual, I'm in my rowboat on the Prospect Park lake. Suddenly, one of the oars slips away. When I reach over to grab it, my balls get caught in the oarlock.

"Would you believe it, Mr. Goldstein, it was the first time in six months that my teeth didn't hurt!"

Posted by joke du jour at 09:00 PM

May 02, 2005

Octopus pants

A genuine reductio ad absurdum at EGGAGOG.


I thoroughly enjoy the mania at this site. - Ed.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:08 PM

Milking the horse

Laura Bush takes over speaking for her husband George at a White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. She does a great job... on just about everyone. A little long but well worth your time.

I found the video at Jackson's Junction where Trey Jackson regularly posts a variety of video clips. There's a high-quality MPG version of this one there that you can view and/or download, as well as a lower-quality WMV version of it.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:06 PM

Terror in the Skies, Part VIII

Another article from Annie Jacobsen, who writes for Womens Wall Street, about a visit she had from Homeland Security agents recently.

Here's a page which links all the articles in this series, if you haven't been following it.

Posted by joke du jour at 08:04 PM


Your wife decides to go out drinking and dancing with her friends. You're okay with that because it means you'll get to watch sports all night. You hear her finally stumble into bed around 4 AM.

You wake up the next morning and go outside to check the family Volvo, the car she'd been driving last night. You're happy to see it's all in one piece.

But wait a minute...

Posted by joke du jour at 08:02 PM

May 01, 2005

Happy May Day

For years now, I've been intending to put up a web cam outside our house, but Internet bandwidth and camera capabilities have both been obstacles. Who wants to see a 320 x 240 image delivered over a dial-up line?

Recently, though, I got both a low-end broadband connection and a high-res webcam. And the cam's up now. After a lot of tedious fiddling with its settings (while on a ladder), it seems to be delivering decent images. You can view them here.

Naturally, Mr. Murphy wouldn't be happy unless there were some caveats. Those are:

1. The image is large: at 1280 by 960, it's pretty mambo. So it can be a little slow to load. In addition, the page is set to refresh at a short interval; this will make your bandwidth problems on a slow connection even worse.

UPDATE 05/04/05: The tech support guys at StarDot Tech advised me that I'd get a sharper image with a smaller size, due to the type of CCD they use in their Netcam. So I've changed the size to 640 by 480, which is just over 25% of the 1280 image. It's correspondingly faster. We'll see how much sharper it looks.

2. Because of its size, the image will fill (or be too large for) most displays. So you will need to scroll within the browser window to see the whole image unless your display resolution is 1280 by 1024 or higher.

"Oh," you may be thinking, "the image-size control in Internet Explorer will adjust the image size for me." Nope. That won't work because of the way the page's CSS is coded. (Bwa-ha-ha!) However, you can save an image you like and edit it later to suit your tastes.

3. You will not be seeing Yosemite, the Champs-Elysées, or even the St. Louis arch. What you'll see is a rural setting in a river valley in east-central Missouri. If you like pastoral pix, you're in luck. You can count the cows.

4. Adjustable size and refresh rate have been deemed "revision II features." They're on the list. (But there is no schedule.)

5. Unfortunately, the cam shows only about 20-25% of the valley. (There's more to see than cows.) I may be experimenting with a wide-angle lens, or I may add another cam, or I may do both. Things Will Change, in other words.

6. I added a permanent link to the sidebar on the right so it'll be easy to find again (assuming you want to find it again).

7. Since we turn the lights out at night here in Missouri, the image is only available between 4:00 AM and 9:00 PM, US Central time (1000Z to 0300Z).

Sunrise, when the fog comes up out of the valley, and sunset, when the shadows crawl across it to the east, are the most interesting times, IMO. You can get local sunrise and sunset times from the St. Louis weather forecast.

All that said (whew!): Enjoy! If you like it, post a comment and let me know.

If you're interested in the technical details, this is a NetCam Megapixel camera from StarDot Technologies. It runs uClinux, a Linux flavor for embedded systems. You can telnet into the cam and run vi, if you like. (Timo, he just smile.) You can also run shell scripts and awk to control the serial I/O and relay ports.

The downsides are...

(a) no pan,
(b) no tilt,
(c) no zoom,
(d) no remote focus control and
(e) no remote iris control

...which explains all that time on the ladder. Neither is there any audio capability nor any streaming video mode. Luckily, I don't care about either of those.

When you buy this thing for the resolution you pay a price. Axis and Sony cams have a lot of features this one doesn't. But those two don't come close to StarDot's NetCam for image size and resolution.

Well, let me amend that. I couldn't find a cam that would do all that for less than $1,000.00. I know someone will send me a link to a camera that does everything I want, including hi-resolution - but it will cost $5,000.

Posted by joke du jour at 06:09 PM