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Subject: Hell Freezes Over
1) A retiring Phys Chem. professor was setting his last exam, for a graduate course in statistical thermodynamics. Being a bit bored with it all, and with a well kept and wry sense of humor, he set a single question on the sheet: Is Hell endothermic or exothermic? Support your answer with a proof.
He had little idea what to expect, or how to grade the results, but decided to reward any student who was able to come up with a reasonable and consistent reply to his query. One 'A' was awarded. Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. The top student however wrote the following:
First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant. There are two possible conditions. One, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase exponentially until all hell breaks loose. Conversely, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over, condition two. We can solve this with the 1990 postulation of Theresa LeClair, the girl who lived across the hall from me in first year residence. Since I have still not been successful in obtaining sexual relations with her, condition two above has not been met, and thus it can be concluded that condition one is true, and hell is exothermic.
A married couple went to the hospital together to have their baby delivered. Upon their arrival, the doctor said he had invented a new machine that would transfer a portion of the mother's labor pain to the father. He asked if they were willing to try it out. They were both very much in favor of it. The doctor set the knob to 10% for starters, explaining that even 10% was probably more than pain than the father had ever experienced before. But as the labor progressed, the husband felt fine, so he asked the doctor to bump it up a notch. The doctor then adjusted the machine to 20% pain transfer. The husband was still feeling fine. The doctor checked the husband's blood pressure and pulse and was amazed to see how fine he was doing. At this, they decided to try for 50%. The husband continued to feel quite well. Since it was obviously helping out his wife considerably, he encouraged the doctor to transfer all the pain to him. The wife delivered a healthy baby boy with virtually no pain. She and her husband were ecstatic. When they got home, the mailman was dead on their porch.
"Justification for higher education"....
In answer to the eternal question "Is it better to be a jock or a nerd?", I submit the following:
Michael Jordan will make over $300,000 a game: $10,000 a minute, assuming he averages about 30 minutes per game.
Assuming $40 million in endorsements next year, he'll be making $178,100 a day (working or not)!
Assuming he sleeps 7 hours a night, he makes $52,000 every night while visions of sugarplums dance in his head.
If he goes to see a movie, it'll cost him $7.00, but he'll make $18,550 while he's there.
If he decides to have a 5 minute egg, he'll make $618 while boiling it.
He makes $7,415/hr more than minimum wage (after the wage hike).
He'll make $3,710 while watching each episode of Friends.
If he wanted to save up for a new Acura NSX ($90,000) it would take him a whole 12 hours.
If someone were to hand him his salary and endorsement money, they would have to do it at the rate of $2.00 every second.
He'll probably pay around $200 for a nice round of golf, but will be 'reimbursed' $33,390 for that round.
Assuming he puts the federal maximum of 15% of his income into his tax deferred account (401k), he will hit the federal cap of $9500 for such accounts at 8:30 a.m. on January 1st, 1997.
If you were given a tenth of a penny for every dollar he made, you'd be living comfortably at $65,000 a year.
He'll make about $19.60 while watching the 100 meter dash in the Olympics. He'll make about $15,600 while the Boston Marathon is being run.
While the common person is spending about $20 for a meal in his trendy Chicago restaurant, he'll pull in about $5600.
Next year, he'll make more than twice as much as all of our past presidents for all of their terms combined.
Amazing isn't it?
BUT: JORDAN WILL HAVE TO SAVE 100% OF HIS INCOME FOR 270 YEARS TO HAVE A NET WORTH EQUIVALENT TO THAT OF BILL GATES.
NERDS RULE! NERDS RULE! NERDS RULE!
Dan is in a bar and he has had quite a few already. At two o'clock, last round is offered, and although he knows he shouldn't, he drinks another beer, simply because they taste just too good. After the final beer, he slides from his stool and immediately drops on the floor.
This was not what he expected. He knew he had had some, but... He tries to get up but again he falls. After several more attempts, he gives up and decides to crawl home. At the door of his house, he realizes it is better not to stand up, since he will almost certainly fall over again and wake up his wife. So he crawls quietly inside to his bed and slips under the covers without awakening his wife.
The next morning his wife asks him furiously. "Were you drunk again last night"?!!!
Danny boy is surprised and asks her how she knew.
"They just called from the bar. You left without your wheelchair."
We are pleased to announce winners of the third Bad Writing Contest, sponsored by the scholarly journal Philosophy and Literature and its internet discussion group, PHIL-LIT.
The Bad Writing Contest attempts to locate the ugliest, most stylistically awful passage found in a scholarly book or article published in the last few years. Ordinary journalism, fiction, etc. are not eligible, nor are parodies: entries must be non-ironic, from actual serious academic journals or books. In a field where unintended self-parody is so widespread, deliberate send-ups are hardly necessary.
This year's winning passages include prose published by established, successful scholars, experts who have doubtless labored for years to write like this. Obscurity, after all, can be a notable achievement. The fame and influence of writers such as Hegel, Heidegger, or Derrida rests in part on their mysterious impenetrability. On the other hand, as a cynic once remarked, John Stuart Mill never attained Hegel's prestige because people found out what he meant. This is a mistake the authors of our prize-winning passages seem determined to avoid.
* The first prize goes to a sentence by the distinguished scholar Fredric Jameson, a man who on the evidence of his many admired books finds it difficult to write intelligibly and impossible to write well. Whether this is because of the deep complexity of Professor Jameson's ideas or their patent absurdity is something readers must decide for themselves. Here, spotted for us by Dave Roden of Central Queensland University in Australia, is the very first sentence of Professor Jameson's book, Signatures of the Visible (Routledge, 1990, p. 1):
"The visual is - essentially - pornographic, which is to say that it has its end in rapt, mindless fascination; thinking about its attributes becomes an adjunct to that, if it is unwilling to betray its object; while the most austere films necessarily draw their energy from the attempt to repress their own excess (rather than from the more thankless effort to discipline the viewer)."
The appreciative Mr. Roden says it is "good of Jameson to let readers know so soon what they're up against." We cannot see what the second "that" in the sentence refers to. And imagine if that uncertain "it" were willing to betray its object? The reader may be baffled, but then any author who thinks visual experience is essentially pornographic suffers confusions no lessons in English composition are going to fix.
* If reading Fredric Jameson is like swimming through cold porridge, there are writers who strive for incoherence of a more bombastic kind. Here is our next winner, which was found for us by Professor Cynthia Freeland of the University of Houston. The writer is Professor Rob Wilson:
"If such a sublime cyborg would insinuate the future as post-Fordist subject, his palpably masochistic locations as ecstatic agent of the sublime superstate need to be decoded as the 'now-all-but-unreadable DNA' of a fast de-industrializing Detroit, just as his Robocop-like strategy of carceral negotiation and street control remains the tirelessly American one of inflicting regeneration through violence upon the racially heteroglossic wilds and others of the inner city."
This colorful gem appears in a collection called The Administration of Aesthetics: Censorship, Political Criticism, and the Public Sphere, edited by Richard Burt "for the Social Text Collective" (University of Minnesota Press, 1994). Social Text is the cultural studies journal made famous by publishing physicist Alan Sokal's jargon-ridden parody of post-modernist writing. If this essay is Social Text's idea of scholarship, little wonder it fell for Sokal's hoax. (And precisely what are "racially heteroglossic wilds and others"?) Dr. Wilson is an English professor, of course.
* That incomprehensibility need not be long-winded is proven by our third-place winner, sent in by Richard Collier, who teaches at Mt. Royal College in Canada. It's a sentence from Making Monstrous: Frankenstein, Criticism, Theory, by Fred Botting (Manchester University Press, 1991):
"The lure of imaginary totality is momentarily frozen before the dialectic of desire hastens on within symbolic chains."
* Still, prolixity is often a feature of bad writing, as demonstrated by our next winner, a passage submitted by Mindy Michels, a graduate anthropology student at the American University in Washington, DC It's written by Stephen Tyler, and appears in Writing Culture, edited (it says) by James Clifford and George E. Marcus (University of California Press, 1986). Of what he calls "post-modern ethnography," Professor Tyler says:
"It thus relativizes discourse not just to form--that familiar perversion of the modernist; nor to authorial intention--that conceit of the romantics; nor to a foundational world beyond discourse--that desperate grasping for a separate reality of the mystic and scientist alike; nor even to history and ideology--those refuges of the hermeneuticist; nor even less to language--that hypostasized abstraction of the linguist; nor, ultimately, even to discourse--that Nietzschean playground of world-lost signifiers of the structuralist and grammatologist, but to all or none of these, for it is anarchic, though not for the sake of anarchy but because it refuses to become a fetishized object among objects--to be dismantled, compared, classified, and neutered in that parody of scientific scrutiny known as criticism."
* A bemused Dr. Tim van Gelder of the University of Melbourne sent us the following sentence:
"Since thought is seen to be 'rhizomatic' rather than 'arboreal,' the movement of differentiation and becoming is already imbued with its own positive trajectory."
It's from The Continental Philosophy Reader, edited by Richard Kearney and Mara Rainwater (Routledge, 1996), part of an editors' introduction intended to help students understand a chapter. Dr. van Gelder says, "No undergraduate student I've given this introduction to has been able to make the slightest sense of it. Neither has any faculty member."
* An assistant professor of English at a US university (she prefers to remain anonymous) entered this choice morsel from The Cultures of United States Imperialism, by Donald Pease (Duke University Press,
1993):"When interpreted from within the ideal space of the myth-symbol school, Americanist masterworks legitimized hegemonic understanding of American history expressively totalized in the metanarrative that had been reconstructed out of (or more accurately read into) these masterworks."
While the entrant says she enjoys the Bad Writing Contest, she's fearful her career prospects would suffer were she to be identified as hostile to the turn by English departments toward movies and soap operas. We quite understand: these days the worst writers in universities are English professors who ignore "the canon" in order to apply tepid, vaguely Marxist gobbledygook to popular culture. Young academics who'd like a career had best go along.
* But it's not just the English department where jargon and incoherence are increasingly the fashion. Susan Katz Karp, a graduate student at Queens College in New York City, found this choice nugget showing that forward-thinking art historians are doing their desperate best to import postmodern style into their discipline. It's from an article by Professor Anna C. Chave, writing in Art Bulletin (December 1994):
"To this end, I must underline the phallicism endemic to the dialectics of penetration routinely deployed in descriptions of pictorial space and the operations of spectatorship."
The next round of the Bad Writing Contest, results to be announced in 1998, is now open with a deadline of December 31, 1997. There is an endless ocean of pretentious, turgid academic prose being added to daily, and we'll continue to celebrate it.
"I would rather exercise than read a newspaper."
"If I'm making a movie and get hungry, I call time-out and eat some crackers."
ON INNER STRENGTH
"I love the confidence that makeup gives me."
"I haven't seen the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre. I haven't seen anything. I don't really care."
ON BODY PARTS
"I don't know what to do with my arms. It just makes me feel weird and I feel like people are looking at me and that makes me nervous."
ON TRUE LOVE
"Being single on Valentine's Day doesn't suck at all. At least I don't have to eat those nasty chocolates some guy gives me and pretend I like them."
"I believe that mink are raised for being turned into fur coats and if we didn't wear fur coats those little animals would never have been born. So is it better not to have been born or to have lived for a year or two to have been turned into a fur coat? I don't know."
"I wish my butt did not go sideways, but I guess I have to face that."
"I just found out that I'm one inch taller than I thought."
ON THE CASTE SYSTEM
"We're not Prince Charles and Princess Di. We don't think of ourselves as royalty. We happen to be working people."
"The worst was when my skirt fell down to my ankles -- but I had on thick tights underneath."
"They were doing a full back shot of me in a swimsuit and I thought, Oh my God, I have to be so brave. See, every woman hates herself from behind."
"Richard doesn't really like me to kill bugs, but sometimes I can't help it."
ON OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS
"I tried on 250 bathing suits in one afternoon and ended up having little scabs up and down my thighs, probably from some of those with sequins all over them."
ON BATTING .667
"I'm a pretty girl who's a model who doesn't suck as an actress."
"If they had Nautilus on the Concorde, I would work out all the time."
"I don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day."
"I can do anything you want me to do so long as I don't have to speak."
"The soundtrack to 'Indecent Exposure' is a romantic mix of music that I know most women love to hear, so I never keep it far from me when women are nearby."
"Mick Jagger and I just really liked each other a lot. We talked all night. We had the same views on nuclear disarmament."
(star of 'Alien From L.A.' and 'Danger Island')
"Because modeling is lucrative, I'm able to save up and be more particular about the roles I take."
"Everyone should have enough money to get plastic surgery."
"My husband was just OK looking. I was in labor and I said to him, 'What if she's ugly? You're ugly.'"
"Everywhere I went, my cleavage followed. But I learned I am not my cleavage."
"It was kind of boring for me to have to eat. I would know that I had to, and I would."
"Sometimes I get lonely, but it's nice to be alone."
"I loved making 'Rising Sun'. I got into the psychology of why she liked to get strangled and tied up in plastic bags. It has to do with low self-worth."
GENERAL MOTORS INTRODUCES NEW INSTANT-WIN AIRBAGS
DETROIT-With third-quarter sales sluggish and its share of the domestic market down 11 percent since 1993, General Motors unveiled a new instant-win airbag contest Monday.
The new airbags, which award fabulous prizes upon violent, high-speed impact with another car or stationary object, will come standard in all of the company's 1997 cars.
"Auto accidents have never been so exciting," said GM vice-president of marketing Roger Jenkins, who expects the contest to boost 1997 sales significantly. "When you play the new GM Instant Win Airbag Game, your next near-fatal collision could mean a trip for two to Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans. Or a year's worth of free Mobil gasoline."
Though it does not officially begin until Jan. 1, 1997, the airbag promotion is already being tested in select cities, with feedback overwhelmingly positive.
"As soon as my car started to skid out of control, I thought to myself 'Oh, boy, this could be it--I could be a big winner!"' said Cincinnati's Martin Frelks, who lost his wife but won $50 Sunday when the Buick LeSabre they were driving hit an oil slick at 60 mph and slammed into an oncoming truck. "When the car stopped rolling down the embankment I knew Ellen was dead, but all I could think about was getting the blood and glass out of my eyes so I could read that airbag!"
"It's really addictive," said Sacramento, CA, resident Marjorie Kamp, speaking from her hospital bed, where she is listed in critical condition with severe brain hemorrhaging and a punctured right lung. "I've already crashed four cars trying to win those Super Bowl tickets, but I still haven't won. I swear, I'm going to win those tickets - even if it kills me!"
Kamp said that as soon as she is well enough, she plans to buy a new Pontiac Bonneville and drive it into a tree.
GM officials are not surprised the airbag contest has been so well received. "In the past, nobody really liked car wrecks, and that's understandable. After all, they're scary and dangerous and, sometimes, even fatal," GM CEO Paul Offerman said. "But now, when you drive a new GM car or truck, your next serious crash could mean serious cash. Who wouldn't like that?"
Offerman added that in the event a motorist wins a prize but is killed, that prize will be awarded to the next of kin.
According to GM's official contest rules, odds of winning the grand prize, a brand-new 1997 Cutlass Supreme, are 1 in 43,000,000. Statistical experts, however, say the real chances of winning are significantly worse. "If you factor in the odds of getting in a serious car accident in the first place--approximately 1 in 720,000 - the actual odds of winning a prize each time you step in your car are more like 1 in 31 trillion."
Further, even if one is in an accident there is no guarantee the airbag will inflate. "I was recently broad-sided by a drunk driver in my new Chevy Cavalier," said Erie, PA, resident Jerry Polaner. "My car was totaled, and because it was the side of my car that got hit, my airbag didn't even inflate. But what really gets me is the fact that the drunk driver, who rammed my side with the front of his 1997 Buick Regal, won a $1000 Office Depot gift certificate. That's just wrong."
A Letter From Barbie
Chief Executive Officer
El Segundo, CA
Listen you little troll, I've been helping you out every year, playing at being the perfect Christmas present, wearing skimpy bathing suits in frigid weather, and drowning in fake tea from one too many tea parties, and I hate to break it to ya, but IT'S DEFINITELY PAYBACK TIME! There had better be some changes around here this year, or I'm gonna call for a nationwide meltdown (and trust me, you won't wanna be around to smell it).
So, here's my 1997 resolution/wish list:
OK, Mr. CEO, that's it. Considering my valuable contribution to society, I don't think these requests are out of line. If you disagree, then you can find yourself a new bimbo doll for next Christmas. It's that simple.
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