In the Spirit of Collegial Inquiry...

updated: July, 2000

Whimsy, Humor, and Fun Stuff

JCC:   Walt brought up some questions concerning the Roman calendar. Exactly so, the ides fall on the thirteenth of most months, and the fifteenth of March, May, July, and October. The nones, ninth day inclusive counting back from the ides, shifted accordingly between the fifth and the seventh. Odd numbers were considered fortunate and even numbers unlucky, and at one stage the months were contrived to be either twenty-nine or thirty-one days in length; the ides were something of the high point of the month, probably corresponding to the full moon in the earliest period when months were fixed on priestly observance of the new moon (kalends). That was a bit chaotic, to say the least, and there were a number of other complications as well. Julius Caesar's famed reforms, aided by scholar Sosigenes, defined the essence of our present calendar for a span of some sixteen centuries. Entirely rational? No, but it would take some effort to get used to one defined by passage of megaseconds. {laugh}

Interestingly, in Arabic, the word 'id is retained for the two great festivals timed by the lunar calendar, actually pre-Islamic survivals.

I suppose that the French creators of the metric system would have done better to establish decimal units of a standard day, as had some currency in Chinese and Egyptian antiquity. We do have the legacy of Lobster Thermidor, named from one of the months of the French republican calendar ("Thermidor", not "Lobster", that is.)

WHK:   Haiku Error messages

Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.

Everything is gone;
Your life's work has been destroyed.
Squeeze trigger (yes/no)?

Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.

Seeing my great fault
Through darkening blue windows
I begin again

The code was willing,
It considered your request,
But the chips were weak.

Printer not ready.
Could be a fatal error.
Have a pen handy?

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.

Errors have occurred.
We won't tell you where or why.
Lazy programmers.

Server's poor response
Not quick enough for browser.
Timed out, plum blossom.

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.

Login incorrect.
Only perfect spellers may
enter this system.

This site has been moved.
We'd tell you where, but then we'd
have to delete you.

Wind catches lily
scatt'ring petals to the wind:
segmentation fault

ABORTED effort:
Save and close all that you have.
You ask way too much.

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.

With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.

The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao, until
You bring fresh toner.

The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
endless others exist

Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.

There is a chasm
of carbon and silicon
the software can't bridge

To have no errors
Would be life without meaning
No struggle, no joy

You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

No keyboard present
Hit F1 to continue
Zen engineering?

Hal, open the file
Hal, open the damn file, Hal
open the, please Hal

Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.

Rather than a beep
Or a rude error message,
These words: "File not found."

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

If thou wouldst construct a proper Shakespearean insult,

combine then one word from each of the three columns below

and preface it with "Thou". Our humble thanks to Sir Walter!

WHK:   Renowned Shakespearean Insult Generator
NumberColumn AColumn BColumn C
XV.fobbingelf-skinned flap-dragon
XVI.froward fat-kidneyedflax-wench

WP:   With apologies to Stephen Hawking, A Whimsical Brief History of Time:

3050 B.C.- A Sumerian invents the wheel. Within the week, the idea is stolen and duplicated by other Sumerians, thereby establishing the business ethic for all times.

2900 B.C.-Wondering why the Egyptians call that new thing a Sphinx becomes the first of the world's Seven Great Wonders.

1850 B.C.-Britons proclaim Operation Stonehenge a success. They've finally gotten those boulders arrange in a sufficiently meaningless pattern to confuse scientists for centuries.

1785 B.C.-The first calendar, composed of a year with 354 days, is introduced by Babylonian scientists.

1768 B.C.-Babylonians realize something is wrong when winter begins in June.

1776 B.C.-The world's first known money appears in Persia, causing the world's first known counterfeiter to appear in Persia the next day.

525 B.C.-The first Olympics are held, and prove similar to the modern games, except that the Russians don't try to enter a six-footer with a mustache in the women's shot put. However, the Egyptians do.

410 B.C.-Rome ends the practice of throwing debtors into slavery, thus removing the biggest single obstacle to the development of the credit card.

404 B.C.-The Peloponnesian war has been going on for 27 years now because neither side can find a treaty writer who knows how to spell Peloponnesian.

214 B.C.-Tens of thousands of Chinese labor for a generation to build the 1,500 mile long Great Wall of China. And after all that, it still doesn't keep the neighbor's dog out.

1 B.C.- Calendar manufacturers disagree over what to call the next year.

79 A.D.- Buying property in Pompeii turns out to have been a lousy real estate investment.

432- St. Patrick introduces Christianity to Ireland, thereby giving the natives something interesting to fight about for the rest of their recorded history.

1000-Leif Ericsson discovers America, but decides it's not worth mentioning.

1043-Lady Godiva finds a means of demonstrating against high taxes that immediately makes everyone forget what she is demonstrating against.

1125-Arabic numerals are introduced to Europe, enabling peasants to solve the most baffling problem that confronts them: How much tax do you owe on MMMDCCCLX Lira when you're in the XXXVI percent bracket?

1233-The Inquisition is set up to torture and kill anyone who disagrees with the Law of the Church. However, the practice is so un-Christian that it is permitted to continue for only 600 years.

1297-The world's first stock exchange opens, but no one has the foresight to buy IBM or Xerox.

1456-An English judge reviews Joan of Arc's case and cancels her death sentence. Unfortunately for her, she was put to death in 1431.

1492- Columbus proves how lost he really is by landing in the Bahamas, naming the place San Salvador, and calling the people who live there Indians.

1497-Amerigo Vespucci becomes the 7th or 8th explorer to become the new world, but the first to think of naming it in honor of himself...the United States of Vespuccia.

1508-Michelangelo finally agrees to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but he still refuses to wash the windows.

1513-Ponce de Leon claims he found the Fountain of youth, but dies of old age trying to remember where it was he found it.

1522-Scientists, who know the world is flat, conclude that Magellan made it all the way around by crawling across the bottom.

1568-Saddened over the slander of his good name, Ivan the Terrible kills another 100,000 peasants to make them stop calling him Ivan the Terrible.

1607-The Indians laugh themselves silly as the first European tourist to visit Virginia tries to register as "John Smith".

1618-Future Generations are doomed as the English execute Sir Walter Raleigh, but allow his tobacco plants to live.

1642-Nine students receive the first Bachelor of Arts degrees conferred in America, and immediately discover there are no jobs open for a kid with a liberal arts education.

1670-The pilgrims are too busy burning false witches to observe the golden anniversary of their winning religious freedom.

1755-Samuel Johnson issues the first English Dictionary, at last providing young children with a book they can look up dirty words in.

1758- New Jersey is chosen as the site of America's first Indian reservation, which should give Indians an idea of the kind of shabby living conditions they can expect from here on out.

1763-The French and Indian War ends. The French and Indians both lost.

1770-The shooting of three people in the Boston Massacre touches off the Revolution. 200 years later, three shootings in Boston will be considered just about average for a Saturday night.

1773-Colonists dump tea into Boston Harbor. British call the act "barbaric", noting that no one added cream.

1776-Napoleon decides to maintain a position of neutrality in the American Revolution, primarily because he is only seven years old.

1779-John Paul Jones notifies the British, "I have just begun to fight!" and then feels pretty foolish when he discovers that his ship is sinking.

1793- "Let them eat cake!" becomes the most famous thing Marie Antoinette ever said. Also, the least diplomatic thing she ever said. Also, the last thing she ever said.

1799-Translation of the Rosetta Stone finally enables scholars to learn that Egyptian hieroglyphics don't say anything important. "Dear Ramses, How are you? I am fine."

1805-Robert Fulton invents the torpedo.

1807-Robert Fulton invents the steamship so he has something to blow up with his torpedo.

1815-Post Office policy is established as Andrew Jackson wins the Battle of New Orleans a month after he should have received the letter telling him the War of 1812 is over.

1840-William Henry Harrison is elected president in a landslide, proving that the campaign motto, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" is so meaningless that very few can disagree with it.

1850-Henry Clay announces, "I'd rather be right than president," which gets quite a laugh, coming from a guy who has run for president five times without winning.

1859- Charles Darwin writes "Origin of the Species". It has the same general plot as "Planet of the Apes", but fails to gross as much money.

1894-Thomas Edison displays the first motion picture, and everybody likes it except the movie critics.

1903- The opening of the Trans-Siberian Railway enables passengers from Moscow to reach Vladivostok in eight days, which is a lot sooner than most of them want to get there.

1910- The founding of the Boy Scouts of America comes as bad news to old ladies who would rather cross the street by themselves.

1911-Roald Amundsen discovers the South Pole and confirms what he's suspected all along: It looks a lot like the North Pole!

1912-People with reservations for the voyage of the Titanic get their money back.

1920-The 18th Amendment to the Constitution makes drinking illegal in the U.S. so everyone stops. Except for the 40 million who don't stop.

1924-Hitler is released from prison four years early, after convincing the parole board that he is a changed man who won't cause any more trouble.

1928- Herbert Hoover promises "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage," but he neglects to add that most Americans will soon be without pots and garages.

1930- Pluto is discovered. Not the dog; the planet. The dog was discovered a lot earlier. {And the guy who discovered the planet was from Burdett, KS; there's a historical marker there which notes the fact.}

1933- German housewives begin to realize why that crazy wallpaper hanger with the mustache never came back to finish his work.

1933-Hitler establishes the Third Reich, and announces that it will last for a thousand years. As matters develop, he is only 988 years off.

1934-John Dillinger is gunned down by police as he leaves a Chicago movie theater. And just to make the evening a complete washout, he didn't enjoy the movie either.

1934-As if the Great Depression weren't giving businessmen enough headaches, Ralph Nader is born.

1938-Great Britain and Germany sign a peace treaty, thereby averting all possibility of WWII.

1944-Hitler's promise of Volkswagens for all Germans as soon as they've won the war doesn't prove to be as strong an incentive as he had hoped.

1945-1999 Very boring....US invades Grenada, Panama,Iraq, Kosovo,...Microsoft, Monica, Diet Coke, Hula Hoop,International House of Pancakes, Moonies. Moon Landing, Moon Pies, War on Drugs and Sex, Nixon, Carter, Johnson, Gerald Somebody, Clinton, Disney World, Y2K, then in the year 2000, either the world ends or The Force will save the whales.

Why is it that all of the instruments seeking intelligent life in the universe are pointed away from earth?

Funniest Foible of the Borg Collective

Fourteen-of-Twelve, cultural liaison for the Borg embassy, uploading assessment document on one of the more ancient edifices found on a desert peninsula of Earth, UFP: "High functionality of aesthetic design, the human engineering units maintain it under a protective shroud on the launch platform. It appears to be powered by a dilithium crystal mounted in a casing of element 47, said assembly located in the main engineering section on lower decks. With appropriate retrofitting of approximately 1728 regeneration alcoves, it is estimated that the vehicle can be returned to warp capability within 128 kiloseconds. The human maintenance units are inefficient and lacking proper direction, milling about in circular pattern, rather than attention to completing necessary tasks. It is recommended that the Collective immediately dispatch maintenance and assimilation crews as part of Our technical assistance program to less-developed species. End of report."

Julia's questions for the Borg: "OK, so you say that resistance is futile. Does that imply that capacitance is puerile? Does assimilation promote alliteration? Your body piercings are 'way cool, but does the process hurt much? Haven't you guys assimilated Monty Python yet? They are possessors of invaluable high-quality data on the larch, holy grails, and classified files from the Ministry of Funny Walks. In fact: No time to lose ... Do you have National Health Care? Sick leave? Twelve Step Programs? Minimalist music? All right, Philip Glass was previously assimilated, you say... then check out square pianos. How about this? I have replicated the ultimate weapon against Species 8472: 1,048,576 cases of Post-it* notes micro-embossed on both sides with the words "Kick me to view other side" in languages of all catalogued species. Do I qualify for membership in the Borg? I've heard that you all are a rather elitist IQ society ...


Compendium of Computer Jargon, shared by Walt

Alpha. Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for "doesn't work."

Beta. Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work."

Computer. Instrument of torture. The first computer was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked! On April 8, 1945, Adolf became so enraged at the "Incompatible File Format" error message that he shot himself. The war ended soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for IBM.

CPU. Central propulsion unit. The CPU is the computer's engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is a old machine, a ferret if it's a Pentium and a ferret on speed if it's a Pentium II.

Default Directory. Black hole. Default directory is where all files that you need disappear to.

Error message. Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to place blame on users for the program's shortcomings.

File. A document that has been saved with an unidentifiable name. It helps to think of a file as something stored in a file cabinet - except when you try to remove the file, the cabinet gives you an electric shock and tells you the file format is unknown.

Hardware. Collective term for any computer-related object that can be kicked or battered.

Help. What we all need. Actually, it is the feature that assists in generating more questions. When the help feature is used correctly, users are able to navigate through a series of Help screens and end up where they started from without learning anything.

* Reg trademark of 3M, not officially categorized as a 4.3-sigma group (99.9992 %ile) despite the suggestive name.

** No accident that the Angst section is followed by Whimsy. So then, is humor a kind of meta-angst or was Aristotle too uptight to laugh?

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