This is a true anouncement from the Captain of a Lufthansa plane on 12 September 2008 at Zurich airport, translated from the German...
"Ladies and gentlemen - you're all on board, the plane is ready, and we could leave. Unfortunately the conditional tense won't help us get airborne. Traffic control say that we'll have to wait about half an hour because of the volume of traffic. I don't know about you, but I can't see that many aircraft movements. Perhaps I should get some glasses."
(The 'Feedback' column in the New Scientist runs a competition every now and then. Feedback had noticed that switching on the Large Hadron Collider had sparked some speculation that this may create the right conditions to enable time travellers from the future to return to our own age. Combining this speculation with a Christmas twist, the Christmas 2008 competition was to tell what happened when three time travellers from the future arrived, bearing gifts. These stories were published in the Christmas issue.)
(From Justin Arthur:)
The visitors bring shiny beads, a mirror and a magnet. "They'll think we are wizards!" one is heard whispering to another.
(From Bob Steeper:)
A European research consortium - predominantly Scandinavian, French and German - bring a visitor from the future, who provides clear guidelines for good humanitanian social development, and in return takes a small quantity of seeds and environmental samples to aid future research.
An American project brings a horde of visitors who extract large quantities of minerals from present-day Earth, leaving bright trinkets with selected tribal leaders.
Both of these visitors bring news the the UK will dither over which research project to join, before finally making a brave choice to go it alone. Despite funding cuts, the equipment will be about to have been completed, and the UK's visitors are out there, somewhen.
(But the best was from David Malarky:)
"Hello, I'm from the future," said the creature as it jumped out of the Large Hadron Collider. "After the Bad Thing happened, life was pretty bad, but we've invented this thing called Fire and now life is pretty good. So I've brought you some Fire."
The second visitor announced that "after the Bad Thing and Fire we were very happy except for carrying heavy things. So we invented the Wheel and now life is almost perfect. So here's a wheel."
The third visitor declared that "life was almost perfect, but we still needed to work. Now we've invented something to abolish work, and it's called Money. You just pass it around, and apparently if you can pass it round quickly enough, it grows and grows and grows all by itself and nobody has to work at all. So I've brought you some Money."
Popular liberal celebrity Jesus Christ has emerged with a brand new, radical agenda. Some of his most controversial ideas include the notion that free-market capitalism be abolished, at least in places of worship, a view that Christ violently outlined Saturday when he tried to incite a riot by overturning the tables being manned by successful, innovate entrepreneurs.
His anti-capitalist agenda is reflected by his ranting about the negative effects caused by a desire for money. He refuses to take a stand on the moral issues eating at the fabric of our society, namely prostitutes, who he believes shouldn't be stoned for their immoral ways.
He believes in a big government, something he demonstrated when he said that taxes should, indeed, be paid to Ceasar. Based on the number of people he's been healing, it's also quite apparent that Christ does not value the efficient free markets when it comes to health care.
Maybe this kind of attitude would be acceptable in Cuba, but we live in America. Here, we celebrate the values that promote self sufficiency and the idea: "Every man for himself!"
Prominent conservatives have shrugged off the seeming popularity of this man, and they like to point out his lack of experience when it comes to his time spent preaching the word of God. Further, he is being publicly insulted in numerous ways: from "an empty robe" to a "class-warring socialist."
Some of these people are calling for punitive measures due to inciting people to change their opinions on religion. As we all know, religious organizations are protected groups with traditional values that have always been respected and are above questioning from angry radicals. By daring to do this, Christ may be considered guilty of treason.
Fox News will bring you more on this man and his dangerous views in the coming weeks.
This arrived as a PowerPoint, with lots of cartoons of the animals mentioned. But it works just as text...
Every day, a small ant arrived at work very early, starting work immediately.
She produced a lot, and was happy.
The Chief, a lion, was surprised to see that the ant was working without supervision.
He thought: if the ant can produce so much without supervision, wouldn't she produce even more if she had a supervisor?
So he recruited a cockroach who had extensive experience as supervisor and who was famous for writing excellent reports.
The cockroach's first decision was to set up a clocking-in attendance system.
He also needed a secretary to help him write and type his reports and...
... he recruited a spider, who managed the archives and monitored all phone calls.
The lion was delighted with the cockroach's reports and asked him to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyse trends, so that he could use them for presentations at Board meetings.
So the cockroach had to buy a new computer and a laser printer and...
... recruited a fly to manage the IT department.
The ant, who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time.
The lion came to the conclusion that it was high time to nominate a person to be in charge of the department where the ant worked.
The position was given to the cicada, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for his office.
The new person in charge, the cicada, also needed a computer and a personal assistant, who he brought from his previous department, to help him prepare a Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimisation Plan.
The department had now become a sad place, where nobody laughed.
It was at that time that the cicada convinced the lion of the need to undertake a thorough review.
So he recruited the owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant, to carry out an audit and suggest solutions.
The owl spent three months in the department and came up with an enormous report, in several volumes, that concluded the department is overstaffed.
Guess who the lion fired first?
The ant, of course, because she "showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude".
A guy is sitting at the bar enjoying a couple of drinks, when he hears a tiny voice say, "That's a very nice shirt you're wearing this evening."
He looks around and notices that the bar is nearly empty, and no one is talking to him. He shrugs it off and continues drinking. A couple of minutes pass, and he hears another tiny voice saying, "You look really handsome with your hair combed like that."
Once again, he looks around and realizes that no one is talking to him. He calls the bartender over and tells him about the voices. "What are they saying?" asks the bartender. The man tells him and the bartender replies, "Oh, don't worry. That's just the peanuts. They're complimentary."
(This is a cartoon from the wonderful xkcd, but it works as text.)
The picture: a man is driving a car.
The text: "I'm just outside town, so I should be there in fifteen minutes... Actually it's looking more like six days... No, wait, thirty seconds."
The caption: "The author of the Windows file copy dialog visits some friends."
If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone else to press 2.
If you have low self-esteem, please hang up. All our operators are too busy to talk to you right now.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4 and 5.
If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want. Just wait a few minutes: we have already sent out a team to pick you up.
If you are manic, please press 6 repeatedly, as quickly as you can.
If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be transferred to the mother ship.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and the little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.
If you are depressed, it doesn't matter which number you press. Nothing is going to make any difference.
If you are delusional and occasionally hallucinate, please be aware that the thing you are holding to the side of your head is alive and about to bite off your ear.
Before a parachute jump one time, I was seated next to man who looked a bit pale, so I struck up a conversation.
"Scared?", I asked.
"No," he replied, "just a bit apprehensive."
"What's the difference?", I asked.
He replied, "It means I'm scared with a university education."
An Exercise to Build Up Strength for Todays Middle-Age Nerds:
Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side.
With a 5 kg potato bag in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, and then relax.
Each day you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10 kg potato bags.
Then try 50 kg potato bags. Then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100 kg potato bag in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I have managed to reach this level.)
After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each bag.
(Another gem from our friend Ruth.)
A wife asks her husband, who is a software engineer, "Could you please go shopping for me and buy one carton of milk, and if they have eggs, get six."
A short time later the husband comes back with six cartons of milk.
The wife asks him, "Why the hell did you buy six cartons of milk?" He replies, "They had eggs."
(Possibly this is more of a parable than a joke, but I think it belongs here more than anywhere else...)
In a small town, a person decided to open up a brothel, right opposite to a church. The church and its congregation started a campaign to block the brothel from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.
Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a lightning bolt struck the brothel and it was burnt to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the brothel owner sued the church authorities on the grounds that the church through its congregation and prayers was ultimately responsible for the destruction of his brothel, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons for the act of God. As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented:
"I don't know how I'm going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a brothel owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire church that doesn't."
(A poem by Kenneth Falconer, sent to us by David Race. David notes: You have no idea how accurately this describes life as a mathematical researcher!)
(with apologies to Michael Flanders and Donald Swann) (This poem appeared on page 42 of The London Mathematical Society
Newsletter, September 2009.)
'Twas on a Monday morning I had a bright idea,
I was lying in the bath tub and the strategy seemed clear,
For a problem posed by Erdös back in nineteen forty nine,
On sequences dilated into subsets of the line.
'Twas on a Tuesday morning I jotted down my thoughts,
I covered backs of envelopes with surds and aleph noughts.
After several cups of coffee I began to feel inspired,
And a lengthy calculation gave the answer I desired.
'Twas on a Wednesday morning I wrote the details out.
My lemmas and corollaries left little room for doubt.
I filled up many pages just to get the logic right,
And with epsilons and deltas I made it watertight.
'Twas on a Thursday morning I typed the paper up,
With "slash subset" and "slash mapsto" to say nothing of "slash cup".
My LaTeXing was perfect, printed out it looked so good,
Should I send it to the Annals? I rather thought I would!
'Twas on a Friday morning I read the paper through,
I checked out every detail as good authors ought to do.
At the bottom of page twenty in an integral I found,
I'd divided through by zero and the proof crashed to the ground.
On Saturday and Sunday I was too depressed to care,
So 'twas on a Monday morning that I had my next idea.
(This poem appeared on page 42 of The London Mathematical Society Newsletter, September 2009.)