Matt’s Humor: Politics and Laws

Russian Questionnaire

A recent questionnaire sent out in Russia contained the questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. Where did you go to school?
  3. Where did you attain your majority?
  4. Where do you wish to live?

One return provided the following answers:

  1. St. Petersburg
  2. Petrograd
  3. Leningrad
  4. St. Petersburg

Congress and the Watchman

Once upon a time the government had a vast scrap yard in the middle of a desert. Congress said, “Someone may steal from it at night.” So they created a night watchman position and hired a person for the job.

Then Congress said, “How does the watchman do his job without instruction?” So they created a planning department and hired two people, one person to write the instructions, and one person to do time studies.

Then Congress said, “How will we know the night watchman is doing the tasks correctly?” So they created a quality control department and hired two people, one to do the studies and one to write the reports.

Then Congress said, “How are these people going to get paid?” ┬áSo they created the following positions—a time keeper and a payroll officer—and hired two more people.

Then Congress said, “Who will be accountable for all of these people?” So they created an administrative section and hired three people: an administrative officer, an assistant administrative officer, and a lLegal secretary.

Then Congress said, “We have had this command in operation for one year and we are $48,000 over budget, therefore we must cut costs.”

So they laid off the night watchman.

A Scientist’s Lament

Johnny Hart, in BC

When a man sets out to do that which he’s meant to do
He plots a course to lead him into what he thinks is true.
But when he asks the government for just a tiny grant
He finds out what he’s meant to do is something that he can’t.

Computing π

Keith F. Lynch

Warning: Do not calculate π in binary. It is conjectured that this number is normal, meaning that it contains all finite bit strings.

If you compute it, you will be guilty of:

  1. Copyright infringement (of all books, all short stories, all newspapers, all magazines, all web sites, all music, all movies, and all software, including the complete Windows source code).
  2. Trademark infringement.
  3. Possession of child pornography.
  4. Espionage (unauthorized possession of top secret information).
  5. Possession of DVD-cracking software.
  6. Possession of threats to the President.
  7. Possession of everyone’s SSN, everyone’s credit card numbers, everyone’s PIN numbers, everyone’s unlisted phone numbers, and everyone’s passwords.
  8. Defaming Islam. Not technically illegal, but you’ll have to go into hiding along with Salman Rushdie.
  9. Defaming Scientology. Which is illegal—just ask Keith Henson.
Also, your computer will contain all of the nastiest known computer viruses. In fact, all of the nastiest possible computer viruses.

Some of the files on my PC are intensely personal, and I for one don’t want you snooping through a copy of them.

You might get away with computing just a few digits, but why risk it? There’s no telling how far into π you can go without finding the secret documents about the JFK assassination, a photograph of your neighbor’s six year old daughter doing the nasty with the family dog, or a complete copy of the not-yet-released Pearl Harbor movie. So just don’t do it.

The same warning applies to e, the square root of 2, Euler’s constant φ, the cosine of any non-zero algebraic number, and the vast majority of all other real numbers.

There’s a reason why these numbers are always computed and shown in decimal, after all.