Tag Archives: joke

Taxes and accounting jokes

A friend called the other day asking about a financial matter. It seems his wife bought some pictures for  pictures a few days ago for $2000, and after having them apprised, she finds they’re worth $2,000,000.

I started talking about un-realized profits, and mentioned that I never imagined that his wife had such an eye for art. He said, they’re not art pictures, exactly; they’re of you discussing business with the Russians. (It’s a joke — I thought you-all might depreciate it).taxation with representation

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When I started my business, I found that you could deduct medical costs. I called the IRS and asked if I could deduct birth control. They told me: “only if it doesn’t work.”

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I’m glad I learned about parallelograms in school, instead something mundane, like taxes. It’s really come in handy this parallelogram season.

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I got a robo-call asking me to press “1” to hear about a government program for those who wanted to avoid paying back taxes. I did, and a voice said “Leavenworth.”   It wasn’t much of a program, more of a sentence.

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Robert E. Buxbaum, April 5, 2017.  For jokes on other topics, click the jokes tag, here.

Boy-Girl physics humor

Girl breaking up with her boyfriend: I just need two things, more space, and time.

Atoms try to understand themselves.

Atoms build physicists in an attempt to understand themselves. That’s also why physicists build physics societies and clubs.

Boyfriend: So, what’s the other thing?

 

Robert Buxbaum. And that, dear friend, is why science majors so rarely have normal boyfriends / girlfriends.

A female engineer friend of mine commented on the plight of dating in the department: “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”

By the way, the solution to Einstein’s twin paradox resides in understanding that time is space. Both twins see the space ship moving at the same pace, but space shrinks for the moving twin in the space ship, not for the standing one. Thus, the moving twin finishes his (or her) journey in less time than the standing one observes.

Thinking the unthinkable

Do you know how you go about thinking the unthinkable?

 

With an ithberg, of course.

 

Robert Buxbaum. April 12, 2016. I thought it was time for another “dad joke.” Besides, the Titanic sank on April 14th. I spend a fair about of time thinking the unthinkable. On a vaguely similar note:

After Boris died, everyone gathered at his funeral.

The minister started to speak: “He was a model husband, a decent man, a terrific father..”

The widow then makes a motion for her son to come to her.

“What is it mother?” he whispers.

“Dear, go check the casket, I think we’re at the wrong funeral…”

Comedy: what is comedy?

It’s a mistake, I think, to expect that comedy will be funny; the Devine comedy isn’t, nor are Shakespeare’s comedies. It seems, rather, that comedy is the result of mistakes, fakes, and drunks stumbling along to a (typically) unexpected outcome. That’s sometimes funny, as often not. Our expectation is that mistakes and fools will fail in whatever the try, but that’s hardly ever the outcome in literature. Or in life. As often as not, the idiot ends up as king with the intelligent man working for him. It’s as if God is a comic writer and we are his creation. Perhaps God keeps us around for our amusement value, and drops us when we get stale.

It’s not uncommon to have laughs in a comedy; a Shakespearian comedy has some, as does life. But my sense is that you find more jokes in a tragedy, e.g. Romeo and Juliet, or Julius Caesar. What makes these tragedies, as best I can tell, is the great number of honorable people behaving honorably. Unlike what Aristotle claims, tragedy doesn’t have to deal with particularly great people (Romeo and Juliet aren’t) but they must behave honorably. If Romeo were to say “Oh well, she’s dead, I’ll find another,” it would be a comedy. When the lovers choose honorable death over separation, that’s tragedy.

hell viewed as a layer cake. Here is where suicides end up.

Dante’s hell viewed as a layer cake. The “you” label is where suicides end up; it’s from an anti-suicide blog.

Fortunately for us, in real life most people behave dishonorably most of the time, and the result is usually a happy ending. In literature and plays too, dishonorable behavior usually leads to a happy ending. In literature, I think it’s important for the happy ending to come about semi-naturally with some foreshadowing. God may protect fools, but He keeps to certain patterns, and I think a good comic writer should too. In one of my favorite musicals, the Music Man, the main character, a lovable con man is selling his non-teaching of music in an Iowa town. In the end, he escapes prison because, while the kids can’t play at all, the parents think they sound great. It’s one of the great Ah hah moments, I think. Similarly at the end of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, it’s not really surprising that the king (Mikado) commutes the death sentence of his son’s friends on the thinnest of presence: he’s the king; those are his son’s friends, and one of them has married a horrible lady who’s been a thorn in the king’s side. Of course he commutes the sentence: he’s got no honor. And everyone lives happily.

Even in the Divine Comedy (Dante), the happy ending (salvation) comes about with a degree of foreshadowing. While you meet a lot of suffering fools in hell and purgatory, it’s not totally unexpected to find some fools and sinners in heaven too. Despite the statement at the entrance of hell, “give up all hope”, you expect and find there is Devine grace. It shows up in a sudden break-out from hell, where a horde of the damned are seen to fly past those in purgatory for being too pious. And you even find foolish sinning at the highest levels of heaven. The (prepared) happy ending is what makes it a good comedy, I imagine.

There is such a thing as a bad comedy, or a tragic-comedy. I suspect that “The merchant of Venice” is not a tragedy at all, but a poorly written, bad comedy. There are fools aplenty in merchant, but too many honorable folks as well. And the happy ending is too improbable: The disguised woman lawyer wins the case. The Jew loses his money and converts, everyone marries, and the missing ships reappear, as if by magic. A tragic-comedy, like Dr Horrible’s sing along blog; is something else. There are fools and mistakes, but not totally unexpected ending is unhappy. It happens in life too, but I prefer it when God writes it otherwise.

It seems to me that the battle of Bunker Hill was one of God’s comedies, or tragic-comedies depending on which side you look. Drunken Colonials build a bad fort on the wrong hill in the middle of the night. Four top British generals agree to attack the worthless fort with their best troops just to show them, and the result is the greatest British loss of life of the Revolutionary war — plus the British in charge of the worthless spit of land. It’s comic, despite the loss of life, and despite that these are not inferior people. There is a happy ending from the American perspective, but none from the British.

I can also imagine happy tragedies: tales where honorable people battle and produce a happy result. It happens rarely in life, and the only literature example I can think of is  1776 (the musical). You see the cream of the colonies, singing, dancing, and battling with each other with honorable commitment. And the result is a happy one, at least from the American perspective.

Robert E. Buxbaum, September 17-24, 2015. I borrowed some ideas here from Nietzsche: Human, All too Human, and Birth of Tragedy, and added some ideas of my own, e.g. re; God. Nietzsche is quite good on the arts, I find, but anti-good on moral issues (That’s my own, little Nietzsche joke, and my general sense). The original Nietzsche is rather hard to read, including insights like: “A joke is an epigram on the death of a feeling.”

The Italian funeral joke.

One day, while having a latte at my favorite Starbucks, I noticed a most unusual Italian funeral. Instead of one hearse, there were two, one after the other, moving slowly down the street. Behind the hearse, there walked a man with a dog an a leash. Perhaps 80 other men walked behind him, single file.

As this was very unusual, I went up to the man with the dog and asked about it as respectfully as I could. I don’t want to intrude on your sorrow, sir, but I couldn’t help notice this funeral procession. Who passed away, if I may ask. The man looked at me and said that the first hearse contained his wife. “She’d gotten real mad at the dog, and the dog attacked her and killed her.” “I see,” I said, but what about the second hearse? After a pause, the man said, “That’s my mother-in-law. She started to beat the dog, and and the dog went and killed her too.” There then passed a moment of silent brotherhood between me and the fellow.

“Can I borrow the dog?”

“Get in line.”

Robert Buxbaum, January 7, 2014. It’s another shaggy dog story. Long story, sort of pointless; common phrase at the end. It’s funny because it’s a mini-mystery. All the clues were there from the start. Every now and again, I post jokes: engineering jokes, buddhist jokes, a dwarf joke and a Canadian joke, art, architecture.

General Tso’s chicken

Self promotion. It's not for everyone.

Self promotion. It’s not for everyone.

Is funny because …. it’s classical metaphysical humor. The lowly chicken becomes the hero and leader, and the troops are following him/it (to victory).

We know that some unlikely leaders are successful, perhaps just because they’ve the pluck to get up and do something (that’s the secret of American success). Presumably the troops are too timid to lead, and are following this chicken because of his determined air, and his hat and horse: clothes make the man. You should not follow every leader with determination, a fancy hat and a horse, by the way. Some leaders will devour their followers, and most do not care for self promoting underlings.

Robert Buxbaum, Nov.12, 2014.

A shaggy dog story

Shortly after Patricia O’Hara marries Sam Whack, a talking shaggy dog walks into the bank where Patricia works and asks her if he can borrow $10,000. The dog claims to know the bank manager. ‘What have you got for collateral,’ Patricia asks, and the dog presents her with a ceramic octopus that he claims is very valuable.

What is this? she asks.

What is this? she asks.

Confused, Patricia goes to the bank manager. ‘What is this?’ she asks.

“It’s a nick knack, Patty Whack, give the dog a loan.

R.E. Buxbaum, September 29, 2014. The nick knack belongs to a long-time friend, Rich Fezza. The joke is also a long-time friend. For other jokes, click on the navigation bar at right.

Political tensegrity: the west is best

We are regularly lectured about the lack of kindness and humility of the western countries. Eastern and communist leaders in Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia point to Western pollution, consumerism, unemployment as prof you need a strong leader and central control to do good by regulation, thought policing, and wealth redistribution.

Let me point out that the good these leaders provide is extracted from the populace, and the advantage of central control is rarely as clear to the populous as to the leadership. When leaders redistribute wealth or place limits on the internet, movies or books, the leaders are generally exempted, and the populous are not made more moral or generous either. One does not say a prisoner or slave-worker is more generous of moral than one on the outside despite the prisoner working for free. The leaders feel certain they are protecting their people from thought and greed, but it isn’t clear outside of the leadership that these dangers are as great as the danger of despotism or rule by whim.

Authors and thoughts are blocked in the East by the whim of a supreme leader who also determines who is an infidel or enemy, or friend, and which businesses should flourish, and who should be rich (his buddies). By contrast, two fundamentals of western society — things that lead to purported immorality, are citizen rights and the rule of law: that citizens can possess things and do things for their own reasons, or no reason at all, and that citizens may stand as equals before a bar of law, to be judged by spelled-out laws or freed, with equal believability and claim.

In Russia or Iran, the Commissar and Imam have special rights: they can take possessions from others at whim, shut down businesses at whim; imprison at whim  — all based on their own interpretation of God’s will, the Koran, or “the good of the state.” Only they can sense the true good, or the true God well enough to make these decisions and laws. And when they violate those laws they are protected from the consequences; the masses can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, and then some, not even requiring a trial in many places (Gaza, for example) if the leader feels speed is needed. The rule of law with equal treatment is a fundamental of western civilization (republicanism). It is commanded by Moses in the Bible at least seven times: Numbers 15:15, Numbers 15:16, Numbers 15:29, Exodus 12:49, Numbers 9:14, and Leviticus 24:22, “One law and one ordinance you should have, for the home-born, and the foreigner who dwells among you.”

The equal treatment under the law: for rich and poor, king and commoner, citizen and foreigner is a revolutionary idea of the west; that justice is blind. Another idea is personal possessions and freedoms. There is no concept of equality under business law unless there is a business that you can own, and personal possessions and rights. These are not in place in eastern theocracies: they tend to treat the preachers (imams) better than non preachers because they are presumed smarter and better; similarly men are treated better than women, who have few rights, and the state religion is treated better than infidels. In communist countries and dictatorships the dictator can get away with anything. Admittedly, in capitalistic states the rich and powerful find loopholes while the poor find prison, but not always (our Detroit’s ex-mayor is in prison) and it’s not the law. A feature of Eastern theocracies and dictatorships is that they lack a free press, and thus no forum for public exposure of legal mischief.

Einstein on freedom producing good. I'd say freedom is also a good in itself

Einstein on freedom producing good. I’d say freedom is also a good in itself.

The strongest arguments for socialist dictatorship and theocracy is that this is needed to protect the weak. Clement Attlee (labor socialist British Prime Minister, 1945 -56) explained his government’s take over of almost all British business: “There was a time when employers were free to work little children for sixteen hours a day… when employers were free to employ sweated women workers on finishing trousers at a penny halfpenny a pair. There was a time when people were free to neglect sanitation so that thousands died of preventable diseases. For years every attempt to remedy these crying evils was blocked by the same plea of freedom for the individual. It was in fact freedom for the rich and slavery for the poor. Make no mistake, it has only been through the power of the State, given to it by Parliament, that the general public has been protected against the greed of ruthless profit-makers and property owners.”  (Quotes from Spartacus.edu). it’s a brilliant speech, and it taps into the government’s role in the common defense, but it’s not at all clear that a chinless bureaucrat will be a better boss than the capitalist who built the firm. Nor is it clear that you help people by preventing them from work at a salary you decide is too low

England suffered a malaise from public ownership and the distribution of profit by those close the liberal party. Under Attlee there was lack of food and coal while the rest of Europe, and particularly Germany prospered, and passed England in productivity. Germany had no minimum wage, and  still doesn’t have one. In eastern countries, ingenuity is deadened by the knowledge that whatever a genius or worker achieves is taken by the state and redistributed. A cute joke exchange: Churchill and Attlee are supposed to have found themselves in adjoining stalls of the men’s room of Parliament. Churchill is supposed to have moved as far as possible from Attlee. “Feeling standoffish, Winston” Attlee is supposed to have said. “No. Frightened. “Whenever you see something large you try to nationalize it.” Perhaps more telling is this Margret Thatcher’s comment, and exchange. Making everyone’s outcome equal does more to penalize those with real pride in their ideas and work than it does to help the truly needy.

While there is a need for government in regards to safety, roads, and standards, and to maintain that equality of law. It seems to me the state should aid the poor only to the extent that it does not turn them into dependents. There is thus a natural tension between private good and public service similar to the tensegrity that holds cells together. Capitalists can only make money by providing desired goods and services at worthwhile rate, and paying enough to keep workers; they should be allowed to keep some of that, while some must be taken from them to get great things done. I’ve related the tensegrity of society to the balance between order and disorder in a chemical system.

Robert E. Buxbaum August 27, 2014. This essay owes special thanks to a Princeton chum, Val Martinez. Though my training is in engineering, I’ve written hobby pieces on art, governance, history, and society. Check out the links at right.

Grammar on the high seas, pirate joke

Grammar Pirate by Scott Clark, 2013.

Grammar Pirate by Scott Clark, 2013.

Pirate grammar has a special place in American English. The father of our country’s navy was likely John Paul Jones, a pirate; he redesigned our ships, captured some 16 British merchant vessels in the Revolution, and helped supply Washington’s army with guns and powder. Jean Lafitte, pirate hero of the war of 1812, may have been Jewish! The state of Michigan officially celebrates “Talk LIke a Pirate Day” September 19, the day before national pickle day.

No other country states in their constitution that a purpose of the government is to give out letters of marque — that is to mint pirates. Piracy is a great way to fight a war –severely underestimated. ISIS does it quite well. By taking supplies from the other side you weaken them while strengthening yourself. Assuming you need the stuff, you avoid the cost of manufacture, shipping, and logistics, and even if you don’t need some of it, you can usually trade these items you for items you need. It’s a great way to make foreign friends and allies. Ben Franklin sold our pirates’  captured stuff for them during the American Revolution making himself and us better liked — we had no direct need for red uniforms, for example. Pirates should not kill captured merchant seamen, I think, but ransom them , or put them to service in the cause. The Somali pirates do this; not everyone is impressed. Pirate beards may encourage bravery by showing commitment to a revolution. Here’s a song relating beards to piracy: mannen met baarden (men with beards). Bet your aaars, it’s in Dutch.

Pirate grammar is a dialect, not a sign of poor education or lack of success. I suspect that pirate grammar is more useful than standard for referring to people on the fringes of society. For example, how would you introduce a patent lawyer who’s a some-time cross-dresser? It’s simple in pirate-speak: ‘Ms Smith, pleased to meet Johnson, arrrgh patent lawyer.’ Pirate speak can also avoid the uncomfortable he/she by use of the pirate “e”: ‘E’s a scurvy sea dog, e is.’

Robert Buxbaum, July 2, 2014. I think I’ll be havin’ a rum now, and toast to Arrrgh country.