Joke time: Spring 2010

Each semester, I offer students a last chance for extra credit by writing their favorite joke or riddle on their crib sheet, with extra credit assigned based purely on how funny I think it is. Here are some of the better ones.

Mathy contributions

Q: What did the acorn say when it grew up?
A: Gee-I’m-a-tree.

Q: Why couldn’t the identity sin(2r) = 2 sin(r) get a loan?
A: It needed a cosigner.

Q: How trigonometric functions do farmers use?
A: Swine and cow-sine.

Q: What do you get when you cross a rooster and a duck?
A: A bird that gets up at the quack of dawn.

Q: What do you get when you cross a rooster and a duck?
A: A vector orthogonal to the cow and the chicken, determined by the right-hand rule.

Q: What’s a polar bear?
A: A rectangular bear after a change of coordinates.

Q: What kind of toilet paper do mathematicians prefer?
A: Multi-ply.

Q: What does a mathematician do when constipated?
A: He works it out with a pencil.

Q: What does Einstein do on the toilet?
A: Brownian motion.

Q: What is the most erotic number?
A: 2110593.
Q: Why?
A: When 2 are 1 and they don’t pay at-10-tion, they’ll know within 5 weeks whether or not, after 9 months, they’ll be 3.

Want some more mathematical pick-up lines?

Did you hear about the largest prime number yet discovered?
According to CNN, it’s four times bigger than the previous record.

I will derive!

One day, Jesus said to his disciples: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like y = 3x^2 + 2x - 7.” A man who had just joined the disciples looked very confused and asked Peter: “What on Earth does he mean by that?” Peter smiled. “Don’t worry. It’s just another one of his parabolas.”

A woman in a bar tries to pick up a mathematician. “How old do you think I am?” she asks coyly. “Well,” he says, “18, by the fire in your eyes. 19, by the color of your cheeks. 20, by the radiance of your face. Now, if we add those up…”

George W. Bush to mathematicians: “It’s come to my attention that y’all are teaching algebra classes in which students learn to solve equations with the help of radicals. I can’t say I approve of that…”

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician went to the races one Saturday and laid their money down. Commiserating in the bar after the race, the engineer says, “I don’t understand why I lost all my money. I measured all the horses and calculated their strength and mechanical advantage and figured out how fast they could run…” The physicist interrupted him: “But you didn’t take individual variations into account. I did a statistical analysis of their previous performances and bet on the horses with the highest probability of winning…” “So if you’re so hot why are you broke?” asked the engineer. But before the argument can grow, the mathematician takes out his pipe and they get a glimpse of his well-fattened wallet. Obviously here was a man who knows something about horses. They both demanded to know his secret. “Well,” he says, between puffs on the pipe, “”first I assumed all the horses were identical and spherical…”

As an experiment, an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are placed in separate rooms and left with a can of food but no can-opener. A day later, the rooms are opened one by one. In the first room, the engineer is snoring, with a battered, opened and emptied can. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he beat the can to its failure point. In the second room, the physicist is seen mouthing equations, with a can popped open beside him. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he examined the stress points of the can, applied pressure, and ‘pop’! In the third room, the mathematician is found sweating, and mumbling to himself, “Assume the can is open, assume the can is open…”

A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were undergoing a thought-process experiment. As part of the experiment, they were seated at a table, given 3 metal spheres, and left alone for a while. After an hour or so, the experimenter returned to each of the three professionals. He checks in on the mathematician first, and finds the balls neatly arranged in a triangle at the center of the table. He checks in on the physicist next, and finds the balls stacked precariously, one on top of the other, in the center of the table. He then checks in on the engineer, and finds one of the balls is broken, one is missing, and the third being carried out in the engineer’s lunchbox.

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer are all given identical rubber balls and told to find the volume. They are given anything they want to measure it, and have all the time they need. The mathematician pulls out a measuring tape and records the circumference. He then divides by two times pi to get the radius, cubes that, multiplies by pi again, and then multiplies by four-thirds and thereby calculates the volume. The physicist gets a large bucket of water, places 3 gallons of water in the bucket, drops in the ball, and measures the displacement to six significant figures. The engineer writes down the serial number of the ball, and looks it up.

A mathematician and an engineer are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The mathematician leans over to the engineer and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks. The mathematician persists and explains that the game is real easy and lots of fun. He explains, “I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $5.” Again, the engineer politely declines and tries to get to sleep. The mathematician, now somewhat agitated, says, “Okay, if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $50!” This catches the engineer’s attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The mathematician asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The engineer doesn’t say a word, but reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill and hands it to the mathematician Now, it’s the engineer’s turn. He asks the mathematician “What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down on four?” The mathematician looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the net and the Library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his co-workers all to no avail. After about an hour, he wakes the engineer and hands him $50. The engineer politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep. The mathematician then hits the engineer, saying, “What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?” The engineer calmly pulls out his wallet, hands the mathematician five bucks, and goes back to sleep.

Arguing with an engineer is a lot like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a few hours, you realize he likes it.

A pessimist will tell you the glass is half-empty. An optimist will tell you the glass is half-full. An engineer will tell you the glass is twice the size it needs to be.

Q: What’s the difference between a woman and a number.
A: A number can have a period and still be rational.

Q: What is 6.9?
A: Good sex interrupted by a period.

“What happened to your girlfriend, that really cute math student?”
“She no longer is my girlfriend. I caught her cheating on me.”
“I don’t believe that she cheated on you!”
“Well, a couple of nights ago I called her on the phone, and she told me that she was in bed wrestling with three unknowns…”

Weapons of math instruction:

At New York’s Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney general John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

“Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,”, Ashcroft said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like “x” and “y” and refer to themselves as “unknowns”, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

“As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle,” Ashcroft declared.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes.

“I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence,” the President said, adding: “Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line.”

President Bush warned, “These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex.”

Attorney General Ashcroft said, “As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertainty of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks.”

Upgrading to Wife 1.0:

Last year a friend of mine upgraded GirlFriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0 and found that it’s a memory hog, leaving very little system resource for other applications. He is only now noticing that Wife 1.0 also is spawning Child-Processes which are further consuming valuable resources. No mention of this particular phenomenon was included in the product brochure or the documentation, though other users have informed him that this is to be expected due to the nature of the application. Not only that, Wife 1.0 installs itself such that it is always launched at system initialization where it can monitor all other system activity.

He’s finding that some applications such as PokerNight 10.3, BeerBash 2.5, and PubNight 7.0 are no longer able to run in the system at all, crashing the system when selected (even though they always worked fine before). At installation, Wife 1.0 provides no option as to the installation of undesired Plug-Ins such as MotherInLaw 55.8 and BrotherInLaw Beta release. Also, system performance seems to diminish with each passing day.

Some features he’d like to see in the upcoming wife 2.0.:

  • A “Don’t remind me again” button
  • A minimize button
  • An install shield feature that allows Wife 2.0 to be installed with the option to uninstall at anytime without the loss of cache and other system resources.

I myself decided to avoid all of the headaches associated with Wife 1.0 by sticking with Girlfriend 2.0. Even here, however, I found many problems. Apparently you cannot install Girlfriend 2.0 on top of Girlfriend 1.0. You must uninstall Girlfriend 1.0 first. Other users say this is a long standing bug which I should have been aware of. Apparently the versions of Girlfriend have conflicts over shared use of the I/O port. You’d think they would have fixed such a stupid bug by now. To make matters worse, the uninstall program for Girlfriend 1.0 doesn’t work very well, leaving undesirable traces of the application in the system.

Another thing that sucks — all versions of Girlfriend continually popup little annoying messages about the advantages of upgrading to Wife 1.0.


Wife 1.0 has an undocumented bug. If you try to install Mistress 1.1 before uninstalling Wife 1.0, Wife 1.0 will delete MSMoney files before doing the uninstall itself. Then Mistress 1.1 will refuse to install, claiming insufficient resources.

To avoid the above bug, try installing Mistress 1.1 on a different system and never run any file transfer applications such as Laplink 6.0. Another solution would be to run Mistress 1.0 via a UseNet provider under an anonymous name.

There are in fact two versions of this bug, and it seems to be a matter of luck which one you get afflicted with. The version described is the milder of the two. With the worse version, before uninstalling itself Wife 1.0 uses the Divorce protocol to install Lawyer 1.0 (and sometimes also Lawyer 1.1, Lawyer 1.2 and Lawyer 1.3 as well).

Lawyer (any version) will run for an indeterminate but lengthy period constantly consuming all resources. When it eventually ends it automatically installs Alimony 26.5, which removes MSMoney and any other financial application as soon as you install it. The core of Lawyer 1.0 remains as a TSR during this time, crashing the system as soon as any attempt is made to stop Alimony 26.5 or to interfere with its operation. This sometimes leads to fatal breakdown of the entire system.

As always, some pics:

Ever wonder where cursors come from?

Division by zero was a common theme, too.

In class I’ve tried to instill an appreciation for correct function notation, especially when in comes to the trigonometric functions. In particular, from time to time in class I’ve been known to say things like “Every time you write sin2 x instead of sin(x)2, God kicks a puppy.” Apparently, however, I didn’t specify which god:

Other good ones

Did you hear about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac?
He stayed up all night wondering if there really was a dog.

Q: What do Americans do when they has an eight-thousand foot deep hole in the ground?
A: They drop a DUSEL in it.

In America, you pretend to work and your boss pays you. In Soviet Russia, you work and your boss pretends to pay you.

Light a man a fire, and you warm him for a night. Light a man on fire, and you warm him for the rest of his life.

Two cannibals are eating a clown. One of them says, “Does this taste funny to you?”

Two cannibals are eating. One says “Your wife makes a really delicious dinner.” The other says “I know. I’m going to miss her.”

A fireman is at the station house working outside on the fire truck when he notices a little boy next door. The little boy is in a little red wagon with little ladders hung off the side. He is wearing a fireman’s hat and has the wagon tied to a dog. The fireman says “Hey little boy. What are you doing?” The little boy says “I’m pretending to be a fireman and this is my fire truck!” The fireman walks over to take a closer look. “Little boy that sure is a nice fire truck!” the fireman says. “Thanks mister”, says the little boy. The fireman looks a little closer and notices the little boy has tied the dog to the wagon by its testicles. “Little boy”, says the fireman, “I don’t want to tell you how to run your fire truck, but if you were to tie that rope around the dog’s neck I think you could go faster.” The little boy says, “You’re probably right mister, but then I wouldn’t have a siren!”

A young boy enters a barber shop and the barber whispers to his customer,”This is the dumbest kid in the world. Watch while I prove it to you.” The barber puts a dollar bill in one hand and two quarters in the other, then calls the boy over and asks, “Which do you want, son?” The boy takes the quarters and leaves. “What did I tell you?” said the barber. “Every single time… That kid never learns!” Later, when the customer leaves, he sees the same young boy coming out of the ice cream store. “Hey, son! May I ask you a question? Why did you take the quarters instead of the dollar bill?” The boy licked his cone and replied, “Because the day I take the dollar the game’s over!”

A little boy’s first day in school and a teacher was going to play a “guessing” game. She passed out items to each of the students and proceeded to ask each student what item they received. When it was the new boy, Jimmy’s turn, the teacher gave him a candy kiss. She asked “Do you know what it is?” Jimmy replied “No.” The teacher said, ” Go ahead and open it up and taste it.” Little Jimmy did so. The teacher then asked, “Now do you know what it is?” Little Jimmy said “Sill no.” The teacher said, “I’ll give you a hint… it is something your daddy wants from your mommy every morning before he goes to work.” A little girl in the back of the class jumps up and screams “Jimmy, spit it out! It’s a piece of ass!!”

The young Indian boy had spent most of his life in a quandary. He felt different yet couldn’t figure why he was just so depressed. He went to the Chief for answers. He asked the chief how his brother Red Deer Running had gotten his name. The chief answered in his typically poetic way. “When Red Deer Running was born, at the moment of his birth, the first thing his mother saw was a beautiful deer running off into the forest… and so Running Deer was named. It is the custom of our tribe to name the offspring according to the spirits in nature visiting upon the birth.” Then, the boy said to the Chief “How did my sister Thundering Bird get her name?” The chief described again, how at the moment of her birth Thundering Bird’s mother had heard a roar of thunder and looking up, saw a bird flying in the sky…” The boy asked again, how his cousin “White Crouching Bear” had been given such a name. And the chief, looking down once more at the boy, explaining the traditions of their tribe. White Bear’s mother had seen a rare white bear crouched over a stream at the moment her baby’s birth. Then he asked the boy “Why do you ask, Two Dogs Fucking?”

And the winner is…

Q: If all the Tea-Partiers were at a convention, and the convention center caught on fire, and the fire department only had time to save one person, who would be saved?
A: America.

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