Humor
 

After all, humor makes the world go 'round.  Isn't that how the saying goes?  I've always been a more-or-less jolly character (with the emphasis on "character").  Humor is important to me; it is both a creative outlet, and a way for me to relieve stress.  It is no accident that most (but not all) of the non-technical writing I have done has been humorous.  Here is a sampling of my humor.  If you don't like it ... well, don't tell me!

The Internet Oracle

See the Internet Oracle home page for a full description.  Here is a nutshell description.

The Internet Oracle (formerly known as the Usenet Oracle) is a witty chap who answers all your questions.  Well, okay, what really happens is that when you submit a question, it goes onto a question queue.  A question is then taken off of the queue for you to answer.  Eventually, your question makes it to the front of the queue, and is sent to somebody else.  Their answer is then returned to you.  Thus, netizens can exchange their collective wisdom and humor.  A Priesthood of the Oracle views each such exchange and picks the funniest for a more-or-less periodic Oracularity.  These are posted to rec.humor.oracle.  The readers of rec.humor.oracle then rate each exchange on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best.

 Here are my submissions which have been chosen for the Oracularities.  Notice that I have received frighteningly average ratings.  Maybe I should rename this page to "Jerry's Frighteningly Average Oracularities."  Hmmmm.... Anyway, the 5 numbers after each link are the number of people who voted 1, the number who voted 2, etc.  This is followed by the weighted average of all the votes, a "Q" if I wrote the question or an "A" if I wrote the answer, and sometimes a little explanation.

  • 737-01 (5, 9, 33, 25, 6 / 3.230769 / Q): I had submitted the first two lines of this question several times and received dumb answers in reply.  So I started suggesting stories in an attempt to jog the creative juices of the answerers.  My suggestions got increasingly bizarre, until Kim Moser finally gave me a decent answer.
  • 749-07 (11, 21, 19, 21, 9 / 2.950617 / A): If you have never encountered Eliza before, it is time to pay her a visit.
  • 754-06 (7, 24, 25, 25, 17 / 3.214286 / Q)
  • 756-09 (4, 30, 28, 18, 5 / 2.882353 / A)
  • 788-05 (6, 20, 36, 21, 7 / 3.033333 / A)
  • 824-03 (7, 34, 38, 38, 11 / 3.093750 / A): Let me just say that I was shocked this one made the Oracularities.  I couldn't think of anything sufficiently funny for #1, so I just wrote it off as a lame attempt to make the supplicant smile.  And it got picked.  Sigh.  This was written while the ill-fated Internet Decency Act was being debated in Congress.  Note the transition here from "Usenet Oracle" to "Internet Oracle".
  • 836-01 (4, 20, 48, 42, 21 / 3.414815 / Q): This is based on a real event.  My wife was only sort of amused that I actually asked the Oracle about it.
  • 846-02 (5, 20, 15, 21, 46 / 3.775701 / A): The supplicant's name was changed by the Oracular Priest to protect him from ridicule (fortunate man!).  Also, some of the formatting in my reply got messed up along the way somewhere, but you can figure it out.  Finally, let me note that, even though I poke some fun at Indians (people from India, not American Indians), it is all supposed to be in good fun.  After all, my Ph.D. advisor, 2 of my grad school friends, and many of the graduate students who have worked under me are from India.  This is my all-time highest-scoring Oracularity.  I just wish I had thought up a better ending to that answer.
  • 861-04 (4, 13, 32, 37, 14 / 3.440000 / A): If legalities and technicalities interest you, have a look at the related discussion on rec.humor.oracle.d after this appeared in the Oracularities.
  • 873-06 (13, 21, 43, 21, 12 / 2.981818 / A): Kirsten Chevalier, now a famed Oracle priestess, asked a question whose answer made the digest as 873-02.  She liked the answer so much, that she asked this question, giving her two questions in one digest.  Most of the jokes here would only be understood by rec.humor.oracle.d denizens of the time.  Sorry about that.  I guess it should be obvious that a certain database product was on version 7.3 when I wrote this.
  • 904-05 (11, 37, 36, 28, 10 / 2.909836 / A): Lucky for me that I had read the Clarke book in question just a month before receiving this question.
  • 915-10 (12, 26, 32, 29, 21 / 3.175000 / A)
  • 930-09 (9, 12, 22, 25, 12 / 3.237500 / A): This answer was written during a UPS strike.
  • 957-10 (4, 18, 31, 26, 16 / 3.336842 / A)
  • 979-06 (16, 36, 29, 8, 6 / 2.494737/ Q)
  • 1005-01 (15, 25, 23, 17, 3 / 2.614458 / Q)
  • 1012-05 (7, 23, 39, 18, 6 / 2.863158 / A): Hey, does anybody get the joke in the "You owe..." line?
  • 1052-05 (2, 13, 29, 23, 14 / 3.419753 / A)
  • 1057-09 (6, 10, 19, 22, 12 / 3.347826 / Q): I don't even want to talk about this one.  Suffice it to say that the lament in the question was inspired by actual events.  It did my heart good to get back a parody of a parody.  For those who don't recognize it, this is a parody of Lewis Carroll's poem, "You Are Old, Father William", which is itself a parody of "The Old Man's Comforts, and How He Gained Them".  Carroll's version appeared in his famous book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
  • 1081-08 (5, 19, 32, 16, 2 / 2.878378 / A)
  • 1347-03 (1, 14, 18, 21, 5 / 3.254327 / Q): All of the previous Oracularities were written while I was a graduate student at UCSB.  I stopped using the Oracle after graduating and becoming a faculty member at the University of Kansas.  But one day, when I reached a high-stress point in my life, I thought it might be nice to try another exchange ... and both the question I asked and the question I answered made the Oracularities!  This marks my first (and so far, only) double appearance in a digest.  Those wondering what this question/answer pair is all about should visit the Nethack page.
  • 1347-05 (2, 17, 24, 9, 7 / 3.033898 / A): Need a hint?  Try reading every other letter of the question.
  • 1366-04 (2, 5, 9, 18, 12 / 3.717391 / A)
  • 1369-08 (5, 9, 19, 12, 2 / 2.936170 / A)