Specialists

I don’t know who came up with this — it’s been bouncing around science journals for 50 years:

hydromicrobiogeochemist: one who studies small underwater flora and their relationship to underlying rock strata by using chemical methods

microhydrobiogeochemist: one who studies flora in very small bodies of water and their relationship to underlying rock strata by using chemical methods

microbiohydrogeochemist: one who studies small flora and their relationship to underlying rock strata by using chemical methods and SCUBA equipment

biohydromicrogeochemist: a very small geochemist who studies the effect of plant life in hydrology

hydrobiomicrogeochemist: a very small geochemist who studies wet plants

biomicrohydrogeochemist: a very small, wet geochemist who likes lettuce

Oh

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_071115-N-6524M-001_Sailors_and_Marines_shout_.jpg

While on assignment aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Enterprise, Life photographer Bob Landry submitted a dubious expense report. The magazine wired him:

JUSTIFY EXPENSE ACCOUNT ITEM: TAXIS.

Landry wired back:

DAMN BIG CARRIER.

Open and Shut

A man’s wife disappears and he’s accused of killing her. At the trial, his lawyer tells the jury, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have amazing news. Not only is my client’s wife actually alive, but she’ll walk through that door in ten seconds.”

An expectant silence settles over the courtroom, but nothing happens.

“Think about that,” the lawyer says. “The fact that you were watching the door, expecting to see the missing woman, proves that you have a reasonable doubt as to whether a murder was actually committed.”

He sits down confidently, and the judge sends the jury off to deliberate. They return in ten minutes and declare the man guilty.

“Guilty?” says the lawyer. “How can that be? You were all watching the door!”

“Most of us were watching the door,” says the foreman. “But one of us was watching the defendant, and he wasn’t watching the door.”

Self-Service

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Franklin-Benjamin-LOC-head.jpeg

One day [Ben Franklin] came, half-frozen from his long ride, to a wayside inn. A great crowd was about the fire, and for some time Franklin stood shivering. Suddenly he turned to the hostler.

‘Hostler,’ said he in a loud voice, ‘have you any oysters?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Well, then,’ commanded Franklin in still louder tones, ‘give my horse a peck!’

‘What!’ exclaimed the hostler, ‘give your horse oysters!’

‘Yes,’ said Franklin, ‘give him a peck.’

The hostler, decidedly astonished, prepared the oysters and started for the stable. Everybody instantly arose from the fire-place and rushed out to see the marvellous horse eat oysters. Franklin took the most comfortable seat before the roaring blaze, and calmly awaited developments. Soon all returned, disappointed and shivering.

‘I gave him the oysters, sir,’ said the hostler, ‘but he wouldn’t eat them.’

‘Oh, well, then,’ answered Franklin nonchalantly, ‘I suppose I shall have to eat them myself. Suppose you try him with a peck of oats.’

— Carl Holliday, The Wit and Humor of Colonial Days, 1912

Red and Black

Jokes from the Soviet Union, from University of Louisville historian Bruce Adams’ 2005 collection Tiny Revolutions in Russia:

A man is walking along the road wearing only one boot. ‘Did you lose a boot?’ a passerby asks sympathetically. ‘No, I found one,’ the man answers happily.

What is it that doesn’t knock, growl or scratch the floor?
A machine made in the USSR for knocking, growling, and scratching the floor.

It is the middle of the night. There is a knock at the door. Everyone leaps out of bed. Papa goes shakily to the door. ‘It’s all right,’ he says, coming back. ‘The building’s on fire.’

A shopper asks a food store clerk, ‘Are you all out of meat again?’ ‘No, they’re out of meat in the store across the way. Here we’re out of fish.’

Why doesn’t the Soviet Union send people to the Moon?
They are afraid they won’t come back.

A man fell asleep on a bus. When someone stepped on his foot, he woke with a start and applauded. ‘What are you doing, citizen?’ ‘I was dreaming I was at a meeting.’

‘What is the difference between Pravda [Truth] and Izvestia [The News]?’
‘There is no truth in The News, and no news in the Truth.’

“In the Soviet Army,” said Stalin, “it takes more courage to retreat than advance.”

Strategy

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benjamin_Franklin_playing_chess.jpg

When Franklin was negotiating in Paris, he sometimes went into a café to play at chess. A crowd usually assembled, of course to see the man rather than the play. Upon one occasion, Franklin lost in the middle of the game, when composedly taking the king from the board, he put him into his pocket, and continued to move. The antagonist looked up. The face of Franklin was so grave, and his gesture so much in earnest, that he began with an expostulatory, ‘Sir.’ ‘Yes, Sir, continue,’ said Franklin, ‘and we shall soon see that the party without a king will win the game.’

— From a letter by Frances Wright to Jeremy Bentham, relaying an anecdote from Lafayette, Sept. 12, 1821

Pleasure Gardening

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CubaLibre_front001x.jpg

The 1957 edition of Exotica: Pictorial Cyclopedia of Indoor Plants included a species called Rumandia cocacoliensis of the family Alcoholiaceae.

The description read “Cuba-libre tall, stemless, succulent, with brown-frosty bloom often with lemon flavor; good in summer, keep cool.”

It was indexed without a page number, and disappeared from subsequent editions.

A Deep Question

An Irishman, unknown to me, presented a check of one of our customers, payable to the order of Pat O’Flaherty. I told him it would be necessary for him to bring some one to identify him. ‘Identify! and what in God’s name is that?’ he answered. I endeavored to explain to him that he must go and bring in some of his friends whom we knew to satisfy us that he was Pat O’Flaherty. ‘All right,’ he said, and started off; but had scarcely gone fifty yards when he returned, and with a knowing twinkle in his eye, called out to me, ‘See here, if I’m not Pat O’Flaherty, who the divil am I?’ This was unanswerable.

— Henry C. Percy, Our Cashier’s Scrap-Book, 1879

Update

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spirit_II_in_flight_over_Paris._Built_for_the_San_Diego_Aerospace_Museum._Burned_in_1978_n4.jpg

In late May 1927, when the world had been rejoicing for a week over Charles Lindbergh’s nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic, Robert Benchley sent a telegram to Charles Brackett in Paris:

ANY TIDINGS OF LINDBERGH? LEFT HERE WEEK AGO AM WORRIED.

Brackett wrote back:

DO YOU MEAN GEORGE LINDBERGH?