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There's a dinosaur in my back garden!

The story behind this... Apparently, there's a fellow who digs things out of his backyard and sends his "discoveries" to the Smithsonian Institute, labelling them with scientific names and insisting they are actual archaeological finds. The bizarre truth is that this guy really exists and does this in his spare time! Anyway, what follows is a letter from the Smithsonian Institute in response to his submission of a recently discovered specimen.

Paleoanthropology Division
Smithsonian Institute
207 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20078

Dear Sir:

Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labelled "211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline, post Hominid skull." We have given this specimen careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents "conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago." Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the "Malibu Barbie." It is evident that you have given a great deal of thought to the analysis of this specimen, and you may be quite certain that those of us who are familiar with your prior work in the field were loathe to come to contradiction with your findings.

However, we feel that there are a number of physical attributes of the specimen which might have tipped you off to its modern origin:

  1. The material is moulded plastic. Ancient hominid remains are typically fossilised bone.
  2. The cranial capacity of the specimen is approximately 9 cubic centimetres, well below the threshold of even the earliest identified proto-hominids.
  3. The dentition pattern evident on the "skull" is more consistent with that of a common domesticated canine (dog) than it is of the "ravenous man-eating Pliocene clams" you speculate roamed the wetlands during that time. This latter finding is certainly one of the most intriguing hypotheses you have submitted in your history with this institution, but the evidence seems to weigh rather heavily against it.

Without going into too much detail, let us say that:

A. The specimen looks like the head of a Barbie doll that a dog has chewed upon.
B. Clams don't have teeth.

It is with feelings tinged with melancholy that we must deny your request to have the specimen carbon dated. This is partially due to the heavy load our lab must bear in its normal operation, and partly due to carbon dating's notorious inaccuracy in fossils of recent geologic record. To the best of our knowledge, no Barbie dolls were produced prior to 1956 AD, and carbon dating is likely to produce wildly inaccurate results.

Sadly, we must also deny your request that we approach the National Science Foundation's Phylogeny Department with the concept of assigning your specimen the scientific name "Australopithecus spiff-arino." Speaking personally, I, for one, fought tenaciously for the acceptance of your proposed taxonomy, but was ultimately voted down because the species name you selected was hyphenated, and didn't really sound like it might be Latin.

However, we gladly accept your generous donation of this fascinating specimen to the museum. While it is undoubtedly not a hominid fossil, it is, nonetheless, yet another riveting example of the great body of work you seem to accumulate here so effortlessly. You should know that our Director has reserved a special shelf in his own office for the display of the specimens you have previously submitted to this Institution, and the entire staff speculates daily on what you might happen upon next in your digs at the site you have discovered in your backyard.

Additionally, we eagerly anticipate your trip to our nation's capital, which you proposed within your last letter. Several of us on the staff are pressing the Director to pay for it. We are particularly interested in hearing you expand on your theories surrounding the "trans-positating fillifitation of ferrous ions in a structural matrix" which make the excellent juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex femur you recently discovered, take on the deceptive appearance of a rusty 9-mm Sears Craftsman automotive crescent wrench.

Yours in Science
Harvey Rowe
Curator, Antiquities


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US courtroom humour

Recently reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, the following are questions actually asked by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses:


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You know you're an E-mail Junkie when ...

  1. You wake up at 3 am. to go to the bathroom and stop to check your email on the way back to bed.
  2. You get a tattoo that reads "This body best viewed with Netscape Navigator 3.0 or higher."
  3. You name your child Dotcom.
  4. You turn off your modem and get this awful empty feeling, like you just pulled the plug on a loved one.
  5. You spend half of the plane trip with your laptop on your lap ... and your child in the overhead compartment.
  6. You decide to stay in college for an additional year or two, just for the free Internet access.
  7. You laugh at people with ordinary dial-up modems.
  8. You start using smileys in your snail mail.
  9. Your hard drive crashes. You haven't logged in for two hours. You start to twitch. You pick up the phone and manually dial your ISP's access number. You try to hum to communicate with the modem...and you succeed.
  10. You find yourself typing "com" after every period when using a word processor.com
  11. You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.
  12. You start introducing yourself as "John Doe at CSi dot com."
  13. All of your friends have an @ in their names.
  14. Your cat has its own home page.
  15. You can't call your mother...she doesn't have a modem.
  16. You check your mail. It says "no new messages." So you check it again.
  17. Your phone bill comes to your doorstep in a box.
  18. You don't know what sex three of your closest friends are, because they have neutral nicknames and you never bothered to ask.
  19. You move into a new house and decide to Netscape before you landscape.
  20. You tell the taxi driver you live at "http://1000.edison.garden/house/brick.html."

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Five reasons why computers must be female …

  1. No one but their creator understands their logic.
  2. Even the smallest mistakes are immediately committed to memory for future reference.
  3. The native language used to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
  4. The message, "Bad command or filename," is about as informative as "If you don't know why I'm mad at you, then I'm certainly not going to tell you."
  5. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your salary on accessories for it.

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Hands up, this is a rubbery

Rothesay, Scotland

In August 1975 three men were on their way in to rob the Royal Bank of Scotland in Rothesay, when they got stuck in the revolving doors. They had to be helped free by the staff and, after thanking everyone, sheepishly left the building. A few minutes later they returned and announced their intention of robbing the bank, but none of the staff believed them. When they demanded 5,000 pounds in cash, the head cashier laughed at them, convinced that it was a practical joke. One of the men jumped over the counter, but fell to the floor clutching his ankle. The other two tried to make their getaway, but got trapped in the revolving doors again. They were captured.

San Francisco, California

It seems a man, wanting to rob a downtown Bank of America, walked into the branch and wrote "This iz a stikkup. Put all your muny in this bag." While standing in line, waiting to give his note to the teller, he began to worry that someone had seen him write the note and might call the police before he reached the teller window. So he left the Bank of America and crossed the street to Wells Fargo. After waiting a few minutes in line, he handed his note to the Wells Fargo teller. She read it and, surmising from his spelling errors that he was not the brightest light in the harbour, told him that she could not accept his stick up note because it was written on a Bank of America deposit slip and that he would either have to fill out a Wells Fargo deposit slip or go back to Bank of America. Looking somewhat defeated, the man said "OK" and left the Wells Fargo. The Wells Fargo teller then called the police who arrested him a few minutes later, as he was waiting in line back at the Bank of America.

Paris

After being released from jail as the result of a clerical error, a bank robber indicated that he wanted police to return 500,000 francs he stole during several bank raids. "I simply want them to return money which was honestly stolen," said Philippe Thomas. "It's a scandal to have your savings robbed from you like that."

Bumpus, Tennessee

A bank robber in Bumpus, Tennessee, handed a teller the following note: "Watch out. This is a rubbery. I hav an oozy traned on your but. Dump the muny in a sack, this one. No die packkets or other triks or I will tare you a new naval."

Dr. Creon V.B. Smyk of the Ohio Valley Educational Council says such notes are, lamentably, the rule. "Right across the board, we see poor pre-writing skills, problems with omissions, tense, agreement, spelling and clarity," he moaned. Smyk believes that the quality of robbery notes could be improved if criminals could be taught to plan before writing. "We have to stress organisation: Make an outline of your robbery note before you write it," he said. "Some of the notes get totally sidetracked on issues like the make, model and calibre of the gun, number of bullets, etc., until one loses sight of the main idea - the robbery."

Bent Forks, Illinois

In Bent Forks, Illinois, kidnappers of ice-cube magnate Worth Bohnke sent a photograph of their captive to Bohnke's family. Bohnke was seen holding up a newspaper. It was not that day's edition and, in fact, bore a prominent headline from some years before. This was pointed out to the kidnappers in a subsequent phone call. They responded by sending a new photograph showing an up-to-date newspaper. Bohnke, however, did not appear in the picture. When this, too, was refused, the kidnappers became peevish and insisted that a photograph be sent to them showing all the people over at Bohnke's house holding different issues of "Success" magazine. They provided a mailing address and were immediately apprehended. They later admitted to FBI agents they did not understand the principle involved in the photograph/newspaper concept. "We thought it was just some kind of tradition," said one. Educators agree that such mix-ups point to poor reasoning and comprehension skills, ignorance of current events, and failure to complete work in the time allotted.

Washington, DC.

A convict broke out of jail in Washington D.C., then a few days later accompanied his girlfriend to her trial for robbery. At lunch, he went out for a sandwich. She needed to see him, and thus had him paged. Police officers recognised his name and arrested him as he returned to the courthouse in a car he had stolen over the lunch hour.

Radnor, Pennsylvania

Police in Radnor, Pennsylvania, interrogated a bank robbery suspect by placing a metal colander on his head and connecting it with wires to a photocopy machine. The message "He's lying" was placed in the copier, and police pressed the copy button each time they thought the suspect wasn't telling the truth. Believing the "lie detector" was working, the suspect confessed.

Ionia, Michigan

When two service station attendants in Ionia, Michigan, refused to hand over the cash to an intoxicated robber, the man threatened to call the police. They still refused, so the robber called the police and was arrested.


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Only in the U.S. legal system

A Charlotte, North Carolina man, having purchased a case of rare, very expensive cigars, insured them against ... get this ... fire.

Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of fabulous cigars, and having yet to make a single premium payment on the policy, the man filed a claim against the insurance company. In his claim, the man stated that he had lost the cigars in "a series of small fires."

The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in a normal fashion. The man sued... and won!

In delivering his ruling, the judge stated that since the man held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable, and also guaranteed that it would insure the cigars against fire, without defining what it considered to be "unacceptable fire," it was obligated to compensate the insured for his loss.

Rather than endure a lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the judge's ruling and paid the man $15,000 for the rare cigars he lost in "the fires." After the man cashed his check, however, the insurance company had him arrested ... on 24 counts of arson! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used as evidence against him, the man was convicted of intentionally burning the rare cigars and sentenced to 24 consecutive one year terms!

Licence to jail

Two Kentucky men tried to pull the front off a cash machine by running a chain from the machine to the bumper of their pickup truck. Instead of pulling the front panel off the machine, though, they pulled the bumper off the truck. They panicked and fled, leaving the chain still attached to the machine, their bumper still attached to the chain, and their license plate still attached to the bumper.

In the bag

A "tourist," supposedly on a golf holiday, stood in line at the customs counter. While making idle chatter, the customs official thought it odd that the golfer didn't know what a handicap was. The officer then asked the tourist to demonstrate his swing. He did - backwards. A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.

Made for TV

Guns For Hire, an Arizona company specializing in staged gunfights for Western movies, got a call from a 47-year-old woman who wanted to have her husband shot. She was sentenced to four years in jail.

Do you accept credit cards?

A Texan convicted of robbery worked out a deal to pay $9600 in damages rather than serve a two-year prison sentence. For payment, he provided the court a forged check. He got his prison term back, plus eight more years.

You mean me ??!!

A pair of Michigan robbers entered a record shop nervously waving revolvers. The first one shouted, "Nobody move!" When his partner moved, the startled first bandit shot him.

Deadheads

A man in Orange County Municipal Court had been ticketed for driving alone in the carpool lane. He claimed that the four frozen cadavers in the mortuary van he was driving should be counted. The judged ruled that passengers must be alive to qualify.

Learn your lines

When asked for her occupation, a woman charged with a traffic violation said she was a schoolteacher. The judge rose from the bench. "Madam, I have waited years for a schoolteacher to appear before this court," he smiled with delight. "Now sit down at that table and write 'I will not pass through a red light' five hundred times."

Ahh! That's better

A judge in Louisville decided a jury went "a little bit too far" in recommending a sentence of 5,005 years for a man who was convicted of five robberies and a kidnapping. The judge reduced the sentence to 1,001 years.

'armless story

A lawyer defending a man accused of burglary tried this creative defence: "My client merely inserted his arm into the window and removed a few trifling articles. His arm is not himself, and I fail to see how you can punish the whole individual for an offence committed by his limb." "Well put," the judge replied. "Using your logic, I sentence the defendant's arm to one year's imprisonment. He can accompany it or not, as he chooses. "The defendant smiled. With his lawyer's assistance he detached his artificial limb, laid it on the bench, and walked out.


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Downsizing Christmas

The recent announcement that Donner and Blitzen have elected to take the early reindeer retirement package has triggered a good deal of concern about whether they will be replaced, and about other restructuring decisions at the North Pole.

Streamlining was appropriate in view of the reality that the North Pole no longer dominates the season's gift distribution business. Home shopping channels and mail order catalogues have diminished Santa's market share and he could not sit idly by and permit further erosion of the profit picture.

The reindeer downsizing was made possible through the purchase of a late model Japanese sled for the Chairman's annual holiday. Improved productivity from Dasher and Dancer, who recently completed an intensive course at the London School of Economics, is anticipated and should take up the slack with no discernible loss of service. Reduction in reindeer will also lessen airborne environmental emissions for which the North Pole has been cited and received unfavourable press.

I am pleased to inform you and yours that Rudolph's role will not be disturbed. Tradition still counts for something at the North Pole. Management denies, in the strongest possible terms, the earlier leak that Rudolph's nose got that way not from the cold, but from substance abuse. Calling Rudolph "a lush who was into the sauce and never did pull his share of the load" was an unfortunate comment, made by one of Santa's helpers and taken out of context at a time of year when he is known to be under executive stress.

As a further restructuring, today's global challenges require the North Pole to continue to look for better, more competitive steps. Effective immediately, the following economy measures are to take place in the "Twelve Days of Christmas" subsidiary:

The partridge will be retained, but the pear tree never turned out to be the cash crop forecasted. It will be replaced by a plastic hanging plant, providing considerable savings in maintenance.

The two turtle doves represent a redundancy that is simply not cost effective. In addition, their romance during working hours could not be condoned. The positions are therefore eliminated.

The three French hens will remain intact. After all, everyone loves the French.

The four calling birds were replaced by an automated voice mail system, with a call waiting option. An analysis is underway to determine who the birds have been calling, how often and how long they talked.

The five golden rings have been put on hold by the Board of Directors. Maintaining a portfolio based on one commodity could have negative implications for institutional investors. Diversification into other precious metals as well as a mix of blue chip and high technology stocks appear to be in order.

The six geese-a-laying constitutes a luxury which can no longer be afforded. It has long been felt that the production rate of one egg per goose per day is an example of the decline in productivity. Three geese will be let go, and an upgrading in the selection procedure by personnel will assure management that from now on every goose it gets will be a good one.

The seven swans-a-swimming is obviously a number chosen in better times. The function is primarily decorative. Mechanical swans are on order. The current swans will be retrained to learn some new strokes and therefore enhance their employment potential.

As you know, the eight maids-a-milking concept has been under heavy scrutiny by the EEC. A male/female balance in the workforce is being sought. The more militant maids consider this a dead-end job with no upward mobility. Automation of the process may permit the maids to try a-mending, a- mentoring or a-mulching.

Nine ladies dancing has always been an odd number. This function will be phased out as these individuals grow older and can no longer do the steps.

Ten Lords-a-leaping is overkill. The high cost of Lords, plus the expense of constantly replacing robes damaged during the higher leaps, has prompted the Redundancy Committee to suggest replacing this group with ten out-of-work Tory politicians. While leaping ability may be somewhat sacrificed, the savings are significant because we have an oversupply of unemployed Tory politicians this year.

Eleven pipers piping and twelve drummers drumming is a simple case of the band getting too big. A substitution with a string quartet, a cutback on new music and no uniforms will produce savings which will drop right down to the bottom line.

We can expect a substantial reduction in assorted people, fowl, animals and other expenses. Though incomplete, studies indicate that stretching deliveries over twelve days is inefficient. If we can drop ship in one day, service levels will be improved.

Regarding the lawsuit filed by the Law Society seeking expansion to include the legal profession ("thirteen lawyers-a-suing") action is pending.

Lastly, it is not beyond consideration that deeper cuts may be necessary in the future to stay competitive. Should that happen, the Board will request management to scrutinize the Snow White Division to see if seven dwarfs is the right number.


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Road Sage

A man goes out and buys the best car available in the US or Europe, a 1997 Turbo Roadster. It is the best and most expensive car in the world, and it runs him $500,000. He takes it out for a spin and, while doing so, stops for a red light.

An old man on a moped, both looking about 90 years old, pulls up next to him. The old man looks over the sleek, shiny surface of the car and asks, "What kind of car ya got there, son?"

The dude replies "A 1997 Turbo Roadster. They cost $500,000."

"That's a lotta money!" says the old man, shocked. "Why does it cost so much?"

"Because this car can do up to 320 miles an hour!" states the dude proudly.

The old man asks "Can I take a look inside?"

"Sure" replies the owner.

So the old man pokes his head in the window and looks around.

Leaning back on his moped, the old man says "That's a pretty nice car, alright!"

Just then the light changes, so the guy decides to show the old man what his car can do. He floors it, and within 30 seconds the speedometer reads 320.

Suddenly, the guy notices a dot in his rear view mirror. It seems to be getting closer! Suddenly, Whhhoooooooooossssshhhhhh! Something whips by him, going two, maybe three times as fast! The guy wonders, "What on earth could be going faster than my Turbo Roadster?" Then, ahead of him, he sees a dot coming toward him.

Whooooooooooosh! Goes by again! And it almost looked like the old man on the moped! "Couldn't be," thinks the guy. How could a moped outrun a Turbo Roadster?

Again, he sees a dot in his rearview mirror.

WhoooooooshhhhhhhhKa-BbbbblaMMMMM! It ploughs into the back of his car, demolishing the rear end.

The guy jumps out and it is the old man! Of course, the moped and the old man are hurt for certain. The guy runs up to the dying old man and asks "You're hurt bad! Is there anything I can do for you?"

The old man replies "Yeah. Unhook my suspenders from your side-view mirror!"


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Insurance ups and downs

This man was in a work related accident, so he filled out an insurance claim. The insurance company contacted him and asked for more information. This was his response:

"I am writing in response to your request for additional information for block number 3 of the accident reporting form. I put 'poor planning' as the cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully and I trust the following detail will be sufficient.

I am an amateur radio operator and on the day of the accident, I was working alone on the top section of my new 80 foot tower. When I had completed my work, I discovered that I had, over the course of several trips up the tower, brought up about 300 pounds of tools and spare hardware. Rather than carry the now un-needed tools and material down by hand, I decided to lower the items down in a small barrel by using a pulley, which was fortunately attached to the gin pole at the top of the tower.

Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the top of the tower and loaded the tools and material into the barrel. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 300 pounds of tools. You will note in block number 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh only 155 pounds. Due to my surprise of being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate of speed up the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming down. This explains my fractured skull and broken collarbone.

Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time, I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold onto the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of tools hit the ground and the bottom fell out of the barrel.

Devoid of the weight of the tools, the barrel now weighed approximately 20 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. "As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the tower. In the vicinity of the 40 foot level, I met the barrel coming up. This accounts for the two fractured ankles, and the lacerations of my legs and lower body.

The encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen my injuries when I fell onto the pile of tools, and fortunately, only three vertebrae were cracked. I am sorry to report, however, that as I lay there on the tools, in pain, unable to stand and watching the empty barrel 80 feet above me, I again lost my presence of mind. I let go of the rope.……


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All Square

A little old lady walked into the main London branch of Barclays Bank clutching a large paper bag. She told the young man at the window that she wished open an account with the bank with a £3 million deposit. But first, she said that she wished to meet the Chairman due to the rather large amount of money involved. After looking into the bag and seeing bundles of £100 notes which could have amounted to £3 million, he called the Chairman's office and arranged the meeting.

The lady was ushered into the Chairman's office and introductions made. The old lady explained that she liked to know the people that she did business with on a personal level. The Chairman asked her how she came to have such a large amount of cash. "Was it inheritance?" he asked.

"No," she replied. He was quiet for a minute trying to think where she could have come into £3 million.

"I bet" she stated.

"You bet!" repeated the Chairman. "As in horses?"

"No," she replied, "I bet on people."

Seeing his confusion, she explained that she just bets different things with people. All of the sudden she said, "I bet you £25,000 that by 10:00 am tomorrow your balls will be square".

The bank's Chairman figured that she must be off of her rocker and decided to take her up on the bet. He didn't see how he could lose. For the rest of the day he was very careful. He decided to stay home that evening and take no chances - there was £25,000 at stake.

Next morning and took his shower made certain that everything was anatomically as it should be. He went to his office and waited for the little old lady to arrive, humming on the way. After all, this was the day he stood to make £25,000 for doing nothing?

At 10:00 am sharp, the little old lady was escorted into his office. With her was a younger man who she introduced as her solicitor. Evidently she always brought him along when there was such a large amount of money involved.

"Well", she asked, "what about our bet?"

"I don't know how to tell you this", he replied, "but I'm the same as I always have been, only £25,000 richer". The lady seemed to accept this, but requested that she be able to see for herself. The Chairman thought that this was reasonable and dropped his trousers. She reached out and grabbed his balls and, sure enough, they were not square.

The Chairman looked up and saw her solicitor banging his head against the wall.

"What's up with him?" the Chairman asked.

"Oh him," she replied, "I bet him £100,000.00 that by 10:00 this morning that I would have the Chairman of Barclays Bank by the balls!"


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