Fun_People Archive
10 Jun
Misc oddities from Henry Cate III

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 96 13:45:46 -0700
To: Fun_People
Subject: Misc oddities from Henry Cate III

Excerpted-from: Life  6.4

A man walks into a bank with the intention of getting a loan.  He walks up
to a person behind a desk and says, "I'm in need of a loan and would like
to talk to someone in charge."
"I'm sorry sir, but the loan arranger is not in right now."
"That's alright," said the man, "then I'll a-talk to Tonto."

While critiquing a questionnaire intended for mothers of infants less than
one year old, I came across the following question:

    Have you ever breast fed your baby?

    a) Yes   b) No   c) Don't Know

From: the unix fortune cookie database:

The geographical center of Boston is in Roxbury.  Due north of the center we
find the South End.  This is not to be confused with South Boston which lies
directly east from the South End.  North of the South End is East Boston and
southwest of East Boston is the North End.

From: The "Los Angeles Reader"

Ernest Coveley, thirty-seven, was sentenced to seven years in  prison in
London in November for sixteen armed robberies, fourteen of which were
committed with a cucumber wrapped in foil to resemble a gun.  (In the other
two, he had used an iron bar because he said he could not afford a
cucumber.)  After each of the fourteen robberies, Coveley said, he would
eat his weapon in a  sandwich.

Los Angeles Times, March 8 [yes, but what year? -psl]:

The SR-71 Blackbird spy plane--the one that made a 68-minute flight from
California to Washington, DC last Tuesday--was originally called the RS-71.
But when President Johnson made the first public announcement of the plane
during a national telecast, he called it the SR-71.  So the designation was
changed on 30,000 engineering drawings of the aircraft, making it officially
the SR-71.  If the boss says it's an SR-71, it's an SR-71.
[Also see <> -psl]
[UPDATE: The Fun_People archive moved in September 1998 to:
	<>  -psl]

Forwarded-by:  (Peter Bain)
Subject: Re: Imperial measurements

There is a story about a software contractor who was hired to write code to
calculate range tables for the US Navy.  They used feet for altitude and
statute miles for range.  "No! We're the Navy.  Use NAUTICAL miles!" the
Navy said.  So the contractor changed the code to use nautical miles for
the range.  And negative fathoms for the altitude.

"You haven't told me yet," said Lady Nuttal, "what it is your fiance does
for a living."  "He's a statistician," replied Lamia, with an annoying sense
of being on the defensive.

Lady Nuttal was obviously taken aback. It had not occurred to her that
statisticians entered into normal social relationships. The species, she
would have surmised, was perpetuated in some collateral manner, like mules.
"But Aunt Sara, it's a very interesting profession," said Lamia warmly.

"I don't doubt it," said her aunt, who obviously doubted it very much. "To
express anything important in mere figures is so plainly impossible that
there must be endless scope for well-paid advice on how to do it. But don't
you think that life with a statistician would be rather, er, humdrum?"

Lamia was silent. She felt reluctant to discuss the surprising depth of
emotional possibility which she had discovered below Edward's numerical
veneer.  "It's not the figures themselves," she said finally. "it's what
you do with them that matters."

(K.A.C. Manderville, The undoing of Lamia Gurdleneck)
Subject: Service Interaction

This was in a letter from a friend of mine who works at XXXX.  I thought it
would be a good example of what feature interaction can actually do...

A particularly insidious kind of sales call now appearing in several cities
is one which is initiated by computer, and contains recorded questions by
some mellifluous voice that requires answers in simple digits or "yes" and
"no". A voice recognition circuit then processes your answers and asks
further questions based on your former answers.  The sales pitch is usually
disguised as a survey of some kind.  The despicable thing about these things
is that they won't leave you alone. If you hang up, they will just call back

One day my wife got a call from one of these computer systems, and her
answering machine answered. The conversation that followed consisted of two
machines talking to each other without having the slightest idea about what
each other was saying. The conversation wound up in an endless loop, as


[ANSWERING MACHINE] "...At the tone, please give your message.  BEEEEEP."

[PHONE] "Hello. This is [company_name], and we are taking a telephone survey
... when I ask a question, wait for the beep, then please speak plainly.  I
will repeat your answer back to you, and verify it.  First, what is your phone

(The answering machine, upon hearing the beep, got confused and thought it was
a play-back command, and generated another beep in response.)


[PHONE] "Thank you! Your phone number is 443-28347-47756-377764-22222.  Is


[PHONE] "Thank you! Do you have any children? BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] Thank you! What is the age of your first child? BEEEEEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] "Your first child is 1,222 years old. Is that correct?


[---------------  BEGIN ENDLESS LOOP ----------------]

[PHONE] "Thank you! Do you have any more children? BEEEEEEP."


[PHONE] "Thank you! What is this child's age? BEEEP."


[PHONE] "This child is 4,233 years old. Is that correct? BEEEEP."


[---------------------END LOOP -----------------------]

My wife, upon noticing that the answering machine had been going for over half
an hour, turned up the volume to find out what was going on. When she
discovered this endless loop (by now she had over 200 children, all over 1,000
years old), she switched off the answering machine. The computer never called

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