To do list, October 21, 1950

Be kind,
have initiative,
have a sense of humour,
tell right from wrong,
make mistakes,
fall in love,
enjoy strawberries and cream,
make some one fall in love with you,
learn from experience,
use words properly,
be the subject of your own thought,
have as much diversity of behaviour as a man,
do something really new.

(Activities that critics claim a machine could never by fundamental nature perform, from Alan Turing’s Computing Machinery and Intelligence, 1950. Submitted by Daniel Galef)

A brutal nadir

I took my seat
at the microfilm reader
and began to scroll
through the archives.

For the first hundred years,
as far as I could tell,
all that happened in America
was that various people
named Nathaniel
had purchased land
near rivers.

I scrolled faster,
finally reaching an account
of an early Colonial-era shaming.

On July 15, 1742,
a woman named Abigail,
her husband at sea,
had been found
“naked in bed
with one John Russell.”

They were to be
“whipped at the public post
20 stripes each.”

was appealing the ruling,
but it wasn’t the whipping itself she wished to avoid.
She was begging the judge
to be whipped early,
before the town awoke.

From How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. Submitted by Daniel Galef.

The Laughter-Lover

Why weren’t you lying down heads-up?
The best and most famous doctors in the city ordered me to sleep like this.

How do you know he’s not coming in by the other gate?
When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?

Time, my good man, to mix me some dark wine.
I’m not thirsty.
Do me the favor while I’m still alive.
How long were their necks, that they could drink from something so deep!
Have my dinner-clothes sent here.
Since you’re under an oath, here’s the fifty thousand. But throw in for free a small casket, in case I need it for my son.

Now you’re mad that you found me screwing your mother for the first time ever!
So is she your daughter?
(You have no clue who your real father is.)
First murder your own children and then tell me to kill mine:
Father, you eat the children; I’ll take mother.
(It’s polite to call her Ma’am.)
She was a fighter.
What made you do it?

The time will come when I’ll build a threshing-floor so big that I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to see me.
I got something I wasn’t bargaining for:
Me, now that I’m alone –
Thanks to buddies like you!
(Look after them well.)
There are a few fire-logs still left. If you want to stop suffering, get yourself cremated on them.
Because you love me.

But what if the boy dies during the night and I lose my fee?
(If he had lived, he would have been all of those things!
If he were guilty of all that, he should have been cremated while still alive.)
What’s your rate for the night?
You can choose. But we don’t have a crumb.
Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the doctor?
Alas, what shall I do? I am torn betwixt two evils!

(Punchlines from the Philogelos, the earliest known joke book. Submitted by Daniel Galef)

Only God can make a tree

Genesis 1:11-12
Hosea 14:8

Now, there’s several different ways of making evergreens.
See? Just back and forth.
Back and forth, back and forth.
And you can just keep going on and on and on and on,
make as many branches on this tree as you want.
(Everybody knows, there’s five hundred branches on a evergreen tree,
So don’t put too many in there,
don’t overkill. . . .)
Back and forth, back and forth.
Leave some limbs out there;
you need places for the little birds to sit.
Little birds gotta have a place to put their foots.

From Bob Ross: Painting An Evergreen Tree. Submitted by Daniel Galef

Steven Seagal is a Good Man

Steven Seagal is A Good Man. Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man.
Steven Seagal is The Patriot. Steven Seagal is The Foreigner. Steven Seagal is The Keeper.
Steven Seagal is Pistol Whipped. Steven Seagal is Submerged.
Steven Seagal is Submerged 2.
Steven Seagal is Out of Reach, Steven Seagal is Out for Justice, Steven Seagal is Out for a Kill.
(Out for Justice? Steven Seagal is a Mercenary for
(Out for a Kill? Steven Seagal is Driven to Kill.
Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill.)
Steven Seagal is The Glimmer Man. Steven Seagal is the Shadow Man.
Steven Seagal is A Dangerous Man. Steven Seagal is A Good Man.
Steven Seagal is My Giant.
Steven Seagal is A Good Man.

(Steven Seagal film titles from movie posters. Submitted by Daniel Galef)

Trinity Tanka

I am become Death
We made a terrible thing
Destroyer of Worlds
What are you moping about?
We’re all sons of bitches now.

(Manhattan Project physicists Richard Feynman, Bob Wilson and J. Robert Oppenheimer on the first atomic explosion, the 1945 Trinity Test. Submitted by Daniel Galef)

In the Shadow of Selene

There’s a thing about being alone
there’s a thing about being lonely
they’re two different things.

I was alone
I was not lonely.
I was very used to being by myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Far from feeling lonely
or abandoned
I feel very much a part of what is taking place
(I don’t mean to deny
a feeling of solitude.)

It is there,

reinforced by the fact … I am alone now
and absolutely isolated
from any (known) life.

If a count were taken,
the score would be:
three billion (plus two)
over on the other side
One (plus
God knows what else…)
on this side.

That was the best part of the flight.

(From Al Worden: ‘The loneliest human being’ and Carrying the Fire by Michael Collins. Submitted by Daniel Galef)