Statistics Saturday: Some Outcomes of Coin Tosses


  • Called tails, came up heads
  • Called heads, came up tails
  • Called tails, coin bounced out of control and rolled under Dig-Dug
  • Called heads, came up heads
  • Called tails, coin flopped onto shoe and got lost in the laces
  • Came up heads before anyone could finish calling
  • Called heads, came up tails, swore they called heads instead
  • Called tails, cool friend snatched coin out of the air
  • Got into argument about who gets to call and who gets to toss, get into heated round of rock-paper-scissors to decide tossing and calling order.
  • Called tails, came up heads, agreed to extend this to three-out-of-five
  • Called heads, two-tailed fox emerges from video game to ask what your problem with him is
  • Called heads, came up tails, swore they called heads instead; a brawl ensues
  • Called heads, landed sideways when it got caught in a crack in the floorboards, had temporarily the power to be Dick York and also read minds
  • Called heads, power blipped out mid-toss and couldn’t see the coin
  • Called tails, came up heads, agreed to extend this to four-out-of-seven
  • Called tails, noticed was two-headed coin, causing accusations of cheating; a brawl ensues
  • Called heads, tossed coin, never came down because you forgot you were on top-secret spaceship flying to Mars
  • Called tails, tossed coin, never came down because you forgot you were on top-secret spaceship flying to Mars
  • Called heads, came up it was the Mount Rushmore national-parks quarter so arguably both sides are heads and it isn’t even a cheating coin; a brawl ensues
  • Called heads, came up tails

Reference: Computers In Spaceflight: the NASA Experience, James E Tomayko.

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Statistics Saturday: Twenty Imaginary Eras In French History


  • The Third Empire
  • Restored Orleanism
  • The Algiers Republic
  • Bloisplosion
  • Le Fin-du-Mer
  • When Brittany Was But A Ballroom
  • The Lesser Infantasy
  • Clovis, Clovis, Clovis, Marc, Henri, and Danielle
  • The Slendering of the Fattened Hats
  • L’année des Ratons Laveur
  • The Glass Languedoc
  • The Seven Reigns of Queen Mercredi
  • Too Many Saints-Marcel
  • The Halving of the Mauve
  • The Bois are Barque En Têt
  • Nineteen Sixty-J
  • Six Pragmatic Bretons and their Goat
  • Nantes Énorme et le Poivre
  • Reynard’s Truce of the Dances
  • The Second Technocracy of Dreux

Source: This New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury, Loyd S Swenson Jr, James M Grimwood, Charles C Alexander.

Bonus: six of these are also titles of upcoming Doctor Who episodes.

Also bonus: I am way too proud of “The Bois are Barque En Têt” considering it only works to the tiny extent it does if you know that the Têt is the largest river in southwestern France and even then it isn’t actually “funny” so much as it is “adequately researched”.

Statistics Saturday: Uncertainly Named United States


  • Maybesota
  • Arkansish
  • Kansish
  • Possylvania

Source: Who’s Who In Mythology: A Classic Guide to the Ancient World, Alexander S Murray.

Well, the thing is, sometimes you know you have a good solid premise on the board, and you put it through the full development process and you see that it isn’t there yet, and you go back and you give it another two weeks of work, and you know the idea hasn’t blossomed to what it should. So you can either go with what you have, or write off the whole project as a loss, or toss it back into the scraps for use in a future piece. But what else could this be used for? A joke about not being able to remember the names of states? When is that going to come up? I mean, two-thirds of my jokes are based on remembering some impossibly petty bit of nonsense, like who was the Secretary of the Treasury in 1853 or something. Not being able to think of Arkansas? Impossible. Switch over to indifferently named states? You have to throw away all of these, really. Maybe not Kansish. But all you get back from it is “Mehvada”. Possibly “Alabamnah”. Not getting any closer done. Anyway I still believe in this premise.

Statistics Saturday: Several Fake Canadian Provinces Or Territories


  • Upper Columbia
  • Greater Toronto
  • District of Skagway
  • Breton
  • Lesser Fromronto
  • Mtigwaki
  • South Brunswick
  • Middling Threeronto
  • Roberta
  • Upper Saddle River
  • Fouronto
  • Adanac
  • Manicotti
  • Moosylvania
  • Scottish Oregon
  • Severaltoba
  • Gogebic County, Michigan
  • Territory of Sasquatch
  • Shuswap Regional District Time
  • Montreal Oblast
  • Maplesota Territory
  • Equatorial Labrador
  • Saskatchemifyoucan
  • Prince Rupert’s Nose

Note: Mooseapopalis is not named as it is, of course, a fictional city in Nova Carolus and not a fake province or territory of Canada. We weren’t born yesterday.

Fun Fact: I did not call this “Faux Canada” because the wordplay never crossed my mind, and don’t think I’m not all burnt up about that. I may never forgive myself. Well, it’s too late now. Too bad.

Another Fun Fact: I am completely incapable of telling whether a fact is, in fact, fun.

Source: History of the Space Shuttle, Volume 1: The Space Shuttle Decision, 1965 – 1972, T A Heppenheimer.

Statistics Saturday: Acceptable Answers To The Question ‘How’re You Doing?’


  • Good.
  • Fine.
  • Okay.
  • Fair to middling.
  • Tired.
  • Exhausted.
  • Middling to al dente.
  • Busy.
  • Only crying on the inside.
  • Only crying on the outside.
  • Enraged.
  • Super-enraged.
  • I’m an enormous quivering ball of rage and exhaustion.
  • Middling to angry.
  • About what?
  • Fine, thank you.
  • You too. [ Then a recognition of having said something slightly out of synch with the question, followed by hiding under the bed. ]
  • 7, maybe 7.5.
  • Well done.

Note: “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you” has never been an acceptable answer. It has been officially deprecated since 1986 and come the end of this calendar year will be expunged from all decent conversation, we hope.

Source: For Spacious Skies: The Uncommon Journey of a Mercury Astronaut, Scott Carpenter and Kris Stoever.

Statistics Saturday: How Awesome An Idea Is vs How Far I Am From Any Way To Record It


Plot of how awesome the idea is versus how far to record it. The awesomeness is middling at short distances, 'where I write', drops a bit to the 'zone of getting normal stuff done', and then starts rising exponentially, with a note that the end part if 'projected'.
Yeah, but when I was in line for Steel Vengeance roller coaster at Cedar Point, 45 minutes away from my car and three and a half hours away from home, this was the most awesomely funny idea ever.

Source: The Rutgers Picture Book, Michael Moffatt.

Statistics Saturday: Some Yoga Poses Which Do Not Ordinarily Turn You Into The Thing Posed


  • Dog Pose
  • Cobra Pose
  • Corpse Pose
  • Rabbit Pose
  • King Cobra Pose
  • Clock Pose
  • Camel Pose
  • Emperor Cobra Pose
  • Chair Pose
  • Monopoly Board Pose
  • Pope Cobra Pose
  • Fish Pose
  • Vulcan Sehlat Pose
  • Lieutenant-Governor Cobra Pose
  • Pigeon Pose
  • Wii Balance Board Pose
  • Deputy Assistant Regional Director Cobra Pose
  • Dolphin Pose
  • Tree Pose
  • Demoralized Cobra Pose

Source: Maps and Civilization: Cartography in Culture and Society, Norman J W Thrower.

Statistics Saturday: Some Things Which Are Not Components Of May


Please notice that this is a completely new joke from last month and is not me stalling because “ten fake Greek letters” and “some uncertainly named United States states” haven’t been debugged yet.

  • June
  • February
  • 32nd
  • P
  • Flag Day
  • Winter (northern hemisphere only)
  • Automan
  • K, V
  • Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Test flight 4, mission ALT-15, 12 October 1977.
  • April
  • Turbo, that movie about a snail in the Indianapolis 500.
  • Gravity

Note: Some or all of these may be found in May but are not essential components of such.

Source: Keystone: The Life and Clowns of Mack Sennett, Simon Louvish.

Statistics Saturday: Components of May


Big block that just says 'May' in it.
Fun Fact: May was named after Maia, the Roman Goddess of the Spring, but before the emperor Claudius.

Source: Clara Bow: Runnin’ Wild, David Stenn.

Yes. This. This has to be the joke I’ve been searching for all month. If it isn’t, what else could it be? Exactly. There isn’t one.

Statistics Saturday: Components of May


Components of May: Sunday 4, Monday 4, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 5, Thursday 5, Friday 4, Saturday 4.
Maybe I should be looking at the the letters in the days of the week? Like, how Saturday is the only day of the week to have any of the letters of ‘d-a-y’ in the part of its name that isn’t ‘day’? Oh, except for Wednesday. Never mind; that clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Source: This Is New Jersey, John T Cunningham.

Seriously, there’s just got to be a legitimate joke somewhere in the composition of May. And I know what you’re thinking but no, it’s not in a grammatical debate about what composes May versus what comprises May. Better people than I have tried making that work and it does not. I can learn from experience.

Statistics Saturday: Components Of May


Doughnut chart, 31 wedges of an annular ring each with one of the whole numbers 1 to 31 pointing to it.
Also the new version of Apple Numbers wants us to know it’s a really big thing that they can draw charts like this. And I guess the doughnut chart is nice enough. But I don’t feel excited by this. Do you?

Source: Airborne Trailblazer: Two Decades with NASA Langley’s 737 Flying Laboratory, Lane E Wallace.

I don’t know. I’m sure I have the right joke in here somewhere. I just don’t know that I’ve found it yet.

Statistics Saturday: Components Of May


Pie chart, with one-third 'M', one-third 'A', and one-third 'Y'.
If you think this whole exercise is just a chance to show off how great the valley in the center of the ‘M’ looks in this typeface (Futura) you’re mistaken. It’s to show off how great the slanted outside legs of the ‘M’ do. But yeah, that valley in the center of the ‘M’ is pretty great too. Really there’s all kinds of great stuff in Futura.

Source: Shakespeare’s Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages, John Julius Norwich.

What do you think? Is this a better rendition of the joke? Or should I just scrap the whole project?

Statistics Saturday: What The Patron Saint Of Various Things Was Killed By


Patron Saint Of Killed By
Archers Cudgels, after recovering from being shot by arrows
Bears Not Bears
Ailments of the Throat Beheading
Stenographers Beheading
Firefighters Drowning, after declaring that he would climb on the flames to heaven if the Roman soldiers did burn him at the stake as they were planning to do
Coffee-house Owners Old age while kept for decades in a cell adjacent to the church to hide his deformities from the public
Civil Defense Volunteers Old age, fatigue after delivering a Solemn rather than Low Mass
Tile Makers Plague, possibly?
Also Tile Makers Natural causes
Intestinal Ailments Intestines ripped out and tied around a windlass
Toothache Old age, looks like. He was 99 apparently?
Holy Roman Emperors Executed on orders of the Roman Emperor
Another One For Tile Makers Natural causes again
Not Procrastinating Beheading

Also, really, the patron saint of overcoming procrastination is “Expeditus”? Exactly the name you’d give if you were bluffing your way through being asked “who’s the patron saint of overcoming procrastination”? Or if you were Mel Brooks writing a scene without trying too hard at it? That’s … well, heck. I mean, you know?

Source: European History 1648 to 1789, R M Rayner.

Statistics Saturday: What Textbooks You Need To Major In Mathematics


The courses you take and the textbooks you need for a standard major in mathematics (electives excluded):

Course Textbook
Calculus Introduction to Calculus
Advanced Calculus Vector Calculus
Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations
Introduction to Linear Algebra Introduction to Linear Algebra
Partial Differential Equations Partial Differential Equations: An Introduction
Abstract Algebra Principles of Abstract Algebra
Real Analysis Introductory Real Analysis
Algebra* Algebra
Complex Analysis A Mathematical Introduction To Complex Analysis
Numerical Methods Exploring Numerical Methods For Mathematics
Logic Principles of Mathematical Logic: An Introduction
Seminar Course (Instructor’s Choice)

* We mean Abstract Algebra, not that stuff you do in high school with the x’s and the y’s. In Abstract Algebra we never touch an x or a y, but instead see an awful lot of g and h and a ridiculous number of e’s. And by “Algebra” we mean “Advanced Algebra”, not that stuff from “Abstract Algebra”, which is the introductory course.

Source: Topics in Algebra, I N Herstein.

Statistics Saturday: How Long The Podcast Is When The Hosts Apologize For Running Crazy Long


Episode Time
4 21 minutes
12 32 minutes
14 10 minutes because the episode’s an apology about not having put up a new episode in two months now.
18 51 minutes
25 135 minutes but because “this one’s for the fans”.
28 100 minutes
31 Episode 32
33 6 minutes, because the whole show is an extended apology about how their recording schedule’s really been disrupted because of all this life happening and they’re looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and have some great stuff for new episodes soon.
34 177 minutes
36 Is never published; hosts eventually apologize that something deleted the file and they’re really bummed about this but they’ll record episode 37 someday, which they still say they’ll do if you prod them on Twitter.

Source: The Popeye Story, Bridget Terry.

Statistics Saturday: TV Channel Names Noticed While Checking The DishTV In My Dream Last Night


  • MeGrid: The Matrix
  • Half
  • Lex Pubublublublum
  • AniAction
  • Rorb
  • WQWD
  • Half (a subchannel of the first Half and not, I’m like 40% sure, my subconscious working up a joke about half-and-half, but I’m going to leave that idea out there because it makes a list like this seem that much more believable)
  • Monocle
  • SingTime Express
  • Gulp

Source: Journey To The Moon: The History of the Apollo Guidance Computer, Eldon C Hall.

Statistics Saturday: Every YouTube Video of Humans Interacting With Wild Raccoons


  • 0:02 “Oh! Oh, hi there.”
  • 0:08 “Yes, you’re very cute.”
  • 0:14 “He’s so interested, look at that!”
  • 0:24 “Hi to you too, oh, they’re so adorable.”
  • 0:35 “There. Now you go on now, go on.”
  • 0:42 “No, no, you can’t have that.”
  • 0:45 “Okay, shoo … no, no, you can’t … ”
  • 0:52 “They’re swarming!”
  • 0:58 [ shrieking, running ]

Source: Street Names of Singapore, Peter K G Dunlop.