Coffee Break

FOR SALE BY OWNER. Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica. 45 volumes. Excellent condition. $1,000.00 or best offer. No longer needed. Got married last weekend. Husband knows everything.


A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: “Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Support your answer with a proof.” Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following: First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So, we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand as souls are added. This gives two possibilities. #1 If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose. #2 Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over. So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Therese Banyan during my Freshman year, “That it will be a cold night in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true, and so Hell is exothermic.


Success in academia is hypothesized to require specific phenotypes. In order to understand how such unusual traits arise,  we used human clones to identify the molecular events that occur during the transition from a graduate student to professor. A pool of graduate student clones was subjected to several rounds of random mutagenesis followed by selection on minimal money media in the absence of dental insurance. Students surviving this selection were further screened for the ability to work long hours with vending machine snacks as their only carbon source; clones satisfying these requirements were dubbed “post-docs”.  In order to identify assistant professors from amongst the post-docs , this pool was further mutagenized, and screened for the ability to turn esoteric results into a 50 minute long seminar.  Finally, these assistant professors were evaluated for their potential to become full professors in two ways: first, they were screened for overproduction and surface display of stress proteins such as Hsp70. Assistant professors that displayed such proteins (so-called stressed out mutants) were then fused to the M13 coat protein, displayed on phages and passed over a friend and family column, to identify those that  were incapable of functional interactions. These were called full professors.  Although these mutants arose independently, they shared the propensity to talk incessantly about their own research, the inability to accurately judge the time required to complete bench work, and the belief that all their ideas constituted good thesis projects.  The linkage of all these traits suggests that these phenotypes are coordinately regulated. Preliminary experiments have identified a putative global regulator.  Studies are currently being conducted to determine if overexpression of this gene product in postdocs and grad students can speed up the grad student-full professor evolutionary process.


Dilbert’s Theorem on Salary states that engineers and scientists can never earn as much salary as business executives and sales people. This is based on the following  two postulates:
Postulate 1: Knowledge is Power.
Postulate 2: Time is Money.

As every scientist knows :


——  =   Power

Since Knowledge = Power, and Time = Money, we have:

——–  = Knowledge

Solving for Money, we get:

 ———–  = Money

Thus, as Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity regardless of  the amount of Work done.

Conclusion: The Less you Know, the More you Make.

In the  Beginning was The Plan
And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without form
And The Plan was completely without substance
And the darkness was upon the face of the workers
And they spoke among themselves, saying :
‘It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh’
And the workers went to their Supervisors and sayeth :
‘It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof’
And the Supervisors went unto their Managers and sayeth unto them :
‘It is a container of excrement and it is very strong,
Such that none may abide by it.’
And the Managers went unto their Directors and sayeth :
‘It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide it’s strength.’
And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying one to another,
‘It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong.’
And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents and sayeth unto them :
‘It promotes growth and is very powerful.’
And the Vice Presidents went unto the President and sayeth unto him,
‘This new plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this
Company, and in these Areas in particular.’
And the President looked upon The Plan,
And he saw that it was good, and The Plan became Policy.

Any organization is like a tree full of monkeys. Those at the top, when they look down, see only smiling faces. Those, who are at the bottom and look up see all a……s.


 Dear Editor,

Enclosed is our latest version of MS#85-02-22-RRRR, that is the re-re-re-revised revision of our paper.  Choke on it.  We have again rewritten the entire manuscript from start to finish.  We even changed the goddam running head!  Hopefully, we have suffered enough by now to satisfy even you and your bloodthirsty reviewers. I shall skip the usual point-by-point description of every single change we made in response to the critiques.  After all, it is fairly clear that your reviewers are less interested in details of scientific procedure than in working out their personality problems and frustrations by seeking some kind of demented glee in the sadistic and arbitrary exercise of tyrannical power over hapless authors like ourselves who happen to fall into their clutches.  We do understand that, in view of the misanthropic psychopaths you have on your editorial board, you need to keep sending them papers, for if they weren’t reviewing manuscripts they’d probably be out mugging old ladies or clubbing baby seals to death. Still, from this batch of reviewers, C was clearly the most hostile, and we request that you not ask him or her to review this revision.  Indeed, we have mailed letter bombs to four of five people we suspect of being Reviewer C, so if you send the manuscript back to them the review process could be unduly delayed.

We couldn’t do anything about some of the comments. For example, if (as Reviewer C suggested) several of my recent ancestors were indeed drawn from other species, it is too late to change that. Other suggestions were implemented, however, and the paper has improved and benefited.  Thus, you suggested that we shorten the manuscript by 5 pages, and we were able to accomplish this very effectively by altering the margins and printing the paper in a different font with a smaller typeface.  We agree with you that the paper is much better this way. Our perplexing problem was dealing with suggestions 13 through 28 by Reviewer B.  As you may recall (that is, if you ever bother reading the reviews before writing your decision letter), that reviewer listed 16 works that he/she felt we should cite in this paper.  They were on a variety of different topics, none of which had any relevance to our work that we could see. Indeed, one was an essay on the Spanish-American War from a high school literary magazine.  The only common thread was that all 16 were from the same author, presumably someone whom Reviewer B greatly admires and feels should be widely cited.  To handle this we have modified the Introduction and added, after the review of relevant literature, a subsection entitled “Review of Irrelevant Literature” that discusses these articles and also duly addresses some of the more asinine suggestions in the other reviews. We hope that you will be pleased with this revision and will finally recognize how urgently deserving of publication this work is.  If not, then you are an unscrupulous, depraved monster with no shred of human decency.  You ought to be in a cage.  May whatever heritage you come from be the butt of the next round of ethnic jokes.  If you do accept it, however, we wish to thank you for your patience and wisdom throughout this process and to express our appreciation of your scholarly insights.  To repay you, we would be happy to review some manuscripts for you; please send us the next manuscript that any of these reviewers submit to your journal. Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked the paper much better the way we originally wrote it, but you held the editorial shotgun to our heads and forced us to chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge, expand, shorten, and in general convert a meaty paper into stir-fried vegetables.  We couldn’t or wouldn’t have done it without your input.

PS (By RiStra). The Journals word limit, which was clearly designed with only one purpose – to increase the number of papers per year to pump up your pathetic citation index to keep you from falling even further behind the higher quality journals so you can keep your job and your paycheck flowing – has yet again 1) kept us from including critical experiments, including the controls and crosschecks that the reviewers of course required but allow no space for, and 2) made us look like unthinking, uncreative, uncritical idiots to our peers because we had to leave out 80% of the ideas, explanations, caveats, warnings and additional interpretations that we have discussed amongst ourselves in depth and obsessed and anguished over for a year prior, during and after the experiments and during the mindless labyrinth you blithely term “our review process”.


Five surgeons are discussing who makes the best patients to operate on.
The first surgeon says, “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.
The second responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded.
The third surgeon says, “No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order.
The fourth surgeon chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers…those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.
But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: “You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, and no spine, and the head and butt are interchangeable.”

What the Prof says

What he means

You’ll be using one of the leading textbooks in the field. I used it as a grad student.
If you follow these few simple rules, you’ll do fine in the course. If you don’t need any sleep, you’ll do fine in the course.
The gist of what the author is saying is what’s most important. I don’t understand the details either.
Various authorities agree that… My hunch is that…
The answer to your question is beyond the scope of this class. I don’t know.
You’ll have to see me during my office hours for a thorough answer to your question. I don’t know.
In answer to your question, you must recognize that there are several disparate points of view. I really don’t know.
Today we are going to discuss a most important topic. Today we are going to discuss my dissertation.
Unfortunately, we haven’t the time to consider all of the people who made contributions to this field. I disagree with what roughly half of the people in this field have said.
We can continue this discussion outside of class. 1. I’m tired of this – let’s quit.
2. You’re winning the argument – let’s quit
Today we’ll let a member of the class lead the discussion. It will be a good educational experience. I stayed out to late last night and didn’t have time to prepare lecture.
Any questions? I’m ready to let you go.
The implications of this study are clear. I don’t know what it means either, but there’ll be a question about it on the test.
The test will be 50-questions multiple choice. The test will be 60-questions multiple guess, plus three short-answer questions (1000 words or more) and no one will score above 55 per cent.
The test scores were generally good. Some of you managed a C+.
The test scores were a little below my expectations. Where was the party last night?
Some of you could have done better. Everyone flunked.
Before we begin the lecture for today, are there any questions about previous material? Has anyone opened the book yet?
According to my sources… According to the guy who taught this class last year…
It’s been very rewarding to teach this class. I hope they find someone else to teach it next year.