From questions asked of applicants to Oxford and Cambridge universities during interviews, compiled by Oxbridge Applications, an admissions advice consultancy.
What is your opinion of spontaneous human combustion?
Why don’t we have just one ear in the middle of our face?
Are you your body?
How can reindeer tell the difference between spring and autumn?
What percentage of the world’s water is contained in a cow?
If you had to send three things t a group of isolated tribespeople that would immediately convey to them what it means to be “French,” what would you choose?
Has the French Revolution ended?
Can the American political system be compared to feudalism?
Was Russia just too damn big for democracy?
If Buddhism teaches non-attachment, how can China, one of the biggest Buddhist countries in the world, be so materialistic?
Do you think Neanderthals understood the concept of death?
What about fatalism?
Isn’t golf based entirely on luck?
Why do the English like cricket so much?
If you wanted to play a rugby match, an orchestra concert, and complete a piece of homework, how would you prioritise them and why?
From On Yawning; or, The Hidden Sexuality of the Human Yawn, a recent doctoral dissertation by Wolter Seuntjens of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
There is no good explanation for yawning. In fact, we have no idea what causes yawning, what purpose it serves, what mechanisms are responsible for it, or even what the essential anatomical constituents are.
There is, however, one recurrent theme in the data: eroticism. Studies of primates, for instance, found clear relationships between yawn frequency and hierarchical status, and yawn frequency and testosterone level.
Yawning and spontaneous ejaculation are linked in terminal rabies, and I found a link between yawning and spontaneous orgasm in withdrawal from heroin addiction. Likewise, yawning and sexual response were associated as side effects of several antidepressants – one publication reported an undeniable causal relation: both spontaneous and intentional yawning provoked instantaneous orgasm.
I found that both “yawn” and “stretch” are semantically and etymologically associated with “desire” and “longing for”.
In several proverbs and sayings, yawning, especially contagious yawning, is interpreted as a sign of being in love, and the yawn was found to figure – consciously or unconsciously – in the courtship process. Passages from ancient Indian literature illustrate that this is not a purely recent or Western phenomenon. This, of course, does not mean that every yawn is erotic. In everyday life, each and every individual yawn must be interpreted, as it cannot be explained with total certainty.
From voicemail messages left by Bruce Tassan, a lawyer representing Braemore Neckware, for Judges Rany Simms, Theresa Holtzman and Carlisle Walters. The judges had ruled against Braemore in an appeal before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The Board required Tassan to take an anger-management class.
Hey Mr. Simms, this is Bruce Tassan. I’ve just received an opinion by the board on Eredi Chiarini v. Braemore Neckware. Can you tell me why you didn’t mention in your opinion the fact that we’re already registered for this mark? I mean, are you an absolute imbecile or what, GODDAMMIT. YOU STUPID FUCKING PEOPLE!
Hey Miss Holtzman, this is Bruce Tassan. I just received an opinion regarding application number 75/269,411. Urn, you guys have just absolutely ignored the fact that I have a goddamn registration for this mark for the client. So could you please give me a FUCKIN’ CALL, GODDAMMIT. You guys are absolutely FUCKIN’ worthless.
Oh, Carlisle, this is Bruce Tassan. I just received the decision concerning an application number 75/269,411. I don’t really expect much from government workers, but for God’s sake, I thought at least you’d mention the fact that you don’t give a GODDAMN that the client’s mark’s already registered. JESUS CHRIST, YOU STUPID IDIOTS.
Hi Rany. I wanted to apologize for last week and my calls. I had the flu and I was taking a strong cough medicine. It was totally inappropriate and again, I apologise. It’s just that both parties have abandoned the mark, their respective marks, a year ago. So it’s all academic anyway, but I just, uh, uh, anyway, again it was inappropriate. I apologise, and, uh, just forgive me for being sick and halfway delirious on medication. But, like I said, uh, I was just surprised. Uh, again, uh, take care.
From an e-mail sent October 17 2006 by George Deutsch of NASA’s Public Affairs Office, to Flint Wild, a web designer for the agency. Deutsch, who was appointed after working on President Bush’s re-election campaign, resigned on February 7, after it was revealed that he had lied on his resume about receiving a degree from Texas A &M University.
Okay, Flint, we’ve got a slight problem here. I like these pieces, they’re interesting, but they refer to the “big bang” as if it were law. As you know, the theory that the universe was created by a “big bang” is just that-a theory. It is not proven fact; it is opinion. Yes, the scientific community by and large may share this opinion, but that doesn’t make it correct.
Two things. First of all, this is AP style as written in the latest Associated Press Style Guide. The “big bang theory” is listed beside the oscillating theory and the steady-state theory. The common denominator here is the word “theory”.
Secondly, it is not NASA’s place, nor should it be, to make a declaration such as this about the existence of the universe that discounts intelligent design by a creator. I know the particular context of these pieces doesn’t lend itself to getting into this particular debate, and that’s fine with me. But we, as NASA, must be diligent here, because this is more than a science issue, it is a religious issue. And I would hate to think that young people would be getting only one half of this debate from NASA. That would mean we had failed to properly educate the very people who rely on us for factual information the most.
Sorry to get on a soapbox here; I don’t mean to. Please edit these stories to reflect that the big bang is but one theory on how the Universe began.
Lest we Forget
From an email sent on July 14 2006 by Wouter Haayman, a departmental manager, to staff at the Hull Office of ZEDA, Ltd., a British software company.
SUBJECT: Two-minute silence
We have been informed by Head Office that Zeda does not recognize the two-minute silence to commemorate the victims of last week’s terror attack in London.
Anyone who would like to show respect is allowed to do so in his or her own way, provided the time lost will be deducted from today’s lunch break.
From “Rezedents Rights & Rispansabilities,” a pamphlet issued in 2000 to Caribbean tenants by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD withdrew the pamphlet after receiving complaints.
Yuh as a rezedent, ave di rights ahn dirispansabilities to elp mek yuh HUD-assisted owzing ah behta owme fi yuh ahn yuh fambily. Dis brochure briefly liss some ahf yuh muos impowtant rights ahn rispansabilities fi elp yuh get di muos owt ah yuh owme.
• Di right fi get reasonable notice, in writing fi ehni non-imergency inspeckshan aur ehni ahdah entry inna yuh apawtment.
• Di right fi puoss materials in cammon areas f infawm ahdah rezedents bout dem rights ahn also about apporrunities ahf ow dem caan invalve demself in deir projeks.
• Di rights fi recognition by prahpaty ownas ahn manigahs as smady dat ave a seh in rezedenshal community affairs.
• Di right fi egual ahn fair treatment widowt regard to colour, religion, gendah, disability, familial status, national origin, aur age. YUH RISPANSABILITIES:
• Payin de carrek amount a rent pan a timely basis everi muhnt.
• Conduktin yuhself in a mannah dat wuhduhn disturb yuh neighbahs.
• Nat engagin in criminal aktivity inna di unit, common areas, aur grouns. fikyp yuh unit clean ahn nat littaryn di grouns aur common areas.
• ficomply wid local kwodes dat affek de ehlt aur safety ahf di rezedence. As ah pawt ahfits dedication fi maintain di bes pawsible living enviornment fi all rezedents, yuh HUD field affice encourage ahn suppowts:
• Promt considerashan ahn resalushan ahf rezedent complaints by ownas ahn manigahs.
• Rezedent auganizashan ahn pawticipashan in decishans regawding di apawtment building dat ahfek di well-being ahf yuh owme.
If yuh belive dat yuh ave suffahd from discriminashan aur whud like more infahmashan, call 1-800-669-9777 aur cawl yuh lowkal HUD affice ahfFair Owzing ahn Equal Appatunity.
Above the Law
From a list of cases heard in US civil and criminal courts, published in ABA Journal eReport, the online magazine of the American Bar Association.
Schmuck v. Dumm
United States ex rei. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff
I Am the Beast Six Six Six v. Michigan State Police
Friends of Kangaroo Rat v. California Dept. of Corrections
State v. Big Hair
Billy-Bob Teeth Inc. v. Novelty Inc.
U.S. v. Pipe on Head
Herb v. Grow
Henny Penny v. Chicken Little
Advance Whip & Novelty Co. v. Benevolent Protective Order of Elks
Fried v. Rice
Outlaw v. Commonwealth
Bad Ass Coffee Co. of Hawaii v. Bad Ass Coffee Limited Partnership
Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children v. Playboy Enterprises
Loser v. Superior Court of Alameda County
State v. Nailer
People v. Fester
United States of America v. 2116 Boxes of Boned Beef, Weighing Approximately 154,121 Pounds, and 541 Boxes of Offal, Weighing Approximately 17,732 Pounds
Jones v. God, Jesus, Others
Plough v. Fields
Farmer v. Heard
United States v. 11 and a quarter Dozen Packages of Article
Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo Fly Powders for Drunkenness
Truelove v. Truelove
Klink v. Looney
Hamburger v. Fry
Lexis-Nexis v. Beer
Short v. Long
People v. Booger
From a two-and-a-half-minute 911 call to the Orange County, California, Sheriff’s Department, which verified its authenticity in after an audio file was posted on snopes.com.
DISPATCHER: Sheriff’s Department. How can I help you?
CALLER: Yeah, I’m over here at the Burger King drive-through in Laguna Niguel, I think.
CALLER: I asked them four different times to make me a Western Barbecue Burger. Okay, they keep giving me a hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and cheese, onions, and I said I’m not leaving. I want a Western Burger because I just got my kids from tae kwon do, they’re hungry, I’m on my way home, and I live in San Clemente.
CALLER: Okay, she gave me another hamburger. It’s wrong. I said I want my hamburger right. So then the manager—she came up and she said, um, “Did you want your money back?” And I said no. I want my hamburger. My kids are hungry, and I have to jump on the freeway. I said, I am not leaving this spot, and I said, I will call the police, because I want my Western Burger done right. Now, is that so hard?
DISPATCHER: Ma’am, we’re not going to go down there and enforce your Western Bacon Cheeseburger.
CALLER: What am I supposed to do?
DISPATCHER: I suggest you get your money back and go somewhere else. This is not a criminal issue. We can’t go out there and make them make you a cheeseburger the way you want it.
CALLER: You’re supposed to be here to protect me.
DISPATCHER: Is this like . . . a harmful cheeseburger or something? I don’t understand what you want us to do.
CALLER: Just come down here. I’m not leaving.
DISPATCHER: No ma’am, I’m not sending the deputies down there over a cheeseburger. You need to go in there and act like an adult and either get your money back or go home.
CALLER: She is not acting like an adult herself! I’m sitting here in my car; I just want them to make my kids a Western Burger.
DISPATCHER: Ma’am, I suggest you get your money back from the manager and you go on your way home. Okay? Bye-bye.