April 12, 2008

Light Relief

My mood has been very subdued for the last 10 days (for recent arrivals, the reason is here), so my posts have been not only astonishingly frequent, but also rather sombre and reflective. This entry will be neither of those things, in an effort to lift my own spirits as well as those of my reader(s).
I have previously posted about my interest in the use of language, and I've also published a small selection of examples I've collected. Here are some more.

This first one came to mind following the recent announcement (only in French, as yet) of new volunteer Administrators at the Open Directory Project. The following piece can be found all over the internet, but without attribution, so if anyone does know the original source I would be delighted to give credit to its irreverent, perceptive, and witty author. [**See attribution added below**.]
[Disclaimer: absolutely no disrespect is intended to my friends and erstwhile colleagues, who I'm confident would appreciate the humour as much as anyone.]
A major research institution has recently announced the discovery of the heaviest element yet known to science. This new element has been tentatively named "Administratium." Administratium has 1 neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 111 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312.
These 312 particles are held together by a force called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Since Administratium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected as it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A minute amount of Administratium causes one reaction to take over 4 days to complete when it would normally take less than a second.

Administratium has a normal half-life of 3 years; it does not decay but instead undergoes a reorganization in which a portion of the assistant neutrons and deputy neutrons exchange places. In fact, Administratium's mass will actually increase over time, since each reorganization causes some morons to become neutrons, forming isodopes.

This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to speculate that Administratium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass." You will know it when you see it.

The following quotes are from reports of a recent rural trip by some first-year medical students I tutor. I'm sure they won't mind being anonymous.
... the only time large numbers of aboriginal would conjugate in the township was during funerals.
I met two South African families who had permanently migrated to the district during my short stay.
... as people become injured or need replacing due to death, it is difficult to find local replacements ...
The town is losing more young people than they're gaining old people ...
After days and nights of excessive drinking it was not difficult for the student to figure out why she was not feeling too well.
I got a lot out of the trip in terms of bounding with fellow students.


**[Added 27 May: Many thanks to motsa, whose comment below attributes the Administratium piece to William deBuvitz in 1988. I feel relieved to acknowledge him at last, and offer belated apologies to him for what I now see is an embellished version. Perhaps understandable in view of the thousands of transcriptions, but still, I am very glad to set the record straight. :-) ]

3 comments:

kazhar said...

There's also a post about the new admins in the german blog :
http://www.dmoz-blog.de/artikel/312-Neue-Administratoren.html

Mak said...

Thank you for that link! Maybe it will be announced in the English-language blog soon. http://blog.dmoz.org/

motsa said...

http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/administ.htm

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