Brainstorm of an Ishmaelite


Assume a Spherical Cow

A big farming corporation couldn’t milk its cows, so they called experts to solve the problem. A vet was called first. The corporate executives hastily gathered around a typical specimen the vet was brought to examine. Surrounded by executives, the vet flashed a light as he snapped a latex glove. “Commencing operation on the bovinus lactation apparatus on the rear lateral supinated ventriculoid meatus,” he said as he reached to grab the cow’s udders before the impressed executives. No milk.

“The situation appears to be critical,” said the vet to his assistant. “An injection of appropriate pharmaceutical technologies is apposite to stimulate the unresponsive patient.” A pharmacist passed the vet a syringe full of white substance. “What’s this?” the vet whispered. “Incandescent corticoidal bendectinol with a copious infusion of Xenon” labeled M.I.L.K. “Of course!” the vet exclaimed, as he took the syringe and injected into the white substance into the cow’s udder. He then squeezed them. White fluid oozed out. The executives applauded. However, the fluid quickly ran out and the cow fainted. “The patient is now recovering,” said the vet as he wiped sweat off his forehead. “It’s a good thing you called. Imagine what would have happened without our immediate intervention!” “Still,” the vet continued, “it’ll be months before the patient recovers, and there’s a chance it may not. Your patience and generous endowment will be needed to expedite the patient’s recovery. A psychiatrist will also be necessary. “Make sure the patient believes he’s well,” whispered the vet.

The executives didn’t understand what just happened. All they saw before them is a comatose cow. Seeing this, a scientist interjected. “Allow me,” he said, “to solve this problem.” “How much?” asked an executive coldly. “How long?” asked another executive. “O . . . umm . . . about a year and . . . $300,000?” said the scientist tentatively. “Too much, too long,” retorted the executives. “Alright, alright, a month!” said the scientist. The executives looked at each other and nodded.

A month later, the scientist stood before the board: “I’m pleased to announce that our research has been a success! Our findings indicate that an endogenous neural suppressor may be involved in the inhibition of bovine lactation!” “Yes, but what about the milk?” asked one of the sponsors coldly. “You don’t understand!” said the scientist, “This is a very important finding! There are so many things we don’t understand about cows! Don’t you see we’re on the cusp of discovering the secret to bovine lactation! Then we won’t even need cows anymore!” One by one, the executives left the boardroom.

Finally, they consulted a mathematician. “That is an elementary problem,” he said, taking to the chalkboard. “First, we assume a spherical cow . . .”

A Philosopher's Hell

A philosopher dies and wakes up in a valley full of other philosophers. “This looks like it must be paradise!” he thinks to himself. Another philosopher stands up and delivers a speech. At first, the speech is riveting. However, he tries to object, but can’t. This infuriates him so much he tries to leave, but can’t. It then dawns on him that he must listen to other philosophers, but can’t leave or object, potentially for the rest of eternity. Then he realizes he’s in hell.

Chicken Man

There once was a man who thought he was a grain, which caused him to flee at the sight of a chicken. His psychiatrist told him to repeat: “I am not a grain” a thousand times a day so he could heal. Some weeks later, the man seemed to be cured. “Are you a grain?” asked his psychiatrist. “I am not a grain,” he answered automatically.

The psychiatrist then presented the man a chicken. The man immediately fled. “What’s the matter?” asked the psychiatrist. “I know I’m not a grain,” the man replied, “but the chicken doesn’t.”


This joke illustrates how seemingly normal or rational behaviour, like saying: “I am not a grain,” doesn’t define sanity. Rather, what defines sanity is a connection to reality.

It Must Be Dick Cheney

George Bush once met with the Queen of England. “How’d ya choose a fine prime minister like Tony?” he asked. “O it’s rather simple,” said the Queen, as she picked up the phone to call Tony Blair. “Tony: If your mother has a child who isn’t your brother or your sister, whom must it be?” “Why, it must be me!” answered Tony.

“That’s very clever,” said Bush, who picked up his phone to call Colin Powell. “Hey Colin. If your mum has a kid who ain’t your brother or sis, who’s it gotta’ be?” “That’s a hard one Dubya. Lemme’ call Dick” said Powell. After a while, Colin called back: “Dick says it must be him.” “You idiots!” Bush roared, “It’s Tony Blair!”

Dog Shit

Two Muscovites with heavy accents walked along the Red Square one cold winter evening.

Igor: Stop. Look.

Dimitri: What?


Dimitri: Ok, ok, ok.

Igor: Look like dog shit?

Dimitri: Look like dog shit.

Igor: Hmm . . . Touch.

Dimitri: What?


Dimitri: Ok, ok, ok.

Igor: Feel like dog shit?

Dimitri: Feel like dog shit.

Igor: Hmm . . . Taste.

Dimitri: What?


Dimitri: Ok, ok, ok.

Igor: Taste like dog shit?

Dimitri: Taste like dog shit.

Igor: Hmm . . . Good thing we don’t step on it.

Dimitri: Ya! Good thing!


This joke can be taken to illustrate the “balancing test” (or evidentiary cost-benefit analysis) as well as legal standards of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” and on a “balance of probabilities,” to wit:

– On a balance of probabilities it’s safer not to step on what looks like dog shit without having to smell, touch, feel or taste it.

– What looks, smells, feels and tastes like dog shit is dog shit beyond a reasonable doubt.

– The cost and benefit of knowledge should always be considered.

Lawyer Jokes

How Can you Tell When a Lawyer is Lying?

Their lips are moving.

What’s the Difference Between a Lawyer and a Rat?

There are some things a rat won’t do.

Sending the Engineer to Mars

NASA was interviewing professionals to be sent to Mars. Only one could go and couldn’t return to Earth.

The first applicant, an engineer, was asked how much he wanted to be paid for going. “A million dollars,” he answered, “because I want to donate it to M.I.T.”

The next applicant, a doctor, was asked the same question. He asked for $2 million. “I want to give a million to my family,” he explained, “and leave the other million for the advancement of medical research.”

The last applicant was a lawyer. When asked how much money he wanted, he whispered in the interviewer’s ear, “Three million dollars.”

“Why so much more than the others?” asked the interviewer.

The lawyer replied, “If you give me $3 million, I’ll give you $1 million, I’ll keep $1 million, and we’ll send the engineer to Mars.”

Physicians vs. Attorneys

Two physicians boarded a flight out of Seattle. One sat in the window seat, the other sat in the middle seat. Just before takeoff, an attorney got on and took the aisle seat next to the two physicians.

The attorney kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the physician in the window seat said,” I think I’ll get up and get a coke.”

“No problem,” said the attorney, “I’ll get it for you.”

While he was gone, one of the physicians picked up the attorney’s shoe and spat in it.

When he returned with the coke, the other physician said, “That looks good, I think I’ll have one too.”

Again, the attorney obligingly went to fetch it and while he was gone, the other physician picked up the other shoe and spat in it. The attorney returned and they all sat back and enjoyed the flight. As the plane was landing, the attorney slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened.

“How long must this go on?” he asked. “This fighting between our professions? This hatred? This animosity? This spitting in shoes and pissing in cokes?”

A Deal with the Devil

An attorney was sitting in his office late one night, when Satan appeared before him. The Devil told the lawyer, “I have a proposition for you. You can win every case you try, for the rest of your life. Your clients will adore you, your colleagues will stand in awe of you, and you will make embarrassing sums of money. All I want in exchange is your soul, your wife’s soul, your children’s souls, the souls of your parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law, and the souls of all your friends and law partners.”

The lawyer thought about this for a moment, then asked, “So, what’s the catch?”

Made in America

After closing down the illustrious Fermilab, plans were in place for the international scientific community to build a new particle accelerator in Venezuela. Each country was to make some contribution.

America had delayed its contribution until the last moment before the new lab’s inaugural ceremony. Before the scissors cut the ribbon, the president rushed through the crowd and proudly brandished a plate before the photographers: “Made in America.”

Logic Jokes

The Mathematician and the Engineer

A mathematician and an engineer agreed to take part in an experiment. They were both placed in a room and at the other end was a chocolate bar. The experimenter said every 30 seconds they would be allowed to travel half the distance between themselves and the chocolate bar. The mathematician said: “This is pointless!” and stormed off. The engineer agreed to go ahead with the experiment anyway. The mathematician exclaimed on his way out: “Don’t you see, you’ll never actually reach it?” The engineer replied: “So what? Pretty soon I’ll be close enough for all practical purposes!”

The Programmer’s Wife

The programmer’s wife tells him: “Run to the store and pick up a loaf of bread. If they have eggs, get a dozen.”

The programmer comes home with 12 loaves of bread.

The Logician’s Baby

A logician’s wife is having a baby. The doctor immediately hands the newborn to the dad.

His wife asks impatiently: “So, is it a boy or a girl?”

The logician replies: “Yes.”

The Statistician and the Fridge

A man was found who committed suicide in a most unusual way. His whole body was half immersed in a glacial freezer and half immersed in a scalding oven. A detective reported this finding to a statistician without mentioning the suicide. After a quick look at the data, the statistician casually observed: “On average, he must have been okay.”


Mission Sun

The president declared that Mars and moon missions were passe. The future is travel to the sun.

An astrophysicist demurred: “But Mr. President, the sun is too hot!”

“Not a problem!” the president replied, “We’ll go at night!”


Science has intrinsic limitations that people often ignore.

My Name Is Not Billy-Bob

Cleatus: Billy-Bob, get the shotgun.

Bubba: My name is not Billy-Bob, my name is Plant.

Cleatus: Plant, get the shotgun.

Bubba: My name is not Plant, my name is Billy-Bob.


The joke is best told in a funny accent. It makes fun of contradictory statements.

Police Jokes

The president decides to test the LAPD, FBI and CIA to see who are the best crime stoppers. He releases a rabbit into a forest and tells them to catch it.

The CIA goes in. They put animal informants throughout the forest. They question all the plants and minerals and conclude that rabbits don’t exist.

The FBI goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies. The rabbit had it coming.

The LAPD goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear who yells: “Okay! Okay! I’m a rabbit! I’m a rabbit!”

Spherical Horses

There once was a physicist who said he could predict the winner of any horse race, provided it involved perfectly elastic spherical horses moving through a vacuum.

The Bear Truth

A pious hunter came across a bear in the woods, who set on his pursuit. Out of bullets, the hunter ran and prayed. Suddenly, an angel appeared before the hunter: “Ask and your prayer will be answered.” “Lord make this bear a believer!” he prayed. The angel vanished. The bear stopped in his tracks. “It’s a miracle!” thought the hunter. The bear then held his paws to heaven and prayed: “Lord bless this meal in which I am about to partake.”


People hold all kinds of double-standards, especially when they’re not the victims.

The Bleeding Dead

There once was a man who was convinced he is a ghost. “Do ghosts bleed?” his doctor asked. “Why, no,” the man replied. So the doctor cut the man, who bled. “Gee whiz, doc!” the man exclaimed, “Ghosts do bleed!”


This joke illustrates that:

– “Discovery” confirms an assumption.

– Theories or explanations capable of ad hoc rescue can’t be refuted, only cut or bled to death.

Ex post facto explanations, unlike theories (ex ante explanations) are inherently weak and flawed.

The Delusional Diver

A psychiatrist used to test patients’ sanity by asking them to dive in an empty pool. If they refused, he considered them cured.

One particularly delusional patient walked to the edge of the diving board, looked down and refused to dive. So, the doctor thought he was cured. As the patient left the sanitarium, an orderly asked him: “You didn’t dive?” “O no,” the leaving patient replied, “It was too high and the water was too cold.”


There is always an alternative explanation.

The Penitent Thief

“When I was young,” ol’pappy recollected to his grandchildren, “I used to pray for a bicycle.”

“Didja’ get it pappy?”

“Noo . . . But then, when I got older, I realized that’s not how the Lord works. So I stole a bicycle; and then prayed for forgiveness.”

“Did you get it then granpa?”

“O yes. Yes I did,” he said, smiling at the picture of his presidential inauguration, “and much more. The Lord blesses and pardons.”


People abuse religion.

The Rabbi, the Priest and the Imam

A rabbi, a priest, and an imam were on a boat. The priest remembered that he forgot something on the shore, so he got off the boat, walked over the water to the shore, and picked up the thing he forgot. This reminded the rabbi that he also forgot something on the shore. So he proceeded to do the same as the priest. The imam, thinking he must prove himself to the others, stepped off the boat and fell in the water. While he was submerged, the rabbi turned to the priest: “Should we tell him where the rocks are?”

The Scientist and the Mystic

A mystic met a scientist at the top of a mystical mountain. “Have you found the Fountain of Youth?” he asked.

“No,” answered the scientist. “Have you found the meaning of life?”

“No,” he answered. “So what did you find?”

“New ways to control and entertain people,” answered the scientist. “Same,” answered the mystic.

They laughed and then went on opposite ways down the mountain.


More research is needed because it is not obvious. It is not obvious because it is probably false.

The Witty Attorney

A thief was brought to trial. It was clear he’d stolen.

“Your honour,” the defence pleaded, “My client isn’t to blame. It was his arm that stole!”

“Very well,” said the judge, “We’ll take his arm into custody. The rest of him can follow if it wishes.”

The attorney removed his client’s prosthetic arm and handed it to the judge.

Then We Call an Engineer

An engineer passed by a village on top of a crag and marvelled at the road that led to it.

“How did you build the road?” he asked a villager who went by.

“Simple,” the villager replied. “We put a carrot on top of the crag, then let an ass go up the safest path.”

“That’s very clever,” the engineer observed. “But what if you don’t have an ass?”

“Then, we call an engineer.”


Go with plan B only if plan A doesn’t work.