Archive for July 23rd, 2007

Two posts in a single day?  Shocking.  (Granted neither one is about anything substantial, but what do you want?  I am at work, after all.)

In the spirit of my classic blog entry on the “shorter than Quinton McCracken” joke, which I enjoyed even though nobody else did, I bring you this follow up – another over analysis of a joke I did not find at all funny.

In this painfully unfunny article, an astronaut makes an unintentionally humorous bungling of just about every conceivable aspect of his ‘joke.’

The joke was this:  after throwing out a ludicrously heavy piece of trash (made possible by the weightlessness of space; this laid out plainly for those who are, understandably, devoting no intelligence whatsoever to their reading of this blog entry), and having heard ground-control say ‘right down the middle’ in approval of his toss, the astronaut replied to them with words to the effect that they should inform Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge (pitchers for the Houston Astros) that he had just thrown a “17,500 mile per hour fastball.”

The problems are these:

  1. Weightlessness does not increase the velocity at which a human arm can spin.  So, regardless of the fact that he just heaved a 1400 pound object, he still only heaved it at a rate of no more than 100 miles per hour…probably significantly less.  In order for him to have thrown it 175,000 miles per hour, he’s have to be able to throw a baseball at roughly the same rate.  Clearly he could not have made this error as he must have been able to see the thing floating away from him at a rather depressingly slow speed.  Why he made the choice of boasting of the velocity of his throw is a mystery.
  2. Even if reduced gravity did increase the speed at which one could throw something, the math would look something like this.  If the machine weighs 1400 pounds, and he threw it roughly 175 times faster than messrs Lidge and Oswalt, a ball would weigh 8 pounds.  This is still approximately twenty four times the weight of a baseball, so where he got the figure of 17,500 mph is a mystery. At a rough guess from someone who is not a mathematician, the only way that his math would be correct is if he actually knew his own pitching speed limit to be four miles per hour (or roughly one twenty-fifth of that of a big league pitcher.) A) this is impossible, as a baseball would fall out of the sky at that speed.  B) if he knew this, why would he have claimed 175,000 mph as pointed out above, when he was perfectly well aware of the actual velocity involved. Still, his choice of speed remains a mystery.
  3. He made a leap from a fatuous praise of his accuracy (“down the middle”) to a self aggrandizing statement about his velocity (“fastball”).  As one has nothing whatsoever to do with the other, other than the fact that both are ‘good’ in a major league pitcher, the reasoning behind his leaping from one aspect of pitching to another is a mystery.
  4. If all else had been ok, he still compared himself to Brad Lidge, and Brad Lidge sucks.  Why he compared himself to Brad Lidge is a mystery.

This blog entry brought to you by the council for the beating of bad jokes into the ground via the use of other bad jokes.

Shame on you, MSN, for this article.

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Though it is certainly never good to accept someone’s interpretation of the numbers uncritically, and I admittedly haven’t read the paper, there appears to be an interesting research paper to be found over this-a-way in which a Cambridge PhD student claims to prove that the optimal copyright term is 14 years.  This allows for works to pass into the public domain when their benefit becomes greater in terms of inspiring new works than its continued value as a product.

From what I hear it’s quite overloaded with math and formulas, but it’s worth at least making an effort to comprehend…

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