November 2006

The Group Noun

To start your weekends out on a humorous note, I came across this joke in my digital photo shoebox. My Dad cut it out of a magazine several decades ago, and I’ve always loved it:

The Group Noun

Perhaps the story was old, but it was sweeping through academic circles:

Four dons were walking down an Oxford street one evening. All were philologists and members of the English department. They were discussing group nouns: a covey of quail, a pride of lions, an exaltation of larks.

As they talked, they passed four ladies of the evening. The dons did not exactly ignore the hussies — in a literary way, that is. One of them asked: “How would you describe a group like that?”

Suggested the first: “A jam of tarts?”

The second: “A flourish of strumpets?”

The third: “An essay of Trollope’s?”

Then the dean of the dons, the eldest and most scholarly of them all, closed the discussion: “I wish that you gentlemen would consider ‘An anthology of pros.'”

A Google search indicates it was originally printed in the Sept. 19, 1955 issue of Time Magazine, but I think Dad’s copy was a reprint from a few decades later. That or he was a very erudite 10 year old!

Update 11/4/06: An update from my Dad: “Interesting bit of sleuthing you’ve done. In fact, at age 12 (at least approximately), I had to rely on others for my erudition, in this case coming from my father. He was absolutely ecstatic about this particular joke when he came upon it during his reading of Time, and after some explanation, I quickly became appreciative myself and clipped it out of the magazine.”

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Today’s news from Iraq

In today’s news, US soldiers lifted their cordon around Sadr City after an order from Prime Minister Maliki, essentially accepting that their search for a captured American soldier had failed and was not tenable given the increasing backlash from Moktada al-Sadr supporters. We also just ended the fourth deadliest month for American soldiers in Iraq, with 101 105 U.S. service members killed. Meanwhile, security company Kroll and engineering company Bechtel both announced they were pulling out of Iraq due to deteriorating security, and a briefing prepared by the US Central Command indicates Iraq has been rapidly sliding into chaos since the bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra in February.

So with all that and the mid-term elections less than a week away, I guess there’s no question why the President hopes we’ll just forget the past two years and think it’s still election 2004, huh?

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Finally a patent that admits to bogus claims!

There are so many bogus claims in patent applications these days it’s kind of nice to see an application that comes right out and admits it (via The Volokh Conspiracy):

9. The method of providing user interface displays in an image forming apparatus which is really a bogus claim included amongst real claims, and which should be removed before filing; wherein the claim is included to determine if the inventor actually read the claims and the inventor should instruct the attorneys to remove the claim.

Finally a patent that admits to bogus claims! Read More »