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How to Keep an Idiot in Suspense
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One WordYou know how books normally have a page at the front that's full of legal and bibliographical information? And you know how sometimes, if the book is a reprint or something, the page will have the following nice piece of boilerplate?
NOT ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED
It always seems to be capitalized … I don't know why. Anyway, a while ago my mind generated a funny mutation, and now every time I see the original I think of this instead.
ONE WORD HAS BEEN OMITTED
The mutant version is really very catchy; I'd count it as a polluter except that it makes the original better, not worse. The joke is slightly flawed, because the sentence refers to the contents of the book, not to the front page itself, but I still like it.
Hofstadter mentions a similar joke in Self-Referential Sentences: A Follow-Up.
Page (vi): For Errata, read Erratum
Finally, there's another similar joke that I sometimes tell people about, that I think deserves to be known and remembered. Boulder, where I now live, is home to various branches of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The branches had been scattered around town, but a few years ago, a big new building was built, with a big new sign out front, and all the branches were moved over there. I may not have the organizational details exactly right, but it doesn't matter, all that matters is the new sign. Soon after it went up, some clever person took one of the letters, so that instead of “NOAA” it read … “NO A”.
@ November (2005)