A famous art collector is walking through the city when he notices a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store.
He does a double take, as he notices that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable. He walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two dollars.
The store owner replies, ”I’m sorry, but the cat isn’t for sale.”
The collector says, ”Please, I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I’ll pay you twenty dollars for that cat.”
And the owner says ”Sold,” and hands over the cat.
The collector continues, ”Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat’s used to it and it’ll save me having to get a dish.”
And the owner says, ”Sorry buddy, but that’s my lucky saucer. So far this week I’ve sold sixty-eight cats.”
How do you hunt elephants?
MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left. Experienced mathematicians will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise. Professors of mathematics will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.
COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:
1. Go to Africa
2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west.
4. During each traverse pass:
a) catch each animal seen
b) Compare each animal caught to a known elephant
c) Stop when a match is detected.
Experienced COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate. Assembly language programmers prefer to execute Algorithm on their hands and knees.
ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.
ECONOMISTS don’t hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.
STATISTICIANS hunt the 1st animal they see N times, and call it an elephant.
CONSULTANTS don’t hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do. Operations Research Consultants can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.
POLITICIANS don’t hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.
LAWYERS don’t hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings. Software lawyers will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.
VICE PRESIDENTS of engineering, research, and development try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely pre-hunted before the vice president gets to see them. If the vice president does see a non-prehunted elephant, the staff will:
1. compliment the vice president’s keen eyesight,
2. enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.
SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.
QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.
SALESPEOPLE don’t hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven’t caught, for delivery two days before the season opens. Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant. Hardware salespeople catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as ”Desktop Elephants”
A traveling salesman was held up by a bad storm in the Hawaiian Islands. He sent an e-mail to his corporate headquarters advising them that he was stranded for a few days and requested instructions.
The reply came back shortly: ”Begin vacation as of yesterday.”
A realty salesman had just closed his first deal, only to discover that the piece of land he had sold was completely under water.
”That customer’s going to come back here pretty mad,” he said to his boss. ”Should I give him his money back?”
”Money back?” roared the boss. ”What kind of salesman are you? Get out there and sell him a houseboat.”