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Jocelyn Paine

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Immodularity

August 23, 2009

I like the following joke, performed by Dave Green at the Oxford Comedy Cellar, for its connection with modularity and non-local reference, the latter discussed byAndrew Koenig and others in Have we forgotten what's wrong with goto statements?

I think the joke works best when spoken, so I'm not sure how well it will come across in print. Speak it so the name rhymes with "have", and the second sentence is in a querulous self-deprecating tone:

My name is Dav. My parents were so poor, I had to leave school before learning the letter E.

A friend I told it to yesterday complained that if Dave learnt his letters in alphabetical order, he could not have read the V in his name either. But I think it's fine. Lots of jokes are like that. They work as long as you skip briskly from premise to premise, like skipping between tussocks of bog-grass in Oxford's ever-waterlogged Port Meadow. Don't stop to sink.

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