Monday, July 27, 2009


It's amazing what one finds when searching for something else. I had completely forgotten about these cartoonish drawings. As I'd mentioned previously, after my army basic training in the summer of 1951, I was assigned as a company clerk to a shipping company at Fort Lawton, Washington, in Seattle. I have no idea who drew these cartoons, but I suspect it was some soldier awaiting shipment overseas.

These had to have been done fairly on because the First Sergeant depicted is Sergeant Hopkins, who finished his tour of duty just a few months after I arrived. And what I have are not the originals, which I borrowed, took to the PX photographer, and he made the copies.

I don't even remember the Company Commander's name. I didn't see much of him. He would greet me first thing in the morning, and then disappear into his office. I guess he signed my 3-day passes and leave times.

Sergeant Hopkins wasn't really nasty, nor did he carry a whip. But we have to keep up the reputation, don't we.

I'm not sure what Sgt. Utley actually did, but it seemed to involve a lot of paper work.

Enlisted men would be assigned to our company to await shipment overseas. It was Sgt. Culley's job to keep these guys busy and out of trouble. That meant KP, cleanup, and all those other chores that had to be done.

Well, the enlisted men didn't have to work all the time, and part of the Duty NCO's job was to issue one day (same day) passes.

Ha! Whaddya know! Here I am! Essentially, I was the First Sergeant's secretary.** I called the roll for incoming enlisted men, took sick call in the mornings, among other duties. When I was being trained, I was told to ask the soldier what the problem was, because it made a difference whether I sent him to a doctor or a dentist. Wrong wording. If the soldier had been out on pass the evening before, he might hem and haw, and hmmph, and cough a bit, not wanting to admit to me that he might have a venereal disease. I quickly figured out that that kind of answer meant he didn't want to see a dentist.

Somebody had to figure out who was going on what shipment, and that was Sgt. King's job.

The Supply Sgt's job is obvious, but not always easy. He didn't stock everything we might need, as indicated in the cartoon.

** I think I may have posted this before, but it fits here.
One day Sergeant Hopkins dictated the following for me to type up and post on the bulletin board:

CQ will not accept EM from MPs without DRs or DFs. I don't remember what a DR was, but otherwise that translated to:

Charge of Quarters (the guy on duty overnight) will not accept enlisted men from Military Police without (DRs) or Disposition Forms.

Humor time --This was emailed to me yesterday. I've seen it before, and still consider it priceless. It is purported to be true, but I found this on Snopes (following the humor):

The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid term.

The answer by one student was so 'profound' that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, the number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting 'Oh my God.'


* Commonly, the piece begins with a statement meant to authenticate the story. "An actual question given on University of Washington chemistry midterm," "from a Yale professor," and "Dr. Schambaugh, of the University of Oklahoma School of Chemical Engineering, Final Exam question for May of 1997" have been spotted so far.

* Sometimes the student's comments culminate in the assertion that hell must be exothermic because a girl he'd been chasing had sworn it'd be a cold day in hell before she'd sleep with him, and he'd so far been unable to get to first base with her.

* Often the story concludes with "The student received the only 'A' given on the exam."

Origins: The piece quoted above likely began as a humor post to the newsgroup rec.humor in 1997. Its roots, however, are far older: an unattributed parody of a scientific proof concluding Heaven was hotter than Hell appeared in a 1972 edition of Applied Optics, a story found in a 1962 book (reprinted from a 1960 magazine) is a mathematical "proof" that heaven is hotter than hell, and article published in a 1979 edition of the Journal of Irreproducible Results written by Dr. Tim Healey (written as a response to the Applied Optics piece) carried the joke one step farther by arguing that Hell was hotter still. Though these older pieces don't directly correlate with what has now become a standardized bit of Internet lore, the themes are similar enough for us to postulate that the older versions sparked the newer ones.

Interestingly enough, the purported student's opening gambit, "We postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass," stands in opposition to the position taken centuries ago by the Roman Catholic Church. The Holy See had given its official approval to a particular line of scientific thought, the vacuum, to specificially allow for immaterial forms such as weightless souls and armies of angels in what would otherwise be a filled universe. Without vacuums, places where measurable matter does not exist, both Heaven and Hell and all their denizens would have no place in the cosmic order of things. The time-honored Aristotelian assertion "Nature abhors a vacuum" had to be (and was) elbowed out of the way because the vacuum was a theological necessity.


  1. Somebody had a great deal of fun thinking that one up!

  2. Hey Meyer, looks like you could have used a larger chair!