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About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot

About | Classical Genetics | Timelines | What's New | What's Hot


The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project: Providing world-wide, free access to classic scientific papers and other scholarly materials, since 1993.


ESP Humor 18 Jun 2024 Updated: 

Light Material

Every web site needs to have some frivolous content. Here are a few inconsequential things, good for passing some time.

True Humor


An actual email exchange, involving a Nigerian, who expresses a wish to purchase books from this website, and Vinnie Carbone, our Manager of International Sales, who explains how this can easily be done...

(15,795 bytes; 3 pages)

POACHERS vs. LIONS (score 1 for the lions)

In South Africa, poachers kill wildlife, like lions, in order to collect body parts that can be sold for high prices on the black market. Sometimes, though, the tables get turned and the wildlife kill the poachers...

(3,343,595 bytes; 1 page)


True Analysis: What would happen if a big space rock (like the asteroid Toutatis) were to hit Portland? Big trouble for Portland, but what about for folks in, say, Seattle? Read and learn...

(200,561 bytes; 6 pages)


A college essay, written by an actual high-school student.

(11,142 bytes; 3 pages)


True Story: Mother risks all to save endangered baby. In this case, momma and baby are squirrels and the threat is a big black dog...

(238,684 bytes; 5 pages)


Way back, in 2009, when the economy nearly melted down, most folks didn't have a clue as to how a few bad home loans could have caused so much trouble. Here to explain things is a little graphical essay that came out of an introductory economics class at Harvard, taught by Greg Mankiw. Since the original presentation seems to have gone away, we reproduce it here. WARNING: some of the language in the presentation is a little effing strong in places.

For additional, related information, there is The Big Short, which you can either read as a book or watched as a movie. Both are good.

(229,465 bytes; 45 pages)


Every would-be website hacker and his brother try to break in to WordPress websites by requesting the wp-login.php file and then trying to brute force their way into the control of the website. Amateur hackers even try to this before determining that the target website is in fact run on WordPress. The result for non-WordPress sites is a bunch of NOT FOUND entries in the website logs. Here at ESP.ORG (not a WordPress site), we got tired of seeing all those NOT FOUND entries, so we created a wp-login.php file to give the wanna-be hackers something back, besides a 404 message.

Computational Humor

If Airlines Were Based on Computer Operating Systems

A copy of material that has been circling the Net, looking for a place to land...

(4,750 bytes; 1 page)

Haiku DOS

Imagine if instead of cryptic text strings, your computer produced error messages in Haiku...

(6,740 bytes; 1 page)

Classic Humor

Voltaire. 1759. Candide

Is there a more classic piece of humor than this? Besides it is in keeping with the biological orientation of this site, since it offers an alternative to evolution in explaining adaptation:

"It is demonstrable," Pangloss said, "that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings."

(557,634 bytes; 104 pages)

Mark Twain. 1897. Horrors of the German Language

Mark Twain brings his sense of humor to the German language with this speech that he delivered to the Vienna Press Club in 1897. Native English speakers are often initially confused be German word order, since in German sentences the verbs all at the end piled up are. Here is Twain's speech, both in good German and in a literal translation into English.

(35,329 bytes; 3 pages)

Swift, Jonathan. 1729. A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from being a burden to their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public

Modern black humor has nothing on this little essay, written more than 250 years ago.

(56,167 bytes; 7 pages)

Biological Humor

Getting Published

Scientific publishing is always a challenge, especially in a premier venue. Here's the story of what it took to publish a major finding in human genomics.


John, chapter 11, verse 35

Can biology provide dispensation? Here's a theological, ethological, evolutionary, and cladistic consideration of the notion, recently put forward by the Bishop of Edinburgh, the Most Reverand Richard Hollaway, that "adultery is caused by our genetics" and thus should not be condemned as sinful.

(4,396 bytes; 1 page)


Support continuing education and place this sign next to a crib, playpen, or baby carriage to alert passers-by to the content.

(61,347 bytes; 1 page)

Miscellaneous Humor


When President, George W. Bush sometimes made statements that seemed, well, a little mangled. Here, to set the record straight, is an analysis showing how Bush's apparent misstatements, upon closer consideration, turn out to be just right.

(16,976 bytes; 2 pages)

Hu's on First

Transcript of an exchange between Condi Rice and George Bush about the emergence of Hu Jintao as the new leader of China...

(79,733 bytes; 2 pages)

How to Attend a Meeting

Advice from Dave Barry on that most essential component of organizational behavior...

(8,034 bytes; 2 pages)

Teaching Mathematics

A brief overview that shows how the teaching of mathematics has evolved over the years...

(43,350 bytes; 1 page)

Moving to Seattle

A brief chronology, recording the typical joys experienced by newcomers to the northwest...

(8,034 bytes; 2 pages)


White House Press Release: President Clinton signs the Americans with No Abilities Act into law. This startling new legislation, providing benefits and protection for more than 135 million talentless Americans, is being hailed as a major victory for the millions upon millions of U.S. citizens who lack any real skills or uses. Read about it here...

(4,064 bytes; 1 page)

ESP Quick Facts

ESP Origins

In the early 1990's, Robert Robbins was a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, where he directed the informatics core of GDB — the human gene-mapping database of the international human genome project. To share papers with colleagues around the world, he set up a small paper-sharing section on his personal web page. This small project evolved into The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Support

In 1995, Robbins became the VP/IT of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, WA. Soon after arriving in Seattle, Robbins secured funding, through the ELSI component of the US Human Genome Project, to create the original ESP.ORG web site, with the formal goal of providing free, world-wide access to the literature of classical genetics.

ESP Rationale

Although the methods of molecular biology can seem almost magical to the uninitiated, the original techniques of classical genetics are readily appreciated by one and all: cross individuals that differ in some inherited trait, collect all of the progeny, score their attributes, and propose mechanisms to explain the patterns of inheritance observed.

ESP Goal

In reading the early works of classical genetics, one is drawn, almost inexorably, into ever more complex models, until molecular explanations begin to seem both necessary and natural. At that point, the tools for understanding genome research are at hand. Assisting readers reach this point was the original goal of The Electronic Scholarly Publishing Project.

ESP Usage

Usage of the site grew rapidly and has remained high. Faculty began to use the site for their assigned readings. Other on-line publishers, ranging from The New York Times to Nature referenced ESP materials in their own publications. Nobel laureates (e.g., Joshua Lederberg) regularly used the site and even wrote to suggest changes and improvements.

ESP Content

When the site began, no journals were making their early content available in digital format. As a result, ESP was obliged to digitize classic literature before it could be made available. For many important papers — such as Mendel's original paper or the first genetic map — ESP had to produce entirely new typeset versions of the works, if they were to be available in a high-quality format.

ESP Help

Early support from the DOE component of the Human Genome Project was critically important for getting the ESP project on a firm foundation. Since that funding ended (nearly 20 years ago), the project has been operated as a purely volunteer effort. Anyone wishing to assist in these efforts should send an email to Robbins.

ESP Plans

With the development of methods for adding typeset side notes to PDF files, the ESP project now plans to add annotated versions of some classical papers to its holdings. We also plan to add new reference and pedagogical material. We have already started providing regularly updated, comprehensive bibliographies to the ESP.ORG site.

Electronic Scholarly Publishing
961 Red Tail Lane
Bellingham, WA 98226

E-mail: RJR8222 @

Papers in Classical Genetics

The ESP began as an effort to share a handful of key papers from the early days of classical genetics. Now the collection has grown to include hundreds of papers, in full-text format.

Digital Books

Along with papers on classical genetics, ESP offers a collection of full-text digital books, including many works by Darwin and even a collection of poetry — Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg.


ESP now offers a large collection of user-selected side-by-side timelines (e.g., all science vs. all other categories, or arts and culture vs. world history), designed to provide a comparative context for appreciating world events.


Biographical information about many key scientists (e.g., Walter Sutton).

Selected Bibliographies

Bibliographies on several topics of potential interest to the ESP community are automatically maintained and generated on the ESP site.

ESP Picks from Around the Web (updated 07 JUL 2018 )