RIP, dear sweet Stratford Caldecott

He was a fine man.

Back in 2005, I had the honor of offering toasts at the Chesterton Society dinner that crowned the annual conference. Dale Ahlquist basically instructed us to tell a joke, make a toast and keep it short. Stratford’s joke was extra super hilarious because his soft-spoken manner combined magnificently with the funny way he simply could not get to the punch line:

“So Heisenberg was driving somewhere one day and a policeman pulled him over. The policeman walks up to the car… Well, wait… perhaps I should first explain who Heisenberg was. He was the formulator of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

So anyway Heisenberg was driving somewhere one day and a policeman pulled him over. The policeman… er, does everyone understand what the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is? Because it’s rather important for understanding the punchline.”

He then proceeded to describe the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that we can either know the speed or location of a subatomic particle, but not both.

“So, at any rate,” he began again, (by this time Dale Ahlquist was sliding under the table with laughter), “Heisenberg was driving in his car on the Autobahan one day when a policeman pulled him over. He walks up to Heisenberg… well, no, it couldn’t have been the Autobahn, since I believe the Germans don’t have a speed limit on the Autobahn. We’ll say the Strasse or “street” then. At any rate, the policeman asks Heisenberg: “Do you know how fast you were going?” And Heisenberg said, “No. But I can tell you where I am!”

There was a brief pause as people realized we had unexpectedly come to the punchline. Then gales of laughter. A wonderful evening with a brilliant, good, and holy man. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.


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