Odd Language #201: No Passing

A British Columbia road sign I have seen many times: “DO NOT PASS SNOWPLOWS ON RIGHT”

The issue: Due to elision of words to fit, it is ambiguous. Does it mean to not pass snowplows that are on one’s right or to not pass snowplows on their right? Actually, neither is a particularly good idea, but it is the latter. Where do you think they throw their snow?

Puzzle #204: $17.35

How many ways can you express $17.35 in Canadian bills and change?

There is one additional proviso: any combination may not have more than two of any denomination.

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #202 Solution: Weird Coins

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Perversity

I sometimes get a bad sore throat — which I call “fire throat” — when the seasons change from winter to spring. This year was yet another case. Break out the Fisherman’s Friend. (I need enough throat cooling that I can get a sugar buzz from cough drops.)

Some time later, my voice gets rather froggy. Interestingly, this is a good sign. Oddly, my voice is quite normal when I have the sore throat; it only gets froggy when I am recovering.

Have you ever seen something that is similarly deceptive?

Some people can have what looks to be a frown on their face and be in quite a good mood. (I am one of them.)

What have you seen like this?

Odd Language #200: Initial Reading Declined

“There would be no more overpopulation; the hordes in East Asia would decline to adjust themselves to the food supply.” — Misbegotten Missionary by Robert A. Heinlein

The issue: When I first read this sentence, it seemed to mean the opposite of what it should. Then I caught that there were two meanings of “decline” to consider. It was meant in the sense of “to go down in number”; I had initially read it as in the sense of “deciding against something”.

Puzzle #203: Holding Marbles

Fiona, Len, and Nancy are each holding two marbles, one in each hand. The marbles are red, green, and blue, and there are two of each colour. Fiona, Len, and Nancy are standing from left to right in that order. None of them are holding marbles of the same colour, nor are two marbles of the same colour in adjacent hands.

Fiona is holding a blue and a green marble. Len is holding a red marble in his right hand. Nancy is not holding a green marble in her right hand.

If not everyone is holding a marble in his/her left hand whose colour name comes before in the alphabet the colour name of the marble in her/her right hand, who is holding which marbles in which hands?

(Never mind whether left means the person’s left or on your left, etc. Who needs that confusion? You are looking at them from behind so these are the same.)

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <genew@telus.net>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #201 Solution: Hotdogs

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Overkill

Are you concerned about overdoing it? Are you worried that in doing some thing that you will go too far?

Relax.

Just apply Gene’s Law of Overkill.

I came up with this recently: “Gene’s Law of Overkill: First, you have to kill. Only then can you overdo it.”

So relax and just kill something[1][2].

[1] Please confine your killing to things like problems, personal bests, etc.

[2] This law has not been tested rigorously. If you end up in the Big House (a.k.a. pokey, jail, slammer, etc.) as a result, please let me know so I can make a revision[3].

[3] And please indicate whether you want partial credit for the revision.

Odd Language #199: Look Over This!

RISKS 30.22 has an interesting April Fools item (which came from EFFector Vol. 30, No. 7 of April 1, 2017).

Apparently, politicians have not been keeping tabs on the intelligence community in the last several years because of a confusion over the words “oversight” and “overlook”.

The issue: The intended meaning of “oversight” in this context is monitoring; “overlook” means failing to see or notice. Since an oversight can also be a case of overlooking, there is a definite possibility for confusion of the two words. Not that the politicos should be able to use this in real life.