Monthly Archives: June 2013

Disagreeing is NOT a Disease

I recently submitted a letter to my local newspaper (“The Daily News” of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada).  Their opinion page has a “We Say” column written by the publisher and some editors and a “They Say” column usually coming from another newspaper.  The editor chose not to print my letter, but I think the point still needs to be made.  Following is my letter as submitted:

Ah, what an interesting juxtaposition in the editorial column of your Thursday, May 23rd issue.

The “We Say” has “If Boghossian was trying to encourage kindness and respect when trying to persuade faith-based people, it’s unlikely his comments calling faith a cognitive sickness will result in more proselytes.  Just a guess.”

The “They Say” is titled “Homophobia still being fought”.

Wouldn’t the same reasoning apply to the second item?  If people are opposed to homosexuality, calling their view a phobia is ______.  (I think you can fill in the blank.)

It is a cheap shot to call an opponent’s position a sickness.

Ever heard of drapetomania?  Here is the opening sentence in Wikipedia’s article on it: “Drapetomania was a supposed mental illness described by American physician Samuel A. Cartwright in 1851 that caused black slaves to flee captivity.”

Rather laughable these days.  Too bad “homophobia” and “faith virus” both are not held to the scorn that they deserve.

Puzzle #5: The Back 40

Farmer Brown has decided to fence the inside of the back 40.  The back 40 is the square ABCD.  Farmer Brown plans to run one fence parallel to AB and another parallel to AD to divide the back 40 into four rectangles.  The fences will start at points on AD and AB the same distance from A.  Farmer Brown wants the area of  the rectangle bordering B to have the maximum area it can.  Where should the fences go?

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, July 10, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #3 Solution: 3×3 Grid

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Odd Language #1: The Lakes?

Natural languages can trip you up sometimes.  I have a small collection of samples of these, and I will be blogging some of them.  Here is the first one:

From <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Pass_%28Colorado%29>:

The last sentence of paragraph one reads, “The pass is midway between Aspen and Twin Lakes, on the border between Pitkin and Lake counties.”

You probably read the second part of the sentence as meaning on the border between Pitkin county and Lake county.  And you might well read the first part the same way, that the pass is between Aspen Lake and Twin Lake.

This, however, is not correct.  The pass is between the community Aspen and the community Twin Lakes.

Scared of Change? HA!

Often, in the software industry, when a new product is released (or escapes), there are people who do not care much.  These people tend to get “You’re scared of change.” thrown at them.

This is nonsense.

A business owner considering moving from a manual to a computerised system can probably see many advantages to doing so.  Sure, there will be some getting used to the new system, but the bother will more than be made up for by the eventual improvement.

Version 2 of the computer system, though, is a different story.

In version 1, a lot of time or money may have been saved over the previous manual system.  Version 2 is not likely to be that much of an improvement over version 1.

So is it worth changing?  Quite often, the answer is no.

If version 2 does not have significant advantages over version 1, the additional expense may never get paid off with a corresponding benefit.

Another point, and a nasty one is that software is very subject to change.  One of the things that can happen is that features can be removed from software.  If you are using one of these features, you might not be able to do your work very well or at all with version 2.

Case in point: I have some 16-bit utilities that I use in maintaining a client billing system.  These utilities will not run on 64-bit Windows 7 unless one uses the XP Mode system or gets another program that allows 16-bit programs to run.  My Windows 7 system came with 64-bit Windows 7 installed.  To get my 16-bit utilities to run, I have to go to additional trouble.

The situation is worse with my laptop, because only some versions of Windows 7 will run XP Mode.  My laptop is faster than my Windows XP system, but takes fifteen times longer to run one heavily-used utility because I have to use another program that is slower.  That is so much slower that it interferes with my workflow.

The upshot is that I have continued my client billing system maintenance work on my Windows XP system.

Many of us have been bit by changes that make it difficult to do our work.  Given a change and no real reason to switch, many of us save our money and stick with what we know works.

Scared of change?  No, it is wanting to keep things working.

Do not let people guilt you into spending money on the next great thing unless you yourself think that it is the next great thing.

Puzzle #4: Lowest Integer

Given n, a positive integer, find the lowest integer that is divisible by each of 1 through n.  e.g. For n = 10, the solution is 2,520.

There are a number of shortcuts one can take.  You do not need to check every one of 1 to n.  One of these shortcuts is very simple.  What can you come up with?

Try your method with n = 20.

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, July 3, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #2 Solution: Prime Triplets

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Puzzle #3: 3×3 Grid

The numbers from 1 to 9 are arranged in a 3×3 grid:
a    b    c
d    e    f
g    h    i
subject to:

  1. The corner numbers are all odd.
  2. One diagonal sums to 20, and its numbers ascend from left to right.
  3. All of the numbers in one column are squares.
  4. One row sums to 20, and its numbers ascend from left to right.
  5. All of the numbers in one column are primes.
  6. In one row, one of the numbers is the product of the other two.
  7. One column’s numbers are consecutive (though not necessarily in order).
  8. a = 3.

What are the values of a through i?

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, June 26, 2013 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #1 Solution: International Standard Book Numbers

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow