Monthly Archives: August 2014

Analysis Paralysis

Given two choices, A and B, which would you pick? Some people pick C by not making a choice.

If one can not decide, one can go back and forth between A and B without coming any closer to a decision. This is called analysis paralysis.

I once saw this happen in a game. One player had analysis paralysis very badly. It did not show at first, but as soon as the game got involved, he slowed right down. The other three players would be done in five minutes or less total, and he would take much longer.

Finally, they went off and played a game of the same game with another set. They finished their entire game, and the slow player was still puzzling over his turn.

Sometimes, decisions are not made, because it would mean losing somehow. Suppose that there are two ways of doing something. A and B each have their advantages and disadvantages. If either A or B were clearly superior, the choice would be easy. However, if the two are close, neither set of supporters may be willing to “give up”. Thus, C (doing nothing) happens.

Not making a decision is almost always wrong.

Go ahead. Decide that I am right or that I am wrong, but please decide!

Odd Language #63: M’s

I remember years ago seeing plenty of signs around the University of British Columbia for roomates.

The issue: The word is “roommate” with two M’s. To many, two M’s seem too wide when the ad is printed using a printer (instead of hand-lettered).

(I did have fun with this several years ago at my alma mater. I wrote one of the April Fool’s Day student newspaper issues. Mine was about a new program that was to be starting up: Kangaroo Breeding and Husbandry.)

Puzzle #66 Carrying Stuff

You have two loads of stuff to carry from point A to point B. You might use one of these three methods:

1. Carry the first load from A to B, go back to A, and carry the second load from A to B.
2. Carry the first load from A one-quarter of the distance to B, go back, and carry the second load to the one-quarter point. Continue advancing in this wise until both loads are at B.
3. #2, but each load leapfrogs the previous one by one-quarter of the distance between A and B.

You would rather travel the least distance. If switching between loads does not add any distance, which of the three methods is best? What other reasons might you have for picking a method?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #64 Solution: Arithmetic

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

A New Caste System?

Twenty years ago, I did not see many office positions advertised that required a diploma in office management. Over the last several years, I have seen much more of this.

I know how an office works, having worked in them and even modified how they run (because of software that I have written). I, of course, do not have a office management diploma, and years ago, few did. Somehow, offices did run though.

I feel that this is forcing people into a caste system. If you do not have have specific certification in an area, it can be much harder to find a job in that area, even though what needs to be mastered to do such a job is fairly minor.

Education is a big industry, and one that I feel too many people take way too seriously. If you are looking for someone to do a job, some of the best candidates may be people without the diploma, people who learned it on their own. (That shows some initiative, doesn’t it?)

There is no guarantee that a graduate of such a program can out-perform someone who has not taken such a program. Having taken such a program is no guarantee of the honesty, good work ethic, or other positive traits that an employer wants in an employee.

If you are an employer, please consider actually looking at the person instead of the paper.

Odd Language #62: Hills or Ills

There is a Northills Shopping Centre in Kamloops.

The issue: I read it as “north ills”. “north hills” was probably intended.

Not everyone has an H shortage. For example: “… while Aliora and Dierk lived in the always fashionable Southhills.” — L.E. Modesitt’s _Flash_, p. 30

Puzzle #65: Socks

You have quite a mess of socks in that drawer: five white, five yellow, six black, four brown, four blue, and one lime green. Except for colour, they are indistinguishable.

You need to select matching socks. There is no light. That summer job was really weird, and you have grown a third leg, so rather than selecting a matching pair, you need to select a matching triplet. “matching” means all the same colour.

What is the minimum number of socks you have to take to be sure of getting a matching triplet? What about if you want to be sure of getting two matching triplets?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Yeah, But

“Yeah, but … .” and “Yeah, but.”

So similar in appearance, but so different in meaning.

If the speaker said something after the “but”, you may have a valid objection on your hands. If you were having a discussion, you still are.

But if it is just “Yeah, but.” and end of sentence, it means anything but that the person saying them is agreeing. Worse than that, the person would rather be “right” than get something correct.

I think it is rather rude to do that myself. What do you think?