Monthly Archives: May 2015

Odd Language #102: Tens of What?

http://www.infoworld.com/article/2924187/security/critical-vulnerability-in-netusb-driver-exposes-millions-of-routers-to-hacking.html has an interesting subhead: “Tens of routers and other embedded devices from various manufacturers likely have the flaw, security researchers say”.

The issue: In English, a word can often be used in two counting senses: one for how many of that thing and another of how many varieties of that thing. This can be ambiguous. The subhead would have been clearer if it had started, “Tens of router models”.

Puzzle #105: Play Ball!

In one inning, the home team had all nine players at bat. The team got two singles, two doubles, one triple, one home run, and three outs at bat.

Assume that for each hit, all players already on base advance the same number of bases as the hit was for (until they reach home plate). What is the maximum number of runs that the team could have scored? Why? Give an arrangement of the batting above that shows the maximum.

Now, do the same assuming that for each hit, all players already on base advance the minimum amount they can (while still advancing).

Is there a difference in the maximums? Why or why not?

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, Jun 10, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #103 Solution: More Marbles

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Talking into the Void?

It will shortly be two years since I started this blog. I have been running the puzzle contest for several years, and so that part would have been prepared anyway, but what of the rest?

There is so much useful stuff on the Net, but there is also so much inane stuff.

I wonder what category this blog falls into.

Please drop me a line. How did you first hear of my blog? How often do you read it? What do you think of it?

Odd Language #101: How to Read a Coined Term

I was reading http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karitiana and came across an odd term: “biopiracy”.

The issue: I initially read it as a clipped form of “bio-conspiracy”. It turns out that the intended meaning is biological piracy.

When coining a term, take care that there are not other apparent meanings that can confuse the issue. Better yet, define your term when you introduce it.

Puzzle #104: Fall Leaves

This puzzle was originally published in October. If leaves seem inappropriate, just replace them with mosquitos. What? You love leaves?

That backyard of yours is just full of leaves: abcd of them to be precise. Given the clues following, how many leaves are there?

1) There is exactly one pair of digits that is the same.
2) Every digit is evenly divisible by every smaller digit in the number.
3) The solution’s arrangement of the digits is the fourth-highest value arrangement.
4) None of the digits are prime.
5) The sum of all of the digits is even.

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 3, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #102 Solution: Another Alphabet Split

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Small Acts of Irresponsibility and Responsibility

I was in Williams Lake, BC, Canada last week. Just before 6 P.M., I left my hotel room to go to the local 7-11. Just before I reached the library, I saw smoke by the sidewalk. As I got closer, I saw flame. Some mulch was on fire, and there were other parts that were smoking.

The flames were still small so I stomped them out. I stomped out smoking bits, too. Because of the dryness of the mulch and the strong breeze, more bits kept almost catching. After about five minutes, I had it all out for the moment — but was concerned about more catching — and went into the library to report the problem. When a library worker and I came back, there were smoking patches again.

The irresponsibility was not that big, but the consequences could have been quite a bit bigger. A portion of landscaping might have gone up. No building was immediately adjacent, but the wind might have carried embers and started other fires.

The responsibility that I took was not that big either, but it prevented a possible, nasty situation.

How many fires have been started by a momentary irresponsibility? (This one was apparently someone flicking a lit cigarette butt.) It can take much effort to put out one of these fires. It was fortunate that I arrived on the scene while the fire was easily controllable.

Your actions can have bigger consequences than you might think. I encourage you to make the effort to make things go right.

Odd Language #100: Unexpected Meaning

I saw a sig on USENET that quotes an interesting headline:
“Actor sent to jail for not finishing sentence” — Knoxville, TN, News-Sentinel, 1989-01-21

The issue: I expect that many people would think “finishing sentence” would refer to communicating. (There is at least one of us: me.) On second thought, it is probably referring to completing a jail sentence.