Monthly Archives: September 2015

Puzzle #121: Boys and Girls

There is a group of four boys and four girls. If you randomly select two from the group, what is the probability that you selected one boy and one girl?

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, September 30, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #119 Solution: Mystery Number

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Overly Complicated

In Odd Language #117: Japanese is Really Odd, I gave a case about how written Japanese is rather complicated.

I think that English and the other alphabetic languages have the non-alphabetic languages such as Chinese and Japanese beaten for ease of use.

There are other areas where ease-of-use also does not get as much concern as it ought. What is the point of making something difficult to use? All of the effort that goes into learning the complicated thing might be better put into simpler things.

I see programs that are very difficult to use. I see regulations and forms that are mystifying. I see a lot of time wasted.

In things that you deal with, are there very complicated things that you wish were simpler? Why not say something about them?

Odd Language #117: Japanese is Really Odd

A quick lesson in Japanese:

一月 (ichigatsu): January (literally “one moon”)
二月 (nigatsu): February (literally “two moon”)
三月 (sangatsu): March (literally “three moon”)

Given the above, what do you think is the pronunciation of “月”?

The issue: It is not “gatsu”. It is “tsuki”. There is often more than one pronunciation for a kanji character. One common reason depends on whether the kanji character is by itself or combined with other kanji characters. I have read that Japanese has the world’s most complicated writing system. I am studying Japanese, and these different reading definitely make it more difficult.

Puzzle #120: Leaves

Ah, fall! There are some leaves on a tree. They are red, orange, yellow, or green, and possibly, more than one of the colours.

There are 500 red leaves, 1500 orange leaves, 2000 yellow leaves, and 2000 green leaves.

Given that 1) all red leaves are also orange, 2) one-half of the yellow leaves are also green, and 3) one-half of the orange leaves are also yellow, answer the following:

1) What is the maximum number of leaves possible? The minimum?
2) What is the maximum number of leaf colour combinations possible? The minimum?
3) Is it possible for there to be a leaf that is all four colours?

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, September 23, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #118 Solution: Logic Problem

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Weasels!

Odd Language #116: Was Not Immediately Available for Comment covers a case of weasel language. It seems at first as if “… was not immediately available for comment.” actually states something, but sadly, it does not.

“I’m on the other line. Let me call you back in five minutes.” and “He’s out of town for a month.” mean rather different things about availability, but both can be described with this weasel phrase.

In my cynical moments, I have imagined a reporter deliberately calling when he knows that his target will not be immediately available so that he can use this line.

Do you use weasel phrases? I have to state that I do some. When I am not prepared to commit myself to a strong statement, I will weasel some. However, the title gem is way overused.

If you are tempted to use weasel language, ask yourself what you are scared of. Maybe, telling the truth would not really be so bad.

Odd Language #116: Was Not Immediately Available for Comment

The article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/08/12/lenovo_firmware_nasty/ ends with “We’ve asked Microsoft to explain the thinking behind its WPBT feature. The Redmond giant was not available for immediate comment.”

The issue: Does a statement of “… was not available for immediate comment.” or similar really mean anything? If a reporter calls up Jo[e] Businessperson to ask a question about that new development, and Jo[e] is reading a bedtime story to the kids but has finished two minutes after the call, well, Jo[e] “… was not available for immediate comment.”

Puzzle #119: Mystery Number

There is a unique four-digit number identified by the following clues. What is the number?

1) Neither 0 nor 8 is a digit.
2) The mystery number is prime.
3) The odd digits are not adjacent in the mystery number.
4) No digits are prime.
5) Two of the digits are even, and two of them are odd.
6) All of the digits are different.

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, September 16, 2015 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #117 Solution: Luggage Combinations

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow