Monthly Archives: March 2017

Puzzle #199: Siblings

Susan has twice as many brothers as sisters. Her brother, Tom, has twice as many sisters as brothers. How many male siblings are there, and how many female siblings are there in Susan’s and Tom’s family?

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, March 29, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #197 Solution: The Chase

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How the Web Makes Us Ignorant

The Worldwide Web is very useful for finding out many things. Unfortunately, this can lead to one being rather ignorant in some ways.

The first way is that if you can look it up, why bother learning it? The answer to that is that having the information readily available to think with, one can think with it easily.

For the same reason, I find knowing basic arithmetic very useful. I can often estimate an answer (and sometimes figure the exact answer) before someone has fished out his calculator (or other device with a calculator) and started entering the problem.

Which of us do you think uses arithmetic more often?

The second way is that one can have a bunch of links to information and not keep track of them.

I recently had a problem with my browser and had to clear my browsing history and restart my browser. I lost several links and have been unable to find them with a Web search. If it had not been so easy to just keep them open, this would not have happened.

The third way is that even if you do learn the material, you are all too likely to just get the gist of it, because you can always look it up later.

This is similar to the first reason, but has the added point that you might really think you know the material. Should you have to apply the material, you may find that your understanding is not what you thought it was. Or you might not find that out. Either way could result in a disaster.

The Web is very useful, but do not let it stop you from thinking.

Odd Language #195: Crossed Words?

Why is it that when you transport something by car, it’s called a shipment, but when you transport something by ship, it’s called cargo?

The issue: Different word uses can develop that, by themselves, look fine, but when compared with other word uses look very odd, the reverse of what one would expect. Another variation is “Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?”

Puzzle #198: Buckets

You have two buckets. One holds six liters, and the other holds seven liters. There is no way to measure partial bucketfuls accurately, and you want five liters in one of the buckets. You can fill a bucket fully from the water source, and you can pour from one bucket to the other (either the entire contents of the first bucket or until the second bucket is full).

How can you measure five liters?

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, March 22, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #196 Solution: Books

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Stuck and Being Stuck In

Have you ever noticed how eager people and systems are to stick you in a role and keep you there forever? For example, I see many jobs advertised where one has to have experience even though a reasonably intelligent would already know the general parts and could learn the rest rather quickly.

It has been pointed out that some models of business structure are based on WW II militaries. There were few people who knew how and a lot of people had to be trained up fast. It is not the same situation in an office yet this same model gets used over and over.

If you had to do something that you did not know how to do and you really wanted to do it, how long would it really take before you could get a decent product out? I suggest to you and employers that the answer is much shorter than most think.

Odd Language #194: Word Duplication

“… and the plane plain ran out of fuel …” — More on the LaMia crash involving the Brazilian soccer team, RISKS 30.01, item 1

The issue: Somehow, many of us think that duplication (or near-duplication) of words is cute.

Do you go for that sort of flimflam?

I know I do. It is plain to me that I might have made it worse: it could have been a plain plane plain running out of fuel. I bet that some of you are too too, too, too often to be ignored.

Puzzle #197: The Chase

There are six dogs (Bowser, Fido, Lady, Rex, Prince, and Rover) and six cats (Fluffy, Ginger, Kitty, Princess, Puss, and Tiger).

Pair each dog with a cat to chase. No dog is paired with more than one cat. No cat is paired with more than one dog.

How many unique combinations of dog-cat pairs are there? (A combination is a set of six dog-cat pairings.)

The chase is on.

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, March 15, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #195 Solution: Chocolate

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