Monthly Archives: October 2017

Compassion Done Wrong

There has been an argument in Kamloops over homeless people. The police recently did a crackdown and recovered a number of stolen shopping carts. Store owners were probably rather glad to get back their property; the cost of a shopping cart has been stated in at least one article as being $800 each.

Some people have been justifying the thefts. Others do not like theft.

The letters column of Kamloops This Week has been rather active with people writing about the issue.

Recently, a letter was published wherein the author wrote an allegory. Some people were compared indirectly to rats.

There were reactions, strong reactions from the compassionate side. Unfortunately, the reactions were anything but compassionate. I decided that I had had enough and wrote a letter about this; it appeared in the Tuesday, October 24, 2017 issue.

I have seen this thing before. Someone does something that is disagreed with by the “compassionate people”. They attack, and oftentimes, their behaviour is worse (and can be much worse) than the original behaviour being disapproved of.

It is too easy to vent one’s spleen and lose one’s compassion.

We have sure seen this in Kamloops.

Odd Language #228: A Singular Use of “Both”

“You are either malicious or incompetent. I grant that both is a possibility, too.”

The issue: “both” usually takes plural verb forms, as in “… both are …”, but malicious and incompetent can be considered two things or just one. (The singular use can be emphasised by adding “you being” just before the “both” or “being the case” after it.)

Puzzle #231: Zombies

Being an editor requires a certain amount of brains. The zombie apocalypse has struck Kamloops, and the zombies are going after the smart people first.

Let us join Sean Brady, editor of The Omega (the TRU student newspaper), as from his well-fortified office, he fights off a small band of zombies. There are four zombies. Three of them could each alone break through Sean’s defences in eight hours. The fourth zombie could do so alone in six hours.

Sean has called the police, but not surprisingly, they are busy.

One hour into the battle, Sean scores a lucky hit and takes out an eight-hour zombie. He does not manage to do any other damage that affects their ability to break through.

Exactly two hours after he called the police, they show up.

Do they find Sean still fighting and quickly despatch the zombies with rather more effective weapons than dictionaries and writing guides? Or maybe, the zombies have eaten Sean’s brain and have gone off to the Kamloops This Week office to see about munching on Christopher Fould’s brain? Which is it?

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, I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #229 Solution: Follow the Logic

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Explaining Quickly and Clearly

In my job, I have recently had to explain to other people how to do parts of it.

How does one do this quickly without appearing to treat the other person as if he were stupid but still get the important points across?

Over the past four months, I have picked up a number of points that are important. For a fairly simple job, there sure are a lot of them.

It is something like an elevator speech. (How would you introduce yourself if you were in an elevator? (Limited time.))

I have not figured it out totally, but it is an interesting exercise.

Odd Language #227: Limited Access

From “Among other issues, he has refused national government money for construction projects that he deems unnecessary, such as dams, and has overhauled (locally) the press club system that is blamed for limiting government access to journalists who give favorable coverage.”

The issue: Is it that only journalists who give favorable coverage get access, or is it that a journalist’s access is limited if he gives favorable coverage? By context and common sense, it is the former, but the latter is a valid parsing.

Puzzle #230: Even More Marbles

You have some marbles. Each is of one colour of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. You have one to nine of each colour with a different number of each colour. Given the following clues, how many of each colour do you have?

1) The number of red plus yellow plus violet equals the number of orange plus green plus blue.
2) The total of the number of red, orange, and yellow marbles is the same as the total of the number of marbles of some other colour.
3) The number of orange, green, and blue marbles are all odd.
4) There are fewer red marbles than any other colour.
5) There are two more blue marbles than green marbles.
6) There are more violet marbles than any other colour.

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, November 1, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #228 Solution: Frozen Yummy II

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow


I had someone helping me with my job today. The person had just started with the company and did not know the ropes. He was just following my instructions. (He did quite well.)

I found that I was quite busy making sure that he stayed busy and that work items were completed properly.

What I learned from it is that there is a lot of admin knowledge that I have picked up that I have to know in order to do my job even though my job is a labourer position. I appreciate the perspective.