Monthly Archives: November 2017

A Hidden Downside of Economising

Quite often, people make purchasing decisions on the basis of cost. They buy the cheaper item. This has an advantage that manufacturers are encouraged to be price-competitive, but it has a nasty disadvantage.

That disadvantage is that manufacturers may cut corners to make something cheaper. The manufacturers do not often state what they are doing.

If packaged similarly to the original item, one may purchase it by mistake. I was once suckered this way into buying a butter/margarine mix that was just about the price of butter, but that was not suitable for my mom and me.

The corner-cutting can continue for several iterations until the cheap item may bear little resemblance to the original product. Consider most so-called ice cream compared with the real thing. If you have not done so, this is fun research that you should get going on.

“Let the buyer beware.”

Puzzle #236: Number Categories

The numbers one, two, five, eight, and nine have a certain property. The numbers zero, three, four, six, and seven do not have this property. What is this property? [Hint: It has to do with the English spelling of each of the words.]

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, December 13, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #234 Solution: Different Birthdays

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Bugs in Human Systems

Human systems have to be flexible, but whenever the pendulum goes too far one way, the system can be abused.

Suppose you have been harassed at work and make a complaint to HR. A common policy is to believe the complainant.

Can you see the bug?

If a wrongdoer complains about someone, that can cause a lot of trouble. The wrongdoer will be presumed to be telling the truth despite that the claim is baseless. So much for the presumption of innocence.

Recently, there have been many allegations of abuse within Hollywood and other areas. I expect that many of these allegations are quite truthful. I am concerned that some are not, and my reasoning is given above.

Odd Language #232: Still Another Double Word

From an E-mail list post of mine: “Undated posts (blog or forum) are also something one could get rich on on the $1 plan.”

The issue: The first “on” is part of the phrase “get rich on”. This is not just getting rich, but getting rich because of (which is the meaning here for the second “on”) the $1 plan.

Puzzle #235: Marbles

You have some marbles, each one of the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. There is at least one and no more than nine of each colour. No two colours have the same number of marbles. How many marbles of each colour do you have given the following clues? [Note: 1 is not a prime!]

1) Is there a colour with more marbles than violet has? If so, the number of yellow marbles is prime.

2) The total number of marbles of all colours is even.

3) The number of violet marbles is the product of the number of green marbles and the number of yellow marbles.

4) The number of blue marbles is not prime.

5) The number of red marbles is not prime, the number of green marbles is not prime, but the sum of these is prime and is the number of marbles that are of some other colour.

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, December 6, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #233 Solution: Friends’ Block

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

It’s On Our Website

“It’s on our Website.”

Ever heard this?

For me, too many times. My usual question is where?

My credit union allows one to look up information about branches. What would be most useful for you? For me, it is the hours. In particular, the hours for and around holidays.

Unfortunately, the hours listed are the usual hours. I already know those. Apparently, holiday hours are put elsewhere on the Website. Where? I do not know.

What is on a Website might not be what is needed. See this xkcd comic for an example for a university. (My alma mater’s Website really is about this bad.)