Monthly Archives: December 2017

Odd Language #237: A Certain “certain”

I have been watching a lot of math and games videos on Youtube lately. Presh Talwalkar is a very good presenter. One of his videos, Can You Solve The Dice Rolling Drinking Game? has this statement at the 3:39 mark: “At this state, of course, there’s a certain chance, six out of six chance, that we’re going to roll one of the empty glasses.”

The issue: “certain” can mean 100% probable as in “It is certain that …”, or it can refer to a specific item as in “I was looking for a certain brand of soap.”. In the video, the first meaning is intended.

Puzzle #240: The Bet

You are offered the following bet. You pay one dollar. Two coins are flipped. If they both come up the same, you win two dollars. If the first coin lands heads and the second tails, you lose one dollar. In the case of first tails and second heads, a third coin is flipped. If the third coin lands heads, you win five dollars; if it lands tails, you lose four dollars.

Should you take this bet? 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, January 10, 2018> at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #238 Solution: Puzzle Errors

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Shifting and Different Meanings

Language can change meaning over time. Confusion can ensue.

For one example, see this week’s Odd Language.

There used to be a company whose name was sometimes written all in lower case as “viagrafix”. It was pronounced “via graphics”. These days, the first thought would likely be “viagra fix”. Just a little different!

If you say something and get looked at oddly by someone of a notably different age, it might just be that a meaning has shifted.

Odd Language #236: The End of the Web?

I saw a book in a local bookstore entitled The End of the Web by George Sims.

The issue: Things can come to mean different things over time. These days, the title would probably be taken as a prediction about the Worldwide Web. However, this book was copyrighted 1976 so it could not be about the Worldwide Web. It was a mystery novel.

Puzzle #239: Wrong Number

The Talk Back Q&A figures in the 2017-12-19 issue of Kamloops This Week have an error. Supposedly, there were 591 votes on the question. 332 or 56% were yes and 41 or 44% were no. There were no other votes.

If exactly one of the five numbers is wrong, 1) which one is it and why and 2) what is the correct number?

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, January 3, 2018 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

When Advice Is Not So Useful

I appreciate good advice. Many people do. How do you tell whether advice is good? And is hearing what others think always useful?

A recent SoraNews24 article tells of someone creating a manga explaining what happens when he follows what others say and what happens when he decides for himself in the matter of selecting a video game.

[Note: The link is fine. RocketNews24 changed their name to SoraNews24 several months ago, but they still have not changed the WebSite URL.]

Ignoring others can avoid negativity and avoid getting surprises spoiled.

Maybe, you know more than you think.

Odd Language #235: Who Won?

Kamloops This Week, 2017-12-12, p. A19 has a headline of “Iraqi Shiite cleric wants militias to disarm after ISIS win”.

The issue: Who won? Does “ISIS win” mean that ISIS won or that someone won over ISIS? In this case, it was the latter.