Author Archives: Gene Wirchenko

About Gene Wirchenko

I am a computer programmer / systems analyst living in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. I am naturally analytical and like figuring things out. I like reading (mainly science fiction and fantasy) and gaming (mainly board and card games, some RPG).

Political Football

Back in the 1970’s, the British Columbia provincial government took automobile insurance away from private companies. Since then, one has to buy auto insurance from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

ICBC makes money, and governments spend it like water. Consequently, ICBC gets raided to balance the budget.

I recently got a car. It cost me $1484 to insure it for a year. I thought that was somewhat pricey. When a co-worker mentioned that it would cost about $1000 less to insure it in Alberta, the word rip-off occurred to me.

To add insult to injury, a 15% price increase was scheduled to take effect around now so I just missed even worse!

Odd Language #234: “was” or Not

Kamloops This Week, 2017-12-05 edition has a front-page headline of “Council asked to crack down on pot stores”.

The issue: The issue of stores selling marijuana prior to its planned legalisation in 2018 is a hot issue in Kamloops. So is that Council asked someone or someones, say, staff, to crack down, or is it that Council was asked to crack down? Since newspaper headlines often omit forms of “to be” for shortness, it is unclear. It is the former.

Puzzle #237: Number Categories 2

The numbers two and six have a certain property. The numbers zero, one, three, four, five, seven, eight, and nine 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 20, 2017 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #235 Solution: Marbles

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

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.