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May 28, 2009

Daily (intermittent) Open-Ended Puzzle: Skull-brain evolution

While watching our local squirrel digging up the flowerpots on our porch, thinking about how much easier it would be for both of us if the stupid thing would just evolve a bigger brain, I got to thinking about how unpleasant the bigger-brain mutation would be if it didn’t come with a simultaneous bigger-skull mutation. But having both of those mutations occur at the same time seems to multiply the improbability, doesn’t it?

So, how’s it happen? Are the two sizes controlled by the same gene? Do skulls form around brains so brains don’t rattle around in them? Does it really take multiplicative random mutations? Or what?

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April 18, 2009

The sort of achievement that boasting about is itself humiliating

I’ve once again made it into the list of winners at the Daily Show’s anagram contest. The headline to be anagrammed was: Gay Rights Groups Celebrate Victories in Marriage Push

My answer was: Man hitches goat? Girl buggers strap? I praise every curio!

But I actually preferred Dharam’s: I say great, but priggish Vermont preacher: “Sacreligious!”

Dharam is consistently excellent at this.

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March 19, 2009

Least impressive Daily Show connection ever

I’m on the Daily Show site!

No, I haven’t been exposed as the pompous evil little man that I am. Not yet, anyway. The site runs an anagram contest, and mine was one of three the selected this week. The headline you had to anagram was:

Envoys to Afghanistan and Iraq Are Named

Mine was:

On the QT, Iran damns any gain of area saved.

I have to admit that the first pick (by Dharam) is better than mine:

Q: Are any afraid to have an assignment nod

On the other hand, I think there’s a steep fall-off in quality with #3:

God in Heaven! Idea man farts, annoys Qatar.

This week’s headline is:

An outpouring of anger from lawmakers at AIG hearing

I just submitted:

A gain? A mean Frank urges room: Torture, flog, whip again


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March 13, 2009

Order of Magnitude puzzle: Bagging MA

According to the Boston Globe, how many bags (paper + plastic) do grocery stores give out in one year in Massachusetts? (The population is 6.3 million.) You win if you come within an order of magnitude. You don’t, however, win anything.

The answer is in the first comment.

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February 4, 2009

Daily [intermittent] Open-Ended Puzzle (DOEP): Fill in the filesharer

In a conversation with Gene Koo, a mishearing turned into a pun minus one term. I twittered a request for people to fill in the following blank:

Turning _____ into filesharers.

Unfortunately, I added that the blank should rhyme with “plows” instead of “swords” because I made a mistake. Here are some of the tweets I received:

fanf: the copyright lobby want to shove swords into filesharers

cfigallo: Beating hoarders into filesharers

digiphile: “Beating Boards into filesharers”?

davidgammel: How about ‘Beating Cabinet Appointees into Tax Filers’?

winemad: hordes?

dhmspector: “Lawyers” … obviously.

You are encouraged to best the Twitterers.

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January 6, 2009

Daily (intermittent) Open-Ended Puzzle: Wikipedia body parts

Einstein’s brain has its own Wikipedia entry. There is in fact a Wikipedia category for articles about famous body parts. Without referring to that page, what body parts of which individuals do you think deserve their own Wikipedia entries?

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December 25, 2008

Two order of magnitude quizzes: Crowns ‘n’ Crosswords

You win this type of quiz, invented by my friend Paul English, if you come within an order of magnitude of the right answer.

1. In Boston, the going rate for a dental crown seems to be $1,200-$1,600. That’s just for the crown, not for the labor. What is the dentist’s markup on the crown? That is, how much does the dentist pay the lab for it?

2. How much does the New York Times pay the creator of one of their daily crossword puzzles?

The answers are in the first comment. So is the prize for winning, i.e., nothing but the answer.

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November 20, 2008

Daily (Intermittent) Open-Ended Puzzle: Monty Python headlines

Monty Python has announced that it’s making all many of its works available for free on YouTube. Yay!

What is the best Python-referencing headline for a post announcing this? “A hovercraft full of reels”? “Not pining for the fee(ords)”? “Wring out your dead”?

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October 12, 2008

In praise of computerized acrostics

Computers make crossword puzzles slightly easier, but they make acrostics do-able.

Paper-based acrostics are as much fun as re-sorting pied type. Plus, since most of the fun of an acrostic is seeing sense emerge from mere letters, like ships resolving out of fog, solving them electronically removes the penalty for wrong intuitions. And, for me, and I guess for most who indulge in the occasional acrostic, the fun part is watching your brain see words that your reason entirely missed. It feels as if an alien is speaking through you, although the alien is really just the history of your species’ evolution.

Acrostics already pose arbitrary degrees of difficulty on their creators: The quotation has to be broken into words, the first letters of which spell out the author’s name and the book’s title. Today’s NY Times acrostic (which they charge for) sets itself an additional challenge: Most of the definitions have some maritime theme, so presumably the quotation will, too.

Now, back to the puzzle!

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September 28, 2008

Daily (intermittent) Open Ended Puzzle: Top Ten Reasons Palin Cancels Debate

Here’s a contest idea from my brother Andy. Submit your entries as comments. Prize: Nothing at all.

Top Ten Reasons Sarah Palin Cancels the VP Debate

Suspicious Russian tourists spotted across the Bering strait in Dezhnevo

Wrasslin’ a bear

Learns Tina Fey will be watching

When taken on tour of White House by McCain handlers, is “inadvertently” locked in Cheney’s man-sized safe

Schedule for memorizing state capitals thrown off by need for new schedule to memorize states

Speechless after finally looking up what “MILF” stands for

On deadline to finish her book, “Namin’ Your Baby the Alaskan Way”

Not yet confident how to work in those hilarious hair-plug zingers

No matter how hard she scrubs, she can’t get Kissinger’s moral stank off of her

Stuck in traffic on the Bridge to Nowhere

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