Archive for December, 2007

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

I’m the ram on the front of a popular truck;
A locale where a gunslinger tests out his luck;
How a slick politician when questioned can duck;
And evading a ball to avoid being struck.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Neel Mehta. See comments for answer.

Brave New World

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

I’m in the airport. It’s two hours before my flight leaves. I got to wondering if I could post a blog entry from my iPhone.

I guess I can.

Never Been To Spain

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Well, I’m heading out to Barcelona for a week. I’m very excited, since I’ve never been there before.

So blogging should be light this week, though there will be Internet access there and I should be able to check in. Maybe I’ll be able to blog about my trip while I’m there.

While I’m gone, feel free to check out the posts in the Active category. There are still some unsolved puzzles, and I’ve re-activated some old Questions of the Week to re-ignite the discussions.

Have a great week!

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

I’m a nightclub or prison; or Spike Lee conceit;
Where your femur and tibia manage to meet;
What the House and the Senate together complete;
And a meeting of Chiefs for our fighting elite.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Ro. See comments for answer.

Conundrum: Pic Tac Toe in 3D, Part III

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

In a normal “Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, there are nine pictures in a 3×3 grid, like Tic-Tac-Toe. In each of the three rows, three columns, and two diagonals, there is a common theme that unites the three pictures. The challenge is to find the eight themes.

In this “Pic Tac Toe” puzzle, however, there are twenty-seven pictures in a 3x3x3 grid, like a Rubik’s Cube. In each of the nine rows, nine columns, nine pillars, eighteen lateral diagonals, and four cross-cube diagonals, there is a common theme that unites the three pictures. The challenge is to find the forty-nine themes.

Imagine stacking the three levels below on top of one another. For reference, and notation guidelines, check out my last 3D Pic Tac Toe, including the comments. The rules here are identical to that puzzle.

You can click on each image to see a larger version:

Top Level – Level A

Middle Level – Level B

Bottom Level – Level C

Please post whatever you come up with in the comments section.


UPDATE: Correct themes provided by Neel Mehta (35) and Billie (7). Alternate themes suggested by Neel Mehta (2), Econgator (1), and Billie (2). See comments for discussion, or click here to skip right to the answers.

Question of the Week

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Yesterday on This Week, George Stephanopoulos cited a “stunning” statistic from the Congressional Budget Office:

From 2003 to 2005, the increase in income for the top one percent exceeded the total income of the bottom twenty percent.

Turn that over in your mind for a moment before we move on to the Question of the Week, which comes to us via the Hoover Institute, a conservative think-tank at Stanford University.

How much does the gap between rich and poor matter? In 1979, for every dollar the poorest fifth of the American population earned, the richest fifth earned nine. By 1997, that gap had increased to fifteen to one. Is this growing income inequality a serious problem? Is the size of the gap between rich and poor less important than the poor’s absolute level of income? In other words, should we focus on reducing the income gap or on fighting poverty?

It’s a fair point. Do rising waters raise all ships? And if so, does it matter if the rich get richer faster than the poor get richer? Or is income inequity really the problem, and a bigger slice of the pie for the rich means less for everyone else? And is it okay to mix ship and pie metaphors when talking about economics? I guess what I’m asking is this:

Does the income gap matter?


Sunday, December 16th, 2007

This blog just reached 10,000 hits. Huzzah! Huzzah! That’s 20,000 eyeballs! I guess it’s time to break out the cake and SiteMeter counter.

For the record, the 10,000th hit came in at 1:22pm today via a link from an English teacher’s webpage at Xavier High School, right here in New York City. The teacher is a former graduate student of mine. So here’s a big shout out to Mr. Cambras and his 9th and 10th grade students who I see are studying Romeo & Juliet, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth. (…and some other good stuff, too.) Welcome to all.

If this blog teaches you nothing else, it’s that studying great works of literature will allow you to take the letters from passages in those great works of literature, mix them around, and form new pieces of writing that kind of relate back to the original passage. And if you do that, then eventually 10,000 people will come to see them.

Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon: Garry Kasparov

Friday, December 14th, 2007

First, read the rules of the game.

This week’s challenge is chess luminary and fellow human being Garry Kasparov.

I was able to link Garry Kasparov to Sir Francis Bacon in six degrees or fewer, though that shouldn’t stop you from posting a longer response, or looking for a shorter one. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Thursday, December 20.

Good luck!

And congratulations to Neel Mehta for winning last week’s challenge by linking Tress MacNeille to Sir Francis Bacon in four degrees:

Tress MacNeille > Lucille Ball > George Washington > Thomas Jefferson > Sir Francis Bacon

Tress MacNeille appeared in the video for “Ricky” as Lucille Ball, who is a descendent of George Washington, whose Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson, who was heavily influenced by Sir Francis Bacon.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

I’m a mother or father, but one step removed;
I am all about Benjamins, ten times improved;
I’m a fixture at concerts, not easily moved;
And a hot spot in Vegas that’s lion-approved.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Ro. See comments for answer.

The Headline Game – 12/12/07

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

It’s been a while since we’ve had a good Headline Game.

Real life or parody? Sometimes, I can’t tell the difference anymore. That’s when it’s time for the Headline Game.

Below are two headlines from and two headlines from Rueters News Service. Can you tell which are the real headlines and which … oh wait. They’re all real. I guess it’s not going to be much of a game this time, but feel free to discuss any of the stories behind these Onion-sounding headlines in the comments section below.

1. Deal could mean $70,000,000,000 more for war
2. President Bush vetoes child health bill again
3. Teen caller tricks White House
4. “w00t” crowned word of year by U.S. dictionary

Note: CNN headlines taken from front page of; headline of actual story may differ.

Stories: Story 1, Story 2, Story 3, Story 4