09 June 2010


Ok, i couldnt resist another puzzle because this is an interesting one in a lot of ways (no more puzzles tomorrow I promise):

You are on a game show and there are three doors. The presenter tells you that behind one of doors there is a car and behind the other two are goats. If you pick the car you win it. After you have picked a door the presenter opens a different door with a goat behind it, he then gives you the chance to change what door you open. What should you do? Stick with your door, or change?

I remember this puzzle from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, about the boy with aspergers. In case anyone isnt familiar with it, i wont say what the answer is. But in the book, apparently this question was put to some Indian woman with an absurdly high IQ, she may have been a professor or something, i cant remember. Anyway, she got the answer right.

But because its quite an unintuitive answer, she received shedloads of angry emails, some from other professors I believe, saying she was talking bollocks and they couldnt believe she'd made such an error.

So do you stick with your door, or change?


  1. Have read that too, so I won't give away the answer. I think the expert in question was Marilyn vos Savant (a Yank) though.

  2. Really? My memory is goldfish like, but i was sure it was some Indian maths genius or something... Pre-senile dementia setting in...

  3. Yeah, I've read the book too, won't cheat!

  4. @Thauma, @Jay

    Yes, it was Marilyn Vos Savant who got the slagging off after she publicised the problem in the 1990s, although it's an older problem than that. I got the answer right kind of intuitively when I first heard it, so I never really understood why it upset people so much.

  5. I think your right thaum - the lady had one of the highest IQ's ever recorded and did a column in a newspaper/magazine where she tackled readers problems.

    Still can't quite recall her impeccable reasoning on the query though................counter intuitive rings a bell

  6. I got the answer wrong, Peter, and it plagued me for a while, i couldnt understand how i'd missed such an obvious point. Maybe the sheep herd mentality won out and when it was first an issue, all the wrong'ns just decided, as a group, that they were right and she was wrong.

    Though once you see the explanation, its undeniably correct.

  7. This was a big stooshie on a Cif thread a while ago wern't it? I know the answer too..

  8. There's a decentish explanation of how it works on wiki, under the name of the gameshow host who was associated with the puzzle. Should I link it or say who it was, or would people like to think a bit more?

  9. And thanks all for the help with the quote yesterday, PeterJ got closest with the Benjamin Franklin quote, but I still have a niggling feeling someone relatively famous updated it more recently.

  10. Mornin' all...

    Thanks Jay, I'm now going to look like the thickest person on here! I'm rubbish at such things, but will give it some thought... I'd be inclined to stick with the door I've already chosen...


    cont... from last night..

    "La Rit - been a wt day here ion Yorks and thus I've been idling my time on 'net and by chance came across a few items on Polari.............fantabulous(Fantabulosa) is, as you may know, part of the Polari vocab"

    "I just knew that if I read hard enough I would come across polari word in use today and there it was. Perhaps your theatrical connections?"

    That's fascinating, Deano, me and my sisters' frequently use such words and always have done (Faskinating is another) lovely to know that there's a historical reason for them, Polari - that makes me feel really proud!

    It may have some bearing that my Gran was in a travelling magic show from the age of 12 to 18 and my great-great uncle was a famous Magician - Charles Morritt...(he sold the tricks to Houdini which made Houdini famous)My great-great Aunt (Elizabeth Morritt) also set up the first Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar orchestra in Liverpool (she learned with the Bohee Brothers:

    This is a link to her and the Bohee's


    So it may well come from that as my Dad was always making up words/adapting words which may well have come from my Gran's influence in the music halls and theatres from the 1920's and 30's.

  11. Jay -'no more puzzles tomorrow I promise'

    Thank God for that! LOL!

    I've just been awoken by the postman and I have a hangover. No I haven't been drinking, my medication sometimes dehydrates me and gives me similar symptoms. Thinking gear is therefore not in order. So I'll pass I don't generally do intelligent until after 10:00 am!

    Thats my story and I am sticking to it :D

    *Goes back to drinking coffee and large glass of water*

  12. OK, I've got a puzzle for you: which member of UT murdered Jay Reilly?

  13. deano, with the candlestick, in the library?

  14. morning all - that puzzle's in Bad Science as well, so I remember thhe answer, although I can't remember the exact explanation...

  15. I think the puzzle's been on an episode of Numbers as well. Incidentally, when I'd read TCIOTDITNT I gave it to my parents, they both read it, but my Mum, who's worked a lot with kids with Asperger's/autism didn't think the main character rang true.

  16. Tell me the bloody answer then, am I the only one who hasn't read that book?

    I would say it doesn't matter if you change your mind or not but I am just making that up.

  17. Any objections to me telling jenn the answer?

  18. jennifer - actually, that's what I (still) think, having probably misunderstood the explanation.

    choose first box - 1/3 chance of getting car, 2/3 chance of getting goat
    1 goat removed
    second choice - now 1/2 chance of getting car or goat

    1/2 chance better than 1/3, so the odds of picking the car are better than before. but as it's now equal* I don't see what makes choosing to stick or change better...

    *as Grandpa always used to say, only a mug bets on evens...

  19. go ahead dot, it's annoying me as well, remembering the answer but not why...

  20. Just take the fucking goat. What use is a car anyway?

  21. Ok, I'll give it a go:

    The first time you pick, you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting the car.

    Remove one goat from a door you didn't pick.

    1/3 of the time you will have picked the car and the gameshow host will choose a goat to show you from a non-picked door at random.

    However, 2/3 of the time you will have picked a goat, and the gameshow host will be forced to show you the other goat (in only one of the non-picked doors, the other being the car) to show you.

    So if you switch you increase your chances of picking the car: as 2 times out of three you will have picked a goat the first time, and the un-picked door the gameshow host opens will have to be the other goat.

    Does that make sense?

  22. Because when you pick your first door it is twice as likely you picked a goat door than a car door.

    So when he opens another goat door, it is still twice as likely the door you picked was a goat door.

    So you change doors.

  23. (Other than the superfluous "to show you" at the end of the 5th paragraph?)

  24. Yeah I can see that Dott, at first I was going to say swap because that seemed the most counterintuitive choice to me but then I second guessed myself.

    But then again if I hadn't have been told it was the counterintuitive answer I would have gone with the doesn't matter if you swap or not answer anyway.

    Anyway I don't want a goat or a car. ;)

    I get the results of the maths course I did in a couple of weeks, all this isn't making me feel very confident.

  25. Still having trouble chekhov?

  26. Take two participants. One always sticks with the first door, the other always switches. Repeat game 99 times. How often does the participant who stuck with the door win the car? How often the other one? (That's the simplest explanation I have ever read.)

    It is essential to assume that the game show host never opens the door with the car in it, though ...

    Dot: I just looked up this quotation from the movie "The Siege", which preceded 9/11 quite a bit, but still:

    "Bend the law, shred the Constitution just a little bit? Because if we torture him, General, we do that and everything we have fought, and bled, and died for is over. And they've won. They've already won!"

    It's close. The exact thing I remembered was this, more or less: If we destroy the liberties which made America great, the terrorists already have won.

    By the way, I disagree and think the question about whether or not the terrorists win is a bit of a red herring: What is important who loses if our liberties are destroyed in the name of security (which would be us), not who wins. As far as I'm concerned, everybody who wins is okay with okay as long as that victory doesn't mean someone else suffers for it.

  27. LaRit - many thanks for the link to your family history. I enjoyed the read, it also stimulated two fond memories.

    The name of Laffayette reminded me of the story of his passion for his dog. I always loved it - it's the ultimate man and his dog story for me.

    The piece also mentioned the old Moss Empire in Leeds...............
    Leeds Empire ..........I can just about remember it as a kid and I have a feeling my sometime once danced on it's boards. I'll ask her next time I see her.

    Happy diversions on another fucking wet day here in E Yorks.


  28. @Napoleon:

    Re. National Service

    We can't afford to run an effective military national service any more. We can barely afford to run our conventional, volunteer armed forces any more. All the talk at the moment is of a 20% reduction in our land forces, in favour (as usual) of the Navy and the RAF.

    Of course, it's possible to run a system like Germany's, where the conscript (only blokes - the girls are exempt from this one, but can volunteer) gets to choose between doing 9 months' Wehrdienst (military) or the same length of time doing Zivildienst (civilian) service. And interestingly, the Germans reckon that maintaining conscription could actually lower the cost of providing for a professional army, as an Army which relies on volunteers alone has to be competitive as a prospective employer, and that costs money in increased wages, advertising, etc etc.

    But there's no real tradition of compulsion in our Armed Forces (aside from 3 years in WW1 and the 20 years or so from 1939 to 1960) and the modern Army really isn't geared up towards accommodating the huge numbers of undoubtedly resentful youngsters who'd be flocking to Phase 1 at Catterick and elsewhere.

    I am against the notion of compulsory Military Service, frankly. There's more of a case to be made for compulsory Civilian Service, I think, although again, there are plenty of reasons why a government wouldn't want to do it.

  29. From Wiki:

    "....Perhaps the best-known event involving vos Savant began with a question in her 9 September 1990 column:

    "Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you: 'Do you want to pick door #2?' Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?" —Craig F. Whitaker, Columbia, Maryland

    This question, named "the Monty Hall problem" because of its similarity to scenarios on the game show Let's Make a Deal, existed long before being posed to vos Savant, but was brought to nationwide attention by her column. Vos Savant answered arguing that the selection should be switched to door #2 because it has a 2/3 chance of success, while door #1 has just 1/3. Or to summarise, 2/3's of the time the opened door #3 will indicate the location of door with the car (the door you hadn't picked and the one not opened by the host). Only 1/3 of the time will the opened door #3 mislead you into changing from the winning door to a losing door. These probabilities assume you change your choice each time door #3 is opened, and that the host always opens a door with a goat. This response provoked letters of thousands of readers, nearly all arguing doors #1 and #2 each have an equal chance of success. A follow-up column reaffirming her position served only to intensify the debate and soon became a feature article on the front page of The New York Times. Among the ranks of dissenting arguments were hundreds of academics and mathematicians....."

    The full story at wiki

  30. Swifty - useful contribution friend.

    I think that some of the old camps were bought up by Billy Butlin................which neatly brings us back to the point of the beginning of the decadence of contemporary youth.....

    Ah this UT curriculum moves in miraculous ways

  31. This really is the best man and his dog story..................ever

    "The Great Lafayette aka Sigmund Neuberger or Sigmund Newburger was born in 1872 in Germany and died 9 May 1911 in Edinburgh. He was a famous illusionist known as the Great Lafayette. He was the highest paid magician of his time. His family moved to the US early in his life.

    The pampered object of The Great Lafayette's affection was Beauty, a perky terrier once given to him as a pup by fellow conjurer and admirer Harry Houdini. Beauty had her own suite of brocaded rooms, ate five course meals, and wore a diamond studded collar.

    Beauty died four days before the opening of a show at the Empire Theater in Edinburgh. After initial resistance from Edinburgh City Council, Neuberger had her buried in Piershill Cemetery. The Council would only give him a plot on the condition that Lafayette himself would be buried their upon his death. Four days later in a freak accident, Lafayette was performing his signature illusion, the Lion's Bride. An electrical fault in a lamp above the performer caused a fire. The elaborate set went up in flames in minutes. The audience, thinking that this was part of the illusion did not evacuate until the theatre manager signalled the orchestra to play 'God Save the King'. Ten of the players of The Great Lafayette perished in the fire. The body of Lafayette was soon found and sent to Glasgow for cremation, however two days after the fire, workers were clearing the understage area and found another body identically dressed as Lafayette. It turned out that the body in the crematorium was that of the illusionist's body double. Two days later the ashes of the Great Lafayette were taken through Edinburgh through a crowd estimated to number over 15,000 before being laid to rest in the paws of his beloved (and stuffed) Beauty..."

  32. Chekhov

    "Just take the fucking goat. What use is a car anyway?"

    I'd happily take the goat as I can't drive....


    It's a fascinating history, unfortunately, they ended up more or less penniless as Morritt was not only a heavy drinker, but fell out with many Theatre owners (the Maskelyne's being the most famous falling out) Morritt was pursued by the Police for supposedly 'deceiving the public' with his famous 'Man in a Trance' trick (trying to prosecute an Illusionist ffs!. alot of the archive is spread across the world and various people have bought items and letters etc. which have been copyrighted.

    As for the Great Lafayette - I a have a photo given to me by my Gran of Morritt and Houdini at the grave of Lafayette.... incidentally, when the fire was put out, another body was reputed to have been discovered - Lafayette's double.

  33. Ah Edinburgh! - seem to recall that was also the place of that other great man and dog yarn....one for another day methinks.

  34. @deano:

    I think that some of the old camps were bought up by Billy Butlin...

    I think it was actually the other way round - the Army commandeered his camps during the Second World War (there was a joke about it at the time, can't remember what it was though, something about "the worst holiday I ever had" or similar).

  35. "It is essential to assume that the game show host never opens the door with the car in it, though ..."

    You gone mad Watson? The probability includes the fact that sometimes he opens the car door. Thats why changing doesnt guarantee a car, but it is more likely.

    Im still pondering our coin discussion, would be interested to know for sure the formula for working out when you need the extra weighing, if one exists and it isnt simply a random spread.

    What maths course was it, Jen? I did the first OU maths course (cant remember module name) as was going to do my degree in maths and economics at first.

    I do miss maths...

  36. Deano:

    You beat me to it! I had it the wrong way around!

    (memory eh?)

    It is absolutely true about the double though.... great piece of archive there!

  37. ".they ended up more or less penniless.."

    Thank god for that - a life well lived then!

  38. Cheers for the link to the old Moss Empire... ah, the 60's - smash everything down - sad times :(

  39. It was just a short course called Maths for Science, I don't really think I have failed it, it wasn't much above GCSE level but I am definitly not a natural when it comes to maths.

    I think I need a one on one tutor rather than books.

  40. I think it was a life well lived, but I know it was very tough on my Gran.

    All the same, I'm very proud of my ancestors.... some of the classic tricks (Hiding the Elephant etc. ) have never been surpassed to this day ;)

  41. Deano - yes, Greyfriar's Bobby!

  42. Yea your right Swifty - although from what little I know of Billy I expect he did well out the compensation/refurbishment deals to help his post war expansion plans.

    Skegness was opened before the War and Filey was under construction at the outbreak. Facts is sacred on UT!

    Thinking of Butlins Skegness in the early 60's I recall an especially pleasant afternoon/evening - what joy I find on UT!

  43. I'm barred from the amusement arcade in Butlin's in Skegness!

  44. thauma - yep that's the one!

    Right that's me out for the rest of the day.

  45. What for Dott?

    I hope it was for something shameful. ;)

  46. shoving the 2p machine while my friend was playing it: rebel without a cause me!

  47. Here's the principle behind yesterdays puzzle. You can extrapolate for 27 coins, but the answer is definitely not three weighings.

    Coin weighing puzzle
    You have a weighing balance and 12 coins. All the coins are of equal weight except one, which is either heavier or lighter than the rest. In three weighings you have to find out the odd coin and also whether it is heavier or lighter than the rest?

    Divide the coins in three groups of 4 coins each: A, B and C.
    First Weighing:
    A and B.
    Case 1:
    Therefore one among the C1, C2, C3 or C4 is either heavier or lighter.
    Second Weighing:
    C1,C2,C3 with three perfect coins.
    If C1, C2, C3 is heavier then one of them is heavy and vice versa for lighter.
    Third Weighing
    Weigh any two and you will find out.
    Case 1.2:
    If equal wt then
    Third Weighing:
    weigh C4 with any coin.
    Case 2:
    A>B.(vice versa for B>A)
    Therefore one among A group is heavy or one among B group is lighter.
    Second Weighing:
    A1A2B1 against B2A3C1
    Case 2.1:
    Same. Then A4 is heavy or B3 or B4 is light.
    Third Weighing:
    B3 and B4. Lighter one is defective. If same then A4 is defective.
    Case 2.2:
    A1A2B1 is heavy.
    Then, either A1 or A2 is heavy or B2 is light
    Third Weighing:
    A1 and A2. Heavier one is defective or else B2 is defective.

  48. Scherf

    Yeah there's always an extra wieighing if the coin is lighter OR heavier, and you have to find out which, but its only one less if you know its heavier or lighter in the first place.

  49. But whats the rules Scherf? Thats whats been bothering me now.

    Say we pick a number, 3000.

    Without working it through, how do you know how many weighings it will be?

    Assuming you know whether its heavier or lighter at the start.

  50. Dott: "still having trouble chekhov?"
    Is it the round window?

  51. La Rit / Deano - fascinating stuff!

    Thauma - Ah yes Greyfriars Bobby. Always makes me cry a bit that one does.

    Little bit ashamed to say not quite sure of all explanations here. Would have gone for a second pick because seemed have chance of car and if not no worse off cause still get goat but as for mathematical odds and reasons why - not a clue.

    Scherf - wow. That post made my head hurt. Always a little bit in awe of people who can get their head round stuff like that.

    Jenn - I am dire at maths, as evidence here - but you are doing it for - and relating it to something - you are interested in which often helps I think.

    If someone had told me I would end up being able to do carry back and carry forward on pensions (hideous) and work out stuf for group pension schemes I would have laughed in their faces but I did. Yet if you gave me a maths GCSE paper now I would weep.

    In fact when I went for my first ever job interview at a large insurance company we had to do a basic maths test, an English test and answer some questions. Part of the maths test was reading a train timetable and answering questions - you know like the GCSE type ones about if train x leaves at the time on the timetable but a,b,c happens what time will it really arrive. I was studying this timetable and the HR lady in the room came and turned it the right way around in my hands.

  52. Surely guys if we know whether the coin's heavier or lighter at the start we just keep dividing the pile of coins and keeping the heavier (or lighter) pile for the next split until we get the odd one?

  53. "Surely guys if we know whether the coin's heavier or lighter at the start we just keep dividing the pile of coins and keeping the heavier (or lighter) pile for the next split until we get the odd one?"

    No, no, no....

    Of course that would work eventually, but the puzzle is what is the LEAST amount of weighings. Honestly Dot, I despair...

    "I was studying this timetable and the HR lady in the room came and turned it the right way around in my hands. "

    Cant have been encouraging ;)

  54. I'm starting to break out in a rash!

  55. Sorry Jay!

    Can we stick with goats: I'm obviously better with animals!

  56. "Can we stick with goats: I'm obviously better with animals!"

    Ok, you have 27 goats, they all weigh the same except 1 and...

  57. Scherfig:

    Is this why men are the master race?

    I'm with PrincessCC - makes my brain hurt just thinking about it... mind you, I was hit on the head regularly in Maths and have forever had a big fear about it although I used to be able to do very fast adding up in my head when I worked in a very busy bar...

    Going back to Polari - I wonder if the words Ken Dodd used ... "tattyfelarious" and "marmalise" (as in... I'm gonna maramlise ye") etc. had their roots in much older traditions?

    here comes the rain... yet another day I don't have to water the plants!

  58. Ok, in that case they're all clones, fed identical diets, and given identical amounts of exercise: (how did you manage that?)

    The slightly different looking one is heavier, or lighter, since it isn't a clone...

  59. What have you started Jay. :-)

    Have you ever played the Professor Layton game that would keep you amused for hours but be warned some of the puzzles will do your head right in.

  60. Fuckin' 'ell!

    I,ve logged on to the Krypton Factor by mistake.

    Sorry gents i was looking for the Untrusted.

  61. Chekov: ''I'm starting to break out in a rash!''

    Think I'll join you.

  62. Everyone knows this one right?

    Two doors, two guards. Behind one door is heaven, the other hell. One guard always tells the truth, the other always lies. You don't know which door to choose, or which guard is which.

    What one question do you ask one guard (of your choice) to determine which door to go through?

  63. Yeah I know that one Dott, how about this..

    "Several shots are heard. A voice says pleadingly, "Don't shoot me, John." When the police get into the room they find a fresh dead body, a lawyer, a doctor, an Army lieutenant, and a mailman. A gun is on the floor. The police immediately arrest the mailman. Why?"

  64. (Puzzle post, feel free to skip - tho i think i cracked it which i know you'll all find exciting...)

    Watson, i think the power theory might hold water. I've just worked a couple through -

    3000 - is 8 weighings (i think), 3000 is between 3^7 and 3^8, so its the higher of the two.

    Then tried 20,000, which is just over 3^9, so i was hoping it was 9 weighings and it does seem to be. And it would explain why 10 was the lowest number you need 3 weighings for, as its the first number past 3^2, and it would explain why 27 should be the highest number you can do with just 3 weighings, as its 3^3. And indeed, you do need 4 weighings for 28 coins, just checked it.

    What you reckon, Watson? Hmm??

  65. turminder, fairly sure I know the answer, but should the shots have come before the voice ?!?!

  66. Paul, it's not the Krypton Factor it's the HQ of Mensa ;-)

  67. Swifty - whilst out with the dogs it came back to me that it was a different story on the Celtic fringes:

    Butlins Pwllhli - (formeley HMS Glendower navy training camp)

    "...The camp was built at the request by the government. This time for Billy to build two camps for use by the military, after his success with Filey. Again a deal was struck and Billy found 150 acres of farm land on the lleyn peninsula in Wales, with the clause that he could buy the camps once the war was over.
    Although the site is four miles from Pwllheli town the local railway runs through the camp, with the benefit of its own station (Penychain) Named HMS Glendower a training a for the Admiralty and Merchant Navy.
    Pwllheli opened to the public for Easter 1947 with a capacity of 5000 this was soon increased to 8000 as the holiday camp followed in the Butlins tradition of being a success..."

    Similarly Butlins Ayr - built as HMS Scotia and later bought by Billy boy in 1946.

    We wouldn't want a letter to the Times about inaccuarcies in the UT - so I guess the truth is that we were both partly right about Billy's Empire.


    Fuck my toe - I've allowed myself to get wrangled into stripping wallpaper (woodchip) for my sometime. I may be gone sometime....

    Life wasn't supposed to be like this and I protest

  68. I know Turms one but I can't remember the answer to Dotts question (how embarrassing), I have heard it before as the Lady or the Tiger but I can't work it out.

  69. Ha ha Dott, yes probably! It's a variant on the 'Surgeon' riddle..

  70. Or the town barber?

  71. Jay: Of course I have gone mad, a long time ago, but that is beside the point. I'm pretty sure that something different happens when the car door may be opened, too. Let's see it through, shall we?

    Game host randomly opens one of the doors not chosen. In some of the cases, there will be a car (we assume that one can't change to that door afterwards). Again, we have two players (who always, without loss of generality, initially choose door number 1): One always keeps door 1, the other one always switches *if no car has been shown by the host*. We do 300 rounds.

    In 100 rounds, player 1 gets the car.

    If the car is not behind door number one (which is the case for 200 rounds), the car shows up with probability 1/2, i.e. in 100 rounds.

    In all other cases (100 rounds left), player 2 gets the car.

    This means, the switcher gets the car as often as the keeper, if one of the two remaining doors is opened randomly.

    Jay wrote: I do miss maths...

    It shows, mate, it shows ...

    BTW, if one knows the weight of the rogue coin among n coins, I'm pretty sure that we need log_3 n weighs: You always compare two sets of coins containing the same number of coins (else the set with more coins is always heavier, and you gain no information); if the weight is equal, the rogue coin is in the set of coins which haven't been weighed, else the rogue coin (which shall henceforth be heavier than the others) is in the heavier set.

    In the worst case, the coin is always in one of the largest sets, so you should make all sets of the same size (plus minus one or two). So you need one weigh more for 3n coins than you need for three coins. You need zero weighs for one coin. The rest is induction :-)

    Dot: Two guards, two doors: It's a nice one, but beware: If you get the information that one guard always lies and the other always tells the truth from the guards/one the guards, it becomes a hell of a lot more tricky ...

    My solution for that case: Jack Bauer Interrogation Techniques.

  72. Jay, following your puzzle rules from yesterday (1 coin out of 27 is either heavier or lighter), you can identify the odd coin within a pile of 9, by dividing into 3 piles:

    1. after 1 weighing (first two piles A and B are equal therefore third pile C contains the false coin), BINGO! or
    2. after 2 weighings (first weighing A and B are unequal, so weigh A against C and if these are equal, then B contains the false coin. If A is either heavier or lighter, then A contains the false coin.

    Now that you have 9 coins left, divide into 3 piles of 3 (A,B and C)

    1. A=B, so C contains the false coin (first weighing). Weigh C1 against any AB coin. (second weighing). If it is not equal, then C1's yer man. BINGO! If it is equal, then weigh C2 against any AB coin (third weighing) and this will show whether C2 or C3 is the false coin.

    2. If A is not equal to B, then weigh A against C, and you have your pile of three with the false coin (second weighing). Weigh one of these coins (lets call it X1) against a normal coin (third weighing) If it is not equal, then X1's yer man. BINGO! If not, then weigh X2 against any normal coin (third weighing) and this will show whether X2 or X3 is the false coin.

    You can see from this that if one strikes it lucky on three consecutive weighing processes, then the minimum number of weighings is three, but this is not guaranteed. (I reckon the probability to be only 8.5% ie. 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/3). It make take up to five weighings.

    btw, where did you get that fucking puzzle? It might have been a good idea to have had the answer as well!

  73. elementary watson

    That was Terry Pratchetts answer too, you pick the smallest guard and wrestle his sword from him and ask him which is the right door and remind him if he wants to be a smart arse about it he is going through it first. ;0

  74. Turminder: because he was the only one whose name was John?

  75. True Thauma, but visually obvious too...

  76. Thanks, turm, for reminding me of my unconscious assumptions. Although the Surgeon puzzle makes one more ashamed when hearing the solution after having guessed the wildest things (Hofstaedter, if I recall correctly, guessed it had something to do with aliens or such), because it *has* to be that solution for the problem.

    There could be a bunch of other reasons why they arrested the mailman, i.e. him being the only one with gun powder on his hands, or some of the other people having both their hands in a cast.

    Possibly spoilerish, so don't read if you haven't solved turm's puzzle: I read an article some time ago about the gaming community being hostile to women, which is why many female gamers pretend to be male or just go to their own women's online games. The author blamed, among other things, the heavy use of profanity more or less jokingly employed by gamers.

    It is doubtful whether the thought that some of the f-bomb droppers might be women ever crossed his mind ...

  77. elementary, true!

    I think there's also one for there only being one guard, but I can't remember the answer!

  78. I always liked the surgeon puzzle. I've not heard the mailman one before, but I shall certainly be using it in my next "gender awareness sensitity re-education course", should I ever get govt. funding for it (possibly unlikely in these straitened times).

  79. Damn it, just found a typo in my dissertation about the coin problem: You need one weigh more for 3n coins than you need for *n* coins, ffs.

  80. Right enough EW, when I ysed to play comp games, I remember seeing video of a Quake deathmatch with one of the designers, Romero vs an online opponet Killkreek. We sat in awe at the skills and tricks, then were awed again as some one noted' "Killkreek's a woman!" Lots of ladies play WoW, fewer Call of Duty et al I suspect...

  81. Has anyone read the Charlotte Gore article on Cif, she has gone BTL to argue her point in a very amusing way.

  82. @thauma:

    You poor victim of patriarchical conditioning and gender-specific-assumptiveness, you.

    Thankfully, we blokes are much more enlightened and clued-up about such thorny issues.

  83. Problem wit the mailman is, in these uncertain times, that "John" could as well be a nickname for a woman named Joanna Hey, I mean, "Frankie and Johnny" could be about two (or three, depending upon whom you count) guys, after all.

  84. I think I maybe about to slip into a coma!

  85. Dott: One guard: If there was another guard here whose honesty would be inverse to yours, would he say the left door goes to heaven?

  86. Watson

    I misunderstood your point on the game show, brain fail, thought you were saying only works if the door *you* pick never has the car, obviously making it *always* right to switch, rather than just better probability. If the game show host sometimes opens the car door for you, would make the game a little pointless but would still be played the same, switch if car is opened, switch if goat is opened.

    If i had read my post back i might have spotted it doesnt even make sense in itself... its been a long day of puzzles...


    My fault, the problem was the version i heard (and didnt bother checking the version i C&P from net) said the coin was heavier (or lighter, either way), so you dont have to have that extra weighing to find out which - heavier OR lighter, but it only makes a difference of 1 weigh.

    With 27 coins you can def do it in 3 with this method (you know if its heavier or lighter at the start, and im sure its max 4 if you DONT know heavier OR lighter).

  87. "but would still be played the same, switch if car is opened, switch if goat is opened."

    Im losing the plot now, wouldnt make any difference swapping if host opens the car as you you dont have the option of switching to the hosts door.

  88. elementary,

    That assumes that the guard hasn't had his (or her!) brain fried by playing puzzles on UT........

  89. well, I can't beleive it is come to this.... applying to work in Mcdonalds. And I am someone who considers myself 'in the know' with regard to current affairs. After all I read Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation when I was 17. In the last 5 years I have been to Mcdonalds/KFC etc maybe 4 times, (each time when in the company of others and too polite to refuse).

    Needs must though.

    For example, I have just finished reading the Craig Murray's book about his time as ambassador in Uzbekistan. Ane extraoridnary read, about Britain supporting a brutal dictaroship, I may write about this book on my blog.

    If I wish to keep myself devoted to intellectual pursuits such as above, then I will have to get a Mcjob.

  90. Just checked answer, Scherf, 3 for 27, 4 for anything more up to 81 etc.

  91. When I was 17 I went through reading lots of back issues of the New Internationalist as well, thats how devoted I was/still am to being 'in the know'.

    I may not be right or left, but I am still radical.

    Of course I know a lot about Mcdonalds repulsive labour practices.

  92. "I may not be right or left, but I am still radical."

    Probably best not to mention this in your interview, Nap ;)

  93. LOLZ.

    Help me Jay or someone.

    In the online app form they ask 'What is my proudest acheivement to date?'

    If I wanted to say the truth I would say..... 'Overcoming a dysfunctional and unstructured childhood after years of going nowhere, leaving a toxic family situation and finally linving an independant life.'

    But they wil take one look at that and think 'mental', so I will say something tame like reading War ane Peace.

  94. Nap: They day you finally convinced your uptight parents to go with you to McD. I wouldn't mention books - Your job will be to feed, not to read!

  95. My proudest acheivement was the Damascene conversion I had, when suddenly I realised that I wanted to work flipping burgers for £5.85 an hour.

  96. Erm Nap,

    I'd put something vaguely job related and as relevant as possible, like "implementing a new procedure for stock rotation which cut costs by 15% and earned me ten gold stars in my last job" (or something equally banal, but true).

    Although I accept that it might not work for Maccy D's...

  97. actually, elementary's is better...

  98. Nap

    Put something in about working as part of a team they love that stuff.

    I wouldn't worry about making something up as long as you can waffle on about details.

  99. @Nap:

    Try something like:

    "My proudest achievement to date was when I served up my chef's special sauce to Michael Winner in his soup and he thought it was some kind of posh stringy cheese and wolfed it down".

    The job will then be yours.

  100. "But they wil take one look at that and think 'mental', so I will say something tame like reading War ane Peace."

    For the love of god, no!

    Think what McD are looking for Nap, they value vacuousness, an unthinking automaton, your achievement MUST be banal and preferably work related, or at least academic grades etc.

    Tailor the whole application to what they are after - an unthinking, uninspired, hard working, reliable worker with absolutely no lofty aspirations in life.

    These damn aspirational types will just leave as soon as something decent comes along, so dont give them that impression. Mention that you heard McD has very good management prospects and you'd like the opportunity to work your way up.

    Just always think about the sort of worker the firm in question will want, then lie repeatedly to fit that mould - its shameless but has to be done I'm afraid... Same with interviews, there's no place for dignity or humility.

  101. "There's no place for dignity" - I smell a new strapline!

  102. jennifera:

    I think I need a one on one tutor rather than books.

    Are you good at languages?

  103. I'm not medve, I didn't even do o level french I dropped french for art in my options, something I sorely regret now.

  104. Thanx for all your responses.

    I had to fill in an extremly Orweliian questionaire, some kind of psychometric test.

    Aking things like 'Have you ever sworn' or Have you ever lied' (ie 100% of the population)

    More Orwellian is that you cannot answer yes or no, there is only strongly agree, agree slightly, etc. How can I ask a yes/no question with agree/disagree.

    The most Orwellian aspect was the constant remidner of all this information being stored on US databases, and 'subject to US laws and regulations'!

  105. @ Nap, try.. 'My proudest achievement to date was exceeding the sales targets at my last resturant, and achieving distinction in my food hygine exams.' Think of answers to Qs like, 'What unique atributes will you bring to McDs?', 'Why do you want to work for McDs?' & 'Can I go through the interview without bursting out laughing or crying?' Let us know how you get on...

  106. jennifera:

    Do you like poetry?

    I'll come clean with the reason for these odd questions. I reckon i'm not good at languages, even though, through historical accident, i was forced to get some control over about five. I did maths/phys at uni out of love.

    I couldn't read until i was nine, but developed my own arithmetic as a toddler in order to be able to avoid the huge frustration of conceiving plans for which i had insufficient lego (so i could work out in advance if there would be enough pieces).

    I reckon that music, poetry, and maths are in one category.

  107. "Aking things like 'Have you ever sworn' or Have you ever lied'"

    Interesting. Obviously anyone saying they never lied would be instantly marked down as a liar.

  108. Let me get this right Nap - Maccyd's are asking prospective employees if they ever swore or lied? Seriously? That is weird. I mean everyone has sworn or lied haven't they? (Haven't they?). So do they automatically just ditch the people who tick 'no' for being liars. Kinda of a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation there with that question. Bit like drowning witches - if you drown you are not a witch but dead if you don't drown you are a witch and you burn.

    Either way with MaccyD's you are a liar. Question is do they want an honest liar or a liar liar?

  109. princess

    perhaps they want a convincing liar . - "Yes - our products contain good, healthy ingredients - you can safely eat here 5 times a day " type liars.

  110. @Jay

    I wouldn't go through McD's door, then...

  111. Yes, the questionaire seemed to be steeped in American Puritan values, and also a culture of deference,'Would you do everything your manger tells you'.

    Anyway I have more pointless humialating applications to make.

  112. Not that I want to put you off Nap but I worked for McDonalds once. For four weeks. I was, in my defense totally skint, had blown my loan, weeks left of term and my dad had given me his last two hundred quid.

    It was dismal as I was put on the grill - I would say go on and on about your great customer service experience etc that way you might get put on the tills. Anything is better than the grill I had a face like a chip pan for the whole time I worked there - the heat and the grease is feroucious. Actually putting the burgers together isn't too bad either.

    But what about cleaning jobs? Cleaning can be okay and it probably pays as well as McDonalds? Maybe not anymore I don't know. But you could listen to audio books etc to keep up your intellectual pursuits while you trundle your way around. I find something almost soothing at times about the routine of cleaning and actually seeing work done and completed - something you don't get in most jobs anymore. Just a suggestion.

  113. afternoon all

    re languages I'm crap at them but have manage mainly through necessity and partial desire to learn. I'm rubbish at music and maths....
    there are those that believe that if you have an ear for music you are good at learning languages something about sounds and tone and the maths is the similarity of logic and formation of sequences.....

    have you or anyone else heard of this theory....? or is it me trying to justify my inabiltiy to learn language?

  114. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  115. Naps

    Don't feel humiliated by having to apply for any job. There are many people doing jobs which do not reflect their talent or ability - it has always been that way, from the beginning of time.

  116. "or is it me trying to justify my inabiltiy to learn language?"

    I'm useless too, you're not alone.

  117. jay

    thanks...i feel less alone!!! do you play music??

    please say no and then half my theory is on it's way to being proved!!!!!

  118. Languages- don't sweat it unless you live in another country.

    The problem you have being a native English speaker is that it's the international language that everyone knows at least on a superficial basis.

    I couldn't speak a word of another language until I came to the Netherlands for the first time. I decided to work my arse off to learn it even though I did'nt have to- my job is in English and well, just look at medve to realise the typical Dutch fluency with English. However, it's downright rude to live in someone elses country and not learn the lingo.

    My wife's Dutch is better than mine as she has to use it on a daily basis in her work, although she regularly gets mistaken for being Belgian as she can't pronounce the hard 'g'. Apparently that's a flemish characteristic.

    I'd never considered learning a language until I moved to the Netherlands. Although if Wilders wins today, I may be getting deported back to Schotland.....

  119. @medve et al

    I'm good at languages, in that I pick bits of them up pretty quickly, but I think that's partly a function of a good memory. I think I'm pretty musical, but never learned to play anything, and I'm good at maths and those spatial visualisation things. Could you add programming to the list of related things? It seems to fit.

  120. Do you know I am not musical either, I am starting to wonder what I am good at.

    Can you all stop being so accomplished please you are giving me a complex. ;)

  121. If you can drag yourselves away from puzzles ;) John McDonnel has withdrawn from the contest and Diane Abbott is now the left candidate.

    I'm annoyed about this Diane is left and if John hadn't withdrawn there would have been no left candidate (Abbott would definitely not have withdrawn!).

    So identity politics has once again trumped common sense. John is traditional left Diane is identity politics left. I will vote for her though (not much fucking choice really!)

    Oh and Cath Elliot has an article about it - Just been shopping, am tired don't feel strong enough now!


  122. I was raised speaking English & Punjabi, I'm pretty fluent, but rusty as I never get chance to practice. This early bi-lingualism has been sugessted as a cause for my mild dyslexia, although I can't read Punjabi at all.

    I think that you can get a 'handicap', or a 'brake' with maths, reading or music depending on formative experience, I was encouraged to read and did so voraciously, but was down graded a set in maths, and told i had a tin ear in music.

    It takes a bit of effort to persevere despite this and, well, you can learn an instrument, train your ear and make the numbers dance to your tune, it just takes a lot of practice. ; )

  123. Saw the Elliott piece on McDonell, distinctly unimpressed with the whole incident, shall be cancelling the membership as soon as Miliband takes his seat, which seems inevitable.

  124. Jay......grrrrrr

    I actually speak spanish and obviously pretty well Italian cos I live here (also a few words/phrases of hindi!!) ...yep Duke I think it's damm rude as well if you live somewhere and don't speak the language also life would be pretty dull and you can't actually communicate with people I've never understood why people live in countries and don't speak the language....

    Italians are generally crap at speaking other languages.....they come after the english as the worst nation to learn languages in europe!!


    programming is on the list now....I'm also crap at that TBH never done it...but I'm pretty sure if I tried i wouldn't get it!!

    I'm sure you are much more accomplished that you admit!!! :)

  125. Nap - definitely don't feel humiliated by applying for any job as Leni has said. The thing is you can follow your interests and your reading etc outside of work for the time you are working at McDonalds or wherever else.

    I have done lots of what some may consider 'menial' jobs in my time - and some of them (barwork, shopwork, cleaning) I really enjoyed actually. I met some good people and I had my free time after to pursue my own interests.

    I would have stayed at MacDonalds for longer if it weren't for the fact that being put on the grill gave me really bad spots, greasy skin and hair and I was twenty one and really bothered by how I looked! If only I could have been put on the tills I would probably have stayed a lot longer.

    My mum has a first and a phd and she has cleaned offices, cleaned homes and stacked shelves in Asda in her time. We do what we can. Times are tough right now.

    And in fact the most menial job I ever did in terms of being treated like crap, having no life, low pay for what I did etc was teaching in an FE college. When I am well enough to work again consistently, I would rather clean toilets than teach again. And that is not something I say lightly.

  126. PeterJ that's partly a function of a good memory I've been thinking about this a lot recently, sparked perhaps by a piece I heard on the radio, an undergraduate described their experience of meeting new people during the first few weeks on campus, then later meeting the same folk and being re-introduced. Most folk did not remember the prior meetings, although the subject recalled them all. It got to the point that saying, 'Oh we've met' was uncomfortable, so the guy would hang fire and see if the other party recalled as he did, otherwise he'd just say 'pleased to meet you' omiting the 'again!'

    I've seen it on the blogs too. 'Oh your scottish!' I told you that last month... Or 'Hey I like Iain M Banks too!' you told me that two months ago..

    Anyone else feel they have a markedly better/worse than average memory? I used to say (and belive)I remembered everything, no matter how arsed I got, but the self administered IQ lessening, brain cell deleting agents have done their work.

  127. And on the Dutch and their English skills, here's a brilliant Dutch advert. Needs sound.

    But this one is my favourite ever.

  128. turminder.....

    what was that you were saying.....?!?

  129. dog walking.....bleedin' hot today!

  130. annetan,

    The Labour Party is dead. If Diane Abbot is the best the 'left' can offer to face the Millbands and Balls, it's laughable.

    The raison détre of the Labour Party was Clause IV:

    To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.

    When it was replaced in 1994 by Clause betrayal:

    To secure for middle England (but mainly the South) by tax cuts and easy credit, the full fruit of at least four property portfolios and the most equitable distribution of wealth into the top 2% of society based on screwing the workers, driving down wages and criminally lax banking and business regulation.

    The Labour Party ceased to be.

  131. @Turminder

    There's a story by Robert Silverberg called 'The Man Who Never Forgot', which does what it says in the title. It rang quite a few bells with me. You can download it here.

  132. The worst thing bout Caths article, Duke, is that she claims the removal of McDonnell actually means there is now a real "choice" in the leadership race. She actually couldnt be more wrong.

  133. Thanks Peter, I love Silverberg, prized possetion is a personalised, signed copy of 'Desert of Stolen Dreams'. Will check the linky later. Taking my girlfriend out to dinner tonight as it is her birthday, catch you all l8rs! x

  134. Anne/Duke

    Diane Abbot leading the LabourParty? Absolutely
    agree it would be nothing more than identity
    politics at its worst.If people could get past
    the fact she,s a Black woman they,d see she,s
    nothing more than a champagne socialist who
    couldn,t organise a piss-up in a brewery.

    In a remake of the Muppets she,d make a damn good version of Miss Piggy.Dunno which unlucky bastard would play her beloved Kermit.

  135. Jay/Paul,

    I just had a look at that article. You're both absolutely right. It's gender politics of the worst kind. Because a black woman has reached the shortlist this is a victory?

    No. The victory for us all would be a Labour candidate who fought for the principles of Social Democracy, not some careerist who happily sends her kids to a private school whilst preaching 'from the left'.

  136. Nice one, Duke. That is why I will not support Labour. That and Iraq.

  137. Meant the Clause IV post, obviously....

    Paul, I quite like Miss Piggy. Abbot's not in her league.

  138. Your Grice:

    I have a (much) younger brother who is English, however he can speak Dutch. He can also speak English like a dutchy which always has us in stitches.

    Re General Election. It does not look good. By the way, the VVD is being described as "liberal" by Euronews, for example. Interestingly the Social Democrats split into PvdA and VVD after the war.


    Sorry, was only trying to help. I am no longer a maths teacher/tutor -- a kind of inverse prostitution as the pay is not good enough -- but i love teaching it and i have pretty good success record, particularly with intelligent young people who were previously considered rubbish at maths. I doff my cap to you for continuing your own education.

    All: Enjoyed jay's puzzles and the ensuing comments.

  139. medve

    I know you were trying to help, and thankyou for that, I was just being typically flippant.

  140. jennifera:

    It's a hobby horse of mine, as i think a lot of kids are put off maths by poor teaching, unfortunately.

  141. thauma, cheers.


    the exit polls suggest Wilders is going to be the 4th largest party with 18 seats. With the VVD neck and neck with the PvDA and its antipathy to the CDA, I have a horrible feeling that Wilders is going to be involved somewhere in a coalition.

    I hope to God not. I've watched him the last week since the pre-election debates went on to the economy and he doesn't have a clue. Totally clueless on everything except anti-islamic rabble rousing.

    Daar ben je mooi klaar me.....

    Alternatively, the PvDA may try and cobble something with the SP, Groenlinks and D66.

    Whatever happens, it's going to one of those loooonnnnngggg cabinet formations.

  142. Crikey - just seen this gem from someone called Boule on the poor-middle-class-yummy-mummy thread about women without kids;

    ''some are damaged and will not have cildren. They don't matter to evolution and I don't see why they should matter to any arrangements we make for the future of the species.''

    Well thats me told!

  143. Your Grice:

    I fear the same

    Daar ben je inderdaad mooi klaar mee (Are you aware that klaar komen also means to have an orgasm?)

    PvdD SP Groen Slinks D66 would be the preferred option out of all possible evils.

    Apropos D66. Van Mierlo, D66's founder, is now retired and i wouldn't have voted for him anyway, but he earned my respect when i was in a tram in Amsterdam and he sat on the seat behind me whilst in office as foreign minister.

  144. We absolutely must not give up now! Abbott won't win of course so we are no worse off. The REAL battle is not the current leadership election, its the fight to restore democracy to the party.

    WE absolutely CANNOT do this without more real socialists in the party ready to fight alongside those of us who remain there despite all the defeats of the past 30 years.

    The battle is to restore the party to what it was when founded in 1901 a party that gives a voice to working people. There are no quick fixes we cannot afford to give up too much is at stake.

    The fact that anyone with even slight pretensions to being 'left' is on the ballot paper is significant - not a victory certainly but a step in the right direstion if only a tiny one.

    Whoever wins this election and it won't be Abbott will not last.

    In the party we need to:

    Restore the selection of the leader to one member one vote with grassroots control over who gets on the ballot paper

    Restore power to labour party conference and the right of ordinary members to propose motions for conference.

    Restore the old clause IV.

    In the country we need to argue confidently for Socialism and refuse to meekly agree with Murdoch and co that Socialism makes the party unelectable. Because it doesn't.

    We need to counter the lies that are constantly being told about socialism.

    To suggest that the party is dead and there is no hope is to defeat ourselves.

    The alternative is (to quote George Orwell "A boot stamping on a human face forever". I'll die to stop that happening!

  145. Just popping in.... in middle of cooking.

    half heard on R4 tonight.... Gove is planning on cutting Free School meals citing... "it's unaffordable"

    just let that one sink in if anyone is in any doubt about this bunch of fuckers.....

  146. La Rit

    Really? Altogether?

    Fucking hell that is bad.

  147. @jen

    It's not quite as bad as that, but still pretty bad. Details here.

  148. Thanks PeterJ

    It is still very bad though, I really feel for those people who work and lose out on all benefits (I was one for a long time) that initiative could have made a big difference to a lot of peoples lives.

  149. peter/jen

    god thought "Thatcher Thatcher milk snatcher" was bad but.....
    also now with all the cuts and wage freezes there will be increasingly more people with children who will struggle to pay for school meals...usual govt thing hit those with the least even more....

  150. The school meals going for familys on low income is very bad news and doesn't chime with what they are saying re making work pay and child poverty. None of the stuff they are spouting is consistent.

    Duke - my gut reactions to the Labour party are as your post - but Anne has really swayed my thinking with some of her posts here. I mean if we just let Labour die what then? Unless some sort of concerted campaign could be drummed up to get the unions to abandon them too and form a new party of the left - but will that ever happen?

    Its depressing stuff but just leaving Labour to die would mean no representation for the least well off. Joining it and trying to bring about a change might be the only way forward. The Greens are pretty good on poverty, a living wage and welfare but don't have anywhere near enough members and people willing to vote for them.

    I hope that it would work if enough people did join / re-join but I am not sure - my heart hopes but my head tells me the PLP are too far removed from the grassroots and unions now so there may be no going back. The alternative though is years of hell at the hands of this bunch. Sigh.

  151. Jennifera/Paul/PCC:

    really, really depressing (thanks Paul for the link)

    Yup.... Thatcher was only in Downing St. yesterday and already her tentacles are gripped firmly around Gove's throat... bet she loves him.

  152. Well there will be no need for school meals once they start eating babies!

  153. I'm really unsure about what any of us can do.

    I don't think abandoning the Labour Party is the right way, but let's face it, how many of of Lab MP's are bothered about social justice? Not many judging by the pathetic safe and non-threatening leadership contestants. Seems anyone who aims for power is more concerned with their careers and making money and getting themselves as far away as possible from the riff-raff.

    I can't help thinking that apart from anything else, too few people understand what exactly is happening and is going to happen in this country, it's going to make the Thatcher years look like a mild dose of neo-liberal flu.

  154. Yep La rit it is! Cant remember what 'institute' it was but think it was the institute of fiscal studies who said that the planned Tory cuts would take us back to the years just before and after the first world war and that social provision in Britain would resemble that time.

    Which is very, very scary seen as there were still some workhouses then!

    The thing is this a global issue really. The more I see what is happening the more I really do believe the only answer is international socialism but how the hell that will come about is anyones guess. I suppose just how people react will depend on just how far they think they can push the people.

    Bleak times.

  155. Italy news

    today Berlusconi attacked the Constitution saying it was "hell to govern with these rules."

    "The Constitution is very dated. It talks a lot about workers but hardly ever about business and markets"........thank god...at least we still have that

    then he went on to say...

    "those who do business are automatically seen as fraudsters, tax dodgers and exploiters".

    kind of hit the nail on the head there.......

  156. PrincessCC;

    I heard a very erudite woman from the IFS yesterday and I feel pretty confident that we are about to be plunged into times of unprecendented hardship - all for the sake of 2% of the population (as the Duke so beuatifully illustrated upthread) - how can anyone fail to understand that is completely fucked? The reaction to the stupid a 'fox mauled my babies' story just about sums up the thinking and utter stupidity in this country.

    It's hard to imagine that if me fella's job isn't secured and I can't find anything better than the crummy p/t work I'm doing at the moment, it's quite feasible that we could be in the same economic situation as my grandparents and parents were when they were little: No social security, no free healthcare and no secure roof over our heads.

    I'm terrified.

  157. Gandolfo:

    Berlusconi - his next move will no doubt be to get rid of those irritating 'rules'.

    as if by magic... the right-wing fuckers in the Labour Party are already up to their tricks...


  158. Just back from my sometime.

    Gandolfo - said sometime takes the view you can qualify/shade 'egalatarian'. She won't permit qualification of 'unique' though - 'tis unique or it's not! No shades of 'unique' can possibly be allowed.

    You could seek a second opinion from PCC I seem to recall her mum was an Englsish teacher too?? But not 100% on that.

    LaRit - Me sometime did indeed dance on the stage of the Leeds Moss Empire, she was pleased to be reminded of her girlhood dancing!

  159. Dog walking calls - laters

  160. Yep; we have been well and truly shafted. Our so called "democracy" is a sham. We have been held to ransom by a load of snake oil selling charlatans and the kleptocrats have mananged to get the neo-liberal con back on the rails, so it's business as usual in Westminster, Wall St and the City.
    I think it's called a "stitch-up"!
    Furthermore, there have been no measures taken to prevent this daylight robbery happening all over again.

  161. annetan/princess,

    just to clarify. The Labour party is dead as a Social Democratic force.

    It is a zombie organisation controlled by careerist droids who exist only to further their own interests within the neo-liberal consensus. The main funders of Labour, the Trade Unions now little more than HR departments selling add on insurance with membership.

    Personally, I think all Social Democrats within and outside the Labour Party should channel their efforts into creating a new political force.

    You don't deserve to be associated with Mandelson, Blair, Milliband, Balls, Purnell etc, the neo-liberals that have comprehensively and completely taken over the organisation and structure of the party.

    I completely understand your view that Labour are the best vehicle in which to fight for the politics you believe in but I'm afraid I don't share your optimism that it can be done.

    Aneurin Bevan once famously said "This is my truth, tell me yours". The true Social Democrats (of whom Bevan was certainly one) have to have the opportunity to tell the British public their truth.

    Staying in the Labour party will permanently silence it.

  162. My beloved Clause IV will have some comment on that when I'm back.

  163. The provisional results of the Dutch General Election are on at the moment.

    If the results are correct, Wilders PVV will be the third largest party in the parliament.

    The shortest sentence in the bible.....

  164. LaRit

    just read it written by a slime ball who also edited Tones classic work....."Tony Blair In His Own Words. " says it all really.......


    thanks......also my ol' ma was an english teacher...yes I accept I was being pedantic...... unique is however..... unique!!

  165. Does anyone know of any remote retreats that are looking for new members who are just fed up of the shitty world we live in?

    I can turn my hand to most work but I won't grow dreads and I need internet access.

  166. Why don't they just rub our noses in it and have Dave welcoming Thatcher back in to Downing St...oh hang on a minute!

  167. Gandolfo:

    Just had my rant....

    God I want to scream.

    If you want to hurl, just have a quick look at this...



    Hope ye doggie walking has gone well and glad that the Leeds Empire brought back good dancing memories for your sometimes ;)

    Met a lovely short-haired, chocolate and white German Pointer this savvy in the park... Luca is his name and he's a handsome running hound of the frst order. Tippy toes dog. Gorgeous ;)

  168. Evening all

    Many newspapers including the Guardian are saying that because Diane Abbot is on the Left(which i dispute)her election as Leader
    of the Labour Party would make it unelectable.

    But there is a point here that can,t be ignored.New Labour only made Labour electable under the current FPTP electoral system because
    they distanced themselves from the Left.And
    when in power forgot they were Labour altogether
    and became Tories in all but name.So as well as
    regrouping the Left needs to accept that under
    FPTP it may well be unelectable.Which is why
    we must fight for PR.Because under PR the Left
    is much more likely to hold the balance of
    power at the very least.And can use that constructively provided of course we don,t
    follow the LibDems and sellout to our
    principles once we get a whiff of real power.

  169. This comment has been removed by the author.

  170. Duke there are reasons why Nulabour managed to take over.

    The disastrous take over by 'lefts' who espoused identity politics and began the abandonment of the working class.

    The belief that we are all middle class now call centre workers may go to work in suits but are they middle class or are they 21st century factory workers?

    The belief that Socialism made us unelectable and the view of many lefts in the party during the 90's that they 'just had to keep their heads down'.

    The defeat of the miners.

    The belief that the answer for the party was 'power at any cost', we now know what they meant don't we?

    Its all very well posing the question of a new party but the votes for other socialist parties do not fill me with great confidence in the tactic.

    Turning the party around will take a lot of hard work and we need all the help we can get. The current PLP need not be there for ever. I would add to my demands in my last post the right to recall our MPs and elect candiates who have a proven interest in representing the working class.

    Also although I think Nap's idea of bedsits for MPs is a bit harsh I see no reason why an MP shouldn't have a modest flat near Westminster and I also think that Labour MPs should be willing to do the job for the average working wage (giving the balance of their MP's salary to party funds).

    I always remember Dennis Skinner giving his salary to the NUM during the strike and living on NUM strike pay and necessary expenses. Thats the kind of Labour MP I want!

    There are no short cuts, no quick fixes there will defeats as well as victories. It all depends how badly you want things to change!

    "Spurn the dust to win the prize!"

  171. LaRit

    yep I saw it before and nearly puked on my keyboard........saw your posts....well done I think if I posted I'd be banned! I'll think about it!!! God he's a slime bastard........

  172. annetan,

    I bow to your passion, soul and commitment to your party and wish you well in your struggle. Good luck, you'll need it.

    That Paul Richards article is indicative of what you are up against.

  173. LaRit and other dog people

    afternoon walk today met one of my boys old friends now they are a nice dog!!! In Italian they are called "spinone"...don't know in english!

  174. My Dukeship - I am not in Labour and I do detest them - I am a member of the Greens but Anne has made me think long and hard about this issue. I was all set for joining to be honest after reading Annes many brilliant posts - but now that Diane Abbott is the 'left' candidate I am not sure. Basically I feel like a rabbit caught in the headlights - which way to turn. The reality of just how serious this is all getting is really sinking in and I want to do something but what? The Greens are the party I feel closest to but they suffer an image problem as only being an environmentalist party - which they are not.

    Thing is how is the left going to come together or build a cohesive party? Anne is right the socialist parties get no votes. In many senses the working class that created the Labour movement have been broken and unfortunately many call center workers etc do not see themselves as working class (should know - amongst my many working lives I was one). The silly thing is that when I started in a call center in finance I was on about six thousand a year whereas my friends partner was on twenty four ish (back in the mid nineties) in the steelworks. Yet many I worked with in the call center saw themselves as professionals and way 'above' those working in steel etc. And indeed they were expected to get professional quals which - unless lucky as I was and in right place at right time - would lead to no more money over their careers. Many are still there doing a job that is utterly soul destroying but because they have a desk and go to work in a suit they identify with the middle classes. So it is a difficult nut to crack.

  175. Arrived late again, thanks to unsustainable amounts of work (which I'll have to resume in a few mins).
    Everyone's said it all about the Abbott fit-up, and Cath Elliott has it 180 degrees out. It is tokenism, purely on identity politics grounds, deeply patronising,but nothing more than you would expect from today's labour party.

  176. hullo clouds, hullo sky

    [does little dance]

    [sighs sweetly]

    So, I've been trying to think of a 'Thatcher/mil snatcher' rhyme for Michael 'let them eat cake, just not free cake' Gove, but I'm struggling.

    Gove the dusty moral alcove?

    Gove the really despicable cove?

    Gove the sickening shade of mauve?

    Really, there's little to be done with the little shit...

    [dances off, humming]

  177. Philippa

    I hear Gove wants to be known as-

    '' A Communicator Using New Technology.''

    If the cap fits!

  178. LaRit - Where did you hear the IFS woman speak if you don't mind me asking? Was she saying the same things that I had heard (basically anyone not rich is fucked?).

    I know what you mean re feeling scared yourself - I am not working and although I hope to begin voluntary work after seeing my consultant in a few weeks the steps from that to full time job are immense. My other half works in a small company and the company are struggling. So if this second dip occurs and is bad all bets are off.

    And it is so stupid but I literally have anxiety attacks about my dogs. They are like my kids but unlike kids no council is going to find us a home that takes them. If worst comes to worst will live in a tent in mums garage rather than lose the dogs.

    Deano - Will ask my mum - she was an English teacher - not sure myself. Hope the woodchip stripping wasn't too arduous - that stuff is a bugger to remove.

  179. I heard Secretary Here to Initiate The Educational Hypocrisy of All Wanky Killjoys, but may have misheard...

  180. I take it you are still in love Philippa?

    It's nice to see someone happy, enjoy it. ;)

  181. La Rit
    Gove is truly toxic and - does time really need to tell ? - inept. He reminds me of one of Major's most mediocre supporters in the early 90s - yet placed by 'the electorate' on the steroids of newly accessed power, full of vigour and self righteous, vacuous certainty.

    It's a worry. Policy on policy, the Greens came closest to representing my attitudes on all issues - taken as a whole - in the last Gen election. Yet they then parachuted a tosser like Bea Campbell and pissed me off for another few years.

    By the way - Anyone else find it bizarre that pseudo-green Zac Goldsmith made "man of the people" Prescott with his "affordable homes" bullshit look like a fucking idiot *so easily* this morning on R4 ?

    Dismal times indeed... Labour are indeed dead in the cool, clear water.

  182. Jen, bless you.

    I mean, if you add up our collective work activities, we've got about 3/4 of an ill-paid job between us, but hell - when there's music and dancing, love and romancing...

    [sprinkles fairy dust over present company]

    [twirls off]

  183. LaRit - Good work on the Paul Richards thread.

    Jen - check this out - this is what I want to do but him indoors is nervous of selling up and living in a little fairy tale house in wales. And the best bit is internet access etc is go! http://www.simondale.net/house/

  184. Wow it is a little hobbit house, I love it.

  185. Bitterweed - Ah the lovely Bea. God love her. The couple of meetings I have been to have convinced me that most Greens are very committed and earnest people who are really trying to change things.

    I also think they are dead on that we cannot keep focusing on growth. Global warming is something I am not sure on and not educated enough about to take a good guess but I do think we are going to see very expensive oil prices within the next decade and that this will mean an extremely violent period in our history if we are wedded to neo liberal ideas of growth at all costs.

    The greens are the only party to address this and they have genuinely sound social policies too but as you say then they do something like bring in Bea!!

  186. mr tumnus lives there! brilliant...

  187. Just received this by e-mail:

    Dear Comrades

    I am writing to let you know that I have withdrawn from the Labour Party leadership race this morning.

    I stood for the Labour leadership as the candidate of the Left and trade union movement so that there could be a proper debate about Labour’s future in which all the wings of the party were fully represented. It is now clear that I am unlikely to secure enough nominations and so I am withdrawing in the hope that we can at least secure a woman on the ballot paper.

    We came into this campaign knowing that it would be really difficult to obtain sufficient nominations but we knew we had to try. The support we received from rank and file party members and from trade unionists was just overwhelming but we still could not overcome the barrier of gaining sufficient support from Labour MPs.

    I appealed to the party leadership to lower the qualifying bar to allow all the candidates on the ballot paper. It was perfectly possible within the existing rules for this to be done. Reducing the bar to 5% would have allowed all the declared candidates to get on the ballot paper and the Party to have a full and open debate about its future direction. The party hierarchy refused and instead threw its weight behind one candidate.

    I know that many Labour activists and trade unionists will be disappointed.

    I want to thank you for all your hard work in lobbying and campaigning to secure sufficient nominations to get me on the ballot paper. You could not have worked harder.

    I am urging everyone to continue the fight for democracy within the party so that in future elections rank and file members will be represented by the candidate of their choice.

    We must also now throw our energies into the campaign to resist the cuts that the Coalition government is launching against our community. Providing

    leadership in this struggle is critically important in this coming period. We will be convening rallies and demonstrations and linking up with trade union action to resist the cuts. Let’s rise to this challenge.

    Yours in solidarity,

    John McDonnell MP

  188. Jen - I know! And it only cost three grand! And they grow food and keep animals - anyway there is a link on there you can click on if you are interested in joining any of the upcoming projects and you can email them if you want info on building your own home. Don't know how much the land would cost - that's the only thing. And it does look like it may attract spiders - but other than that it just looks great.

  189. "..I mean, if you add up our collective work activities, we've got about 3/4 of an ill-paid job between us, but hell - when there's music and dancing, love and romancing...

    Fegg - I wish had an unconnected son/grandson I'd have him on the next bike to france to enquire about that class lass PB

    Ladies with interesting syntax and powerful minds are properly to be pursued,

  190. Hi All

    Got distracted with a BBC4 prog about Pavarotti... had to indulge myself there and listen to the great man's unsurpassable voice.

    I lost my rag on that thread... ended up saying fuck off...am sure once the mods have regrouped from the latest I/P thread it'll be consigned to the dustbin.

    I've just skimmed the last few comments but wanted to say thanks to Gandolfo for the doggie pic - not sure what the breed is called in English and I have seen them here, related to gun dogs (Pointers etc.)apparently!

    Can't tell you how much that pic cheered me up!


    The woman from the IFS was on R4 yesterday, i think towards the end of the Today programme - saying similar stuff - she had a posh accent, but the content of what she was saying ( in a guarded fachion) was the same.

  191. princesschipchops
    The indications of potential impending violent upheaval are anywhere and everywhere... it may be five or ten years of course before catastrophe. I keep thinking of turn of the century era "great power" conflicts as much as thirties attrition and austerity.

    (And I am often particularly mindful of the careless idiotic roaring twenties when I think of our current shit for brains materialistic self absorbed culture.)

    I am, in my dark green days, of the opinion, that in terms of humans deciding our path should be economic and population growth - over every other consideration - that the tipping point was about a hundred years ago. For this species.

    As the man said recently; this planet has about 4bn years of biological evolution behind it and probably a similar timespan ahead. And the vast, almost entire majority of that future will not include humans.

  192. Annetan:

    That's really sad. I wish he were still standing :(

  193. PhilippaB:

    Thanks for the fairy dust and twirling ;)