Posts from May 2011.

Jabberwocky

Palin blasts White House’s rapper invite:

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined the anti-Common refrain Wednesday night, questioning the White House's judgment for inviting the rapper to participate in a poetry event.

"You know, the judgment, it's just so lacking of class and decency and all that's good about America with an invite like this," Palin said on Fox News Channel. "It's just so easy to assume that they're just inviting someone like me or somebody to ask, 'Come on, Barack Obama, who are you palling around with now?'

"This rapper, we thought that we were to be united under the leader of the free world, Barack Obama, in tamping down racism and inciting violence and cop killing, certainly, and killing a former president," Palin said. "All those things that this rapper has glorified and really is known for, it just certainly reflects a lack of judgment on the White House's part ..."

I was having trouble making heads or tails of this, so I translated it.

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Accio!

Yesterday afternoon my friend A treated a bunch of kids to a Harry Potter treasure hunt. He loosely based it on some of my puzzle hunts of yore.

I contributed the following logic problem to the endeavor:

Wands are used by wizards and witches to channel their power. Each is composed of a wooden casing and a magical core, the combination of which makes it distinct from all others.

Four members of the house of Slytherin have wands of different lengths, different woods, and different cores. From the clues below, can you determine who owns which wand?

  1. Draco Malfoy’s wand is longer than both the wand that contains the dragon heartstring and the wand that contains the veela hair, but shorter than the cherry wand.
  2. Salazar Slytherin’s wand is shorter than both the cherry wand and the elder wand, but longer than the wand that contains the dragon heartstring.
  3. Lucius Malfoy’s wand is longer than both the walnut wand and the wand that contains the unicorn hair.
  4. Bellatrix Lestrange’s wand is shorter than both the wand that contains the phoenix feather and the yew wand.

S O L U T I O N

Slytherin Wood Core
Bellatrix                      
Draco
Lucius
Salazar

The puzzle can be solved with only the information above. However, since this was aimed at youngsters, I provided two additional clues. Feel free to use them if you get stumped, or want to verify that your answer is correct:

  1. Both the longest wand and the shortest wand are made from the wood of trees that produce food.
  2. Neither the longest wand nor the shortest wand contain a hair.

I was pleased with how it turned out. Having exactly one clue per Slytherin struck me as elegant, it has a bit of a twist, and the challenge was about perfect for the target audience of fourth graders. The challenge of solving the puzzle, I mean. The challenge of writing about “wands” and “length” without making the target audience of fourth graders snicker uncontrollably was one I didn’t even bother to tackle.

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