MEND and Math

I was lounging on the couch for a bit today watching CNN and thought to myself “Man, this station really does suck.” I soon drifted into a dream of CNN suckage and was abruptly awoken by gunshots. I was surprised by what I saw. It was a CNN exclusive story about a group calling themselves MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Nigerian Delta.)

Basically, it was a bunch of dudes pissed off about companies taking “their” oil. The images were… intriguing.

Something about that story gave me some kind of primordial flashback about how fun it would be running around in a mask, shooting a gun and causing terror. There’s something really inviting about the idea of being a “soldier” to me for some reason.

I ended up reading a bit more about them while looking for those pictures. Turns out this group is a lot more organized than previous problems they had in the region. They have better firepower and have been trained.

Oh, one more random note. There was this really… esoteric scene of them dancing all transed out, shooting their guns in the air, pointing them at the cameras all menacing and stuff.

Here’s a link to the CNN article: [Koinange: Big guns, big oil collide in Nigeria] the video I saw is there in the lower left part of the screen.

I Love Math

I-Ping must have been bragging to a co-worker about how dope my math skills are. This co-worker was like “OK, have him solve THIS problem.”


There are 12 balls (bricks, bowls, whatever, it doesn’t matter) that all look exactly the same, but one of them has a different weight (you don’t know if it’s lighter or heavier.) Using one of those scale of justice type scales 3 separate times, how can you find the odd ball?

This problem seemed easy at first, but it ended up taking my about an hour to work out the solution (while I was eating and watching TV at the same time.) I took a picture of my notes, but I won’t post them just yet. You might be able to google the answer, but I didn’t.

This is a very neat problem and if you figure it out yourself, it will be a treat. I guess it might not be for math light weights though. I-Ping’s co-worker said it took him 3 days.

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12 Responses to MEND and Math

  1. Chris Wells says:

    I am watching this report on CNN right now… I want one of those fishing boats with the mounted 60’s. Notice they can afford RPG’s but not shoes (wondering if the rockets are fakes)? I like how they slowly walk behind the reporter lookin’ mean.

    The funniest thing was when they were interviewing the leader on the boats in the middle of the river and the leader had trouble reading his notes about his “kampf” because he couldn’t see or speak through his mask.

  2. Pyro says:



  3. miltownmom says:

    I think you start with 3 and 3. If it balances, one of the other 6 is the bad one. Then I thnk I’d try 3 good ones and 3 of the 6 that I don’t know. If it balances, then it’s only one of three. Then I’d have to think about it I’ll keep working on it, but I have to leave for an appointment.

  4. The club website is down but I thought everyone would enjoy UFC Tim Sylvia on the reality TV show Blind Date

  5. James Lick says:

    I think I solved it. I e-mailed you what I came up with so it won’t spoil it for anyone else. Took me about 3 hours, so I guess this means you are three times as smart as me.

  6. miltownkid says:

    @Chris: One thing that bother’s me about CNN “exclusives” (and the media in general) is that they could totally be stage (or partially staged.) I suppose that’s what that movie “Wag the Dog” was about… Anyhow… YEAH!

  7. Chris Wells says:

    I am watching CNN this morning and the Nigerian Gov’t is claiming that the whole story is contrived by CNN.

  8. Mark says:

    I wrote a Ruby program to brute force the answer out of this problem. I defined a summation operator and a weighing function.

    def sum
      inject {|v,n| v+n}

    def weigh(a, b)
      return 1 if a.sum > b.sum
      return -1 if b.sum > a.sum
      return 0

    Then, I just made calls like weigh(balls[1..4], balls[5..8]) to the weigh function and iterated through all the possible combinations. Seeing as I still haven’t slept, it’s always possible there’s a mistake in it, but I’m pretty sure this will work:

    Spoiler Alert!

    Start by putting four balls on each scale. If the scales balance one of the four unweighed balls is the special one, and with two weighings left it’s trivial to find out which. If the scales don’t balance, then one of the eight balls already weighed is the special one.

    I’ll call the eight remaining balls A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H. I’ll call the 4 heavier ones A,B,C, and D; and the lighter four E,F,G,H. Weigh A,E, and M (one of the balls known to be normal) against C,D, and H.

    If the AEM side is heavier, then either A is heavier than normal or H is lighter than normal. For the last weighing, test A against M. If A is heavier, it’s the “oddball”. If they are the same weight, then H is the oddball.

    If the CDH side is heavier than the AEM side, then either E is light, or C or D are heavy. For the last test, weigh C against D. If one is heavier than the other, it’s the oddball. If they’re the same weight, then E is the oddball.

    If the AEM side and the CDH side weigh the same, then either B is heavy, or F or G is light. Weigh F against G. If one is lighter than the other, it’s the oddball. If they weight the same, then B is the oddball.

  9. Mark says:

    My goodness… did I just make a bleary-eyed post about a math puzzle on Valentine’s Day morning? I really am a geek. It’s time to crash for me.

  10. miltownkid says:

    LOL… Yes, yes you did. You get points from me! 😀

  11. miltownkid says:

    @Chris: I think I’ll need to post an update. Now the boaters have been released and all is well in the universe (thanks to Super CNN… Team.. Team CNN… Team America!)

  12. Luvbeers says:

    America…. fuck yeah!

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