Dear UCPOvites past and present,
We apologise deeply for the temporary loss you have sustained on our behalf. We
did not realise that our late hostage was your webmaster until researching the
full credentials of his cover story in Cambridge. Upon doing so we realised that
he is of course obliged to provide you with a weekly digest, which function we
would naturally not dream of impeding. However, on offering him the opportunity
of doing so he immediately broke down and confessed all that we had wished to
ascertain while simultaneously acceding to all our political and territorial
While there was not time in our custody for him to prepare a digestion of the
previous eight months' thirteen-thousand-odd emails, he has however provided a
summary of those sent since his re-election last week; this is attached below.
We have now released him under close observation. He apologises abjectly for his
indigestion and has promised henceforth to be a better man.
Our sincere commiserations,
The People's Anarcho-Federalist Army of Guatemala
**** UCPO Digest - Tuesday 3 February 2004 ****
In this digest:
- What's happening with the orchestra
- The best of misc: What we liked, disliked, and couldn't decide on
- Memepool; quotes; stats
- The pick of the rest: Criminal plans and lateral thinking problems/answers
Real Orchestra News: since the last digest, we have held (if my memory serves me
right) one Annual General Meeting, four concerts, a dozen or so official parties
and formal halls, c.36 rehearsals, and innumerable random meetings and pissups.
Obviously there is not space to discuss them here. However, a few things you
might particularly like to know if you're out of town:
- This term's concert will be of Delius/Bruch/Nielsen, on Friday 12 March
- The Annual Dinner is at Trinity on Monday 23 February - all are invited.
See for details.
- If you'd like to buy a photo of UCPO last Easter, or an orchestra hoodie or
t-shirt, act quickly - order from
- A new committee was elected; Vicki Rainsley is now our esteemed Chair.
has the rest.
Now for Misc.
Snow! Snow! In Cambridge and on the BBC news. In men and in balls. Even in
pictures on websites.
The AGM, for being uneventful and held in the snow.
The beer festival - who needs to organise Baby socials in advance?
Frankie, for doing a mini-digest.
The Trinity Hall Commemoration of Benefactors Dinner, and the world expert in
lateral thinking problems who found himself there (see below).
We didn't like:
Sam Smiley's, for thinking chicken was a vegetable.
Viruses (well, MyDoom), for snarling up our email.
A psychology study, for being dodgy on many levels.
Oxford, on general principles.
Mainly me, for not having done a digest.
We weren't so sure about:
The most virtuous person in WCPO
John the B. - www.jjdash.demon.co.uk/temp/snowman.jpg
Fan - www.srcf.ucam.org/~fy209/scenary/snow_04/
Jimbo - news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/photo_gallery/3438973.stm
His primary school!
Simon C. - news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/in_pictures/3440643.stm
More pretty snow!
Welchew - www.nice-tits.org
For the ornithologically inclined among us
Fan - www.shagrat.net/Html/cows.htm
An oldie but a goodie
Chris - www.fbym.org.uk/images/opera03_17.jpg
Winning caption: "We're both wearing the same colours! You'll have to go
home and change." (by Tom)
Phil - www.polyhex.com/misc/dodge.htm
First of the timewasting games
Welchew - creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/1.0/
Go academic idealism! Go Welchew!
Tom P. - www.cambridgepsychology.com/cambridgestudents
Dodgy psychology study
Welchew - www.popcap.com/gamepopup.php?theGame=insaniquarium
Welchew - news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3451207.stm
Jon Storey - astronomy.swin.edu.au/~pbourke/fractals/quaternionjulia/
All Alison's problems solved
Welchew - www.mausland.de/dolphin.swf
Not for the hungover or faint of head
"...Marsala, which Elizabeth David recommends for cooking, but which tastes
bizarrely like Buckfast." -- Dave S.
"Vicki, you're turning into an elephant, stop it!" -- Jimbo
"*flicks away stray hairs and imaginary trail of desperate men*" -- Frankie
"Oi! Poking is a purely benevolent activity and should _never_ be used for
showing anger about PC-manufacturers' misdemeanors. *humph*" -- Phil
"Isn't Jamie Curtis Lee called Jamie too?" -- Fan
"What do you mean, LOOKING innocent?" -- Jen
"*prepares to blame Pedro at indefinite point in the future*" -- Alison
"Did you press send with your nose then?" -- Jon S.
(NB The old stats system is now rather outmoded by some flashy scripts of
Harris', which chomp the preceding week's emails each Sunday. I'll try to
co-ordinate my digest-writing with them in future, or incorporate them somehow.)
***UCPO Misc Stats***
Alternative rehearsal schedule, courtesy of Sarah Reynolds:
7.20 - break and enter rehersal venue
7.30 - Warm up with finalisation of plans to defraud Bank of England (nb
webmaster will give report on progress of new 'improved' phote archieve some to
be launchd on website)
8:45 - Coffee and illegal drugs break
9.00-10.00 - Natsci's will use selwyn kitchem to concoct biological and chemical
weapons to sell (via the UCPO website) to Arab regimes
10-00 Ram raid Robinson bar
Lateral Thinking Problems, courtesy of Chris Phelps (no immediate spoilers):
1 A group of 20 prisoners are all to be executed. They are each given a chance
to save their lives. A hat is put on each of their heads, which is either black
or white. They must each, in turn, guess which colour their hat is, and if they
guess correctly they go free. They are all standing in a line, where each
prisoner can only see the prisoners in front of them (so the 20th prisoner can
see everyone, the 1st cannot see anyone). The guessing starts with the person at
the back of the line. Each prisoner is able to hear the people before them
guessing. They are also allowed to discuss their method beforehand. It is
possible to ensure the survival of 19 of the 20 prisoners. How?
2 Make 1000 using eight 8s, in a "Countdown" sort of way. You are allowed to use
simple mathematical operators that don't involve other numbers or letters (you
must use all eight of the 8s).
3 Similarly, make 24 using two 3s and two 8s.
4 A man wishes to measure the width of a river. He has no means of crossing the
river, and the only means of measurement he has is a yardstick. How does he do
5 We deal again with a group of prisoners; as in the first question, the number
is not significant, so can be stated as n, or you can assume there are 20 of
them if it helps you to visualise the problem. They are given a chance to secure
all their releases. Each is in a single, isolated cell, and the guards
repeatedly take a prisoner (chosen at random) into a room where there are two
switches, each of which has two positions (up and down), that the prisoner can
then set as he likes; they then return him to his cell. The prisoners do not
know order in which they will be taken in, or the time that may elapse between
This continues until one of the prisoners chooses to declare that they have all
been taken in at least once; they are then freed if he is correct, and executed
if he is not. As in the first question, they are allowed to discuss their method
before, but not during, the process. The initial position of the switches is not
known. (Slightly simpler problem: assume instead that it is.)
These had us stumped for varying times over a couple of days: here are complete
**** SOLUTIONS/SPOILERS ****
scroll down only if you've given up...
1. The first prisoner to be asked can answer "White" if the no. of white hats in
front of him is even and "Black" if it is odd; the prisoners in front of him can
then each in turn deduce their own hat colour and answer correctly.
2. Indisputably: 8 * (8*(8+8) - (8/8)) - 8 - 8
More clearly but using an extra type of operation: (8888 - 888)/8
4. There are many solutions, but Chris' one doesn't rely on finding a
North-South stretch of river, a bribable river authority or anything of the
"Similar triangles are your friends here.
It's easier to explain using paper, but I'll try. If the distance to be measured
across the river is AB, then first move from point A to point C, where AC is at
right angles to AB and is n yards long. This forms a right-angled triangle. Find
another point, D, that is exactly twice as far from A as C is. Then walk away
from the river until you reach point E, from which there is a line of sight to
point B that goes exactly through point C. The resultant triangle CDE is
identical to ABC, so DE is the same length as AB and can be measured using the
yardstick, therefore finding the width of the river."
5. First consider the simpler problem; here, we only need to bother about one of
the switches. Assume it's initially down. Then nominate one prisoner (call him
Dave). Whenever Dave goes in and finds the switch up he puts it down; if it's
already down he leaves it. Each other prisoner does nothing if she finds the
switch already up, but the _first_ time (only the first time) she finds it down
she should put it up.
Thus each of them only puts it up once, and each time Dave pulls the switch
down he knows one of the others has put it up; so when he pulls it down for the
(n-1)th time (eg the 19th) he knows they've all been in.
(Since they're taken in random order, each prisoner will be taken in
If the initial orientation is not known, then the first time Dave goes in he
should put the right-hand switch down, and treat it thereafter like the switch
in the first answer, while putting the left-hand switch alternately up and down
on each visit. The other prisoners should each wait (not doing anything) until
they've seen the left-hand switch in both positions, and then act as above.
The use of the left-hand switch is simply to ensure that none of the others use
the right-hand switch until Dave has 'initialised it', so he doesn't miss any of
NB having two switches with two positions each is equivalent to a single switch
with four positions; in fact, we only need three positions, since Dave can
alternate between positions 1 and 2 and the other prisoners (once they've seen
it changed) put it to position 3 to show him they've been in.
I think that does it... with apologies for my previous laxity or digestion (or
rather lack of laxity),
Yours from a dank Guatemalan incarceration,
Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine
Webmaster, University of Cambridge Philharmonic Orchestra
"I only have two words of advice: stay away. Horn players are piranhas. They'll
steal your wallet, lunch, boyfriend, or wife or all the above given half a
chance or no chance at all."
©UCPO 2002-17, design by David Welchew