Thursday, May 04, 2006

- Like every other human-being on the planet, I read the Da Vinci Code a few months ago. A truly mediocre experience. The movie comes out in a few weeks. The movie must be better than the book. The casting for the movie is perfect. There is an online game you can play related to the movie. A few friends and I have been playing it. You answer 24 questions (one question each day) and at the end of the 24 puzzles you get entered into some kind of prize-drawing. The puzzles are fairly easy. They make for a nice diversion each day. You need to create a google account to play, but making the account is completely free, and you should have one by now anyhow:

The Da Vinci Code book is reknown for its puzzles, which teases the reader to push on with an incredibly outlandish, yet surprisingly boring story. The author of the book, Dan Brown, seems to make up the rules for the puzzles as he goes along, doesnt give enough information to solve the puzzles, or simply makes the puzzles too easy (hint...if you are reading the book, to solve one of the easier puzzles, hold the book up to a mirror, then read it.)

If you want to read about a true-life mystery, which has never been solved, and has all the intrigue and potential of the Da Vinci Code, try reading about the Voynich Manuscript. Over 500 years ago, some madman (or supra-genius) wrote a bizarre book containing undecipherable text and common 15th century illustrations. Scholars, cryptologists, and historians have tried to crack the bizarre writing and pictures contained in the book, but no one has succeeded. Some experts feel the book is an elaborate hoax, but most cryptologists agree that there are definitely patterns to the strange text, and it does indeed contain actual writing...its just a matter of breaking the cipher. Read more about the Voynich Manuscript here:

- Oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel today, but they will go back up again. I wouldnt be surprised if we are paying $4 a gallon for gas in the next few months. Georgie unfairly gets all the blame for this. The President of the United States has very little, if any power over the price of gasoline. Free-market forces and geopolitical trends are what affect the price of crude oil. Here is a website with a map showing the average price of gas for every county in the USA. The price of gas in our area of the country is typically higher than other parts of the U.S.:

- Follow along...this gets a little complicated, but if you can wrap your mind around it, you will have discovered a wonderful mathematical paradox: Ever watch the TV show Lets Make a Deal? It was on during the 1970s. I never watched it, but I have certainly heard of it. The host of the show, Monty Hall, would offer contestants a chance to pick a prize hidden behind one of three doors. Only one door contained a prize. The other two doors always had some kind of embarrassing item behind them. The contestant picked a door, and then Monty would show them a door that DIDNT contain the prize the contestant was hoping to win. Finally, Monty would ask the contestant if they wanted to stick with the door they originally chose, or switch to a new door. Regardless of if they switched to a new door, or stuck with the old door, this would be their final pick. Now, according to simple intuition, it seems perfectly logical that switching to a new door doesnt increase your chance of winning. Since there are only two doors left, switching to a new door, or sticking with your old door seems to give you the idea that you have a 50/50 chance of winning the prize with either door. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you switch your pick to the other door your chances of winning increases to 2 in 3! How is this possible? How can you have a 67% chance of winning if there are two doors left, and the prize is behind only one of those two doors? Read the following article to learn about this amazing mathematical quandry:

- The news just hit the streets today...Uncle Lucas is releasing the original Star Wars movies (the un-mastered ones, the ones without the new special effects, the ones where Solo shoots first) onto DVDs. Now fans can once again watch the movies as they originally appeared in the theaters. I never had a problem with Lucas modifying his movies. They are his possession, he can do whatever he wants with them:

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