Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Z for Zelenskyy

Who knows what Putin was thinking when he painted Zs on the sides of his tanks and sent them into Ukraine last week. If his aim was to rattle Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and force him to capitulate, he has instead created an international folk hero.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy's entry into politics is a lesson in the impossibilities of the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction. First, he created a Ukranian television show called Servant of the People, in which he starred as a high school teacher still living with his parents who gets elected President after a student films his profanity-laced tirade against corrupt politics and posts it on YouTube. Then he formed a political party, also called Servant of the People, ran for President in 2019, and won with 73% of the vote.

Donald Trump tried to roll the newly-elected Zelenskyy, and got impeached for his trouble. Now Vladimir Putin wants to take his turn in the barrel, but doesn't appear to understand that he is fighting against magic realism. With the Ghost of Kyiv, "Russian warship, go f yourself", Russian POWs calling their mothers, and videos of everyone from old men to teenage girls making Molotov cocktails, Putin has already lost the public relations war.

The conventional wisdom expressed here in 2014 is that Ukraine will eventually succomb to its much larger and wealthier neighbor, Russia. But that was before Zelenskyy and, to quote its national anthem, Ukraine has not yet perished.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Seven Three-Word Sequences for Solving Wordle

Are you playing Wordle, the daily online game that gives you six chances to guess a five-letter word?

The big question is what word to use for your first guess. I've extended that idea to finding the first three words that provide a very good chance of solving the puzzle by choosimg the words based on the frequency of letters in English words in the table below.

The first three guesses will usually identify enough letters to make a good guess at the answer on the fourth guess, with two guesses still in reserve. Sometimes the first two words will identify enough letters to skip the third word in the sequence and make a good guess at the answer, as was successfully done in the game shown above.

STEIN / HOARD / CLUMP - Pick the low-hanging fruit. This sequence covers 87.51% of the letter frequencies, the highest percentage that can be covered with three guesses.

STONE / CHARD / IMPLY - Reach for the Y. This sequence trades the U for a Y. Stone can be played instead as notes or tones, if you prefer.

ATONE / CRISP / BULGY - Start with three vowels. Atone is often recommended as the first guess, its 40.43% covers the highest percentage of the seven sequences for the first guess, and the next two words in the sequence cover the remaining vowels.

ADIEU / STORY / CLAMP - Buy the vowels. This sequences covers all the vowels in the first two guesses. Adieu is also often recommended as the first guess. The third guess reuses the A that was guessed in the third word, so it can make sense to vary the third word based on what vowells the first two words turn up. For example, clamp, clomp, clump, chink, chunk, flack, fleck, flock.

ENTRY / AUDIO / CLAPS - Buy the vowels, version II. This sequence covers all the vowels in the first two guesses. Audio is often recommended as a first guess, but the frequencies suggest guessing entry before audio. Again, varying the third word based on the vowels already uncovered can make sense.

TREND / CLAMP / WHISK - Buy consonants. This sequence covers only three vowels in order to cover twelve consonants.

FRONT / BUCKS / LYMPH - Pitch a change-up for the most consonants. This covers the three less frequent vowels, and thirteen consonants (counting Y as both). But the low total frequency of 63.69% feels suboptimal when played in comparison to the other sequences above.

How well do these sequences work? I've got a 100% win rate at the offical Wordle site and a 99% win rate at the Wordle knockoff I play for practice. How well will they work for you?

The following table uses letter frequency percentages based on the main entries of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (9th edition, 1995):

E 11.16% Stein Stone Atone Adieu Entry Trend
A 8.50% Hoard Chard Atone Adieu Audio Clamp
R 7.58% Hoard Chard Crisp Story Entry Trend Front
I 7.54% Stein Imply Crisp Adieu Audio Whisk
O 7.16% Hoard Stone Atone Story Audio Front
T 6.95% Stein Stone Atone Story Entry Trend Front
N 6.65% Stein Stone Atone Entry Trend Front
S 5.74% Stein Stone Crisp Story Claps Whisk Bucks
L 5.49% Clump Imply Bulgy Clamp Claps Clamp Lymph
C 4.54% Clump Chard Crisp Clamp Claps Clamp Bucks
U 3.63% Clump   Bulgy Adieu Audio   Bucks
D 3.38% Hoard Chard   Adieu Audio Trend
P 3.17% Clump Imply Crisp Clamp Clamp Lymph
M 3.01% Clump Imply   Clamp Claps Clamp Lymph
H 3.00% Hoard Chard   Whisk Lymph
G 2.47%     Bulgy  
B 2.07%     Bulgy   Bucks
F 1.81%         Front
Y 1.78%   Imply Bulgy Story Entry   Lymph
W 1.29%       Whisk
K 1.10%         Bucks
V 1.01%        
X 0.29%        
Z 0.27%        
J 0.20%        
Q 0.20%        
1   38.05% 37.66% 40.43% 34.22% 34.12% 35.73% 30.16%
2   29.63% 27.00% 28.57% 29.21% 30.22% 24.70% 17.08%
3   19.84% 20.99% 15.44% 16.21% 18.93% 18.67% 16.45%
T 87.51% 85.66% 84.43% 79.63% 83.28% 79.11% 63.69%

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

How to Hit a Million Views without Really Trying

I've all but dropped out of the blogger game, with 17 posts in 2017, 7 posts in 2018, and just this 1 in 2019. And yet somehow in that time period Ive gone from 500,000 views to over 1,000,000. That's 690,471* on the blog and 373,476 on the companion YouTube channel. Call it the power of compound interest.

Here are the top 10 posts on the blog:

17,001 John Stamos to Star with Olsen Twins in Two and a Half Women March 7, 2011
8,319 Picturing Republican Presidents for Next 24 Years March 1, 2017
7,930 We'll Always Have Paris When It Sizzles June 1, 2017
7,889 Trump's Great Wall Sinks into the Swamp April 30, 2017
7,828 Hitting the Half Million View Mark November 14, 2016
7,796 Boston Skyline April 1, 2017
7,338 How Michael Moore Dog-Whistled Trump Victory January 31, 2017
5,954 Stood up on My First Uber Ride September 15, 2016
5,808 Future Site of Garage B, Former Site of Lanes and Games September 2, 2017
4,391 Harvard Reenlists in the U.S. Navy ROTC March 5, 2011

* I should mention that 198,418 views came from a bot farm in Romania, so I'll need to do this post again for real when I hit the 1.2 million mark. Meanwhile, there is another run over on YouTube, with 124,630 views and counting on the video Calling Cows to the Bull Fight.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Starkly Living Free and Dying in New Hampshire

At Stark Park in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday, July 7, 2018.

Colonel John Stark's 1st New Hampshire Regiment repulsed three British charges at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

As a Brigadier General of the New Hampshire Militia, he defeated the British at the Battle of Bennington.

At Bennington he issued his second-most-famous quotation. Molly Stark did not sleep a widow that or any other night - she died in 1814 and John lived to 1822.

A gun-toting, baby-carrying Molly Stark has her own statue in Wilmington, Vermont, which I visited last summer.

Stark's most famous quotation, "Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils" is from a letter written after the Revolutionary War for an 1809 commemoration of the Battle of Bennington. The first part, "Live Free or Die" became the New Hampshire state motto in 1945. In 1977, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right of car owners to tape that over on their New Hampshire license plates.

Final resting place of the original Live Free or Die patriot and his wife Molly on a hill above the Merrimack River on what was then their family farm. After the Revolutionary War, unlike many generals, John Stark never sought high public office.

Friday, June 1, 2018

My Garbage Is Eating Better Than I Am

On Sunday, April 1, 2018, the City of Cambridge pulled another one of its April Fools Day pranks.

These bright green curbside compost bins were distributed to residents across the city.

That brings the number of garbage cans at our three-decker to 4 - the new green one for compost, one for regular trash, a blue one for single-stream recycling, and one for yard waste. We loose lids before the cans wear out, so there are several other cans floating around the back side yard and basement. Plus we have several of the old smaller blue recycling bins. There are also separate garbage trucks for each type of garbage, and they all come by on garbage day. It's getting a bit ridiculous.

In addition to the big green bin, the city issued smaller compost buckets - our building got 3, one for each unit - to go inside the residence.

My compost bucket has been getting some interesting meals, such as this one.

And this salad.

Others are less appetizing.

What is Cambridge doing with all this compost? Turning it into methane and fertilizer:

"DPW brings food scraps and other compostables to a facility in Charlestown where it is screened to remove contaminants and blended into a slurry that has a consistency similar to cooked oatmeal. The slurry then goes into an anaerobic digestion tank that uses microbes to eat the organic material, releasing methane. The methane is captured to make clean energy in the form of heat and electricity. Remaining solids are made into a nutrient-rich fertilizer for use on agricultural fields in Massachusetts."

Friday, May 25, 2018

Hillary Clinton Was in Town to Receive a Medal

Orange prison jumpsuit, Hillary mask, "Billy Rapes Them & I Slut-Shame and Victim Blame". That's professional heckling. I had to wait in line to get this picture, while an Asian-American couple took turns getting their picture taken with the Hillary cosplayer.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

The Magically Rejuvenated Shower Head

A little CLR in a baggie goes a long way:

I should have taken a before picture to show the low water flow with all but a few of the water jets plugged. Here is the after: