Thursday, November 29, 2012

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 25, 2012): Not Since 1987...

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Nov 25, 2012): Not Since 1987...:
Simpson's Future-DramaQ: In a few weeks something will happen that hasn't happened since 1987. What is it?
Wait? Will "The Simpsons" be going off the air? Now that would be different.

Edit: The main hint was the word "different". The other hint was the image from the Simpson's episode "Future Drama" set in the year 2013.
A: 2013 will be the first year since 1987 to have no digits repeated (1988, 1989, ..., 2011, 2012). At least we didn't have it as bad as they did in the 12th century going from 1098 to 1203 with all the intervening years of repeated digits (1099, 1100, 1101, ..., 1199, 1200, 1201, 1202). Oh how agonizing that must have been for them!

126 comments:

  1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via Google or Bing) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

    You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

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  2. At the end of our last blog I wrote:

    At first I thought it was going to be the second time I do a load of laundry and all my socks survive.

    I can't wait to see what Blaine puts up for a clue because I'm having no luck at all coming up with one.

    Now I think about it there may be celebrations in many parts of the world to mark this occasion.

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    1. And they'll get to celebrate it several times. More times than you can count on one hand, actually.

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    2. I think you could count it on your fingers and toes if you had polydactyly.

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  3. Reminds me of a collection of early Monty Python sketches.

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    1. and now for something completely different...

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  4. Although Google or Bing may not, another internet resource will instantly yield the answer.

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    1. Not to sound like a parrot, but…yes….

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    2. Jim: That "hint" is a major give a way.

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    3. Dang it, now it's not fair if I enter it, right? Or is it still OK?

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    4. I would like to know what source that is, but please don't tell me until after the Thursday, noon deadline.

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    5. SDB - Please note that the puzzle deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.

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    6. Acemaster - Good question. In the past, Will has stated that the use of computers is legitimate. However, in this case, no particular skill was needed for a successful search. (Of course, this says more about the originality of the puzzle than it does about your method.)
      You might ask yourself how you would feel if you submitted the answer and then had to explain on the air how you got the solution? Using this criterion, I decided not to submit this week!

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    7. Jim:
      Good point, and I should have thought about it myself, but living on the West Coast seems to have got in my whey. Damn those Curds. Good think I wasn't vacationing in Hawaii, huh?

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    8. Sounds like you have been skydiving a lot at Muffet Field? A vacation in Hawaii might be in order. Unless you prefer to tough it out in wherever it is you live on West Coast.

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    9. Do you mean Moffet Field, CA? I'm in Seattle and I haven't even a Little Missed Moffet Field. Probably because I never heard of it before and I doubt there is skydiving activity there unless it is military.

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    10. Excuse the bad joke. I am new around here. It's just that I thought anyone who had been feasting on curds and whey had most likely been spending too much time at Muffet Field. "Tough it" out was yet another eensy weensy bad joke. A thousand apologies for spouting off.

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    11. Yes, my friend. I agree. Missing Moffet field would be as incomprehensible as missing George W. Bush. The only guy who ever missed him was a countryman of mine who threw a shoe in his direction. May Allah bring great blessings your way in the year to come.

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    12. No problem with bad jokes. I just had not heard of Muffet Field and did a Google search and got nothing but Moffet Field, CA, which I had not heard of before. Anyway mine was the bad joke. So just in case you haven't heard this good one:

      What do Saddam Hussein and Little Miss Muffet have in common?

      They both had curds in their whey.

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    13. And to you too. It is a great shame I don't remember his name as he is one of my all time heroes. That shoe should be in the Smithsonian.

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    14. You are quite the humorous fellow, Mr. Diveboy. May I call you, Sky? I am awarding double-digit scores to your quick wit, my friend. As for the Kurds, yes, they posed many problems for Saddam, but in the end, he fell prey to a Shite-storm of his own making.

      As for shoe thrown at that infidel, GWB, my only regret is that there not more loafers on the ground during his visit.

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    15. Well don't be too hard on poor old Saddam. After all he was the leader of his country for almost a quarter century and faced insurmountable problems, and it was only at the end that he finally got the hang of it.

      If that glorious shoe had connected with that shitheel, GWB, I think the thrower would have been a shoe-in for an Oscar for his performance as Best Unsupporting Actor.

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    16. Sky, I realize that your comment about placing the infamous shoe in the Smithsonian was spoken in jest, however, I have it on good information that there is a movement afoot to do just that. They are proposing that the shoe be placed on a pedestal directly across from the Oval Office desk that is graced with Monica's dress. There are also members of our Muslim community in Los Angeles who are pushing to have the actual shoe print imbedded in the Hollywood Blvd. sidewalk in 2013. It's been 25 years since a Middle Easterner's shoe prints have been added to the Walk of Fame (Danny Thomas).

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    17. Sorry, I forgot to ask how the weather is today in Provo.

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    18. Hey GuerrillaBoy...why don't ya come up and be me sometime.
      Simon

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  5. Something that will very likely happen in a few weeks is Will Shortz's annual Weekend Edition Sunday "names in the news" puzzle. In this on-air segment, Will asks the player to identify a series of names that appeared in the news in the past year, but were largely unknown previously. I've been collecting names that I've thought might make his list this year. Does anyone have a suggestion as to how we could include our lists in this blog, perhaps making a competition of it? How to post lists for authentication, without giving them away, how to keep score, etc?

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    Replies
    1. Ah...the annual Fame Game. Are you suggesting we each publish a list of hints*, where each hint represents a name we think Will might choose?

      * valid hints must be Blaine-esque, in that they contain several degrees of separation from the name

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  6. Next time we won't have to wait so long.

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  7. The Simpsons started in 1987 and Diff’rent Strokes ended in 1986 so it can’t be that either...

    Chuck

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  8. Don't like the new puzzle? Well, I dig it. A number of people may not find this one easy.

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  9. My family was on our way to the mosque this morning and the puzzle came on the car radio. I was unable to solve it, but my two sons came up with the solution in less than 120 seconds. They are both geminis, so that may have helped. Now that I know the answer, I would only add that a knowledge of DOS or comparing apples to pears might lead one down the right path. I would also be curious to know Will's definition of "a few."
    Simon Saiz
    Detroit, MI

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    1. See:
      Paul Sun Nov 25, 10:43:00 AM PST

      [This one was my bad; Blogger's off the hook.]

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    2. If I might comment, Mr. Ken. Unless some great misfortune has fallen upon you, there are exactly five digits on your hand and each one is duplicated on your other hand. This amounts to 10 fingers as we say in Arabic numerals. Personally, I would say that 10 is more than a few. I would further observe that in American terms, this would qualify as "quite" a few. May the sands of time sift slowly through your fingers, Mr. Ken. However many you may possess. Few, or quite a few.

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  10. I suppose several of us would, Simon.

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  11. "It" may not have happened even once since 1987, but along with global warming and all we're going to see it happen again and again in the immediate future.

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    1. Hey DumpsterDiveLad ~ You wouldn't be SkyDiveBoy's distant impoverished cousin would you? If you need a handout, you might try asking, Ken. On second thought...

      As for global warming, it may be here to stay, but "it" will probably be with us for 7 or 8 years before things go back to the way they were. As a dumpster diver, I'm sure you know how things get recycled in this world. Especially in Seattle where they're all about the green thing.

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  12. RoRo, are you out in your boat today?

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  13. SDB I truly am asea. All kinds of thoughts have entered my mind like what if I stumble, will I miss the fall "line-up" or can I really keep the doctor away by eating fruit or will my boat find a safe harbor. One thing I can do is retreat into my trailer and sleep perhaps to dream a dream

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    1. Now that is explained, perhaps you can explain to me why it is acceptable for something to be observed, but not obseen.

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    2. SDB Thumbs up to you. My Mom always told me one can be seen but being two loud does not serve anyone's interest. So I rowed my boat ashore and exchanged it for a time machine.

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  14. I'm putting together a mix tape of Neil Young and Bob Dylan songs and will be naming it The Harmonica Versions.

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  15. Clever, but can you (or anyone else on this blog) tell me what is word puzzle-ish about a harmonica version?

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    1. I'm not sure. I'm not a harmonica player myself and neither is my fiancee, despite being very musically inclined. I guess that makes us both harmonica virgins.

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  16. 1987 was also the year that WESUN first aired.

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  17. 1987 was an interesting year. But so was 67.

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    1. Are we talking fine wines with that one of a kind essence definitely not Boone's Farm or Ripple

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    2. You can tell the vintage of Thunderbird by the UPC code. But who cares anyway?

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    3. But then there is MD (mad dog) 2020 which would not be a year for this "happening"

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    4. Well, we don't remember anyway, now do we?

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    5. True, I don't remember as much since I lived near that rum factory in St. Croix

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    6. Was your living there a Croix for help?

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    7. Oh yes even tho Eva Perron told me not to

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  19. Classical composers: e.g., J.S. Bach; G.F. Händel; F.J. Haydn; and W.A. Mozart. Not: F. Schubert; F. Liszt; or R. Wagner.

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    1. Oops, Mozart doesn't belong with the others, either. My bad.

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    2. What, no mention of Ludwig van Beethoven? Ah yes, he was not a classical composer.

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    3. Dmitri Shostakovich: yes.
      Igor Stravinsky: no.

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    4. Movies? Pretty Woman: no; Juno: yes.

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    5. All right, "movies" it is!

      Both Halloween and The Fog:
      Originals: yes.
      Remakes: no.

      (Go John Carpenter!)

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    6. Incidentally, Ruth: sorry, but Juno also is a "no."

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    7. Wolfgang, juno what really bugs me? When the rules change with no notice.

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    8. Yes, Ruth; all those composers I "excluded" must be thinking the same thing.

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    9. But what would both have to say about that most prolific of composers, Anonymous? Sorry, but I don't remember his first name.

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  21. This puzzle is unique; not just some old re-tread.

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  22. Looking at a couple hundred years worth of similar events, I figure the odds of it happening in any given year at about 56%. But, considering that it hasn't happened in 25 years, that means that we're in for a streak to bring us back up to that average. It'll take us the better part of the century to get back on that track.

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    1. If I start to backtrack, then I'll have to dust off the Dylan and listen to Blood on the Tracks.

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    2. The Middle Ages were a dark, dark time for this thing. At one point, more than a century elapsed without it happening.

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    3. Well Curtis, with the way things are going, I wouldn't bet that it won't go that long again regardless of the most optimistic scientists.

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  23. It amazes me when I consider that we humans caused this to happen in the first place and yet we are incapable of keeping it from happening again.

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  24. I would have guessed Ed Pegg rather than Henry Hook as the
    source of this puzzle.

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  25. Seems to me that if WS had said "a few months" instead of "a few weeks", the answer could even have been taken a step further...

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  26. Well it must be Wednesday somewhere. How about a new puzzle?

    C'mon, now

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  27. Baseball:
    Chicago Cubs
    Cleveland Indians
    Detroit Tigers
    Kansas City Royals
    Milwaukee Braves
    Washington Senators

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  28. Baseball—definitely not:
    Boston Red Sox
    Florida Marlins
    San Francisco Giants
    Toronto Blue Jays

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    1. Sorry again, Ruth—based on my algorithm, the Padres don't appear either way. You must be on to a solution different from mine.

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    2. Hey Wolfie ~
      Let's try the old Boston Americans in the Baseball column and in the "definitely not" column, I'll go with the Diamondbacks. If I may throw you a curve ball: I am assuming you are disallowing teams that could technically appear in either column.
      GuerrillaBoy

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    3. AbqG,
      You are right about my "disallowing teams that could technically appear in either column."
      You are also right (by me) about the teams you mentioned, but I only went with teams where the premise of the respective column applies more than once.

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  29. An ardant Texas fan told me that I was #1 in sign language.

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    1. This may be intangible to some, but my trig teacher used to tell me the exact same thing.

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    2. My geometry teacher told me the same thing only I had to read between the lines.

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  30. Any last minute hints? I'm clueless.

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    1. 0123456789

      A moment of weakness brought on by a nice bottle of wine and a great book while listening to some great classical music.

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    2. Johnson twice, but not Kennedy. Nixon, not at first, but later.

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    3. Dave - You are going to smack yourself when the answer is revealed!

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  31. I will look forward to Curtis' explanation of his Johnson/Kennedy/Nixon "clue" - and Dave, you will want to smack Will first.

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    1. That clue refers to the years each president started a term in office:
      Kennedy - 1961 (repeating ones)
      Johnson - 1963 & 1965 (no repeats)
      Nixon - 1969 (repeating nines) & 1972 (no repeats)

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  32. We are talking about year numbers that are four digits long, with the first digit different from zero.

    Each year from 1988 until 2012 has a repeated digit in the year number.
    This represents 25 consecutive years with repeated digits in the four digit year
    number. (8, 9, 0, 1 or 2)

    All year numbers from 1000 to 9999 involve four decimal digits without leading zeros.
    Among these the longest string of years I can find for which each consecutive year has at least
    two digits that are the same is 9877 to 9999, a span of 123 years!

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    1. And if you continue that people living then won't even have relief in 10000, 10001, 10002, ..... not until 10234!

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  33. 2013 is the first year since 1987 where all the digits are different from each other.

    My Hints:

    “Now I think about it there may be celebrations in many parts of the world to mark this occasion.”

    It’s called New Years Eve and the celebrants may not be aware of the digit oddity.

    “It amazes me when I consider that we humans caused this to happen in the first place and yet we are incapable of keeping it from happening again.”

    Once a calendar has been created it goes on forever. We can’t stop tomorrow from being Friday.

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  34. In a few weeks the year will become 2013 in which all the year’s digits are different numbers. The last year for which this was true was 1987.

    Last Sunday I said, “The Simpsons started in 1987 and Diff’rent Strokes ended in 1986 so it can’t be that either.” Diff’rent was intended to evoke that all the digits are different in the years 1987 and 2013.

    Chuck

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  35. What will happen “in a few weeks” is that 2013 will be the first year since 1987 where each digit appears only once. (Every year from 1988 through 2012 had at least one digit in it appearing more than once.)

    My clues:
    (Responding to another comment saying people may be celebrating the occasion) “More times than you can count on one hand.”
    Alluded to the fact that all seven years from 2013 through 2019 are compatible with this puzzle.

    ”Not to sound like a parrot, but….”
    Alluded to the notion of something repeating (“parroting”) what came before. Also picked up on Jim’s clue of “another Internet resource,” which seemed to refer to Twitter.

    (My mentions of classical composers)
    I picked composers who were born, and died, in years both compatible with this puzzle (e.g., J.S. Bach: 1685–1750), or in years both incompatible (e.g., F. Schubert: 1797–1828).

    Both Halloween and The Fog: Originals: yes. Remakes: no.
    Halloween: 1978 (compatible with this puzzle) vs. 2007 (incompatible).
    The Fog: 1980 (compatible with this puzzle) vs. 2005 (incompatible).
    (I expressly referred to John Carpenter; I figured the clue would be less obvious with that red herring in it.)

    (My mentions of baseball teams)
    I picked teams that won the World Series at least twice, and each time in a year either compatible with this puzzle (e.g., Chicago Cubs: 1907, 1908) or incompatible (e.g., Boston Red Sox: 1912 … 2007).

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    1. Funny, I thought your "parrot" was a reference to the Monty Python ("And Now For Something Completely Different") Dead Parrot sketch.

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  36. Well, this has been a disappointing day. Somehow, I didn't win $500M, *AND* Will Shortz didn't call me.

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  37. I had this puzzle in mind for a long time but mine was going to be for the first none repeat date when written alpha numerically. Friday June 7, 2013 has no repeat letters or numbers. The first date like this since Friday June 26, 1987.

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  38. "Hook'em horns" and the "You are #1" sign have no repeating digits.

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  39. Wolfgang –

    The first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on 1987 states, “It was the last year with all the digits being different numbers, until 2013.”

    Chuck

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    1. That's funny! I looked at the Wikipedia article for 2013 and it makes a similar reference to 1987. So no matter which end of the spectrum you looked at, Wikipedia was a giveaway.

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    2. The biggest debate on the Wikipedia article for 2013 is on how to count the number of years. Certainly 1987 is 26 years before 2013, but I'd say that from Dec 31, 1987 to Jan 1, 2013 you had only 25 intervening years.

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    3. Chuck—
      Oh. Well, but somebody tweeted about it, too. But then again, Twitter is not a "resource" the way Wikipedia is, so…touché! :-)

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  40. Did anyone else besides me consider in addition to the non-repeat-digits years thing, this possible alternate answer? There's a very high likelyhood that Notre Dame and Alabama will face each other for the national college football championship.

    The last time those two teams faced each other was November 14, 1987!

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  41. I didn't even need Wikipedia. Just put 1987 and 2013 both into the Google window, and the first entry that emerges gives the answer!

    Also, I thought the Simpsons in Blaine's picture must have been using a DIGITAL camera. Along with "different", that seemed to complete an excellent clue.

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  42. I didn't need google. This was probably the second ever puzzle that I knew the answer before the question was repeated.

    The guy on the phone (not Will) said that this week the random number generator popped out a very low number so it went to one of the earlier received entries.

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  43. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  44. If you want a real puzzle then go check out the Car Talk Puzzler for this week. It is a logic puzzle. A good one too.

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