Thursday, August 15, 2013

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 11, 2013): Twisted Family Tree

RiddleNPR Sunday Puzzle (Aug 11, 2013): Twisted Family Tree:
Q: It's a twist on an old puzzle: Nieces and nephews have I none, but that man's father is my father's son." What is the gender of the speaker? And who is the speaker referring to?
Honestly I don't see the reason, except for the slight wording change at the beginning, that this is any different than the classic puzzle. Am I missing something? Was it perhaps stated differently on the air?

Edit My hint was the word "reaSON". Again, I don't see why this puzzle is much different from the classic puzzle. Working backwards, my father's son is either the speaker himself or the speaker's brother. If that person was "that man's father" it would either be the speaker's son or speaker's nephew. In the classic puzzle this second case was eliminated because the speaker has no brothers. In the revised version, it is still eliminated because he has no nephews. But in either case, the answer is the same.
A: The speaker is male and he is talking about his son.

76 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 a chain of thought, or an internet search) 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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    1. Yes. You are missing something. I will post Thursday.

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    2. On the air he said, after stating the conditions: "What is the CAR?" & "What is the food?" He did NOT say: "What is the country?" So my presumption was 100% correct; he did intend for the responder to NAME the car, despite what he specified at the end of the challenge.

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    3. Ron, I look forward to your Thursday post, since I agree with Blaine that this seems logically equivalent to the classic puzzle.

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    4. The logic is quite different if the speaker has no nieces and nephews rather than no brothers and sisters...

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    5. Even though Will did not specify "What is the twist?" there is a "presumption" that this is what he is asking for! (Yes. You have to read his mind, of course, when you respond to his challenges.)

      I see, from some of the earlier posts, that several people have figured out the "twist." Here is what I wrote last Sunday, August 11th:

      In the original formulation: “Brothers and sisters have I none, but this man's father is my father's son,” the answer is that this man is the speaker's SON, where the speaker is a male who has no brothers. {My father's son is me, so I am this man's father, therefore, this man is MY SON.} There is an exception to this where, if you interpret “no brothers and sisters” to mean “no LIVING brothers and sisters,” then the answer could be the speaker's deceased brother's SON, his nephew.

      With the new formulation: “Nieces and nephews have I none,” the original answer, “the speaker's SON,” remains the ONLY valid answer to the question: “Who is the speaker referring to?” (“The speaker's brother's son” is not possible as he would be a “nephew”)

      However, if a woman has a son, fathered by her brother (incest), then HER SON's (That man's) father is also HER father's son! (Her brother is both “her father's son” & “her son's father.”) So the speaker is either a male or a female who has had a son incestuously fathered by a brother. In both cases the SPEAKER'S SON is the only correct answer, but the speaker may be either male or female (female, only in the special case where she has had a son fathered by a brother).

      So the “TWIST” is that whereas in the “classic” riddle the speaker can only be male, in this new riddle "with a twist," the speaker can be female as well.

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    6. Indeed you have found a creative twist. Not probably what Will was going for with an incestuous brother-sister pairing, but kudos for thinking outside the box.

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    7. And thinking about it further, wouldn't that mean her son is also her nephew (brother's son)? I think that eliminates this scenario too. :)

      I'm sticking with the probable answer that the speaker is male talking about his own son.

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    8. If you define niece/nephew as daughter/son of a sibling, then even in this puzzle with the incest twist, the son in this puzzle would also be a nephew.

      From dictionary.com, nephew definition 1 is "a son of one's brother or sister".

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    9. No woman would refer to her son as her nephew. For her a given man would either be her son or her nephew, but not both. SON trumps NEPHEW.

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    10. I posted my "Ozark" comment as a humorous comment and not to be taken seriously. ron, on the other hand, with his nonsensical presumptions is actually taking it seriously and is again insisting on us taking him seriously too. The incestuous relationship mentioned does not in fact qualify as a valid solution and no amount of grandstanding will make it so. Just because a woman would never refer to herself as ugly, that does not make her attractive. Lipstick on a pig.

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    11. A man can father a son, HIS OWN son, but can he father HIS OWN nephew? A woman can give birth to a son, HER OWN son, but can she give birth to HER OWN nephew? If you think the answers to both these questions is "yes," then you need to send Will a puzzle suggestion... I still think the answer to both questions is "no," even given the dictionary definition of "nephew." I think the "intent" (of the law) is not to include these 2 cases. Yes, I am acting as a supreme court justice.

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    12. How's your nephew, John? That's not my nephew; that's my son, John.

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    13. Thinking of Shakespeare and other instances where geneology was not always known, the gender could well be either. Incest has likely happened without the parties knowing it was so. I agree with Ron on this one.

      I didn't submit an answer this week, partly because it's been a really busy week, but also because the quality of the puzzles has gone way downhill this summer. William S., wherefore art thou interesting, challenging puzzles?

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  2. Yeah even for me this was no stretch. I guess I'll go spend the rest of the day with my grandsons since the puzzle is out of the way

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    1. Have fun, RoRo!

      I missed the broadcast. Did Will mention whether he meant to also ask for the make of the car...and did he mention other answers?

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    2. "Missed the broadcast?" So last century!

      http://pd.npr.org/anon.npr-mp3/npr/wesun/2013/08/20130811_wesun_07.mp3

      Yes, he did mention a few alternatives.

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    3. Well, I got out my decoder ring and spyglass, Jan. Similar to using a plane table and alidade to map barite in Mexico when the rest of the world was using space imagery...Much more interesting and fun to tromp around the Sonoran Desert in the winter and spring.

      But, I digress. I have more than one solid answer for each question.

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    4. Actually, both of my grandsons were lions in a mini play. I had to be there in place of the mother who was in Chicago. it was the 5 yr old's show but they put the two year old in at the last minute and he stole the show with extra dance steps, smiling, a capoeira move, and stepping out front to make the final hands up sign. Sagittarians are natural exhibitionists!

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  3. It's a more complex puzzle with multiple answers if the speaker can have brothers and sisters...I think.

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    1. No, because the speaker has no nieces and nephews. So the father's son, can't be the speaker's nephew.

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    2. What if the speaker was adopted?

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    3. What if it's just a lousy puzzle presentation? Now, wouldn't that be a real SOB?

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    4. Or what if they are clones and all the same person?

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  4. Think of it using actual people if applicable to your family situation, then it becomes very easy.

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  5. I think this is a census puzzle.

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  6. I just listened to Will and he said the puzzle last week said: What is the car and what is the food?

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  7. I believe that no maritime history is necessary.

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    1. no maritime history is no navel history.

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    2. Oh, I was thinking what can you do with a drunken sailor...

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    1. Thanks, Ron. Will cruise over there next.

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  9. Congratulations! Félicitations! Word Woman for winning the PICK A RANGE competition. BRAVO!

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  10. No clue here but this riddle is logically the same as the classic version. If you get one of them you get both.

    Chuck

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  11. Chuck, despite what Ron and WW have stated, I agree with you and Blaine. Without the first six words of the puzzle, there are only two possible lines of attack (if you start with the easiest relationship). In the classic version, one of these is ruled out explicitly while in this puzzle it is ruled out after one simple additional step. After that, the two versions of the puzzle are identical. Are we missing something?

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    1. Lorenzo, I have to agree with you and Chuck and Blaine on this one. There is no difference in the two puzzles in reality. Even if there were, the original answer still would work. It seems to me he implied there is a different answer than the original puzzle, when in fact there isn't. Another Will Shortz time waster.

      I was surprised that Will did not admit his egregious error from last week and apologize to us for asking for a solution he did not intend. He instead simply pretended he asked for the solution that he should have originally asked for. His integrity has really gone downhill for me now. Are we now supposed to not only be required to solve the puzzle, but to also read his mind and figure out what he really should be asking for in our solution response? Not only that, but he didn't even mention Japan, which he originally asked for. Also the NPR website still shows him clearly asking for Japan and not the car. I find it difficult to excuse this behavior.

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    3. I agree with the above. Perhaps the "twist" was to obfuscate Googlability (TM)?

      SDB, last week you said Will made a mistake in stating the puzzle: "He screwed up and I think I know why it happened." What is your theory as to the *why*?
      I was hoping for an interesting conspiracy, such as an NPR word parser that couldn't include trademarked names, or something. ;)

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    4. Nothing conspiratorial. A few years back he was here in Seattle for the puzzle convention downtown and on the morning of the last day—a Sunday—I stopped in the hotel conference room where they were having a breakfast, in order to hand deliver to Will a puzzle suggestion I had made up. Will was not there and those who were all looked and acted like the living dead. They had been up all night doing puzzles and so I had to entrust a groggy participant to give it to Will when he arrived as I had to go to work nearby. So I think Will was probably tired from the very long flight and all his activities, plus he may have been hit in the head by a ping pong ball. I never found out if he received my envelope with the suggestion.

      As to this puzzle, I don't recall hearing Will mention anything about this family living in the Ozarks, but if so, it could provide a second answer. Everything must be considered.

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    5. @Lorenzo
      was that (if you start with the earliest relationship)?

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    6. Zeke, I actually did mean "easiest", which also happens to be the "earliest."

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  12. In one of my posts on last week's thread, I posted on Sun Aug 11, at 05:53:00 AM PDT:

    HEY, WILL SHORTZ, it's NOT ENOUGH of a twist!"

    Sheesh!! If Will wanted to do a twist on an old puzzle, how about this?

    You guys remember the old 12-coins puzzle, right? You have 12 coins, all the same size, shape and weight; only one of them has been replaced with a counterfeit - it's either heavier or lighter than each of the others (you don't know which). You have a simple two-pan balance scale and you're allowed to do three weighings in which to determine which one of your 12 coins is the counterfeit and whether it's heavy or light.

    Here's my twist: I'm only interested in solutions which are weighing schedules with which you can CALCULATE the coin# of the counterfeit by setting C to 1 with the first weighing to result in an imbalance one way or the other, then each weighing afterwards multiply C by 3 and add 1 if the first down side is down again, subtract 1 if the first down side is up this time, and of course leave the C that you've just tripled as is if balanced. Then after the last weighing and recalculation of C, C NOW EQUALS THE NUMBER OF THE COUNTERFEIT!

    Did I say that THAT was my twist? No, actually my REAL twist is this: HOW MANY such schedules exist?

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  13. I know we've been saying this a lot lately, and I know the people on this blog are experienced puzzlers, but this one is really pretty ridiculously easy. Is anyone who sits down with pencil and paper NOT going to get the answer?

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  14. Not much to say about this week's puzzle. The most difficult thing for me was convincing myself that I had the right answer and there was no trick.

    Buy maybe Will is a psychic and is predicting world events with his puzzle: http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/terror_stink_at_kennedy_LndPYYB5ACek9FdnHszfeP

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  15. The easiest case scenario should garner at least 3000 responses. That's why I'm going with a response narrowing down the field of those without nieces or nephews. There is a particular couple that appears to have no chance of nieces or nephews. I built my answer on that couple.

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    1. The female speaker Eve is referring to one of her sons whose father is Adam. Adam and Eve's father is God. Eve has no nieces or nephews, just children.

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    2. If you really want to buy into that tired old fairy tale, then you could just as easily solve the puzzle by using Dick & Jane. Personally I would find either solution disgusting.

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    3. You would be equally able to use Adam.

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    4. David
      I wanted to provide a differing gender scenario to lend a twist to an easy puzzle. Don't you just love the fun loving free thinking forum we have?

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  16. A father (male) is referring to his son.

    Of course if the family lives in the Ozarks and the father is married to his sister, well that might just change things a bit. No, I am not seriously suggesting this is the case. The wording of the puzzle simply states that the speaker has no siblings in a different manner of speaking. Lousy puzzle in my opinion. But what else is new?

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  17. The speaker is me and I am male. The person I am referring to – that man – is my son.

    I can handle my dukes but someone better keep his eyes on the dutchess.

    Chuck

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    1. My regards to the Dutchie de Chucky: got my eye on the Dutchess de Creek as we speak.;-)

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  18. Wow - only 46 comments by Thursday afternoon - I can't even be bothered to comment, oh wait, I guess I just did...

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    1. Brothered to comment perhaps? ;-) But I have a similar ennui.

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  20. speaker seems to be gender neutral.

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  21. Spoiler Alert! This post contains spoilers, but what do you expect from a spoiled mind?

    This puzzle reminds me of two great old science fiction short stories. Of course, I have forgotten the titles and the authors.

    In one, possibly with the title "The Knife", a time traveler breaks into a museum in the future, but only has time to smash a glass case and grab a knife before being whisked back to the present, where and when the object is found to be made of that sf convention, a "substance unknown to science" and resistant to all attempts at analysis. So the knife is placed in a glass case in a museum . . .

    The other story, more relevant to this puzzle, involves both time travel and sex change, in which, to be very brief, the narrator turns out to be his own father, his own mother, and his own child. I believe it ends with the line, "I know who I am, but who are all the rest of you?"

    If I have not simply imagined these stories, any further info would be welcome.

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  22. @Bob K

    I’m My Own Grandpa
    A Song by Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe, 1947

    Many, many years ago
    When I was twenty-three
    I was married to a widow
    Who was pretty as can be

    Now this widow had a grown up daughter
    Who had hair of red
    My father fell in love with her
    And soon the two were wed

    This made my dad my son-in-law
    And really changed my very life
    For my daughter was my mother
    'Cause she was my father's wife

    And to complicate the matter
    Even though it brought me joy
    I soon became the father
    Of a bouncing baby boy, yes I did

    My little baby then became
    My brother-in-law to Dad
    And so became my uncle
    Though it made me very sad

    For if he were my uncle
    Then that also made him brother
    Of the widow's grown-up daughter
    Who of course was my step-mother
    Don't you know?

    My father's wife then had a son
    Who kept them on the run
    And he became my grandchild
    For he was my daughter's son

    My wife is now my mother's mother
    And it makes me blue
    Because although she is my wife
    She's my grandmother too

    Now if my wife is my grandmother
    Then I'm her grandchild
    And every time I think of it
    It nearly drives me wild

    'Cause now I have become
    The strangest case you ever saw
    As husband of my grandmother
    I am my own grandpa

    I'm my own grandpa
    I'm my own grandpa
    It sounds funny I know
    But it really is so
    Oh, I'm my own grandpa

    Chuck

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  23. Bravo, Uncle Chuck. They just don't make songs like that anymore.

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  24. Better a Grandpa than a faux pas. ;-)

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  25. Is "that man's father" a reference to that man, his son, or that man's father, himself? I would think he's talking about himself.

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  26. Replies
    1. No, "that man" is the speaker's son. "That man's father" is the speaker". "My father" is, duh, the speaker's father. "My father's son" is the speaker again.

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  27. Another easy puzzle this week:

    The Roman numeral for 38 is XXXVIII. What is special or unusual about this Roman numeral that sets it apart from every other Roman numeral that can be written?

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  28. I bet it will be a low turn out this week.

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  29. James Fenimore Cooper might know the answer.

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    1. I was thinking Washington Irving.

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  30. Leo Durocher would have known the answer

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    1. Sure. Stick a fork in me. Which reminds me of another favorite baseball quote, from Yogi Berra: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

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    2. And when you get to the end of that road in Scandinavia, you are Finnished.

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