Friday, January 27, 2017

If you had one (1) omnipotent wish, what would you do with it?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question.

If you had one (1) omnipotent wish, what would you do with it?

The recursive answer was very popular, of course.
  • more wishes
  • some more (>1)
  • ability to have infinite omnipotent wishes
  • more wishes!
  • more wishes
  • get more omnipotent wishes
  • have an infinite number of omnipotent wishes
... though I'm slightly disappointed that, in a course where we have discussed how different infinities are not the same, a student failed to specify which kind of infinity of wishes. I guess to some extent it doesn't matter, since as long as you have one more, you can wish for another kind of infinity more. Too bad we won't get to do any transfinite algebra in this class.

A variant of "more wishes" was:
  • omnipotence for myself
... which is nice, because if you truly are omnipotent, then I suppose you can later perform any wish you come up with. But still, it shows either a lot of future planning or a lack of imagination. A further variant was:
  • omnipotence (for myself); failing that, mind control
... which I appreciate for providing a fallback wish, just in case I do actually have the power to grant wishes, but get to pass them through an approval/veto process first.

Many wishes were to violate the state of reality:
  • ability to teleport
  • be able to travel between any place in 1 min
  • control time
  • be on vacation all the time
  • more sleep
  • be lucky all the time
  • be able to fly
  • allow effective space travel
  • travel trillions of years into the future for a  [unreadable] moment
  • I would blow up the sun!
(That last one is... worrisome.)

Students definitely skew studious with their wishes:
  • omniscience
  • ask for infinite intelligence
  • CS!
I appreciated those whose wishes were simple, constrained, or benefitted others:
  • a plate of really good BBQ ribs
  • a big sunny field filled with ponies
  • win for my team
I have no idea what to do with the possible, but maybe not in this reality at this moment, wish for:
  • true love


The winning wish is one that is impractical, feasible, does not violate basic physical laws of reality, and is charmingly petty:
  • really good at melee

I'll grant that just... as... soon... as... my omnipotent powers manifest.


This post's theme word is canaille (n), "the common people; the masses; riffraff." Don't mix your wishes in with those of the canaille --- buy upscale wishes here!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What your favorite number?

I take attendance by having the students answer a question, although that policy has come under [my] scrutiny and it will change a bit this semester. (I'm using clickers in-class so I already know who is there, approximately.)

What is your favorite number?

One student said i; everyone else picked an integer with < 5 digits. I'm not sure much valuable or amusing information can be gleaned from this, although I do have follow-up questions. If the question had been framed differently, it might have solicited this information in addition.

Favorite numbers that I think are explicable (or at least Google-able):

  • 0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 4
  • 7
  • 10
  • 13
  • 42
  • 69
  • 1995
  • 2996
  • 3301

Numbers that require additional justification:

  • 29 (primality? permanent age of all famous people?)
  • 32 (age? factorization? course number?)
  • 37 (age? primality? course number? looks cool?)
  • 816 (area code?)
  • 20 (total # of toes? current age?)
  • 71 (film title? pointy when written? year of something?)
  • 77 (smallest possible integer requiring 5 syllables in English, apparently?)


This turned out not to be as interesting as "what is the largest number you have counted to out loud?" Question framing is so important.


This post's theme word is skint, "having no money; broke; poor". The question was imagination-skint.