Roland Dürre
Monday April 3rd, 2017

A Very Special Task!

The Solution will be Supplied Later!

A short time ago, a good friend of mine came up with a brainteaser. He did not know the source, otherwise I would gladly have cited it. My friend was not able to solve the problem, neither was I. But it is a truly exciting scenario. And it has a surprisingly simple solution, including a beautiful mathematical reasoning. It also gives us a nice metaphor for our lives.

Among other things, it shows that mathematics can also, once in a while, be quite useful. Here is the story:

Here is a female criminal. On her card, the number 1 is written. But she does not know this. After all, she only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

A – not dislikeable – gang of 10 persons constantly violates the prevailing moral concepts in an outrageous manner. The gang members are creative and wise – this is how, with great finesse, they remain unmolested by the arm of the law for their abominable activities. That is lucky for them, because the legal penalty for their crime is death by strangulation.

In the public perception, the gang soon has a legendary reputation, and is idolized by quite a few simple people. For the authorities, this development is totally unacceptable. Consequently, the increased manhunt of the authorities, along with a growing arrogance and flippancy among the gang members led to the capture of the group.

All 10 gang members are quickly sentenced to death due to their abominable behaviour in a show trial. However, there is a way for the ten comrades in crime to save their lives – through an appeal for clemency. The head of state who decides upon said appeal is a very prudent and well-meaning woman. She is very wise; there are even some rumours insinuating that she may to some extent sympathise with the gang.

Actually, she works hard to come to a fair decision. She hands down a conditional amnesty (a little like a “Judgement of God”):
Before the verdict is executed, the ten members are permitted to see each other once more. There is a farewell meeting, the ten gangsters can spend the afternoon before their execution together and without supervision.

Here is a male criminal. On his card, the number 2 is written. But he does not know that. After all, he only knows the nine other images with their numbers.

As the meeting starts, the gangsters are told how the amnesty will work. A picture of each of the members is taken (two of them can be seen here). On each of those pictures, a number from the set 0 – 9 {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9} is drawn. Each number can be used several times. Consequently, it is possible that the same number is written on all the pictures. Or that only some numbers are used, for instance {1, 2, 3)}. Or maybe only the even or uneven numbers. Whatever. But perhaps all numbers have been used. Nothing is impossible.

After the meeting, each of them is taken into solitary confinement until the time of execution. Each of the ten gang members is shown the nine pictures of the other nine members – but not his own one. And then they ask him the number on his own photo. And if even one of the gangsters gives a correct answer for the number on his card – all of them will get the amnesty.

Initially, you will think that the gangsters have quite a good chance to avoid their punishment and enjoy clemency over justice. And there is no doubt that their situation will have improved. After all, chances are not too bad that one of the ten will guess correctly and thus free them all.

But it is nowhere near as easy as that. Matters may turn out poorly. And there is one thing the wise regent forgot (or perhaps not): by applying a simple agreement, the ten gangsters can make sure that one of them will inevitably say the right number, as written on his picture. And this is how he can guarantee that he and his comrades will enjoy the amnesty.

It is a small problem: what agreement makes it possible for the gang to use the meeting that was meant as a farewell to make sure that “their heads” are out of the sling with a 100% chance?

I will publish the solution in a few weeks – and until then, I look forward to having many email solutions sent to me!

(Translated by EG)

and Great and Unique Soloists and Orchestra!


In 1729, when Joh. Seb. Bach first played his “St-Matthew’s Passion” during the Good Friday Vespers in the Leipzig Thomas Church, the audience was overwhelmed. The huge cast with soloists, two choirs and orchestra, along with the moving expressiveness surpassed all that had ever been conceivable. Bach tells the Tale of the Woe Jesus lived in a very haunting way. It is a top work of musical history that forms the drama of what happens in the Passion to become one musical-theological entity.

“Between emotionally sung arias and salivating tuba choirs: humanity versus injustice and death. With his Arcis-Vocalisten, Thomas Gropper gains graphic expression, even though he does without martially blaring avowals. The chorales are permitted to stream in wonderful sensuality, which is a much more convincing way of giving the secret of faith a voice” (“Klar und lyrisch”/SZ 4/13).


The Arcis-Vocalisten are a very special choir, not only because Evelyn (EG), who translated many IF Blog articles, is one of them.

And to top it all:

IF Blog readers who would like to delight in the concert can get a special discount. If you are interested, just send me an email with reference to “Arcis-Vocalisten”.

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Saturday April 1st, 2017

Totally New on April, 1st: Martin Schulz’s Program.

Martin Schulz – February, 28, 2014 – picture taken from Wikipedia.

When I was young, I often went to the “Republican Coffee Shops” and similar dubious places. In those days, we had many Jusos who could be found in huge numbers in these places.

Together, we finished off quite a few litres of red wine and made smoke of many Rothändle cartons. From those days, there are still a few and mostly already rather old social democrats among my friends.

Some of them are even older than I and they like telling tales. One of them sent me a document that reveals the secret of the new SPD electoral program under Martin Schulz.

Here are the most important parts of his social-democratic program as a short and catchword-like excerpt:

  • A clear NO to the increase in armament spending of the FRG to 2% of our gross national product as required by the Trump USA. On the contrary – they want a step-by-step decrease to finally arrive at less than 1% and a considerable reduction of weapons exports.
  • More money for education.
  • Strict prohibition of lobbyism and political decisions and legislation being influenced, along with a ban on the influence all kinds of institutions, such as employers’ associations, unions or churches have.
  • Strong regulation of marketing, especially if it is easy to misunderstand and manipulative.
  • Less taxes and fewer of those contributions that make work more expensive.
  • No tax on general income up to 50,000.- and on work-related income up to 100,000.-. To make up for it: far higher taxes on income exceeding 250,000 € per year.
  • An obligation to disclose and make transparent all anonymous and exorbitant property, be it privately owned or owned by legal entities.
  • New regulations for inheritance tax in such a way that the income gained from an inheritance increases with each generation (example: an additional income tax of perhaps 10% on gains from directly inherited assets, then 20% if you inherited in the second generation, etc.).
  • Massively more tax on speculation gains and all sorts of gambling (currencies, raw materials, food, enterprises,…)
  • Infra-structure: ProBahn, ÖPNV and active mobility.
  • Tempo limit on motorways (110 km/h), highways (80/km) and inside towns and villages (30 km/h as a default upper limit).
  • Adjustment of taxes on petrol and diesel with a relevant increase – to make up for it: no stupid road toll.
  • Abolishing the subsidies for the automobile industry (business cars).
  • Gender equality that deserves the name

For Europe, too, his plans are great:

  • A Europe of regions that is no longer the plaything of national states. Instead, a division of the big nations and an establishment of federal states with a maximum dimension as big as Bavaria.
  • The reduction of central power systems (Brussels) and sub-centralized power systems such as Berlin, etc.; Instead: a network of subsidiary local and regional systems.
  • Reduction of the overflowing System EUROPE and the huge advantages for EUROPE officers when it comes to income.
  • And best of all: the central EURO is to be abolished and replaced by local EURO varieties. They are adapted to the regional circumstances and constitute a floating currency network. Externally, they are represented by an average Euro.

Martin Schulz states that the values that underlie all his activities are:

  • A healthy scepticism when it comes to the belief in eternal growth, Taylorism and globalisation.
  • Enlightened, agile, slim and open thinking and behaviour.
  • Solidarity versus egotism, transparency beats secrets, courage beats fear.
  • Not only respecting other humans, but also appreciation and meeting at eye-level!
  • Less administration and bureaucracy and instead more political organization based on social consensus.

Well, if it comes to discussing such a program “FUTURE FIRST”, I will gladly participate. And I would actually think about, at long last, again voting for SPD (notwithstanding the “Who told on me?”-question). But now, unfortunately, another equally trustworthy source revealed to me that the document, unfortunately, is only an April-Fools-Day joke I fell for. In fact, neither the SPD nor Martin Schulz want any of these things.

(Translated by EG)