Finally! The truth about four-letter words, etc.

My previous post on this     contained inexcusable errors. I will leave it up, for the comments mainly, but also to prevent being nagged to be the next Pope, since it amply demonstrates my Fallibility.
Ok, my mistakes were caused by confusing two separate processes:
1) Create a dictionary/ alphabetical ‘phone-book’ of all possible 4-letter words. (whether they make sense or not.) How many are there?

And 2) Given any handful of 4 letters, how many ways can they be re-arranged?
The second question was visually demonstrated in the ‘Factoid’ post with the little blocks lined up in rows. There were, and are, 24 ways to do it. The example I chose, P-O-S-and T, is particularly rich in ‘makes-sense’ combinations: 7 out of 24. Most randomly selected ‘trays’ have zero words spellable. And the number here, 24 is indeed 4-factorial, That is: ‘4X3X2X1’. End part two.
The first challenge is no less interesting(?)  A truly heavy and worthless phone-book, its first entry will be ‘AAAA’, the second AAAB, and so on. And on and on. The last page will conclude with ‘ZZZZ’. perhaps appropriate for a book which took years to read. Get a life and go to sleep! in any order.

Of course the publisher is bugging me as we speak: ‘How many pages will there be?” I have to tell him ‘something’, so math to the rescue.
Well, there will be 26 X 26 X 26 X 26 words in the book. This is a result of the 26 letters in the English alphabet, and the process we use: choosing a first letter (26 choices), then a second, (also 26), and so forth.
The answer is 456,976 words. If we cram a hundred on a page, that’s 4,569 pages, with some empty space after ‘ZZZZ’. Makes War and Peace look like a ‘pamphlet’, it does. (That calculation, by the way is often written as 26^4.

Now, you could pick any entry and do the ‘letter-shuffle’ game with it, but as Bette Midler sang once ‘Why Bother?’ Yes, indeed, why bother, since anything you get by re-arranging is already in the list somewhere. You can look it up.

End of part one.
Ok, you ask, so what was that stupendous giant-stupid number you cited in the other post. Well, *hangs head* it was the number of entries in Volume Two of my best-seller series,  the one with ‘All possible 24-letter words!’
The publisher is saying let’s wait on that, see how the first one sells. I kinda agree, since there are at present not enough trees in the galaxy to print even one copy of the behemoth.
Hope this clears up the matter, clears up what was the matter with my brain, and partially clears my MANE. Sorry, I MEAN NAME..  /JS


31 thoughts on “Finally! The truth about four-letter words, etc.

      1. happierheathen

        Florida avocados are the tasteless ones. California avocados are very flavorful. And for that matter, the Fuerte avocado is far superior to the more commonly available Hass whose only saving grace is abundant yield. You were probably just too far east to get good produce, I suspect.

        1. solberg73 Post author

          There are whole abandoned field of them here in my town, trunks painted white like skeletons.
          Hey, thought this post was about words? I’ll get even though, start a comment thread about, say, luggage styles on your next post, ha.

          1. happierheathen

            I did say that my comment was totally superfluous.

            I can’t say that I know the first thing about Hebrewcados. Maybe they were abandoned because they suck? But I look forward to becoming enlightened on luggage styles!

            I use factorials and factoids and hemorrhoids and tail recursion (among other things) pretty regularly in my work, but didn’t bag ya on the boo-boos as (a) I was beaten to it, and (b) didja know that the avocado is actually a berry? No, that’s not it. It was because I try to keep pedantry to the barest minimum in order to avoid fouling otherwise wonderful online friendships. Except when intoxicated, which I wasn’t at the time and am not yet.

            Holy bovine, there’s wine in the house that I am not drinkiing. See ya!

    1. solberg73 Post author

      F*ck, I hate this place:
      a) there’s no ‘reply’ link under your latest comment, so i had to just pick one of yours that does have one. Why, G-ds?
      b) Can’t reply from the whatever-it-is, Dash? because they don’t show the whole comment, just the first couple words,
      c) can’t reply from the drop-down cause after a line or two, the ‘Reply’ click scrolls out of sight.
      Did I mention I hate this defective POS site?
      On-topic: I realized my errors an hour after I posted, but didn’t have the energy to fight this horrific mess of a navigational nightmare to bother to correct them .
      And with my massive even-tempered self-confidence, i’ve never had a problem being corrected, and so i just let others weigh in.
      and so you are welcome and invited to correct anything erroneous I post. i’ll only profit from it/ JS

      1. happierheathen

        The secret to long-thread replies in this PHP-of-shit is to use the cutesie bubble icon on your home page between “New Post” and your user name. The interface is very inconsistent and stupid because PHP koderz are, in the main, clueless fuckwits.

        I do believe that you have, at the very least, implied that you were less than thrilled with this here defective piece of site. And I agree with you at every step. Those who do not understand Perl are destined to recreate it badly…

        Be well, my friend! (No wine in my house is now unenjoyed. The period between sunrise and sunset, though, may well be. Just so’s ya knows.)

    2. solberg73 Post author

      Again no Reply link, and it’s precisely tha t-thar cutsey drop-down which is dysfunctional, as I described,, among quite a lot else.
      maybe i’m also disappointed because i seriously wanted to garner, from the comments, some indication whether the newer version I invested time in was more clear, concise, coherent, correct, oh, and comic. I’ve learned so far nothing on sybstance, although it’s been fun.
      Of course I started the meandering off-topic with my silly jerk-off of the classic liar’s paradox comments. Serves me right, the avocados.
      Anyway, thanks for your dedicated input. I only have 20 bullets in the clip, so I need to know which coderzs to gun down when I go postal.

  1. g.

    Why are people so down on avocados lately? I adore them.
    RE no reply option: You might need to “enable threaded/nested comments.” In your “settings” under “discussion” you can set the number of nested comments allowed. I think the WP default is 3 (so you can only have 3 replies to a comment before the comment option disappears). You can re-set this number up to 10. Is that in any way helpful?

    1. solberg73 Post author

      OMG, news you can use! Thanks so much, your explanation sounds highly probable. re: avocados, a nice enough fruit?, but they get in the way of on-topic stuff, like ‘so what did you think of the post?’

  2. Kakalakola

    Solberg, you tower above the competing beasts like a giraffe in a circus parade, except for the 40 foot whooping crane.

    Ya’know… I’m kinda’ tempted to write a script or such to do just this now. 😀

  3. solberg73 Post author

    go for it. I’m working on 5-letter words now, while I try to fall asleep, but with 120 permutations I find myself saying :”This is a job for the 6502!”

    1. solberg73 Post author

      He used his flagship site as a walk-in cold-storage bin for the word-lists only a scrabble-mother could love. it took me a while to realize that they were not easily commentable. great guy, btw. ‘Our’ recent airstrike on Syria couldn’t have succeeded without his behind-the-scenes efforts.

  4. ordinarybutloud

    wow, you’ve got a real comment party going on over here. don’t know what you’re bitching about on this POS site…I haven’t had a comment party on MY site in months. I didn’t understand this post or the last one. I’ll admit I didn’t try very hard. At least, I didn’t try as hard as I knew I should try if I really wanted to understand it, and in the end I decided I wouldn’t “like” it either, because that would be like laughing at a joke when you don’t understand the punch line just to fit in with the cool kids. I’ve always thought that was a lame defense mechanism. If you don’t get the joke, don’t laugh. Also, don’t say, “you’re so funny!”

    1. solberg73 Post author

      hahaha. at least I ‘get’ your refined humor. The meta-joke, in these word-math posts, may be that anyone truly sane ought to care. I obviously can’t claim to belong to the above class.

    1. solberg73 Post author

      Haha. It sure seemed to work for Dan Theo (erase his name and memory, *spits*.) It was embarrassing, looking back, to admit that after ’20 years of schooling’ I wuz hangin’ out with putative grade-school dropouts.

        1. solberg73 Post author

          it’s actually a quote, from Dylan: ’20 yrs of schooling and they put ya on the day shift.’ Personally, I dropped out of college to perform on-stage and work with the End the War bigwigs. (Vietnam). So 19 years +/- Still long enough to out-do Theo in ‘ their and there’. (Oy, I’m competing with*children*)


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