Hey look! It's another update! Today I deal with a stately math problem and a question of 12 parsecs.

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How many Scrabble tiles would it take to cover the state of Florida?

Dear Student,

I'm sorry, but I can't just give you the answer to your homework like that. I have a strict policy against cheating. Well… not so strict that I can't give you a hint.

Make sure you take all the appropriate variables into account: The current population, the current number of tourists, the level of the tides, the phase of the moon, the number of potatoes in Idaho, and the current ratio of retirees to tourists.


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There's this guy that keeps bragging about how his space ship can do the Kessle run in 12 parsecs… but aren't parsecs a measure of distance?

Dear ______

He's pulling your leg. What he's telling you is a running gag based on a misheard quote by a war hero from long, long ago in a far away galaxy. Part of its context has been lost to history, and some people enjoy repeating the line just for the confused responses they get.

You are right about parsecs, it's a measure of distance. And you're not the first to be bothered by this. The most popular theory is that he was talking about the "Kessle Run", a smuggling route that passes through a cluster of black holes, and that his ship is so fast that it can travel closer to the holes without falling in, thereby shortening the distance to around 12 parsecs.

But really, what kind of smuggler would talk openly about his smuggling with someone he's just met? (Which is the context of this line.) No. Especially when history also notes how cautious he was to avoid getting caught. A man who dumps his questionable cargo at the first sign of the authorities would not talk openly about how fast he can travel a known smuggling rout.

He was referring to a unique racing event that originated in the "UL" system on the planet "Qes". Few remember it now, but the Qes-UL Run is a "race" moldeled after the behavior of a native creature known for taking off at high speed and for distractedly stopping suddenly. The squeeral is a creature which bears a strong resemblance to the squirrel, in both appearance and behavior - except it's an amphibian. Like the squeeral, a solo pilot is required to take his ship from a dead stop up to high speed (at least point five past light speed) and then come to a complete stop again as quickly as possible. The winner is the one who reaches a qualifying speed and yet covers the least distance. His ship was the first to do it in under 12 parsecs.


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