Happy twelfth birthday, Random Hall!

May you be able to witness residents younger than you before you collapse.

Posted in MIT

The Rainbow Banner

It’s been a while since I changed the banner up there to that rainbowy collage of laserlike bars.

So now that there’s been a period of time for people to figure it out if they wanted to, explanation time.

Divide each horizontal bar up into 42 parts. Get the relative lengths of each part (for instance, the first bar has parts of length 12, 5, 5, and 20). Get the corresponding letters in alphabetical order (12->L, 5->E, 5->E, 20->T => ‘Leet’). Piece the words together in order to get “Leet MIT math rebel Alex Sagan Nash, alias Feral Dawn, aims arcane xkcd wand, hacks deified nine tail fish UFO, ends GNU Borg War.”, a sentence concocted to have 24 words each of alphanumeric sum 42. The banner visualizes this sentence.

A previous result in making such sentences is here. From there, I have expanded the sentence to become more than twice as long, and named the described character the gender-ambiguous name ‘Alex’.

Geography Isn’t Nearly All Memorization #3

For each of the following countries, state whether it has experienced a moment magnitude 8.0+ earthquake and whether it has experienced a cyclonic storm at least as strong as a North American category 4 storm in the past fifty years.

Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia

(highlight below for answers)

Chile, Indonesia, Japan, and Mexico have experienced 8.0+ magnitude earthquakes in the past fifty years.

China, Cuba, India, Mexico, and the Philippines have experienced cyclonic storms equivalent to at least North American category 4.

For a further challenge, how correlated will major earthquakes be with volcanic eruptions?

The Architecture of Echo Chambers, and the Rise of the Popcorn-Grabber

The comments section: it’s where we find the caustic spew of the people we all agree are despicable, and where our fingers point when we explain our distrust of humanity. But how often does one wonder: if everyone seems to agree that the comments section is filled with terrible people, where are these terrible people from? Is there actually some obscure corner somewhere in the world that has an army of online comment makers that explains why despite there being so many terrible people online, none of them seem to walk among us? Seems quite the far-fetched conspiracy theory. (Okay, fine, this actually happened, but it still can’t account for everything online.)

In a previous blog post, I explained that as repulsive as comments sections tend to be, they fulfill an essential niche in discourse, a lens into the thoughts that people are reluctant to have known to be associated with them, these thoughts of which I contended are important for the public to acknowledge and understand.

A fairly established response action to comments sections is the grabbing of the popcorn bucket, in most cases probably figuratively, an action now also often indicated during debates elsewhere in the internet, and outside the internet.

I’d like to make the case that the smugness represented in this action is problematic. Often there’s an implication that the popcorn grabber is patting themselves on the back for being neutral and unopinionated enough to deserve the luxury of spectating the verbal battle of people of clashing worldviews, or at least of the tendency of expressing them, rather than the much more emotionally frictional act of being a participant in such debates. It is not okay to perpetuate the notion that being a bystander establishes one as without opinion. The silence of the lack of political statements is a political statement, particularly if one bothers to actually point it out. An assertion that one does not want to hear a certain debate is definitely a political statement; it is the exclusive endorsement of the status quo.

Continue reading “The Architecture of Echo Chambers, and the Rise of the Popcorn-Grabber”

A Correlation Game

This is a fun statistics game (shown to me by betaveros).

I tried it once, and scored 1 point. I tried it a second time, and scored over 700.

And because why not, I downloaded my data and made a scatterplot of my performance on my second game.


What is the R value of that scatterplot?

Hi, STS.050.

an assignment

Ah, whatever with the questions. I’m not taking the class; I don’t need to care about them. 

I heard the stories.

Terrible stories about how I better work to become the biggest mac box of all. Because all the mac boxes that aren’t big enough to hold their own eventually meet a cruel demise in the hands of these gargantuan beings called humans, who come to rip out what’s inside us. Then, we enter a period of denial of what terrible fate fell upon us, and slowly resign to the fact that our final destination in life was to become a little mac box, not actually as meaty as we may have seemed before the prying open of our cardboard mouths.

Well, littler. I guess compared to those human things even us big and bigger mac boxes are little.

So I wanted to be special. I wanted to be bigger than big. I worked tirelessly, allotting myself only as much time to rest as would allow my beefy muscles to not irreversibly die. I didn’t just want to be a bigger mac box for you, I wanted to be a bigger mac box for me. And for my kind. The kind of the big mac box.

Then, one day, my goals in life completely realigned like the intestines of a creature that just consumed a member of my kin. A tremendously bearded figure approached me. He said his name was Richard Stallman and he was here to make me more free. He proceeded to toss me out the window.

In a sense, he was right. Outside, the world was so much more. Birds chirping, neon lights blaring, lack of anyone literally eviscerating me and consuming my entrails, and pundits claiming political candidates were literally eviscerated in a show segment. Probably figuratively literally. I felt so fresh. To this day, I am glad that unlike so many of my kind, I came to meet someone nice enough to spare my bowels and allow me to contribute to the pollutional enbaddenning of a planet filled with people who don’t. Maybe it is enough to be free, even if I am not the Biggest.

Posted in MIT

Geography Isn’t Nearly All Memorization #2

Arrange the numbered political divisions of the following countries in order from most populous to least populous.






Incidentally, for each of these I just decided to take a map and pick a set of political divisions running across the country, before I’ve yet checked up what their populations actually look like, so I’ll also take this quiz myself and see how I do.

1. 10>4>6>9>1>8>7>5>3>2

2. 7>3>6>8>4>5>10>9>1>2

3. 4>6>10>9>7>5>8>1>12>2>3>11

That was fun. Time to look up the answers.

1. 10>4>9>1>6>3>8>7>5>2

2. 7>3>6>8>10>4>5>9>1>2

3. 4>6>10>5>7>8>9>1>3>2>12>11

Chances are, you did a lot better than if you just went with what you’ve actually memorized and guessed for the rest?

You may have had a substantially more difficult time with this one if you didn’t know where mountains or rivers generally were, or if you didn’t reflect on how mountains and rivers tend to correlate with population.