Variations in my Posting Frequencies, over a Year

Over the course of the last year, these are the days on which I posted to zyxyvy


(82 posts), and these are the days on which I posted to wywing


(27 posts). (These charts are provided by WordPress, and unfortunately WordPress displays dates chronologically top-to-bottom then left-to-right, and for some reason almost as if it follows some dumb convention where days are bundled into groups of 7.) There have been quite some huge variations in the frequency at which I post to these blogs over time.

There is a negative correlation (!) between how frequently I post and how many views I get on zyxyvy across the past 12 months (r=-0.11), but a positive correlation between how frequently I post and how many views I get on wywing across the past 12 months (r=0.47). Both correlations are really weak.


How I Generate My Passwords, and Why, Fuck You Apple

What is much more problematic than using a weak password is using the same password in multiple places.

There’s a gigantic issue with using a new password for each site that you go to, though: you have to memorize that many passwords. You could use a scheme where you use the same base password and then append the name of the site to the end, but that’s really not more secure than just using the same password in each site.

You could decide to use one of those password managers that exist out there. Personally, I find myself unable to believe that I could just trust some external entity with all my passwords and have an expectation they’re all alright. Oh wait, I’m not even paranoid.

Here’s how I generate my passwords. This scheme is actually memorable, and actually produces significantly different passwords.

Here’s all you memorize to cover all of your websites you care about your password in: a string, a hierarchy, and a function.

(Also, there are definitely places you don’t care about your password. Some of them send you your password in plaintext. Don’t even bother making a secure password in those cases.)

1. The String

Any string of length that’s at least some moderately large number.


, for example, is an excellent string. It doesn’t matter that you don’t understand any particular patterns in the string, because there’s only 12 characters in it, and you can easily memorize just one string of 12 random characters.

Continue reading “How I Generate My Passwords, and Why, Fuck You Apple”

In Which I Inadvertently Advertise Arnold Palmer Zero Calorie Iced Tea

*I enter W20 elevator with two women.*

Woman 1: *sees me opening my can of Arnold Palmer* I love those; those are the best.
Me: They really are.
Woman 2: *sees label* Whoa, and they’re zero-calorie?
[they discuss this]
Me: Yes.
Woman 2: Wow, should we just go and get some right now?
Me: This feels like an advertisement.
Woman 2: Well, I’m sold.
[I look at the Nutrition Facts and Ingredients.]
Me: Well, it rounds to zero.
Woman 1: Still.
Woman 2: We should just go down right now.

I’m a really big fan of Arnold Palmer Iced Tea, but I definitely didn’t expect that just by opening a can in the elevator I’d instantly spread the joy of it to two other people.

(Actually, re-looking at this bottle, it says ‘Zero’, followed by ‘No Calories’. If I recall FDA rules correctly, ‘Zero’ means it’s allowed to not be zero as long as it rounds to zero, but ‘No’ means it must be absolutely zero. This drink has a tiny amount of sugar, so it definitely has a small amount of calories. Is this drink mislabelled? *gasp*)

Posted in MIT

Should shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater really be illegal?

(Another question: Should shouting “Flareon!” in a crowded theater be illegal? We know what happens with Vaporeons, for one thing.)

(Now you can see that I started writing this blog post back when Pokémon Go was still popular. Isn’t it great to just begin a blog post with evidence that it was left in the pantry as a draft for a long while?)

‘Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater’ is the go-to example of why the freedom of speech shouldn’t be unlimited. Here, I would like to question and more closely examine this case.

I will start with a disclaimer that is seen all too often in conversations where the freedom of speech is mentioned, but is still appropriate. I’m not talking about whether shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater is a bad thing to do. I’m talking about whether it should be illegal, whether we should consider someone who does so a criminal.

The typical argument on why shouting fire in a crowded theater should not be protected by the freedom of speech is that it places surrounding individuals in danger by causing a false panic.

So let’s consider this assertion that causing a false panic should be illegal.

What exactly is a false panic? Certainly accusing the president of having faked his credentials to the presidency and suggesting its contribution to the destruction of this country counts? All the Obama birthers should now get thrown in prison, right?

Okay, but it’s still fairly unlikely that this accusation causes some unnecessary deaths, whereas it’s very possible for an ensuing stampede from a theater to kill a few people. If elevated chances of unnecessary death are the metric of evaluating a false panic, then why isn’t telling people to not get their vaccines illegal? This is a false panic that can cost quite a few lives. Is the problem that the danger will imminently manifest?

At this point, why don’t we look back to the original case where this anecdote was presented to find what was originally meant by a “false panic”?

It turns out this anecdote was first given by a judge for a comparison to why handing out anti-war flyers during World War I should not be protected under freedom of speech. That’s the offense upon which this reference was built. It is time to consider the possibility that the belief that shouting “fire” in a crowded theater should be illegal is based on an outdated mindset and ideology, one where having insufficient patriotism by expressing disapproval of a war was a punishable offense, and that the act really ought not to be illegal anymore.

Actually, though, how many people that you know will immediately believe a building’s on fire when someone shouts “fire” and not first suspect someone’s trolling? It may be sad that society has progressed to such a state, but nevertheless, this anecdote needs at least a rethinking.

189 Days to the Wolves

Over the course of the summer, I played Nightwish’s “7 Days to the Wolves” 27 times on the SIPB office music printer. That’s a total of 189 days to the wolves in just about 90 days of summer! And this doesn’t count all the times I listened to it without using SIPB’s music printer.

In particular, from July 14 to July 19, I queued it a least twice each day.

I am very fond of Nightwish, as many of you already know. I have been meaning to write about why I love Nightwish and the emotional relation I feel to Nightwish’s works, but really, this stack of blog posts I’m partway through drafting is unbearably huge and it might be a while before I get to that.

Differences Among MIT Dorms

I have lived in four undergraduate dormitories and visited all of them multiple times. I’ve often been surprised at how different the dorms are from each other, and that a lot of properties I thought would be standardized across the living communities at a college were in fact not universally the case.

Several people have asked me for an opinion about the dorm they choose. As such, I’m dedicating a post to cataloging differences among MIT dorms that I’ve observed, and with a lot more clear-cut not-as-volatile properties than my previous post did.

Note, of course, that some things may have changed since I last observed the situation. In addition, although most information on this page is what I have seen myself, some facts I have heard from others and have not verified with my own eyes. Also, I don’t know everything about all dorms (and you could comment and help me fill things in!). I do not speak officially for MIT.

I will use the following abbreviations throughout the rest of this post, so that I don’t have to type them out later.

SH: Senior House
EC: East Campus
RH: Random Hall
SP: Simmons Hall
MH: Maseeh Hall
MC: McCormick Hall
BH: Baker House
BC: Burton-Conner House
MG: MacGregor House
NH: New House
NX: Next House

SP, MH, MC, BH, NX have dining halls and are also dorms where enrollment in a dining plan is mandatory. In other dorms, the dining plan is optional.

SH, EC, and RH allow cats on some floors. EC allows cats on 5 of its 10 floors. RH allows cats on 2 of its 8 ‘floors’.

SH, SP, MH, MC, BH, BC, MG, and NX have elevators. EC, RH, and NH do not, unless you want to count EC’s freight elevator that has no serious practical application to passenger travel. All three dorms without elevators play a message during fire alarms instructing evacuees to not use the elevators. All three dorms have produced media making fun of this. SP has rooms in locations for which you have to take two different elevators to access without stairs. MG has no elevators serving entries in the low rise (F, G, H, and J) and elevators serving only one of three floors of each high rise entry (A, B, C, D, and E).

SH and NH have air conditioning. All other undergrad dorms do not.

EC, SP, MH, MC, BH, NH, and NX have wooden or tile floors in rooms. Other dorms have carpeted floors in rooms.

EC comprises of two buildings (the two parallels). All other dorms are one building.

BC and MG are zero-indexed buildings (the ground floor is floor 0). The others are one-indexed, unless one decides to specify building indexing at precisenesses beyond the integer level (for instance, considering RH ⅔-indexed since there exist four steps up from the ground to floor 1 and twelve steps between its 0th and 1st floors).

NH has no basement. It is arguable whether the 0th floor of BC counts as a basement. All other dorms have basements.

MG and NH are connected by an enclosed hallway. The two parallels of EC are connected by an underground tunnel. MC is connected to Building W2 above-ground. BH and BC are connected to various non-dorm living groups. Other dorms are not connected to any other buildings.

RH is an extremely structured and regular building, with all floors having pretty much the same structure and extensive symmetries among and within floors. EC is also very structured, but with less intra-floor symmetries (and the two parallels very far from being mirror images of each other). MG has fairly regular intra-floor structure and analogous floor structures. MH, BH, and NX have similar floors, but no regular patterns in the structure of a floor. NH doesn’t even have floors that are similar in layout to each other, but at least there are larger subunits of the entire house that have similar structure. There really isn’t any regularity to speak of in SP’s structure, unless one counts how similar some windows look in comparison with each other. (There are 256 ways to paint the four sides of a window red, yellow, blue, or unpainted, so the Pigeonhole Principle easily requires identically-painted windows on SP.)

Here’s how far dorms are from various important locations on campus.

You could probably be in range of a Pokéstop on one end of NX. One Pokéstop is in range for each of MH and BH, and three for each of EC, RH, and SP. These counts of course do not include Pokéstops in range due to failure to correctly detect where you actually are.

RH is surrounded by non-MIT-affiliated buildings in Cambridge. All other buildings exclusively border areas comprising of other MIT buildings.

SH is in zip code 02142. RH, SP, MH, MC, BH, BC, MG, NH, and NX are in zip code 02139. I’m still not sure which zip code EC is in; I’ve got quite a few conflicting signals.

Continue reading “Differences Among MIT Dorms”

Posted in MIT

Are we randophilic or do we suck?

A few days ago, two of my friends and I decided to partake in an absurdly small game of Cards Against Humanity, using the plus-Rando rules. (One set of answer cards is randomly drawn from the deck.) We managed to apparently have such orthogonal senses of humor or be so bad at the game that we chose the random set in three consecutive rounds. Was it really that bad?

Let’s let you be the judge here. I’ve copied how we played those three rounds here. In each case, what was the answer given by random generation?

In a world ravaged by ______, our only solace is ______.

a) The unstoppable tide of Islam; Panda sex
b) Lady Gaga; Throwing a virgin into a volcano
c) Kids with ass cancer; Dick fingers

In the new Disney Channel Original Movie, Hannah Montana struggles with…

a) Wiping her butt
b) Achieving reproductive success
c) Waiting ’til marriage

That’s right, I killed ______. How? ______.

a) White people; Leprosy
b) Homeless people; Switching to Geico
c) Robert Downey, Jr.; David Bowie flying in on a tiger made of lightning