The Sun Actually Still Hasn’t Set on the British Empire (as well as some others)

The expression that the sun never set on the British Empire reflected the fact that Britain’s empire consisted of land all around the world, such that it was always daytime somewhere in the British empire. Since then, the British Empire has fallen, but actually even until today not far enough for the sun to not set on it. Believe it or not, with the UK’s present-day territories, it is still daytime somewhere in the UK all the time.

A sufficient (but not necessary) condition for the sun to not set on a country is for there to exist no 180° span of longitude in either hemisphere without land belonging to the country. The UK accomplishes this among its territories in the Southern Hemisphere with the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT)* (72°E), Ascension Island** (14°W), and Pitcairn Island*** (130°W).

*This is, by the way, the place for which .io is intended to be the top-level domain.
**I purposefully chose Ascension Island rather than the Falkland Islands to represent this portion of the world to more respect the disputed status of the latter with Argentina.*****
***Since I decided to make asterisked remarks for each of the previous two items in this list, I’ll also make one for the third for symmetry, which is just going to be this vacuous remark since I don’t think I actually have anything to say about Pitcairn Island. ****
****Although I seem to have successfully made each asterisked remark take as many lines as there are asterisks to denote that remark, at least on compatible systems until I change the font for my blog again, which I’m fairly sure I won’t do, but for which now you, future reader, will know what to look out for.
*****It turns out the BIOT is also disputed land. In fact, it is land that imperialist powers have managed to evict the native population from, so it’s arguably a more thirdraily case than the Argentinian dispute. Should the BIOT gain independence or come under Mauritian sovereignty, the sun will set on the British empire for sure. This would also happen if Pitcairn Island declared independence.

Unfortunately, the UK does not have this for the Northern Hemisphere. Fortunately (for the empire), this condition is sufficient but not necessary. We must now ensure that on the Northern-hemisphere summer solstice (the peak of Southern-hemisphere winter), the Southern hemisphere lands span enough longitude for there to always be some land in daylight even with the reduced day lengths. Indeed, this is the case. Pitcairn Island, the further south of these three territories, is only 25°S, thus on the shortest day still having 10.5 hours of sunlight. The other two territories, at only 7°S, have more than 11.5 hours of sunlight on their shortest day. Thus, the 158° longitude gap between the BIOT and Pitcairn Island is minded and even in June the sun never sets on the UK by the skin of its teeth (a few degrees of longitude).

The UK is in fact not the only present-day country the sun never sets on. New Caledonia (22°S,166°E), Réunion (21°S,56°E), French Guiana (4°N,53°W), and Tahiti (18°S,149°W) prevent the sun from setting on France.

There are also several countries for which the sun doesn’t set for a significant amount of the year. Since Russia spans from 20°E to 168°W, nearly half the Earth longitudinally, the sun never sets on Russia for a substantial amount of the year, that is, nearly all days in the Northern-hemisphere spring and summer. All eight countries with land north of the Arctic Circle (Russia, Canada, United States, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland) experience the sun not setting on them at least one day of the year. If one recognizes Antarctic territories, then Argentina, Chile, Australia, and New Zealand may join this party as well.

Disregarding territories, the smallest pair of countries that together the sun never sets on is {Ecuador, Singapore}, followed by {Taiwan, Paraguay}, assuming an independent Taiwan. The latter pair is rather fitting, as Paraguay is one of only a couple dozen countries in the world that recognize the Republic of China as the legitimate government of China.



0. Introduction

This post is a massive listing of my levels of like or dislike on a huge variety of items, reduced and approximated to this nine-point scale:

+4 Intense Positive Opinion
+3 Strong Positive Opinion
+2 Positive Opinion
+1 Slight Positive Opinion
0 Neutral Opinion
-1 Slight Negative Opinion
-2 Negative Opinion
-3 Strong Negative Opinion
-4 Intense Negative Opinion

. These opinions are listed without explanations or rationale because it would take way too long to explain all of them, although if you’re interested in discussing some of these, I may be willing to go into conversational detail there.

There are, of course, a lot of problems with trying to compactly present opinion information on a nine-point scale. For one thing, the most important contributing factors, of which there are usually many, to my opinion drastically varies from category to category of entities, thus at the very least making opinions across categories very incomparable. Even within categories, the variety of different factors that affect opinion are completely clouded away by rating in just a number, and thus, for instance, would fail to demonstrate my opinions of certain items under various contexts, for which when some often-irrelevant factors are taken away my opinion could massively change. The best simple explanation for what the numbers reflect is really a holistic reaction, positive numbers representing items for which I feel approval or enjoyment, the strength of which increases with the number, and the opposite for negative numbers.

The two main practical purposes of this post that I imagine:

1) as reference for potential group decision-making

As much as it is unlikely, if all people made a list like this for, say, their opinions on restaurants, a group of people could compare the listed ratings of members of the group and calculate a decision in much lesser time than is often taken by a large-enough group of people when deciding where to have dinner (or even better, to have a rotation of highly-rated places for a group of people, reflecting individually inputted value-weightings of variety versus solid ratings). I figure I’ll at least do my part to clearly list out my opinions.

2) for the exchange of suggestions among people of similar tastes

If you and I find that we have rather similar likes and dislikes in a category, we could relate and converse over these and our underlying feelings and make suggestions to each other for media we also like that the other might not have been aware of. (We could even do this rather effectively if we find our opinions are very close to exactly the opposite of each other.)

I. Opinions on Games

In this section, I list how much I enjoy various games, in terms of their gameplay, their ideas, and their design.

Opinions on Board and Card Games
+1 Backgammon
0 Battleship
-2 Betrayal at House on the Hill
+2 Bridge
+2 Bughouse
+1 Cards Against Humanity
-1 Checkers
-3 Chess
-2 Chinese Checkers
+2 Chinese Chess
+3 Codenames
-3 Connect Four
-3 Dominion
+2 Egyptian War/Rat Screw
+1 Hearts
-3 Mao
-1 Master Mind
0 Monopoly
+2 Napoleon
0 Pandemic
+2 Revolution
0 Ricochet Robots
-2 Robo Rally
+4 Rock Me Archimedes
+1 Scrabble
-4 Settlers of Catan
+1 Spades
+3 Taboo
-3 Trouble
+3 Weiqi (-2 for when it is called Go)

Opinions on .io Games

II. Opinions on Other Media

Here, I list how much I enjoyed various movies as well as certain musical works.

Opinions on Movies
-2 2012
0 The Avengers
-1 The Avengers: Age of Ultron
-2 Big Hero 6
-2 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
-1 Brokeback Mountain
0 Captain America: The First Avenger
+1 Citizen Kane
+3 Ender’s Game
-1 Guardians of the Galaxy
0 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
+4 How to Train Your Dragon
+3 How to Train Your Dragon 2
0 I Am Legend
+4 Imaginaerum
+1 Kung Fu Panda
+2 The Lego Movie
-4 Life of Pi
+1 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
+3 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
+3 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
+3 The Lost World: Jurassic Park
+4 The Martian
+3 Penguins of Madagascar
0 Peter Pan
-2 Pulp Fiction
+3 Requiem for a Dream
-4 The Room
+2 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
-1 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
+4 V for Vendetta
-1 Zootopia

Opinions on Amaranthe Albums
+2 Amaranthe
+1 The Nexus
-2 Massive Addictive
-3 Maximalism

Opinions on Dragonland Albums
+2 The Battle of the Ivory Plains
+2 Holy War
+4 Starfall
+1 Astronomy
+4 Under the Grey Banner

Opinions on Nightwish Albums
Angels Fall First
+4 Oceanborn
+3 Wishmaster
+1 Century Child
+4 Once
+3 Dark Passion Play
+3 Imaginaerum
+2 Endless Forms Most Beautiful

Opinions on Singles that Have Been Billboard Top Singles
0 “Umbrella”
0 “Apologize”
0 “Don’t Stop the Music”
0 “Viva La Vida”
-2 “Disturbia”
+2 “So What”
-1 “Let it Rock”
-1 “Just Dance”
-2 “Don’t Stop Believin'”
-4 “I Gotta Feeling”
-2 “Down”
-1 “Party in the U.S.A.”
-4 “Whatcha Say”
-3 “Paparazzi”
0 “Fireflies”
+2 “Bad Romance”
0 “Russian Roulette”
-1 “Need You Now”
-1 “Tik Tok”
-3 “Sexy Chick”
-3 “Blah Blah Blah”
-2 “Hey, Soul Sister”
-4 “Baby”
-4 “Imma Be”
0 “Telephone”
-4 “OMG”
-3 “California Gurls”
-2 “Alejandro”
-1 “Love the Way You Lie”
-4 “Teenage Dream”
-3 “We R Who We R”
-3 “Firework”
-2 “Black and Yellow”
0 “Fuckin’ Perfect”
+1 “Born This Way”
+1 “S&M”
0 “Judas”
+1 “The Edge of Glory”
-3 “Party Rock Anthem”
-3 “Moves Like Jagger”
+1 “We Found Love”
-2 “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”
+2 “We Are Young”
+1 “Somebody that I Used to Know”
-1 “Payphone”
+1 “Titanium”
-3 “Whistle”
+3 “Some Nights”
-3 “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
-1 “Gangnam Style”
-2 “I Knew You Were Trouble”
-3 “Harlem Shake”
-3 “Radioactive”
-3 “Gentleman”
-2 “Applause”
-2 “Royals”
+1 “Let It Go”
0 “Chandelier”
-3 “All About That Bass”
-4 “Shake It Off”
-4 “Anaconda”
-1 “Blank Space”
-4 “Uptown Funk”
-1 “Shut Up and Dance”
-3 “Bad Blood”
-2 “This is What You Came For”

Continue reading “Opinions”

126 1v1 Games of

One way in which stands out is that it automatically saves replays of games played (and even has nice playback functionalities in its replays, to boot). Thus, I can easily reference the 126 1v1 games I’ve played so far and make a chart out of them!


The above chart shows the 126 games plotted along an x-axis for the number of turns the game took, a y-axis for the number of pieces of land taken in the game, and a size of the game circle according to the total army size at the end (in the case of early-terminated games, the total army sizes at that point). The color of the circle reflects the outcome of the game:

  • Light green for games I won
  • Light grey for games I lost
  • Dark green for games I won by the opponent giving up
  • Dark grey for games I lost by giving up

Fun Things to Do in Boston

Boston (as well as the area surrounding Boston) is known for its questionably squarey squares: Dudley Square is quite beyond square, and Inman Square is just an oblique intersection. One fun thing to do with them is to abbreviate the word Square ‘Sq.’ and pronounce it /sk/, so that each square sounds like a Russian city (like Novosibirsk and Irkutsk). Thus, traveling down the Red Line, for instance, one gets Davisk, Portersk, Harvardsk, Centralsk, and Kendallsk.

A Familiarity Game

In life, and in academic circles in particular, one may often encounter the situation in which one is very surprised by what others are and are not aware of. For instance, when playing a game for which a guideline for an action involves picking a reasonable piece of knowledge, there may end up being quite the lengthy quarrel about the reasonableness of a choice.

So here’s a game to try, quite substantially built upon the struggle to realize what others actually know and don’t know. It’s probably a great way to come to realize which pieces of knowledge are common knowledge and are not among a crowd.

Given a group of people, have each person ask the group a question, and have the goal to be to get 75% of people to answer correctly (adjust the 75% as desired). Allot points for proximity of the result to 75%, and allot points for getting the question correct, to incentivize honesty about one’s ability to answer the question. (If one wants to care further about game incentives, allot slightly greater quantities of points when the fraction that answer correctly is low to incentivize a question-asker to actually shoot for 75% rather than a lower number (where others’ points will also be lower).)

Repeat the round as desired.

Dear President Reif: Nothing can be Decreed Unthinkable

President Reif, in a recent e-mail to the MIT community, described a certain list of acts as unthinkable. There are several ways in which this decree is problematic.

First of all, that nothing is declared unthinkable is an essential aspect of any knowledge-seeking community.

Here’s the thing about thought: it occurs within the head. Without action, it does not cause anything to others. Without being spoken, others can’t even be exposed to it unless they’re psychic.

Advancement in society occurs upon the willingness to question the standards and conventions that the world passes to us. As society moves forward, it is necessary to be vigilant in investigating what we have taken for granted and whether continuing to subscribe to an idea keeps us from attaining progress, both in science and in society. To question is the fundamental duty of the academic.

This is not to say that it is unimportant to question outside of academics. It may not even be a century prior that the consensus opinion in America was that acceptability of homosexuality is unthinkable. The nascent rights of homosexuals today are the product of a struggle that started with those that were willing to question the societal convention. When one establishes that people should not be allowed to think certain things, with mistrust of the people’s ability to restrain themselves on the barrier between the contents of their mind and the outside world, one is suggesting a substantial intrusion into rights.

President Reif, you are paving the road for a concept of thoughtcrime.

Continue reading “Dear President Reif: Nothing can be Decreed Unthinkable”

Considering Russia’s Geographic Massiveness

Below is a world map in seven colors. Blue designates Russia.


(For the purposes of this post, I have decided to separate territories, for instance Greenland from Denmark, and Puerto Rico from the United States.)

These colors were assigned to countries based on a property of the set of (spherical) triangles drawable between points inside a country, Kaliningrad (a city on the far west side of Russia), and Vladivostok (a city on the far east side of Russia). For a point, considering the side of such a triangle between Kaliningrad and Vladivostok, classify the point as

  • Type I if the above-mentioned side is the longest side of the triangle
  • Type II if the above-mentioned side is the middle side of the triangle
  • Type III if the above-mentioned side is the shortest side of the triangle

In the map presented at the start of this post, red designates countries consisting exclusively of Type III points, orange designates countries consisting of Type II and Type III points, yellow designates countries consisting of Type I, Type II, and Type III points, purple designates countries consisting exclusively of Type II points, green designates countries consisting of Type I and Type II points, and teal designates countries consisting exclusively of Type I points. It is this last category, the 18 teal-colored countries, that really demonstrates the staggering massiveness of Russia, as these are countries so dwarfed by Russia’s size that the entire country falls within this sort of “distance shadow” between these cities on the two sides: when the above triangle is drawn with even the furthest point away in the teal countries, the expanse between the two Russian cities is still larger.

Of course, when you add territories back in, some significantly more hilarious distance spans, like that between Paris and Noumea for France, come into play.