A Season with LearnedLeague

I recently finished playing in my first (and probably only, the reason for which I’ll explain shortly later) season of LearnedLeague, an online trivia league. I’d say it was a fun experience, and that the ideas behind how competition in LearnedLeague works are generally good ideas.

Each round (of which there are 25 in a season, at least in the one I participated in) consists of a head-to-head match between two league players, that involves answering trivia questions (called “offense”), and assigning numbers of points each question is worth for your opponent (called “defense”), for which one is allowed to consult their history to know what one’s opponent tends to be good at.

And this gets to why I don’t think I’ll be back for another season. LearnedLeague has failed to deviate from a problem I find in most trivia competitions: an excessive favoring of generalists. Frankly, there are four categories of LearnedLeague trivia (Film, Lifestyle, Pop Music, and Television) than not only am I terrible at but also I honestly have less than zero interest in getting better at (really, four and half, given the Games/Sport category; it’s a really easy exercise for the reader to figure out which half of that I don’t care about). But there are categories of trivia I am definitely extremely interested in. Overall, my trivia knowledge is terribly category-polar, and this makes me ridiculously easy to defend against. As much as I like the assigning-points-for-opponent mechanic, the resulting effects of the such for highly non-generalist people like me make it something I’m not willing to give money for. A second factor lies in excessive references to alcoholic drinks, which many may know I find elevated discomfort in. There’s quite a few questions for which it looks like the writer specifically wanted to force an association with alcohol. Yes, it turns out unfortunately trivia is often associated with bars. *Sigh*.

Anyway, my category stats:


Below I’ll make some notes on specific items in some categories.

Some of these questions have images that are part of the item when you click ‘Click here’. I’m too lazy to copy those over, so I’ll leave it to your imagination what those items were.



MD15Q3 was the least-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with only 5% answering correctly.

MD06Q2 was a guess. They all looked like portraits. Might as well guess that they were of the self variety.



I only got MD13Q1 because of knowing where Qaanaaq is and knowing there’s a military base named Thule nearby, and thus just guessing “Thule” off of only this information, possibly the most distant answer derivation I’ve underwent this entire season. Does this count as love towards Sweden via proxy?

I entered “Hand of God” instead of “Invisible Hand” for MH08Q5. Oops.

Current Events


I’m fairly ashamed of having not been able to name the new UN Secretary-General. Apparently, neither could most of LearnedLeague, so shame on everyone else too.



MD12Q5: Booo Othello. I can’t believe the world accepted the game of Reversi getting a second name.

What is sportsball.



Apparently the most frequently incorrectly guessed answer to MD20Q2 was “Washington”. I guess that’s what “Bellevue” tipped people off to?

I was not actually sure of the answer to MD12Q6; I based my guess off of understanding the Central American isthmus as gradually less inhabitable as one moves south and east.

American History


I don’t really have many comments to make here.

World History


I really should’ve gotten MD24Q5, but didn’t answer “Peloponnesian League” because of the inclusion of Corinth, which I recalled as not-all-that-Peloponnesian, although maybe I should’ve still considered the isthmus Pelopennesian. I guessed “Dorian League”.

For MD15Q4, I knew where relatively chronologically the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha was; I just couldn’t exactly remember where it was delimited and wasn’t exactly sure which monarchs came between Victoria and Edward $LARGE_NUM. I ended up deciding I had the best chances with guessing Victoria, which it turns out was too early.

For MD12Q3, I made the rather hilarious-in-retrospect mistake of calling the Ostrogoths the “Orthogoths”. Herpity derp.

MD07Q5 was the most-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with 88% answering correctly. Fortunately, I was in the 88% for this case.

I was wondering whether MD01Q2 wanted the real (legal) name of Kim Il-Sung, since that is not it, but ended up deciding they probably just want “Kim Il-Sung” for the purposes of the question. It turns out that was a good assumption.



I consider the FANBOYS question a bad question.

MD02Q4 was an item I really should’ve gotten, but I mind-blanked a bit much and put “al-“.



Maybe if I thought a little harder on MD18Q4 I would’ve gotten it.




MD08Q1 was the second-most-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with 87% answering correctly.

Classical Music


MD19Q4 was the second-least-correctly-answered item in the entire season, with only 14% answering correctly.

The Classical Music section consists of an excess of…I guess I’ll call it “applied” music and way not enough “pure” music, grump, grump. I’m saying “applied”, I guess because terms like “incidental” and “operatic” don’t actually capture the set I’m trying to describe.



I was actually quite surprised with how long it took me to recall what Newton’s Second Law was. It turned out my physical knowledge had progressed to a state where I only know if I’m supposed to know things. Fortunately, I did eventually remember the Law. I wonder if I would’ve forgotten it if I hadn’t taken an olympiad qualification test whose name is the equation of the Law.

Anyway, that’s all; ’twas a fun season. I’m going to stay around for some MiniLeagues, but then vanish from LearnedLeague. I did refer a friend to LearnedLeague, though, so maybe he will stay.


The Phrase “Crimes Against Humanity” has the Vibe of the Term “Un-American”

This was originally going to be a post arguing that people who legislate climate change denial are committing crimes against humanity. While purposeful ignorance of the effects of climate change is rather genocidal to island nations, and I do think this is itself worthy of a post, I’m now instead discussing the term “crime against humanity” itself, as a consequence of flushing out thoughts on what I’d write in this blog post while in the shower.

The term “crime against humanity” is intended to label an act, typically a war crime, or systematic murder and ethnic cleansing, as atrocious and far beyond the reaches of what can be considered humane. Crimes against humanity are so appallingly disgusting that it they are a disrespect and disgrace to all of humanity for being able to happen.

But the term “crime against humanity” sounds an awful lot like the word “un-American” in notion. That is, it labels an act as centrally against what makes us us, for some level of “us”. The accusation against an alleged un-American act is that the act fails to meet the standards of American morality and values, and the threat conveyed to the accused is that they will land themselves outside the circle of identity of most of the community.

So how high is the bar of American values, this esteemed highland of morality? At that of a country that has…systematically persecuted and killed the native population of the land, relentlessly oscillated among ethnicities of immigrants to vilify, funded genocidal regimes in foreign countries in the name of anti-communism, exhibited a level of gun violence unimaginable in many other developed countries, and ironically tarnished its foundation of liberty by outlawing slavery later than nearly all other developed countries. This is the proud country whose moral standards the accused have failed to meet. It turns out not only is the label “un-American” a bringer of artificial enmity, it also is vividly hypocritical.

And on this note, I’d like to ask: where is the moral bar for the human species? The human is distinguished by actually having concepts of murder and war: a thirst for blood beyond that which just seeks nutrition. The human is a species that kills 10 million times as many sharks as are killed by them, yet consistently produces media claiming the sharks are the monsters. No species has demonstrated as blazing a contempt for nature as has the human. What is the “humanity” that “crimes against humanity” have failed to respect? What is humane, what moral quality is it the human supposedly naturally exhibits, if the history of the human is that of a species that could not wait to exhibit inhumanity again?

There is no humanity crimes against humanity are against. Crimes against humanity are really crimes of humanity, a systemic plague within the human species, a species too weak to avoid casting off each instance of inhumanity as not its problem, unable to accept its record far too tainted for “humane” to be a properly reflecting word.

Is MIT’s atmosphere hostile to conservative opinions?

Yes. Unquestionably.

(If you’re going to be among the crowds of people who will now surmise based on that first line that I’m secretly conservative, I will just say that if among the things I have stated, claimed, and supported you have decided to come to the conclusion that I’m probably conservative, I don’t know how to help you and will refuse to address you.)

It would take a serious lack of capability to try others’ shoes to deny that the frequency with which people are presumed to have liberal thought, the visibility with which chatrooms exhibit users taking glee at the suffering of conservatives, and the degree to which statements jokingly or seriously promoting violence against right-wing thinkers are legitimized in general social circles at MIT makes for a community in which conservatives could feel, at the very least, out of place.

What is more of a question is whether or not it is okay or if it should be the case that MIT’s atmosphere is hostile to conservative opinions. To the first approximation, this is a question about whether conservative values interfere with MIT’s goals. This is a question for which neither a pure “yes” nor a pure “no” approximate the nuances of the situation enough. There exist some really important distinctions in forms of value clashing, centrality of values to MIT’s mission, and levels of indirection of effects that should be considered in an analysis of the issue; in fact, separate analyses are probably ideal for the various parts of what makes up the corpus of “conservative opinions”, some of which are really not that related or even that correlated.

But whatever the answer to this question is, MIT’s community should not don the pretense that we are friendly and open to all. It can often be the case that being open to one group of people necessitates being unopen to another group. We make a choice on the groups of people we will try to be friendly to. One might argue otherwise, but this typically involves being open only to thoughts pre-considered okay and thus a filter on the entire domain “openness” is applied to; pre-filtering defeats the point of openmindedness. A declaration that MIT is accepting of people regardless of their political stance is sugarcoating and dismissive.

Pokémon Go: Most Represented Species by CP

I decided to add up the CPs of each individual for each species as a measure of how represented the species is in my set of Pokémon in Pokémon Go. The chart of the 27 most represented species is below.


The total CP of all Pokémon I have is about 353000, so Jolteon represents about 5% of all CP in my Pokémon. I was quite surprised to find out how close the CP shares of my top three species (Jolteon, Vaporeon, and Pidgeot) were.

The MIT Hipster Test

Are you a pretentiously annoyingly sophisticatedly different MIT student always traveling a more enlightened path? Don’t know? Just take this test and find out! Add to your score the specified number of points for each statement true about you.

+2 I am course 11, 12, 17, 22, or 24.
+3 My course number actually even contains a letter*, and the degree I get will actually be different because of it. (*2A, 6M, and 18C don’t count. Those are sooooo mainstream.)
+5 My course number is actually all letters and doesn’t even have a number, bitch.
+13 I am actually course 13.
+1 I have taken a class in twelve different numbered courses.
(+1 more for each additional different numbered course beyond twelve.)
+2 I have had a semester where I took no classes that contribute towards my graduation.
+1 I have had a semester where my coursework spans at least four different course numbers.
(+1 more for each additional different number course beyond four.)
+3 I have had a semester where the number of units I took was not a multiple of 3.
+2 I have had a semester where I took more than one S class (for instance, 6.S082).
+6 I have had a semester where I only took S classes.
+2 I have taken an S class in a course that doesn’t have a course number.
+6 I only take classes you’ve never heard of.
+4 All the classes I take are lit af.
+2 I have had a class I’ve never attended.
+1 I have never taken a class in 32-123.
+1 I have never taken a class in 34-101.
+2 I have never taken a class in 10-250.
+3 I have never taken a class in 26-100.
+1 I have sent an e-mail with no body, just a subject line ending in ‘eom’.
+2 I have sent an e-mail with a body that just contains ‘eom’.
+3 I have sent an e-mail with a body that contains ‘eom’, and then text after the ‘eom’.
+2 I have sent an e-mail with no body and a subject line that is just ‘eom’.
+4 I have sent an e-mail with neither body nor subject line, just a recipient mailing list whose name ends in ‘eom’.
+2 I have, in fact, e-mailed eom@.
+1 I have e-mailed free-food@ requesting food.
+2 I have e-mailed free-food@ with an e-mail irrelevant to food.
+2 I have e-mailed free-food@ about free food more than 1 kilosmoot away from MIT’s campus.
+3 I have e-mailed free-food@ about free food more than 1 megasmoot away from MIT’s campus.
+2 I have made a posting to reuse-condoms@.
+3 I outsource me waking up on time to a mailing list.
+3 I address NSA and FBI agents that may be reading my e-mails in every e-mail I write.
+3 I have used garywang’s subscribe service.
+2 When I am bored, I surf garywang’s subscribe service.
+2 I wrote a script to go through garywang’s subscribe service for me.
+3 When my friends go to get food from Flour, I go to Shaw’s and buy a bag of flour and consume it with them.
+4 When my friends go to get food from Flour, I go to Shaw’s and buy flowers and consume them.
+20 In the above, the antecedent of ‘them’ was ‘my friends’ and not the flowers.
+2 I have eaten at Clover.
+2 I have eaten breakfast at Clover.
+1 I ironically make fun of Chipotle.
+2 I make fun of people ironically making fun of Chipotle.
+2 I ironically make fun of people making fun of Chipotle.
+3 I ironically make fun of people ironically making fun of Chipotle.
+1 I work in an office that I refer to as ‘glorious’.
+3 I sexually identify as a dank meme.
+4 I have engaged in BDSM while hacking.
+6 I like learning modules.
+2 I have used every class of stapler SIPB offers.
+3 I have a Permanent Membership at MITSFS.
+3 I am a member of the Students for a Democratic Society.
+1 I made it all the way through this quiz.

If you scored at least 40, you may be an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 60, you’re probably an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 80, you’re definitely an MIT hipster.
If you scored at least 100, you’re fucking scary.

Posted in MIT


It’s sometimes fun to make one’s own bingo board for an event and to compete with others’ boards for a bingo. This can often be seen when, for instance, a large set of people watch a debate and make bingo boards for terms they think will certainly or near-certainly pop up during debate.

Here, I propose a couple more interactive games when one has large groups of people.

Cooperative Meta-Bingo

Get a group of n² or (2n-1)²-1 people, for integer n>1 (the latter case corresponds to boards with FREE bingo spaces in the center of the board). Have each person individually design a bingo board for an event, then bring the boards together to strategize placing the boards into the spaces of a bingo board of bingo boards. The Cooperative Meta-Bingo is a success as soon as five bingo boards in the same row, column, or diagonal all reach bingo. Alternatively, have each player fill out the board individually to make the game a competition of who is paying attention. In yet another alternative, show all bingo boards to all players but have each player make their own meta-bingo board out of some permutation of the bingo boards; the player who reaches meta-bingo first wins.

Thinkalike Meta-Bingo

Get a group of people as in the case with Cooperative Meta-Bingo. Have each person individually design a bingo board for an event, then look at the boards. Call the term in a position in a bingo board that corresponds to the position of that bingo board in the meta-bingo board a representative term. The Thinkalike Meta-Bingo is a success if the boards can be arranged such that a row, column, or diagonal of the meta-bingo board has bingo boards all with the same representative terms. For an added challenge, require multiple terms. For a competitive version, give everyone all the boards, and see who is the first to build a correct Thinkalike Meta-Bingo.