The Merciless Speed of Institutional Change

I’ve seen the construction of Building W64. I’ve seen Building 12 torn down, and a new building probably also numbered 12 gradually form in its place. I’ve seen Buildings 2, 4, 6, 9, 24, 26, 31, 35, 36, 37, 66, E19, E25, E52, E62, W15, and W31 undergo significant renovations. I’ve seen E17 and E18 undergo significant renovations twice. I’ve seen the renovation of the G8 floor of Building 32, and the dedication of the Charles Vest Student Street in its lobby. I’ve seen the modernization of the roofdeck of Random Hall (NW61). I’ve seen that roofdeck catch on fire and get restored. I’ve seen NW62, NW95, and NE80 lose their status as MIT numbered buildings. I’ve seen E94, EE19, EE20, N50, NW23, NW32, NW98, W36, W41, W55, W56, W57, W97, and WW25 gain status as MIT numbered buildings. I’ve seen the demolition of Buildings E33 and E34, and the plans for the future demolition of Buildings E38, E39, and E55, to completely change the structure of the area, the last of those being a graduate apartment and one of the tallest buildings at MIT. I’ve seen the beginning of construction for Building W83. I’m sure there’s many changes I didn’t even notice; I have only vague memories of a Building E28 north of E25.

I’ve seen the closure of Bexley Hall (W13), and its demolition, and with it, its line of unique i3 videos. I’ve seen the closure of Senior House (E2). I’ve seen the impending closure of New House (W70). With each of these, the home of an entire MIT community vanishes.

I’ve seen the Housemaster of East Campus change. I’ve seen the Head of House of Random Hall change. Between these two, I’ve seen the position of Housemaster be renamed the Head of House. I’ve seen every GRT position at Random Hall swap out at least once, and only one of them just once.

I’ve seen the Dean of Engineering change. I’ve seen the Dean of Science change. I’ve seen the Dean for Student Life change (to much fanfare and rejoicing). I’ve seen the Dean for Residential Life and Dining change. I’ve seen the Dean for Undergraduate Education change, in fact to my 6.01 instructor freshman year.

I’ve experienced no longer filling out Add/Drop forms on paper and doing them online instead.

I’ve seen the development of 6.02 alternatives 6.03 and 6.S04, and of 6.034 alternative 6.036. I’ve seen the formation of 6.008 and 6.009 (out of 6.S04). I’ve seen 6.00 split into 6.0001 and 6.0002, and then optionally re-coalesce. I’ve seen the fission of 6.005 into 6.031 and portions into 6.009, and the bifurcation of 6.041 into 6.041A and 6.041B. I’ve seen the overhaul of the 6.UAT/P requirement, as well as 6.UAT becoming recognized to fulfill a Course 3 requirement. After Course 6 brought about the ten-thousandth digit in course numbers, I saw Course 18 adopt them systematically, in the process causing multiple classes I’ve taken here to come by different numbers before I leave: 18.404 becoming 18.4041 and 18.443 becoming 18.6501. I also saw Course 18 massively refactor the 18.100 versions. I’ve seen part of 18.03 become the independent class 18.031. Who knows what I’ve missed changing in the courses I don’t pay heavy attention to, but even on the courses level, I saw Course 21F get renumbered Course 21G, the coming of IDS, and the merger of CMS and 21W.

Continue reading “The Merciless Speed of Institutional Change”

Categories MIT

In Which I Find Myself Blogging about AriZona Beverages for the Second Time, Somehow

One of my favorite beverages is the Cherry-Lime Rickey by AriZona Beverages, labeled “A Brooklyn Original” on the bottle above where it says “Cherry-Lime Rickey” in a graffiti-style font. Unfortunately, it contains high fructose corn syrup, and quite a bit of it, so I’m always really self-conscious when I decide to indulge my tongue and allow myself one and to acknowledge potential flipped birds in my direction from future self.

There’s a few things to note here, though. First, this drink caused me to learn what the word ‘rickey’ means. Fortunately for me as a teetotaler, the beverage is as much a rickey as it is from Arizona.

That brings me to the other point of interest here: there’s almost a second-level joke going on here on authenticity. AriZona Beverages is based in New York, thus branding itself as associated with a part of the country about as different as possible as where it is, and then this particular drink with “A Brooklyn Original” is the same deceptional idea, but in nearly the exact opposite direction. It’s like they’re making fun of themselves. A consumer could go “huh, Arizona…why suddenly Brooklyn?” but upon more research find Brooklyn is actually the much closer location to where the people that actually make AriZona Beverages are.

Wow, this delicious drink is like a potpourri of lies. At least it tastes wonderful. Maybe I should just think about that part some of the time.

Pokémon Go: Stats Upon Level 35

This post is in the format of and an extension of my Level 33 stats post from four months ago.

Around 1615 Eastern Time on 06.20, I spun a PokéStop to reach 6000005 XP, thus levelling up to Level 35.

I started playing Pokémon Go on August 26 last year. Using this baseline, this is when my level-ups occurred:

Day 87: Level 29
Day 92: Level 30
Day 102: Level 31
Day 138: Level 32
Day 181: Level 33
Day 235: Level 34
Day 298: Level 35

My buddy is currently a Tyranitar, which I have walked with for 399.5 km.

My Pokémon are currently at 377/400.
My eggs are currently at 9/9.
My items are currently at 423/350, specifically:
17x Potion
16x Super Potion
12x Hyper Potion
44x Max Potion
45x Revive
31x Max Revive
12x Lucky Egg
2x Incense
66x Poké Ball
1x Great Ball
42x Ultra Ball
1x Lure Module
20x Nanab Berry
80x Pinap Berry
Camera
Egg Incubator ∞
Egg Incubator
7x Sun Stone
7x King’s Rock
7x Metal Coat
3x Dragon Scale
5x Up-Grade

(Parentheticals in this section show change from last update. For comparison, the XP change from the previous update is +60.0%.)

Pokédex: 205 (+59)
Pokémon Caught: 13945 (+58.6%)
Evolutions: 1732 (+27.5%)
PokéStop Visits: 16815 (+45.0%)
Distance Walked: 1208.8 (+62.7%)
Eggs Hatched: 282 (+77.4%)
Gym Battles Won: 1859 (+42.5%)
Gym Trainings: 458 (+25.5%)

All 377 of my Pokémon are currently fully healed.

Strongest Pokémon:
Gyarados (CP 2992)
Gyarados (CP 2955)
Vaporeon (CP 2901)
Vaporeon (CP 2788)
Vaporeon (CP 2650)
Golem (CP 2556)

(Strongest Pokémon at last update)
Gyarados (CP 2945)
Vaporeon (CP 2766)
Vaporeon (CP 2650)
Flareon (CP 2499)
Snorlax (CP 2393)
Flareon (CP 2339)

Most Represented Pokémon by Total CP

cp_level35

Pokémon Caught by Type
(Parentheticals in this section show change from last update. For comparison, the XP change from the previous update is +60.0%, and the Pokémon caught change from the previous update is +58.6%.)
Normal: 8969 (+37.8%)
Flying: 6412 (+58.0%)
Poison: 2580 (+34.2%)
Bug: 2298 (+48.5%)
Water: 1746 (+94.9%)
Psychic: 1089 (+233.0%)
Ground: 341 (+122.0%)
Fire: 330 (+283.7%)
Electric: 313 (+85.2%)
Fairy: 260 (+65.6%)
Grass: 233 (+113.8%)
Ghost: 227 (+12.4%)
Dark: 217 (+1346.7%)
Rock: 192 (+291.8%)
Steel: 159 (+72.8%)
Ice: 97 (+125.6%)
Fighting: 54 (+42.1%)
Dragon: 17 (+30.8%)

Continue reading “Pokémon Go: Stats Upon Level 35”

Exciting Things May Soon Happen in the Indian Ocean

At the end of last month, I said that I would limit myself to four posts a month.

Yeah, that didn’t work. What ended up actually happening is that I just started writing drafts and not publishing them. And you know what? Something really, really exciting has just happened in the world (geography-wise) and I now need to write about it. So uh, screw it. I’m not going to be able to contain myself to four posts a month. That attempt lasted zero months. Yeah, I deserve to be laughed at a bit for that.

The exciting news is that the UN has voted to seek an opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the Chagos Archipelago. Long ago, the British took the islands away from its natives and on top of this expelled all of the natives from the islands in order to build a military base to mutually benefit the UK and the US. Mauritius has asked for the islands back for a long time, but the UK has just felt that they didn’t want to take any sort of apologizing action for what they’ve done there yet. Now, though, we see this vote come through, and hopefully the International Court of Justice will demand that these islands return to the natives that have long deserved them back. Shame on the countries that voted in favor of the UK, in this day and age yet still promoting imperialism based on past injustice (though it is interesting to note that the Maldives voted against the resolution; it would be interesting to look into the reasoning behind that, because the Chagos archipelago definitely has historical ties to the Maldives and could have otherwise political significance now).

But that aside (and boy do I feel a tinge bad about feeding the geography geek in me when there’s this important sentimental significance to the event), here’s what’s very special about this from a geographical standpoint. Two things—both of these are due to the fact that the Chagos Archipelago is the only remaining portion of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT): the BIOT previously included three islands further southwest, but those islands were earlier ceded to the Seychelles.

1) The TLD .io is the ccTLD of the BIOT. If the UK loses the BIOT to Mauritius, we may see the IANA require .io to change hands. Given the development of sites using the .io TLD, this could get interesting. Might the BIOT be allowed to continue existing as a physically null entity, one that carries on as a concept but corresponds to no land on Earth, to legitimize .io’s link to a political entity?

2) The sun may finally set on the British Empire. There are more than 180 degrees of longitude between Dhekelia and Pitcairn Island. If the BIOT is no more, then sunrise in Dhekelia will come after sunset in Pitcairn, and for the first time in centuries, there will be a moment when it is nighttime over all the UK’s land on earth. The sun will continue to fail to set on the French Empire, though.

Minimum Wage, Expressed in Uselessness of Pennies

The following is a tabulation of minimum wage, except in a manner to point out how badly useless and economically inefficient the penny is. This is a chart of how long you can spend dealing with a US penny before you have spent more time dealing with it than the time-worth of a penny at minimum wage.

Federal Rate for Tipped Workers: 16.90 seconds
Federal Rate for Youth: 8.47 seconds

Federal Rate: 4.97 seconds
New Mexico: 4.80 seconds
Missouri: 4.68 seconds
Florida: 4.44 seconds
Louisville, KY: 4.44 seconds
Montana and Ohio: 4.42 seconds
Delaware, Illinois, and Nevada: 4.36 seconds
St. Louis, MO: 4.36 seconds
New Jersey: 4.27 seconds
Arkansas: 4.24 seconds
South Dakota: 4.21 seconds
Maryland and West Virginia: 4.11 seconds
Albuquerque, NM: 4.11 seconds
Michigan: 4.04 seconds
Maine and Nebraska: 4.00 seconds

Hawaii: 3.89 seconds
Colorado: 3.87 seconds
Minnesota and Oregon: 3.79 seconds
Prince George’s County, Maryland: 3.77 seconds
Rhode Island: 3.75 seconds
New York: 3.69 seconds
Alaska: 3.67 seconds
Arizona and Vermont: 3.60 seconds
Chicago, IL: 3.60 seconds
Connecticut: 3.56 seconds
California: 3.43 seconds
New York City, NY: 3.43 seconds
Santa Fe, NM: 3.32 seconds
Massachusetts and Washington: 3.27 seconds
Montgomery County, Maryland: 3.13 seconds

Berkeley, CA and Oakland, CA: 2.87 seconds
Emeryville, CA and San Francisco, CA: 2.77 seconds

The “Forbidden Friendship” Scene from How to Train Your Dragon

There’s a lot of contenders for my favorite film. How to Train Your Dragon was the first of these that I’ve watched, but I’ve also had similarly apical opinions of V for Vendetta, Imaginaerum, and The Martian, of which I’ve generally ended up concluding the last is actually my favorite film, but definitely by a notably small margin.

The best single scene in film in my regards, though, is unquestionably the “Forbidden Friendship” scene from How to Train Your Dragon, depicting the process via which Hiccup and Toothless, as Viking and dragon universally thought to be preordained enemies, come to trust each other as good friends. (Here’s a link to the scene.) This post is dedicated to why.

It’s really weird and ironic that I am using extensive English to convey my fondness of this scene, because as I will amply elaborate later, the lack of verbal communication in this scene, and what the scene manages without, is a crucial factor in its beauty. Unfortunately I will need a substantially shared context only available in speech to elaborate my thoughts on the scene to the detail I desire, so this really much feels like a strange trade-off. As a slightly-related sidenote, I often get this feeling about music as well, that music would speak for itself so much better than the human language description of it, that I’d imagine a more beautiful world where the instructions for music were written in music, that musical works’ titles were in music rather than a spoken language, and that people talked with each other about music via music: direct, succinct, representative, and beautiful. Alas, prioritizing efficient communication requires the otherwise, and a strange feeling of overlaying another layer of dilution on the loss of magic upon explanation.

Speaking of music, one of the sparkling facets of “Forbidden Friendship” is its titularly reflective theme. It begins fading in around 0:50 in the video above, and builds up very gradually over the next three minutes. The theme itself is a wonder, and a heartwarming journey of evolution. It paves a harmony and an atmosphere for growth, making it, for instance, great background music for extensive thought or gadgets. But this also makes the theme the perfect complement for what happens on screen, for something wonderful is being built: a friendship.

As the theme progresses throughout the scene, new lines in the music subtly join in, slowly enriching the musical texture in reflection of the slow building of harmony among the characters. As the friendship grows, so grows the depth of the aural ambiance.

Continue reading “The “Forbidden Friendship” Scene from How to Train Your Dragon”

Orbs.it

About a month ago, someone on the generals.io discord introduced me to Orbs.it. At the time, I decided not to share it further because that would probably be very detrimental during finals season; now, though, at least MIT’s finals are over.

It’s quite a fun simple game; I’d recommend checking it out. During its early days, there was a noticeable rate of connection issues, but at least for me, things seemed to have gotten much better. Like generals.io, it is a browser-based comparatively-minimalist game with 8 players in the most common mode, so I could actually make a lot of my commentary of the game in comparison to generals.io. I’m not going to go over how playing Orbs.it works here; if you go to the game and play a round it’s really quickly to asborb how the game works. It’s probably a coincidence that both games support 8 players per game; 8’s a nice round number to choose for player quantity.

Orbs.it is arguably even more minimalist than generals.io; there’s just 24 orbs rather than a whole playing field, no orb has intrinsic attributes that make them different in capacity to other orbs (unlike generals.io’s mountain tiles and city tiles), and there’s just two power-ups a player has at disposal. It’s a really simple rule set, and yet the game still has interesting possibilities in strategy consideration (though probably not nearly as deep as in generals.io). I really like this combination of two properties in a game.

Movement acuity probably matters more in Orbs.it, given that the Orbs actually move without player impulse. Neither Orbs.it nor generals.io is absolutely turn-based in nature or absolutely a dynamic game, but are somewhere in between, with Orbs.it being more towards the dynamic side.

One aspect I definitely appreciate better in Orbs.it is substantially greater fairness; players spawn in roughly evenly spaced orbs, and because the margin of interaction is rather finite, the original state has only that much variation in luck due to other players’ decisions. Free-for-all generals.io is quite plagued by the issue that most of the community agrees that happening to spawn in the center of the board is a massive disadvantage. Unlike generals.io, Orbs.it does not allow a supermajority of queueing players to decide to start a game with less than 8 players; fortunately, I have never found waiting for 8 players to be playing the game to take really long. (Which of course prompts the paranoid question: huh, are there planted bots?)

But the thing that I really like about generals.io is actually something not in the gameplay itself, but how generals.io maintains a copious public profile per player, in which all replays are publically accessible, which facilitates spectating for interest, learning for strategy, and easy outing of cheaters. Of course, generals.io does a truly exemplary job of this, so it’s quite a high bar for making comparison. Orbs.it also has a profile page:

orbsitprofile

, but it’s not public, and although results for each game are saved (the right column), just the results and some basic stats and not a replay is saved:

orbsit_firstgame

(This was my first game of Orbs.it.) It’s unclear to me whether saving a replay of an Orbs.it game may be substantially harder than saving a replay of a generals.io game. Supposedly, the trajectories of orbs are deterministic from certain starting values, so one would need to save those, starting locations, and times of shooting and deploying powerups (times of changing of ownership of orbs can be derived from this and trajectories).

Still, it’s quite an extensive profile, and I appreciate it. If I were to ask for something likely small to be added, it would be a set of all-time stats.

Continue reading “Orbs.it”