Things I Most Frequently Wish to Yell at Debates, Discussions, and “Discussions”

Note: I considered whether I wanted to deliver this post in ALL CAPS, to be faithful to the impression of yelling. I decided I’d rather go for the greater readability of lowercase, but eventually I decided there was one item that I’ll yell here in ALL CAPS.

0. Name-calling and toxifying your language will not communicate your point, will not sway others to your side unless you’re doing so by force, and will work against keeping a debate civilized and productive. If you’re going to gratuitously call your opposition an asshole, or just label them as stupid without specifying anything you actually see as stupid, or address them via a slight variation of their name that is irrelevant to the matter of discussion, what you’ll most accomplish is pushing others away and getting them to hate you, so hopefully this is what you’re trying to do when you’re name-calling.

1. The fact that someone can’t spell or pronounce a word properly doesn’t make their point invalid.

2. The right thing to do and the effective thing to do are often quite different. You could be wasting a lot of unnecessary time by not making it clear whether your discussion is to argue what’s morally right or what is most likely to advance what you want to see in the world.

3. No, it is not the case that you should ever only do one of these. It is good to be on the same page or at least to understand what others see as a just world, and it is good to discuss what the most useful or practical way to achieve what one wants is.

4. The fact that a certain underlying property is why many people take a certain action or have a certain sentiment doesn’t mean it’s why the person you’re talking to happens to have taken the same action or expressed the same sentiment.

5. If you assume the reason someone you’re interacting with takes an action or has a certain sentiment as something substantially more negative than the actual reason, this will cause them to not want to work with or talk to you, and will not help with pushing your point.

6. Just because a group of people have a relative tendency to have a certain property doesn’t mean that property is intrinsic to the nature of that group of people.

7. Just because not everyone in a group of people have a certain property doesn’t mean that property is not a problem particular to that group, pervasive in that group, or particularly fueled by the atmosphere and discourse of that group.

8. Even if a majority of people in a group don’t have a certain property, a problem could still be a particular problem in that group, especially relative to others.

9. Telling someone something that they’ve probably heard numerous times even in grade school in a discussion (“you should be nice to one another”, “consider other’s feelings”, “people should care for one another”, etc.) is incredibly condescending and effectively conveys that you think they haven’t considered these things. See number 10 in terms of this.

10. Just because someone chooses to do something against a particular goal doesn’t mean they don’t support that goal. It just means there exists at least something else they consider more important than that goal that they believe is being impeded.

11. Claiming that you work for all people when you really only work for some people makes you look politically deceiving and just saying what will make you sound nice. It’s okay for you to believe there’s some people you wish to help more, but just say so and don’t pretend you’re not.

12. A VIVIDLY DESCRIBED STORY IS STILL JUST ONE DATA POINT. YOUR DECISIONS SHOULD BE MADE ON A GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING OF DATA IN GENERAL AND NOT ON ONE EMOTIONALLY HEARTSTRING-TUGGING STORY. If you further try to guilt-trip someone by saying that everyone who’s human should be moved by that story, and accusing them of not having empathy, you’re being a manipulative person promoting anecdotal evidence over well-sourced data-based knowledge.

13. When you’re arguing by analogy, you better make sure the person you’re talking agrees with you in how to judge the analogous situation you’re referencing.

14. When you’re arguing that an analogous situation isn’t the same situation, you should argue why the difference you’re pointing out is relevant to the central issue of focus. Of course, the situation is different, it’s an analogy. It doesn’t mean anything to point out a difference that doesn’t matter.

15. Most things are not black and white. Most things have a gradient.

16. Just because there’s a gradient doesn’t mean there aren’t clear ends.

17. Just because there’s a grey area doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to talk relatively within the grey area.

18. Being against “being political” is itself a political move. It endorses the status quo.

19. Just because politics is unavoidable doesn’t mean certain ideas and conversation are more politically heated than others.

P.S. If by the time you’re done reading this your reaction is “yeah, these are all the problems with conservatives; why can’t they be logical like liberals” or “yeah, these are all the problems with liberals; why can’t they be logical like conservatives”, you’re probably part of the problem.


Pokémon Go: Stats Upon Level 36

This post is in the format of and an extension of my Level 35 stats post from last month. I originally intended to output the next stats sheet at Level 37, but decided to dial that back one level because of significant changes in the game that happened, and thus an opportunity to look at how my play reacted to the changes.

Around 1515 Eastern Time on 07.22, I caught a Chikorita to reach 7500042 XP, thus levelling up to Level 36. I immediately afterwards caught a Venonat and later also hatched a Slowpoke, so I am actually currently at 7500442 XP, but will not include the Venonat and Slowpoke in below stats, as I got them after I became Level 36.

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
Day 330: Level 36

My buddy is currently a Tyranitar, which I have walked with for 601.1 km.

(Parentheticals in this section show change from last update. For comparison, the XP change from the previous update is +25.0%.)

Pokédex: 220 (+15)
Pokémon Caught: 16529 (+18.5%)
Evolutions: 2215 (+27.9%)
PokéStop Visits: 19903 (+18.4%)
Distance Walked: 1410.4 (+16.7%)
Eggs Hatched: 327 (+16.0%)
Gym Battles Won: 3265 (+75.6%)
Gym Trainings: 458 (+0.0%; no longer a feature)
Berries Fed at Gyms: 825 (new feature)
Hours Defended at Gyms: 471 (new feature)
Raids Won: 28 (new feature)

393 of my 394 Pokémon are fully healed. A Jolteon isn’t.

Strongest Pokémon
Gyarados (CP 2992)
Tyranitar (CP 2988)
Gyarados (CP 2978)
Vaporeon (CP 2901)
Vaporeon (CP 2788)
Rhydon (CP 2765)

(Strongest Pokémon at last update)
Gyarados (CP 2992)
Gyarados (CP 2955)
Vaporeon (CP 2901)
Vaporeon (CP 2788)
Vaporeon (CP 2650)
Golem (CP 2556)

Gym Data

Gyms with Most Victories:
The Alchemist: 583
Transparent Horizon: 248
Kresge Auditorium: 157
Cosmic Ray Chandeliers: 132
In Loving Memory of Dorothy P. Simmons: 92
Union Baptist Church: 30

Gyms with Most Hours Defended:
In Loving Memory of Dorothy P. Simmons: 100
Transparent Horizon: 68
Kresge Auditorium: 63
The Alchemist: 57
This is Where We Live Work Create Mural: 42
Vine Wall Art at No 6: 37

Gyms with Most Berries Fed:
The Alchemist: 259
Transparent Horizon: 174
In Loving Memory of Dorothy P. Simmons: 63
Officer Sean Collier Memorial and Plaque: 62
Cosmic Ray Chandeliers: 45
Vine Wall Art At No 6: 35

Most Represented Pokémon by Total CP


Pokémon Caught by Type
(Parentheticals in this section show change from last update. For comparison, the XP change from the previous update is +25.0%, and the Pokémon caught change from the previous update is +18.5%.)
Normal: 10551 (+17.6%)
Flying: 7803 (+21.7%)
Poison: 2994 (+16.0%)
Bug: 2727 (+18.7%)
Water: 2078 (+19.0%)
Psychic: 1434 (+31.7%)
Fire: 406 (+23.0%)
Ground: 388 (+13.8%)
Electric: 370 (+18.2%)
Dark: 345 (+59.0%)
Fairy: 322 (+23.8%)
Grass: 278 (+19.3%)
Ghost: 262 (+15.4%)
Rock: 210 (+9.4%)
Steel: 178 (+11.9%)
Ice: 125 (+28.9%)
Fighting: 73 (+35.2%)
Dragon: 21 (+23.5%)

Continue reading “Pokémon Go: Stats Upon Level 36”


Being openminded means accepting all sorts of different people, of all sorts of different backgrounds, having all sorts of different tastes, with all sorts of different opinions.

Being openminded means being okay with people around oneself that disagree on a few major ideas, as long as the two agree on the most central and important points, and still working on them in the directions of what one does agree on.

Being openminded means having an enormous personal Overton window. No, not large. Enormous.

Being openminded means understanding rejecting a view after discussion is not narrowmindedness; prejudice on a view is.

Being openminded means not assuming, when one hears someone say something, that the reason they say that is because they have certain underlying beliefs, just because another person who says the same things happens to have those underlying beliefs.

Being openminded means “I wonder why they think that way.” comes before “That’s a ridiculous belief.”. It doesn’t mean “That’s a ridiculous belief.” never comes. It means it’s not the first thing.

Being openminded means acknowledging that a slight difference in two people’s fundamental principles could lead to drastically different conclusions, and entertaining the possibility that the cause of a vast difference in view could be a tiny nuance in ideas.

Being openminded means recognizing that over the course of history, a massive number of ideas considered unthinkable or insane at some point by some society eventually becomes a mainstream view.

Being openminded means recognizing that it can be socially detrimental or emotionally devastating to someone when they express unpopular views.

Being openminded means understanding that when a view is deemed unacceptable, it is extremely difficult to try to share and discuss such a view. Being openminded means understanding these forces could prevent discussion that could convince someone with a deemed-unacceptable view to consider otherwise.

Being openminded means acknowledging that the public centroid of opinion could be a very bad idea. Being openminded also means considering that someone at the centroid of opinion might not have arrived there via conventional means.

Being openminded means understanding that just because a view is popular globally does not mean it is hard to express within a certain community. Being openminded means recognizing that using the excuse that such a view is not in an oppressed state because of how many people globally have that view does not help, and may convince them that it’s just that much easier on themselves to go associate with the more welcoming global community instead, making them stronger and increasing polarization, itself increasing the difficulty of openminded discussion.

Being openminded means accepting that within the vast volumes of knowledge and facts about the world, it could certainly be the case that what one does not know could change one’s evaluation of an issue, and that someone that disagrees may be about to fill a vacancy in one’s knowledge.

Continue reading “Openmindedness”


My guess is that many of you find the current xkcd quite relevant.

For me, it is not only relevant, but it makes me aware of changes outside of what I have been able to perceive.

To be specific, I have only had a smartphone for 13 months. Since the beginning, my realization was that the cellular data network was generally more reliable than WiFi. So what I have been doing was to use the cellular data network to get better performance, and to use the WiFi chiefly so that I’m not using up my data. It did not occur to me until this xkcd that once it has been the case that the WiFi was more reliable.

It is yet another reminder of how one extrapolates beyond one’s involvement with something, and the rapidity of change.

I’m at MIT; What’s My Street Address?

Here’s a visual aid for street addresses of MIT buildings. It’s not exhaustive, particularly for buildings in the periphery (and, of course, buildings not even within this snippet).

Note that street address may be different from mailing address; this is unfortunate.


Some notes:

  • Buildings 3, 5, and 7 are respectively 33, 55, and 77 Massachusetts Ave.
  • Building 32 is 32 Vassar St.
  • The MIT Tunnel System spans buildings with addresses that span 6 different roads.
  • Sloan third-floor connections span buildings with addresses that span 4 different roads (and curiously, main campus third-floor connections also only span 4).
  • Building 8 is a main-group building with an Ames St. address.
  • Buildings 17 and 57 somehow have a street address to themselves despite not touching a road.
  • Westgate Apartments (Building W85 and lettered extensions) spans 3 different roads in street addresses.
  • Building W53 (Carr Tennis Facilities) is addressed to Memorial Dr. despite having Amherst St. between it and Memorial Dr.

The background map is OpenStreetMap.

Meta: Polling on Feedback

I’m going to take a moment here to ask you, the readers of zyxyvy, a few questions for purposes of feedback and consideration. Feel free to tell me your answers to these in any form, whether by comment to this post or via private message on any of the various chatting systems I am on. Focusing particularly on more recent posts helps. Thanks for your time and thoughts!

1) In terms of the point being made, are there posts you particularly liked? Particularly disliked? Which ones?

2) In terms of the way ideas were presented, are there posts you particularly liked? Particularly disliked? Which ones?

3a) To people who knew about me from this blog before knowing me in real life: how has knowing me in real life changed your perception of me; what aspects did you not expect from your understanding of me from this blog?

3b) To people who knew about me in real life before knowing me from this blog: how has viewing the material I publish here changed your perception of me; what aspects did you not expect from your understanding of me from real life?

4) Are there posts that have changed the way you think about or do something? Which ones? Was this a good or bad thing?

5) Are there certain topics you wish I discussed more on this blog?

6) Any other comments?

Tearing Acid

I had a friend who told me once
There was this book she knew.
It changed the way she saw the world
Once she had read it through.

That sounded great, and so I asked
If I could read it too.
She said that’s fine, but warned me that
“Just they could sell to you”.

“Who is this they?”, I asked, confused,
“‘Just they’, this they, just who?”
She shrugged, and said “all that I know’s
It’s cursed on reader two.

And so I bought a copy that
Would be my own to use.
I read the book; it touched my heart.
Each sentence I perused.

Such great a book, I thought to myself,
To share, I just must do.
Though I was warned, I lent my book
To someone else I knew.

Immediately upon the sense
Of fingers that were new,
The pages all to acid turned,
And words no longer true.

That books now came with “features” thus,
It blew my mind askew.
This book I bought was now a pile
Of shreds, I so now rue.

If only it were so allowed
I’d share this book with you,
But ’til we quench the acid threat,
To share it, I can’t do.

In two days is Day Against DRM. Find more about how Digital Rights Management helps make life more unreasonable at