States by Area of Non-Federal Land

Computed from numbers here. Area is in km². The second parenthetical is the change in ranking from total land area.

01. Texas (668633)
02. Alaska (573365)
03. Montana (268182)
04. California (219919)
05. Kansas (211403)
06. New Mexico (205524)
07. Nebraska (196216)
08. Minnesota (193097)
09. South Dakota (187128)
10. Arizona (180590)
11. Oklahoma (175582)
12. North Dakota (172869)
13. Colorado (172461)
14. Missouri (172453)
15. Georgia (144966)
16. Iowa (144631)
17. Illinois (143196)
18. Wisconsin (134432)
19. Michigan (132978)
20. Wyoming (130837)
21. Alabama (128832)
22. New York (123741)
23. Washington (123502)
24. Arkansas (123220)
25. Florida (121899)
26. Oregon (117299)
27. North Carolina (117254)
28. Mississippi (116051)
29. Pennsylvania (114072)
30. Louisiana (111461)
31. Ohio (104882)
32. Tennessee (103013)
33. Kentucky (98819)
34. Virginia (93006)
35. Indiana (92165)
36. Idaho (82199)
37. Maine (79468)
38. South Carolina (74980)
39. Utah (74844)
40. West Virginia (57778)
41. Nevada (42828)
42. Maryland (24773)
43. Vermont (22145)
44. Massachusetts (20125)
45. New Hampshire (20114)
46. New Jersey (18754)
47. Hawaii (13294)
48. Connecticut (12653)
49. Delaware (5002)
50. Rhode Island (2719)

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Another Only Connect Game

I wrote another Only Connect that I presented on Floor Pi. This one was really close, where the two teams had scores of 23 and 22, decided by the last item.

MIT context is not necessary for any items in the first two rounds.

Round 1: Connections
Canada | Yosemite | United Arab Emirates | aboriginal
Answer: Consonants and Vowels Alternate
[was an audio question]
Mahler’s Fifth Symphony | Rachmaninoff’s Op. 3 No. 2 Prelude | Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu | Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata
Answer: Classical Music in C-Sharp Minor
Frederick Sanger | Marie Curie | Linus Pauling | Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Answer: Multiple-Time Recipients of the Nobel Prize
Saxony | Denmark | Brandenburg | France
Answer: Switched Sides in the Thirty-Years War
fur | abjurer | vex | tang
Answer: English Words that rot13 to Other English Words

Round 2: Sequences
Suffolk | New York | Queens | Kings
Answer: Highest-Population Counties in New York
635318657 | 1729 | 50 | 4
Answer: Smallest Number that can be Written as the Sum of Two nth Powers of Positive Integers Two Distinct Ways
te | mind | birdplane | star
Answer: Last Words of Last Versus of the Four Chord Song
Zulu | Sesotho | Afrikaans | English
Answer: Languages of Consecutive Sections of South Africa’s National Anthem
Poseidon | Ouranos | Cronus | Zeus
Answer: Planets by Greek Equivalents of Roman Gods
Tunisia | Egypt | Libya | Yemen
Answer: Countries whose Governments were Overthrown in the Arab Spring, in Chronological Order

Round 3: Connecting Wall
Third
Fourth
North
Red
Black
Ha-ha
Bryce
Street
Fifth
Copley
Fulkerson
Kings
Maverick
Sciarappa
Grand
Dewey
Answers:
Wall
Canyon National Parks of the USA
Squares in Boston
North-South Streets in East Cambridge

Angola
Angora
Female
Elmo
Horatio
Icosium
Edgar
Loohooloo
Oea
Edo
Mercury
Benvolio
Guenette
Lucius
Read That
Spike Lesson

Answers:
Characters in Shakesperean Plays that Survived to the End Despite Many Characters Dying
Country Capitals, Back in the Day
Art Installations on MIT’s Campus
Avengers (Female: Iron Man, Mercury: Quicksilver, Read That: Scarlet Witch, Spike Lesson: Thor)

Round 4: Missing Vowels
Unfortunately Named Concepts in Mathematics
KLLNGFLD
CXRNG
TTSGRP
HMCDLCHFRPRBLM
Answers: Killing Field, Cox Ring, Tits Group, Homicidal Chauffeur Problem
Musical Modes
LDN
NN
LN
RBN
Answers: Lydian, Ionian, Aeolian, Arabian
Meta
PZZLHNT
DCHLRBNZN
VNTHSCRNM
NLCNNCT
Answers: Puzzle Hunt, 1,3-dichlorobenzene, Even this acronym, Only Connect
Georgia
TLNT
STHSST
THSTH
SNDWCHSLNDS
Answers: Atlanta, South Ossetia, The South, Sandwich Islands
Categories in Floor Pi Only Connects
MMRBLLRCS
PHSSFMTSS
CTGRSNFLRPNLCNNCTS
SPLRS
Answers: Memorable Lyrics, Phases of Mitosis, Categories in Floor Pi Only Connects, Spoilers
Induction
BSCS
STMCLLS
HLLFFM
DCKTB
Answers: Base Case, Stem Cells, Hall of Fame, Duck Tibia
Spoilers
JHNDSTTHND
THMSWNTHMWR
THLSTCTGRSSTTS
MCRRGNSMS
Answers: John Dies at the End, The Emus Win the Emu War, The Last Category is “States”, Microorganisms
States
DNL
PRCLMS
BSNSTNCNDNST
GRG
Answers: Denial, Proclaims, Bose-Einstein Condensate, Georgia

An Only Connect Game

I wrote a game of Only Connect which I hosted for Floor Pi this past night. Here’s the items in the Only Connect game. If you’re not familiar with Only Connect, you could read up how the four rounds work here.

Several of these hints depend on an MIT context.

Clues beyond the first clue (for the first two rounds) and answers are in white text. Highlight to see.

Yeah, I know, this presentation leaks some meta-information beforehand. Deal with it.

Round 1: Connections
decay | less | gloss | wuss
Answer: Words that Become Cities when Said before ‘ter’
50 | 19 | 26 | 82
Answer: Atomic Numbers of Elements whose Symbols are Unrelated to their English Names
50 | 12 | 27 | 5
Answer: Numbers of Stars on Some Country’s Flag
50 | 64 | 51 | 32
Answer: MIT Buildings Not Usually Referred to by their Building Numbers
51 | 1001 | 501 | 11
Answer: Numbers whose Roman Numerals are also Valid Chinese Names
we | seem | sea | yeah
Answer: English Words that Sound like ‘Yes’ in Other European Languages

Round 2: Sequences
x | r | q | j
Answer: English Consonants that Don’t Typically Make the Sounds Represented by Them in IPA
f3 | e5 | g4 | Qh4#
Answer: Fool’s Mate
Rhode Island | Alaska | New York | Hawaii
Answer: US States with Highest Proportions of Population Living on Islands
θ | ζ | ε | β
Answer: Greek Letters that Contain Other Greek Letters in their English Names
123 | 101 | 250 | 100
Answer: Room Numbers of Largest Lecture Halls at MIT
50 | 2 | 2 | 1
Answer: Panels of Loss Meme Interpreted as Roman Numerals

Round 3: Connecting Wall
Triple Alliance
Ranch
Spanish Succession
Roses
Star Market
Kanye
Cosi
Evanston
Yellowknife
Woolsey
Ferguson
Monsoon
River
Passage
Harvest
Pacific
Answers:
War of the ______
2018 Major California Wildfires
Recently Closed Stores in Cambridge, MA
Northwest

Missouri
Connecticut
Surya
Prospect
Mountain
Arkansas
Eastern
Massachusetts
Ohio
Pavilion
Western
Central
River
Passage
Harvest
Pacific
Answers:
Major US Rivers
Indian Restaurants in Cambridge, MA
Streets that Intersect in Central Square
US Time Zones

Round 4: Missing Vowels
Amino Acids
PHNLLNN
SPRGN
TRPTPHN
PRRLSN
Answers: Phenylalanine, Asparagine, Tryptophan, Pyrrolysine
[redacted category]
Numbers that have Appeared So Far in this OnlyConnect
LVN
SXTFR
GHTTW
NHNDRDNDTWNTTHR
Answers: Eleven, Sixty-Four, Eighty-Two, One Hundred and Twenty-Three
MIT Student Groups
LCTRSRSCMMTT
THTCH
HMS
SSCTNFSTDNTCTVTS
Answers: Lecture Series Committee, The Tech, Ohms, Association of Student Activities
Canals
SZ
PNM
R
RT
Answers: Suez, Panama, Erie, Root
Roman Numerals of Prime Numbers
L
XXXV
CXXV
CXCX
Answers: LIII, XXXVII, CXXVII, CXCIX

History

I have a gradually strengthening opinion that the best indicator that someone has absorbed the most important lessons of history is a great reduction of the frequency of asking “How could these people have been so stupid?” History is most learned when one grasps the conditions, forces, and influences that cause people and groups of people to take actions and support causes and leaders they have come to evaluate as reasonable that to one’s local context appears ridiculous. The recognition of these patterns during one’s life is history’s most valuable takeaway.

Three Razors for Efficient Filler and Bullshit Removal

“We have robust networks of strategic assets that we own or have contractual access to, which give us greater flexibility and speed to reliably deliver widespread logistical solutions.” —Enron Annual Report a year before Enron filed for bankruptcy

A lot of people say a lot of words. Unfortunately, many people are often not conveying any substance through those words, often due to failure in communication, but sometimes on purpose, where the only reason for those words are to convince the audience of an elevated status of professionalism, morality, or other desirable trait, or to cherry-pick parts of an event to interpret in a desired light. Following is a means to filter speech to cut to actual substance in statements. In the extreme case, applying them will reveal that someone is saying nothing at all, merely flapping their lips.

When someone makes a statement for which a peer would just not voluntarily claim the opposite, no statement was actually made.

All such a person has said is what people knew someone in that position would’ve said in regards to the issue anyway.

When people make political or motivational speeches, they say many things for which they would take a certain side regardless what they actually thought; if they said that it would ruin their career or their standing, or work against their purpose. When this happens, you can’t tell whether they’re saying the such because they genuinely believe it or because they’re saying it to protect their position. The more unokay or outlandish the opposite statement is considered, the more indistinguishable the motivation for the statement is, and correspondingly the less predictable what action a person would really take or encourage is when it comes their turn to interact with the subject at hand with actions instead of words.

Here are some examples of this sort of empty statement:

We seek to carry out this operation with minimal collateral damage.

Follow your dreams; follow your passion.

We are aiming for the state of the art in technological infrastructure.

The government has no right to disallow a woman from having an abortion. (when said by a Democratic US politician)

The government has no right to require background checks on gun sales. (when said by a Republican US politician)

Note that the last two statements would not at all be empty statements if said by Republican and Democratic politicians, respectively; it would probably significantly hurt their political careers as a member of their party to claim the opposite. Thus if they did in fact make the opposite statement, then they are making a significant statement, as they apparently think the risk to their career is worth making the statement (ditto if rather than them making the opposite statement, it’s someone from across the aisle making the original statement).

The second statement among the five examples is empty contingent on the fact that the currently predominant advice to preach is to follow one’s dreams and passions. (And thus, “don’t follow your passion” is a substantial statement, and has been the core idea of several opinion articles one could find in the press.) If over time the voices of society shift such that the standard is to tell people to not follow their dreams and passions, then which statement is the empty statement could change.

In the previous US democratic presidential primary debates, when Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley endorsed a $15/hour minimum wage, but Hillary Clinton explicitly endorsed a $12/hour minimum wage in contrast to Sanders and O’Malley, Clinton was arguably making a larger statement than Sanders and O’Malley. She gave the number that is not the number most commonly heard chanted by the democratic crowd, and in doing so, she is hinting towards having reason to believe a $15/hour minimum wage is not a sound choice for the country.

Elsewhere in those debates, when Sanders claimed a differing opinion from Clinton regarding the acceptability of Henry Kissinger’s choices, Sanders was making a substantial statement, and if Clinton proceeded to defend her endorsement of Kissinger’s ideas, she would’ve also been making a substantial statement, since the goodness of Kissinger’s legacy is still a matter with substantial backing of both sides.

One doesn’t need to be able to back up one’s statement upon claiming what the crowd utters. One likely will need to when they claim against the crowd. (Or at least, they’ll need to be bluffing on an ability to back up their statement. See: conspiracy theories.)

Some people and organizations only ever say non-statements, or get quite close to that. When they do, it is important to remember that even though they may sound nice and sophisticated, you really have learned nothing about them, and you actually have no idea what they really do, so you should stay away from them.

It’s important to remember that even though pathological spewers of non-statements are usually at least in part at fault for wasting others’ time and attention, there is a substantial contribution of societal norm. An uptick in empty statements reflects a significant monolithification of society, and that people are making fewer bold claims because too much of society supports a certain idea, which usually means a substantial amount of society is providing support without awareness of the true background on context of an idea.

Here’s two similar razors with which to consider proclamations:

Someone who consistently reports on an entity taking an action and consistently does not report on that entity taking the opposite action prioritizes depicting the entity in a certain light over conveying the facts.

If the same claim would have been made regardless of the outcome of an event, there was no point in associating the claim with the event, and the real reason the claim was made was the likely effect of the association in the mind of the reader.