2021 January 23
Last weekend I participated in the 2021 MIT MYSTery hunt on the team I’m not a planet either. During the hunt, I recorded the time each puzzle was unlocked by the team and then later solved, so I’ve decided to assemble some statistics on the team’s puzzle solving. Click on the graphs to make them full screen.
In these graphs I’ve specially separated out the puzzles that were in the Infinite Corridor round (except the Infinite Corridor meta itself). This round contained hundreds of thousands of randomly generated puzzles; solving the meta required only solving specifically chosen puzzles from the round, and there was no need to unlock or solve the others once you have figured out how the meta works. In darker colors the graphs show only the ordinary puzzles, while in lighter colors are shown all puzzles including the puzzles from the infinite corridor.
Red shows when puzzles were unlocked, and green shows when puzzles were solved. The large burst of puzzles from the infinite corridor were when the meta was being worked on. Surprisingly I don’t see a clear daily cycle in when puzzles were solved.
In total, the team unlocked 330 puzzles and solved 144; among finite puzzles, we unlocked 191 and solved 103. Below is every puzzle solved by the team, and how long they took to solve, with a resolution of about 1 minute.
Rule of Three was the fastest solved puzzle, as it was automatically solved at the same time as it was unlocked. I believe Puzzle 23 was solved immediately after unlocking it by redeeming a token earned in a different Cafe Five. While we never figured out how to solve Library of Images puzzles, we were able to backsolve several of them from information in the Infinite Corridor meta (which then allowed us to solve other Library of Images puzzles, whose answers were then used to solve the meta). As the pair working on Infinite Corridor Simulator puzzles got experienced with the necessary steps, they were ultimately able to solve them in less than three minutes each. While I’m not familiar with how ‘A Cheat Code’ was solved, it was presumably the puzzle solved from scratch in the fastest time.
|Rule of Three||⊥IW.giga||0s|
|Puzzle 23: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||0s|
|Puzzle 57: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||57s|
|Puzzle 359: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||59s|
|Puzzle 427: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||1m 3s|
|Puzzle 53: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||2m 3s|
|Puzzle 486: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||2m 6s|
|A Cheat Code||Athletics||4m 13s|
|At A Loss For Words||Students||9m 24s|
|Puzzle 254: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||11m 19s|
|Puzzle 73858: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||14m 57s|
|Puzzle 73848: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||16m 55s|
|⊥IWPE: Applied Sailing ⛵||Charles River||18m 43s|
|Crossed Out||Students||20m 27s|
|Puzzle 73838: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||21m 2s|
|Puzzle 73718: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||23m 12s|
|Doctor’s Orders||Students||31m 7s|
|Look at What We Drew||Students||32m 32s|
|Don’t Let Me Down||Yew Labs||39m 40s|
|That Sinking Feeling||Students||39m 44s|
|Common Knowledge||Yew Labs||42m 6s|
|Enter the Perpendicular Universe||Yew Labs||42m 58s|
|MIT Confessions||Yew Labs||43m 5s|
|Puzzle 83: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||44m 43s|
|Thank You to Our Sponsors||Students||45m 26s|
|Not Again!||Yew Labs||45m 54s|
|Stud Finder||Athletics||47m 29s|
|Can You Deliver 60 Eggs||Athletics||47m 32s|
|Yes or No||Yew Labs||50m 31s|
|For Better or For Worse||Yew Labs||55m 4s|
|Debate Quotes||Students||55m 14s|
|Let’s Get the Ball Rolling||Students||55m 40s|
|Better Bridges||Yew Labs||55m 42s|
|Escape! Hayden Library||Green Building||56m 8s|
|Unraveling the Mystery||Students||58m 56s|
|Lime Sand Season||Students||59m 7s|
|Who’s That Pokémon||Students||1h 0m|
|Magic Words||Students||1h 0m|
|Puzzle 75: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||1h 1m|
|The Lobster Network||Charles River||1h 4m|
|Just Index||Yew Labs||1h 5m|
|Plus or Minus||Students||1h 7m|
|Attack of the Lobsters||Charles River||1h 12m|
|Puzzle 167: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 18m|
|Puzzle 10: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||1h 19m|
|Puzzle 172: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 22m|
|Puzzle 28: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||1h 23m|
|Untitled Goose Goals||Athletics||1h 26m|
|Got Milk||Students||1h 27m|
|The Game||Students||1h 31m|
|Puzzle 176: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 32m|
|Puzzle 182: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 36m|
|Unmasked||Yew Labs||1h 37m|
|✏️✉️➡️3️⃣5️⃣1️⃣➖6️⃣6️⃣6️⃣➖6️⃣6️⃣5️⃣5️⃣||Yew Labs||1h 40m|
|Puzzle 186: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 40m|
|Beverage Blunders||Students||1h 42m|
|Questionable Answers||⊥IW.giga||1h 42m|
|Puzzle 191: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 43m|
|Stay Hydrated||Students||1h 46m|
|Puzzle 255: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||1h 49m|
|Puzzle 196: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 49m|
|Puzzle 202: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 52m|
|So You Think You Can Count||Athletics||1h 55m|
|Puzzle 208: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 55m|
|An American in Paris||Green Building||1h 55m|
|Puzzle 213: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||1h 58m|
|Boggle Battle||Athletics||2h 6m|
|Puzzle 275: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||2h 15m|
|Express Yourself||Students||2h 27m|
|Back School To||Yew Labs||2h 28m|
|Zip it Mr. Resetti!||Athletics||2h 35m|
|Building Hacks||Athletics||2h 36m|
|Hey Can You Give Me A Hand With This Puzzle||Yew Labs||2h 53m|
|Bad Air Day||Green Building||3h 23m|
|Puzzle 46: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||3h 27m|
|Violet Coins In Space||Athletics||3h 38m|
|Title of the Puzzle||Tunnels||3h 40m|
|Green Tee||Green Building||3h 52m|
|Successively More Abundant in Verbiage||Green Building||4h 2m|
|The Lexicographer Looks After His Own||Students||4h 8m|
|Puzzle 78: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||4h 15m|
|Puzzle 88: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||4h 17m|
|Bake Off||Athletics||4h 23m|
|X Marks the Spot||Athletics||4h 30m|
|Musical Theatre Guild||Students||4h 45m|
|⊥IWPE: Sailing (Event 1)||Charles River||5h 36m|
|People Wear Clothes||Students||5h 36m|
|Puzzle 6: Make Your Own Word Search||Infinite Corridor||5h 57m|
|Puzzle 19: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||6h 7m|
|Help I’m Trapped in a Computer||Athletics||6h 31m|
|Squee Squee||Athletics||6h 46m|
|Fish Hybridization||Students||7h 2m|
|For Your Eyes Only||Tunnels||7h 46m|
|Puzzle 1: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||7h 50m|
|Cryptic Transmission||Students||7h 55m|
|Puzzle 12: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||8h 40m|
|When All is Lost||⊥IW.giga||9h 13m|
|Circular Reasoning||⊥IW.giga||9h 48m|
|Tic Tac Toe||Students||10h 26m|
|Puzzle 37: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||10h 41m|
|You Will Explode If You Stop Talking||Athletics||11h 27m|
|MIT/⊥IW Experimental Evidence||Athletics||11h 48m|
|Hockfield Court||Yew Labs||12h 10m|
|Puzzle 32: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||12h 10m|
|Puzzle 42: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||14h 17m|
|Heart of the Cards||Students||14h 40m|
|Illiterate Programming||Students||15h 47m|
|Catch and Release||Athletics||15h 52m|
|World Fisherman||Athletics||16h 27m|
|⊥IWPE: Archery (Event 2) 🏹||Charles River||17h 35m|
|Love at 150 km/h||Green Building||19h 38m|
|The Emperor’s New Kitchen||Stata Center||20h 58m|
|Water Bottle||⊥IW.giga||21h 50m|
|Puzzle 5: Infinite Corridor Simulator||Infinite Corridor||22h 34m|
|Infinite Corridor||Infinite Corridor||23h 29m|
|⊥IWPE: Fencing (Event 3) ⚔️||Charles River||27h 21m|
|Sketchy Site||Students||29h 16m|
|MacGregor House||Students||29h 19m|
|Divided is Us||Athletics||30h 5m|
|EAsT camPUS||Students||31h 3m|
|⊥IWPE: Pistol (Event 4) 🔫||Charles River||32h 33m|
|Puzzle 2: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||36h 41m|
|Puzzle 4: Library of Images||Infinite Corridor||37h 48m|
|Button Press||Athletics||38h 0m|
|Nutrition Facts||Students||38h 35m|
|Voltage-Controlled||Green Building||43h 55m|
|Puzzle 65547: Cafe Five||Infinite Corridor||44h 46m|
At the long end, there are several events and metas which are naturally unlocked much before they can be worked on. ‘Voltage-Controlled’ was a greatly intimidating puzzle which a few people worked on occasionally for most of the hunt. ‘Water Bottle’ was a much anticipated puzzle in which we inadvertently broke the automated system, leaving the puzzle unsolvable without the organizers’ help.
As always, I greatly enjoyed mystery hunt this year (and needed a few days to get enough sleep to fully recover) and hope those who also participated found something to recollect from the weekend in the above!
2021 January 21
The City of Washington was founded by US Congress on 1790 July 16, making it the first national capital created by an act of legislation. Construction of the city began in 1793, with the seat of government transferred in 1800 as most of the public buildings were sufficiently complete to be usable, although the city was described as “raw and unfinished” by president John Adams. In 1801 Congress passed an act formally organizing the District of Columbia, whose territory included Georgetown and the City of Washington, and placing it under control of Congress, thus depriving its residents of federal representation. Georgetown and the City of Washington were dissolved in 1871. DC would continue to be deprived the right to elect its own municipal government until 1973, and even today Congress still has the authority to block municipal legislation. Until 2008, the municipal government of DC was prohibited by Congress from making any expenditures related to seeking representation. DC joined the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization in 2015. Today the US is the only democracy whose capital lacks representation in the legislature.
The issue of statehood for DC is a simple question of whether DC residents should have equal rights as American citizens, or be relegated to second-class status.
At the time of DC’s founding, the future of the capital and of the country was uncertain, and the temporary loss of equal rights for a handful of residents – many of whom were elite members of the federal government – was less pressing than the wholesale creation of an administrative apparatus from scratch. Now, 200 years later, “temporary” has gone on long enough. In the intervening centuries the right of suffrage has been recognized for non-landholders, for black Americans, and for women. It is long overdue that the last few gaps in suffrage be remedied. Furthermore, it cannot escape notice that these remaining gaps disproportionately affect black Americans: in fact, DC has more black residents than 20 states.
DC has grown enormously to become not just an administrative headquarters but a large and culturally-significant city in itself, and a representative for American culture as a whole; four of the six most-visited museums in the US are in DC. DC should be the pride of the US and a symbol of American democracy, not a glaring failure to recognize equal rights.
Progress towards equality for DC residents has been slow and hard-fought. A major milestone was reached with the bipartisan passage of the 23rd amendment in 1961, which extended to DC the right to send electors to the electoral college (but not “more than the least populous State”). However, residents in DC continued to have no representation in the Senate, the House and in the process of amending the constitution. What possible justification is there for the idea that DC residents have the right to be represented in the executive branch, but not in the legislative? Where in the constitution, outside of the 23rd amendment, can be found support for US citizens having such an arbitrary subset of rights, when it so plainly guarantees equal rights before the law for all?
The lack of recognition of the right to vote is not the only inequality facing DC; DC continues to lack home rule, the authority to govern itself. In 1973, Congress finally granted DC residents permission to elect their municipal government; previously, the officials were directly appointed by Congress. In 1975 DC would elect Walter Washington as mayor, one of the first black mayors in the US. However, DC judges are still appointed directly by the president, and DC legislation must be approved by Congress before becoming law. This congressional review continues to hamstring DC governance: in recent decades, it has removed protections for gay citizens, measurably increased the spread of HIV (by perhaps 5000 cases; at the time, DC had the highest rate of HIV infection of any US city) by delaying a clean needle program for 8 years, denied access to abortion, and blocked marijuana legalization. Bills that would end progressive DC programs are regularly introduced into Congress. DC’s secondary status has hampered its covid response and access to covid relief funds. Restrictions on abortion access remain in effect today.
Rather than continuing to piecemeal restore rights to DC residents one at a time through a patchwork of legislation, resulting in a separate-but-equal doctrine echoing segregation and civil unions, there is a simple and logical way to achieve equality: statehood for DC.
Restoring the constitutionally guaranteed rights to a people is always an urgent matter! The best time to restore justice is yesteryear, the second best time is now.
However it doesn’t evade our attention that the present political environment makes DC statehood an especially salient matter. With multiple members of the House and Senate openly supporting fascist extremists, control of the Congress balances on the very edge of democracy. Voters, many with desperate financial needs, are depending on the Biden administration to deliver enormously on its promises in the next two years. But restoration of the civil service is a task that will take decades, and is just one step in undoing the legacy of the last four years and beginning to advance towards a more progressive society. Sadly we don’t have decades; we may only have two years, with every step forwards held hostage to a single defection within the Democratic caucus. DC statehood is necessary itself to right a prolonged wrong, but is also the greatest enabler for every other step towards justice we seek at the federal level.
Among the many urgent issues facing this incoming Congress, few are more pressing than climate change. Effective, large-scale action to address climate change is already many decades too late; the human and economic cost of another two year delay at this stage is inconceivable. Unfortunately some members of the senate Democratic caucus have their interests deeply tied to coal and will not support any action – not to mention the many senators attached to the petroleum industry. It is hard to imagine any action on climate change in the next two years with the present balance of the Senate.
While the more progressive members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate have been the most vocal in supporting DC statehood, it is the senators in less liberal states who stand to gain the most! Rather than having their vote needed for every act of progressive legislation, they will be at liberty to vote against the most contentious legislation and not endanger their seat. The sooner DC gains statehood, the sooner they benefit.
President Biden stated in 2015 that he had supported DC statehood for 20 years.
President Obama, 2014 July 21:
Folks in DC pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be treated like everybody else.
President Bill Clinton, 1992:
The failure to grant statehood to the men and women of the District of Columbia undercuts America’s greatest promise – that the power flows from the people and not the other way around.
Senator Hillary Clinton, 2016 May 11: (secondary reporting)
…enfranchisement isn’t solely a matter of individual rights. In the case of our nation’s capital, we have an entire populace that is routinely denied a voice in its own democracy. Washington, D.C., is home to nearly 700,000 Americans – more than the entire population of several states. Washingtonians serve in the military, serve on juries and pay taxes just like everyone else. And yet they don’t even have a vote in Congress.
In 2019 Senator Sanders and 41 Democratic senators cosponsored S.631, which would grant statehood to DC. In 1993 he spoke on the congressional floor:
How could I in good conscience say that it is appropriate for Vermont to have two seats in the Senate, which we do, to have a congressman who can vote on all of the issues, which we do, to have a governor and a state legislature which deals with all of the problems facing our people, which we do, and then say that the people of the District of Columbia, with a population larger than Vermont’s and larger than some other states should not be able to enjoy the same rights. […] This debate is about one thing and one thing alone, and that is whether the people of Washington DC are entitled to be full citizens of this country or whether they are not entitled to be full citizens.
In 1999, the American Bar Association, representing more than 400000 lawyers, passed a resolution
that citizens of the District of Columbia shall no longer be denied the fundamental right belonging to other American citizens to vote for voting members of the Congress which governs them.
In 2006 the ABA submitted a statement to Congress fully supporting restoration of voting rights to DC on the basis of the 5th amendment:
It falls to this Congress to restore the voting rights lost by a previous Congress’ omission more than 200 years ago. Not only is there a moral obligation for Congress to restore such rights, there is also a constitutional obligation for Congress to ensure the right of D.C. residents to the equal protection of the laws. […] Under Fourteenth Amendment standards, if a State legislature were to deny to residents of the state’s capital city the right to vote for members of the Legislature, it would be depriving those residents of the equal protection of the laws which is guaranteed to them by the Fourteenth Amendment. Similarly, Congress’ elimination of D.C. residents’ voting representation in the Congress by its adoption of the Organic Act of 1801, may be seen in retrospect as having deprived D.C. residents of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment due process clause.
In 2020, all 26 Democratic candidates for president interviewed by the Washington Post supported statehood for DC.
On 2020 June 26, legislation admitting DC to the US as a state passed the House with 232 votes in favor.
In a 2020 June poll, 48% of registered voters stated they supported DC statehood.
Addendum. While I was writing this, I was informed that terrorists had placed bombs in DC and invaded the capitol building in an attempted coup of the US government. At this time it appears that the security of DC was deliberately undermined by Trump, who had direct authority over the DC national guard, unlike in any state. The very delayed order to activate the DC national guard was given by Pence, not Trump. As a longer form of sabotage, several members of Congress, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jim Jordan, have introduced failed legislation that would remove DC gun laws. Were DC a state or had it had home rule, DC would have had the authority to adequately protect the capitol from armed insurrection.
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