Spot the Fake News: Students Call For USC Professor To Be Fired

USC Seal

A professor at the University of Southern California has come under fire after sending a reply-all email last week to the student body stating “accusers sometimes lie.”

“If the day comes you are accused of some crime or tort of which you are not guilty, and you find your peers automatically believing your accuser, I expect you find yourself a stronger proponent of due process than you are now,” Professor James Moore wrote in the email. “Accusers sometimes lie.”

Nearly 100 students reportedly attended a rally called “Times Up for James Moore” on Monday in protest of Moore — who is tenured — demanding that he be fired.

Nearly 100 students! Not mentioned: USC has 44,000 students.

A more accurate way to frame this would be “Out of 44,000 USC students, 43,900 understand that a person whose political views are not a mirror image of their own can still be allowed to hold a job.”

In the Fake News Taxonomy, this falls under Misleading Content, i.e., misleading use of information to frame an issue/individual.


EppsNet at the Movies: A Star is Born

OK, actually I haven’t seen A Star is Born and here’s why:

  1. When I go to the movies, I like to see something I’ve never seen before. I don’t care for sequels, prequels, reboots, spinoffs, adaptations of TV shows, video games, comic books or other movies.
  2. I don’t like love stories. I find them unrealistic. I read a lot and the books and authors I like mostly exclude the possibility of true love.
  3. What is worse than when you want to see a movie and someone spoils it by telling you how it ends? If you’re remaking A Star is Born for the fifth time, everyone already knows how it ends. You’ve spoiled your own movie.

A Star Is Born

A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.

Director: Bradley Cooper
Cast: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott, Andrew Dice Clay

IMDb rating: 8.2 (94039 votes)

To Make the Accusation is to Prove It. To Hear the Allegation is to Believe It.

Simply to make the accusation is to prove it. To hear the allegation is to believe it. No motive for the perpetrator is necessary, no logic or rationale is required. Only a label is required. The label is the motive. The label is the evidence. The label is the logic. Why did Coleman Silk do this? Because he is an x, because he is a y, because he is both. First a racist and now a misogynist. It is too late in the century to call him a Communist, though that is the way it used to be done. . . . That explains everything.

— Philip Roth, The Human Stain

Brain Eating Amoebae: Another Reason I Prefer to Just Stay Home

New Jersey Man Who Died Of ‘Brain Eating Amoeba’ Recently Visited Texas Surf ResortCBS Philly

They Submitted Fake Papers to Peer-Reviewed Journals — Here’s What Happened Next

Three writers produced 20 intentionally outlandish academic papers and submitted them to the best peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as “cultural studies” or “identity studies” (for example, gender studies) or “critical theory.” Seven of the papers were accepted for publication and seven more were still under review when the authors elected to end the experiment.

Their point would seem to be that scholarship in these fields is based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances. Just about anything can be published, so long as it falls within the moral orthodoxy and demonstrates an understanding of the existing literature.

The authors summarize their methodology as follows. (I’ve inserted the material in brackets from elsewhere in the article, which you should look at in its entirety because there’s too much good stuff to summarize.)

What if we write a paper saying we should train men like we do dogs—to prevent rape culture? Hence came the “Dog Park” paper [titled “Human reactions to rape culture and queer performativity at urban dog parks in Portland, Oregon”]. What if we write a paper claiming that when a guy privately masturbates while thinking about a woman (without her consent—in fact, without her ever finding out about it) that he’s committing sexual violence against her? That gave us the “Masturbation” paper. [Sample reviewer comment: “For example, the ambiguous statement ‘I think about you all the time’ said unprompted to a woman by a man is particularly insidious given the structural context of metasexual violence in the world.”] What if we argue that the reason superintelligent AI is potentially dangerous is because it is being programmed to be masculinist and imperialist using Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Lacanian psychoanalysis? That’s our “Feminist AI” paper [Purpose: To see if journals will publish dense and incoherent psychoanalytic and postmodern theory that problematizes whiteness, maleness, science, and reason as oppressive.]. What if we argued that “a fat body is a legitimately built body” as a foundation for introducing a category for fat bodybuilding into the sport of professional bodybuilding? [Purpose: To see if journals will accept arguments which are ludicrous and positively dangerous to health if they support cultural constructivist arguments around body positivity and fatphobia.] You can read how that went in Fat Studies.

At other times, we scoured the existing grievance studies literature to see where it was already going awry and then tried to magnify those problems. Feminist glaciology? Okay, we’ll copy it and write a feminist astronomy paper that argues feminist and queer astrology should be considered part of the science of astronomy, which we’ll brand as intrinsically sexist. Reviewers were very enthusiastic about that idea. Using a method like thematic analysis to spin favored interpretations of data? Fine, we wrote a paper about trans people in the workplace that does just that. Men use “male preserves” to enact dying “macho” masculinities discourses in a way society at large won’t accept? No problem. We published a paper best summarized as, “A gender scholar goes to Hooters to try to figure out why it exists.” “Defamiliarizing” common experiences, pretending to be mystified by them and then looking for social constructions to explain them? Sure, our “Dildos” paper did that to answer the questions, “Why don’t straight men tend to masturbate via anal penetration, and what might happen if they did?” Hint: according to our paper in Sexuality and Culture, a leading sexualities journal, they will be less transphobic and more feminist as a result.

We used other methods too, like, “I wonder if that ‘progressive stack’ in the news could be written into a paper that says white males in college shouldn’t be allowed to speak in class (or have their emails answered by the instructor), and, for good measure, be asked to sit on the floor in chains so they can ‘experience reparations.’” That was our “Progressive Stack” paper. The answer seems to be yes, and feminist philosophy titan Hypatia has been surprisingly warm to it. Another tough one for us was, “I wonder if they’d publish a feminist rewrite of a chapter from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.” [Purpose: To see if we could find “theory” to make anything grievance-related (in this case, part of Chapter 12 of Volume 1 of Mein Kampf with fashionable buzzwords switched in) acceptable to journals if we mixed and matched fashionable arguments.] The answer to that question also turns out to be “yes,” given that the feminist social work journal Affilia has just accepted it.

The authors are Peter Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University, James Lindsay, a writer on atheism, and Helen Pluckrose, a writer who edits the online magazine Areo.

Internal Dialogue While Driving to Work

This car is a mess. I’ve been meaning to get it washed for weeks and I never do. What is wrong with me? I’m just drifting aimlessly through life.

(It starts to rain.)

I am a genius.

Competitive Programming: SPOJ – The Bulk!

ACM uses a new special technology of building its transceiver stations. This technology is called Modular Cuboid Architecture (MCA) and is covered by a patent of Lego company. All parts of the transceiver are shipped in unit blocks that have the form of cubes of exactly the same size. The cubes can be then connected to each other. The MCA is modular architecture, that means we can select preferred transceiver configuration and buy only those components we need .

The cubes must be always connected “face-to-face”, i.e. the whole side of one cube is connected to the whole side of another cube. One cube can be thus connected to at most six other units. The resulting equipment, consisting of unit cubes is called The Bulk in the communication technology slang.

Sometimes, an old and unneeded bulk is condemned, put into a storage place, and replaced with a new one. It was recently found that ACM has many of such old bulks that just occupy space and are no longer needed. The director has decided that all such bulks must be disassembled to single pieces to save some space. Unfortunately, there is no documentation for the old bulks and nobody knows the exact number of pieces that form them. You are to write a computer program that takes the bulk description and computes the number of unit cubes.

Each bulk is described by its faces (sides). A special X-ray based machine was constructed that is able to localise all faces of the bulk in the space, even the inner faces, because the bulk can be partially hollow (it can contain empty spaces inside). But any bulk must be connected (i.e. it cannot drop into two pieces) and composed of whole unit cubes.


There is a single positive integer T on the first line of input (equal to about 1000). It stands for the number of bulks to follow. Each bulk description begins with a line containing single positive integer F, 6 <= F <= 250, stating the number of faces. Then there are F lines, each containing one face description. All faces of the bulk are always listed, in any order. Any face may be divided into several distinct parts and described like if it was more faces. Faces do not overlap. Every face has one inner side and one outer side. No side can be “partially inner and partially outer”.

Each face is described on a single line. The line begins with an integer number P stating the number of points that determine the face, 4 <= P <= 200. Then there are 3 x P numbers, coordinates of the points. Each point is described by three coordinates X,Y,Z (0 <= X,Y,Z <= 1000) separated by spaces. The points are separated from each other and from the number P by two space characters. These additional spaces were added to make the input more human readable. The face can be constructed by connecting the points in the specified order, plus connecting the last point with the first one.

The face is always composed of “unit squares”, that means every edge runs either in XY or Z-axis direction. If we take any two neighbouring points X1,Y1,Z1 and X2,Y2,Z2, then the points will always differ in exactly one of the three coordinates. I.e. it is either X1 <> X2, or Y1 <> Y2, or Z1 <> Z2, other two coordinates are the same. Every face lies in an orthogonal plane, i.e. exactly one coordinate is always the same for all points of the face. The face outline will never touch nor cross itself.


Your program must print a single line for every test case. The line must contain the sentence The bulk is composed of V units., where V is the volume of the bulk.


Sample Input:

4  10 10 10  10 10 20  10 20 20  10 20 10
4  20 10 10  20 10 20  20 20 20  20 20 10
4  10 10 10  10 10 20  20 10 20  20 10 10
4  10 20 10  10 20 20  20 20 20  20 20 10
4  10 10 10  10 20 10  20 20 10  20 10 10
5  10 10 20  10 20 20  20 20 20  20 15 20  20 10 20
4  14 14 14  14 14 16  14 16 16  14 16 14
4  16 14 14  16 14 16  16 16 16  16 16 14
4  14 14 14  14 14 16  16 14 16  16 14 14
4  14 16 14  14 16 16  16 16 16  16 16 14
4  14 14 14  14 16 14  16 16 14  16 14 14
4  14 14 16  14 16 16  16 16 16  16 14 16
4  20 20 30  20 30 30  30 30 30  30 20 30
4  10 10 10  10 40 10  40 40 10  40 10 10
6  10 10 20  20 10 20  20 30 20  30 30 20  30 40 20  10 40 20
6  20 10 20  20 20 20  30 20 20  30 40 20  40 40 20  40 10 20
4  10 10 10  40 10 10  40 10 20  10 10 20
4  10 40 10  40 40 10  40 40 20  10 40 20
4  20 20 20  30 20 20  30 20 30  20 20 30
4  20 30 20  30 30 20  30 30 30  20 30 30
4  10 10 10  10 40 10  10 40 20  10 10 20
4  40 10 10  40 40 10  40 40 20  40 10 20
4  20 20 20  20 30 20  20 30 30  20 20 30
4  30 20 20  30 30 20  30 30 30  30 20 30

Sample Output:

The bulk is composed of 992 units.
The bulk is composed of 10000 units.

Warning: large Input/Output data, be careful with certain languages

Link to problem

Solution below . . .

Read more

The Myth of Hercules: 12 Labors in 8 Bits

Sports Media Questions That Could be Retired


“How important is it to get off to a good start today, Skipper?”

“Do you know of any sports where participants try to get off to a bad start?”

“Uh . . . no.”

“Nor do I. That said, we always try to get off to a good start. And when we don’t, we try to come back and win anyway.”

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Coming Forward

You’re the accuser. You get on the witness stand. You testify. You make your accusation. You get cross-examined. THEN the accused responds.

It turns the entire legal system on its head. It is INSANE to ask an accused person to deny the accusation before he has heard the accusation being made and cross-examined.

I’m tired of the phrase “coming forward” being used to describe people making unsubstantiated allegations, because it presumes the truth of something that’s unknown and, in some cases, unknowable.

The burden is still on the accuser, thank god for all of us.

I “come forward” to accuse you — via the media, on Twitter, wherever — of having done a bad thing decades ago in high school. I don’t remember the details of when or where or who else was present, but now that you’ve been credibly accused, how do you respond to this serious, disturbing allegation? Why would I say it if it wasn’t true?

If allegations are evidence of guilt, we’re all in for a bad time . . .

The People I Feel Sorry For


According to 2016 and 2017 data from, 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids. That doesn’t include 886,000 people using heroin, which is not available via prescription.

The people I feel bad for are the ones who are not addicted to opioids. There’s so much anxiety and loneliness in life. How do you get through it without a little help?

Competitive Programming: SPOJ – Build the Fence

At the beginning of spring all the sheep move to the higher pastures in the mountains. If there are thousands of them, it is well worthwhile gathering them together in one place. But sheep don’t like to leave their grass-lands. Help the shepherd and build him a fence which would surround all the sheep. The fence should have the smallest possible length! Assume that sheep are negligibly small and that they are not moving. Sometimes a few sheep are standing in the same place. If there is only one sheep, it is probably dying, so no fence is needed at all …


t [the number of tests <= 100]
[empty line]
n [the number of sheep <= 100000]
x1 y1 [coordinates of the first sheep]

xn yn
[integer coordinates from -10000 to 10000]
[empty line]
[other lists of sheep]

Text grouped in [ ] does not appear in the input file. Assume that sheep are numbered in the input order.


o [length of circumference, rounded to 2 decimal places]
p1 p2 … pk
[the sheep that are standing in the corners of the fence; the first one should be positioned bottommost and as far to the left as possible, the others ought to be written in anticlockwise order; ignore all sheep standing in the same place but the first to appear in the input file; the number of sheep should be the smallest possible]
[empty line]
[next solutions]



0 0
0 5
10 5
3 3
10 0

0 0

0 0
1 0
2 0

0 0
0 0
0 1
1 0

0 0
0 1
1 0

0 0
-1 -1
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4

10 0
0 0

-3 -4
2 -3
4 3
-4 2
0 5
2 -3
-1 4

1 5 3 2


1 3

1 4 3

1 3 2

2 6

2 1

1 2 3 5 4

Warning: large Input/Output data, be careful with certain languages

Link to problem

Solution below . . .

Read more

Teaching Computer Science: You Just Got to Really Want To

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . .

Vladimir Horowitz

“Does anyone recognize this gentleman?” No one does. “Any pianists in the class?” About 5 kids raise their hands. “Do you ever go to YouTube and watch videos of pieces that you’re trying to learn?” Yes, they do.

“Ok, this is Vladimir Horowitz.” Last time around, no one was able to identify Martha Graham.

“I always know the name after you say it though,” one girl says.

“Well, there’s more to life than technology, kids. There’s music, art, dance, literature . . . all these things help blow the dust off our ordinary existence.

“I’ll get back to Horowitz in a minute. Last time I was here, I heard a conversation about how hard is it to go to college as a CS major.

“I have some good news and bad news. I’ll start with the bad news, which is not really that bad.

“If you want to go to college as an engineering major, including computer science, the bar for admission is going to be higher than it is for some other majors, one reason being that engineering mistakes can be very costly. We don’t want to have space shuttles blowing up. We don’t want to spend 50 million dollars on software systems that don’t work. So we can’t be graduating incompetent engineers.

“We can graduate English majors or music majors who are not very good because they can’t do any real damage in the world. What are they going to do? Write a bad sentence? Play a few wrong notes?

“But engineering mistakes can be very costly, so there’s a filtering process for engineers.

“Now the good news. Someone asked Horowitz this question: ‘How do you play all these difficult pieces?’ And his answer was ‘You just got to really want to.’

Question and answer

“I don’t want to say that you can do anything if you really want to, but you can amaze a lot of people, including perhaps yourself, with what you can do if you really want to.

“I want to emphasize that you really want to, because you may hear people say that they want something and yet you notice they’re not willing to change anything they’re doing in life in order to get it. Which means they don’t really want it.

“But based on students I’ve worked with before who are now CS majors at good schools, I can tell you that those of you in this class can do that as well, if you really want to.”

Competitive Programming: POJ 2185 – Milking Grid


Every morning when they are milked, the Farmer John’s cows form a rectangular grid that is R (1 <= R <= 10,000) rows by C (1 <= C <= 75) columns. As we all know, Farmer John is quite the expert on cow behavior, and is currently writing a book about feeding behavior in cows. He notices that if each cow is labeled with an uppercase letter indicating its breed, the two-dimensional pattern formed by his cows during milking sometimes seems to be made from smaller repeating rectangular patterns.

Help FJ find the rectangular unit of smallest area that can be repetitively tiled to make up the entire milking grid. Note that the dimensions of the small rectangular unit do not necessarily need to divide evenly the dimensions of the entire milking grid, as indicated in the sample input below.


  • Line 1: Two space-separated integers: R and C
  • Lines 2..R+1: The grid that the cows form, with an uppercase letter denoting each cow’s breed. Each of the R input lines has C characters with no space or other intervening character.


  • Line 1: The area of the smallest unit from which the grid is formed

Sample Input

2 5

Sample Output



The entire milking grid can be constructed from repetitions of the pattern ‘AB’.

Link to problem

Solution below . . .

Read more

Teaching Computer Science: Say Your Ideas Out Loud

[I learned about Scary Ideas from Jim and Michele McCarthy — PE]

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . .

“The main thing I wanted to tell you is that you’ve got to say your ideas out loud . . .

Scary ideas

“A scary idea is not an idea that’s going to scare people when they hear it, it’s an idea that you don’t want to say because you’re afraid of how people will react to it. Maybe they’ll think you’re crazy.

“Here’s a couple examples of scary ideas.

“You recognize the speaker in this video?” Everyone does. “Ok, let’s see what he has to say.”

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

“Keep in mind that he’s saying this in 1961, when the idea of putting a man on the moon was complete science fiction. And bringing him back! Not just putting a man on the moon and leaving him there — which would be hard enough — but actually bringing him back!

“The amazing thing about this video to me is the reaction that he gets, which is no reaction at all. The two guys behind him, the guy on the right is Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House, and on the left is either Lyndon Johnson or a wax replica of Lyndon Johnson.

“He’s speaking to both houses of Congress, hundreds of people, and the reaction is not “YEAH! WOO-HOO! U-S-A! U-S-A!” It’s complete silence. My theory is that people hearing this are thinking, ‘What a crazy idea. I’m withholding any show of support so people don’t think I’m crazy.’

“Here’s another scary idea: Let’s dig a canal across the continent!

Panama Canal

“It takes a long time to sail from one coast to the other because we’ve got to go all the way down around the tip of South America, so let’s just dig a canal across the continent.

“I don’t know who was the first person to say that out loud but it must have been pretty scary.

“Software development is a creative endeavor. You can’t have too many ideas. You want to generate as many ideas as possible and pick the best ones to work with. So you have to say your ideas out loud.

“Does anyone recognize this person?” No one does. Disappointing!

Martha Graham

“This is Martha Graham. You can’t get as famous as a dancer as you can doing some other things, but as a dancer, she’s about as famous as you can get.

“She said something that I want to share with you:

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.

You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urge that motivates you.

Keep the channel open.

“You have to say your ideas out loud. If you don’t, they’re going to be lost, and the world will not have your contribution.”

See You in Hell


[See You in Hell is a feature by our guest blogger, Satan — PE]

The pope said yesterday that Satan — that’s me — “has been let loose and he’s got it in for the bishops.”

My reaction is that I am proud to be thrown under the bus alongside rape victims, abused unwed mothers and financial whistleblowers for the greater “good” of the church.

By the way, have you noticed that “prophet” and “profit” are homonyms?

See you in Hell!

More Words and Phrases I’m Sick Unto Death Of

Whenever I hear Let’s be clear or Make no mistake, it’s never followed by something clear or unmistakable, but always by some completely unsupportable hallucination . . .

A Close Encounter with Burt Reynolds’ Legacy

I’m having dinner at a Japanese restaurant . . . in the booth behind me are a couple straight out of Sons of Anarchy. The man is about 45, large, with a shaved head, tattoos and a motorcycle jacket. Same description for the woman, except for the shaved head.

Her jacket is emblazoned with PROPERTY OF TROG (or FROG or ????, couldn’t make it out clearly), which I assume is the name of either a motorcycle gang or the gentleman sitting across from her.

Midway through the meal, Trog wonders aloud if Smokey and the Bandit is available on Netflix. To his chagrin, the movie doesn’t seem to register with his girlfriend, so to jog her memory, he pulls up the “Eastbound and Down” song on his phone and plays it loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the vicinity.

He then launches into an analysis of the film in the reverend tones reserved for cinematic masterworks. I can’t hear all of it but it includes Sally Field, Peterbilt trucks and spinning donuts in a Trans Am.

He’s so inspired by the Smokey and the Bandit “one step ahead of the law” ethos that at the end of the meal, as he gets up to leave, his girlfriend reminds him that they didn’t get the check yet, but he gives her an ix-nay gesture and they walk out.

There’s a commotion out in the lobby . . . I hear someone yell “Hey you didn’t pay!” Trog does not return but his girlfriend comes back to take the check and pay it.

Competitive Programming: POJ 1147 – Binary Codes


Consider a binary string (b1…bN) with N binary digits. Given such a string, the matrix of Figure 1 is formed from the rotated versions of the string.

b1 b2 bN-1 bN
b2 b3 bN b1
bN-1 bN bN-3 bN-2
bN b1 bN-2 bN-1

Figure 1. The rotated matrix

Then rows of the matrix are sorted in alphabetical order, where ‘0’ is before ‘1’. You are to write a program which, given the last column of the sorted matrix, finds the first row of the sorted matrix.

As an example, consider the string (00110). The sorted matrix is

0 0 0 1 1
0 0 1 1 0
0 1 1 0 0
1 0 0 0 1
1 1 0 0 0

and the corresponding last column is (1 0 0 1 0). Given this last column your program should determine the first row, which is (0 0 0 1 1).


The first line contains one integer N <= 3000, the number of binary digits in the binary string. The second line contains N integers, the binary digits in the last column from top to bottom.


The first line contains N integers: the binary digits in the first row from left to right.

Sample Input

1 0 0 1 0

Sample Output

0 0 0 1 1

Link to problem

Solution below . . .

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Europeans Tired of Tourists?

Jumping Amsterdam

Europeans are tired of tourists?!

I don’t know if they’d qualify as “tourists,” but Europe didn’t object to my dad and a few million of his uncouth American pals showing up in the 1940s to save them from fascism.

Now they’re like, “Put an egg in your shoe and beat it.”