Geoff Lichy

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Fact Check: Does A Science Board Chairman Say U.S. Air is “Too Clean”?

TL;DR : MOSTLY TRUE

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How To Recreate A Top iTunes Song In 60 Seconds (For Free)

From AP News today:

An unusual tune has found its way onto the top 50 on the iTunes charts, alongside Ed Sheeran and Keith Urban hits. The song is completely silent. “A a a a a Very Good Song” costs 99 cents for just under 10 minutes of dead air.

Because I did this same thing in early 2007, I know that it’s a waste of $1 to buy a ‘song’ of pure silence. It doesn’t take much time or effort to create such a track.

Here’s the entire do-it-yourself process:

1. Download the free audio software Audacity and install it. You can choose other software; I just know Audacity is a quick and simple option.

2. Open Audacity and check out the menu. Click “Generate” to see options drop down, and choose “Silence.” (Screenshot shown below for clarity.)

3. Choose how many minutes and seconds of silence you want. Then click “ok.”

4. Export the file in WAV, MP3, or any other format you want. (Windows users can press CTRL+SHIFT+E to export the file.)

5. Load the track into your iTunes library. (I find that drag-and-drop is easiest.)

Congratulations! You’re done. You saved a dollar and didn’t have to navigate the iTunes store.

Addendum: Some people have pointed out that “silence as a composition” has been done many times. John Cage’s 4’33” may be the most popular example.

The Full Text Of The Viral “Google Memo”

preface

For people who want only the facts behind the story, it’s hard to discover them. I haven’t come across any articles which show the full text without introducing bias somehow. Most journalists and bloggers haven’t been able to post the memo without adding their own opinions on the content. And the “discussion” across social media tends to involve personal insults or emotional appeals, instead of actual discussion.

What I find especially fascinating about this memo is the number of interpretations. Different people are drawing vastly different conclusions from the same thing. No doubt part of this is because fake quotes have been circulating.

But without further ado, the full text, so people can reach their own conclusions:

The now-infamous “Google Memo”

You can view the memo on diversitymemo.com, download a PDF, or read it right here:

Comments from Google employees

“We strongly support the right of Googlers to express themselves, and much of what was in that memo is fair to debate regardless of whether a vast majority of Googlers disagree with it. However, portions of the memo violate our Code of Conduct and cross the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

“We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.” – Danielle Brown, Google’s Vice President of Diversity, Integrity and Governance

A small internal poll (282 responses) showed mixed reactions to the memo.

What’s next?

The author, engineer James Damore, was fired. He’s reportedly considering legal action against Google, and there’s some debate over whether or not he could be successful there. For extra information, Heavy.com has a lengthy article.

Short Album Reviews: May 2017

Stuff I’ve been listening to:

Most recently I went to a concert on May 6th in Philadelphia: Mastodon, Opeth, Gojira, Eagles of Death Metal, Devin Townsend Project, Russian Circles.

And then a bunch of albums:

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Are We Living In A Simulated Reality?

People have been discussing this idea for years, and it’s gained more traction as of late. Several articles in 2016 were sparked by billionaire Elon Musk’s comments at a technology conference. “There’s a billion to one chance we’re living in base reality,” he said, among other things.

As one might imagine, the “simulation” idea is a controversial topic. Some people take it very seriously — Tad Friend at The New Yorker wrote “Many people in Silicon Valley have become obsessed with the simulation hypothesis, the argument that what we experience as reality is in fact fabricated in a computer; two tech billionaires have gone so far as to secretly engage scientists to work on breaking us out of the simulation.”

Rich Terrile (a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) said that if our universe is finite, it’s computable, and therefore could be a simulation. He adds: “Reasons to believe that the universe is a simulation include the fact that it behaves mathematically and is broken up into pieces (subatomic particles) like a pixelated video game.” This could, however, just be how the universe works. We don’t know.

Skeptics of the “simulation” theory point out that there isn’t any proof to support the idea. There are many arguments for and against it — so who is correct? Well, to be honest, that’s likely irrelevant. But it’s interesting to think about.

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Is Staying Informed Overrated?

I saw a couple of tweets earlier this month from Naval Ravikant, and they’ve stuck with me. Not because they’re particularly enlightening on their own — they’re individual tweets, after all. It’s because Naval’s statements mesh with other pieces of information I’ve seen this year. Together, the sum of this knowledge paints quite an interesting picture.

Oddly controversial statements to make these days:

  • “Be optimistic.”
  • “Staying informed is overrated.”

Yet in certain ways, they make sense. Is it worth taking the time to keep up with the news?

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This week in news: February 26 – March 4 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Seven Maryland police officers arrested
  2. Trump gave a speech to Congress
  3. Sweden reintroduced a military draft
  4. EU may revoke visa-free travel for US citizens
  5. Battle for Mosul continued
  6. Jordan executed 15 people in one day
  7. Somalia and South Sudan plagued with famine
  8. Samsung chief to be indicted on bribery and embezzlement
  9. China made more steps to combat pollution
  10. SpaceX to fly two people around the moon in 2018

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: February 19-25 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Flooding in California
  2. Dakota Access Pipeline protests continued
  3. Protests held against Republican politicians
  4. German intelligence service reportedly spied on media outlets
  5. Car bombs exploded in Syria and Somalia
  6. The fight to retake Mosul continued
  7. China temporarily banned coal imports from North Korea
  8. Famine in South Sudan and Nigeria
  9. Australia plane crash killed 5
  10. NASA discovered 7 potentially habitable exoplanets orbiting one star

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: February 12-18 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. U.S. National Security Adviser resigns
  2. California dam problems prompt evacuation of almost 200,000 people
  3. Protests in Romania and France
  4. Operation begins to take western Mosul from ISIS
  5. Annual Amani Festival in Goma
  6. Suicide bombing in Nigeria
  7. Relative of North Korean leader is assassinated
  8. Bus crash in Taiwan kills 32
  9. Out-of-control bushfires damage homes in Australia
  10. India space agency launches 104 satellites from a single rocket

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: February 5-11 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Super Bowl LI
  2. Continued controversy over the Dakota Access pipeline
  3. DeVos and other cabinet confirmations
  4. Immigration raids in several states
  5. Evacuations in Greece to defuse WW2 bomb
  6. Protest in Iraq
  7. Stadium stampede in Angola
  8. Afghanistan suicide bomb
  9. North Korea conducts missile test
  10. Natural disasters kill 12+ people in Indonesia and the Philippines

Further information and more stories:
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