Geoff Lichy

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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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This week in news: January 29 – February 4 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. President Trump’s temporary travel ban was blocked
  2. US raid in Yemen leaves at least 25 dead
  3. Protests at Berkeley over conservative speaker
  4. Delaware prison hostage situation
  5. Canadian shooting at a mosque
  6. UK votes to begin Brexit
  7. Protests in Romania
  8. Iranian missile test, and sanctions
  9. Clashes in the Congo
  10. New brain interface allows paralyzed people to communicate

Further information and more stories:
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The Top 10 Dystopian Books To Read (If You’re Concerned About Government Power)

“Dystopia” refers to a broad range of stories, and therefore everyone has their own recommendations for what the “must-reads” are. Lists generally include Orwell’s famous 1984 – and greatly diverge from there.

Although a list’s offerings often have common themes, they don’t always feel similar. For example, one list put The Lorax next to The Maze Runner and The Crucible. These three have dystopic themes while being very different. I can understand why they’re on the same list. But I wanted a lineup which was more specific, more related to each other, and couldn’t easily find such a list. So I created my own:

  1. 1984 by George Orwell (1949)
  2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1986)
  5. The Children of Men by P. D. James (1992)
  6. Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (1975)
  7. V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (1990)
  8. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis (1935)
  9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)
  10. The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982)

While this list isn’t perfect (or comprehensive), it’s cohesive enough to feel like a good start. These are all popular works you’re likely to hear about (if you don’t already know about them).

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How Trump’s Immigration Ban Has Democratic Roots

(Disclaimer: I denounce a pure immigration ban. Trump’s executive order is flawed, and it is rightfully being criticized. This post is for informational purposes only.)

Some people have been asking why Trump’s recent “Muslim ban” only includes certain countries. A fair question. Other people, like David Frum at The Atlantic, pointed how if this is meant to deter radial Islamic terrorism, then it’s a highly ineffective ban. Why did the Trump administration choose these 7 countries?

The countries in question, for reference: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

If you’ve paid really close attention to the news over the past couple of years, and have a good memory, you’ll recognize that those countries have been grouped together before. The Obama administration singled them out for travel restrictions.

So if you’re asking why Trump picked those 7 countries for his ban: Trump didn’t pick them. A Democrat-led government did. All Trump did was take an already-existing list and expand on the restrictions. If the recent immigration ban ends up as a court case, you can bet that the Trump administration will try to cite Obama’s actions as precedent.

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