Geoff Lichy

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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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This week in news: January 22-28 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. President Donald Trump signed over a dozen executive orders, the source of many headlines throughout the week
  2. Severe storms created chaos in the southeastern USA
  3. Chile is experiencing “the country’s worst forest fires ever”
  4. Internet blackout in Cameroon
  5. Conflict in Somalia kills 28
  6. Paris to begin experiment with driverless buses
  7. UK court rules Parliament must vote on Brexit
  8. Israel approves controversial new settlements
  9. Train derailment in India kills or injures 100 people
  10. Physicists claim to have turned hydrogen into metal

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: January 15-21 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Barack Obama commuted sentences for hundreds of inmates, including Chelsea Manning
  2. Donald Trump was officially sworn in as the 45th president of the United States
  3. Women’s march
  4. “El Chapo” extradited
  5. Brazilian prisons remain unstable
  6. Three shootings in Mexico
  7. Bus crashes in Italy
  8. U.S. performs air strikes in Syria and Libya, some of Obama’s final actions
  9. Nigerian air force mistakenly bombs aid camp
  10. Turkish plane crashes into a village

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: January 8-14 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Obama allows NSA to share more private information collected without warrants
  2. Report finds that Ukraine attempted to influence US election
  3. Probe into Chicago police finds history of abuses
  4. Unverified dossier released by Buzzfeed makes claims about Trump and Russia
  5. Guy who shot up a church is given death sentence
  6. Bombs in Afghanistan kill 50
  7. US sends thousands of troops into eastern Europe
  8. Takata agrees to pay penalties over dangerous airbags
  9. Volkswagon agrees to pay penalties over emissions scandal
  10. SpaceX deploys satellites

Further information and more stories:
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This week in news: January 1-7 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Fort Lauderdale airport shooting
  2. FBI/CIA/NSA report on allegations of Russian hacking
  3. Protests in Mexico over gas prices
  4. Brazilian prison massacres kill at least 80
  5. Finland starting basic monthly income experiment
  6. Bombing in Iraq kills or injures over 100
  7. Car bomb kills 43 in Syria
  8. Battle for Mosul continues
  9. Turkey questions level of U.S. participation in fighting ISIS
  10. Swiss scientists develop solar prototype to power pacemakers

Further information and more stories:

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This week in news: December 25-31 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. USA announces sanctions versus Russia over alleged hacking
  2. Obama creates new national monuments in Utah/Nevada
  3. Minimum wage increases for 20 states
  4. Nationwide ceasefire for Syria
  5. Israel announces plans to ignore UN resolution condemning settlements
  6. Terrorists strike Turkey
  7. Bombs explode in Iraq
  8. Russian plane with choir crashes
  9. India tests nuclear missile
  10. First trial using gene editing to attempt combating cancer

A number of celebrations occurred around the globe for Christmas, Hanukkah, News Years, and others.

Further information and more stories:

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Reflecting On 2016 (A Rare Personal Post)

I’m not much of a share-details-about-my-life person. My life is also kind of boring, in my opinion. But 2016 was relatively action-packed for me. Some highlights:

  • I spent about 5 weeks in Mexico (March and October). I saw Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, and Mazatlán.
  • I went through a couple of courses. (Cybersecurity, financial analysis, TESOL/TEFL)
  • I traveled to San Antonio to see my sister graduate from Air Force Basic Training.
  • I went to three weddings in South Carolina (for two of my cousins).
  • I underwent surgery for the first time. Not really a fun experience, but new and significant. (Relatively minor issue. I spent less than 12 hours in a hospital.)
  • I recorded a whole bunch of music. Some of it was released; the rest needs some work. My writing and freelance projects have been a higher priority this year, so I haven’t created as much music as 2015.

I learned a lot in 2016. It was an interesting year, and I’m grateful I could experience everything.

Some of my favorite pictures from the past 12 months:

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This week in news: December 18-24 rundown

TL;DR – TOP 10 STORIES FOR THE WEEK

  1. Trump officially set to be next US president
  2. US bans drilling in Arctic
  3. China returns drone to USA
  4. Fireworks explosion in Mexico kills or wounds 100
  5. Terrorist attacks in Zurich and Berlin
  6. Plane drama involving JetBlue and Delta
  7. Russian Ambassador assassinated
  8. UN demands Israel stop settlements in Palestine
  9. Aleppo returns to full government control
  10. A new Ebola vaccine is promising

Further information and more stories:

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The USA Isn’t Really One Country (And Some Post-Election Thoughts)

Of course the USA is one country from a technical perspective. Yet from a geographic-based ideological perspective, it’s hard to come to that same conclusion.

The results of the 2016 presidential election have only reinforced regional differences. It’s not so much a liberal-conservative divide but an urban-rural one. Judging from the attitudes of Washington insiders, things aren’t a simple Democrat-Republican divide. Prominent politicians of both parties often have similar ideals and goals.

What’s troubling is the lack of communication and understanding between urban and rural voters. It’s led to continuous anger at The Other Side.

Many liberals, confined to their “coastal citadels,” don’t venture outside of their bubbles. The same is true of many conservatives. For example, you won’t see many farmers or coal miners on a liberal arts college campus. What does an upper middle class Millennial college student from Los Angeles have in common with a 55-year-old lumberjack from West Virginia who saw a neighbor die of a heroin overdose last week? Not much, and neither group seems interested in talking to the other. The city-dwellers call the rural people “backwards rednecks.” The countryside-dwellers call the urban people “entitled smug idiots.” If you don’t interact with certain groups, they can become stereotypes – instead of individuals with unique hopes and fears.

It might seem strange that each area (neighborhood, county, state, etc.) has its own culture, but therein lies the rub: many people don’t realize the sheer diversity of the United States. Talk to people in 10 different states; they’ll give different answers about their concerns. (Even if this doesn’t seem strange to you, it’s not something which often comes to mind.)

Ideologically, the United States of America isn’t really one country. This idea is implied in the name: The United States. It’s a conglomerate of distinct states which have united under a central federal government.

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