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David Levin
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If you enjoyed the Netflix show Stranger Things or Ernest Cline's books: Ready Player One, Armada, then I highly recommend Jason Rekulak's new book "The Impossible Fortress."

I went to an event with the author and his story of growing up sounded so familiar with learning to program so he could write games. It became his gateway for writing fiction like the old infocom games while for me it took em to my career of doing programming. He also talked about http://www.quirkbooks.com/ his day job, which has published "Pride and prejudice and zombies" as well as "Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children."

I love that the author got so into it that he even wrote his own c64 game and then commission a web version of it game to go along with the book, which you can play here: http://jasonrekulak.com/game/

Go read it and enjoy!

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The electoral college seems to be all the range these days in the States. How you feel about it seems to correlate strongly with your political affiliation.

While I wish Trump wouldn't have been elected, I'm happy that there is not a permanent Democratic or Republican party hold on the presidency as I feel that it keeps both parties more honest and responsive to what is going on in the country, and I think the electoral college helps with that. Some feel that the electoral keeps the parties focused on a few states, and that does seem to happen a bit, but it really means that all the other states are really strongly aligned with a given party (and if they didn't feel served, then they should switch for whom they vote).

Another aspect to the current electoral college is that they don't have to follow the vote of the state. It isn't used much, but it's the way the system works. On this aspect, given the current state of things it seems fine to do away with the people and let the votes determine the outcome However, given our current system, it is the moral thing to let these people vote their conscience even if it differs from the popular vote in a state. That's why I find it troubling that my state has a $1000 penalty for this, and that "Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, said she will enforce the statute." [1]

It seems like typical party politics which look at the current microscopic issue instead of the bigger picture. This idea ties into a study where people judged a potential piece of legislation based on which party they heard was supporting it as opposed to its content.

In the end, we all need to put away our party tribalism in which others are viewed as enemies or deplorables and instead look deeper at both the consequences of our actions and why people have different views on the same events.

[1] https://blogs.sos.wa.gov/FromOurCorner/index.php/2016/12/wa-electoral-college-8-votes-for-clinton-4-faithless-voters-for-others/


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Some songs in Polish that I enjoy hearing (not sure about the message of any):

- Synu https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-clFZFdLQk

- List Do Boga https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmKYR57AVTA

- Dni których nie znamy - Marek Grechuta https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_nNeAj6ghU
My teacher recommended this one because the singer clearly pronounces the words.


Is it cheating to pick some Polish covers of songs I like in English? :)

- Klaudia Walencik "Alleluja" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmKYR57AVTA

- Dream on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXb7ERvgSiw
I love that it has the words below it, so I can see them as they are sung.


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My brain is confused listening to a Polish cover of Japanese song. It keeps wanting to hear Japanese, but instead it's another language I don't know (but I'm slowly working on).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahnSZX3Oas4


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Odd choice for this movie's release date.
Photo

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Stories like this help make other people's experiences and challenges so much more visceral because they are so far removed from the reality that I've been fortunate to live.

52 years later and still Martin Luther King's speech seems relevant. "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

Then I'm left thinking how do I help with this, and I'm not sure. As much as I disagree with some things done by the ACLU, I do think that they are on the whole doing good things and helping to make things better, so I gave to them this last year. It's small, but it only takes a pebble to start an avalanche, so many it is enough to help with pebbles whenever we can.

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If you're running against a misogynist, xenophobic, racist but the big truth that you want to expose about him is that he has had liberal positions[1], something is really wrong. I suspect Cruz's polling has indicated this is a more effective attack, but I wish he was more principled (-- Well, I wish that for most politicians). Point out the misogynist, xenophobic, racist aspect at every opportunity because those attributes shouldn't be acceptable.

I really want there to be two parties that seem reasonable (perhaps in different areas) and provide some sort of choice that one needs to think about. Unfortunately, the Republican party abdicated its responsibility here.

[1] "he has spent his entire adult life promoting liberal positions completely opposite of the conservative platform that he has campaigned on."
http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/16/politics/ted-cruz-aipac-utah-donald-trump-debate/


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Raising the smoking age to 21 might happen in California. [1]

Good for you CA. This isn't something people do in isolation. Secondhand smoke causes nearly 34,000 premature deaths from heart disease each year in the United States among nonsmokers [2] among other issues. Doing things to reduce that is awesome. Politicians who portray smoking as an individual only affecting themselves aren't looking at the big picture.

[1] http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-raising-smoking-age-20160303-story.html
[2] http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke/health_effects/index.htm

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I hope that I wouldn’t have pushed the button and deliver inhumane shocks to people in the Milgram experiment [1]. I hope that I would have been part of the underground railroad. I hope that I would protect Jews in Nazi Germany. I hope that I would have opposed the Japanese internment camps. I hope that I would be brave enough to do the right morally thing even when the path seemed easy to go the other way.

In this day, fewer situations are this dramatic and require this much courage. However, there are some brewing which only require simple actions. Today, we have a presidential candidate who justifies his ideas using internment camps [2]. He spreads fears of people just on the basis that they are another country [3]. While he didn’t call for badges on Muslim, he didn’t reject the idea either[4]. He also didn’t reject or distance himself from support by white supremacists [5]. He advocates war crimes [6].

While Trump can make for a good joke [7], in the end, it’s no joking matter. If like me you hope to stand up against seeing discrimination and hatred, now is your chance, and it’s all very simple for you to do. When it comes time to vote, just vote for the other candidate, whoever they are, because none of the other candidates can compare to how incredibly bad Trump would be for America.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
[2] https://youtu.be/g2Bs3qd0G2w?t=57
[3] http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2015/07/donald-trumps-xenophobia
[4] http://www.snopes.com/donald-trump-muslims-id/
[5] https://youtu.be/TGc2nN9OguQ?t=955
[6] https://youtu.be/TGc2nN9OguQ?t=1025
[7] https://youtu.be/sCyzdD0vYOw?t=29


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The folks at +Radiolab are wonderful storytellers. While I love them all, this particular episode RadioLab is more special than most: http://www.radiolab.org/story/hard-knock-life/

In the last 4 minutes, there is a really fun summary which was created and performed by Hamilton creator: Lin-Manuel Miranda among others. Don't skip to it. Listen to the previous 15 minutes so that you can have context for all of the references.
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