November 22, 2016


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When considering what to write about this week, I realized that I haven’t really lived up to my promise of providing “highly varied content” – not that anyone cares, but I would feel bad only writing articles related to the election all semester, no matter how much it reflects the current news cycle. Instead, here is a collection of things I thought about this week, which you may or may not find interesting.

First, I still have no idea what to make of Donald Trump. He did some serious backpedaling and also looks to be considering Mitt Romney for a highly important post – Secretary of State. This is a man who has denounced Trump at every possible turn and called him a fraud, but is now seeking to reconcile and has apparently been forgiven, at least to some degree. On the other hand, he has appointed Jeff Sessions as attorney general, and this is someone who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge in the 1980s. Doesn’t seem like a good sign, especially when you have people drawing parallels to Japanese internment camps to justify outrageous and racist (religionist? certainly unnerving) policies. I’m not an expert here, but my understanding is that if Trump declares war on Islamic Terrorism, he is legally allowed to create a Muslim registry. It seems more or less analogous to the aforementioned internment camps in the 1940s, which were found in Korematsu v. United States to be constitutional. Although it is very doubtful the Supreme Court would rule in the same way if a suit were brought against a Muslim registry, the precedent does technically exist. We must vigorously fight any such proposal if Trump does attempt to enact it, but until then we just have to wait and make our voices heard.

Speaking of making our voices heard, the cast of Hamilton did exactly that last Friday, during a show attended by Mike Pence. Of course, while making your voice heard is encouraged indeed, it is an essential aspect of any democracy, for suppression of the people’s voice is a crucial aspect of any dictatorship Mr. Trump was quick to point out that the Constitution’s protection on free speech does not apply in theaters, and that the cast should apologize for so improperly exercising their rights. Aside from the irony of Trump calling for a safe space, it’s not a great sign when the president-elect is asking people to apologize for criticizing his campaign and his vice president before he even takes office. Hopefully, this is as far as he gets in pursuit of anti-democratic ideals.

But enough of that Trump stuff. Honestly, there’s only so much you can write about the man, or anything else for that matter, before it becomes tiresome. The rest of the week was interesting, though. For one thing, the Attack on Titan manga has been really good for the last ~5 chapters. I won’t spoil anything for anime-only fans, but the latest chapters really add to the backstory of the series and make the basic nature of the struggle clearer, while also doing a good job setting up the democratic nature of the showdown and providing background mythology. One Piece was kind of average, though. Most people probably don’t think so, but I didn’t find it very climactic. Some other thoughts:

  • Snow is really nice and pretty and all, but strong winds blowing that snow into your face kinda suck. Like, a lot.
  • The new Hearthstone expansion is gonna be really good. Of course, I really like Reno decks, but it should still be very interesting. Only downside is it will probably make the game more expensive with all the control running around.
  • I had one of the Okenshields cookies today because it was really cold and snowing. Those cookies are good. REALLY good.
  • In the absence of a unique soul or, equivalently, of a God, any individual person will be reconstructed exactly in a long enough time from pure randomness, and as such there will be an afterlife for that person. The question of interest is whether the probability of this occurrence is so low as to be unlikely on a scale of the lifetime of the universe, and how many humans must have lived in order for the probability to become realistic. If not, maybe the difference between individual humans and everything else is so big as to be characterized as a unique trait or “soul”. Not an airtight argument by any means, just something I was thinking about this week.
  • Bernie Sanders might not succeed in taking over the Democratic Party, contrary to what many people have been speculating. Although he has been given a position in the leadership, along with Elizabeth Warren, whether he ends up in the top position really depends on his skills as a politician, as Democrats will by no means be voting solely for very liberal candidates in primaries just because Hillary lost. I feel like it’s equally likely that someone like Corey Booker becomes a party leader instead. To be fair, that’s not such a bad thing, but I hope Bernie can be there to lead the United States in the right direction for a future of expanded human possibility. At a time when space travel is very nearly a reality, it is important that we as a society take the path that maximizes human productivity, lest we fall into the reaches of climate change instead. We’ll just have to wait and see which ideology, and which party, wins out in 2018.