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Moore

Tornado Town, USA by Maggie Koerth-Baker.

Four devastating tornadoes hit Moore, Oklahoma, in 16 years. Was it geography or just bad luck?

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Complicated

Michael Bowler reviews Complicated Presence: Heidegger and the Postmetaphysical Unity of Being by Jussi Backman.

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Microaggressions

Microaggressions by Scott O. Lilienfeld.

The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.

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Cubs

The Return of Islam’s Child Soldiers by Raymond Ibrahim.

An ISIS “cub” prepares to execute a prisoner in an abandoned amusement park in a video released earlier this month.

Past and present, Muslim militants continue relying on the same inhumane tactics to terrorize “infidels.” The devastating effects of one of these occurred last August in Turkey: a child “recruited” by the Islamic State blew himself up in a suicide attack that left at least 51 people—mostly fellow children—dead.

This child was one of countless, nameless, faceless children seized, beat, and indoctrinated in Islam, until they become willing “martyrs” and executioners. Known as the “cubs of the caliphate,” they are graduates from “schools [established by ISIS] to prepare hundreds of children and teenagers to conduct suicide attacks.” The Islamic State is fond of showcasing these abducted children turned criminals.

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Bug?

A Bug for Alzheimer’s? by Melinda Wenner Moyer.

A bold theory places infection at the root of Alzheimer’s, explaining why decades of treatment have done little good.

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Intersectionality

Liberals Are Drunk on a Political Poison Called Intersectionality by Damon Linker.

In the fierce post-election debate about how Democrats should respond to the party’s astonishing electoral collapse at all levels of government, some have argued that identity politics is the problem, while many others (especially younger activists) have claimed it’s the solution.

Those inclined toward the latter position would be well advised to read a recent New York Times story (here) very closely. An account of growing rancor surrounding the planned Women’s March on Washington (scheduled for the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration), the piece demonstrates with admirable clarity how doubling down on identity politics — and especially the left’s embrace of the trendy postmodern ideology of “intersectionality” — is likely to shatter the Democratic Party into squabbling factions even more vulnerable to a resurgent right.

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Disaster

Even the Feds are Warning that California’s Bullet Train Is a Disaster in the Making by Scott Shackford.

When even the experts in boondoggles are worried. . .

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Fictions

The Comforting Fictions of Obama’s Farewell Speech by David Harsanyi.

Obama sounded the same haughty notes on his way out as he did on the way in.

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PC

How Political Correctness Hijacked Trump Inauguration Protesters’ Brains by Stella Morabito.

Americans can learn how political correctness infects the mind by understanding the role it plays in recruiting protesters to disrupt the inauguration.

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Lawlessness

Farewell to Lawlessness by John O. McGinnis.

The media spun President Obama’s Tuesday night farewell address as a call to unity. But the speech’s setting and Obama’s words about the Constitution were a reminder of how his presidency deepened divisions within the nation. In the modern era, presidential farewell addresses have been delivered from the Oval Office, a symbol of the president’s role as head of state. Obama’s speech, by contrast, had the feeling of a campaign rally. He seemed more like a party leader than a president.

Much of Obama’s speech was a restatement of Democratic positions on inequality, climate change, and race. His comments about the Constitution, however, were troubling:

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We the people give it meaning—with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law.

With just a few sentences, Obama demonstrated the incoherence at the heart of the philosophy of the “living Constitution.” According to this view, shared by Obama, the Constitution’s meaning wasn’t fixed at the time it was enacted, but is determined by the whims and preferences of twenty-first-century Americans. If that is the case, how can we possibly have the rule of law? If that is the case, our freedoms are not protected from ordinary politics but determined by them—a recipe for endless social division, as different parties try to substitute their preferred vision of rights for those in the Constitution. Only if the meaning of the Constitution transcends those divisions can it serve as the nation’s anchor.

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Logic

What is Logic? by Catarina Dutilh Novaes.

Is logical thinking a way to discover or to debate? The answers from philosophy and mathematics define human knowledge.

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Deep State

The Deep State Goes to War with President-Elect, Using Unverified Claims, as Democrats Cheer by Glenn Greenwald.

For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and sought to defeat Donald Trump. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton, and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin,” adding that Trump is “the useful fool, some naif, manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”

It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war, while Trump denounced it. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow, while Trump wanted improved relations and greater cooperation. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump — through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction — posed a threat to it.

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Hacking

Russian Hacking and Acts of War by Carson Holloway.

Prudent foreign policy does not multiply the country’s enemies unnecessarily.

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Gone Fishing

No new posts until Jan. 11th or 12th.

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Next?

This Is the Moment for an Israeli Victory by Daniel Pipes.

The U.S.-sponsored Israeli–Palestinian “peace process” began in December 1988, when Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat met American conditions and “accepted United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, recognized Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism” (actually, given Arafat’s heavily accented English, it sounded like he “renounced tourism”).

That peace process screeched to an end in December 2016, when the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 2334. Khaled Abu Toameh, perhaps the best-informed analyst of Palestinian politics, interprets the resolution as telling the Palestinians: “Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand.”

As 28 years of frustration and futility clang to a sullen close, the time is nigh to ask, “What comes next?”

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Crisis

Retired City Manager Gets $216,000 Pension in City Where Average Family Makes $32,000 by Eric Boehm.

Out of whack public pension systems essentially are functioning as massive wealth transfer programs, taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

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Sexist?

What is a Sexist? by Jonny Anomaly and Brian Boutwell.

What kinds of statements about men and women constitute sexism? Is it sexist to say, for example, that on average, men are taller than women or that women live longer than men? Most people already accept the obvious truth that men and women differ in these physiological respects, and it would strain credulity to argue that such statements are blatantly sexist. Suggestions about psychological differences, however, can stoke controversy.

Pressing the issue further by claiming that psychological and cognitive differences might partly explain wage gaps, employment gaps, and the like, will certainly invite harsh rebuke and likely a charge of sexism. Like “racist”, the definition of “sexist” seems to have ballooned in such a way as to include any claim about average differences between males and females from the neck up. Some feminists, in particular, fear that assertions about differences between men and women threaten the social progress we’ve made over the past few centuries. Perhaps they have a point (as we discuss below). But we should consider whether such an expansive definition of sexism is helpful, or whether it actually represents a hindrance to moral progress.

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Tale

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar.

A hotly contested, supposedly ancient manuscript suggests Christ was married. But believing its origin story—a real-life Da Vinci Code, involving a Harvard professor, a onetime Florida pornographer, and an escape from East Germany—requires a big leap of faith.

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Stats

The first year (2008) TDC was online, page views were 18,384. Four years later (2012) yearly page views were 528,200. Now four years later (2016) page views were 1,320,596. As always, thanks to all that spend time on this site. This is truly a labor of love…I spend countless hours looking for the best material I can find, and I have never made a cent, nor bombarded visitors with countless ads and pop-ups!

One of my goals for this site in 2017 is to finally make it mobile friendly! I’m not sure how soon this will happen, I will probably have a professional do the work on this site for the very first time…and yes, I know this is quite obvious!

Happy New Year To All!

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Confessions

Confessions of a Columnist by Ross Douthat.

Every January I write a column exploring my faulty analysis and failed prophecies from the preceding year. After last year’s installment, in which I explained how I had underestimated a certain celebrity tycoon, I received a note from Trump Tower — a clipping of the column, scrawled over with a markered note:

Thank you – Now I will work to get you to go a little bit further. Best wishes, Donald Trump.

A year has spun past since then, and whatever comes of the Trump presidency, he can claim at least one promise kept. That column described Trump as a remarkable political phenomenon who nonetheless could not win the Republican nomination, let alone become the president. Now just as he predicted, I must go further: Mea culpa, he could, he has, and I was wrong again.

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