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Paradox

Nationalism, Liberalism and the European Paradox by Sumantra Maitra.

The entire European project was built on two fundamentally different ideas. One that promotes economic welfare based on borderless free trade, the free market and social individualism. And the other, promoting a centralized hierarchy, an elite in loco parentis which makes decisions about how many calories one should consume, what plastic one should import, and what gross picture of shredded lungs one should see on the front of a cigarette packet. It endorses sovereignty when it means rule by democracy and the protection of human rights, but not when countries decide to control their borders or their individual monetary and economic policies. Over time, defending these contradictions has become increasingly difficult, with cynical onlookers accusing technocrats of defending an unjustifiable and arbitrary set of principles.

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Camp

Why We Need Philosophy Camp for Adults by Teodora Zareva.

Consider this: you know that your best friend’s husband or wife is having an affair. Do you tell your best friend about the affair even if they don’t ask you? And when you make the decision, do you consider the “ripple effect” of your actions? For example, who will be affected if you don’t tell? How about if you do? What moral principle or virtue are you exercising in each case?

Similar cases and questions are being discussed in the classes of Dr. Fred Guy, Director of the Hoffberger Center for Professional Ethics and associate professor at the University of Baltimore. Guy’s main goal is to inspire his students to think about philosophy and ethics and help them improve ethical decision making in their personal and professional lives.

Recently, Guy has been thinking about the need for a similar type of education for adults, a philosophy camp that will challenge its participants with complex cases and force them to revisit and refine their moral principles.

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Pensions

Pension Math: Public Pension Spending and Service Crowd Out in California, 2003-2030 by Joe Nation.

California public pension plans are funded on the basis of policies and assumptions that can delay recognition of their true cost. Even with this delay, local and state governments are facing increasingly higher pension costs—costs that are certain to continue their rise over the next one to two decades, even under assumptions that critics regard as optimistic. As budgets are squeezed, what are state and local governments cutting? Core services, including higher education, social services, public assistance, welfare, recreation and libraries, health, public works, and in some cases, public safety.

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Dysphoria

Misunderstanding a New Kind of Gender Dysphoria by Lisa Marchiano.

A year ago, as a result of a blog post I wrote, I began offering consultations to parents of teens who had announced “out of the blue” that they were transgender. Each week, several new families contact me, and their stories remarkably are similar to one another. Most have 14 or 15-year-old daughters who are smart, quirky, and struggling socially. Many of these kids are on the autism spectrum. And they are often asking for medical interventions – hormones and surgery – that may render them sterile, affect their liver, or lead to high blood pressure, among other possible side effects.

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Kimmel

Dear Jimmy Kimmel: Stay Out Of The Gun Debate If You Can’t Be Honest by Daniel Payne.

Dear Mr. Kimmel,

I don’t actually watch your show—the lost-sleep-to-comedy ratio isn’t in your favor, I’m afraid—but as a political opinion writer I am sometimes forced to follow your political ramblings, most of which are well-meaning but deeply misguided and ignorant.

Such is the case with your recent missive on gun control after the Las Vegas massacre, what the Washington Post called an “emotional, scathing monologue,” but might better be styled “a deeply misguided and ignorant rant about a topic which Jimmy Kimmel appears to know very little.” Mr. Kimmel, for the sake of our public discourse and the effect that discourse may have on our civil rights, please: stay out of the gun control debate. You are in over your head.

I know you think you’re not, because, as you put it, you’re “emotional” about the whole thing, and you presumably believe—consciously or otherwise—that raw emotion is an acceptable substitute for truth. It is not. There are plenty of useful and commendable things you can do with that emotion: you can give blood, memorialize the victims of this brutal tragedy on your popular television show, offer financial assistance to survivors in a variety of ways. But you cannot allow mere sentiment to stand in place of reasoned and well-informed political dialogue. That is reckless and irresponsible.

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The End

The End of Football by David Gornoski.

By 2050, the National Football League (NFL) will be like the Barnum and Bailey Circus of today. Bankrupt, closed, irrelevant, morally passe.

In the early 20th century, the circus was all the rage. After a century of the product’s consumption by a culture increasingly sensitive to the abuse of the weak and helpless—in this case, circus animals—the “Greatest Show on Earth” has been relegated to an empty sideshow. It is simply too brutish for sophisticated moderns who wince at the crack of a whip on an elephant’s rump.

Football will soon follow. Its massive billion dollar stadiums and marketing machines seem immortal for now. But these titanic play pens will soon crumble under the same cultural force that killed the circus: our culture’s growing concern for victims.

I am not judging football’s coming demise as a good or bad thing. I see it as simply a symptom of larger social forces that we should understand.

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Nation-States

Why Nation-States Are Good by Dani Rodrik.

The nation-state remains the best foundation for capitalism, and hyper-globalisation risks destroying it

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Betraying

Betraying Liberal Education: A Response to President Paxson of Brown University by R.J. Snell.

Today’s universities are allergic to making substantive claims about what it means to live well in a good society. But liberal education, rightly understood, is a long, arduous apprenticeship of self-mastery.

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Pretending

How Science Saved Me from Pretending to Love Wine by Anne Fadiman.

The fault was not in my stars, nor in myself, but in my fungiform papillae.

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Praise

Praise Them! by Carlin Flora.

Everyone thinks that too much praise can turn children into entitled monsters but the science isn’t nearly that simple.

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Inflation?

Is The Inflationary Universe A Scientific Theory? Not Anymore by Sabine Hossenfelder.
Sabine is a theoretical physicist sp

We are made from stretched quantum fluctuations. At least that’s cosmologists’ currently most popular explanation. According to their theory, the history of our existence began billions of years ago with a – now absent – field that propelled the universe into a phase of rapid expansion called “inflation.” When inflation ended, the field decayed and its energy was converted into radiation and particles which are still around today.

Inflation was proposed more than 35 years ago, among others, by Paul Steinhardt. But Steinhardt has become one of the theory’s most fervent critics. In a recent article in Scientific American, Steinhardt together with Anna Ijjas and Avi Loeb, don’t hold back. Most cosmologists, they claim, are uncritical believers:

“[T]he cosmology community has not taken a cold, honest look at the big bang inflationary theory or paid significant attention to critics who question whether inflation happened. Rather cosmologists appear to accept at face value the proponents’ assertion that we must believe the inflationary theory because it offers the only simple explanation of the observed features of the universe.”

The quantum fluctuations inherent to space, stretched across the Universe during cosmic inflation, gave rise to the density fluctuations imprinted in the cosmic microwave background, which in turn gave rise to the stars, galaxies, and other large-scale structure in the Universe today.

And it’s even worse, they argue, inflation is not even a scientific theory:

“[I]nflationary cosmology, as we currently understand it, cannot be evaluated using the scientific method.”

As alternative to inflation, Steinhardt et al. promote a “big bounce.” In this scenario, the universe’s current expansion was preceded by a phase of contraction, yielding similar benefits to inflation.

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Death

Michael Rosen reviews The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam by Douglas Murray.

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Pointless

Political Campaigning May Be Mostly Pointless by Ross Pomeroy.

Roughly $6.8 billion was spent during the 2016 election, and according to a forthcoming study in American Political Science Review, much of it probably went down the drain.

That money wasn’t technically wasted, of course. It paid for campaign managers, television ads, private planes, and countless cups of coffee. What it didn’t do, however, was actually convince citizens to vote for a candidate.

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Wiser

Yes, You Get Wiser with Age by Victor Gomes.

Aging gets a bad rap. But disease, decline and discomfort is far from the whole story. Dilip Jeste, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at UC San Diego and director of the UCSD Center for Healthy Aging, is challenging us to take another look.

In conversation with Nautilus, Jeste points out that some things get better with age, like the ability to make decisions, control emotions, and have compassion for others—in other words, we get wiser with age. The challenge to aging well, he argues, is to be optimist, resilient and pro-active, allowing the benefits of age to shine through. The corresponding challenge for doctors is not just to increase lifespan, but to increase healthy life.

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Apocalypse

The Coming Software Apocalypse by James Somers.

A small group of programmers wants to change how we code—before catastrophe strikes.

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Truth

Truth? It’s Not Just About the Facts by Julian Baggini.

From time to time, not very often, it looks as though the world has given philosophy a job to do. Now is such a moment. At last, a big abstract noun – truth – is at the heart of a cultural crisis and philosophers can be called in to sort it out.

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Attraction

Does Similarity Lead to Attraction and Compatibility? by Jeremy Nicholson.

Folk wisdom (and even some contemporary research) presents a mixed picture about who we end up finding attractive and compatible as a romantic partner. Do we prefer people who are similar and familiar to us for dates, mates, and spouses—or those who are a bit aloof, mysterious, and different? Do birds of a feather flock together, or does familiarity breed contempt?

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Smearing

Smearing Free Thought In Silicon Valley by Gideon Scopes.

In the aftermath of the so-called Google memo affair, there has been no shortage of misleading and in some cases downright inaccurate media coverage painting the author, James Damore, and his supporters in a very unfavorable light. The most recent example of this arose this past weekend, when The New York Times printed a hit piece on its front page with the inflammatory headline, “As Inequality Roils Tech World, A Group Wants More Say: Men.”1 In a clear display of narrative-driven journalism, the article attempts to smear those in the technology industry who hold dissenting views on gender issues by associating them with a political movement with which the public has little familiarity while providing little explanation of what that movement is or what it stands for.

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Nomadland

CJ reviews Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder.

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Debunked?

The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous by Gabrielle Glaser.

Its faith-based 12-step program dominates treatment in the United States. But researchers have debunked central tenets of AA doctrine and found dozens of other treatments more effective.

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