• DEFINITION FOR THE YEAR: We’re in the POST-TRUTH (aka POST-FACTUAL) POLITICAL ERA, which Wikipedia defines as “debate determined largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored.”

. WITHIN THE NEXT DOZEN YEARS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS ON PATH TO “MERGE WITH HUMANS, creating ‘Human Intelligence’… Building on 15-years of academic research at USC (funded by Nat’l Institutes of Health and DARPA), researchers are working to interface the digital world with our central nervous system – 100 trillion synaptic connections that control everything we do, think and feel, shaping how we perceive the world – for the purpose of augmenting or repairing human cognition.” If and when successful, this would literally “change us as a species, taking evolution into our own hands, going from evolution by natural selection (Darwinism) into evolution by intelligent direction.” Ray Kurzweil, Google’s director of engineering with an 86%-accuracy rate in predicting the future over the last 25 years, forecasts: “Just like how we can wirelessly expand the power of our smart phones 10,000-fold in the cloud today, we’ll be able to expand our neocortex in the cloud.” [PETER DIAMANDIS.COM – Dec 4, 16]

• A QUARTER OF THE PENTAGON’S NEARLY $50 BILLION MONTHLY BUDGET goes to over a million contractors, civilians and non-active soldiers (some $125 million yearly) to fill back-office jobs which support only 1.3 million active-duty troops. A major study by McKinsey consultants unsurprisingly found that that bloated Defense Dep’t spending had “never been rigorously measured as to cost effectiveness, speed, agility or quality of business operations… nor had leaders even a remotely accurate idea of what they were paying for those operations.” It turned out that the average administrator’s job is over $200K salary + benefits; the army alone also employs some two-hundred-thousand full-time contractors at that average cost. After stonewalling at all levels (including ‘secrecy restrictions’), the project was “killed by discrediting and suppressing the results,” and the study was buried for evidently two reasons: (1) “Pentagon leaders fretted that by spotlighting so much waste, Congress and the White House might decide to cut budgets deeper, and (2) Lawmakers block even modest attempts to downsize the Pentagon’s workforce because they do not want to lose jobs in their districts.” [WASHINGTON POST – Dec 5, 16]

• “IN EVERY SINGLE AREA WHERE THE LEFT DIFFERS FROM THE RIGHT, IT ASSIGNS A LABEL… You have to marvel at the ease with which our fellow Americans who call themselves ‘progressive’ label those with whom they differ as sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted. I always wonder: Do they believe it? Or do they say it because they lack intellectual arguments? I have come to believe that both are true. As a student of the left since graduate school, I am more aware than most people of how old and ubiquitous this mode of attack is. Since Josef Stalin got away with calling Leon Trotsky a fascist — Trotsky, the father of the Bolshevik and the Red Army — the Left has relied on defaming its opponents. And whatever it says often enough, it comes to believe. Moreover, the libel list never ends. The left may not produce liberty or prosperity, but it does produce labels. We now have misogynist and transphobic, for example.” [DENNIS PRAGER – Dec 6, 16]

• TEN YEARS LATE AND ONLY AFTER A “TIP,” the State Department got authorities in Ghana to shut down a “bogus U.S. Embassy which has issued counterfeit visas for over a decade!” Seekers from all over West Africa were paying mobsters thousands of dollars for phony visas – which State says “none made it past U.S. customs officials.” Right… [THE WEEK – Dec 16, 16]

• AND WHO SAYS THE CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT DOESN’T PRIORITIZE IMPORTANT CASES? In March, it will be debating whether “lawyers can make their own decisions about appropriate sexual behavior,” as they consider updating an existing 25-year Rule which already bars attorneys from “using their position of power to coerce clients into sleeping with them.” But after more than 200 reports of misconduct over an 18-year period resulting in only one conviction, their decision may add a “ban on lawyer-client sex, consensual or not.” [THE ECONOMIST – Dec 10, 16]

• THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: The Unemployment Rate is lowest in nine years at 4.6%. Great news if you opt to ignore the 11.5% of working-age men who, for statistical purposes, have “dropped out of the workforce” after unemployment benefits ran out.

An exceptionally creative Hollywood adaptation of ‘Casey at the Bat’ parodying this year’s Election result (but not for those still in mourning): http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/obama_at_bat.html