Happy New Year 2016

Just a few brief notes:

  • You would not want to get too far into 2016 without reading Dave Barry's 2015 Year in Review. Sample:

    Are we saying that 2015 was the worst year ever? Are we saying it was worse than, for example, 1347, the year when the Bubonic Plague killed a large part of humanity?

    Yes, we are saying that. Because at least the remainder of humanity was not exposed to a solid week in which the news media focused intensively on the question of whether a leading candidate for president of the United States had, or had not, made an explicit reference to a prominent female TV journalist’s biological lady cycle.

    Many recollections of the past year, some of which I bet you've diligently tried to forget.

  • Also, slightly more serious, is George F. Will's take.

    We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars. The attorney general of New York, which reaps billions from gambling — casinos, off-track betting, the state lottery — moved to extinguish (competition from) fantasy football because it is gambling. Florida police raided a mahjong game played by four women aged between 87 and 95 because their game’s stakes allegedly exceeded the $10 limit set by state law. A Michigan woman was fingerprinted, had her mug shot taken, and was jailed until released on bond because she was late in renewing the $10 license for her dog. New Jersey police arrested a 72-year-old retired teacher, chained his hands and feet to a bench, and charged him with illegally carrying a firearm — a 300-year-old flintlock pistol (with no powder, flint, or ball) he purchased from an antique dealer.

    And there's more. Much more.

  • Certainly 2015 was the year of the victim. In 2014, the aforementioned Mr. Will stirred up some controversy by arguing that victimhood was becoming "a coveted status that confers privileges" on modern college campuses. After a year and a half of evidence, Will's claim looks (a) prescient; (b) understated. But it has slopped out of academia to despoil the wider culture as well, and no longer confines itself to its traditional home on the left wing.

    Arthur Brooks penned some wise words about victimhood earlier this week in the NYT.

    So who cares if we are becoming a culture of victimhood? We all should. To begin with, victimhood makes it more and more difficult for us to resolve political and social conflicts. The culture feeds a mentality that crowds out a necessary give and take — the very concept of good-faith disagreement — turning every policy difference into a pitched battle between good (us) and evil (them).

    Mr. Brooks has science on his side.

  • We can also review predictions made about 2015. For example, Kevin D. Williamson's. Contra Dave Barry:

    So here’s the one prediction I will make: 2015 will be one of the best years in human history. And next December, we’ll all be bitching about it.

    Read the whole thing, especially if you reflexively disagree.