Author: Lars Emerson

The Odds of Every Headliner Surviving Infinity War Are Questionable

Image Credit: Marvel/The Postrider Illustration

It was all over in a chilling snap; Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe, ending his Malthusian quest for balance, at great personal cost to our antagonist. Plenty of heroes survived and are sure to regroup and seek to avenge their fallen comrades in Avengers: Endgame in a few weeks. Marvel recently unveiled character posters for those who survived and those who fell by Thanos’ hand, which give us some insight as to who is still around and what the team-up will look like. Conveniently, Thanos’ random snap left all six of the original Avengers — Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye — standing and ready to reunite to do whatever it takes to defeat him and restore order to the universe. This serendipitous team-up reminds audiences how far these heroes have come from 2008 since the original Iron Man through the first time they assembled in 2012’s The Avengers and of the ghosts of tragedy in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. It’ll make for what is sure to be a nostalgic, tragic, and ultimate reminder of the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a behemoth of a cultural moment the likes of which the world has never seen, that has delighted audiences worldwide. So I’m going to ruin it for myself and for you, dear reader, with some math.

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How Game Theory Dooms the Challenger in Presidential Elections

Assuming the incumbent president runs for reelection, roughly every eight years there is an election in the United States that pits an incumbent president against the other party. In the upcoming 2020 election, that other party will be the Democrats, who are seeking to unseat President Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a historically unpopular president and the economy may be lessthanstellar come 2020, two factors that should indicate a competitive race. But there’s a problem – there could be around 15-20 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination to run against the incumbent president.1For the sake of this exercise, we are ignoring Bill Weld’s Republican primary challenge against Donald Trump, which seems unlikely to turn into much. An incumbent president has not lost renomination since Chester A. Arthur lost to James G. Blaine in 1884, but incumbent presidents have faced significant primary challenges that may have lead to their downfall, which I’ll discuss later.

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What an Emergency Fund Really Means

The median amount Americans hold in a savings account is about $5000, 57% of Americans could not afford a $500 surprise expense, and only 39% of Americans could pay for a $1000 surprise expense. Most folks know that having savings is a good thing and have been instructed time and time again that an emergency fund is an important financial asset to build up as you enter the workforce in your 20s, but what does this really entail, and what is it for?

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Locations of the Party Conventions Don’t (Really) Matter

Headlines broke last week about Midwestern Democrats doubling down on their push for the 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) to be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is one of three finalists under consideration by the Democrats along with Houston and Miami, and is the only city among the three to have never held a party convention before. Meanwhile, the Republicans landed on Charlotte, North Carolina as the host city of the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) back in 2018 after briefly considering Las Vegas (which also bid for the DNC but withdrew).

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The Last Airbender: 101 & 102

Avatar: The Last Airbender first aired 14 years ago today. It unites audiences and themes that reverberate across the spectrums of young and old, critic and skeptic, and jovial and serious. It blends a unique array of serious issues, including imperialism, war, feminism, justice, power, physical disability, and subjective morality with lighter themes that explore family, loneliness, honor, and personal redemption. Ostensibly a children’s show, it maintains cultural relevance today due to its cross-appeal and for the way it evolved and matured with its audience, eventually spawning  a sequel series, Legend of Korra, that dealt with more complicated questions of self and morality. Although Legend of Korra has been the subject of much acclaim itself, the original series has been heralded as a key program in demonstrating the breadth and diversity within the greater Golden Age of Television and as one of the “greatest shows of all time.

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Life Auditing for the New Year

I was recently complimented/teased for running a fairly efficient life. I track my activities, my goals, and consistently seek to do everything “the most” I can do it. Whether this is a product of pure ambition (probably not) or just boredom and my craving for completionism (probably) is yet to be determined – but I have built a reputation of being pretty, if not ruthlessly, efficient.1So efficient that, as Kathleen was editing my piece, I was approving her edits in tow… but here I am, typing out this footnote, and she’s not halfway through it yet.

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