Author: Lars Emerson

Which Avenger is Each 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate?

Image Credit: Marvel

There are now 23 major candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president, and one or two more that seem likely to run or have expressed interest in doing so. That’s a lot of people to keep track of. Some are big names who have been around a while, and some are small names you probably will never hear from again. But they all got me thinking: in this, the year of 2019, there is really only one other newsmaking phenomenon that has the same star power, intrigue, cultural ubiquity, and overwhelmingly-large cast of characters: the Avengers.

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The R-Score: A Metric for Evaluating Restaurants

Baseball stars, politicians, cars, and even credit cards are associated with sophisticated mechanisms for grading and scoring that weigh the various components of their actions and abilities as well as their costs and benefits. These metrics offer an easy way to assess and compare the objects of their focus to other units. In anticipation of an upcoming column here on The Postrider, I believe it’s time to bring a scoring metric to restaurants, and – after failing to find one subjective enough to capture a wide range of options and personal tastes but objective enough that its methods could be standardized and generally applicable to a diverse array of locations and users – I decided to invent one myself. I’ve named it the Restaurant Score (or, if you’re looking for something that sounds cooler, the R-Score), a metric on the restaurant experience between worst (0) and best (10).1There is some possibility of run-over in the negatives and scores above 10 in extreme situations, but I’ll discuss this later.

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What if Pence Was Dropped from the Ticket in 2020?

In the summer of 2016, Indiana governor Mike Pence was selected as Donald Trump’s running mate. This choice was not to be made lightly, but reporting in June highlighted the struggles then-candidate Trump was facing in selecting a vice presidential candidate. Mainstream moderate Republicans had still refused to endorse him, a simmering consensus emerged that it was not an election Republicans were likely to win in November, and with the 2016 Senate race still in play, pulling candidates away from other key races was potential political suicide. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (all early backers of Trump compared to most members of the party) were among the last names left on the shortlist, and the aim of the Trump campaign was clear. It would need someone who would “balance his brash populist persona with a political profile that includes deep experience in Washington or ties to the party establishment”, according to The Washington Post. We don’t really know whether Christie or Gingrich were ever made an offer to be on the ticket, or if they outright declined because they thought he would lose, or even whether Tom Cotton or eventually-to-be-sentenced Michael Flynn were ready to go on as vice president until Trump changed his mind at the last minute. However it played out, Mike Pence was selected, Donald Trump was elected, and we now live in a world where Pence is a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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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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