Thank you, CakeWrecks.com
It’s basically Thanksgiving. I’m thankful the Indy ran my column a day early this week, leaving me free to focus on my real calling, these Black Beans with Orange. Obviously, the period of Thanksgiving commences when you start cooking the food, not when you eat the food. So happy holidays, everybody! It might as well be Christmas morning.
In the meantime, I’m also thankful Sarah Aswell wrote this heartfelt, cleanly structured essay about our comedy death pact and the Missoula open mic where we fulfilled it. She is good at writing but never has to fall back on that, because she is also good at finding interesting stories. Don’t let America fall to ISIS, or she will have to stop writing and wear a bag over her head.
I have achieved a similar result without the bag. There will be no blog tomorrow, since Thanksgiving Thursday is also a holiday, nor Friday because my boss is not a miser duck. Instead, Combat! blog will go to the hot springs with our hot girlfriend. We will take pictures, but they’re not for you. They’re for a certain class of Japanese businessmen. See you Monday!
Ben Carson deploys one of his two historical examples.
When I was an expensive SAT tutor, we made the kids learn three examples from history for the essay section. It doesn’t matter what the question is. Pick three historical examples—Rosa Parks, free silver, French revolution—and learn enough that you can use them to respond to any prompt. It sounds like we were gaming the test, but really that’s how smart people think. You don’t try to become an expert on every conceivable situation. You learn a lot about a few things—chemical engineering, the Bible, judo—and use them as frameworks to understand whatever comes up. The goal is not to additively expand your knowledge, but to multiply your ability to apply what knowledge you have. Most high schools don’t teach that way, because it’s hard. They try to cram as much knowledge into your kid as they can, and the really expensive ones cram more and harder. Anyway, that’s why your kid needs a tutor. Also, there was one example from history my students were not allowed to use: rise of Hitler.
Donald J. Trump out for a ride on his horse, Democracy
Donald Trump had a big weekend. On Saturday, he told a rally of his supporters in Birmingham, Alabama that “we have to surveil the mosques.” After a half-dozen white attendees at that rally knocked a Black Lives Matter protestor to the ground and kicked him for a while, Trump went on This Week and told George Stephanopoulos that “maybe he should have been roughed up.” In the same appearance, he called for the return of waterboarding and said he would “not at all” rule out a database of Muslims living in the United States. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted “statistics” claiming that 81% of white murder victims are killed by blacks. According to the FBI as reported by the Daily News, it’s actually about 15%.
Nice to see Frank and Luanne back together
Well, that was fast: The Combat! blog team is pleased to announce the return of the comments section, after literally several of you wrote in to say you wanted it back. The people have spoken, and they will continue to speak in a designated protest zone under each post. You can all go back to threatening my brother and making in-jokes about SAT tutoring there, while posts themselves will remain the exclusive province of my ill-considered rantings. Today is Friday, and policy is for the people to respond to but not, you know, make. Won’t you gather torches and pitchforks with me?
Billionaire and maybe gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte—photo by Wolcott
Last time we checked in on Greg Gianforte, he had just cited the example of Noah, who was still working at age 600, to argue that “the concept of retirement is not biblical.” It was a pretty exciting quote, implying as it did that a man who had sold his own business for $1.5 billion A) regarded the Genesis story of Noah and the great flood as literally true, and B) wanted us to keep working until we died. The press had fun with it. It was kind of a shame, since this admittedly batty comment overshadowed Gianforte’s main policy idea, which was to encourage professionals who had left the state to “come home and bring their jobs with them” as telecommuters.
Montana has the second-lowest average wages of any state in the union. Unemployment is low, but pay is terrible. I was shocked, when I first arrived here for grad school, to find jobs for skilled carpenters advertising $8.50 an hour. Our per capita income is 38th, but that’s because of resource extraction, rental income, selling pieces of the ranch to Californians, et cetera. If you work for a living, Montana is a bad place to do it.
Gianforte’s focus on attracting high-paying jobs to the state therefore seems well-placed. Before he sold it to Oracle, the company he founded paid hundreds of employees around Bozeman an average wage of $92,000 a year. He is a tech guy, an engineer. He believes the problems in Montana’s employment system have solutions, and we can find them if we think carefully enough.
One cannot help but notice he has tweaked the system of his candidacy, as well. I sat down with Gianforte for about an hour last week, and he did not mention his religion until I asked about it. Even then, all he would say was that no one has the right to force their beliefs on anybody else. I found him likable and smart, and clearly excited by ideas—this time, classical economics instead of biblical creation. You can read all about our interview in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links.