Are rich people really that smart?

Donald Trump fires his breakfast.

Donald Trump fires somebody, anybody.

The subtext of this New York Times story on big donors’ desire to advise presidential campaigns is that maybe they don’t offer the best advice. Consider this “zinger” that Julian Gingold gave Scott Walker:

“I mentioned that Trump had dinner at the 21 Club in New York with Oliver Stone. The message would get across that he had dinner with a leftist — what sort of conservative are you?”

Dinner with a leftist! It’s the scandal of the season, until Mike Huckabee plays softball with an atheist. Similarly, the Times reports that media mogul Stanley Hubbard was trying to reach Walker in the days before he dropped out of the race, to advise him to get more media training.

These are perhaps not ace political strategies. It makes sense that a professional wealth manager would not know as well as professional campaign managers how to execute a presidential campaign. But the public consensus seems to hold that, if wealth doesn’t necessarily qualify a person to run a campaign, it does qualify them to be president.

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Artisanal bindles for $350 in Williamsburg?

The Bindle Brothers of Brooklyn, from their "business company" site

The Bindle Brothers of Brooklyn, from their “business company” site

One of the best features of satire, in my opinion, is how it encourages the uncharitable reader[/ref]or auditor, or viewer, or whatever[/ref] to attack at the wrong moment. It’s like a boxing feint. I first encountered this New York Times story on the Bindle Bros. of Brooklyn—an artisanal bindle company that uses “locally grown, naturally fallen” sticks to make $350 bindle bags—shared on Twitter with the comment “come on, Williamsburg.” The commenter had even retweeted the story from an original sharer who presented it as satire, but no matter: it fit his sense of hipster affectation, and he leapt to scorn it.

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Friday links! Sociable ghosts edition

Illustration from "The Sociable Ghost" by Ellen D'Apery, 1903

Illustration from “The Sociable Ghost” by Ellen D’Apery, 1903

That’s a design-wreckingly vertical illustration, but my, how it pleases me. Everyone who is not dead yet is going to die. It’s cool you have an Apple Watch, but someday another person will remove it from your cold, stiffening wrist and count himself lucky before he dies. Then everyone who knows him will die. Then the space mantids of Alpha Proxima will be like, “Get back to work.” But our words will live on, and the stories of our deeds will be remembered long after our names are only sounds. Today is Friday, another minute in a game whose meaning abides in a handful of spectacular plays. Won’t you review the tapes with me?

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Missoula gun control ordinance is a good idea but bad policy

Seth Greene and the staff at Lock, Stock and Barrel Investments

Seth Greene and the staff at Lock, Stock and Barrel Investments

The Missoula City Council is considering an ordinance that would require background checks for purchases at gun shows, which is a fine idea likely to run into some problems in practice. Definitely, we should do something about gun violence. As of last month, the United States was averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015, which seems excessive. Maybe we could have a good, free society and still go 24 hours without using a firearm to shoot more than three people at a time. If Missoula’s proposed background check ordinance will help with that, I’m all for it.

But I am concerned the ordinance in question will not help. Currently, federal law requires background checks for gun purchases at licensed dealers—including the 50 within Missoula city limits—but not at gun shows. That’s a bad loophole, and Congress should close it. As you may have heard, though, Congress has a hard time passing gun control legislation, even though a Quinnipiac poll conducted last year found that 92% of gun owners support this particular measure.

But the NRA is against it, so it’s a dead letter. The plan to use municipal governments to pass a law Congress will not seems like a good solution, but cities lack the scope to make such ordinances meaningful. The next Ravalli County Gun Show is scheduled for December, a mere 50 miles from Missoula. A background check ordinance seems unlikely to guarantee that felons and the mentally ill won’t be able to buy guns; it will only guarantee that they buy them outside Missoula.

Meanwhile, it will generate as much ill will among pro-gun activists as any other measure that makes it harder to buy firearms. For the first time in my life, I am against a proposed gun control law. You can read about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which is the kind of nuanced argument guaranteed to alienate everybody. That’s pretty much my niche. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links, unless somebody arbitrarily decides to kill me by pressing a button on a machine anyone with $400 can buy.



Pope should praise air conditioning, says HVAC service CEO

Veteran sales and service pro Matt Michel starts to pixelate around the edges.

Veteran sales and service pro Matt Michel starts to pixelate around the edges.

In his June encyclical on climate change, Pope Francis criticized air conditioning as both a cause and consequence of global warming. Ironically, our damaged environment encourages us toward more damaging behavior. He wrote:

A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive.

So bad news for Carrier. But what if the pope were wrong? What if, when it came to the moral trajectory of the 21st century, the head of the Catholic church didn’t know what he was talking about? What if you were better off asking—oh, I don’t know—an air conditioning service consultant?

Neither I, nor any other soul on this earth knows if the planet is warming or cooling, or whether man can significantly affect the climate. We know that despite all predictions and computer modeling, warming has inexplicably been paused since before the turn of the century. Nevertheless, if warming resumes, it will be air conditioning that will save humanity and ease the suffering from a warmer planet.

That’s not even the best paragraph in Matt Michel’s editorial, titled What the Pope Should Say About Air Conditioning. Discourse on motivated reason after the jump.

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