James Holzhauer set a new-single game record ten games into his streak. He reached six-digit winnings five more times.

James “Jamie” Holzhauer won 32 matches on the U.S. game show Jeopardy!, over two months of play. James’s average earnings per game during those victories was $76,944. Before him, the highest one-day total was by computer scientist Roger Craig, who earned $77,000. After him, the game looks like this:

During his reign I grew addicted to Jeopardy, treating it like appointment television, staring at the screen as this Las Vegas gambler/savant wins 60–80K within 30 minutes of quizzing. …


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Russ Morris, taken 08/29/18. URL https://flic.kr/p/28dAnjU

Former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke may be the 2018 midterms’ breakout star. In a 18-month Senate campaign against Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), he seemed to defy the conventions that we call “political gravity:”

  1. He started the campaign without hiring pollsters and do not appear to have ever hired any (though he did hire outside consulting firms). His first campaign promise was not based on a policy, but a promise to campaign in every one of Texas’s 235 counties.
  2. He was following through his promise and attracted media buzz. Then he staked the campaign on engagement with supporters: he would…


How are the many, many candidates in the Democratic presidential primaries different from each other? How are they different from Trump? These are literally billion-dollar questions: they will anchor the strategies behind the candidates’ campaigns and, once a nominee is chosen, decide how the undoubtedly nasty 2020 general election will unfurl. But despite these questions’ importance, they are also hopelessly vague.

Take, for example this attempt by Nate Silver to rank and compare different Democratic hopefuls with his “five-corners graphs.” In his world, the differences that matter between the candidates are their relative appeal across different social communities in the…


It’s about commitment. The company designed their contest to build it.

Let me apologize for the clickbait headline on this article, because contorting my argument a bit for clicks is the only way to stand out among the torrent of text written about Amazon’s public competition for a new city to put a second headquarters. Promising $5 billion in new construction and at least “50,000 high-paying jobs,” the scramble among cities to put together a bid for the new HQ campus is a political competition “like we have never seen,” or “the biggest in history.

Most of the ink spilled…


I’m going to try to frame the CBO estimate more simply.

From the get-go, the new plan is going to slash subsidies for poorer and older Americans offered under ACA.
It will also implicitly tax the youngest cohorts with the 30% premium surcharge, either if they’re coming out of their parents’ plan or if they’re having to pay right as they enter the labor force.
Neither of these groups are flush with disposable income, so to conserve they will choose to opt out of healthcare.

The other half of the GOP bill the whole time is a massive slash to…


The link is here. Their executive summary is here, along with a pretty graph that says something very mundane: the bill cuts spending enough for it to be passed with a simple majority in the Senate, immune to filibusters. $664 billion of the $1.1 trillion in fewer spending over 10 years go to cutting taxes under the American Care Act.

Bottom line: this bill still guts Medicaid like the old version and still screws over non-young rich in buying insurance.

NOTICE THE Y AXIS SAYS “MILLIONS.”

Now, to the CBO’s hypothetical person, the fact that some states will gut all…


Hoops, spectacle and economic theorizing

A. Hoops.

I started watching the 2016 NBA Playoffs because of Steph Curry. “The Revolution,” “the new Jordan,” “better than [LeBron James].” He was the one that drove the Golden State Warriors to a 28-win game streak. A man with unprecedented statistics, eighth member of the “50–40–90” club, whatever that means.

I am the worst basketball player I know, but the statistics mean something to me. I am also a sucker for a romantic sports story. For a while I’ve followed tennis, one of the few professional sports where upsets still happen at major tournaments…


Written by a single child and a pet hater

A. National Siblings Day

National Siblings Day apparently took place on April 10th. It is not a national holiday, because the law requires it to at least be recognized through Presidential proclamation. No one knows if the day celebrates your solitary sibling or your numerous siblings. The social media posts I saw regarding this holiday mostly went online after sundown.

If you believe the Siblings Day Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit housed in a Manhattan office, the holiday was thought up by Claudia Evert, a paralegal raised in New York. In 1972…


First written 01/20/2015.

It may be a nice feeling to know that, in Chinese, the United States of America is colloquially known as 美国 (meiguo), a word composed of two characters: the one for “Beauty” and one for “nation,” or “country.” This is, strictly speaking, not the official name, which is even more flattering: 美利坚合众国 (meilijian hezhongguo), or “The United States of Beauty, Advantage and Endurance.”

Why is this? If you ask this to the average Chinese person, they will probably respond: “well, it’s phonetic.” They will say that the character 美 not only has a positive meaning, but sounds…


First written 06/21/2015.

A. Five Finger Death Punch.
Four days after a shooter killed nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, this terrorist act has been retold in a few ways:

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates will argue along the white supremacy line, where the shooter’s motive falls along lines that have been rehashed throughout American history, since the dawn of slavery.
  • Bill Maher will argue along the right-wing media line, where the shooter was incensed by a bout of sensationalism on Fox News et al. that drives people to such madness.
  • Foreign correspondents in the US, with some liberal pundits, will argue…

Perpetual Amazement

Social studies that step on your foot.

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