May 2016 Archives

Gawker's Ashley Feinberg asks of Trump's "inscrutable hairdo," is it actually a $60,000 weave? Feinberg offers "a potential answer--perhaps the first plausible one--to the riddle of Donald Trump's hair:"

A tipster who claimed knowledge of Trump's hair recently came to Gawker with a potential solution to the enigma: Trump's hair is not his own, costs tens of thousands of dollars for installation and upkeep, and comes from a man as mysterious as Trump is bombastic.

This solution that Trump, our tipster says, sought for his hair woes is a little-known, patented hair restoration treatment called a "microcylinder intervention." It's only performed by one clinic that we know of--Ivari International--where our source once sought treatment, and where he says he learned of Trump's apparent patronage. What's more, Ivari's New York location was inside Trump Tower--on a floor that's now private and reserved for Donald Trump's children's offices.

"Trump's candy-colored head rug," observes Feinberg, "flaps as one in the breeze." For instance:

20160524-trumphair.jpg

Another memorable example is this video of Trump's hair flying away from a bald eagle:

You'll notice that as it's being sideswiped by the powerful wing of Uncle Sam, Trump's meticulously arranged pile of hair moves as though it were a single entity. Or, perhaps, as though it were woven together.

"Which," as Feinberg continus, "brings us to the patented microcylinder technique of Mr. Edward Ivari." Feinberg shows us "an archived copy of the website from April of 1997 shows that Ivari had previously listed itself as located on the 25th floor of none other than Trump Tower:"

20160524-trumptower.png

Now, how exactly would an "available private entrance for our prominent clients" work with an office on the 25th floor of a high rise? You'd likely need to have access to whatever it was that took up space on either side of your business's walls. As luck would have it, Donald Trump's office was located directly above, on the 26th floor.*

According to our tipster's theory, Donald Trump first started seeking treatment at Ivari at some point prior to the year 2000. However, Ivari International had advertised its services in New York Magazine periodically between 1995 and 1997, as seen below. So Donald Trump could have easily caught wind of the treatment then.

It wasn't until November in 2005 that Ivari stopped listing the New York location as being on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. It has claimed to be "in the process of changing the address" ever since. [...]

We were unable to try to track down Ivari's former New York location because, as someone with knowledge of Trump Tower's inner workings explained, since at least 2011 it's been impossible to get to the 25th floor without a security escort. Nothing, we are told, remains there but the Trump family business.

In conclusion, Feinberg suggests "a fun little thought exercise:"

Let us pretend for a minute that perhaps Ivari was never really "in the process of changing the address" in New York. That would mean that, for at least the five additional years the business continued to function in New York state (if not longer), Ivari International sat squarely in the direct vicinity of Donald Trump's office.

Considering the lack of advertising and refusal to share its actual location, new clients would have surely been rare, if not nonexistent. This would mean, then, that Ivari would need some steady source of income from some sort of mega-client. Some mega-client that, perhaps, has built an identity around his objectively terrible hair choices but refuses to concede that his hair is anything but his own. In which case, this bombastic, mega-client would of course demand the utmost privacy.

Wouldn't it be convenient, then, if Ivari's New York office was right below its number one client's own office? And wouldn't having other clients become unnecessary if this one hyper-wealthy regular required constant attention?

Might this secret mega-client singlehandedly sustaining Ivari International's New York office with constant treatments be none other than presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump himself?

Such an exercise strikes me as far more likely than any explanation issuing from the mouth of Trump.


update (5/25 at 6:41pm)
In light of "Trump's absurd hair [being] easily the most memorable thing about him," Slate wonders, why aren't we talking about Trump's (alleged) hairpiece?

I don't understand why Gawker's investigative report about Donald Trump's hair is not the major national news story of the moment. [...] He has basically staked his entire reputation on the claim that his hair is real.

How much investigative zeal does our allegedly confrontational press truly have?

It was time for me to have some graphic-design fun, combining Banksy's slap at Trump with the revolutionary pretensions of his Teatard supporters:

20160507-donttrumponme.jpg

This would make a fun t-shirt design, don't you think?

unbalanced

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Trump promises debt, default, and depression, writes Jon Perr, and "There's no mystery as to why:"

Trump's combined promises to boost defense spending, deliver massive tax cuts for the wealthy and to eliminate the national debt in 8 years would necessarily require gutting federal spending by about 80 percent, reductions so draconian that the U.S. economy might never recover.

"Leaving aside Trump's 8-year time-frame compared the CBO's 10-year forecast," he continues, "we're talking about cutting $40 trillion from a $51 trillion budget--approximately 78 percent:"

And it's not just that Trump literally can't get there from here. The U.S. economy would be a devastated hellscape if he could get anywhere close. As ThinkProgress pointed out when a balanced budget amendment was being kicked around Congress four years ago, even those comparatively modest cuts would produce an economic calamity on the scale of the Great Depression:
If the 2012 budget were balanced through spending cuts, those cuts would total about $1.5 trillion in 2012 alone, the analysis estimates. Those cuts would throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.

Perr concludes:

To put it another way, putting Donald Trump in the White House wouldn't "Make America Great Again." It would create a self-fulfilling economic cataclysm so horrific that Americans could only dream of a "major recession" under President Trump.

Greg Mankiw identifies presidential campaign myths that feed this nightmare, such as the disappearance of American manufacturing jobs, the furor over bad trade deals, and the nonsensical 'tax cuts will unleash stupendous growth' mantra. "Republican candidates like to mimic Ronald Reagan's call for lower taxes," Mankiw remarks, but:

Too often they act as if there were no problem that a tax cut couldn't solve. According to the Tax Policy Center, Mr. Trump's tax plan would reduce federal tax revenue by 29 percent.

That's a cliff over which I'd rather not be driven.

WaPo provides a ridiculous example of racial profiling aboard an American Airlines flight:

The curly-haired man tried to keep to himself, intently if inscrutably scribbling on a notepad he'd brought aboard. His seatmate, a blond-haired, 30-something woman sporting flip-flops and a red tote bag, looked him over. [...] He appeared laser-focused -- perhaps too laser-focused -- on the task at hand, those strange scribblings.

His suspicious seatmate "flagged down a flight attendant and handed that crew-member a note" which caused the flight to turn around and return to the gate. The suspect, a "darkly-complected foreign man," was removed from the plane and "taken to meet some sort of agent." It was then that he was told about the cause of his seatmate's concern, those "cryptic notes, scrawled in a script she didn't recognize:"

Maybe it was code, or some foreign lettering, possibly the details of a plot to destroy the dozens of innocent lives aboard American Airlines Flight 3950. She may have felt it her duty to alert the authorities just to be safe. The curly-haired man was, the agent informed him politely, suspected of terrorism.

The curly-haired man laughed.

He laughed because those scribbles weren't Arabic, or some other terrorist code. They were math.

Yes, math. A differential equation, to be exact.

Had the crew or security members perhaps quickly googled this good-natured, bespectacled passenger before waylaying everyone for several hours, they might have learned that he -- Guido Menzio -- is a young but decorated Ivy League economist. And that he's best known for his relatively technical work on search theory, which helped earn him a tenured associate professorship at the University of Pennsylvania as well as stints at Princeton and Stanford's Hoover Institution.

"Menzio showed the authorities his calculations and was allowed to return to his seat," the piece continues, but his erstwhile "never reboarded to the flight:"

Menzio for his part says he was "treated respectfully throughout," though he remains baffled and frustrated by a "broken system that does not collect information efficiently." He is troubled by the ignorance of his fellow passenger, as well as "A security protocol that is too rigid-in the sense that once the whistle is blown everything stops without checks-and relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless."

Menzio wondered, "What might prevent an epidemic of paranoia? It is hard not to recognize in this incident, the ethos of [Donald] Trump's voting base."

They're frightened of anything that they don't understand--and there are so many things beyond their ken.

The book Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy asks some questions:

Why do hardworking people with similar talents and training often earn such dramatically different incomes? And why, too, have these earnings gaps grown so much larger in recent decades?

"Almost no other questions," he answers, "have proved more enduringly fascinating to economists:"

The traditional approach to these questions views labor markets as perfectly competitive meritocracies in which people are paid in accordance with the value of what they produce. In this view, earnings differences result largely from individual differences in "human capital"--an amalgam of intelligence, training, experience, social skills, and other personal characteristics known to affect productivity. Human capital commands a rate of return in the marketplace, just like any other asset, suggesting that individual pay differences should be proportional to the corresponding differences in human capital.

He notes, however, that "not even the most sophisticated measures of human capital can explain more than a tiny fraction of individual earnings differences during any year," and points out that "The human capital approach is also completely silent about the role of chance events in the labor market"--which prompts an additional question:

If markets have been growing more competitive over time, why are the earnings gaps unaccounted for by the human capital approach larger than ever?

He mentions his 1995 book, The Winner- Take-All Society (with co-author Philip Cook) and reiterates that "Winner-take-all markets generally display two characteristic features:"

One is that rewards depend less on absolute performance than on relative performance. [..] A second important feature of winner-take-all markets is that rewards tend to be highly concentrated in the hands of a few top performers.

That certainly sounds relevant of late. "Events of the past two decades," he observes, "have provided little reason to doubt that runaway growth in top incomes has resulted in large part from increasing leverage in the "winners" positions, in tandem with growing competition to fill those positions:"

By every measure, markets have grown more competitive, and the most productive players have gained additional leverage since The Winner-Take-All Society's publication in 1995.

What's also clear is that the economic forces that have been causing the spread and intensification of winner-take-all markets have by no means run their course. We can expect continued growth in the intensity of competition on the buyers' side for the best talent, and on the sellers' side for the top positions.

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