A Wednesday Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Bill says:
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Just passed a guy in a jetpack’: sightings at Los Angeles airport fuel concern

    “Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack,” a pilot said.

    “American 1997, OK, thank you, were they off to your left side or your right side?” the controller asked.

    “Off the left side at maybe 300 yards or so at our altitude,” the pilot said.

    Another pilot also reported a sighting. “We just saw the guy pass by us in the jetpack,” he said. The controller then advised another aircraft flight crew to use caution.

    “Person in a jetpack reported 300 yards south of the LA final at about 3,000ft, 10-mile final,” the controller said.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gregg Gonsalves

    This is explosive news. The former head of @NIH, Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus & current head of ⁦@RockefellerFdn Rajiv Shah just say it: ignore the ⁦@CDCgov on #COVID19. 1/

    Gregg Gonsalves @gregggonsalves
    DonaldTrump along with SecAzar & CDCDirector have destroyed the credibility of a once-great agency. Yes many of the career civil servants there are great. But a fish rots from the head down. 2/

    Gregg Gonsalves @gregggonsalves

    Just sit & think about this. In the midst of a pandemic, our POTUS is foolish enough to knee-cap his own disease control agency. DonaldTrump and the @GOP are endangering us all. End/

    So. Much. Winning.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Two Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies fatally shot a Black man after ordering him to stop on his bicycle, the latest police shooting to rock the region in recent months.

    Family members identified the 29-year-old as Dijon Kizzee, 29, CBSLos Angeles reported. Officers shot him on Monday afternoon, after they tried to stop him for allegedly violating vehicle codes.

    Kizzee’s body was left in the streets for hours, sparking a large demonstration of angry residents and activists demanding accountability for a sheriff’s agency with a legacy of controversial killings, brutality cases and corruption scandals.

    The sheriff’s lieutenant Brandon Dean said two deputies from the South Los Angeles station had been driving in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Westmont when they saw a man riding his bicycle in violation of vehicle codes, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was not known which codes the man allegedly broke, Dean said.

    When deputies tried to stop the man he dropped his bike and ran, with deputies in pursuit, according to Dean. Deputies again tried to make contact with the man, Dean said. According to the department, the man then punched a deputy, though police have not provided any evidence to substantiate this claim. . The man dropped a bundle of clothes and the deputies spotted a black handgun in the bundle, at which point both opened fire, Dean said.

    The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said no deputies were injured.

    Yep, you read that right. By their own admission, they shot him after he dropped the gun. Really guys? That’s the best story you can come up with?

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Mole Agent: the story of the most unusual documentary of the year

    With The Mole Agent, Maite Alberdi set out to make a film noir documentary about a spy in a nursing home. She did not expect it to transform into an aching meditation on isolation and loneliness.
    The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, follows the octogenarian Sergio Chamy who is hired by a private eye, Rómulo Aitken, to snoop around a nursing home. Gradually, life chips away at the Pink Panther playfulness of the premise, and the film settles into a sombre look at ageing and desperately hanging on to human connection.
    She already had a crew on scene before Chamy’s arrival. The staff were told that her crew was making a documentary about daily life in a nursing home. That turns out to be closer to what the film became, since Chamy soon grew tired of spying. Despite all the deception, the film ended up being far more honest than intended.

    “Our heart was not in the case,” Alberdi said, explaining how her crew followed Chamy’s lead. Though he found his “target”, made contact and regularly checked in on her wellbeing, his undercover dispatches to Aitken grew less frequent. The gentle spy grew resentful of his boss and the covert job. Instead, Chamy befriended other residents and turned his attention to them. And the documentary became about the long-term care home’s social dynamic.

    Early scenes show the predominantly female residents watching the cameras suspiciously, reminding each other that those boom mics are listening in on their conversations, as if they too had secret agendas. But eventually they ignore the crew’s presence and carry on, often fawning over Chamy, who was one of only a handful of men in that home.
    In The Mole Agent, Alberdi homes in on the micro-society the women and the nurses build for themselves, and how Chamy navigates that. In scenes that alternate between humour and heartbreak, he brings them conversation and comfort. He helps them cope, and when needed, stand on their own two feet. He keeps the home’s resident kleptomaniac in check, returning stolen necklaces to their owners with a gentle nod of disapproval towards the amusing culprit. And, if only for a short while, he entertains the amorous eyes of women like Berta.

    “I would consider giving God my virginity through my future husband,” says the simultaneously pious and randy Berta, who’s been in the home for 25 years. Alberdi’s film is particularly attentive to how Catholicism, patriarchy and female sexuality can thrive at once in this environment. That one line from Berta nails it all.

    The sadness that throbs throughout the film swells near the end, when the women in the home pour their heart out to Chamy about missing their families and being left behind. With that emotional finale, Alberdi expected her film to inspire a conversation in Chile about the loneliness and depression experienced by seniors. But Covid-19 did that instead.

    I hope I get to see this one.

  6. KM says:

    I’m curious how much of this is FL having played fast and loose with their data from the beginning and are now shocked, SHOCKED to see businesses have followed their lead. FL’s been pretty damn clear they has a… unique way of viewing and counting COVID cases as it was news from the beginning they cooked the books. DeSantis is yelling at Quest because the data’s “unusable” for being old (over two weeks) but notifications were still made and FL hasn’t actually been using the data they way it’s supposed to be.

    This feels like the minion did exactly what the boss wanted, only to find the boss screaming at them for being so incompetent to do what they were told. Politically useful too – it’s not FL’s fault, they didn’t get the data in time! As Quest is a major – if not THE major – company down there doing testing, all this means it’s anyone wanting a COVID test now probably must pay out of pocket since the gov or insurance won’t cover it. Guess what’s about to happen in time for the election?

  7. Bill says:

    The Whoever said Karaoke would prove to be the death of mankind may be right headline of the day-

    Thirty cases of COVID-19 — and counting — linked to Quebec City karaoke bar

  8. Bill says:


    This feels like the minion did exactly what the boss wanted, only to find the boss screaming at them for being so incompetent to do what they were told.

    You’re probably right but I’m not studying the matter. When it comes to Covid 19*, I pretty much stopped listening to Governor Desantis is saying about it.

    *- Except for headline of the day material of course

  9. Kathy says:


    That was all over the aviation blogs yesterday, with about as little information.

    So here’s my wild speculation: someone made a helium balloon shaped like a guy in a jetpack.

    On serious aviation news, all three major US carriers (American, Delta, and United) plus Alaska, have eliminated change fees. Southwest never had them.

    Change fees were always a cash grab, nothing else but. Often the fee to change a ticket cost more than the ticket.

    Expect basic economy, non-refundable fares to become the new normal fare, and the formerly normal fares to become bundled again.

  10. KM says:

    Eh, apparently it’s possible though very, very stupid. idiots like to do this sort of thing near the airport for reasons known only to themselves. Maybe he got a thrill buzzing by planes like he’s Maverick sans the cockpit??

  11. Kathy says:


    You can get stunning photos and video of airplanes with a drone near an airport. But that’s dangerous. Most drone vs commercial jet collisions would be harmless, but a few might not be, like if the drone went into the engine, or struck a flight surface (like a tail elevator) in the wrong place.

    They can also distract the pilots at just the wrong time. It’s amazing how many accidents, many fatal, have taken place because one or both pilots overlook a single thing (like setting the flaps, or lowering the landing gear, or using the wrong auto-throttle setting).

    There’s a sterile cockpit rule that under 10,000 feet, pilots must concentrate only on flying, to the exclusion of all else. So no chit-chat, no interruptions, no sipping coffee, etc. Drones operate well below 10,000 ft.

  12. Tyrell says:

    News you may have missed:
    Death Valley record heat
    “It’s not the heat but the humidity”. Las Vegas and other desert areas are getting both. This could be an effect of a tropical storm out in the Pacific.

    “California’s Green Blackouts” “If you eliminate fossil fuels, power shortages are inevitable” (WSJ) Another flopperoo by the Governor. I thought they could borrow power from other states. What happened to that process? Imagine it’s 104 degrees and your power goes off! They had been warned some time ago to fix this. Death Valley could see record highs: 130 degrees. Hotter than Hogan’s goat! Heat waves of Biblical proportions!
    “Pentagon has off world vehicles not made on this earth”, (Andrew Daniels Popular Mechanics) That could interest Elon Musk. Imagine tearing one of those engines down. The slow release of classified records continues as members of Congress demand more information.
    “Space Weather Update: C2 solar flare, SC25 slowly ramping up?” Could this affect the already unusual lightning that some areas have been getting?
    “Bright fireball explodes over the city of Linyi, China’s Shandong Province” ( Watchers) A meteorite? Or something else?

  13. Mu Yixiao says:

    Trump refuses to participate in global vaccine project because it involves “multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”

  14. @Tyrell:

    Imagine it’s 104 degrees and your power goes off!

    When I lived in SoCal in the 1980s this was common: an unusual heatwave would cause a lot of people who didn’t normally use AC to turn it on and the grid would be overloaded and we’d have blackouts.

    (Or, like my wife’s family at the time, it would be 100+ and there was no air because the house never had it).

    So this is not new.

    What is new is the larger number of very hot days, which is kind of hard to blame on the governor (and yes, other factors as well).

  15. At a minimum it is crazy difficult to take these “CA is a hellhole!” arguments seriously given the number of people who live there and came from elsewhere to do so.

    I don’t want to live in CA because it is expensive and crowded (and it would be neither if it was actually hellhole).

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “Nobody goes there anymore. it’s too crowded.”

  17. Kathy says:

    By now it’s been a little over 30 days since Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine began phase 3 trials. This means that only now some of the volunteers have received the necessary second dose and results of infection become meaningful (if you caught it after one dose, that does not invalidate the effectiveness of the two-dose vaccine, see?).

    News have been sparse. last I heard was that by mid-August, only around 60% of the target number of volunteer subjects had been inoculated with the first dose. I hope by now they’ve reached the target of 30,000.

    Of those, a number won’t get the vaccine, but rather a placebo. This is how controlled, double-blind trials work. Not only does the subject not know whether they got vaccine or placebo, neither does the person giving the shot, nor the people tracking their progress (that’s the double-blind part). A list is kept of who got what, as that’s necessary to gauge effectiveness, but that’s kept secret from those conducting and participating in the trial.

    What all this means, is that by the end of September we can expect all volunteers to have received both doses. I don’t know how long the trial will last. The volunteers are counseled to keep on taking all due precautions because 1) the vaccine may not work and 2) you may have gotten a placebo. I suppose COVID-19 tests will be done on the volunteers several times in the following months.

    After the data gathering part of the phase 3 trial ends, then the results need to be studied. This is harder than it seems. If X didn’t get sick, was that because the vaccine worked, or because they were not exposed. The comparison will be the relative infection rate of those who got the vaccine vs those who received the placebo.

    That is also complicated. volunteers are recruited all over, therefore the infection rates need to be compared to the average in each region. That average varies through time, too, rising or falling due to various reasons (masks!).

    It will take time. The point is, unless there’s some near-miraculous 99.999% effectiveness after two doses, there’s no way the vaccine can be certified safe by November. More probably January, and more likely by March.

  18. CSK says:

    Well, the big news out of Massachusetts is that incumbent Edward Markey roundly defeated Joe Kennedy yesterday in the primary. The vote was 55.5%-45.5% in favor of Markey, which I guess qualifies as a landslide, at least according to one definition.

    Joe is the first Kennedy to lose an election in Mass. I suspect a lot of people were offended by his arrogance in assuming Markey’s seat was his for the taking.

    Markey was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s favored candidate; Kennedy was Nancy Pelosi’s, so the implications are wide.

  19. @OzarkHillbilly: Exactly

  20. Kathy says:


    there’s no way the vaccine can be certified safe by November.

    Oops! I missed two words. “There’s no way the vaccine can be certified safe and effective by November.

  21. @CSK:

    Markey was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s favored candidate; Kennedy was Nancy Pelosi’s, so the implications are wide.

    I reserve the right to change my mind on this, but I think too much is being made of this contest. (And the only truly weird part to me is that I do not know why Pelosi thought it necessary or wise to get involved in the first place).

    To me, the story is: the incumbent won re-nomination and was only really in a race because he faced a Kennedy in Mass. The progressive v. centrist narrative is potentially interesting, but not what a lot of people want it to be.

  22. ImProPer says:

      This morning there is a story npr is running about no- knock warrant victim, Breonna Taylor. The prosecutor’s office had evidently offered a plea deal to Taylor’s ex- boyfriend, who was busted with a small of narcotics, to name her as a co-defendant in his case. The gentleman, according to the report, has been  in trouble for drugs before, and is looking at substantial time in prison. They are claiming that he is a “major trafficker of narcotics” even though from what I’ve gathered, only a small amount of drugs was recovered at his house. His  lawyer Indicated that there was no reduction in sentence in naming her as a co-defendant. Looks like a cheap shot to get her name into the court of public opinion. Assassinating her character, to try and excuse what happened to her, further victimizing her family and friends.


  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Latina Progressive Who Faced Down Texas Republicans

    A nice piece on Lina Hidalgo, the county judge of Harris County.

  24. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Well, it’s going to be a big deal in Massachusetts because a Kennedy lost, for the first time in three generations.

    I’ve seen speculation that Pelosi endorsed Kennedy as a reward for the help he provided in November 2018 in flipping the House to Democrats. And she did choose him to give the response to Trump’s state of the union address back in January 2018, so she may have been thinking about his future prospects even then.

  25. @CSK:

    Well, it’s going to be a big deal in Massachusetts because a Kennedy lost, for the first time in three generations.

    Sure, but that is ultimately a narrow issue, and really just a story of the moment.

    (I am just not convinced that the whole AOC v. Pelosi narrative is really all that significant here, but again, I am open to having my mind changed).

  26. EddieInCA says:


    “California’s Green Blackouts” “If you eliminate fossil fuels, power shortages are inevitable” (WSJ) Another flopperoo by the Governor. I thought they could borrow power from other states. What happened to that process? Imagine it’s 104 degrees and your power goes off! They had been warned some time ago to fix this. Death Valley could see record highs: 130 degrees. Hotter than Hogan’s goat! Heat waves of Biblical proportions!

    No disrespect, Tyrell, but this is the comment of someone who has never lived in Southern California. We’ve had rolling blackouts due to heatwaves going back to when i was a kid the early 1970’s. As Dr. Taylor stated, the governor has nothing to do with that. What is new is the sheer amount of additional days over 105 degrees. This is new. This is the new normal.

    But it’s not just Los Angeles. Phoenix recently broke a record for number of days over 110 degrees in a year. No. That’s wrong. They didn’t break the record. They obliterated it. The previous record was 33 days of 110 degree heat in a calendar year. On August 29th, they hit their 50th day of 110 degrees this year. It’s down to a balmy 103 today. But this upcoming Friday (113), Saturday (112), Sunday (111), and Monday (111) will add to the record. They could end up with 70 days of more than 110 degrees. That’s almost 20% of the year! That’s insane.

    The Arizona Governor can’t do squat about that either.

    But climate change isn’t real.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Tyrell: For those who are wondering why the astounding news that extra-terrestrial vehicles have been discovered was reported in Popular Mechanics and not breaking news on every channel in the world, a little background:

    The PM article is basically a summary of a New York Times article that reports on a classified military program that researches vehicles and equipment we come across that are not identifiable. Could they have come from space aliens intent on anal probing an unsuspecting humanity? Sure, anything’s possible. It seems more likely, though, that the Russians or the Chinese are building one off spy probes.

    The hook for the article comes from a second hand quote from Senator Harry Reid, long a UFO buff, claiming that he was aware of material in the US Military’s possession that was of extraterrestrial origin. Astounding! Whatever the original source of that quote, here was Reid’s response:

    I have no knowledge—and I have never suggested—the federal government or any entity has unidentified flying objects or debris from other worlds. I have consistently said we must stick to science, not fairy tales about little green men.

    The Times and PM both updated their articles to reflect this, but you can’t stop the interwebs.

  28. Scott says:

    @EddieInCA: San Antonio has had a hot August. In fact, the number of August degree-days has been steadily increasing for the last years.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And the only truly weird part to me is that I do not know why Pelosi thought it necessary or wise to get involved in the first place

    Yep. To me this was the only interesting thing here. We’ll probably never know, but it wasn’t because of a whim. Either Markey pissed her off big time, or someone called in a rather substantial favor on Kennedy’s behalf.

    As the “Kennedy Name” having such value, I think to a lot of people, including me at 60 years old, this generation of Kennedy’s is more associated with whack job anti-vaxers than long time public service.

  30. Bill says:

    Irony thy name is Wikipedia

    I knew when I took this job it would come with online and offline slings and arrows.

    Online blowback is par for the course when writing a column on race and social justice for a general audience. I also knew that my gender, ethnic background and sexual orientation would make me a target for identity-based abuse, and that has definitely proved true. In addition to the feedback that questions my intelligence and viewpoints, there are race-based comments such as ones asking me to atone or apologize for the actions of the Japanese government during World War II, using racist language I would not want to repeat.

    I have unfortunately become pretty numb to a lot of it, but I was not at all prepared for what my sister found after Googling me on Aug. 24. At the top of her search results was a Wikipedia page that said, “… Naomi Ishisaka is an American writer and a former convict for attempted murder.”

    The page, published on Aug. 8, said that when I was 14 and a high school student in a Seattle suburb, I shot my classmate, was convicted and imprisoned. It said that while I used the pen name “Naomi Ishisaka,” my real name was similar but not exactly the same.

    I was in shock. I expected online harassment but never imagined it would look like this. I immediately assumed someone had created the page as a retaliatory attack for my recent writing on the racial justice movement and policing.

    After Googling the other person’s name, it turned out there was a shooting in 1991 by someone with a similar name and ethnic background, but we were not the same age, or from the same city, and went to different schools. I am not naming the person because she was a teenager when she was convicted, and the shooting happened 30 years ago.

    With the help of friends and colleagues, I scrambled to figure out how to get the page removed, how to get Google to stop promoting the page, how to prove who and where I was in 1991 and how to prevent the misinformation from spreading further on the internet.

    And it wasn’t just a Wikipedia page, Google had created a “Knowledge Panel” when you Googled me that talked about my actual work as well as my conviction for attempted murder plus my other supposed aliases. When you searched my name, suggested searches included (and still do) “who did Naomi Ishisaka shoot.” When you search the other person’s name, my picture is the first to appear.

    One of my eagle-eyed coworkers found a Wikipedia page that was discussing the reports of mistaken identity that we had submitted. In it, the person who created my page – who has the ironically “named handle Factfanatic1” – was asked how they came to conclude that we were the same person. Factfanatic1 said they assumed just based on our names that we must be, even though there was no substantiation to be found. Factfanatic1 later admitted they had made an error in linking us but wanted the page about the woman who shot her classmate to be preserved, because “a lot of work was put into it.” To their credit, the admins said that they would not reinstate the page, in part because it was a “serious” violation of Wikipedia’s rules around Biographies of Living Persons.

    The person who attempted the murder is Naomi Ishikawa. Naomi Ishisaka is the columnist.

    I have a long editing history at WP and I don’t think Fanfanatic (I have never encountered this editor but he is experienced at Wikipedia) was being malevolent when creating the article, but this is just another example of editors creating/writing stuff based on own their interpertaions. It is called Original Research and it is not supposed to be done but I run into it all time and from experienced editors who should know better. Many of them who take great umbrage at me cleaning this kind of stuff. I have run into that at least 3 times this summer but nothing like the fiasco above.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Trump refuses to participate in global vaccine project because it involves “multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China.”

    Meaning that project will remain untainted by Trump’s attempts to politicize the CDC and generate good headlines at the expense of good policy.

    I think this is good news. Not as good as a normal administration’s untainted CDC working with WHO, but better than this administration’s CDC.

  32. Mister Bluster says:
  33. Kathy says:


    The hook for the article comes from a second hand quote from Senator Harry Reid, long a UFO buff, claiming that he was aware of material in the US Military’s possession that was of extraterrestrial origin.

    I didn’t know the US military had either lunar rocks or samples from the Stardust* mission. Those would be the only materials of extraterrestrial origin I’m aware of.

    Oh, there are meteorites, some of which might have originated in Mars and possibly other rocky worlds of the Solar System. I suppose the military could have some of those.

    Then, too, if the Theia idea of lunar origins is right, some of those lunar rocks might be more of terrestrial than extraterrestrial origin.

    *Not to be confused with the Empire’s Stardust Project.

  34. CSK says:

    If you believe the Daily Mail, Kellyanne Conway is being bombarded with offers (up to $15 million) to write a book about what it was like to be Trump’s most trusted factotum. She’s also being offered astronomical sums by Hollywood for her life story, because, apparently, it has all the elements necessary for a big screen lollapalooza.

  35. CSK says:

    The late Philip Roth tried valiantly to get Wikipedia to change some incorrect info about him. They refused, because they said they had two sources that said it was true.

  36. CSK says:

    Pelosi was repaying him for the work he did helping to flip the House in 2018.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    It was not known which codes the man allegedly broke, Dean said.

    I believe that’s Section 83:144b, “Cycling while black.”

  38. Michael Reynolds says:


    Imagine it’s 104 degrees and your power goes off!

    I doubt I’ll need much imagination, the forecast is for 105 F in LA this weekend, and we have been getting some brown-outs. Also the air is chewy with smog, smoke and pollen. And for what my relatively modest home costs I could buy most of Arkansas. Also the state income tax is brutal. Oh, and droughts and wildfires and earthquakes.

    And yet my wife and I could live literally anywhere on Earth outside of North Korea, and we choose to live here. Looked at from a different perspective we are willing to ‘pay’ a penalty in the six figures just to not live in, say, the aforementioned Arkansas.

    Kind of makes you wonder just WTF is so awful about Arkansas, doesn’t it?

  39. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “At a minimum it is crazy difficult to take these “CA is a hellhole!” arguments seriously given the number of people who live there and came from elsewhere to do so.”

    Better a hellhole than a shithole, I always say* and I’m pretty sure I know where the people attacking California live…

    *Actually I’ve never said this before and believe I just made it up, but it seemed to demand that kind of rhetorical device and being a Democrat I can’t carry off “As my pappy used to say”…

  40. Michael Reynolds says:

    Betcha a dollar the gun was a throw-down.

  41. wr says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: “(And the only truly weird part to me is that I do not know why Pelosi thought it necessary or wise to get involved in the first place).”

    Especially since she put draconian rules on consultants helping candidates going after Democratic incumbents in the house. That really hurt her credibility with certain members of the congress..

  42. @wr: Indeed.

  43. Teve says:


    By 2040, 50% of Americans will live in 8 states. The distortions of the Electoral College will get worse, and the chances that a presidential winner will lose the popular vote by a lot will go up. We need to enlarge the House by 100 or more, just to start, to alter the balance.

  44. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “And yet my wife and I could live literally anywhere on Earth outside of North Korea, and we choose to live here”

    In fact, as I recall, you left Tiburon or Sausalito to live in LA, which suggests to me that you really need to take that “man woman camera person TV” test…

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: And that’s a good thing. To paraphrase one of my Korean students, somebody else’s mom should get the chance to be proud sometimes.

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh, sure, in Tiburon I had a sweeping view of the Bay from Angel Island to the Golden Gate, but here I have a sweeping view of the giant concrete cistern we are pleased to call Silver Lake. In the other direction the mountains, sure, but better still the 5! A neighbor recently cut down a tree which means I could literally sniper drivers on the freeway. That’s LA, baby.

  47. Tyrell says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Thanks for your attention and reply. The weather we are having down here is 90’s with the real feel in the 100’s. Humidity is 80-90 %, so it is sweltering for sure. This is normal for this time of year. Years ago we did not have the “comfort index” or the “real feel”. Just the straight temperature. It was just as miserable back in the 1969’s and ’70s. Air conditioning did not get widespread as far as residential until the 1980s. Schools did not get ac until the ’90s. Many a day in August and September the students would go outside and find a shade tree to read under.

  48. Monala says:

    A Supercomputer Analyzed Covid-19 — and an Interesting New Theory Has Emerged

    The computer had revealed a new theory about how Covid-19 impacts the body: the bradykinin hypothesis. The hypothesis provides a model that explains many aspects of Covid-19, including some of its most bizarre symptoms. It also suggests 10-plus potential treatments, many of which are already FDA approved. Jacobson’s group published their results in a paper in the journal eLife in early July.

    According to the team’s findings, a Covid-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose, (The receptors, which the virus is known to target, are abundant there.) The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present: the intestines, kidneys, and heart. This likely accounts for at least some of the disease’s cardiac and GI symptoms.

    But once Covid-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting. According to Jacobson’s group, the data Summit analyzed shows that Covid-19 isn’t content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the body’s own systems, tricking it into upregulating ACE2 receptors in places where they’re usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs.

    … The renin–angiotensin system (RAS) controls many aspects of the circulatory system, including the body’s levels of a chemical called bradykinin, which normally helps to regulate blood pressure. According to the team’s analysis, when the virus tweaks the RAS, it causes the body’s mechanisms for regulating bradykinin to go haywire. Bradykinin receptors are resensitized, and the body also stops effectively breaking down bradykinin. (ACE normally degrades bradykinin, but when the virus downregulates it, it can’t do this as effectively.)

    The end result, the researchers say, is to release a bradykinin storm — a massive, runaway buildup of bradykinin in the body. According to the bradykinin hypothesis, it’s this storm that is ultimately responsible for many of Covid-19’s deadly effects. Jacobson’s team says in their paper that “the pathology of Covid-19 is likely the result of Bradykinin Storms rather than cytokine storms,” which had been previously identified in Covid-19 patients, but that “the two may be intricately linked.” Other papers had previously identified bradykinin storms as a possible cause of Covid-19’s pathologies.

    As bradykinin builds up in the body, it dramatically increases vascular permeability. In short, it makes your blood vessels leaky. This aligns with recent clinical data, which increasingly views Covid-19 primarily as a vascular disease, rather than a respiratory one. But Covid-19 still has a massive effect on the lungs. As blood vessels start to leak due to a bradykinin storm, the researchers say, the lungs can fill with fluid. Immune cells also leak out into the lungs, Jacobson’s team found, causing inflammation.

    And Covid-19 has another especially insidious trick. Through another pathway, the team’s data shows, it increases production of hyaluronic acid (HLA) in the lungs. HLA is often used in soaps and lotions for its ability to absorb more than 1,000 times its weight in fluid. When it combines with fluid leaking into the lungs, the results are disastrous: It forms a hydrogel, which can fill the lungs in some patients. According to Jacobson, once this happens, “it’s like trying to breathe through Jell-O.”

  49. Michael Cain says:


    Another flopperoo by the Governor. I thought they could borrow power from other states. What happened to that process?

    Growing pains. The US Western Interconnect is on pace to get to all renewables in a reasonable time. (If you don’t know that the US has three essentially independent power grids, you’re not qualified to have an opinion.) The Cal legislature and Cal ISO are doing the right things. Transmission capacity is lagging behind. The federal Bonneville Power Administration and Western Power Administration control and won’t share critical transmission facilities that would make things work better.

  50. Monala says:

    Today in amusing Twitter threads:

    Al Green, the singer, tweeted “Who did this?” with a laughing emoji, regarding photos of Walgreen’s Pharmacies where someone had covered up the W with a photo of Al Green.

    People responded with “Al Green Walgreen’s ads”:

    Love and Happiness (courtesy of Prozac).

    Take me To The Walgreens

    Let’s Stay Together 6 Feet Apart

    For The Goodtimes 12 pack of Budweiser only 7.99

    For Valentine’s Day, say you are Still In Love With You with a box of Hershey Chocolates.

    Everything’s Gonna Be Alright Vicks Cold & Flu Cold Syrup 9.99

  51. Jen says:

    @Monala: I read that yesterday, and it’s very interesting, especially since it fills in some blanks as to why people on high blood pressure medication have such varying responses (some meds show a protective effect while others seem to make covid worse).

  52. Teve says:

    A lot of ignorant people are passing around the statistic supposedly showing that only 6% of people who died from coronavirus actually died from it, because the others had additional conditions. This is utter nonsense, and it came from the insane and stupid QAnon conspiracy. Read this thread for an explanation of why this is nonsense.

    Hmmm. I can see the link when I edit it but it’s not appearing. So here it is in raw form.


  53. Kathy says:


    Thanks for the link.

    I think I will increase my intake of milk.

  54. Jen says:

    @Teve: These conspiracy types are utterly exhausting.

    I like this response to that particular nonsense.

    First recorded death from Covid caught at Sturgis has happened.

  55. Jen says:

    I am wondering how long it will take the CDC to repair the damage its been doing to its own reputation.

    This, right here, is incredible. The CDC is asking states to expedite approvals for distribution facilities (checks date in CDC letter) for a Nov. 1 operational date.

    Please, someone with a science background tell me: is it possible that a vaccine that has not yet even been approved as safe and effective can be tested, produced, and distributed in less than 60 days?

  56. Mu Yixiao says:

    USC prof “cancelled” for saying “that” in Chinese during class.

    Business communications prof was discussing “filler sounds” (e.g., “umm… uhhh…”) in different languages.

    A few of you will know exactly where this is going. 🙂

    ETA: The website is horribly right-wing and immature, but the facts of the situation are interesting.

  57. Kathy says:


    Short answer: yes.

    Real answer: It’s very unlikely.

    Moderna has already started mass production, or is ready to (as I understand). So that’s taken care of. Distribution will be expensive, because the vaccine requires around -4F if I recall correctly. But there are means for doing that.

    The rub lies not even in whether the vaccine is effective, but in how effective it is.

    It’s not unusual for clinical trials that produce dramatic improvement in patients to be cut short, and the drug in question approved for general use. But it is rare for such dramatic results to take place. There are many confounding variables, side effects, etc, which usually require careful study of the data to draw conclusions.

    Now, a vaccine will likely have few and mild side effects. But it’s also harder to determine its effectiveness in a short time. If you have 1,000 patients with AIDS and give them X, you can easily gauge improvement, say in white blood cell count, after a few days, certainly after a few weeks, especially compared to a control group. Not so with vaccines. If 20,000 people get the vaccine and none get sick, that’s a very strong indicator, but you have to make sure they had a chance to get infected.

    If 10,000 get sick, that doesn’t make the effectiveness 50%. It might be lower, but the remaining 10,000 were either careful or lucky. It might even be higher but those on whom it doesn’t work were over-represented in the vaccine group.

    The whole thing could be sped up with human trials. Assuming we know what constitutes a dose sufficient to infect someone, then you just apply the vaccine, in two doses 28 days apart, wait from days to weeks for the immune response, then expose the volunteers to the virus, and measure infection rates after two weeks (keeping the volunteers isolated throughout).

    The big problem is such a trial with a deadly disease, for which there is no cure or effective, proven treatment, would be highly unethical. The smaller problem is that it would take at least 6 weeks, maybe more, and you still need to study the data to draw conclusions. So say 8 weeks, 56 days, which means if you started the trial today, with a full slate of volunteers, you’d have results by the end of October.

    Realistically, with a need to recruit volunteers, think December through January, if you started now.

    So, it does no harm to be prepared to go early, but chances are it won’t happen.

    I’d be delighted if the Moderna vaccine proves 100% effective and this can be proven in a short time, but that’s not even a remotely realistic expectation.

    More likely, Trump the Thief will insist on rolling it out in time for getting reelected, and will keep his fingers crossed for no immediate side effects. Whether the vaccine is effective, or has major side effects, or even makes the illness more deadly, would be of no concern to him, if pushing it out before it’s ready gets him reelection.

    Wear a mask, and maybe drink more milk.

  58. Sleeping Dog says:

    As noted by a couple of you above, the Former Reality Show Host won’t participate in the global research for a vaccine. Digby’s response from yesterday.

    If Americans are ever allowed into another country, I would be tempted to go to Canada or even take my chances and fly somewhere to get their vaccine before I’d take a Trump vaccine. How can we possibly trust this bunch of keystone kops and greedheads not to put out something that’s useless or causes cancer just so Trump can take credit for it and they can make a financial windfall? Remember, Trump got the FDA to grant Hydroxychloroquine an emergency use authorization before they knew if it could help and it turned out to actually be harmful in some cases. The recent plasma EUA is the same thing. It may not hurt but they have no idea if it helps.

  59. Roger says:

    I don’t know if you ever get to the True/False film festival down the road from you in Columbia, but if you have the chance it’s well worth the time. The Mole Agent was an entry this year, and it was every bit as good as the article suggests.

  60. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “That’s LA, baby.”

    Been there. Done that. 30 years. Never a day I didn’t wish I were north…

  61. MarkedMan says:


    It’s not unusual for clinical trials that produce dramatic improvement in patients to be cut short, and the drug in question approved for general use.

    When I’ve heard of this, it’s always been for treatments for high fatality diseases and for people who already have the disease. This is because if the treatment ends up having long term fatal or debilitating side effects in say 3% of those treated, but saves multiples of that who were going to die without it, the cost benefit ratio is quickly apparent. But with C19 having a one percent fatality rate and a vaccine being given to people who don’t yet have the disease, the math is far, far different.

  62. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: The one thing I learned when attempting Mandarin before giving it up in despair is that of the four pronunciations of any word, one of them will be obscene, and that will inevitably be the one I came up with. Very glad the bulk of my international business is now in Europe — Dutch is much more fun to learn

  63. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I find his suspension this incredibly offensive and frustrating. The way he pronounces it doesn’t even sound like the N word. And I can vouch for native Mandarin speakers with Shanghai accents rendering this as all but indistinguishable from that offensive word. To this day I remember the first time I witnessed an excited colleague explaining something and struggling to find the right word and suddenly barking out, “N*, n*, n*”. My reaction was visceral.

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Having listened to the tape, I have to admit that “hearing” the slur would have been a stretch for me and finding fault an even bigger one. Still, USC is free to handle this whatever way they see fit. Their circus, their clown car.

  65. flat earth luddite says:

    In further “if I didn’t laugh, I’d cry” news from the courts,

    The Government contends that CBP agents who conduct asylum interviews receive “trainings consistent with [CIS’s] prior training history and experience” and therefore meet the statutory criteria. Poppycock! … If “comparable” means “similar or equivalent,” then 2 to 5 weeks of distance and in-person training for CBP agents is in no way “comparable” to at least 9 weeks of formal training for CIS asylum officers. See Am.Heritage Dictionary 180 (4th ed. 2001).

    Well, it’s probably a bad sign when:
    (a) the judge says “poppycock” in his ruling.
    (b) and cites The American Heritage Dictionary in his ruling.
    (c) the guest in this woodshed visit was a U.S. Attorney arguing that the arresting CPB agent can also be impartial immigration hearings examiner, overturning 20 years of precedent.

    A.B.-8., et al. v. MARK A. MORGAN, Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, et al. [Memorandum Opinion, No. 20-cv-846-RJL (D.D.C. August 20, 2020)]

  66. Monala says:

    Mississippi has designed a new flag, dropping the Confederate image for a magnolia and 20 stars representing itself as the 20th states. It’s a nice design. Voters will have a chance to approve it on November’s ballot. Link

  67. Michael Cain says:


    Been there. Done that. 30 years. Never a day I didn’t wish I were north…

    Could you elaborate? I am always interested in stories about why people would say, “I wish I lived somewhere else,” every day for 30 years. What kept you there?

  68. Kathy says:


    Yeah, that’s the problem with vaccines.

    I suppose, and this is mere supposition, that you track infection rates in volunteers and see how they compare to infection rates in their demographic, region, and lifestyle (do they lock down or go to work? do they work in a closed space with lots of people? Did they wear a mask properly? etc). Then see if those infected got the vaccine or the placebo.

    It’s not that you cant measure effectiveness, it’s that it takes time.

    And it’s not just infection. If some who got the vaccine are infected, do they develop symptoms or not? If they do, how severe are they? If severe, what’s the mortality rate?

    Say the Moderna vaccine does not prevent infection, but results in 99% asymptomatic cases. Then by all means roll it out, but beware and still take precautions. such a result wouldn’t slow down the pandemic, but would reduce the mortality rate. It may not end long term damage, as some damage has been reported on people who were asymptomatic (which needs more study, BTW, and is understandably not a priority). Not to mention if overconfidence resulted in, say, 100 million new cases, that would still make 1,000,000 people sick.

    So add checking if the vaccine produces mostly asymptomatic infection, how contagious are those who were vaccinated? As contagious more contagious? Less contagious? Not contagious at all?

    You can’t rush these things.

  69. CSK says:

    When Trump visited the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC today, the ramp leading onto the ship was tented, presumably so no one would see him stumble and struggle up it.

  70. Teve says:


    Name someone who is universally agreed to be evil (genocidal dictator, serial killer etc) and I’ll defend them and their actions using conservative logic.


  71. Mu Yixiao says:


    The one thing I learned when attempting Mandarin before giving it up in despair is that of the four pronunciations of any word, one of them will be obscene, and that will inevitably be the one I came up with.

    My favorite is “alpaca”. With the right tones it’s “mud grass horse”.

    With the wrong tones it’s “Fuck your mother”. 😀

  72. Teve says:

    @CSK: if you search Twitter for “trump ramp NC” you get a shit ton of people saying thngs like “I’ve seen that boat for 35 years and it’s never had a tent on that ramp”.

  73. Mu Yixiao says:


    Shanghai accent is very distinctive (from what I understand–I can’t tell the difference). When you get out to Suzhou the pronunciation of the “na” is somewhere between “ni” and “nei”.

    The first time I heard it was in the lobby at work (probably my first week there). I walked into the teachers’ area and asked my American colleague (who’d been there for 6 years at that point) “Why are they saying “nigga”?” He looked at me strange for a second or two and then realized what I was asking and explained it.

    I made a point with all of my classes to tell them to break that habit if they’re talking with westerners–for exactly the reason referenced in the article.

    I only learned a little Mandarin, but I did get in the habit of using a few common phrases (bu zhi dao, cha bu duo, xie xie, etc.,). At times I’d find myself saying “na ge… na ge…” with a Suzhou accent. My biggest fear was that I’d have a layover at O’Hare and be standing at the McDonald’s counter and say “I’ll have a Big Mac, Fries, and… na ge… na ge….” and then find myself promptly dead. 🙂

    But yes. I’m just as frustrated at the small-mindedness of the students–especially since they’re probably the first to shout “racism” if you imply that Chinese are different than Caucasians, and then scream “cultural appropriation” if you say that we’re the same.

  74. Mu Yixiao says:


    Nice design. But they should remove the “In God We Trust”. Best-practices for flag design says “no words” (even though that’s broken all the time).

  75. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mu Yixiao:..Best-practices for flag design says “no words”

    Here they are. Fifty Nifty State Flags. By my count 26 have the name of the State, either in “The Great seal of the State of ……” or somewhere else on the banner. I kinda’ like the bears on the Missouri Flag. I am partial to the New York State flag. I guess because I was born in Rochester and spent the first 13 years of my life on the shores of Lake Ontario.
    No words. New Mexico #1! I am enchanted!

  76. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Here are the “rules”.

    1) Keep It Simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.

    2) Use Meaningful Symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.

    3) Use 2 or 3 Basic Colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to three which contrast well and come from the standard color set.

    4) No Lettering or Seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.

    5) Be Distinctive or Be Related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.

  77. Mister Bluster says:

    vexillology: A new word everyday.

  78. CSK says:

    I know! Too funny. Has Team Trump come up with the usual feeble-witted spin yet?

  79. Bob@Youngstown says:

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that voters in North Carolina should test their state’s election system by voting once by mail, then trying to vote a second time in person.

    “Let them send it [absentee ballot] in and [then]let them go vote [in person], and if the system is as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote,” Trump told local station WECT after arriving in Wilmington, North Carolina

    While Trump’s proposition is plainly illegal, (IMO) his purpose is intended to cause chaos at the polling place.

  80. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Not a fan of The Big Bang Theory?

  81. Teve says:

    @Bob@Youngstown: the duplicate is usually for later and people get arrested for that.

    Dear Trump supporters, please listen to Our President and vote twice in the same county. All of you, please.

  82. Teve says:

    Well it’s not letting me edit for some reason. I meant to say the duplicate is usually detected later.

  83. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Teve: I don’t know what the process is in NC but this is what would happen in OH: Voter who has already cast an absentee ballot, appears to vote in person on Election Day. Poll employees refuse to issue a ballot because the records show the voter has already voted. The voter insists that there was been an error and demands a provisional ballot so that the error can be corrected later. Voter then fills out forms stating that he is certain that he never sent in the absentee ballot. The upshot is that he will be able to cast a provisional ballot. A decision on whether to actually count his provisional ballot will require the board of elections to search through all the security envelopes to try to find proof that the voter’s absentee ballot was actually received. All this demands extra time and effort by election official both at the polling place as well as at the county BOE.
    Now multiply that by several tens of thousands and it’s not hard to see the chaos created both on Election Day as well on the days following.
    Voters doing this at the president’s suggestion, might be charged with attempted election fraud, but will probably not be aggressively prosecuted if the claim that they (being an older adult) just innocently forgot, hence there was no intent to defraud.

  84. wr says:

    @Michael Cain: “I am always interested in stories about why people would say, “I wish I lived somewhere else,” every day for 30 years. What kept you there?”

    Work. The TV biz was in LA and that’s where you had to be to work in it. Now my writing is almost entirely done for overseas entities, so it doesn’t really matter where I am. Got a full-time teaching gig in NYC, so that’s where I am.