Friday’s 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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    CT scan Tuesday and f/u appointment yesterday. My scan came out perfect again. The oncologist said no more follow up (unless I want to visit). No longer considered in remission – I am considered CURED!

    Feeling like I hit the top step when I expected a couple more. I’ve been climbing this mountain for years. Finally got up here, and it’s a great view of the mountains around me, but ultimately not the pinnacle – just a nice vista.

    In 2011, the 3 year survival rate was about 5% for Stage IV colon cancer. But after 11 years, 254 rounds of chemo, 28 rounds of radiation and 7 surgeries, here we are.

    Right now, the Greatful Dead are playing background. A long strange trip indeed.

    A rambling ramble here, but I just wanted to share the good news with you all.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: That is great to hear.

    We have indeed come a long ways baby.

  3. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Congrats! Holy hells, that treatment sounds like it took a lot to endure.

  4. Matt Bernius says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: congratulations, that good news is a great way to start the day.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A pet duck has helped authorities in the murder investigation of a missing woman in North Carolina.

    In 2020, Nellie Sullivan, in her early 90s, disappeared without a trace, prompting authorities to launch an investigation without avail. However, on 14 April , a pet duck ran under a trailer in Candler, North Carolina. Its owners then discovered a container with Sullivan’s remains underneath the trailer.

    According to Buncombe county sheriff’s office, “Apparently, the duck ran underneath the trailer at 11 Beady Eyed Lane, and as they were chasing after their pet duck, they ran across the container that Nellie Sullivan was located in.”

    “If I could give that duck a medal, I would,” said Sergeant Mark Walker.

    That street address… So of course, I google earthed it.

  6. CSK says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    I’m so happy for you!

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A bomb scare at Ben Gurion airport caused some panic and chaos at the airport, on Thursday evening.

    An American family that had toured the Golan Heights arrived at the airport for their flight back to the United States. During the trip one of the children found and took a used bombshell which they were planning to take home as a souvenir. When the family went to check-in their luggage with security, they showed the shell to the security staff. Security immediately called for an evacuation of the area as soon as they saw what looked like a live ordinance, which sent people running and ducking for cover.

    As soon as it was determined by the bomb squad that it wasn’t an active security event and the shell was under control, the evacuation was cancelled. The incident is currently under operational investigation.

    The family was allowed to board the plane home.

    No news if the family also got to take the bombshell home as a souvenir.


  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A 77-year-old white South African farm owner has appeared in court after shooting and wounding a black woman he claimed he mistook for a hippopotamus.

    Paul Hendrik van Zyl, was arrested on Tuesday after “firing shots in the direction of the woman”, Ramokone Linah, who was fishing with her partner in a river in Lephalale town, northern Limpopo province.

    Van Zyl faces attempted murder charges, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

    “The arrested suspect alleged that he was shooting at the animals” police spokesperson, Mamphaswa Seabi, said in a statement.
    Hendrik was freed on 1,000 rand ($62) bail and the case was postponed for further investigations to 18 May.

    Words fail.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    It was the eve of Meri Mion’s 13th birthday when US troops arrived in her village of San Pietro, near Vicenza in northern Italy, to fight against German soldiers. During the battle, her family spent the night in the attic, emerging the next day after German soldiers, who had fired shots near her home, retreated.

    Mion’s mother then set about baking a birthday cake, leaving it to cool by an open window, only for it to be stolen by presumably hungry American soldiers.

    An emotional Mion, who turns 90 on Friday, was presented with a replacement cake by soldiers from the US Army garrison in Italy during a ceremony at Giardini Salvi in Vicenza on Thursday. She said she had not been expecting the cake, although clearly remembered the moment the one baked for her 13th birthday “disappeared”.

    “I was surprised,” she told the local newspaper Il Giornale di Vicenza. “But then I realised the American soldiers had taken it and it made me happy. It was a good end given everything they had done.”

  10. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    But if you’ll forgive the levity (& poor taste) the chemotherapy weight loss diet really works!

    Thank you! You’re a beautiful audience! I’ll be here all week. And please tip your wait staff.

  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Congrats! Enjoy life. Oh and by the way, be careful getting out of bed. 🙂

  12. Mu Yixiao says:

    A few years ago I took part in a cognitive study on “emotion and wellness”. $450 to spend a day answering questions and trying to stay awake in the MRI machine. It was fun.

    Since COVID, they’ve been doing some follow-ups. It’s a couple bucks to answer a series of questions online.

    I did one of the follow-ups last night and am (again!) struck by the inherent bias of the questions in a couple areas.

    1) They can’t account for “zen”–people who are just content as they are, without experiencing anger or frustration. Several of the questions start out “When I get angry….” But… what if I don’t get angry? (I don’t; I’m pretty zen about stuff).

    2) They can’t fathom that a person can be happy being alone. All of the questions about having friends, etc. are worded so that “I don’t hang out with people” means “I’m lonely and wish I had people to hang out with”.

    How can they get accurate information when they’re excluding an entire section of the population (introverts or others who enjoy being alone).

  13. DaveD says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m sure a cake in an EU Italy in 2022 cannot make up for a cake in a war torn Italy under rationing. I cannot imagine how her family probably saved and scraped together the ingredients to make it. Then having it stolen from a windowsill by a floating hobo. But cheers to a wrong righted.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: the inherent bias of the questions

    I find myself fighting the same problem every time I go to a new doc. There are assumptions made that plain and simply do not apply to me. So I just don’t answer those questions.

  15. CSK says:

    She did say that she felt the soldiers deserved it for what they’d done. A very gracious woman.

  16. Mu Yixiao says:


    When I did my exit survey for cardio, there’s a series of questions on diet. There’s no option for “I don’t eat that at all”. I have to answer “seldom”. C’mon, people! Give me the “not at all” option.

    I have also skipped questions on forms for new doctors. I’ve never had them call me on it.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I’ve never had them call me on it.

    Same here. Sometimes I’ll put N/A at a question if I’m feeling kind.

  18. @Flat Earth Luddite: Fantastic news!!

  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Very cool.

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Same here. Why is the question never, “When you get the willies after talking to people, do you a) drink, b) get high, c) retreat into some comfort TV, d) vow never to go out again or e) all of the above?”

  20. CSK says:
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    After Doug Mataconis and Steve Story it’s a relief to have someone not die on us.

  22. Scott says:

    I came across this article:

    Ukraine is relying on its secret weapon in the war against Russia: Trains

    The passenger train from Kyiv to Sumy was running Thursday morning with just a six-minute delay. The 200-mile route crosses territory scarred by more than two months of ground battles and aerial bombardment since Russia’s invasion began.

    Despite what appear to be concerted efforts by the Russian military this week to disable the vital Ukrainian rail network, this journey and dozens of others are providing a crucial means of military support and civilian escape through the country.

    Rail also acts as a symbol of Ukraine’s defiance and the limits of Russia’s military power. After cities and towns were reduced to rubble, with thousands killed, the trains are still running.

    And it reminded me of one I read last year in National Geographic. Since NG is behind a firewall, here is a similar one from the NYT. It is a lovely little story. I wonder how these women are faring.

    Ukrainian ‘Railroad Ladies’

    Ukraine has long been consumed by turmoil: political prosecutions, a stalemated war in the east and the loss of its territory to an aggressive Russian neighbor, not to mention rampant corruption and a troubled economy. It’s easy to understand, then, why people here pay little attention to the women they see from their train windows, standing at attention at railway crossings and often holding a folded yellow flag — a sign to the train engineer that all is well on the tracks ahead.

    In Ukraine, railroad traffic controllers and safety officers — about 80 percent of whom are women — spend long shifts in small dedicated buildings beside the tracks.

  23. Mu Yixiao says:


    After cities and towns were reduced to rubble, with thousands killed, the trains are still running.

    The morning after the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, the trains were running. Including one bound for Nagasaki.

  24. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    If it’s physically printed and filled out with a pen, add your own answer.

    Some years back I filled a player’s club application in Vegas, which among other things asked “Race”. I wrote down “human.”

  25. Kathy says:


    When I visited Israel in 1982 and 1985, I took home a number of bullets as souvenirs. Mostly the bare, unfired bullet without the cartridge, but some full cartridges as well. I still have an M-16 and a 9mm round from way back then.

    I put them in the checked bags, and these caused no stir in Tel Aviv, JFK, Heathrow, Gatwick, or Houston.

  26. Beth says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    Congrats! That’s amazing.

  27. JohnSF says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    Question: why doesn’t the PRC recognize Taiwan’s independence in exchange for a guarantee of neutrality? That would open the Pacific to the Chinese navy without the very heavy lift of occupying Taiwan with nuclear war as a real possibility.

  29. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Face. Pure and simple.

    It’s very difficult to explain to Americans just how prideful Asian countries are, and how one little island can cause so much loss of face.

    I mean… they’re sending warships out to “defend their territory” against fishing boats. And that territory is literally a rock sticking out of the water.

  30. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Mu Yixiao:
    Beijing may also be scared that if they concede one iota of their claims to the rightful rule of all of the territories of the Qinq, who knows where it might end?
    Tibet, Sinkiang; even the divisions of north and south, or coast and interior, which have occurred repeatedly in the history of China.

    Thus, they amusingly end up proclaiming their anti-imperialism, while insisting on their imperial inheritance.
    Cue: “it’s only bad imperialism if it’s by sea”, or “its only bad if it’s racially distinct”.
    As these two actually cancel out, China’s policy bases often end up being reducible to a screech of rage.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I agree with the sentiment but it somehow seemed wrong to give that a thumbs up.

  32. de stijl says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    That is so cool. You beat the odds in a long hard fought battle.

    If you are the sort to indulge in various substances, today would be a damn fine day to do so.

    Now that you have a second chance you are sort of on the hook to do something great.

    No pressure.

  33. Mu Yixiao says:

    There’s a catchy tune that’s been playing on the radio lately that’s…. “young alternative”? I don’t exactly know how to define it, but lots of young acts fit into this rather up-beat, casual, semi-optimistic genre.

    The band is The Band Camino, the song is Flowers.

    The chorus is oddly refreshing:

    It’s too bad
    When did it get cool to be so sad?
    We’re spinnin’ backwards, did we all go mad?
    Yeah, we’re only human but wе’ve got hands and hearts and noses
    So stop and smеll the fucking roses

  34. James Joyner says:

    It turns out that newish commenter @JustAGirl is a new pseudonym for our old pal @MBunge, who was banned back in 2019 but has made various comebacks under names such as @Warren Peace.

  35. JohnSF says:

    @James Joyner:
    Oh please, don’t ban him (just yet); MBunge is JustAGirl is pure comedy gold.

  36. Mu Yixiao says:

    As I head out for the weekend*, I leave you with heartwarming tales of amazing people and cute animals.

    Dodo on YouTube.

    This weekend’s project is to replace/rebuild the 2nd medicine cabinet in the downstairs bathroom. It involves removing the existing in-wall cabinet; stripping 27 inches of paint off the hinges; building a new casement, door, and shelves; re-installing the antique latching handle; building the frame; and setting the new mirror (currently it’s just a wood panel) into the door.

    Other than $17.37 for the mirror, I think I can do all the rest with scraps I have in the basement.

    If I feel ambitious, project two is to build a frame for a dresser mirror a previous renter left, and mount it to the wall in the 3rd bedroom.

    On a side note: I’ve been taking multi-camera videos of several of my projects. If anyone knows of someone who would be willing to edit short videos for a modest fee (I think I can afford about $50), let me know. Maybe a student looking to build experience and portfolio?

  37. CSK says:

    Hoe does one register for Not that I’m going to now, since I only comment on OTB, but what am I missing? The site did originally have a registration form. I admit to signing in there as “Samuel Pepys,” which no one there will understand, but that function seems to have vanished.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao: @JohnSF: @MarkedMan:

    Yeah, I’m not under any illusions that Xi would do something so logical and effective at achieving his larger goal. But basically as long as Taiwan is close to the US, China will not have an effective blue water navy.

    My ‘process’ is always to find the answer first, consider lesser issues – face, morality, simple human decency – second or third. First find the solution, the straight line from A to Z. My wife has never been enthusiastic about this approach since it frequently involves me cutting short some rambling anecdote to pronounce the solution. Especially when it’s an appalling solution.

    Helpful in writing, though. In my GONE series everyone’s on the edge of starvation, but there’s a girl with healing powers, so my ‘solution’ was to carve out a chunk of thigh, eat it, and then be healed. I decided not to use it in the books after my wife asked, “Why am I married to you?” If you’re gonna be a sociopath it’s sometimes useful to have a normie around to remind you that just because a machine gun would absolutely be an effective way to shorten a grocery store line, it’s still just not done.

  39. just nutha says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Congrats, zeeb! 😀 😀

  40. Jax says:

    @James Joyner: What, he thought we wouldn’t notice because he put on a skirt? 😛 I thought the writing style was familiar….but it’s kinda hard to tell these days with them all parroting the same talking points.

  41. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’d always dealt with anxiety. Always there, but I could keep it at bay. I’d always had the introverts incipient social anxiety, but, usually, I could power through, and I am actually pretty good at social interaction, although it drains me and I need alone time to recharge.

    When I was a young adult I used alcohol to lessen the burden. It works kinda, but it is a chump move. You are creating more problems than you are solving.

    When I was in my mid 30s I was attached to a massive work project where I was a key participant. I had such a massive workload I routinely worked 14-18 hours a day for many months in a row, no weekends, no time off. 14 months. One day I went to work on a Friday morning and got home on Sunday evening, no sleep just gallons of coffee and a couple hundred cigarettes.

    That weekend I succeeded in getting my task list down to something I could do in 80 or 90 hours by next Monday.

    I would tell myself, tell my bosses, I was doing fine, doing okay. I was not doing okay, I was not fine, and my body and my brain were about to rebel.

    It started with uncontrollable sobbing in the shower in the morning at the thought of going to work. It ended with a super dramatic panic attack on the bus at 2 AM. My first. I thought I was having a heart attack.

    You pour too much stress into a person and they break in mysterious ways.

    We hit the finish line. We delivered about 85% of scope. I quit the next day. Walked out went home and slept. Got up, pissed, slammed two glasses of water, went back to bed and slept some more. That cycle for three days.

    I spent the summer reading, playing video games, wandering up to the park and watching ducks paddle around for hours on end. If the phone rang, I ignored it. I fairly quickly unplugged the damn thing. Turned off voicemail. I absolutely did not want to deal with people.

    Good, healthy coping / regrouping stuff that settled my brain into a calmer state turned into avoidance and agoraphobia and a bit into paranoia.

    I started hating the thought of going outside my warm, comforting cocoon. Outside was danger and randos looking at me and the terrifying thought that I might have to interact with someone.

    It got better gradually. I was able to work. No outside psychological help which was a bad call on my part. It never occurred to me I was going through PTSD.

    I got better actual professional help 12 years later. That helped a whole lot. Why did no one tell me about therapy before?

  42. Kathy says:

    Sure, when the boss asks you “how are you doing?” he seems honestly interested in the answer. But when you say “overworked and underpaid, and it’s all your fault,” somehow he didn’t hear it.

  43. just nutha says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Who guarantees the neutrality? The United States? SEATO? The UN? And how will that agency reliably establish said neutrality is being maintained?

  44. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    …recognize Taiwan’s independence in exchange for a guarantee of neutrality

    That’s the other thing; a guarantee of neutrality is a pledge written in water.
    You can have two countries extra special pinky pledge they won’t act as allies if war breaks out.
    How do you enforce that?
    It is dependent on the one who pledges neutrality being genuine in that pledge, which in turn may vary with circumstances.
    Taiwan certainly has no incentive for China to dominate the seas of the east Asian littoral to the exclusion nof the US, and find that it’s bargaining power has vanished at that point.

    China can only ultimately determine the policies of Taiwan by controlling Taiwan.

    And even Taiwanese neutrality is not enough to break the island chain barrier from Chinas POV, if the US still has fleet power and effective control of the Ryukyu Islands; China needs use of Taiwan.

    Arguably the crucial thing is which way the Philippines is inclining. And rather foolishly, Beijing seems unable to restrain itself from treading on Manila’s toes.

    Chinese foreign policy always reminds me of both Germany and Russia in the late19th/early20th centuries: trying to win friends by coercion, and then gouging your putative partners, does not always turn out well.

  45. just nutha says:

    @de stijl: He’s already done great things. He has a 30+ year stable marriage, raised an insightful and kind daughter, served the public as a paralegal in law firms that protect the interests of people injured at work and who require services related to Medicare and Medicaid. Lotta great stuff there.

  46. just nutha says:

    @JohnSF: INDEED! 😀 😛

  47. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    I’d always had the introverts incipient social anxiety,

    What you’re describing (aside from the abuse from your employers) is the converse (I know this is not mathematically accurate) of my situation.

    I don’t like large crowds–especially if they’re people I don’t know. I can, however, walk into almost any social situation and not only blend in, but take control of the room (if I want to). I have a dominant personality and decades of experience in public speaking, sales, customer service, etc. I would have only one problem with giving a speech to a thousand people and then doing a couple hours of schmoozing afterwards: Boredom.

    “Being afraid of people” is not the issue. The issue is that the survey questions assume “alone != bad”. There’s no option for “I have lots of good friends, and I have no problem if I don’t hear from them for a couple years”.

    There’s zero option for “I’m healthy, happy, and self-sufficient; I enjoy seeing my friends and I know I can call on them if I need to–but never need to.”

    Hell… I’m having a Cinco de Mayo party on May 8th. Any of y’all want to come, let me know. 🙂

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl: @Mu Yixiao:
    I used to get off on stress, especially when I was in restaurants. You say you’re down a waiter and you need me to carry two stations? And the head cook just sliced his thumb off? And the bartender’s drunk? And we 86’d half the menu? Let’s go, man, because I and I alone can do this. Being able to work longer and faster is core identity for me. I’ve put out 1000 published pages every year for the last 33 years. No one does that. Well, Mr. King but he’s obviously sold his soul to the devil.

    The stress that eats at me is money. And anything to do with paperwork. I am as anxious about paperwork as I’d be if I were illiterate. Poverty and paperwork. And needles of course, that’s under control but also not. When I go hell my job will be reading terms of service for minimum wage while being given endless shots of Moderna.

    I used to be a crisis junkie. Never have seen a therapist aside from one appointment where the guy turned me on to Adderal, but I think I’ve aged out of most anxieties. It takes too much energy, and over time it begins to occur to you that you’ve spent a billion hours stressing over shit that didn’t matter.

  49. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Oh hell, I gave him one! Go for it!

    @just nutha:
    Thanks! Sometimes it’s easy to lose track that Luddite ain’t done too bad, all in all.

    And thanks to everyone for the kind thoughts and words.

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Very few people seem to get that “introversion” measures mostly an inclination rather than an ability. Just the other day, I was talking with an acquaintance (he would say “friend,” but I’m not inclined to go that far–we’ve only known each other for about 2 years), who was noting that he doesn’t see me as introverted at all because I don’t seem shy and converse with people and all. I chuckled to myself because I’d taken a personality test associated with a long-term personality study that a guy at a university is doing and it scored me as something on the order of 90% introverted.

    Yeah. I can work a room (and charmingly at that, from what people have told me); I just don’t enjoy it and avoid doing it at every opportunity. But no, I’m not introverted. 😉

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Hell… I’m having a Cinco de Mayo party on May 8th. Any of y’all want to come, let me know.

    I believe that is Cinco de Octo.

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: If you’re gonna be a sociopath it’s sometimes useful to have a normie around to remind you…

    That made me laugh.