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. Mister Bluster says:

    Heard this on the radio yesterday.

    What went wrong at one Christian ‘health care sharing ministry’
    Here & Now’s Scott Tong speaks with reporter Liuan Huska about the now-bankrupt “health care sharing ministry” called Sharity, and former member Mike Johnson, who is $16,000 in debt because of unpaid medical bills.

  2. Kylopod says:

    I asked this question a few days ago without getting an answer: why is there no subscription button (for getting email notifications for new comments) on any recent post?

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A flamboyance of flamingos fly over a creek in Mumbai, India.

    I did not know that that is what a flock of flamingos is called.

  4. Scott says:

    In case you needed to know:

    Top 10 Baby Names of 2021

    Male Female

    1 Liam Olivia
    2 Noah Emma
    3 Oliver Charlotte
    4 Elijah Amelia
    5 James Ava
    6 William Sophia
    7 Benjamin Isabella
    8 Lucas Mia
    9 Henry Evelyn
    10 Theodore Harper

    Scott, alas, is at 607. It was 40 in 1954, the year of my birth.

  5. Kylopod says:

    @Scott: People seem to be getting a bit retro, particularly with girl’s names. Evelyn was the name of one of my grandmothers, born in the 1920s.

    At this rate, we’re soon going to be seeing kids named Blanche or Mildred.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Lots of Thomases in the 40s 50s and 60s, not so much of late.

  7. Scott says:

    @Kylopod: My 3 yr old granddaughter is named Olivia. She was named after her Great Grandmother. Coincidence that it is the number one name.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I looked up my son’s names. Robert was quite popular till the late 80s then it began dropping, now at 79. Conor on the other hand never made it past 232 in ’93, currently at 462.

  9. Beth says:


    My daughter is named Evelyn, after my partner’s grandmother. We gave her my grandmother’s name as her middle name.

    Lol, wildly enough, three of us (me, my daughter and my niece) have my grandmother’s name as our middle name which causes me and my daughter to have the same initials. I thought it was adorable. My partner rolled her eyes at me.

    There also are a TON of kid Evelyn’s around here. My daughter loves it when she runs into someone with her name.

  10. DAllenABQ says:

    In September 2021 the City of Albuquerque and its and mayor (Tim Keller) established the Albuquerque Community Safety Department. It is a first responder outfit, unarmed and without arrest authority, that is designed to respond to non-emergency situations involving folks in seeming bad circumstances. Mostly homeless folks. The working theory is to lessen the load on armed police so they can deal with real criminal dynamics, and to lessen the tendency of armed police handling homeless encounters with unnecessary force.

    “Defund the police” is a terrible slogan, but Albuquerque’s effort is a real attempt to implement what I believe the slogan should actually mean in practice. Re-orient law enforcement to respond to actual criminal behavior, AND have state resources in place ready to respond to non-emergency crises.

    This kind of effort will take time (years) to see if it works, but I applaud the effort. I am watching, especially because I live in the Albuquerque metro area.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gabe Hudson

    In 2006 a high school English teacher asked students to write a famous author & ask for advice & Kurt Vonnegut was the only one to respond & his response was a doozy:

  12. Kathy says:

    I haven’t been keeping track of further vaccination campaigns, as I’ve already got 2 of Pfizer and one of AZ, but I’d heard there was kind of an AZ vaccine surplus due to people not taking boosters, and AZ not being authorized for all age groups.

    So, long story short (shorter as I don’t know the long story yet), I may get a fourth dose, a second of AZ, in a few minutes right here at the office 😀

    It’s three months after the first AstraZeneca, so that fits with a two dose regime. I don’t know that I need a second booster, but it can’t hurt. I also don’t want to take a shot someone else might need more than I, but if they’re giving them away because they’re going to waste I definitely should take it.

  13. Michael Cain says:

    From 1953 through 2010, “Michael” was in the top three each year and was #1 for a majority of those years. A few years back I was at a fencing club and someone came to the door and yelled, “Mike! Telelphone!” All three bouts stopped because there at least one Michael involved with each of them.

  14. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Kylopod: @Beth: @Michael Cain:
    In the 1980s, I had about five “Lisas” in each class.

  15. Michael Cain says:

    Many of the cities along the Colorado Front Range urban corridor have added professional mental health co-responders who are dispatched to a lot of the calls in addition to the regular officers. The programs have been successful enough the cities are scrambling to find funding to expand them. One unexpected extra benefit is that calls to 911 are down. 911 was being used by some number of people as a support group. The mental health pros have been able to put those people in touch with actual dial-up support groups for their particular problems.

  16. Jen says:

    Jennifer was one of the top girls’ name for about a decade (#4 in 1968, #3 in 1969, and #1 from 1970-1979).

    Subsequently, I had classes in college where the number of Jennifers in class were so many, we went by numbers after Jen, Jenny, Jennifer, etc. were exhausted. I think there were five Jens in one of my classes. Mike Doughty nails it.

  17. Kathy says:

    Ok, got my second COVID booster.

    the score now is Pfizer 2, AZ 2, COVID 0.

    As to names, I wonder if there are a patterns of rising and falling popularity of names, given that many people name their children after great grandparents and grandparents. Not necessarily among the top ten, but overall. Or maybe spiking and crashing as the generations turn.

  18. CSK says:

    No “Jif”? I knew two Jennifers in high school who were nicknamed “Jif.”

    There’s a band calling itself “A Disturbed Jennifer.”

  19. wr says:

    @Scott: Sp I guess Khaleesi has fallen off the list…

  20. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Wow! I first encountered Vonnegut my freshman year in college and fell in love immediately. Since then, I have heard more about how he interacted with people and talked about writing, and well, it didn’t push me away…

  21. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Eugene Oregon has had a version of non-police first responders for many incidents for decades now. Most (maybe all?) of the programs now popping up elsewhere are based on what they’ve been doing (and accumulating data and experience about) for a long time now. It’s a pity it took so long for others to catch on, but hopefully the momentum will continue and it becomes standard across the country (in cities, at least; much harder to cost-effectively staff in extremely rural areas).

  22. Scott says:

    @Kathy: I looked up my Great Aunts Dorothy and Florence (born in the 1890s) and it looks like a rise in popularity in the last five years. Not a lot but noticeable. Unfortunately, my grandmother Gertrude is not being similarly revived.

  23. Kylopod says:

    @wr: Putting aside the mess of GoT’s final season, I never got why anyone found that character inspiring in the first place. I thought from the start that she was a highly disturbing figure, a ruthless and tyrannical cult of personality. I didn’t need the final season to figure any of that out. Why was it so hard for some people to foresee it?

    And while I know you were being snarky, I think it’s worth remembering that this practice of naming babies after popular franchises is never that popular that it reaches the tops of lists like the one above. These things happen in waves. (Twenty years ago it was Neo and Trinity.) What’s more interesting to me is when these names aren’t entirely unprecedented, even though a lot of people think they are. The girl’s name Chelsea supposedly first arose in the 1970s due to Joni Mitchell’s song “Chelsea Morning,” named after the NYC neighborhood; that’s how Chelsea Clinton and Chelsea Handler reportedly got their names. But there’s also the author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, born in the 1940s.

  24. Joe says:

    @Kathy: My ex-wife and I have pretty standard names. Partly as a response to that, our kids all have less standards names. I suppose they may rebel by giving their kids more standard names, rinse, repeat.

    I was one of 4 Joes who sat at my lunch table in junior high. When I attended Boston College, with its heavily Irish and Italian student body, yelling “Joe” on the quad would get about 1/4 of the heads turning.

  25. Kathy says:


    It can be kind of hit and miss. One of my siblings named one of their sons after a grandfather, the others didn’t name any of their children after either a grandfather or grandmother.


    The name “Tiffany” goes back to at least the X or XI century, though at the time in the Byzantine empire it was Theophano. And there was a male equivalent, Theophanes.

  26. Mu Yixiao says:

    If I ever have kids, there’s a list of names that will absolutely be off the table. We have WAY too many “Joes” in the family.

    I figure I’ll go with an unusual first name and a standard middle name so that when they get older, they can choose which they’d rather use.

  27. CSK says:

    Trump named his youngest daughter specifically after the jewelry store.

  28. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: In Spielberg’s Lincoln, there’s a character named Kevin. This felt somewhat anachronistic to me as soon as I heard it, but I couldn’t be sure; I’ve had experiences where a film had a reference in a historical setting I thought was an anachronism that turned out to be accurate (like when a customer orders “cherry coke” in the 1950s diner in Back to the Future–while the brand Cherry Coca Cola didn’t debut until the 1980s, the term is much older, referring to Coke manually flavored with cherry syrup). But I looked it up later, and it turned out I was right: “Kevin” is a traditional Irish name that didn’t start to become popular in the English-speaking world until the 20th century.

  29. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    IMO, the pertinent governments ought to facilitate changing one’s name, so that people can change theirs when they want. We could then make it a custom for people to affirm or change their name on reaching age 21 or so.

  30. CSK says:

    Are you sure you didn’t mishear Avon Hanratty?

  31. Beth says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    My parents did that to me. I really switched it up on them.


    It’s an expensive pain in the ass now. The only exception is women changing their last name through marriage. That’s easy and no hassle, for, uh, reasons. Here in IL all name changes first have to be published in a paper and all name change petitions get run through the state police.

    And then you go in front of a judge and if your lucky like me, you get asked if your a sex offender in front of your children.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    My parents, may they rest in peace, Wilmer (b. 1916) and Beulah (b. 1920).
    For years the only other Wilmer that I was aware of was a character in The Maltese Falcon,
    Wilmer Cook, played by Elisha Cook Jr. My dad always wore the same kind of hats. I still have one of them that I wear when the wind isn’t blowing. Today I know of at least one Major League baseball player named Wilmer.
    Beulah. The only other Beulah that I was aware of growing up was the actress Beulah Quo. Today a Google search suprised me with a result of a male actor, Beulah Koale, who had a role in the recent Hawaii Five-O remake.

  33. Mu Yixiao says:

    For those who are having a slow afternoon like me, have some fun with Simon Tatham’s Logic Puzzles

  34. Kathy says:


    That was another reason I had in mind.

  35. Gustopher says:


    There also are a TON of kid Evelyn’s around here. My daughter loves it when she runs into someone with her name.

    There are a lot of dogs named Gus, and I am ecstatic every time I meet one.

  36. Gustopher says:


    And then you go in front of a judge and if your lucky like me, you get asked if your a sex offender in front of your children.

    Court rooms are probably the wiring place to be snarky, but I would be tempted to answer “Not a registered sex offender, your honor.”

  37. Beth says:


    I was very tempted with “no, are you, Judge?”

    That would have gone over poorly. Although, I do try and be as snarky as I can be in court, within tasteful boundaries. Got the pleasure of watching another attorney who likes to denigrate other attorneys in extremely theatrical ways get stuffed by a judge yesterday that was hilarious. I don’t know why she does it, it’s really dumb.

  38. Mu Yixiao says:


    Any time there was a political event in town (e.g., presidential visit), the stagehands had to go through basic background checks. One of the questions was “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”

    Invariably you’d get one of the guys yelling to the steward “Hey Steve! That’s just convicted, right?”

    To which the answer was some form of “Yes, only convicted. We already know you’ve committed a bunch.”

  39. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Which just reminded me of a funny situation during a security check of the theatre.

    There was a Hmong event going on, and one of the guests was a former Hmong general who had… made some enemies during the Vietnam war. Police came in and checked the whole place before locking it down. Under the seats, in all the storage hampers, etc. looking for bombs or hidden weapons. I was helping one of the officers, and he looked up at the grid–100′ feet up–and asked what was up there. I said it’s the grid. I’ll take you up.

    He looked again, and said… “um… that’s okay. I’ll stay down here.”


  40. JohnSF says:

    In news from the Old World:
    Conservatives are getting their arses kicked in the UK local elections.
    Looks like the Liberal Democrats are picking up disaffected Conservative votes in the south and south-west, Labour making gains in London.
    The vote is not nationwide, so exact predictions are tricky, but it looks like a Lab/LibDem coalition could be the outcome of the next general election.

    Meanwhile in Northern Ireland it looks like Sinn Fein are now the largest single party; but this is still prediction, not final results.
    As to outcomes, get’s very complicated: Good Friday Agreemnt makes NI arrangements unique, requiring parties from “both communities” to construct the Executive.
    If the “cross-community” Alliance came in second, that would be interesting indeed.

  41. dazedandconfused says:

    Elon’s take over of Twitter hits another snag…

    I don’t know what Elon intends to do with Twitter so I don’t have an opinion on that, but evidence mounts he bit off more than he can chew.

  42. inhumans99 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That is awesome. You have to love Kurt Vonnegut, and of course he was such a great sport in Back To School. One of the best bits of dialogue in a film (comedy or otherwise) is when Dangerfield turns in his paper and the Professor says to him that whoever wrote the paper doesn’t know the first thing about Kurt Vonnegut. Just wonderful.

  43. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile in Ukraine, looks like the Ukrainians have smacked another Russian warship.
    Frigate Admiral Makarov reported as on fire at sea south of Odesa.

  44. Jen says:

    I figured something would be hot on the heels of the Court’s decision to sh!tcan stare decisis, but I didn’t have “strip away education from migrant children” on my bingo card.

    Gov. Abbott is deplorable.

  45. CSK says:

    Yes, that was very funny. Vonnegut was a good sport.

    He also wanted to sue the cigarette companies because, contrary to the warning on the packages, smoking hadn’t killed him yet.

  46. Michael Reynolds says:

    So, small snag in our travel plans. My passport card expires in 10 years. My passport expired two years ago – a fact not discovered til we were summoning a Lyft to LAX. (I blame Covid. And senility.) So, we needed an in person appointment at a passport office. Literally the only opening was in. . . Honolulu.

    You can guess where this is going. Or has gone. I am at the Halekulani in Waikiki with a stunning view of Diamond Head and the ocean. Getting my passport in a few hours. Then, fly to LA, fly overnight to Doha, spend an 18 hour break in a hotel in Qatar, fly to Istanbul and resume the trip, having sacrificed only Nice, France.

    Feel free to make rude remarks about Boomer 1%ers. God knows my kids have.

  47. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That is glorious in its absurdity. It’s almost art in itself.

  48. JohnSF says:

    Consider yourself lucky to have a country where you can get a passport in a few hours; albeit in Honolulol 🙂
    Takes about five weeks in Britain.
    Happy trails!

  49. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m working on a memoir/writing book. I may ask if I can use that as the blurb. My entire life: glorious in its absurdity.

  50. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ll tell you the same thing I told one of my Vegas acquaintances. He had booked a family trip to Mexico, and discovered only when they were checking in at the airport the passports for his wife and one child had expired years before:

    How do you not check your travel documents before booking a trip?

    Not to say I haven’t committed really big blunders, but never that one.

  51. Just nutha says:

    @Kylopod: The brand Cherry Coke may started in the 90s, but soda fountains have probably been pumping cherry syrup into cola for as long as both have existed.

  52. Just nutha says:

    @Just nutha: Didn’t read far enough. My apologies. 🙁

  53. inhumans99 says:


    This is why I usually stay away from Twitter, I went to link about reports of this and on Twitter everyone (okay, not everyone but quite a few folks) is tripping over themselves to declare the alleged video of the ship on fire is from a video game.

    There are an awful lot of news organizations chasing this story trying to confirm if it is accurate or not so I am guessing we shall know soon enough if this is real, or a nice bit of propaganda from Ukraine to throw Putin off his game for a bit and have him scrambling to verify if this is true or not.

  54. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Don’t beat yourself up over it. Instead, head over to Waianae, start mouthing off, and let the locals do that for you. On the way back, grab some to-go from Aloha Poke and consider your brief detour complete. You’re welcome.

  55. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I almost forgot: I hope you take the chance to load up on Hawaiian coffee.

  56. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..How do you not check your travel documents before booking a trip?

    I have only left the USA twice. Canada in 1970 and Mexico 1974.
    Back in those “good old days” citizens of the United States did not need a passport to enter either country. Rode the train about 2700 miles round trip from Carbondale IL to Quebec City. All I had to show at the border was my drivers license. Drove to Ensenada, Baja California and had to buy auto insurance for the day but that’s it. I know things have changed since then. Not sure when.
    Maybe some travelers just don’t keep up.

  57. JohnSF says:

    The report I saw wasn’t on twitter; it was the British newspaper the Independent; my link seems to have gone wrong, so just tried again.

    That doesn’t mean its correct, but the Indy aren’t BS merchants; and the Ukrainians themselves are remarkably straight, most of the time, as these things go.
    My guess would be they’ve hit it, damaged it, but not sunk it.
    But that’s just a guess.

    IMO, with the exception of actual news organisations, twitter is better for (some, fairly reliable) expert analysts than for news due to the rather high noise to signal ratio.

    Being old fashioned, I tend to default to BBC, the Guardian, and the Financial Times for news reports.
    Picked up the Indy report looking at Google News.

  58. Mimai says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The Detroit marathon crosses over to Canada for a brief stretch. Technically, participants are supposed to bring their passport. Practically, a not large percentage actually do.

    Unsurprising observation: The Canadian border guards were so damn typical. Smiling, good-spirited, etc. Odd juxtaposition with the heavy weaponry, but whatever.

    The US border guards were, um, less spirited. Not that they were hostile per se. [But again, those weapons…especially when one is cold (oh was it cold that time), fatigued, and near nekkid.] But rather more business-like. Didn’t check passports though, so that was kind.

  59. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:


  60. Franklin says:


    I’ve run it. It just so happens that some guy who apparently wasn’t a real participant was picked our by said officers just as I was running by. I didn’t stick around to find out more …

    Anyway, speaking of names, I had a great grandpa named Augustus married to his lovely wife … Augusta!

  61. Jax says:

    Both of my girls have their grandmother’s name as their middle names. Rebecca and Hazel.

    Their first names didn’t even hit the top 1,000. Taliesin and Lyrik, respectively.