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. Kathy says:

    This is your reminder that season 2 of Strange New Worlds is out.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I am LMFAO: ‘Lunch of suffering’: plain ‘white people food’ goes viral in China

    Under a photo of processed cheese, ham and crackers packed neatly in plastic, a Weibo user writes that to eat this for lunch is to “learn what it feels like to be dead”.

    The post is part of a trend among Chinese social media users who are recreating “báirén fàn” or “white people food” to better understand – or poke fun at – western packed lunches made up of plain ingredients such as raw vegetables and sliced meats.

    The social media platforms Weibo and Xiaohongshu have been inundated with photos and reviews of cold sandwiches, raw carrots and canned tuna. Many are from Chinese international students surprised by the simple lunches eaten by their peers overseas.

    There’s a new trend in China where people make and eat spiceless “white people lunch”, as form of self torture.

    And their commentary has me crying
    Del Walker (@TheCartelDel) June 13, 2023

    Another blogger opined that these lunches are “not for enjoyment, but to find guilt”.

    “In this way, I can always remind myself that I am here to work.”

    I am not a fan of overly spicy food but they do have a point.

  3. Stormy Dragon says:


    “The lunch of suffering” is the best term for bland white people food ever

  4. Mu Yixiao says:


    Watched it last night. It’s definitely holding true to form, and you can see the actors getting even more comfortable with their characters.

    And… When I heard that Carol Kane was coming on as the chief engineer, I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t use her in a way that’s… “her”. Nope! They nailed it.

  5. Stormy Dragon says:
  6. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: We watched it last night. Loved it. “May your blood scream” is now my go-to toast forever.

  7. Slugger says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It has come to this: children in Shanghai are being told to finish their soup dumplings. Poor people in America just have cheese and crackers.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Nails it!

    @Slugger: HA!.

  9. Mu Yixiao says:


    a) Considering some of the lunches I was served in China, I’m reminded of a saying about a pot and a kettle. (Boiled fish, boiled eggplant, and plain white rice comes to mind).

    b) To be fair: One of the photos is of a Lunchables–which are soul-sucking flavor vacuums made of processed plastic at exorbitant prices.*

    * I did the math once. The “food” in a Lunchable tallies in at approximately $24/lb.

  10. Jen says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I heard about that incident and had hoped something was being lost in translation. Nope. It’s as horrible as I first thought.

    It’s utterly f*cking heartbreaking. Kids go through all kinds of awkward phases. This never, ever should have happened and that man and his wife…no words can describe the contempt I feel for them.

    This anti-trans paranoia is manifesting in adults BULLYING CHILDREN. It’s horrific.

  11. Mu Yixiao says:


    Mmm… soup dumplings.

    What I really want is jian bing.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: You are a far better judge of food in China than I. Yeah, Lunchables are a rip off, American marketing at it’s finest.

  13. Mu Yixiao says:


    Oh… don’t get me wrong. I’ve had a whole lot of amazing food in China (it’s one of the things that I really miss). But it’s not like they don’t have some bland stuff, too.

  14. Kathy says:

    Here’s my horror lunch story:

    One time we were given a project to do at around 3 pm, due the next day at 9 am. By that I mean we had to be at the customer’s offices at 9 am with the boxes of documents making up the proposal. So really we had to finish at least an hour before then.

    We worked literally non-stop from then until 7:30 am when we were finished. We had skipped dinner, because there just wasn’t enough time. We had no time for breakfast, either.

    A coworker and I got to deliver the proposal. We got in at 8:30, which was ample time, but left no leisure to grab even coffee. Then we sat in a conference room with the acquisitions committee and a half dozen other suppliers with their proposals. The committee opens the boxes, and checks what documents each contains. They also review the product and price listings of each. Meanwhile at least one supplier initials the pages of all other suppliers along with two or three representatives of the committee.

    If you figure this takes an inordinate amount of time, you’re absolutely right. We were done by 3 pm.

    Ah, but then the committee has to draw up an account of who showed up and what each offered, which has to be signed by all present. This, too, takes a long time, but they declared a recess until 6 pm.

    Finally we were able to get something to eat, after over a day without any food or sleep.

    Across the street from the customer’s offices, there was a restaurant. We’d seen it many times before when presenting proposals there, but we’d never gone in. It was always packed, so we figured it should be good.

    Well, their specialty is chicken soup with rice, and shredded chicken. Or so they claimed loudly in window signs and on the menu. It was more like tepid water with rice and something which might, or might not, at some time in the distant past have formed part of the muscle tissues of a bird of some sort.

    Had we not been so hungry and tired, we’d have left and gone looking for real food.

    To this day, the question why is that restaurant packed day in and day out, remains to be answered. Another coworker tried it again some years later, and reported back the same thing.

    Oh, and we didn’t get that contract. Our proposal was priced too high.

  15. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon: @Jen:

    I’m waiting for the day when a tall girl/woman gets accosted and beaten up for entering a women’s restroom.

  16. Beth says:


    I’m waiting for the day I’m forced to use a men’s bathroom and get raped.

  17. Jen says:

    @CSK: In the early Bathroom Panic Days (TM), something along those lines happened but IIRC, it was a lot of screaming and verbal harassment, nothing physical. Seems quaint now, because without a doubt, if these assholes are willing to scream at a NINE YEAR OLD, they are absolutely going to assault someone at some point. JFC.

  18. CSK says:


    Yes. It’s awful living with that lurking in the back of your mind.

  19. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: There have been reports of cis women being harassed in bathrooms due to being incorrectly perceived as trans, going back at least to 2016.

  20. CSK says:

    This piece by Will Saletan is good. Chilling, but good:

  21. steve says:

    I think in the battle of bland foods the Chinese and “white people” both have examples of some pretty bad bland food, though the Chinese may have less of it, depending upon how many rice cakes you eat. The specific example of Lunchables is food that is largely limited to youngish kids as a matter of convenience. I have no idea, other than convenience, why they became so popular. Now if we are talking “American white people” food I am not sure where to come down on this. Barbecue, gumbo, chowders, pies, etc usually arent bland. How do you count hamburgers and hot dogs? At this point I think the American white people diet can be incredibly varied. That said, I do still know lots of people who dont want anything spicy or seasoned much at all. Have been to some pretty awful weddings where one of the families of the couple getting married insisted the food be bland. (I made crispy chili beef last night for dinner and today making kofta but we are probably atypical.)


  22. Mu Yixiao says:


    The specific example of Lunchables is food that is largely limited to youngish kids as a matter of convenience.

    As someone who used to stock them on the shelves…. Nope. You’d be astounded at the number of teens and adults that buy them for themselves.

  23. Kathy says:


    One time long ago, we had a largish family dinner at an Indian restaurant. One of my cousins insisted he wanted nothing with spices in it.

    On a related note, if variety is the spice of life, what does it say for those who insist on conformity?

  24. CSK says:

    Well, Jim Trusty, who resigned last week from representing Trump in his federal indictment, has also resigned from representing Trump in his suit against CNN, citing “irreconcilable differences” with Trump.

  25. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: It is a sign of the times we live in that there’s a serious possibility Trump first hired Trusty because he thought a guy with that name could be trusted.

  26. CSK says:


    When I see the word “trusty” I think of a prisoner who’s been given privileges in return for good behavior.

  27. SenyorDave says:

    @CSK: I’m waiting for the day when a dude with a beard walks into a women’s public restroom and gets accosted, and it turns out he’s a trans man. The right (led by Matt Walsh) has done an amazing job turning trans people into the biggest threat to America. Yesterday Dan Crenshaw said that banning gender-affirming care is the hill they will die on. These people are truly evil. And it is more obvious than ever that this was never about women’s sports.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Beth: I think you win the downer competition.

    I’m trying to remember if you’ve mentioned what state you live in. It’s not Florida, thankfully, but there are enough states flexing their bigot muscles… ugh

    I’m just waiting for climate change to make it all irrelevant. Corvids might do a better job, but I wouldn’t trust the cephalopods.

  29. Gustopher says:


    And it is more obvious than ever that this was never about women’s sports.

    The weird “non-men” phrasing at John Hopkins University mentioned yesterday feels like lefties stumbling with a lot of the same issues as the “women’s sports” crisis but trying to be inclusive and actually acting in good faith.

    That’s just been rattling in my head. I get it, men are bad*. Left to their own devices… well here’s a story about a Penn State professor who was having sex with his dog in a park restroom. He was caught because park rangers installed cameras to try to catch someone who was stealing the hand sanitizer.

    Perhaps if I got off my ass and had coffee my thoughts would be less all over the place.

    *: There are a few women that try to be as awful as the worst men, but is there any doubt in your mind that it was a man who installed cameras in a park bathroom to catch someone stealing hand sanitizer?

  30. Stormy Dragon says:


    When people talk about a super intelligent AI wiping out humanity, I find it hard to get too upset because we kind of have it coming =)

  31. Mikey says:


    Yesterday Dan Crenshaw said that banning gender-affirming care is the hill they will die on.

    The hill they will figuratively die on. The actual dying will all be done by trans people.

    These people are truly evil.

    They really make me wish I believed in Hell.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    Daniel Ellsberg has died.

  33. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve always felt “Lunchables” are one of the things that mom buys and shoves in the kids’ lunch packs along with an apple and maybe a Yoplait.

    Also, speaking of horrible Asian food….I think the worst I’ve had has been either at Japanese university cafeterias or business workers’ cafeterias. Particularly if the university or factory is located in the middle of nowhere and there’s no competition.

  34. dazedandconfused says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The blandist I’ve had was at hospital cafeterias. Some of them are structured to keep anything that might, however remote the chance, produce an allergic reaction and (of course!) zero salt.

  35. Jay L Gischer says:

    Welp, I’m pretty sure that on the issue of gender-affirming care, the courts are gonna be favorable. I just read through an opinion a few days ago granting a temporary injunction against the State officials of FL prohibiting them from enforcing their laws on this with regard to three children.

    Evidence of helpfulness is maybe not great, but evidence of harm from these treatments is even more thin. Way more thin. Meanwhile blockers are routinely used to treat kids experiencing “precocious puberty”. So, the judge says, to know whether the treatment is banned or not, you have to know that the person is trans. But that fails the lowest level of Fourteenth Amendment scrutiny, since the state does not appear to have any interest in the matter whatsoever.


    Go ahead. Try to prove I tried to harm my child. I dare you.

  36. JohnSF says:

    Now here is the news you have been waiting for!
    First day of the first test match in the “Ashes series”, England versus Australia at cricket.
    England won the toss and opted to bat; first innings 398 runs for 8 wickets, declared.
    Australia first innings, 14 runs for no wickets at close of first days play.

    Joe Root was again brilliant for England; 118 not out, on the pitch for about four and a half hours (Breaks for lunch and tea, of course. This is a civilised game, after all.)
    He really is one of the all-time great England batsmen.

    Now, you can all rest happy. 🙂

  37. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Add another one. Judge blocks implementation of Indiana ban on treatment for trans minors.

    Another BIG factor to keep in mind, in addition to the evidence for positive outcomes, is that the minors themselves are asking for such treatment, and demanding the right to obtain it.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grumpy realist: In my experience (as a father and a grandfather) it is the children who are demanding the lunchables. They are packaged to specifically attract the eyes of the little ones. I never bought them for my sons, despite their pleas at the grocery stores. Their mother on the other hand….

    As for my granddaughters, what they will accept has definitely been influenced by the marketing machinations of corporate America.

    “I want fishies!!!” (crackers)

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Another BIG factor to keep in mind, is it’s nunyatheirbizness what other people do with their private parts. You know… it’s fuckin’ PRIVATE.

  40. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Silly Hillbilly, that only applies to Trump’s documents, not other people’s ACTUAL private parts. The latter is fair game, the former is off limits, which makes this……the stupidest fucking timeline to be living in. 😐

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: one thumbs up.

  42. Kathy says:

    I skimmed the Presidential Records Act (PRA) today*. There is a list of definitions before the meat of the law. Based on these, I can’t conceive of any way or form in which classified documents produced by various agencies in the executive branch qualify as presidential records, much less personal records that are not government property.

    It’s article II all over again. Remember how Benito claimed it let him do whatever he wants? A provision in the PRA does let the president, or in this case the Orange Ass, determine what qualifies as personal records. Naturally these have to be in accordance to the definition of personal records that is part of the law.

    Benito seems to think he can label anything that entered the White House during his term, or anything he got his grubby paws on, as “personal records,” and keep it.

    *Benito’s best defense would be that act doesn’t apply to him, as he was only pretending to be the president, and wasn’t even particularly good at it.

  43. Kathy says:

    This doesn’t seem to be getting much play. The UK is conducting an inquiry on the response to the COVID pandemic.

    I wonder if the same is happening in any other countries. The trick is not to politicize it, which renders any such inquiry in the US impossible.

  44. Jax says:

    @Kathy: I’m not sure we can actually ever quantify what worked and didn’t work with COVID, mostly due to the complete political polarization in the US and how it spread like a virus to other countries.

    I know that it happened at the worst possible time. We already had cracks in the system due to the “autism scare” and anti-vaxxers. These people were already primed to not believe in anything, particularly the government. Perfect storm, now they’re double angry.

  45. Kazzy says:

    @Jen: This story has the (im)perfect mix of transphobic hate and insane sports parents. Adults bullying children is an increasing common past time. And if you have the opportunity to affirm your own psuedo-political, culture war bullshit AND ensure your precious little one gets their (participation) medal, how can you pass that up?


    Women aren’t just getting harassed. I saw video of a ciswoman who simply didn’t conform to traditional feminine gender norms *ARRESTED* because she tried to use a woman’s rest room, was harassed by others, and the cops were called. She (understandably and rightly) refused to show ID to confirm she was a woman so they arrested her.

    Oh… and many of the arresting officers were men… who no one seemed to object coming into the bathroom to harass and arrest the woman.