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:

    Since everyone else is busy elsewhere , I’ll take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy Friday.


    Except for JKB.

  2. Kathy says:

    Apparently the job of Disney’s CEO is to advertise on Xitter, and Iger is failing at this one and only job.

    So Xlon Xuxk wants him fired.

    Poor Xlon. So over his head.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I usually pooh-pooh when someone starts ascribing 11 dimensional chess motives to someone, but this latest has me wondering if there is any truth to the rumor that Musk is deliberately trying to bankrupt Twitter. Up until now, whether to advertise on it was purely a business decision. But now he has added to the mix that if a company advertises on it but then cancels later, Musk might publicly call the CEO out and send his horde of incels after them. Would you really want to be the marketing guy who has to go in and explain to the CEO’s why they are getting detailed messages threatening them and their kids?

  4. CSK says:
  5. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Question on pronunciation of Xlon Xuxk:
    Is that X as in “Xi Jin ping” or X as in “Oaxaca?”

  6. just nutha says:

    @CSK: The fact of “sunshine-on-his-junk” Tucker Carlson being cited as an incentive for Melania to join in on the campaign trail is interesting.

    And more than a little suspect and creepy, but only because the gutter is the normal dwelling place of my mind.

  7. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Melania clearly likes men who are young enough to be her husband’s sons (witness the way she was drooling over Justin Trudeau), so she may well find Carlson attractive.

  8. JohnMc says:

    Just ran across an interesting factoid. U of Michigan survey of expectations for inflation are beginning to reflect reality. CNBC is where I saw it, you are directed not linked because I am a dufus at that.

    Seems important election-wise.

  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    YouTube this morning is chock full of videos (if you care to look for them) proclaiming that Elon just burned Bob Iger bad, and Iger is about to be fired.

    That’s how this works, I guess.

  10. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I’ve been deciphering the meaning of Ecksih. I haven’t gotten to pronunciation.

  11. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I’ve never paid any notice of the way any woman was drooling over any man. There are things even below the gutter.

  12. CSK says:

    This actually doesn’t surprise me. Over the years I’ve ha a lot of gay male colleagues.

  13. Scott says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Maybe Elon should focus on his real businesses, i.e., the ones that produce real things and real profits.

    Musk’s Scandinavian woes deepen as Tesla loses Swedish court case, Finnish union joins port blockade

    Tesla is facing mounting pressure across Scandinavian countries to sign a collective bargaining agreement with employees in Sweden.

    Finnish transport workers’ union AKT on Thursday confirmed that a blockade on Tesla vehicles earmarked for Sweden would also come into force across all Finnish ports from Dec. 20.

    One of Denmark’s largest pension funds on Wednesday announced that it would sell its holdings of Tesla stock over the U.S. giant’s refusal to enter into agreements with labor unions.

  14. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Well, that particular shot of Melania and J.T. was blasted all over the internet, so it was impossible to miss. I think there was even a link to it here at OTB, posted by one of us commenters.

  15. CSK says:


    Who are conservative.

  16. charontwo says:


    Mike Johnson’s secret Christian Nationalist agenda:

    While reporters were allowed to watch other portions of the gala, they were not permitted to watch Johnson’s keynote.Or so Johnson thought. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the speaker was “perhaps unaware that the event was being recorded for the NACL Facebook page.”

    The video is no longer available, but Rolling Stone reports that Johnson thanked the organization for not letting journalists in. “I’ll tell you a secret,” he said, “since media is not here.” God had spoken to him throughout Republicans’ weekslong effort to find a new Speaker, Johnson said. Eventually, God revealed to Johnson that he would be a Moses-like figure leading the GOP and the country through a “Red Sea moment.”Not everything in Johnson’s speech was a divine revelation. “What we’re engaged in right now is a battle between worldviews,” he declared in a short clip an attendee posted on Facebook. “It’s a great struggle for the future of the Republic.” That’s standard Christian nationalist fare, and yet another sign that Johnson believes himself to be at war with the majority of Americans.

    The attempt to hide these remarks from the public came the same week that Johnson announced that, in releasing security footage of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Republicans would blur out the faces of rioters “because we don’t want them to be retaliated against and to be charged by the DOJ.” He is clearly telling Americans that he and his extremist friends want to carry out their assault on our Constitution in secret and without accountability.At the NACL, Johnson knew he had a receptive audience. The group’s founder and president, Jason Rapert, a former Arkansas state senator, recently fretted to a reporter that “with all the troubles facing our country, with Democrats and leftists that are advocating cutting penises off of little boys and breasts off of little girls, we have reached a level of debauchery and immorality that is at biblical proportions.” He has called LGBTQ people a “cult” that promotes “unholiness, unrighteousness and immorality in our nation.” He has expressed hope that in 2024, Americans “will re-elect Jesus to be on the throne here again in our country.” Rapert believes fetuses have constitutional rights, and that abortion is worse than slavery and the Holocaust. As a state senator, he sought to amend the U.S. Constitution to obliterate the rights of LGBTQ people through a statement that marriage “is between a man and a woman.

    To most Americans, these views are extreme. In Johnson’s world, they are unremarkable. They are at the core of the “biblical worldview” that he and Rapert share as the singular lodestar of American government.

    A keynote speech by the speaker of the House is a huge get for the NACL. Relative to other Christian nationalist organizations, the NACL, founded in 2019, is new and small potatoes. One might think that the speaker, who is trying to keep the truculent GOP caucus together as they resist even basic functions of governing, might have more pressing matters on his plate. But Johnson’s top priority, above all else, is holding the sprawling army of Christian nationalist agitators — from his friends inside the Beltway to every corner of red America — in a tight embrace. And the NACL will exponentially increase its exposure through Johnson, who in his short time as speaker has done much to raise public awareness about the wide-ranging network of Christian nationalist organizations, radio programs, books and conferences that most people outside of his insular evangelical world have never heard of.

  17. Richard Gardner says:

    If you have 40 minutes, great new documentary on Idaho’s Nuclear Navy. I was one of the 40,000 trained there (Idaho National Engineering Labs – Naval Reactor Facility – with several name changes over the years) on Surprise, It Works (S1W – Submarine 1st generation Westinghouse), AKA the First and the Worst. Lots of stuff left out, but only 40 minutes. I remember the -20F days and the long bus rides to civilization over 6 months of up to 18-hour shift work. Great skiing on the days off, Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole, if the passes were open.

  18. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I would have thought that Republican states being gayer than I thought they were would have depended on my caring to keep track of the issue. I got blunted to issues of who was gay/straight at an early age despite growing up fundy.

  19. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    You don’t really have to “keep track” of gay people when they tell you they’re gay.

  20. just nutha says:

    @CSK: And yet, despite being blasted all over the internet, I have no idea of what shot you are talking about. My pop culture coefficient is really dismally low. 🙁 ETA: Especially as it relates to all things Trump.

  21. Jay L Gischer says:

    The thing that astounds me is that all these avowed Christian politicians are just fine with bald-faced lying.

    I challenge them to show me even one person who advocates cutting off the penis of a little boy in a situation other than “If we don’t do this, the kid will die”. Actually, no, not one. Three.

    Name three. They can’t. Is a 17 year old a “little boy”? Not in my book.

    And while we are at it, lots of cis girls get breast reduction surgery. More than trans girls. Lots more. Is he objecting to that? He isn’t.

    The amount of lying and deceit here is breathtaking. Tbey are betraying their own faith in God. If you had faith, you would place things in God’s hands, and say “thy will be done”. But instead, you spend millions on amplifying lies about a group that’s so tiny, they have a hard time fighting back.

    So they are liars and bullies.

    That isn’t what I learned in Sunday School, is what I’m saying.

  22. anjin-san says:

    When I was visiting Italy recently, something that came up in almost every conversation I had with Italians as well as Americans not from the Bay Area was, “What on Earth is going on in San Francisco?” “Is San Francisco OK?” “Are you safe there?” And so on.

    I’ve also had people on social media assure me that BART is the hellbound train, that it’s impossible to run a successful business in SF due to crime, and that the streets are lined with spent needles and human feces.

    I spend a reasonable amount of time in the city, both for work and play. I have not had a single bad experience in what I think of as the post-pandemic era. Granted that work events tend to be at good hotels and restaurants, but I’ve also taken BART to the Powell St Station, and gone for long walks across multiple neighborhoods, neither of which has been a problem.

    That’s not to say there are no problems. I was at an event with several senior people in the city government last night and they were candid about the city’s challenges, particularly downtown in general and the implosion of the Westfield Mall in particular.

    Clearly, the right-wing media’s long smear campaign against California, SF & LA has been effective. I’m wondering what impressions folks from around the country have of what’s going on in SF.

  23. just nutha says:

    @charontwo: Oh goodie! Yet another yahoo claiming that God is speaking directly to him. And in detail, no less.

    I would have thought that the note that it was “a Red Sea experience” would have been a more cautionary note for him though–given that crossing the Red Sea led to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness until the current faithless generation of God’s people had died before receiving the promise. I would have thought that he would have wanted God to want him to have a “crossing the Jordan” experience, but I got no dog in this fight, so whatevs…

  24. anjin-san says:

    US retail group retracts claim that half of $94.5bn inventory loss was from theft

    National Retail Federation says 2021 data was flawed and based on congressional testimony from president of an advocacy group

  25. Gustopher says:


    The percentage of the population in red states who are LGBT was around 4.06 percent, while it was 4.36 percent in blue states—a difference of just 0.3 percent—according to analysis conducted by Newsweek on a November study by the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute analyzing the adult population.

    Overall, it found that the U.S. had an LGBT population of 5.6 percent. That population varied widely between individual states; West Virginia and Mississippi had the joint lowest, 4.1 percent, while Washington, D.C. and Kentucky had the highest proportions—14.3 percent and 10.5 percent respectively.

    Color me skeptical of any report that shows that both red and blue states have fewer queer folks than the national average. West Virginia and Mississippi have the lowest queer population in the country, slightly higher than the percentage of queer folks in red states. None of the numbers make sense.

    The figures for red and blue states are also reported with hundredths of percents precision, while other figures are tenths, showing that data is being mixed and matched from god knows how many sources with no regard for methodology. Probably why none of the numbers make sense.

    I suspect that this article was churned out by a drunk AI. Or a stoned intern. Newsweek has been complete garbage for a while, since they changed ownership.

    I mean this in the best of all possible ways, CSK: reading Newsweek does not make you more informed. This particular article will probably make you less informed, unless you just skim it and absorb nothing.

  26. charontwo says:

    @just nutha:

    Yet another yahoo claiming that God is speaking directly to him.

    Not just some random grifter like Paula White etc., this is the Speaker of the House, but with serious Christian Nationalist (i,e,. theocratic) intentions.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @just nutha:

    Yet another yahoo claiming that God is speaking directly to him

    Gotta admit, this f*cks up my standard internal response when someone tells me what god’s will is: ‘If yer all powerful god wants to tell us something he can just tell us in a way that is clear and unmistakable.’ But now it seems that it’s just ME that god doesn’t want to talk to. I wonder what I said?

  28. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I don’t recall anyone ever voluntering such information to me. Then again, I don’t recall ever having a conversation with anyone where such information might have arisen, but I don’t get close to people for the most part. Still, for “Republican states to be gayer that you think” would require a level of interest that I’ve never had in the “how gay” question.

  29. Jay L Gischer says:

    I will note that what Mike Johnson said is in perfect accord with the description of him that says his greatest skill is in not getting pinned down.

    You may think what he said is awful, but it doesn’t tie him to anything illegal or questionable. Even though the audience might have thought so.

    A “Crossing the Jordan” experience was not referenced precisely because it is too specific. It would appear to endorse a violent overthrow of an existing regime. But a “Red Sea Experience” is all about leaving the undesirable regime behind, isn’t it?

    I do not in the slightest think this is some kind of accident or malapropism. He knows exactly what he’s saying, and he knows what the audience wants to hear, and he can solve that equation really well.

    I’m quite sure that he endorses policies that I very strongly disagree with. And I also think he doesn’t endorse violent overthrow of the government, but he has to seem like he maybe does in order to be successful at R politics. He’s a lot better at squaring that circle than Keven McCarthy ever was.

    If you’re worried that I’m being too soft on him – just remember that there just aren’t many scenarios where I would vote for him. If the choice was him or Trump for president, it would be him, and it wouldn’t take much thought. That’s not going to be a choice before me, though. But that’s about it.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    As I suspected when I heard it and during the discussion yesterday, the whole University President’s thing was bullshit. From someone who had the stomach to watch the whole thing (Michelle Goldberg, NYT):

    But while it might seem hard to believe that there’s any context that could make the responses of the college presidents OK, watching the whole hearing at least makes them more understandable. In the questioning before the now infamous exchange, you can see the trap Stefanik laid.

    “You understand that the use of the term ‘intifada’ in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews. Are you aware of that?” she asked Gay.

    Gay responded that such language was “abhorrent.” Stefanik then badgered her to admit that students chanting about intifada were calling for genocide, and asked angrily whether that was against Harvard’s code of conduct. “Will admissions offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say, ‘From the river to the sea’ or ‘intifada,’ advocating for the murder of Jews?” Gay repeated that such “hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me,” but said action would be taken only “when speech crosses into conduct.”

    So later in the hearing, when Stefanik again started questioning Gay, Kornbluth and Magill about whether it was permissible for students to call for the genocide of the Jews, she was referring, it seemed clear, to common pro-Palestinian rhetoric and trying to get the university presidents to commit to disciplining those who use it. Doing so would be an egregious violation of free speech. After all, even if you’re disgusted by slogans like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” their meaning is contested in a way that, say, “Gas the Jews” is not. Finding themselves in a no-win situation, the university presidents resorted to bloodless bureaucratic contortions, and walked into a public relations disaster.

  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    @anjin-san: Well, I haven’t noticed that any smear campaign against SF or the Bay Area has resulted in lower traffic on the freeway, or lower rents.

    It’s a great example of selection bias. You can point a camera at a half block and give people the impression that an entire city is in flames.

    And of course, you get more eyeballs and clicks for that, too.

    I appreciate Walter Cronkite more every day.

  32. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: I was wondering about that point myself, but it’s been ~55 years since I last passed a math class, and I was lib arts all through my uni days, so I’m glad for someone to speak with more authority.

  33. just nutha says:

    @charontwo: I can’t fix the problems involving who Americans vote for.

  34. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    Here. It’s the first thing that popped up when I Googled “Melania” and “Justin Trudeau.”

    I have to say that Justin is a hell of a lot more attractive than Trump. But very few men aren’t.

  35. anjin-san says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Yes, on all counts. Crosstown traffic going to Chase Center the other night was brutal, and of course, SF still has one of the most expensive housing markets in the world. You would think the price of a home would be sinking quickly in a “post-apocalyptic” landscape.

  36. Kurtz says:


    He is clearly telling Americans that he and his extremist friends want to carry out their assault on our Constitution in secret and without accountability.

    And yet, Rick Scott is moaning about the decision to leave FSU out of the playoffs.

    The fight over the College Football Playoff selection committee’s decision to snub undefeated Florida State University and pick the University of Alabama is spilling into the Senate, pitting Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) against his Republican colleagues from Alabama.

    Scott, who attended the Florida State Seminoles’ last national championship victory in 2013 when he was governor, is demanding full transparency on the selection committee’s decision to bump Florida State from the national playoffs in favor of Alabama, which lost to Texas earlier in the season.

    For Scott, the secret deliberations to deny Florida State the chance to win another national championship is the latest example of unfair decisions being made in America by unaccountable people behind closed doors.

    Scott says Florida State “did everything they were supposed to do” by going 13-0 on the season and beating two highly-ranked teams, Louisiana State University (LSU) and Louisville.

    “Was this a financial decision? If you did the right thing, you should disclose everything. Be up front about it. Disclose what happened, how they made the decision,” he told The Hill.

    So, we have a guy whose extreme wealth came from a company who, on his watch, stole billions from the public healthcare system. This was done behind closed doors, I’m sure.

    He goes on to imply that the SEC deal with ESPN (read: Disney) played a role in the decision. Also, per the article, DeSantis allocated $1 million to litigation over the CFP committee’s decision.

    Let’s step back for a moment. I don’t recall if this point was made in the OTB post or subsequent thread about FSU’s fate. One of the stated criteria for selection is “unavailability of key players.”

    I’m pretty sure FSU’s talented and productive QB falls under the definition of “key player”.

    Secondly, the committee’s job is to determine the four best teams. Not teams with the best record or best resume. The best teams. Ask the Jets whether going from a good QB to a dysfunctional one affects the quality of a team.

    I don’t watch a lot of college football, but I did watch some of the ACC Championship. FSU’s offense wasn’t average, nor was it merely bad. It wasn’t even functional. Even if the actual backup QB came back for the playoff, it wouldn’t be enough to compete with the teams selected to compete.

    Snap back to reality. Florida has some serious problems. Maybe the junior US Senator and Governor should be working to find solutions rather than using money and time to address something real.

    But why would we expect that from a healthcare fraudster and an intellectual fraud whose insecurities drive his decision making?

  37. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I see your point but would add that for fundies/evangelicals, the promise of control/rule over society is too strong a factor to discount. Evangelicals are almost to Latter-Day Saints level of buy in with the “co-rulers with God/Jesus” notions from what I see. The fact of the images holding promise to them when in the larger story they are emblematic of short-term victory followed by epic failure is troublesome to me. The again, I’m more aware that “you are the only Jesus most people will ever meet” is more of an obstacle to the call than a challenge to strive toward.

  38. CSK says:


    Yes; I was deeply puzzled by that discrepancy, too.

  39. Jay L Gischer says:

    @just nutha: I believe people like David Frum when he says that they would rather give up on democracy than give up on having their way.

    I just think Mike Johnson is very hard to pin down either way, and that’s because he’s actively trying to not get pinned down.

  40. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I will hold to low pop culture awareness and add low concern about all things Trump. If the Trumps required my head in order to have a place to live, they would be as homeless as any crazy/drug-crazed person pushing a shopping cart. “My field lies fallow; I have no…”

  41. Slugger says:

    Gay people are found everywhere, in every nation, in every culture. Oppression and persecution have been the norm in many places including the Islamic world. Hanging people in Iran has not eradicated gayness. The social opprobrium makes it difficult to know the percentage in any specific place; maybe there are more gays in one place over another, but there’s no way to know. We must respect the courage and grace that gays have shown.

  42. CSK says:

    @just nutha:

    “Concern about Trump” (your phrase) seems to me to be far more a political (and existential, for that matter) than a pop cultural issue. But…whatever.

  43. Kathy says:

    Continuing the linguistics lessons, today Live Nation, the owner of Ticketmaster, had something to say in connection to a proposed Senate bill to regulate ticket sales and fees.

    Namely they said : “We support the Fans First Act and welcome legislation that brings positive reform to live event ticketing.”

    That isn’t Ecksish, but an earlier language, Xecutish. The translation proved simple: “we will relentlessly and aggressively lobby to de-fang, de-claw, and render impotent any bill meant to deprive us of even one cent of our rightful loot.”

    They also claimed to “..have long supported a federal all-in pricing mandate, ” Translation: We will adopt such practices reluctantly, passive-aggressively, and only under extreme duress by the use of government force on our sound looting model.

  44. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I’ve been aware that people with dominionist inclinations weren’t democrats from early on–they stated so from the beginnings of the movement. Alas, many people I’ve met on both sides of center throughout the years have had no problem with “right thinking” (to their worldview) authoritarians being in charge. It’s a principle in social contract theory that we surrender rights that we don’t value to obtain security that we do. That we can’t foresee that it won’t work that way is history repeated over and over.

  45. just nutha says:

    @CSK: I can’t force Republicans to embrace responsible people. In the reality of the existential instant, Trump becomes just another uncontrollable variable. I’m too old, too cynical, and too accepting of the nihilistic tendencies of where I live for Trump to be a factor. To quote the other Saint John, “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round…”

  46. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: Two thoughts: Why would anyone, short of a subpoena or needing some money, show up to testify at any congressional hearing. Two, why do the testifying believe they have to be polite to any Senator or Representative, given their repeated buffoonery and bullying.

  47. anjin-san says:


    Senate bill to regulate ticket sales and fees.

    Ultimately, I think consumers will have to vote with their wallets. I’m done paying crazy prices to see premier music & sports events. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of great shows and games over the years at reasonable or even inexpensive cost (Bruce Springsteen @ The Paramount Theater in 1976, $6.50 – $35 in today’s dollars). We’re being robbed and I’m out.

    I can see fantastic musicians that are not huge stars at Yoshi’s + sushi before the show for under $100. It’s not hard decision to make.

  48. Kathy says:


    I’m not in any danger of paying, never mind overpaying, for tickets to concerts or sports. Between the crowds and the very high sound volumes, I’d just as soon not. So it doesn’t affect me if Ticketmaster requires a pound of flesh and one’s first born in bondage, plus money, for a ticket.

    But it’s outrageous how Live Nation and Ticketmaster have created a monopoly at several levels, and how much money they charge for absolutely nothing in return. I mean, they add little to the value of the experience itself.

    As a side issue, I’d love to see the same inclusive initial pricing applies to hotels, flights, car rentals, and other fee-infested areas of the economy.

  49. MarkedMan says:


    Bruce Springsteen @ The Paramount Theater in 1976, $6.50

    While I agree with your basic premise, I do have to pick a nit: Springsteen in 1976 was amazing, but he was just Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, a group that had had two slow selling if critically acclaimed albums and their one recent hit album. Amazing and wonderful, but far from iconic.

    And second, there are tons and tons of amazing acts that you can see for close to nothing or the price of a couple of drinks. I just saw a local quartet last night that blew my socks off. Saw them for free at the annual lighting of the Baltimore Washington Monument and learned they will be playing next month a ten minute walk from my house. Tickets are $19.06, final price. My point is that there is still tons and tons of great music available for low prices of free if you want to look. But if you want to see the mega-famous then you are out of luck.

  50. Kathy says:


    I think many people do incredibly stupid things while convinced they are playing 11th dimensional chess.

    Xlon strikes me as one such.

  51. Mister Bluster says:

    Ryan O’Neal 82

    Give Farrah a hug for me.

  52. anjin-san says:


    I think the argument for much better bang for your concert (or sports) buck back in the day holds up for iconic acts as well as an up and comer like Springsteen was back then.

    You could see Paul McCartney at the Cow Palace in SF for $8.50 in ’76, roughly $45 in today’s dollars.

    I remember seeing Robin Trower, Dave Mason, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, and Gary Wright (this was a single show) in ’75. Don’t remember the price on that, but it was probably in the $7-8 range. None of them were top-tier acts at the time, but they were all solid bands that headlined & Bridge of Sighs was a huge record, one of the best hard rock albums of the ’70s.

    That was a few weeks after the “Fleetwood Mac” album came out. Going to the show, none of us had a clue who Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham were, but we found out. it took about a year of touring before that record really took off.

  53. anjin-san says:


    there is still tons and tons of great music available for low prices

    No doubt. We saw the wonderful Elizabeth and the Catapult in Berkeley last year for $10.

  54. Kurtz says:


    Not sure if I have told this story here. I’m not a big concert guy. Not into crowds. But I did go to one with excellent bang for my buck.

    In 2006, I got to see The Roots. $20 general admission, so I was right in front of the stage. They played for 2.5 hours give or take. Great show. They covered “Black Betty” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”.

    After the concert, Questlove removed one of his drum skins, used a Sharpie to draw a cartoon self-portrait on it, and waved the remaining crowd back.

    I backed up. He tossed. It flew over my head. I leapt. I reached behind me. Got a firm grip. Landed. Turned. Another skinny white boy had two hands on it. I let him have it so as not to damage it.

    The memories are enough.

  55. Kathy says:

    I’ve been getting home regularly past 10 pm all week. I usually spend a few minutes browsing the web on the phone to unwind before sleep.

    Yesterday I got an urge to pose questions to ChatGPT. It said it’s not possible to finish an infinite number of tasks even with an endless supply of time available. It was very sure of that.

    I then asked if infinity is greater than eternity. It said the two are categorically incomparable (not in those words).

    I asked how a highly advanced civilization capable of interstellar travel could go extinct. it suggested several possibilities, most of which I discounted because they can be solved by interstellar travel. But one caught my eye: civilizational or cultural collapse. I can work with that one.

  56. anjin-san says:


    They covered “Black Betty” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll”

    That sounds great!

  57. anjin-san says:

    @Kathy: @Kathy:

    I asked how a highly advanced civilization capable of interstellar travel could go extinct.

    The Ringworld builders don’t quite go extinct, but Niven’s take on how a fantastically advanced civilization might collapse is noteworthy.

  58. Kathy says:


    I read all the Ringworld books, including the parts in the Fleet of Worlds saga with the rehabilitated bastard ARM agent whose name escapes me.

    I see how an advanced civilization can collapse. But there’s a huge step between collapse and extinction. Also, an interstellar civilization won’t collapse all over at the same time. I think some of the Protectors* built Ringworld, and others went elsewhere.

    *That name was Niven’s greatest irony.

  59. JohnSF says:

    Musk may be on the way to learning, the hard way, that trying to f*ck with unions in Europe is not wise.
    The EU ain’t Texas, El-boy.

  60. JohnSF says:

    Ringworld was very good.
    Lost patience with Ringworld sequels due to Niven’s retconning tendencies.
    “Phssthpok” Bless you!

  61. JohnSF says:

    “…how a highly advanced civilization capable of interstellar travel could go extinct…”
    IIRC Vernor Vinge made a stab at that: a limited area (due to relativistic-only travel) civ collapses due to maximising efficiency, and failing to allow for the necessity of resilience. Which is common right now, (See NHS, bed capacity, UK)

  62. Kathy says:


    He’s yet to take up the challenge, as far as I know, to expose Known Space as a hoax.

    He laid it out in an essay collection. I forget the details, but the gist was that an older kind of Kzinti were the real Tnuctip Race. They’d have invented the Thrint (Slavers) as a legend, and made the Bandersnatch, the sunflowers, the stage trees, etc., and left behind stasis boxes for some reason. I don’t recall if the Protectors and the explosion of the galactic core were involved or not.

  63. Anjin-san says:


    Gil Hamilton?

  64. JohnSF says:

    Gil Hamilton would be centuries earlier, if I recall the (original) timeline correctly.
    There was a ARM agent Sigismund Ausfaller (IIRC) who coerced Beowulf Schaeffer.
    Actually, I liked that guy. LOL

    Thing was, the earlier “Known Space” stories had ARM as relatively benign limiting agency; it was only later that Niven went “oh noes! the horrid oppressive state!” in that context, and retconnecd it.

  65. JohnSF says:

    Oh dear.
    Retcon x 10n
    The Thrint were already pretty definitive as per “World of Ptavvs”
    Niven should have just started a “new universe” rather than trying to retcon the old.
    Tnuctip = Kzinti makes zero sense.

  66. Mister Bluster says:

    December 8, 1980 43 years ago today. John Lennon shot dead.

  67. anjin-san says:

    Any opinions on Man-Kzin Wars?

  68. Kathy says:


    Thank you. It was Ausfaller.

    Hamilton was not only an ARM agent, but a really nice guy all told. In his time, the ARM’s sinister side involved population control enforcement. They weren’t even the ones who filled the legal organ banks, either.

    BTW, the “organ bank problem” makes for fascinating reading in several stories and a novel here and there.

    As to the Man-Kzin wars, there are too many and too uneven. I read several of the collections in the 90s, then eventually lost interest. I did like some of the stories set on Wunderland, even the Casablanca ripoff.