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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    This could be big: ‘Real hope’ for cancer cure as personal mRNA vaccine for melanoma trialled

    The vaccine is an individualised neoantigen therapy. It is designed to trigger the immune system so it can fight back against a patient’s specific type of cancer and tumour. Known as mRNA-4157 (V940), the vaccine targets tumour neoantigens, which are expressed by tumours in a particular patient. These are markers on the tumour that can potentially be recognised by the immune system. The jab carries coding for up to 34 neoantigens and activates an anti-tumour immune response based on the unique mutations in a patient’s cancer.

    To personalise it, a sample of tumour is removed during the patient’s surgery, followed by DNA sequencing and the use of artificial intelligence. The result is a custom-built anti-cancer jab that is specific to the patient’s tumour.

    “This is very much an individualised therapy and it’s far cleverer in some senses than a vaccine,” said Shaw. “It is absolutely custom-built for the patient – you couldn’t give this to the next patient in the line because you wouldn’t expect it to work. They may have some shared new antigens, but they’re likely to have their own very individual new antigens that are important to their tumour and so, therefore, it is truly personalised.”

    The ultimate aim to permanently cure patients of their cancer, Shaw said. “I think there is a real hope that these will be the gamechangers in immunotherapy,” she said.

  2. charontwo says:

    Here is the NYT response to Biden’s handling of their biased coverage.

    The comments replying to the Times’ attitude are *interesting*.



    Nothing independent when NYT is doing the same thing to Biden as it did to Hillary. Twice the same pattern is not an accident.

  3. charontwo says:


    For those tuning in late, the relevant Politico piece:


  4. Tony W says:

    I’m chuckling this morning about “Alpha” male culture.

    I have two dogs. My 3 year-old girl is absolutely in charge of everything. The 1-year old boy prostrates himself under her whenever he gets excited about going for a walk, or going outside in the yard, or…really anything else in life.

    What these idiots don’t seem to understand about Alphas is that the true Alpha is the dog that goes through the door last, eats last, and quietly controls what goes on in the pack. And it makes sense in nature that things would be that way because you don’t want your strongest, smartest dog in the lead and getting eaten by whatever is lurking around the corner.

    Tate and his gang think that the Alpha is the guy pushing his way to the front of the room and, in the same way, I’m sure my floppy-eared 1-year-old thinks he’s in charge as well.

    Anyway, I know it’s pop psychology bullshit and all, but I’m finding it particularly amusing this morning as I watch the 3-year-old girl completely dominate the idiot puppy with her wisdom over his energy.

    Hope y’all are having a great morning.

  5. DrDaveT says:

    In the broken record department, Wednesday was yet again an all-time record high for global sea surface temperature, for any date. Sea surface temperatures have historically peaked in mid-March, so this is quite late for new territory. Last year’s high point came in August, so we’ll see what happens.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tony W: “Alpha” male culture.

    The dissonance of that phrase is overwhelming.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    Alpha male is what you call a guy who is never going to be an Alpha male.

  8. Kathy says:

    Sometimes I think it would be a good idea for people to learn to emulate cats. I mean walking on all fours, eating and drinking from bowls, playing with cat toys, using a litter box, and learning proper grooming. And to practice this emulation often.

    Why? Because we all know the superior, rational animal shtick will someday play out, and that’s when cats will take over. When that happens, you want a chance at a spot in the winning team.

    Of course, this may become moot once the AIs rise and become our overlords. But if they are indeed hyper rational, they’d prefer cats and dogs to people.

  9. Gustopher says:

    @charontwo: Biden may not be sitting down for an interview with “independent journalists” at the Nepo Baby NYTimes, but he is having an interview with Howard Stern right now.

    No idea whether Howard Stern has been harping about how old Biden is, while not making the same point about Trump.

  10. JKB says:

    How it started, but at least it was called out by the adults

    How it is today
    The campus battle cry: “Call the Philosophy Department”

  11. Kathy says:

    You should not kill your dog just because you were a lousy pet owner.

    Is Kristi Noem the kind of person we want anywhere near a position of power?

    We know who the target audience of one is for the dog and goat serial killing. unfortunately he doesn’t read.

  12. SenyorDave says:

    Thanks for clearing this up for us, Steve:
    Republican Senate candidate Steve Garvey delivered sharp words Thursday about college students protesting the Israel-Hamas war, repeatedly calling them “terrorists” and urging university leaders and law enforcement to take action.

    “What they’re saying is: they’re pro-Hamas,” he said at a press conference in Los Angeles, standing in front of Israeli flags. “They’re pro-terrorists. They’re supporting terrorism.”

  13. Mister Bluster says:

    The original USS Enterprise model used in the introduction of the show “Star Trek” was found after being missing for nearly 50 years. The model went missing in the 1970s and was found being sold on eBay with a starting bid of $1,000.

    If I left Earth at warp speed after watching the first episode of Star Trek in 1966 where would I be today?

  14. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Anyone who takes their family pet to a gravel pit and shoots it, and then follows up with the goat, is looking to do the same with other undesirables.

    Noem is far more of a threat than kids on college campuses.

  15. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    If it wasn’t found inside a temporal rift, transwarp conduit, spatial anomaly, or cloaked behind Romulan lines, then the story is a lot less interesting.

    Your position would depend on what your average warp factor is, and the course and direction you took. For instance, if you’d set a warp 9.995 orbit of Earth, you’d still be very close to home now 🙂

  16. Mister Bluster says:

    Don’t know when the video was originally recorded. However in 1970 Governor Reagan defended his policies regarding campus protests, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement”.

    Apparently when Reagan was whining about the Youth of America™
    “…young people think that they had the right to choose the laws they would obey…”
    Private Citizen Trump was taking lessons from them.

  17. gVOR10 says:

    @Kathy: I have a Star Trek trivia (and physics) question perhaps you can answer. I seem to recall a couple of episodes in which they took a stationary orbit over a planet’s pole, I think in order to hide in the magnetic field. Am I imagining this or were there such episodes?

    Geostationary orbits only work at the equator. Now perhaps if one can warp spacetime one can remain stationary over a pole, maybe creating a sort of artificial Lagrange point. but I don’t recall any such thing being mentioned.

  18. Eusebio says:


    And yesterday in the NYT, this from a piece by Peter Baker…

    “President Biden just signed a bill that could ban President Biden from using TikTok. But Mr. Biden plans to keep using TikTok until Mr. Biden’s new law forces Mr. Biden off it.

    Reconciling those two imperatives left Mr. Biden’s government and campaign advisors laboring on Wednesday to explain the competing rationales.

    The disconnect is hardly unprecedented in an election year. Every president seeking a second term fins himself juggling two different jobs with two different imperatives at the same time; running the country and running for office.

    A candidate is focused on firing up supporters and tearing down the other side. A commander in chief has to worry about what might be best for the nation even if it is not necessarily best for his electoral chances.

    The last sentence is fine, but “laboring…to explain the competing rationales” and “the disconnect”? Sounds like someone pretending to not understand TikTok and the bill/law. The campaign uses TikTok because of course they want to harness the major social media outlets and they’re certainly capable of providing only publicly available information, while the White House and other government offices are not allowed to use TikTok on government devices. Furthermore, the law requires only divestment by the foreign-owned ByteDance, which should be do-able because TikTok shares are a highly marketable property (unlike at least one other social media company). If ByteDance’s overseers choose to be banned in the US instead of divesting, that’ll confirm it was as a social influence and/or espionage campaign all along.

    For any NYT reporter or anyone else who’s interested, Rep Krishnamoorthi gave a number interviews last month to explain the context and content of the bill. A major change since then… divestment is not required until 2025, so TikTok won’t shut down before the election unless ByteDance chooses to do so… not predicting that, but it’s in the realm of possibility.

  19. Kathy says:


    Stationary orbit, as in remaining in a fixed point in the sky with respect to the ground, can only be done in an equatorial orbit at 0 degrees inclination. This is known as a Clarke orbit, in honor of Arthur C. Clarke, who proposed it as the ideal base for communications satellites*. In Earth’s case, it’s about 35,000 kilometers above the ground.

    You can have synchronous orbit at other inclinations. This means your orbit takes exactly one Earth rotation to complete. But at any other inclination, the object in orbit would oscillate in the sky. At a 90 degree inclination, so it could pass over the poles, it wouldn’t stay anywhere near close to fixed in the sky.

    I’m not sure Trek ever did this, but one can apply handwavium and say the impulse engines in the good ship Enterprise kept her stationary above the pole for as long as the plot decreed. This does not risk a tear in the plot-theme continuum.

    *The idea being the satellite would be forever in the same spot, so ground stations wouldn’t need to track it. Also, it would always be available over the same portion of the surface. Today most comsats do indeed take up spots in Earth’s Clarke orbit.

  20. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Now I’m going to offend your sensibilities and declare that Noem may be a bad pet owner but is right about destroying animals that attack other people’s property and one’s own children.

    In my opinion, Noem is unqualified to be President, but “cruelty” to animals and being a bad pet trainer is of little consequence among the reasons.

  21. just nutha says:

    @Gustopher: I expect that I have offended your sensibilities, too, but let me say that I agree on Noem being a greater danger than college students, just not for the reason you cite. Ultimately, voters are the greatest danger to the nation. “We have met the enemy, and he is us,” sadly but also most assuredly.

  22. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I had over time three small dogs. All three, regardless of personality, would try to get at any bird that incautiously landed near them. I even once had to keep Emm away from a little bird that seemed to have an injured leg (it flew away).

    So the issue is one should keep dogs from going near chickens, not to blame the dog for acting like a dog.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Tony W:

    Soon Tate may find a chance to Alpha from behind bars.

  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..average warp factor

    Thank you for the data.
    Don’t have any immediate plans involving transwarp conduit or the like. So far my interstellar travels have been limited to Space Mountain at Disneyland in California in ’83. Per WikiP top speed of that attraction is a blinding 32 MPH.
    Sure had me fooled!

  25. Kathy says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    In a roofless vehicle, everything that causes strong wind feels lighting fast to us primates.

    In roller coasters in particular, what gets you is the g forces, especially lateral ones. Even at a moderate speed, abrupt changes in direction produce more acceleration than we’re used to. That’s why coasters have many dips, falls, loops, and turns.

    I learned all that reading the Roller Coaster Tycoon manual in the 90s.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Alpha male” is what a guy who is never going to be an Alpha male calls himself. FTFY.

    I call them poor, poor, precious little puggles.

  27. CSK says:

    Alina Habba just referred to Manhattan as a “completely blue state.”

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: So the issue is one should keep dogs from going near chickens, not to blame the dog for acting like a dog.

    A dog can be taught not to chase chickens. I have done it 3 times. It is entirely possible Noem’s dog was just too unruly but it is just as possible she shouldn’t own dogs.

    My family had a dog that ended up going after nearly everybody including me for no particular reason. When it went after my little sis who was just walking by, that was it. Off to the vet with him.

    @CSK: But she can fake intelligence. She told me so.

  29. CSK says:


    Her fakery doesn’t appear to have fooled many.

    Hasn’t Trump stated numerous times that he only hires the best people?

    Lara Trump also claims that the RNC has lawsuits going in 81 states.

  30. SenyorDave says:

    @just nutha: Taking the family dog to a gravel pit and shooting it? Then your child asks where the dog is? Goes to character, or lack thereof.

  31. Matt says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Why the fuck would she allow a dog with that history out around chickens??? She was supposedly trying to train it to hunt pheasants and chickens aren’t that far off. To me the chicken killing just shows how she set the dog up for failure.

    Not surprising as she said she hated that dog so she certainly was looking for excuses to get rid of the dog. So while she was in the process of putting down animals she hated the goat went next.

    Having grown up with horses I can’t fathom a situation where you would have to put down three horses at the same time without it being the owner’s fault.

    Putting an animal down in a peaceful manner with drugs is WILDLY different from taking random shots at it…

  32. Kathy says:


    It’s so not completely blue.

  33. CSK says:


    No, but according to Wikipedia, Democrats in Manhattan outnumber Republicans by over 8 to 1.

    And Manhattan isn’t a state, either, as you and I know, but Alina doesn’t.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mister Bluster: I found Space Mountain a little disappointing. The fact that we were in the dark (at least dark enough that I couldn’t see much (in case your recollection/experience differs) muted the effect of the speed, the g-force pushing against my body, and the positional elements of the twists and turns. Hope your experience was better.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @SenyorDave: Never owned dogs (my family took my brother’s dog to live with our grandparents when the doctor told them I was allergic), but if I had, the dog would have been dead before it attacked the neighbor’s second chicken. As to explaining to children, the account doesn’t cover that question that I recall, so I have no comment either way.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Also, despite being more populous than Wyoming, it’s soooooo not a state.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: It’s got more population than many states. It could become a state if it wanted to. It could file the statehood application papers in Synecdoche instead of Albany.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Matt: I didn’t read it (why would I read anything about KN???) so I am ignorant of the details of this particular situation. I spoke only of my own (somewhat similar experiences) and how I have dealt with them.

    Putting an animal down in a peaceful manner with drugs is WILDLY different from taking random shots at it…

    As to this, I have already stated my own actions in such situations, but I have to say that I was *witness* to an incident where a dog was taken out to a private spot in the wilderness and put down by the man who loved her most because the nearest vet was 6-10 hrs away. As one who has hunted, I am well acquainted with the difference.

    ** I say “witness” because I watched my cousin put her into the boat with the greatest gentleness and disappear for 3 hours. When he came back Cindy was no longer with him and he wasn’t talking.

    Having grown up with horses I can’t fathom a situation where you would have to put down three horses at the same time without it being the owner’s fault.

    I worked on a ranch for a season but won’t compare that to growing up with them. Suffice it to say I had a horse I was fond of. Beyond that I can not say.

    Putting an animal down in a peaceful manner with drugs is WILDLY different from taking random shots at it…

    I’m not sure what I said that set you off, but I am well aware of the difference. I do believe my comment said as much.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Her fakery doesn’t appear to have fooled many.

    Ah well, it fooled her. Does anybody else matter?

  40. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Really? I thought it was bought from the Dutch along with the Louisiana Purchase or something and the Alamo?

    on other things, at long, long, long, really loooooooong last, I’ve won a low intensity war with the accounting department.

    TL;DR I had a bunch of expense reports marked in the Bluescreen ][ software as “partially paid.” This meant cash advances were not fully credited, even when they corresponded to the amounts in the expense reports (once it was all added up). I wound up often in the need to file a report before requesting a new advance, in order to kill the outstanding balance.

    Today someone finally did something about it. I think when all is done, the company will owe me around $150 or so. Or rather, owe the petty cash fund from the other company that much.

  41. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

  42. JohnSF says:

    Just been catching up on some Webb Telescope images.
    Worth a look, if only to rest your marker on what human beings can achieve in understanding this universe, when we put our minds to it.

  43. dazedandconfused says:


    Neil deGrasse Tyson explains the three body problem.

    After seeing the series I find I don’t have much interest in discussing that show, and in this I expect to have a lot of company, but this is yet another example of how shallow the science in that sci-fi series was. They based it on a system that can’t exist. Did the writers even google it? The acting was OK though. I see why the pay actors so much. A good cast can save all but the most ridiculous writing from catastrophic failure.

  44. Mister Bluster says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:..Space Mountain

    My first and only trip to Disneyland was a few days before Christmas 1983. I had wanted to get there ever since I saw color home movies of a trip by the family of grade school classmates who drove all the way from New York State to California the second summer the park was open. It was a big deal at the time and the movies were shown to all the grade school kids just after classes started in the fall.
    My childhood dream was finally realized when I was 35. It was a weekday and it had been raining and the place was virtually empty. I remember walking up a ramp to the entrance to
    Space Mountain. There were signs that said “From this point it is an hour wait to get on the ride.” Walked right past it. The last sign said something like “If you have heart problems you should turn back.” I had no idea that Space Mountain was a rollercoaster. I should have figured it out by the way my brother’s wife’s ten year old kid was screaming and crying that he didn’t want to go. He had been on the ride once before. He was too young to be left alone in the park and mom wanted to take the ride so she dragged him along despite his protestations. I finally figured it out once we were in the train car and started moving. My memory is that it was dark and it went by so fast that I didn’t have time to take it all in. I have been told that there are lights resembling stars on the ceiling to make you think that you are in outer space. Could be.
    Some day I want to ride it again.

  45. just nutha says:

    @Mister Bluster: Yeah. I think the lights were supposed to represent stars. I never groked to that on the ride. Not enough of them.