Friday’s Forum

Socialize responsibly.

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. Liberal Capitalist says:

    It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine… so far.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ryan Browne
    : “The Department has made our 14 certified Coronavirus testing labs available to test non DoD personnel as well and we will soon offer two additional labs for that purpose we hope this will provide excess capacity to the civilian population…

    Ryan Browne
    Confusing. Today Lt. Gen. Place, the director of Defense Health Agency said this on COVID testing: “at this time we are only testing DoD beneficiaries…at present we have not been asked to add our laboratories to the myriad labs across the country that have that capability”

    Ryan Browne
    Lt. Gen. Place: “we are far from being overwhelmed in our laboratories…we’ve tested a little bit more than a 1,000 across DoD laboratories and have the capability to do way more than that…if we had to…we have the capability to do tens of thousands per day”

    The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    Daniel W. Drezner
    Federal government to states: we’re not your purchasing clerk.

    Federal government to citizens: we’re not your protector overseas.

    Congrats to Steve Bannon, the administrative state has been deconstructed.

    Daniel W. Drezner
    · 13h
    “‘Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. government for assistance,’ the travel advisory tells Americans who decide to go overseas or are already there.”

    Or is just plain and simply missing in action.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Josh Barro
    Among other things, what this shows is they’re using the term “the coronavirus” internally like everyone else and are throwing this up publicly because they would rather have an argument about political correctness than discuss the response itself.

    Quote Tweet
    Jabin Botsford
    · 16h
    Close up of President @realDonaldTrump notes is seen where he crossed out “Corona” and replaced it with “Chinese” Virus as he speaks with his coronavirus task force today at the White House. #trump #trumpnotes

    Because having a fall guy is more important than having a plan, it’s just a bonus that one gets to indulge in some latent racism at the same time.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    The race for a Covid-19 vaccine is on and is hot and heavy. Curious as to how long it will be before we begin hearing from the anti-vaxxers?

    The simple solution if the vaccine is nationalized is to license the formula so that it can be produced all over the world.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dealing with the coronavirus would be hard in the best of circumstances. It will be especially hard when we know that we can’t trust either the judgment or the motives of the man who should be leading the response. But you go into a pandemic with the president you have, not the president you wish you had.

    -Paul Krugman

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Via Baud at Balloon Juice:

    It is true. I sweat the details of policy, whether we’re talking about the exact level of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, the number of mental health facilities in Iowa, or the cost of your prescription drugs. Because it’s not just a detail if it’s your kid, if it’s your family. It’s a big deal. And it should be a big deal to your president.

    If only…

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:


    But unlike the United States, where a loss of faith in institutions has dovetailed with the drop in happiness reported by Americans, people in Scandinavian countries believe in one another and their governments, Professor Sachs said.

    “It’s part of what’s deteriorated in the United States,” he said. “This idea that we’re all in this together. That’s really being tested. We’re going to have to find that common sense of shared responsibility to pull through the crisis.”

    In Finland, 91 percent of survey respondents reported being satisfied with their president and 86 percent said they trust the police.

    “Thus, in the current crisis, people are willing to follow instructions and trust that everyone will do their part,” Frank Martela, a Finnish philosopher who contributed to the report, said in an email. “Every time the president or the prime minister holds a public speech about the issue, the overwhelming response is one of trust and commitment.”

    Mr. Martela added that Finns were volunteering in large numbers to go to the grocery store for others and had started campaigns to help artists and other people whose livelihoods are threatened by the crisis.

    “People are stating and feeling that we are in this together,” he said.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    White nationalist hate groups have grown 55% in Trump era, report finds

    According to the SPLC report, the arrests are evidence that federal agencies are finally “hearing the alarm bells” regarding violent white nationalism.

    It points out that in the last year, “the FBI upgraded its assessment of the threat posed by racially motivated extremists to a ‘national threat priority’”, and the “Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a strategic shift toward countering racial hatred”.

    But the report says that those efforts are hampered by senior members of the Donald Trump administration like Trump aide Stephen Miller, “who has long been allied with anti-immigrant hate groups”.


    Along with the increase in white nationalist groups, there was an increase in homophobic and transphobic organizations, with anti-LGBTQ groups increasing 43% in 2019. Many of those highlighted in the SPLC report are religious fundamentalists.

    I am shocked, shocked I tells ya!

  9. Sleeping Dog says:


    In part an explanation of why the usual suspects were out buying copious amounts of guns and ammo last week.

    Contrast the piece you quoted @OzarkHillbilly with this article from last Sunday’s NYT’s. We were a better nation then.

  10. Jax says:

    Hell has frozen over. They’ve closed the bars in Wyoming. As expected, local red hats are bitching on Facebook about their rights and 2nd Amendment solutions. Who are they gonna apply those solutions to?! The governor is a Republican, Trump is a Republican….

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Be careful, they are out there:

    Some people like to obey orders. Some of us believe in civil liberties first, not last. #libertarian #coronavirus #lockdown #dontdoit— Donna Barstow Cartoonist for LA Times & New Yorker (@TaylorEvictions) March 17, 2020

    I’m going to go out today and breathe on everyone and everything. #californiacoronavirus— Donna Barstow Cartoonist for LA Times & New Yorker (@TaylorEvictions) March 15, 2020

    I can’t believe our fucking Governor @GavinNewsom is shutting down the whole state, depriving us of civil liberties because of a MATH projection – and he won’t give it to the @latimes What a scumbag coward. #coronavirus #bullshit #shady Where are our constitutional lawyers??— Donna Barstow Cartoonist for LA Times & New Yorker (@TaylorEvictions) March 20, 2020

    Whaddya wanna bet she doesn’t think “2nd Amendment solutions” should apply to her?

    ETA: @Jax: And right on cue… 😉

  12. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Reagan famously said,

    The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.

    Republicans have been preaching for 50 years that government is the enemy. Why? So they can get control of the government to use it against us. They’ve exploited and aggravated every social division they can find. They’ve created their own alternate universe media. They have sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind. Was libertarianism supposed to be a self fulfilling prophecy?

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: I gotta say I hope the Mint Bar in Sheridan survives. Many fond memories of that watering hole.

  14. Mu Yixiao says:


    According to the SPLC report, the arrests are evidence that federal agencies are finally “hearing the alarm bells” regarding violent white nationalism.

    a) Don’t trust the SPLC. They’ve started labeling everyone as a “hate group” so that they can stay relevant and drum up donations. Check out their “hate map“. It includes such “hate groups” as the Liberty Baptist Church and the American College of Pediatricians.

    b) The “rise” in hate crimes is actually a decrease in crimes, but a rise in reporting. About 1,000 agencies started reporting “hate crimes” in 2017, whereas previously they didn’t include that reporting.

  15. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: It’s a good one!

    They can all still sell booze and bar food, it just has to be curbside. Should the closure continue past April 3rd, I suspect we’ll enter the realm of speakeasies again. A lot of these older places still have those back rooms and basements from the Prohibition era. 😉

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Deaths of despair: why America’s medical industry explains working-class suicides

    The US healthcare system is helping to kill people in staggering numbers. And when it isn’t driving Americans to an early grave, the medical industry is bleeding the rest of the country of resources at the expense of decent jobs, crucial infrastructure and schools, according to a new book by two of the country’s leading economists.

    As America’s health system faces its greatest challenge of recent times in the coronavirus, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who won the 2015 Nobel prize for economics, say the pursuit of profit by medical corporations has played a leading role in the surge of “deaths of despair” since the 1990s, led by opioid overdoses, alcoholism and suicide.

    The Princeton economists were the first to reveal the phenomenon which by 2017 was claiming the lives of 158,000 Americans every year – a number they liken to three 737s’ worth of passengers falling out of the sky every day. Case and Deaton, who are married, also discovered that the surge in deaths of despair was overwhelmingly among white working-class Americans without a university degree, and that it was forcing down life expectancy in the US.

    Now their new book, Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, explores why this tragedy is an unusually American phenomenon and concludes that the greed of the US’s medical corporations was both an important driver in creating the conditions for the rise in deaths of despair and in providing the means for many to kill themselves.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are it’s not a chicken:

    A network of anti-LGBT churches used its “Make America Straight Again” conference to move beyond its stock fallacies and hate-filled rhetoric and call for the government to begin rounding up and executing homosexuals.
    The “Make America Straight Again” conference came two days after the third anniversary of the Pulse attack, and just three weeks after a triple homicide in Detroit, where the killer targeted the victims because they were part of the LGBTQ community.

    The speakers at the conference were:

    ● Roger Jimenez, pastor of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California

    ● Aaron Thompson, pastor of Sure Foundation Baptist Church in Vancouver, Washington

    Tommy McMurtry, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Rock Falls, Illinois

    ● Bruce Mejia, leader of Faithful Word Baptist Church LA in Los Angeles, California

    ● Steven Anderson, pastor of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona

    ● Patrick Boyle, pastor of Revival Baptist Church in Clermont, Florida

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Not a chicken either:

    In its own words

    “Homosexual men and women are reported to be promiscuous, with serial sex partners, even within what are loosely-termed “committed relationships. Individuals who practice a homosexual lifestyle are more likely than heterosexuals to experience mental illness,substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and shortened life spans.”
    —“Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time for A Change?” updated July 2017, available on ACPeds website

    “I truly believe that when we are practicing a sexual act that goes against our natural design, it’s going to be very harmful to us emotionally, physically and, in the situation with AIDS, even infectious consequences will occur.”
    —Former ACPeds President Den Trumbull on VCY America’s “Crosstalk,” May 2015

    “[T]here is sound evidence that children exposed to the homosexual lifestyle may be at increased risk for emotional, mental, and even physical harm.”
    —“Homosexual Parenting: Is It Time For Change?” ACPeds article, January 22, 2004

    “For unwanted sexual attractions, therapy to restore heterosexual attraction has proven effective and harmless.”
    —Facts About Youth website, 2010

    “Gay, lesbian, and bisexual students are not born that way. The most recent, extensive, and scientifically sound research finds that the primary factor in the development of homosexuality is environmental not genetic.”
    —Facts About Youth website, 2010

    “School officials are being increasingly pressured by pro-homosexual organizations to integrate homosexual education into school curricula. These organizations recommend promoting homosexuality as a normal, immutable trait that should be validated during childhood, as early as kindergarten. These organizations also condemn all efforts to provide treatment to gender confused students, advocating instead the creation of student groups that affirm homosexual attractions and behaviors.”
    —Facts About Youth website, 2010

    Speaking as a person with homosexual friends and family, that sounds pretty hateful to me.

  19. KM says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    a) Don’t trust the SPLC. They’ve started labeling everyone as a “hate group” so that they can stay relevant and drum up donations. Check out their “hate map“. It includes such “hate groups” as the Liberty Baptist Church and the American College of Pediatricians.

    They’re on the list because they’re repeatedly advocated anti-LBGT positions, particularity conversation therapy and adoption issues. If the shoe fits, wear it. The American College of Pediatricians in particular would deserve it if they are supporting a harmful procedure against children based solely on personal/religious beliefs instead of science and medicine. They are acting contrary to their stated mission for no logical reason, only irrational and controversial belief.

    As for Liberty Baptist Church, being a church isn’t magic protection against being a hate group. As a person of faith, I see no contradiction between “this is a belief of a faith and should be respected as such” and “this belief is hate-based and thus they qualify as a hate group”. If a church suddenly started preaching all red-heads are children of Satan, should be forcibly shaved or have their hair dyed to the acceptable colors and advocate deny adoption to red-headed individuals, it would be the same thing. They’d be demanding respect for their beliefs and want to apply it in RL. They’d be accorded 1A protection because of their status as a religion. They’d also make hate group status because they are *clearly* acting as one. They’re not mutually exclusive concepts, you know. You can believe what you want – you don’t get to tell others how that beliefs is considered by others and regarded by society at large.

    Edit: damnit, Ozark beat me to it. That’s what I get for not refreshing the page….

  20. gVOR08 says:


    They can all still sell booze and bar food, it just has to be curbside.

    They can sell booze curbside? Unless they have package stores that seems a uniquely bad idea.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    NYT: Her Facebook Friends Asked If Anyone Was Actually Sick. She Had an Answer.

    Heaven Frilot is normally a private person. But this is not a normal time. So she and her husband are now the face of the coronavirus for their conservative Louisiana community.

    The only thing that should have been different about the first Friday in March was the apple crisp. Heaven Frilot didn’t usually cook at the end of the workweek, instead letting her family snack on leftovers — a roast or pork chops she’d made earlier, maybe — or order pizza. But her 10-year-old son, Ethan, was having a friend over that night, and her husband, Mark, a lawyer, was coming off a crushing week of arbitration. She would bake an apple crisp.

    Then Mark Frilot — 45 years old, “never, ever sick” — came home with a fever.

    In the haze of days that followed, Ms. Frilot, a 43-year-old oil-and-gas analyst, occupied one world, the rest of her community in Kenner, La., another. She saw her friends making jokes on social media about the coronavirus — eye-roll emojis, Fox News talking points, Rush Limbaugh quotes writing off the threat. And then one person asked if anyone really had this thing.

    Ms. Frilot had an answer to that.

    “I have been seeing a lot of posts about people taking this virus lightly and joking about it,” she began in a Facebook post. “Mark has tested positive for the coronavirus.”


    Crises are political only until they are personal. As news of Mr. Frilot’s diagnosis spread, among his friends and on, his story was no longer just that of a young, healthy person who caught a virus that young, healthy people had been told they were not supposed to catch. It was a revelation for the conservative suburbs of New Orleans, where many had written off the pandemic as liberal fear-mongering. Mr. Frilot, a registered Republican, and his family are generally apolitical, and were not thinking much about the virus — whether as a fiction or anything else — before he got sick. But many in their community had opinions on it from the start.

    The language they used was the language politicians and media figures were also using.

    FOX and Enemies airs every morning.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: Another voice is always welcome.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: There is a stereotype of people who call themselves “conservative”: They do not have any empathy or sympathy for someone outside their group until someone inside someone inside the group has the same problem. This story reinforces that stereotype.

  24. Sleeping Dog says:


    One of my personal hobby horses when discussing healthcare is near refusal to honestly address the issue of cost. Other countries that have advanced healthcare systems and who spend far less than the US, don’t accomplish that due to lack of technology, medicines or outcomes. They have lower costs because they treat healthcare as a public utility and set reimbursement levels.

    In the US we scream about the cost of health insurance, but marginal profit made by these rapacious insurance companies isn’t the reason getting sick costs so d@mn much, it’s what the providers and technology vendors charge.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:


    They do not have any empathy or sympathy for someone outside their group until someone inside someone inside the group has the same problem.

    You say stereotype, I say generalization. They both have exceptions that prove the rule. BUT…

    How many elected Republicans suddenly had a change of heart about LGBTQ rights when they found out they had LGBTQ family members?

    I posted a while ago about the experiences Women’s Health Care clinic staff had with conservatives in their wait rooms for an abortion engaging in anti-abortion speech even to the point of trying to convince other women in the room with them to not have abortions.

    I know an individual, hard core trump supporter, who dearly loves his 2 adopted Chinese grandchildren but will almost certainly vote for trump again, because his Chinese grandchildren are different and trump doesn’t mean them.

    This particular human trait is not unique to conservatives, it is however the heart and soul of conservative politics which positions itself in the road with upraised hand yelling “STOP!” which was fine back in the day when they added, “and think about what you are doing.” All one has to do is listen to 5 minutes of FOX to know they don’t say that anymore. Conservative politics today is about the individual. Too often an individual of a majority (whether it be white or Christian, or whatever) at the expense of others, and mostly in worship to the way things used to be. You know, white, christian, patriarchal…. and especially in favor of the rich and powerful.

    Having empathy for others is difficult for liberals too. We don’t however have a FOX news informing our politics, speaking of which, are generally built around the idea of caring for others.

    As far as I am concerned, if conservatives are tired of this generalization of them maybe they should do something about their politics?

  26. Kingdaddy says:

    Now that boat traffic has declined, dolphins are swimming in the Venice lagoon.

  27. Kingdaddy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Agreed. There’s a simple message that politicians should repeat, over and over again, before getting into a discussion of possible solutions like Medicare For All:

    Americans pay twice as much for health care, and arguably get less for their money, than other countries.

    We also pay more, per capita, than we did in the 1980s.

    I don’t think these facts have sunk into the public psyche, even now. Talking about M4A and other options is pointless if your audience still thinks that we have the most advanced, most affordable, and most responsive health care system in the world.

    (Cue the people saying, “The health care system is complex, there are many dimensions of quality and service, yadda yadda.” Bottom line, we’re getting less than we should.)

  28. Jax says:

    @gVOR08: Bars sell package liquor in Wyoming, but we also have drive thru package liquor. Most grocery stores/gas stations can’t sell alcohol, not even beer or wine.

  29. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Sleeping Dog: This Part. Between the AMA lobbying to restrict the number of Med School students and outright price gouging, everyone’s solution seems to center on how we pay and not whether prices are artificially inflated due to fraud, collusion, and/or lack of competition.

    One thing about America, we never fix anything while everyone is getting rich. We fix it after there the house catches on fire and the flames are extinguished. Why the fuck does this country only have 3 hospital beds per 1000 citizens? I would have guessed 40 before this crisis. People are going to pay…not today or tomorrow…but soon. America loves putting a foot in ass of people that fail.

  30. DrDaveT says:


    There is a stereotype of people who call themselves “conservative”: They do not have any empathy or sympathy for someone outside their group until someone inside someone inside the group has the same problem. This story reinforces that stereotype.

    It’s not a stereotype. There are numerous academic studies in reputable journals establishing and exploring the correlation between conservatism and empathy. Causal analysis requires nuance, but the general correlation is strong — liberals are more empathetic, conservatives are less empathetic, based on studies of non-political attitudes and behaviors.

  31. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    I agree 100%. A friend of mine who is a former Fortune 500 CFO, has his own healthcare hobby horse and it is restricted supply of providers and market monopolization by the large hospital chains.

    The cost problem also exists in education and that is exacerbated by the state provide far less support for public colleges and universities than they did 50 years ago, adjusted for inflation.

  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Why the fuck does this country only have 3 hospital beds per 1000 citizens?

    Because they are in the business of profit, not health care.
    Any other questions?

  33. Bill says:

    Do to me having edema in my lungs, I have been hospitalized. It is a complication of my cancer and I have had this problem before.

    My wife is still working. Our church did a video for this Sunday’s mass and she is the lector.

    I should be home by the middle of next week worst. Due to me being in the coronary care unit, I have a private room. The only good thing about this hospitalization. Now back to watching The West Wing.

  34. Kylopod says:


    being a church isn’t magic protection against being a hate group.

    Additionally, it’s important to note that SPLC does not label as a hate group any church or religious organization that preaches against homosexual relationships on religious grounds (the Catholic Church, to my knowledge, isn’t on their list, for example); the group has to do something a bit more than that, such as practicing or advocating conversion therapy, or claiming gay men are pedophiles.

  35. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Why the fuck does this country only have 3 hospital beds per 1000 citizens?

    My guess is because we’ve moved significantly to out-patient care.

    Over the last 20 years, of those 3 beds, only 2 were occupied.

    Japan has 13 beds, but 8 of them are filled.

  36. 95 South says:

    @Jim Brown 32: How much money should we have been spending on unused hospital beds? Exact amount required. Social policy consists of thousands of such questions.

  37. CSK says:


    Best wishes! I hope you’re out and about soon.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bill: Allow me to add to CSK’s good wishes for your swift recovery and ability to control the edema issue.

  39. de stijl says:

    In the positive column:

    We are much less likely to have mass shootings in the near future.

  40. de stijl says:


    Be well.

  41. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Hospitals should put up signs saying “Beds are for customers ONLY.”

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: best of luck Bill. Hang tough.

  43. Sleeping Dog says:


    recover and be well.

  44. Mu Yixiao says:

    This whole COVID-19 fiasco has hit me a bit differently than others.

    The little city* I live in used to have a great weekly newspaper that served the area. It got bought by a regional publisher. Which then got bought by a national publisher. Then our paper got “consolidated” with one from a neighboring city. Then the offices in all of the small cities and towns got closed and “consolidated” in a major suburb. Then all online versions went to paid-subscription.

    And that’s what I walked into when I moved back from China.

    After 2 years of listening to people bitch about the lack of news in our area, I stepped up and created a free, online-only, newspaper that focuses on what’s important to the locals. The phrase I used when pitching the idea was “resurrecting Walter Cronkite”.

    I’ve spent time building relationships with all of the municipalities in my coverage area** as well as the school district; the police, fire, and EMS departments; the county government; the county sheriff department; and the sheriff department for Dane County (housing our capital, and where lots of residents work).

    For the first six months, I’ve been reporting on area road construction, why the street lights were being removed (refurbishment–they were returned), what local orgs are doing, and the new fire engines in the village. I got the new police chief to write a regular column, along with the director of the nursing home and a local therapist.

    My weekly readership meets or exceeds the “published circulation” of the printed newspaper. I became “the town newspaper”***.

    And now I have to write about COVID-19. I have to decide which information I pass along verbatim, which I rewrite so it can be better understood, and which I ignore. The politics involved makes me want to run my head through my band saw.

    I haven’t written anything all week. I’ve published press releases, but I haven’t written anything. Tomorrow, I have to get back on the horse. And it scares me a bit.

    Thank y’all for being here to help me keep perspective.

    * It’s incorporated, it has a mayor, so legally it’s a city. It has a population of 3k.
    ** One city, one village, three towns. Total population, about 6k.
    *** And I’ve learned how to bury the lede on a Friday night. 😀

  45. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Wisconsin? Outside Madison?

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bill: Stay strong and heal well.

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    For the first six months,

    A stronger man than I.

    And now I have to write about COVID-19. I have to decide which information I pass along verbatim, which I rewrite so it can be better understood, and which I ignore. The politics involved makes me want to run my head through my band saw.

    Fuck the politics. print the SCIENCE. There is no black and white, things are always subject to change because facts are uncooperative and studies always find new inconvenient facts.

  48. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    Close to Madison, but not in Dane County.

  49. Mu Yixiao says:


    Fuck the politics. print the SCIENCE.

    You misunderstand (or don’t understand). Being able to report requires that I am able to get information. Being able to get information requires that I have a good relationship with the governments that I’m reporting on.

    For example: The “chief” of the local EMT hasn’t given me a word in six months–despite me asking for info on the EMT service. Suddenly, I’m getting e-mails from him. But… he’s declaring himself the “definitive source” on all things COVID–including elections, daycare, and how to wash your hands. He’s passively insulting our county government, while actively “consulting with” Dane County–which has a completely different composition and infrastructure. My best friend works for Dane County 911 and *she* called him out on that (to me, not publicly).

    So…Do I slap him down? That means he removes me from his mailing list and I have no clue what he’s telling others. Which means he can declare himself the authority without opposition. It also means I will get zero access to the EMS going forward, and have to spend time and effort to fight him indefinitely.

    Science only goes so far in these situations. The reality on the ground has far different battles to fight.

    And I’m doing this on my spare time, at a loss.

    My donkey is tired. I’ve gotta pick my windmills carefully.

  50. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I know that dynamic.

    Small towns within the media and cultural borders or reach of the bigger city.

    They despise Madison and are almost entirely dependent on it for economic well-being.

    They hate Madison, but go three weekends out of eight for fun and shopping. Likely voting much more red than deep blue Madison proper.

    Reactionary dislike + economic dependence is a weird combo. People develop a strange reaction.

    Plus, you are reporter and editor and publisher. You cannot hide behind a job title – it is your publication.

    Be very factual.

  51. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    We are much less likely to have mass shootings in the near future.

    Except wherever the hell it is that Tyrell lives.

  52. Kingdaddy says:

    @Bill: I wish I could be there to keep you company, watch a movie with you, be something more than an electronic ghost. Hang in there. People care about you.

  53. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Bill: Report home for normal duty NLT next week. That’s an order Sailor.

  54. Kathy says:

    About alternate history the other day, I meant to say I find much of it a bit disappointing.

    See, for years, I believed the conventional wisdom that the Fall of Rome and the subsequent Dark Ages held back human progress for centuries, so we’d be, to paraphrase Mike Duncan(*), teleporting to jobs in parallel universes by now had Rome not fallen.

    Silverberg’s Roma Eterna, and in a way Turtledove’s Agent of Byzantium series fo stories, assume a Roman empire that just keeps going (Turtledove’s in the East only). And the end result is not that different. Oh, Turtledove has his protagonist stumble upon gunpowder, optics, printing, and distilled spirits, centuries ahead of “schedule,” but they don’t bring much change in his lifetime.

    Having taken a deeper dive into history, and a more nuanced view of the medieval period, this was overly simplistic.

    But I still want to see a radical point of departure that has humanity conquering the Solar System waaaaaay ahead of schedule. In 750 BCE, say.

    Of course, that can’t happen naturally. It would take a major shift. After all, math and applied physics go way back, unless you don’t think the Ancient Egyptian used them to build the pyramids around 2500 BCE. And yet, major advances in science and technology had to wait for the scientific and industrial revolutions, which by historical standards happened last week.

    So you’d need an outside factor, like time travelers (cheating), aliens, etc.

    I’ll see what I can do.

    (*) Duncan said it in reply to listener complaints about his failure to make a big deal of the burning of the Library of Alexandria during Caesar’s time in Egypt. He might have been sarcastic.

  55. DrDaveT says:


    And yet, major advances in science and technology had to wait for the scientific and industrial revolutions, which by historical standards happened last week.

    You might be interested in the book The Forgotten Revolution: How Science Was Born in 300 BC and Why it Had to Be Reborn by Lucio Russo. I’ve always thought that might be a good branch point for an alternative history…

  56. de stijl says:


    I loved the idealized image of neighbors gathering at their fences chatting about their days in the California thread.

    In rental buildings and in condo high rises, there is an authority to fall back on if neighbor relations get weird.
    The landlord, the HOA.

    In single family house neighborhoods, no.

    The very first day I moved into my first SFD house I owned outright , my next door neighbor stopped by to say hello. I was semi stoked. Within four minutes he was evangelizing and invited me to his church. I politely declined, thanks for the offer, but I’m not religious, and continued to schlep boxes into my new house.

    Thereafter, I got invites to their church weekly; he put me on their out-reach mailing list. Dude sent me a personal note saying that he was praying for me. Had his wife and kids also sign it. It was very creepy. No envelope, no stamp: dude walked over and put it in my mailbox. Gave me a CD of his crappy acoustic Christian folk rock.

    Ned Flanders creep freaked me out.

    I’d have preferred a cranky misanthrope next door. Get off my property!

    When they moved, I was so happy. The new neighbors, we waved at each other if outside at the same time, but that was it. I didn’t know their name; they didn’t know mine. Good fences.

    Neighbors are like chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

  57. de stijl says:

    @Kathy: @DrDaveT:

    I am fond of Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years Of Rice And Salt. Alt-history where The Black Death killed 99% of Europeans. A very lethal pandemic: over in months.

    Explicitly Buddhist.

  58. Mu Yixiao says:

    @de stijl:

    Plus, you are reporter and editor and publisher. You cannot hide behind a job title – it is your publication.

    Be very factual.

    I want to be.

    But I have to balance that against politics, fear, and bullshit.

    If I speak the unvarnished truth and nobody listens, I have–at the minimum–accomplished nothing and wasted my time.

    Aside: your comments imply that you’re in Wisconsin. Yes?

  59. DrDaveT says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    But I have to balance that against politics, fear, and bullshit.

    I am in awe of your initiative and energy. Hobson’s choice sucks, but sometimes it’s the only choice you have.

  60. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    When I was a kid old enough to be useful I got shipped off from S Minneaoplis to paternal grandparents farm in NW Wisconsin during summer break as unpaid labor. Major culture shock. Alien.

    The nearest neighbor was a quarter mile away and that was my great aunt and – uncle’s place. Swedish was spoken as much as English. My great grandfather mostly Swedish.

    As I got a bit older I could understand the dynamic a bit more. It was within the Minneapolis / St. Paul tv signal reach. You had to monkey with the antenna. Within that economic and cultural bubble, but distinctly outside it.

    The nearest town was 5 miles away pop 2.5k. The nearest “big” town was Rice Lake pop. ~12k was 15 miles away.

    There was a deep, ingrained distrust and something between disgust and hatred for the Twin Cities, but they went several times a year to buy stuff. Most of them eventually died in St. Paul hospitals.

    I was as alien to them as they were to me. They disdained my city taintedness. They were very explicitly racist.

    I thought they were hicks and slavedrivers, and goddamned lunatics.

    Btw, Swedish food sucks. Way too much sugar in dishes it has no reason to be in.

  61. de stijl says:

    @Mu Yixiao: @DrDaveT:

    You have a choice to make.

    You can go bold and alienate and lose many of your readers and maybe some of your contributors you carefully recruited.

    You can go mild and try not to offend anyone. This may also off-put some readers and contributors.

    Local journalism is dying if not already dead in small towns. I applaud what you are doing.

    There is no optimal solution.

    There is a clear space for straight up factual reporting and just that. There is a space for reporting + advocacy.

    (This is my thought process alone, please ignore if it does not fit your brain. I prefer to be stressed by things I chose to do. I would go bold. But the choice is yours.)

  62. de stijl says:

    I have been through periods of fairly intense agoraphobia.

    Isolation and quarantine are eminently survivable. Any idiot can do it. I did it.

    Books, games, music, tv, movies, crosswords, writing. Embrace your inner nerd. Go with what moves you.

    If you need a walk, go at 4am. The world is very interesting at 4 am. It’s oh so quiet. You are a ghost.

  63. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Ah, you’re talking about those politics. My bad. I was never any good at those politics either. Probably why nobody ever wanted to talk to me.


    Good luck, you’re gonna need it.

  64. mattbernius says:

    Rest, recuperate and be well sir. We look forward to hearing updates!

  65. Kathy says:


    I am deeply skeptical of modern scholars talking about specific trends in the distant past. But I’m willing to give it a shot.

    I had an idea once: suppose in the year, oh, 3508 CE a nearby red giant goes supernova, and the gamma ray burst kills off almost all life on Earth. Luckily time travel’s just been invented, so the survivors gather all the technology and knowledge they can, and set off for ancient times. The purpose is to kick start science and technology, so humanity can evacuate the Solar System by the time the supernova goes off.

    I even picked the period: the reign of Djoser in Egypt around 2650 BCE. Not because of Djoser, but because of his chancellor, Imhotep, who may have been a sage (in the story of course he is).

    But then I ran into a host of time travel complications, better ideas, etc. I like time travel stories, but I dislike writing them.

    So I’m thinking of something else.

  66. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I would read this!