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:

    Floriduh! woman comes thru again:

    Two Florida women aged 34 and 44 dressed up as “grannies” – wearing bonnets and gloves – in a failed attempt to pass as old enough to be eligible for coronavirus jabs, according to local media reports.

    WFTV, an ABC-affiliated TV station in Orlando, reported that the pair had valid vaccine cards after having their first shots, but were denied their second ones.

    It quoted the Orange County health officer Dr Raul Pino as saying: “I don’t know how they escaped [detection] for the first time, but they came with the gloves, the glasses, the whole thing, and they are probably in their 20s.”

    Their real ages emerged later, a WFTV reporter said. According to the station, the two women were turned over to police. Officers said they were asked to issue trespass warnings and no other action was taken.

  2. Scott says:

    Want to talk about Texas some more? How about fun topics like free market forces? Here’s one story about the magic of the marketplace.

    Texans hit with thousands in energy bills as storms ravage power supply

    Texans are facing a crisis inside of a crisis as snow hammers the state: astronomical heating bills.

    Akilah Scott-Amos told The Daily Beast on Wednesday she was being charged north of $400 a day, and currently owes the wholesale power provider Griddy $2896.11, compared to $33 bill she paid the company the same month last year.

    As cold weather knocked out the natural gas supply and froze some wind turbines, customers were in the midst of a huge need for energy to keep warm, a simultaneous supply and demand crunch that shot energy rates way up, from $50 to $9,000 per megawatt.

    Making matters even more dire, on Tuesday, Texas’s Power Utility Commission, which regulates the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), ordered the nonprofit grid operator to raise prices, arguing it wasn’t accurately reflecting the high demand in the market.

    Now since I’m supplied by our municipally owned City Public Service, we are under a traditional rate set energy provider and don’t have to shop the electricity market. And therefore don’t have to worry about it.

    What I think free marketeers don’t understand about human behavior is that there are some foundational elements that have to be taken care of before an entrepreneurial spirit can take hold. Things like food, security, health. Maslow understood this as did Herzberg. I think Scandinavian countries understand this. They seem to have a high level of innovation, business creation, etc because the basics (like healthcare, safety, etc) are taken care leaving people’s energy focused on the higher level business activities.

  3. JohnMcC says:

    @Scott: You know, it’s this sort of thing that illustrates what you could call the ‘social contract’ (to coin a phrase). It’s why and how we live in cities and bend our will to our fellows and our government much more often than we would like. These folks, most of them not being right-wing-nutjobs, are getting bills from their power company that could not keep their lights on, in the $3,000 range because their State government put them in the spot market for electricity that had none to share. Because: taxes; regulation; freedom. Yes the ‘social contract’ has been violated. Hell yes. By whom? By the government of Texas. Those elites.

    Walks away shaking his head…

  4. sam says:

    I thought this was spot on: Here’s Ted Cruz, who railed against Mexicans coming across the border seeking a better life, fleeing to Mexico seeking a better life.

  5. Jen says:


    These folks, most of them not being right-wing-nutjobs,

    Agreed, most of them are not–but Texas is a red state. Some portion of them, a majority, vote *for* people who advocate and support that same state government that put them in this mess.

    I hope (but am not entirely confident that) many of these folks will respond accordingly at the ballot box next time.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Nothing says “FREEDOM!” like paying more, a lot more, for less.

  7. Kylopod says:


    coronavirus jabs

    How you know it’s from The Guardian without even looking.

  8. CSK says:

    Indeed. “Jab” meaning “injection” is one Brit locution that never caught on in the U.S. It always sounds a bit violent to me, although I suppose no more so than “shot.”

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: @CSK: I have to admit, I never even noticed.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Every morning for almost 44 years, Albert Woodfox would awake in his 6ft by 9ft concrete cell and brace himself for the day ahead. He was America’s longest-serving solitary confinement prisoner, and each day stretched before him identical to the one before.

    Did he have the strength, he would ask himself, to endure the torture of his prolonged isolation? Or might this be the day when he would finally lose his mind and, like so many others on the tier, suddenly start screaming and never stop?

    On Friday, Woodfox will wake up in a much better place. He will find himself in his three-bedroom home in New Orleans, the city of his birth. There will be colourful pictures on the wall, books to read, not an inch of brutal concrete in sight. It will be soothingly quiet – no cries and howls bouncing off the walls, no metal doors clanging. Once up, he can step outside and look up at the open sky, a pleasure withheld from him for almost half a century.

    It will be a good day. Today he will celebrate his 74th birthday. Today he will mark the fifth anniversary of his freedom.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    This Atlantic article makes a good point about what the modern Republican’s chosen role is for ensuring delivery of vital services and tackling large, country wide problems: there is no role. But it’s even worse than the article says. Senior Republicans view their role as actively preventing government from tackling these issues. They have made a fetish out of throwing gravel in the gears and celebrating vandalism to the machinery of governance.

    It is tempting to turn the “hypocrite” label on Cruz, but his sin is worse. Every politician is a hypocrite at some point. Cruz’s error is not that he was shirking a duty he knew he should have been performing. It’s that he couldn’t think of any way he could use his power as a U.S. senator to help Texans in need. That’s a failure of imagination and of political ideology.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: Amongst some US medical professionals, I’ve heard the term “stick” used much as the Brits use “jabs”. But it’s never caught on widely.

  13. CSK says:

    I too have heard “stick,” but, as you point out, the use of it is very infrequent.

  14. Monala says:


    Another joke mocks the fact that Heidi Cruz asked her neighbors if they wanted to travel with them and got no takers: “The Cruz’s are going to Cancun? Nah, I’d rather stay here and freeze.”

    Then there’s this:


    For those keeping track, Cancun Cruz’s trip was: (1) preplanned: (2) spur of the moment; (3) a family vacation; (4) a girls’ getaway; (5) always just a quick turnaround; and (6) cut short by cancel-culture liberals.

    The latter refers to statements in a fundraising email Cruz sent out.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:


    I bet if Texas renamed their power grid to uterus, the state would be regulating the shit out of it.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rep. Katie Porter

    I always thought my dirty dishes piled up and accumulating bacteria were the most dangerous thing in a Zoom background…


  17. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: Historically, Republicans (and Whigs before them) were pro-business and were interested in establishing the conditions for a good economy. Starting with Hamilton and the need for a strong national bank, through building canals, railroads, transcontinental railroads, land grant universities (Morrill Act), Homestead Act, Panama Canal, interstates, etc., there was always a push for good solid infrastructure along with a solid legal/contract system that was pro-business. They are not this party. FDR took that job away from them and basically became the opposition party to FDR. Nixon wrested, through his Southern Strategy, turned them into the party of George Wallace and remain that today.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have now gotten my second dose of Moderna. Dose #1: Meh, a little sore. Dose #2: that night I develop a low grade fever. Next day felt like Mike Tyson had punched me in the shoulder, low grade fever, weariness.

    Slept 10 hours and today, all better. Also, immune!

    I’d suggest assuming that the day after you won’t be getting much work done.

  19. Kathy says:


    And how!

    Consider Cancun-gate and Flyin’ Ted.

    One can understand, and even sympathize, with his desire to skip the disaster in Texas. If everyone affected could have left, many would have. But Mr. Cruz had an option that wouldn’t make him look bad, and if he brought along his family no one would object:

    He could have gone to DC to coordinate with the Biden administration, consult with federal officials, etc. or pretended to, as his nominal job, US Senator from Texas, involves that kind of thing.

    True, DC is hardly a tropical paradise with nice beaches. It must be quite cold there as well. But the power’s on, the city isn’t shut down, and food is available on demand 24/7.

    This is what I mean when I call his kind of politician stupid.

  20. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m scheduled for my second Moderna next Thursday. Maybe I should just plan to take Friday off.

    Need to get my second Shingrix shot also. My wife had a bad time with that. Good times.

  21. Scott says:

    Now this is just silly, juicy gossip but we need this every now and then.

    Trump Hotel Employees Reveal What It Was Really Like Catering to the Right Wing Elite

    As soon as Trump was seated, the server had to “discreetly present” a mini bottle of Purell hand sanitizer. (This applied long before Covid, mind you.) Next, cue dialogue: “Good (time of day) Mr. President. Would you like your Diet Coke with or without ice?” the server was instructed to recite. A polished tray with chilled bottles and highball glasses was already prepared for either response. Directions for pouring the soda were detailed in a process no fewer than seven steps long—and illustrated with four photo exhibits. The beverage had to be opened in front of the germophobe commander in chief, “never beforehand.” The server was to hold a longneck-bottle opener by the lower third of the handle in one hand and the Diet Coke, also by the lower third, in the other. Once poured, the drink had to be placed at the President’s right-hand side. “Repeat until POTUS departs.”

  22. Jax says:

    Beto’s out there organizing check-ins on vulnerable folks in Texas, AOC’s raising a million and counting for relief efforts, and Cancun Cruz……runs away to a beach.

  23. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’d suggest assuming that the day after you won’t be getting much work done.

    I went to work the day after my second dose (Pfizer). I felt like hot garbage all day. Would not recommend.

    Of course the plus side of this is feeling crappy means it’s working!

  24. CSK says:

    Dolly Parton has nicely turned down a bipartisan offer to put a statue of her in the Tennessee state capitol: “Given all that is going on in the world, I don’t think putting me on a pedestal is appropriate at this time.” She acknowledged feeling “humbled and honored by the intention.”

    Her one million dollar donation helped to fund the development and production of the Moderna vaccine.

  25. CSK says:

    The business about opening the bottle in Trump’s presence is a reflection of his paranoid terror of being poisoned.

    It’s the same reason he liked the cuisine at McDonald’s: The stuff is pre-prepared, so no one can tampered with it.

  26. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Yup, your experience and mine were pretty much identical…

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    That woman has her head screwed on just right.

  28. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Yep. She also made no mention of her donation to Moderna. That only became public knowledge when Moderna published a list of its donors.

    And…I’ve never heard her refer to herself as “a good Christian woman,” as does the loathsome Marjorie Taylor Greene.

  29. Kathy says:


    And none of the McDonald’s employees held to a minimum wage the Orange Ass did nothing to raise, would never, ever, think of spitting on a burger.

  30. @Michael Reynolds:

    Also, immune!


    I had the first Pfizer shot early last week. A little soreness at the site of the injection (like most shots). However, I had some joint pain that I cannot otherwise explain this week (most of which has subsided). Since this is listed as a side-effect of that vaccine, I assume that is the cause as I can think of nothing else that would have caused it.

  31. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: “A tramp in Britain is a bum in America, while a bum in Britain is a fanny in America, while a fanny in Britain is–well, we’ve covered that. To a foreigner it must seem sometimes as if we are being intentionally contrary. Consider that in Britain the Royal Mail delivers the post, not the mail, while in America the Postal Service delivers the mail, not the post.” — Bill Bryson (himself an American who has spent much of his adult life in Britain)

  32. CSK says:

    Well, Trump is absolutely convinced the chow from Mickey D’s is pristine.

    The article linked by @Scott: is really entertaining. I was amused by the massive amounts of junk food the hotel had to stock in preparation for a Trump infestation.

  33. CSK says:

    I love Bryson’s books.

    In one of them, he wrote about cutting off the sanitary strip on a motel toilet and feeling as if he should say: “I now declare this toilet open.”

    I nearly fell off the couch laughing.

  34. Kathy says:


    Well, Trump is absolutely convinced the chow from Mickey D’s is pristine.

    And that may be the least trouble his hubris will give him.

  35. CSK says:

    It might kill him before the long arm of the law taps him on the shoulder. He’s gained a tremendous amount of weight since the 2020 election. I’m surprised he can waddle to his golf cart.

  36. DrDaveT says:


    Senior Republicans view their role as actively preventing government from tackling these issues.

    Well, of course they do! If government were to successfully provide services and safety nets and infrastructure, people would want more of it. And so we’d need to tax wealthy people to pay for that. And paying taxes is the worst thing ever.

  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kylopod: @CSK:

    Bill Bryson is a guy I cannot read in public due to giggling fits.

  38. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Bryson told The Guardian last October that he’s hanging up his pen permanently.

    I hope not.

  39. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Scott: I had no idea about this until a friend from out of state sent me a similar article earlier in the week, worried that I might be getting an electric bill in the thousands. I’ve been in Texas since 2002, and had four different electric providers, but they’ve all been either municipal systems like CPS and Austin Energy, or electric cooperatives, like PEC or Bluebonnet. Somehow it just escaped me until this week that large parts of Texas were the Electric Wild Wild West.

  40. dazedandconfused says:


    Another vector to consider: As ex-POTUS he has Secret Service guards. Those guys are a small, elite fraternity. When he sicced his mob on Pence he sicced them on Pence’s SS security detail.

  41. Kurtz says:
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’d hate to see Bryson quit. But I’m less certain than I used to be that I’d keep going til I dropped.
    To paraphrase the immortal words of the Glimmer Twins, it’s best to walk before they make you run.

    That aside Katherine and I are working on what would be the first true KA Applegate (as opposed to Katherine Applegate or Michael Grant) series since the Animorphs/Everworld/Remnants era 18 years ago, and I am deep in my favorite part of writing: world building. Pure ‘makin’ shit up’. If I could get a job just doing that, just world-building, and avoid all the typing of books, I’d be happy.

  43. CSK says:


  44. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    One of the tragedies/ironies of writing that is by the time some writers make it big–and I’m definitely not speaking of you and Katherine here–they’ve lost some of what initially made them so good.

  45. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My wife’s second dose caused her only mile lethargy, while Peter, our Head Nurse in charge of our C0vid Compliance, was down for two full days. Anecdotally, it seems to be either very mild or horrible, with not much in between.

    I get my second dose a week from Wednesday.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    the first true KA Applegate (as opposed to Katherine Applegate or Michael Grant)

    Just curious, what’s the difference between a KA Applegate production and a Katherine Applegate one?)

  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    There are two phases of ‘Katherine Applegate’ books, most co-authored by the two of us in the early to mid-90’s. (Ocean City, Making Out). Then the more recent Katherine Applegate books which are all written entirely by her (with one exception) and are middle grade, thematic and brilliantly targeted. (The One and Only Ivan, Wishtree, etc…).

    ‘KA Applegate’ was always the two of us and tended to be more boundary-pushing. We’re looking for a way to revive the book-per-month model that fell out of vogue because Borders (RIP) and Barnes and Noble didn’t like having to give up all that shelf space. And there aren’t a lot of writers who can crank out 150 pages in three weeks, 12 months a year. But in the Amazon era there’s no such thing as shelf space, and it’s still (we think) a viable approach.

    It’s also an IP move. After some dealings with Hollywood I’ve realized I don’t work and play well with others. (I know!) In the publishing world an editor’s ‘notes’ are suggestions and it’s up to me to accept or reject. That doesn’t seem to be the way things work here in LA. We’re on the extreme end of the ‘don’t tell me what to do,’ spectrum. So, if we want Hollywood money it’s in IP creation.

  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    You doing Dodger Stadium? First round: almost six hours in car line. Second round: an hour. They’re getting their act together.

  49. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: An (not so astonishingly) she is a good Christian Woman by all accounts. Im not even into Country like that–but I love her music to include he gospel song. She just has ‘it”

  50. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: The McDonald’s employees don’t know which Big Mac is going to be his, so they don’t know which one to defile.

  51. CSK says:

    Donald Trump Junior really is an imbecile. In an outraged tweet defending Cancun Ted Cruz, he identified Greg Abbott as an incompetent “Democrat” governor.

  52. CSK says:

    Exactly. That’s precisely what Trump’s thinking is.

  53. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: I kind of wish Dolly Parton would refer to herself as a “good Christian woman”, and then quietly tie that to her support for gay rights, helping the less fortunate, etc.

    When your religion is being distorted into a tool of hatred and exclusion, a bit of performative good behavior is merited, even if not humble. Not call anyone out, but just be better than them and be visible about it.

  54. CSK says:

    Given that the vast majority of women who refer to themselves as “good Christian women” are abysmal human beings, I’m glad Parton doesn’t include herself in their number.

  55. Pete S says:


    My father is an 85 year old diabetic who had a leg amputation a few months ago. So not the picture of health. He got his second dose Tuesday afternoon. When I spoke to him Wednesday morning he said he had no impacts at all. He said it wouldn’t hurt if someone punched him in the arm.

    So as you say the side effects are not universal at all.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @sam: Who’s doing the better life seeking makes all the difference in the world. Always has. 🙁

  57. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: And it’s a good acronym

    See? It works!

  58. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Best of luck to you guys!

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Now among the fundies I grew up with, referring to ONE’S SELF as “a good Christian ____” was considered arrogant and a sure sign that you were nothing like you thought yourself to be. You had to rely on others to call you that, or you didn’t get the title.

  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Easy. Defile them all. (And I would think that he’d realize that since it’s so close to his own personal MO. 😐 )

  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: “Given that the vast majority of women who refer to themselves as “good Christian women” are abysmal human beings, I’m glad Parton doesn’t include herself in their number.”

    That’s probably at least one reason that she doesn’t. (Although Gustopher has a good point, too.)

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher: defile them all, let God sort it out.

    ETA and now I see @Just nutha ignint cracker: beat me to it. Great minds and all that.

  63. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    You’re quite right. But i think things have changed a bit since then.

    A few years ago I realized that every in-your-face “Christian” I ever met (happily, not that many) was at best irritating and at worst evil/psychotic. I have no problem with religious people as long as they don’t try to force their beliefs on me.

  64. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, that’s a bit unfair to any other customers, isn’t it?

  65. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Nope. San Fernando Park, run by the Fire Dept. First time was 42 mins from the moment I got in line, to exiting (including the 15 mins “safety check”.) I think the second one will be similar.

    We took my Father in Law to the drive in center at Hansen Dam. Less than an hour all in.

    Efficient AF!

  66. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If I could get a job just doing that, just world-building, and avoid all the typing of books, I’d be happy.

    So you and Tolkien are more alike than you thought…

  67. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Authors still write? I would have guessed your trade would be dictating books since speech to text and even recording to text is pretty good to vomit out rough draft.

    Bill (hope he’s well these days) got me to thinking about writing some stories which I tried during the initial Covid quarantines. Had a decent start but realized that the typing part is not in the same area of my brain as my imagination part. Dictation software was perfect–then ‘Squirrel’–having ‘written’ a word in months–

  68. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I believe there was a long-haired hippie type (but nice Jewish boy for all that) who commented on people who walked around in sack cloth, covering themselves with ashes and praying loudly. Something to the effect that it means nothing.

  69. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    I’ve tried dictating, but the brain wiring isn’t there. The typing and the figuring it out all takes place concurrently. At this point (30,000 published pages, give or take) I can barely hold a spoken conversation. I’m like an octopus, my fingers have their own brains.

    Not to mention that the lovely penmanship I learned long ago in France, with an actual dip-it-in-the-inkwell fountain pen and tightly-lined cahier, is now the manic scrawl of a dying man trying to name his murderer for Poirot.

  70. Kathy says:

    Silly joke of the day.

    How to connect a USB or microUSB:

    1) Insert the connector one way. It won’t go in.
    2) Turn it 180 degrees
    3) Insert the connector that way. It won’t go in.
    4) Turn it 180 degrees back to where you started.
    5) Insert the connector that way. It will magically work now.

  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: What does “fair” have to do with anything? And it’s only the order that’s going to 1600 Penn. Ave. If I’m going to be able to get away with it, I need to find a way to target accurately. I need to develop a profile of what a WH order looks like–maybe 3 double quarter pounder with cheese meals with a diet coke. That probably a good target.

  72. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Okay. I thought you were saying that you’d defile all the burgers. If it’s just for the ones going to Trump…be my guest.

  73. gVOR08 says:

    My wife got her second shot last week. We arrived at the park an hour before her scheduled time, stayed in line in the car, National Guard directing traffic, got the shot in the car at just about the scheduled time, waited 15 min in the parking lot, and were on the road in an hour fifteen total. I got my second this morning at a Publix supermarket pharmacy. Arrived 10 min early, got my shot on schedule, 15 min in a chair by the pharmacy, and out. 30 minutes in and out. Looked to be scheduling appointments at 6 min intervals, with three chairs for post shot wait. So far not even any ache or stiffness in the shoulder. See how it goes in the morning. My wife had a fever and fatigue the day after the second shot.

    In FL it isn’t getting the shot that’s an issue, it’s getting scheduled for a shot. We got in because our daughter in law has the fastest refresh finger in the West, well South West FL.

  74. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Authors still write? I would have guessed your trade would be dictating books since speech to text and even recording to text is pretty good to vomit out rough draft.

    (Dr. Dave pauses to let the shuddering calm down…)

    Once upon a time, there was a decent journeyman author of military SF named David Weber. He wrote engaging characters and interesting plots, but had unfortunate inclinations toward infodumping, melodrama, and stilted dialog. Alas, as his works became bestsellers, his editors spent less and and less time removing the extraneous stuff, and each successive novel got fatter.

    Then Weber developed carpal tunnel syndrome, and could no longer type. He learned to dictate his books using speech recognition software. The results were disastrous — what had been an annoying increase in bloat became an alarming surge, and eventually a bloataclysm. In the reductio ad absurdum, he published an entire 800-page novel consisting of scenes that had been left out of earlier books because they weren’t important enough to include, with a little bit of new material to move the series plot slightly forward. Also chapter-long infodumps, and endless moustache-twirling scenes in which the villains get together and sit around discussing their villainy. Fans howled, but when you’re 20 books deep into a series, it’s hard to just drop it and walk away at the climax.

  75. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: It does seem that despite the obvious calculation of odds, USB orientation is wrong about 75% of the time.

    I saw years ago that somebody confirmed toast will almost always fall on the floor buttered side down. Turns out the dynamics of a piece of toast are such that if it slides off the edge, it’ll neatly do half a rotation in the height of an average table.

  76. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Interesting from the perspective of a whole-brain/skill development concept Ive recently discovered known Homunculus. Basically it posits that most of your conscious brain is earmarked to process sensations from your fingers, hands, mouth, eyes, and face. Activities involving any of all of these parts condition us to use the whole brain more often for other activities. Penmanship is one of the recommended activities (both hands). If one really wants to be extra, weak hand mirror writing (Something DaVinci did) is recommended.

    Probably BS…but I started left-hand mirror writing of the Tao Che Ching.

    You no doubt have a finger-brain connection from the years of actual writing and it probably engages the all the creative centers in the ole grey matter. Calligraphy is still a spiritual discipline in many Eastern Arts.

  77. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Compared to what’s in a McDonald’s burger, what the workers put on them is likely to be fine.

  78. CSK says:

    You’re no doubt right. But tell that to Donald Trump.

  79. Kathy says:


    The Mythbusters tested the toast falling butter side down. They had to drop the toast from pretty high to get a full rotation.

    I think from a table you get a bit over one quarter of a rotation, and then the toast is far more likely to land butter side down. I don’t know about everyone else, but I wouldn’t eat a piece of toast that landed butter side up on the floor.

    We have cell phones, though. They often fall off tables. If they land on edge, the screen is more likely to break than if they hit screen side down. In the latter case, the screen distributes the impact across all its surface. In the former, the impact energy might compress the glass and shatter it.

  80. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Heard inoculation being referred to as: “Fauci Ouchie”

  81. @DrDaveT: I read a few of his Honor Harrington books a while back but eventually got bored with them.

  82. @Jim Brown 32: I cannot imagine trying to write via dictation.

    For one thing, I rarely write in a fully linear fashion.

  83. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Easy mistake to make. I’m a sociopath, but I try to be careful and focused about it. As some author’s note, we DO have a moral code, just not yours.

  84. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: “Fans howled, but when you’re 20 books deep into a series, it’s hard to just drop it and walk away at the climax.”

    Not hard for me at all, but then again, I don’t usually read series to begin with. Don’t have the patience/ability to defer gratification. (There is one series that I have read all of, but the stories are all free standing. Only the characters and setting are in common.)

  85. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “I’m a sociopath.” I’ve seen this self-characterization a fair amount around here. And typically expressed with pride. This puzzles me. I’m honestly interested in how people think about this vis-a-vis themselves.

  86. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think of myself as a reformed sociopath/psychopath. There was a point where I was a coin flip away from becoming a serious problem for society. Long ago now.

  87. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds: How does one reform on this matter? Or perhaps more specifically, how did you?

  88. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Except you’ve never shown any signs of sociopathy here. And it’s not something that people grow out of — it’s an inability to understand the feelings of others as “real.” A sociopath wouldn’t be able to care for his kids as more than just possessions.

    I think the word you’re looking for is “selfish asshole who doesn’t take care of himself or others.” From your statements in the past, you had a shit childhood, had to learn to take care of your immediate needs before you could take care of your longer term needs or annoy one else’s. You could have gone very wrong in the process, or committed acts that couldn’t be buried, but didn’t.

    And you’ve grown to “mostly responsible asshole who cares for more people than he lets on, but primarily his family.” Or you’re doing a good job of masking.

    My uncle was a sociopath. An extraordinarily dangerous man, limited by a wheelchair and a very limited intelligence. And an arm where he couldn’t unclench his fist. He didn’t see anyone as anything other than an object, and had no concept of right and wrong. For most of his life, he wasn’t expected to live another year (all sorts of problems), so no one really tried to teach him. “Keep the kid happy, that’s all that matters” does not lead to a well-adjusted adult.

    He organized a wheelchair gang in one of the institutions that he was in. They got ahold of the sharp knives, and there’s some question about what they were planning, but they were foiled by stairs and no one being willing to feed them or change them until they disarmed. My uncle was then sent to a different institution, better suited for him. Amusingly, the state he was a ward of payed the neighboring state to take him, claiming it was “closer to his family.”

    Before he was institutionalized, they were trying to make him more independent. He had an old van tricked out with hand controls, so one working hand and a club arm was enough. It was after he ran over a dog and couldn’t stop laughing that people realized that maybe making him independent wasn’t a good idea.

    He was a sociopath. You’re not close. And I have no idea about ‘cracker, but given his long friendship with Luddite, I suspect he’s not one either.

  89. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @gVOR08: We got lucky last week. Of course, it required constant checking with the pharmacy that has done our flu and shingles vaccinations in the past. Time-consuming, but it worked for us. Not everybody has that option.

  90. Michael Reynolds says:

    I grew older and met the right woman at exactly the right time.

  91. Michael Reynolds says:

    You know, Gus, you are never right when you try to psychoanalyze me.

    For 22 years my parents and siblings had no idea if I was alive or dead. It was convenient for me – I was on the run. Convenient, but not necessary. Contact would have had a minuscule effect on security. You know how much time I spent feeling bad about that? None.

    My first thought for dealing with the one witness against me was the idea of collecting old watches, scraping off the radium, and seeing whether I could poison her. I didn’t do it, but it was practicality not morality that stopped me.

    It’s incorrect to think sociopaths don’t know right and wrong. Simple observation of societal norms tells you what’s considered right and wrong. In order to be a successful, functional sociopath you have to know the system you’re setting out to beat. Understanding the existing moral code is what empowers you to subvert or exploit that code for your own benefit.

    One of the reasons I jumped bail rather than doing time was that I knew what choices prison would force on me. I’d either be a victim, or I’d find a way to get control and that was going to be nasty work, but either way I’d emerge, rage-fueled, with a hard-on to get revenge. ‘Genius’ level IQ + professional quality imagination + burning anger and a need to get ‘mine’ back? That was not going to end well, and Goal #1 has to be survival.

    Your uncle was a stupid sociopath, I was a smart one. Humans are heuristic – self-teaching, self-aware, self-programming. I rewrote my program. I did it quite consciously, facing two possible paths: I could keep going on a path likely to cause damage, not least to myself; or I could adopt a worldview that allowed for me to be in love. I could not square the circle between sociopathy and love, so I changed.

    It’s foolish to imagine that just because someone has a very attenuated notion of right and wrong to begin with that they can’t change. People regularly adopt religions, codes, loyalties – we make choices. It’s why I’m so insistent on individual responsibility, and why I believe in (and so often write about) redemption. It’s also why I had no difficulty at all understanding the mind of Donald Trump. There but for fortune.

  92. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    One major difference: You’re smart. Trump is abysmally stupid.

  93. Kylopod says:


    “I’m a sociopath.” I’ve seen this self-characterization a fair amount around here.

    There have been books written by self-described psychopaths or sociopaths:

    James Fallon, The Psychopath Inside. See this article for details.

    M.E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath. Here’s the Wikipedia description.

    Honestly, I don’t know what to make of these examples. I can’t vouch for the clinical accuracy of these self-diagnoses, and while I’m aware that not all psychopaths or sociopaths are criminals, and that it’s possible for them to live relatively normal, stable lives, I also know that by definition it’s hard to trust them.

    I also am skeptical of Michael’s claim to be a sociopath (“former” or otherwise).

  94. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    My (somewhat snarky) self assessment is based on the expert opinions of 3 different psychiatrists over 5 years. The last one explained that I could either learn to wear the mantle of “normal” or die in prison. Trust me or not, my comments are based on examination of what others have seen in me.

    The fact that Cracker’s been my friend for nearly 5 decades, could well indicate a similar psyche. I find that my response to a horrified “oh, we couldn’t possibly do that” is usually (in my thoughts), ‘well, why not?’

    Of course, your scepticism is understandable and rational. Thanks for considering my response.