Monday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. de stijl says:

    America is not burning.

    It is singing the way it always does.

    White America is always surprised and annoyed that suppresed people are not grateful and subservient.

    No worries, though. Brutal policing will settle the matter.

  2. Teve says:

    Erik in another thread said:

    I have been struggling with this as well. It just made no sense to me without assuming deliberate evil. That seems an unlikely conclusion for 30-40% of the population, and clearly isn’t true for several people I know well who are Trump supporters.

    30 to 40% of Germans in 1940 weren’t evil, but…

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Funny, in a very sad way: 9 Rules for the Black Birdwatcher

    1. Be prepared to be confused with the other black birder.
    2. Carry your binoculars — and three forms of identification — at all times.
    3. Don’t bird in a hoodie. Ever.
    4. Nocturnal birding is a no-no.
    5. Black birds — any black birds — are your birds.
    6. The official word for an African American in cryptic clothing — camo or otherwise — is incognegro.
    7. Want to see the jaws of blue-blooded birders drop faster than a northern gannet into a shoal of shad?
    8. Use what’s left of your black-president momentum on the largely liberal birder crowd to step to the front of the spotting-scope line to view that wayward smew that wandered into U.S. waters from Eurasia.
    9. You’re an endangered species — extinction looms.

    And now we can add #10: Don’t go birding without your cell phone.

  4. de stijl says:


    The Nazi comparison is not apt for today.

    It’s just standard majority ignorance of the experience of the minority, and using police to contain and suppress that population. Brutally.

    This is a very bad scene. But this is not Nazi Germany.

    Comparing it to that undercuts the banality of our American evil.

    It is what has happened for centuries here. We had the luxury of ignoring it until video.

    Maybe not uniquely American, but we do excel at it.

    Now we have cell phones to capture what local cops do to to citizens routinely.

  5. Teve says:

    @de stijl: my point was not that the US is Nazi Germany. My point was that it doesn’t take 30-40% of the population being Evil for evil to flourish.

  6. Kit says:

    Caught on camera, police explode in rage and violence across the US:

    Over the past 72 hours, people across the US have captured what may be the most comprehensive live picture of police brutality ever. Any one of the videos we’ve seen could have sparked a national discussion, with people picking apart their elements, searching for context to argue about, and digging through the pasts of everyone involved. But it’s not just one act of violence. It’s everywhere.

    As dark as it seems, just keep reminding yourself that we’ll have forgotten all about it by this time next month, as we move on to the next outrage, or the next blow to democracy: Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, the Kurds, ISIS, Syria, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, NATO, our allies, the budget, gun violence, immigration, the wall, tax cuts, drug epidemics, voter suppression, propaganda, inequality, trade wars, global warming, impeachment, surveillance, privacy, health care, the Supreme Court, white supremacy, filibusters, Brexit, terrorism, pardons, immunity, gerrymandering, emoluments, abortion, bailouts, oversight, the Deep State, regulatory capture, the Electoral College… I’m stopping here.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    NYT, Charles M. Blow:

    Despair has an incredible power to initiate destruction. It is exceedingly dangerous to assume that oppression and pain can be inflicted without consequence, to believe that the victim will silently absorb the injury and the wound will fade.

    No, the injuries compound, particularly when there is no effort to alter the system doing the wounding, no avenue by which the aggrieved can seek justice.

    This all breeds despair, simmering below the surface, a building up in need of release, to be let out, to lash out, to explode.

    As protests and rioting have swept across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis, it’s evident that America has failed to learn that lesson yet again.

    The protests are not necessarily about Floyd’s killing in particular, but about the savagery and carnage that his death represents: The nearly unchecked ability of the state to act with impunity in the oppression of black bodies and the taking of black life.

    It is an anger over feeling powerless, stalked and hunted, degraded and dehumanized. It is an anger that the scenes keep repeating themselves until one feels exhausted and wrung out. It is an anger over feeling that people in power on every level — individual officers as well as local, state and federal government — are utterly unresponsive to people’s calls for fundamental change and equal justice under the law and equal treatment by it.

    When people feel helpless, like there is nothing left to lose, like their lives already hang in the balance, a wild, swirling, undirected rage is a logical result.
    If America wants peace it must be responsive in peacetime. You can’t demonize an athlete who peacefully takes a knee to protest against police brutality, labeling him a “son of a bitch,” as President Trump did, and then pine for peaceful protests now.

    It seems that no form of protest has been effective in this fight for justice. It seems that what the public and the power structure want is a continuation of the status quo. They want stillness and passivity. They want obedience. They want your suffering to be silent, your trauma to be tranquil.

    That won’t happen.

    The whole is well worth reading.

  8. Tyrell says:


  9. de stijl says:


    The way we here respond to a minority that wants equal treatment under the law is not Nazism nor Apartheid.

    It is cruel and disproportianate and reactionary, but degrees matter. We are not Nazi Germany nor apartheid South Africa.

    American cruelty is ours.

    We own this. We did not import it. It is ours to bear.

  10. Kurtz says:



  11. KM says:

    @Tyrell :
    Oh, it’s still here. Red states are in for a bad week. That party in the Lake of the Ozarks? Someone was infected and now there’s a ton of people who may very well have killed Gramma because they went out drinking. Spikes are appearing everywhere #ReOpen was a thing and rural hospitals are starting to cry for help.

    FL’s announce a 25% increase in “pneumonia” in the last few months. Funny, you can try to cook the books but all that death needs to get reported somewhere. Lots old people suddenly getting “pneumonia” and dying outside of flu season -hmmm, wonder why??? Hannity himself was begging folks to start wearing masks because it’s shit’s about to get real for a lot of hoaxers…..

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Tyrell: Sure! With a lime please…

  13. CSK says:

    😀 A little early, isn’t it?

  14. Mikey says:

    @CSK: It’s twenty-seven o’clock on Blursday, the fortyteenth of Juntembly. It’s never too early.

  15. Mikey says:

    The latest from Project Lincoln, and man, it hits hard.

  16. Michael Cain says:

    @KM: I keep expecting the moving average line in the graph on the front page of the Washington Post to turn back up. Or even to stop declining. But it’s not happening.

  17. CSK says:

    That is powerful. But it may be over Trump’s head.

    And it may provide the southern Cult45 membership with yet another reason to wave their treason banners even harder. I’m really sick of seeing the Confederate battle flag waved around as if it were something of which to be proud.

  18. KM says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Anyone with half a brain should be suspicious if Grandpa suddenly gets sick and dies from “flu” or “pneumonia” during a pandemic, especially in a state where they’ve been downplaying it. The weather’s been warm for a while down there in FL but they’re trying to pass off Auntie Sarah’s passing as a seasonal illness? How long do they expect to be able to do that now that summer’s here?

    In a few years when we have intelligent people in charge again, we’re going to look back on the numbers and be horrified by what red states hid. Huge chunks of populations are dying; I think one source had NJ’s nursing homes deaths at 1 out every 13 (7.6%). FL’s own cooked numbers have them at 1.7% of their nursing home population; add in the 25% discrepancy for just that one month in pneumonia deaths and it’s up to 2.5%. I wouldn’t expect it to get as high as NJ or NY but that number’s going to crest 5% easily once legit methods are used for counting.

  19. de stijl says:


    All those extra deaths above the average were MS-13 THUGS infected our olds with pneumonia and influenza and was in no way related to Covid-19.

  20. Kathy says:


    Easier to remember: It’s five o’clock somewhere.

  21. Kathy says:

    So I finished “Flowers for Algernon.”

    I hate to say this, but: Meh.

    There was nothing specifically wrong about it, but it just didn’t resonate with me. Partly, perhaps, because I could tell how it would end early on, and partly because I had real trouble suspending my disbelief. Charlie just progresses too fast.

  22. CSK says:

    I was about 16 when I read it; I should try reading it now as an old person.
    And…you’re entitled not to like it. Everyone I know adored The Bonfire of the Vanities, and I couldn’t get past the first few pages no matter how hard I tried.

  23. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..I’m really sick of seeing the Confederate battle flag waved around as if it were something of which to be proud.

    The Confederate Naval Jack that is popular with the American Nazi Party, the Ku Klux Klan and other Trump supporters is not the flag of The United States of America.
    It is not the true flag of American Citizens.
    The people who fly that flag are enemies of the Constitution of The United States.
    Apparently they are citizens of some other country.
    I think that they should be required to carry Green Cards and present them to immigration officials on demand.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. When necessary I can visualize myself as say, a Swede. After all, it just turned 5pm in Stockholm…

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: The excess death rate is a good way to estimate the C19 death rate. For some reason the media has shied away from it in the past few weeks but for weeks a good national and large local estimate was a multiplier of 1.8. If that still holds, we are closing in on 200K C19 deaths so far.

  26. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Well, those people are always ranting about seceding, so…let them go. Right?

    Apparently the Swedes don’t have a cocktail–or coctail, as they spell it–hour during the week. Bummer.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Well, looks like the US is doing a better job of counting C19 deaths. I found this frequently updated NY Times piece on excess mortality and it seems our multiplier is now in the 1.3 to 1.4 range. A good part of this comes from NYC successfully reclassifying almost 10K deaths as C19 related.

    It is safe to assume we are at about 140K deaths as of today.

  28. Kathy says:


    Everyone I know adored The Bonfire of the Vanities, and I couldn’t get past the first few pages no matter how hard I tried.

    That happened to me with Lord of the Rings*.

    This causes me problems beyond not liking a book, or not reading it. Because I’m a big science fiction fan, people assume I also read fantasy. I’ll concede there are elements in common, not long ago I called Star Wars Sci-Fi Fantasy, but they are distinct genres. I’m not a fan of fantasy at all. quite the contrary: I don’t like it one bit.

    So when the first Lord of the Rings movie came out, it seemed everyone I came across wanted my opinion on how it compared to the book. I’ve never met more disbelief in my life than when I said “I haven’t read the book.”

    * I must admit I didn’t try very hard.

  29. de stijl says:


    Charlie is the cliche HS drama club play.

    It’s not a bad story, but is so often overdone it has a bad rep.

    Then came Night, Mother.

    Wasn’t a theater kid, but I palled with a lot so I sorta had to go.

    I have a problem with live theater to this day. “That was very compelling” meant “you overacted.”

    I was always nice.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I believe the line was from Stumptown.

    A drink? Sure. After all, it’s bound to be 9am somewhere in the world, right?


    Apparently the Swedes don’t have a cocktail–or coctail, as they spell it–hour during the week. Bummer.

    DUI penalties are too severe from what I understand.

  31. CSK says:

    Same here with respect to fantasy. I have no desire to read about Middle Earth, nor hobbits, nor anything else like that.

    For some people, their reverence for Lord of the Rings approaches religious fervor. It may even replace religion. I had an acquaintance, an atheist Jew, who adored LOTR and had since adolescence. I never actually realized the sway it had over her till I made a very, very mild joke about hobbits, a play on words, as I recall. She went thermonuclear. It was frightening.

  32. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Oh, yeah. It’s an old joke. The sun is always over the yardarm somewhere.

  33. Mr. Prosser says:

    @CSK: As my Divisional Chief Petty Officer told me while our ship was in port in Subic, “There’s just something about having a cold beer on a beach before 0930 in the morning.”

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Among Evangelicals, it’s surprising how much influence the story wields. While I was in Korea, a seminarian on a teaching gig to save up money to return to the States reminded me that an Evangelical Theologian I was familiar with had said that one can’t understand Christianity unless they’ve wanted to live in a Shire. Yikes!!!

    On the other hand, substitutionary theology/deity/lifestyle/scripture/whatever seems very big among Evangelicals these days.

  35. de stijl says:


    One of my favorite movies of all time is The Right Stuff. And liked the book. Too young for his 60s Electic Kool-Aid, etc stuff.

    I bought Bonfire and what the actual fuck is this navel gazing bullshit dressed up in other people’s clothes? I was pissed.

    The Right Stuff is a really great movie, though. Sam Shepard, Ed Harris.

    I really loved the scene with Ed Harris and Mary Jo Deschanel on the phone. She was so good.

    And Levon Helm. That man has a voice.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Have been going down the mortality rates rathole this morning. First, it turns out that excess mortality rate chart from The NY Times hasn’t been updated for the US in over a month. And, it turns out it’s a bit more complicated. It turns out that the reduction in road mortality is really significant. In 2017 there were about 3250 fatalities due to accidents per week (!!!), the third most common form of death in the US. It’s hard to get an exact number for the US as a whole but here are traffic accident reductions (the largest subset of the “accident” category) some specific areas: California down 84%, Michigan down 67%, Illinois down 57%. Assuming this is typical, and that most of the other accidental deaths are work related and therefore should also be down, we can expect a ballpark decrease of a couple of thousand deaths per week spread over the US. It clouds the issue.

    In places like NYC, the Covid death rate overran the accident death rate by a huge margin, but places that are not yet hit by C19 are actually seeing a decrease in their death rate by non-trivial amounts. Looking at the table, there are a lot states that are at 90-95% of expected deaths.

  37. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    And there’s John Sheridan knowing he will die within 20 years. This would have been a better gimmick for ending B5, had not other characters died in the interval, beginning with Marcus.

    Add that several cast members have died since, and you’d swear that show was cursed.

  38. de stijl says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Beer For Breakfast was a The Replacements song supposed to be on the lesser known Hootenenanny.

    Within Your Reach is the song from Say Anything also from Hootenany.

    We did beer for breakfast so often that we gargled mouthwash down the stairs and spat it on the curb on the way to the day job. I do not apologize.

  39. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Very interesting. I wasn’t raised in any religion, so I haven’t given these matters a lot of thought, but it’s my understanding that Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic. Wouldn’t the fundamentalists despise him on those grounds alone? Or did they assume he was one of them, as I gather some fundie Protestants did of Rick Santoruum back in 2012?

  40. de stijl says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    They actually do in urban bars. But it is expected that you will walk or bus home.

    As a culture, they are super hardcore on DUI.

    I only lived in Stockholm though.

  41. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I’ve liked a lot of Wolf’s stuff, too, but Bonfire just bored the living shit out of me. For one thing, the pace was far, far too frenetic. It was his first stab at fiction, I think.

    I’ve often wondered how many people who raved about Bonfire only did so because it was fashionable to do so.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..I’ve never met more disbelief in my life than when I said “I haven’t read the book.”

    Tell them you read Bored of the Rings featuring Dildo Bugger and Frito.

  43. Kathy says:


    Same here with respect to fantasy.

    Oh, good! Usually this descends into long threads of differences and similarities, and finding exceptions.

    Be careful re-reading books after a long time has passed. I first read Asimov’s “The End of Eternity” in 1986, then re-read it several times before 1997*. and then I re-read it last year after two decades of rest.

    I found it simplistic, rushed, and the writing felt a bit adolescent, but still a good enough story.

    * 1997 was when I started ordering books online, and thus had less need to re-read older books.

  44. de stijl says:

    From what I took in, Norway is also super serious on DUI.

    Except for the cool kids downtown, socializing in Sweden (this was in Stockholm) was almost always at someone’s place. Totally cool with that. I am not a club person, but I do like funky divey bars.

    The major alcohol problem in Scandinavia is young men overdrinking at home alone.

    There is a word in Finnish that means getting shitfaced in your underpants. (Finnish is very odd.)

    Reykjavik was more bar and club oriented.

  45. KM says:

    Tolkien fits into that “acceptable” category of writers who’ve created a Jesus allegory they can dig. It also has a clear urban/rural divide that speaks to Americans. Frodo appeals to people more than Aslan does because you can’t be a pure talking lion but you can be the brave Everyman who just needs to cling to What’s Right. The Shire was this idyllic Eden that got ruined when industrialization aka evil decided to appear and the Hobbits are somehow better than most of the races on Middle Earth because they’re deliberately simple, rural bumpkins. All those wonderful myths people like to tell themselves about how they’re better than those sinful city folk and how life is closer to God out in the sticks? Tolkien all the way.

    I love me some Tolkien but I’ve never finished LoTR. There’s like 4 pages just about the grass in Ithilien. Lush descriptions that really worldbuild but after a while, you just don’t want to read anymore. The Hobbit was better – a kids book with more fart jokes then angst but still has a decent plot.

  46. Kathy says:

    Speaking of fantasy, it occurs to em we could make a parody of The Wizard of Oz, where Trump is a composite of the Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow, since he badly needs a heart, courage, and brains. The lead character would be desperate to send Trump back home to Florida, where he’d be harmless.

  47. KM says:

    I think Flowers for Algernon suffers from the Seinfeld is Unfunny trope. It gets held up as this great piece of literature for being likely the first time a reader’s had to consider what it was like for someone with a mental disability and what it would mean to be given a “blessing” that was temporary. Now, it’s a common enough trope that if you didn’t read Flowers when you were little, it loses a lot of it’s impact. If you can see the twist coming, you’re reading it too late.

    If you’re looking for another highly acclaimed but kinda meh, try Silas Marner. I liked it more than I should have but teenage me was always the weirdo who actually did the reading.

  48. CSK says:

    As long as we’re confessing our heresies, I have never been able to finish The Great Gatsby. I tried it at age 14, at age 38, at age 46, and then quit. I agree–heartily–that the prose style is magnificent. Breathtaking. But the characters, particularly Daisy and Tom, are too stupid and inconsequential to engage my interest. And the description of Jordan looking like a seal balancing a ball on her nose…please.

    It occurs to me that this is why no one has ever made a successful movie from this book. All it has going for it is the prose, which is the one thing that doesn’t translate to the screen. Otherwise you’re left with a dull saga about some tedious jerks.

    Great idea about the Oz parody.

  49. de stijl says:

    I came to appreciate EDM in Iceland.

    It’s great for walking if you want to motor.

    I walked a lot there.

    Plus so much Sigur Ros.

    I don’t want this to sound icky – I had exactly one GF there, not a playa – but Icelandic people are more attractive than normal, often extraordinarily so.

  50. CSK says:

    Thanks. That makes perfect sense.

  51. Teve says:
  52. de stijl says:


    Never been able to stomach any Thomas Hardy.

    I do like Fitzgerald. You’re right on Gatsby. But, the short stories are worthy.

  53. Kit says:

    @Teve: I liked that article more when I posted it earlier today :-p

  54. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    You may have meant to direct your comment about Gatsbyto me.
    As for Fitzgerald’s short stories, I love “Rich Boy.” If you haven’t read it, do so. You can access it online.

  55. Kathy says:


    Do you remember the Fractured Fairy Tales in the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons? There was one about a fisherman who finds a magic fish who grants him wishes, as many as he wants. His wife pushes for ever more wealth and power (I think the last wish she has her husband make is to make her a Goddess), which makes the fisherman unhappy.

    At the end he wishes to be happy, and the magic fish returns his life to where it was before the wishes started.

    That’s not exactly the situation in Algernon, but it’s not that far removed. I can’t say when I first saw that cartoon, but it was sometime in the 70s.

  56. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: Count me as a big Babylon 5 fan. Also, Deep Space Nine was my favorite Star Trek series. I seem to like a lot of politics with my SF, no surprise.

  57. Kathy says:


    As long as we’re confessing our heresies, I have never been able to finish The Great Gatsby.

    I haven’t even tried.

    I haven’t read Shakespeare, either, except for short fragments of scenes. Ditto Cervantes. Overall my reading of fiction outside science fiction is, at best, deficient. Mostly things assigned at school.

    So how does “Miss America and the Dotard of Oz” sound?

  58. CSK says:

    You know, I think just The Dotard of Oz says it all.
    Well, as an English major as an undergraduate and graduate student, I can’t claim not to have read Shakespeare, and enjoyed him. Much literature from past centuries, however, is far more interesting today as a historical and cultural artifact than as something you would read for pleasure. There are writers who sound as fresh today as they did 100 years ago. Edith Wharton comes to mind.

  59. de stijl says:


    Could have been a take on The Old Man And The Sea.

  60. Tyrell says:

    George Floyd’s brother holds prayer vigil outdoors. That is certainly appropriate and a good thing. Maybe some of the rioters and hoodlums will hear it and change their attitude to one of helpful not harmful.
    There have been a lot of people who have died recently and their families have not been allowed to hold even a family member only graveside service. Someone please tell me how that is right.
    “A broken and a contrite heart, O God thou will not despise” Psalm 51:17 (KJV)

  61. KM says:


    There have been a lot of people who have died recently and their families have not been allowed to hold even a family member only graveside service. Someone please tell me how that is right.

    Of course it’s not right. It is, however, necessary and most faiths would agree preserving current life is more important then rituals for the dead. It’s been proven funerals are super spreader events and people have died going to funerals. They’re not supposed to be self-sustaining chain reactions, you know.

    Many people cannot attend a loved ones’ funeral due to distance or circumstance. It sucks but it happens. Somehow I’m sure the dead would rather have their loved ones alive and safe rather then graveside…….

  62. Kathy says:


    I have trouble even with old science fiction. Take H. G. Welles. I can, and have, read The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and even The Invisible Man. But I can’t get through The Sleeper Awakes. Figuring out a very outmoded take on future technology just spoils everything.

    BTW, I read RedShirts by John Scalzi, a sort of parody of Trek, which was good for about 90% of the time, a couple of years ago. One thing I noted was the characters in the future all carry smart phones, which they use much as we do today, and even call them “phones.”

    This is ok for relating to today’s audiences, but it’s not going to age well. I don’t know what will replace the smart phone, but something definitely will.

  63. de stijl says:


    We nowadays cannot properly read Shakespeare.

    He was playing with an English we’ve lost in time. References and call-outs obscured. I cannot read without a companion guide. Many of his jokes and puns don’t work because vowels shifted.

    Much of it is gibberish to the modern ear.

    He was a great language inventor.

  64. Teve says:



  65. de stijl says:


    Don’t call people hoodlums.

    Serious advice.

    No one will take your seriously or respond positively if you use hoodlum.

  66. CSK says:

    I recall loving Jules Verne as a kid, but I kind of doubt I’d find his work that enthralling as an adult.
    Just how dependent fiction should be on technological advances and anything that’s currently hot is a difficult question for writers and teachers of creative writing. About 15 years ago, a student of mine wrote part of a novel in the form of instant messages. This presented me with a dilemma. On the one hand, IMing was something his generation did a LOT of, so it was an accurate reflection of his ethos. On the other hand, I was pretty sure, given the speed with which technology was and is advancing, that IMing would shortly be passe. And so it proved.

    Anyway, I presented it to the student as his choice: contemporary (if temporary) up-to-the-minuteness or timelessness.

    And…does anyone under the age of 35 actually have phone conversations, ever? Or do they just text? I say this as someone who dislikes phone conversations.

  67. CSK says:

    In the absence of a live–so to speak–funeral, a Zoom memorial service or funeral can be quite nice and comforting. I recently attended one for an old and well-loved friend. It was very nice.

  68. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    We nowadays cannot properly read Shakespeare.

    I agree, but apparently it’s sacrilegious to translate his works into English 🙂

  69. Kathy says:


    I read From the Earth to the Moon. I can’t recall much about it, and what I do recall is what gets discussed in histories of space travel: the gun, the speed, the acceleration, what Verne got right, what he got wrong, etc.

    On the other hand, I was pretty sure, given the speed with which technology was and is advancing, that IMing would shortly be passe. And so it proved.

    How does that fit in with WhatsApp and other chat services? I really don’t use it much.

    Ayn Rand, in The Art of Fiction, advises not to use developments under 100 years old, as they may quickly become outdated. The figure is arbitrary, but overall it makes sense not to reference as huge events that may not be so in historical terms, and that can be hard to tell. Hell, even 9/11 doesn’t loom as large today as it did during the W. Bush presidency.

    Technology is proving to be even worse. I can recall the marvel that CDs replaced vinyl records, and that no one predicted, at the time, that CDs would be replaced by streaming music to your phone, or even to MP3 players, even while the iPod was selling like hotcakes. Ditto the original content produced by cable channels vs streaming TV.

    In the 90s Trek was lauded for how the old series communicator resembled flip phones. In the past decade, the Next Generation Trek was lauded for predicting the tablet. I think you can’t give away tablets and flip phones today 🙂

  70. MarkedMan says:

    @KM: There is a huge divide up in literature: before and after color photos and artwork in magazines became available. A description of, say, the Champs de Elysee at night could go on for pages. That’s because most readers, especially working class ones, would have no frame of reference to start from.

    This hit me like a ton of bricks when I was a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote West African village in the late 80’s and started getting my Newsweek subscription. The pictures in there were used to settle many a long running argument. And I remember the dazed looks elicited by an article on poverty in America where almost everyone pictured was obese.

  71. Mister Bluster says:

    @KM:..Many people cannot attend a loved ones’ funeral due to distance or circumstance.

    My dad died in November 2001. Several weeks earlier my brother flew from California to Missouri and I drove there from Illinois so my dad and mom, my sister and brother and I could be together for one last time. I think that before that we had all been together in 1989.
    My mom died in 2008. Again my brother flew in from the west coast to see our mother before she died.
    My brother did not attend the memorials for either of our parents. No one expected him too.
    I am grateful for the time our family had together when my parents were alive. I would not trade it for anything.

  72. Jen says:

    @Michael Cain: The state data are interesting. Minnesota’s 7-day average numbers are climbing, as are New Hampshire’s, albeit more slowly. The national picture does look better, but the states seem to be a different story. The national data are going to look better for a while now that the big spots of activity in NY/New Orleans/etc. have slowed.

    What we should be watching for are spikes of activity that could develop into hot spots. If summertime leads to more outdoor activity and less transmission and we still have it slowing but not stopped, that’ll present a problem later in the year.

  73. Jen says:


    I seem to like a lot of politics with my SF, no surprise.

    I tend to think the most successful sci-fi is full of social commentary. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles is loaded with it.

  74. CSK says:

    You’re right. We can never predict what technological advances/changes will occur. I once found a newspaper article from the late 1950s confidently forecasting that in 1970, ALL cars would be self-driving. The accompanying illustration was of a flying saucer type vehicle with a glass dome. The occupant, presumably on his way to work, was sitting back in an easy chair reading a newspaper.

  75. CSK says:

    Gene Roddenberry (his and Majel Barrett’s son attended college where I taught) once said that every episode of Star Trek O.S. could be interpreted as a parable/commentary on the Vietnam war.

  76. Mister Bluster says:

    59 years ago the Freedom Riders were the outsiders
    How the Freedom Riders Movement Began
    On the outskirts of Anniston, Alabama, members of a white supremacist mob showed just what they thought about the Freedom Riders by bashing in their bus and slashing its tires.
    To boot, the Alabama Klansmen set the bus on fire and blocked the exits to trap the Freedom Riders inside. It wasn’t until the bus’ fuel tank exploded that the mob dispersed and the Freedom Riders were able to escape.

  77. James Knauer says:

    @Teve: When the Germans living near the camps popped out during the liberation, they were all “but we were lied to!”

    Yeah, no one believes that, either. Camps didn’t exist in a vacuum any more than corrupt cops, as we see video of their lawless acts every single day of the week. Now, each episode is a gallon of gasoline poured onto a fire that has been waiting to ignite for decades, if not centuries.

    Watch people like “Senator” Tom Cotton (Fascist – AK) who said the military should give “no quarter” to the protesters. He sounds like a very angry teenager who has never been told “no.”

    Much like his spent, fake “president.”

  78. Kathy says:


    I’d call that a very accurate prediction of what our predictions will be like 😉

    I submit the most off the mark prediction that, at the time, seemed effingly obvious, is that work hours would be reduced to nearly nothing. after all, between industrialization, automation, and unions, working hours had been going down for decades.

    The most disappointing predictions concern space travel. It’s hellishly expensive and liable to continue to be so. Absent some revolutionary means of propulsion, or something like a space elevator, or something really out of left field like teleportation or miniature wormholes (see Stargate), space travel will never be as routine or cheap as air travel.

  79. CSK says:

    If I could pick one superpower, it would be to teleport myself. Lunch in London, with a trip to the Louvre afterward, then dinner in Paris.

  80. Kit says:


    If I could pick one superpower, it would be to teleport myself. Lunch in London, with a trip to the Louvre afterward, then dinner in Paris.

    How much are you willing to pay? I can can deliver this. Call me.

  81. a country lawyer says:

    Beth Wilkinson has filed her brief on behalf of Judge Sullivan in the U.S. v. Flynn matter.

  82. Kathy says:


    Assuming you’re not starting off in London (duh), you could have done it in the days of the Concorde, if you had enough money.

  83. CSK says:

    So…are you saying that in exchange for me giving you cash, you’ll grant me the ability to snap my fingers and be instantaneously transported to, oh, Prague. Or Edinburgh. Or Rome. Wherever my lil heart desires.

  84. CSK says:

    Yeah, I always wanted to take a trip on that and the MGM Grand. If I had to choose, it would have been the latter. Too bad neither one still exists.

  85. Kari Q says:

    I think this is even more powerful than the Lincoln Project ads:

  86. Kit says:

    @CSK: Ahhh… Unfortunately not. But for a substantial amount of money, I am willing to see that you have lunch in London, take the Eurostar to Gare de Nord, visit the Louve, and dine in Paris. You can snap your fingers as you wish. Wouldn’t you pay dearly for a one-day super power? You’d be crazy not to. We can do this!

  87. Kathy says:


    Boom promises a supersonic tri-jet “soon.” I’ll believe it when I see it. They promise fares will be comparable to business class today. I’ll beleive that when I see it, too.

    as for the rest, there’s La Compagnie, which operates two all-business class A321 neo between Paris and Newark. And there’s Crystal Cruises’ 777, but I’ve no clue how that works.

    You can get business class on many airlines, of course, even first class luxury on some. But what I’ve read about the MGM was quite more extravagant.

    If you can scrape the money together, you can charter a Boeing or Airbus business jet, too. But that’s a huge boatload of money for most people.

  88. CSK says:

    Well, shoot. I can do that myself. But I have to plan. I don’t want to plan. I want to do those things on impulse, with a snap of my fingers.

  89. CSK says:

    From what I’ve heard and read about the MGM Grand, it was like a flying living room with a stand-up bar. Some people called it “Hollywood in the Sky.” Maximum 33 passengers for each flight. Yet they claimed not to charge more than any other airline did for first class.

    My ideal for travel–barring teleportation–would be to have a private jet at my constant disposal.

  90. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I was raised by and lived among fundies and evangelicals for most all of my 67 years, but I’ve never seen a strong connection between what my fellows felt about the Catholic church and what they felt about individual Catholics whose writing they thought was profound. Among the people with whom I grew up, Anglicanism is considered one of those “backslidden, liberal” religions that will quietly sit by while the true faith is assaulted and supplanted, yet one of our favorite theological lights is C.S. Lewis, Anglican, who is said to have adopted that branch of the faith as easier than becoming Catholic or Orthodox.

    (There was a joke among evangelicals about 40 years ago that smoking was approved among Christians provided that they were smoking shag from briar pipe at a C.S. Lewis conference. Some would note that even non-smokers would partake in order to fully immerse themselves in the “full Lewis experience.”)

  91. Kathy says:


    If I had unlimited money, and no conscience, I’d buy an A220 and add a bedroom/office, shower, galley, and a sitting room with lie-flat seats for guests.

  92. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: In Korea, people who go out drinking with their co-workers after work call services that will drive you home in your own car. I’m told that the fee is roughly $100 plus the taxi money to get the driver to your car and back to wherever they want to go (usually about 20 or 30 dollars, but it can be a lot more if you live outside the city). The news papers there reported in an article about a big DUI push in Daegu that 100 points in traffic and parking violations result in a 5-year (IIRC) license suspension. DUI is 99 points, so it and any other infraction result in suspension–allowing the government to assert no, they don’t suspend people’s licenses for drinking–rather for a pattern of lawless behavior where drinking is merely a factor.

    I never understood why that distinction was necessary. On the other hand, one of my fellow Korean professors at Woosong U was telling me one day that he and his friends had gone out to drink the night before. Four or five of them consumed 10 liters of beer, 6 or 7 pints of Soju (abv~ 19%) and a pint of Jack Daniels. He was “not feeling well, today.”

  93. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Thanks; that’s very interesting. I wasn’t aware that Protestant fundamentalists made distinctions between individual Roman Catholics and the Roman Catholic church as a whole.

    I’ve often wondered what it is like to be raised religious, even only casually so. People tell me I’m lucky to have escaped it, but I’m sure there’s a certain amount of warmth and security in growing up in a community of believers. Not that I’m going to join a church. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t sustain any effort to pretend faith.

  94. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Years ago, I read an essay where the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Lion, respectively are said to represent farmers, factory workers, and laborers with the Wizard himself (who identifies himself at the end of the book as “somewhat of a humbug”) as William Jennings Bryan. Interesting theory. The existence of subsequent “OZ” books argues a little against the idea as a deliberate author intention thing in my mind, though.

  95. CSK says:

    Yes, that would be a fine accommodation.

  96. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: Never did the reading. 🙂 Silas was my first ever only read Cliff’s notes to my recollection. Yuuuuge meh for me.

    ETA: Ironically, many students and a few teachers have told me what a great lit teacher I am (on the rare occasions I’ve done it). I’m grateful for their endorsement, but I’ve never quite gotten why they think so.

  97. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I used the actual fairy tale in grad school as a starting point on a essay about mimetic images in To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. It’s one of only a few works of *literature* that I’ve ever actually read all the way through. I had to in this case because the thesis of my essay only became workable in the ending of the story. Couldn’t fake it.

  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I love it! Who’s Miss America?

    @Kathy: Alas, the only thing that was reduced to nearly nothing was laborer wages.

  99. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    One can argue for unintentional symbolism. On the other hand, I heard that Baum made up the Oz story on the fly to tell his children, or some children at any rate, and the name “Oz” came from the letters on a filing cabinet. or subconscious symbolism for something done unintentionally,

    Miss America would represent a country with fine ideals that once tried to live up to them, even if not very well.

  100. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: As a person who grew up in such a community, I will say that it’s indeed comforting, but only to the extent that you can stay in that community. I have friends from the church of my youth who won’t correspond with me–even by email and only to say hello–because I “left the truth” (which I didn’t actually do, only their truth).

    And there certainly wouldn’t be any comfort in faking belief just to be with people with whom you share no reality. You really can’t have the *benefit of community* if they ain’t you.

  101. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I know. But probably there are many people who’ve affiliated with a church not because they’re believers, but because of the social, business, or political advantages that might accrue to them.

    Almost all politicians understand that you have to pretend to believe in God, and make some stab at regularly attending services at a church, synagogue, or mosque in order to get elected. It’s bullshit, and they know it, but it’s the cost of doing business.

  102. Teve says:

    @Kathy: if I remember correctly, the label on the filing cabinet was for things from the letter O-Z.

  103. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I seem to remember a story I heard 20 or 30 years ago, that Tolkien was giving a talk, and someone in the audience said the Lord of the rings is clearly an allegory for world war two, and Frodo is so and so and Sauron is so and so, and Tolkien replied something like, ‘no, it’s just a book about hobbits.’

  104. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: i’m reading God is not Great, by Christopher Hitchens, even though I don’t generally read stuff about atheism and religion because it’s been done to death, but I miss Hitchens and it’s a great read, and he has nothing good to say about CS Lewis. And that’s an understatement. The tone of the remarks is approximately, ‘look at what this complete idiot said. Can you even?’

  105. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I was working on my motorcycle today, and decided to test the radio. Flipped it over to the local PBS station and caught Pres. Trump’s speech on the state of the civil disturbances in the USA.

    There was no question about it. Trump has gone full Stalinist authoritarian.

    While most of the speech was the usual crush-the-peasants-under-his-bootheel (ie: “Law and Order” president), with hints of Nixon, there was one thing that really threw me for a loop… here it is from the transcript:

    … As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement offices to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism assaults and the wanton destruction of property. We are putting everybody on warning our seven o’clock curfew will be strictly enforced. Those who threatened innocent life and property will be arrested, detained and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I want the organizers of this terror to be on notice that you will face severe criminal penalties and lengthy sentences in jail. This includes Antifa and others who are leading instigators of this violence. One law and order and that is what it is. One law, we have one beautiful law and once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family.

    OK… I give up. What “one law” do we have that is “beautiful”?

    Is this the part where Trump goes full Judge Dredd and screams out “I AM THE LAW !!!” ??

    This was a prepared speech, written to lay blame on the protesters and not the cause of the protest, laying down the rules to justify what will likely be the worst idea of crushing the rebel rebellion, written for him by others to be read from a teleprompter, and still… I have no f^ckin’ idea what he is referencing here.

    At this pace, January 20th is too far away for me.

    In ’67 I had national guard with howitzers at the end of my street. I fear that will be a picnic in the park compared to this.

  106. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Plus so much Sigur Ros.

    I am now addicted to Ylja, the female folk/pop duo. Iceland punches way above its weight.

    I don’t want this to sound icky – I had exactly one GF there, not a playa – but Icelandic people are more attractive than normal, often extraordinarily so.

    Yes. Yes they are.

  107. DrDaveT says:


    I seem to like a lot of politics with my SF, no surprise.

    Have you read any C. J. Cherryh? The Chanur series, or the Foreigner series?

  108. DrDaveT says:


    I seem to remember a story I heard 20 or 30 years ago, that Tolkien was giving a talk, and someone in the audience said the Lord of the rings is clearly an allegory for world war two, and Frodo is so and so and Sauron is so and so, and Tolkien replied something like, ‘no, it’s just a book about hobbits.’

    Not exactly.

    If you want to understand Tolkien, the best way it to read Tom Shippey. The easier read is J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. The difficult one is The Road to Middle-Earth. Both are scholarly and well-written.

  109. DrDaveT says:


    I miss Hitchens and it’s a great read, and he has nothing good to say about CS Lewis. And that’s an understatement.

    I don’t think much of Lewis’s theology, but he was spot-on about how a belief in determinism is self-defeating. Even the worst pig occasionally finds a truffle, etc.

  110. Kit says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    OK… I give up. What “one law” do we have that is “beautiful”?

    I think Trump was referring to Bob Marley’s One Love: One love, we have one beautiful love and once that is restored and fully restored, we will help you, we will help your business and we will help your family

  111. wr says:

    @CSK: “I’ve often wondered how many people who raved about Bonfire only did so because it was fashionable to do so.”

    There is little that is less becoming than publicly claiming that your opinions are real, true and valid, while those that disagree actually secretly agree with you but choose to go along with the crowd because of “fashion”. It manages to claim in one sentence that your taste is indisputably better than anyone else’s and that you are the only one brave enough to proclaim your preferences while others are such servile toads they must hide their own opinions but would embrace your opinions if only they were as brave as you.

    It’s beneath you…

  112. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “In Korea, people who go out drinking with their co-workers after work call services that will drive you home in your own car.”

    In China, too. The driver arrives on a folding bike, which he throws in your trunk and then drives you home. Then he gets his bike and rides away…

  113. Teve says:

    I was just thinking about how racism is such a common part of the human condition. I had a friend named Andy who spent two years teaching English in a rural village in Japan and when he came back we had the following conversation.

    Andy: what I didn’t know before I went was just how racist Japanese people are.
    Me: toward who? You? Koreans? who are the Japanese racist to?
    Andy: EVERYBODY. It’s like, other Japanese people are human, and everybody else in the world is a n_____.