Monday’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. Neil Hudelson says:

    We must be a sleepy bunch today. I’ll start. I spent most of last week in Cincinnati on a family vacation. My sister’s transplant is ‘imminent’ (and has been for many months) and we cannot go more than 100 miles away from her hospital, which limits us to Louisville, Cinci, or a thousand small midwestern towns, all of which are charming in the exact same way.

    You know what small midwestern towns don’t have? Jungle Jim’s, 11.5 acres of groceries from around the world. My wife made me promise we’d only get the “important stuff”–a few hundred dollars later and I have a box of eastern european wines that are really hard to find near home, black currant soda from Ukraine, an elk tenderloin, some ground yak, and a whole, prepped alligator ready for the grill.

  2. just nutha says:

    For whatever it’s worth, the PNW doesn’t have it, either. Hope things go well for your sister.

  3. CSK says:

    My very best to your sister.

    Let us know how the yakburgers turn out.

  4. Scott says:

    In San Antonio, we are on Day 9 of over 100 degree temperatures. Predictions are for another 10 days. No rain in sight. It is getting old.

    So far the power grid is holding. Solar and wind are overperforming and are supplying about 25% at peak generation.

    Not as bad as Phoenix or Vegas although the humidity is much higher.

  5. CSK says:

    I’ll bet you Tim Scott will be picked by Trump to be his v.p. He’s not sufficiently charismatic and handsome enough to steal the spotlight.

  6. gVOR10 says:

    @Neil Hudelson: That brings back memories. There are two, and only two, Jungle Jim’s, both in suburban Cincy. Did you visit Fairfield (fake tram line) or Eastgate (fake airplane)?

    Hope your sister does well.

  7. gVOR10 says:

    @CSK: IMHO veep to Trump is exactly Tim Scott’s plan. His only plan. The idea being that he can cut into the Black vote for Biden. My guess is Scott would pull the Black vote exactly the way Palin pulled the women’s vote, ineffectually. But it strikes me as just the sort of sleazy, faux clever, plan Trump would like.

  8. Jen says:

    I went to college in Ohio and first heard of Jungle Jim’s from the international students club–they did a “taste of”-type fair event every year that was amazing and I was blown away by the fact that they could get the ingredients they needed. (This was back in the late 80s/early 90s and it was not easy to come by things like Kaffir lime leaves and tamarind paste.) It’s such a fascinating store.

  9. MarkedMan says:


    I’ll bet you Tim Scott will be picked by Trump to be his v.p.

    My moderate level of respect for Scott would plummet. If he doesn’t realize by now that association with Trump never turns out well, and the closer the association the worse the outcome, then he’s a monumental idiot.

  10. gVOR10 says:

    Over at LGM commenter Modusoperandi says, satirically,

    And you Democrats and other Leftists choosing progress leaves us Republicans no choice but to choose the other one!

    This triggers a couple of thoughts.

    First, it does seem like our two party system almost automatically creates opposition to anything. If Ds came out strongly for motherhood and apple pie, Rs would reflexively oppose. Hell, Ds came out in favor of vaccines against a pandemic and GOPs reflexively opposed.

    Two, I’ve often commented Dems need a consistent narrative and image. GOPs have claimed the mantle of “real Americans”, leaving Ds by default the opposite. All the creatives are on our side. How hard can it be to create a narrative around progress? Obama did pretty good with that hope and change thing. Of course having a good narrative doesn’t give us the partisan media and messaging discipline the GOPs have.

  11. gVOR10 says:


    If he (Tim Scott) doesn’t realize by now that association with Trump never turns out well

    No spit. There’s the wreckage of Mike Pence right in front of him. ETTD.

  12. CSK says:


    That’s an intriguing thought; that this is Scott’s plan.


    He’s probably thinking that this time, things will be different.

  13. CSK says:

    Aileen Cannon must be deep in the tank for Trump. He praised her yesterday: “She’s very smart and very strong and loves our country. We need judges who love our country so they do the right thing.” Emphasis added.

    Yep. In the tank, all right.

  14. Kathy says:

    Michael Lewis has delayed the next season of his podcast while he finishes working on a book about FTX and its founder. Meantime, he’s posting interviews he’s conducted for background info needed for his book. mostly he talks to people in fields like bankruptcy, crypto, etc. Not necessarily about FTX, but more about the general topic.

    Still, FTX does come up. So does Theranos.

    Both are criticized for having deficient corporate governance (when they had any at all). It’s also mentioned several high profile investors sank money into both without adequate due diligence, and often without any due diligence.

    Those two facts explain a great deal about Theranos.

  15. Roger says:


    Aileen Cannon must be deep in the tank for Trump.

    Maybe. But I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this is just a sign that he assumes everyone else responds to transparently insincere flattery the same way he does

  16. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: If nothing else, Trump will inevitably try to involve Scott in his crimes. And Trump is very good at getting people in too deep to back out.

  17. CSK says:


    True. But if she does, that would put Cannon in the tank if she isn’t already paddling blissfully around in it.


    Indeed. The interesting thing is that the stone MAGAs are convinced Scott is a RINO.

  18. de stijl says:

    Crossover from something I commented on on the Monday Morning Tabs.

    Monetization of commercially owned / posessed and government owned/posessed data about you as a person and intimate details about you financial life and purchases over your lifetime.

    I used to work for a big mortgage banking company. My job was in IT and specifically about database queries from senior management (not really from senior management, but the support staff that surround them.) No EVP of Marketing is going to write a SQL query with an interesting and difficult WHERE clause inclusions/exclusions and a join to a different database.

    My job was optimization and linking to disparate datasets to answer those questions. Obviously we got into data warehousing in the 90s. (That changed the course of my life eventually.)

    Mortgage banks make money off you multiple ways.

    1. the initial home purchase, we get a cut of that. A relatively very small cut.

    2. long-term mortgage servicing. That is the processing and administration of monthly payments. That is if we decide to retain that right. We get a cut of that too if we run an efficient shop.

    2.a. we sell the servicing rights to your mortgage to a service provider. Did you ever notice you got a mortgage at Bank X, but your monthly payment is to Y company. We did that. We sold your servicing rights to Y company.

    3. We package and sell your debt into the secondary market. This is the big one. 1 and 2 are chicken feed compared to this. 2.a can make big money. But the big-big money is in Mortgage Backed Securities, MBSs, which are a tradeable commodity and a Wall Street asset with tranches and ratings and shit I do not understand. I must admit I really do not not get this stuff and most of it goes over my head entirely. I am not a quant. My job was to answer that quant’s question as quickly (and most efficiently) as possible.

    4. We sell your data to other folks. Getting a mortgage in one the most financially invasive things you can do. You open yourself up to the most intrusive data gatherings about you as a person by signing the dotted line. It’s all there in the fine print. You can’t even imagine!

    Even applying for a mortgage gets you a solid 360 look-see to determine if you qualify. It is invasive. We have the right to do so because you signed a document or two out of vague politeness.

    You know that stack of documents with all the stickies poking out the right side side that say “sign here”? One, several of those documents you signed gave us stated, express legal permission to investigate your entire financial life, basically.

    You know those fliers and mailers from local retailers that congratulate you on your new home purchase and want you to buy new things for your new house? We did that. We sold that data.

    (Well, a lot of that comes from publicly available data from your salient local government official data, but we sold the details and whether or not you were a first time home-owner.)

    By “we” I actually mean “they”. I’m mostly retired now and the last half of my career was as a contractor where I actually made real money above fairly basic subsistence, and didn’t do it for anyone but myself. And Greg, too, who got a 10-17% cut of my gross because he set up the jobs and did the paperwork. Money well spent and he is a super good dude on top. He gave me partnership out of his own good heart (well, he did make me pay for it!)

    By “we” I actually mean past tense “they” but I assume the same shit that happened then and I saw with my own two eyes still happens now only x 100 on steroids. Maybe Adderall too.

    Technically, I worked for Greg and was contracted out to the “they”.

    You signed a legally binding document that allowed us to do so. To probe your records and finances. We were legally given permission to do so by your signature.

    Gonna break now. Readers need a break. Moving into a new chapter anyway.

    One “big brain” in Marketing decided one day that we needed added personal data about you. That’s the outro/intro.

  19. CSK says:

    If you can’t get into The Daily Beast, there’s this:


  20. Rick DeMent says:


    Won’t this make Karry Lake sad? After all the groveling and butt kissing?

  21. CSK says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    Oh, probably. But Trump fears she might steal the spotlight from him, and we can’t have that, can we?

  22. Kathy says:

    This piece on tipping at NPR, emphasizes how much tips are part of wages for service workers. It also makes it seem more like begging, even if servers, baristas, etc., do not solicit or encourage tips.

    Tipping has always been a contentious subject, and arguments about it never reach any kind of conclusion. My own feeling is that tipping should be abolished in favor of a fair, living wage for the work done. But this also assumes employers will pay fair, living wages, and really, how likely is that to happen?

    Paying workers less is a feature of modern capitalism, after all. That’s largely what the actors’ strike is about now.

  23. Jen says:

    @CSK: That makes my head hurt.

    “We were notified that there was an unscheduled meeting being scheduled” is exactly the overall vibe of the Freedom Caucus.

  24. Kathy says:


    I don’t expect the deplorables to understand the optics of a mob clamoring to hang Scott would be even worse than those on Jan 6th.

  25. Ha Nguyen says:

    @de stijl:

    You know what? I don’t care. I bought a house and they gave me a loan with which to buy it. They sold my information and I didn’t and still don’t care. I don’t see why anyone does, actually. How does other people knowing your financial information hurt you? They can’t steal your money. They only have power over you if you think they have that power.

  26. gVOR10 says:

    @gVOR10: Above I talk about Ds needing a better narrative and image. I had intended to reference this from Kevin Drum but it took me too long to remember who wrote it. He has quotes from a WSJ article (apparently not paywalled if you close the subscription ad) from Republicans on what they think of Democrats:

    “It’s like half the country has lost their minds. People don’t even know what gender they are.”…If Republicans lose again, “it’s going to be the downfall of our society.”

    “We have lost our K-12 schools to radical-left activists. We’ve certainly lost our universities to the same, and other institutions. Everyday Americans,” are being forced “to bend your knee to the rainbow flag.”

    “Our base believes that we’re losing our country, and that the left has become radicalized to a point that they no longer believe in America and want to burn it all down and remake it in their image.”

    About 80% of Republicans believe that the Democratic agenda, “if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.”

    From what I see elsewhere and locally they actually believe this nonsense. They think we’re all monsters. Why? Mostly FOX/GOP and gullibility. But also because Ds haven’t done much to create a counter narrative and a positive image. So by default FOX/GOP wins and we’re seen by half the country as the party of minorities and perverts and other losers.

    It’s hard to see a lefty version of FOX. The psychology is different. But maybe some lefty zillionaire could fund an equivalent of Frank Luntz to create and test D messaging.

  27. gVOR10 says:

    @Kathy: Tip jars at movie theaters to pay writers and actors. Or maybe some local SAG member could pass a hat. Don’t give the producers any ideas.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Ha Nguyen:
    Pretty much my opinion as well. At this point Google, Amazon, Apple and the US Government (to name just four) all know everything you can possibly learn about me from what I read, watch or purchase. And I don’t care.

    If they’re using the data to target me with products they’re failing miserably. CVS knows all my meds. So…so what? Wells Fargo knows how much money I make. So what? Instacart and DoorDash feed me but still fail to target me in any meaningful way. YouTube has swallowed its own tail so that now my landing page is just boring. In reality far from being successfully targeted I’m finding all things Google – search and especially maps, increasingly annoying and hard to use.

    I’ve suspected for a long time now that the economic value of all this data is much less than people imagine. It may be the most inflated market since the famous Dutch tulips. Hollywood has had multiple sources of data on viewers, so is the result a newly powerful Hollywood able to target programs with precision? Disney, WB, Paramount and more are all struggling mightily, so what did their data collection accomplish?

    It is not, and it will never be, possible to predict human behavior. I have my beloved Mercedes convertible buried in an underground parking lot. Haven’t driven it in months. I might sell it. I might not. I might replace it. I might not. If I replace it, it might be with an electric car, or not. A sedan or not. Maybe I’ll wait til I see an e-convertible. Then again. . . Looking at a possible 80-100K purchase and all the data in the world won’t tell you what I’ll decide, or reveal a way to influence that decision.

    The only other concern would be leverage. But if all facts about me were suddenly made public, all facts, 100% of all data on me, OK, so? The data market is a bubble. There’s no there, there.

  29. CSK says:


    Sure, but the MAGAs already believe that the media, including Fox and Newsmax, are shills for the Democratic Party.

    Yes, I said Fox and Newsmax.

  30. Kathy says:


    Tip screens on streaming services before, after, and during the streaming of a movie or show.

    But this assumes streaming services would 1) share data about tips with anyone, and 2) any of the money would make it to actors and writers rather than CEOs or shareholders.

  31. Beth says:


    You know Trump wouldn’t last a month before he started spewing a bunch of racist crap about how Scott was “his”. Like, it wouldn’t take that long. How the hell would someone like Sen. Scott be able to handle that?

  32. Michael Cain says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Wells Fargo knows how much money I make. So what?

    I’m old enough to remember when the paranoid wisdom was to do everything in cash. When that became completely impractical, the paranoid wisdom was to have so many accounts with multiple banks and businesses that the government couldn’t keep track. Computers are so fast and there’s so much storage capacity that that’s futile now. I always went with the strategy of having finances that were so plain and boring that it didn’t matter who knew the details, they weren’t interested in me.

  33. CSK says:


    It really depends on Scott’s capacity for groveling. I can just hear Trump referring to him as “my black.”

    Did the insurance company come through for your roof?

  34. de stijl says:

    One morning my boss told me that a big brain in Marketing thought that we should hook up with one of the big data brokers. In this case it was one of the big boy data vendors.

    We would get individualized data about our customers. Okay. So fucking what? What are we going to do with that? We could pass the consolidated customer data up to our big brother retail banking affiliate, for sure, but what will this gain us a mortgage lender/ servicer?

    Why would we care if customer X is typed as Y in the ChoicePoint algorithm? What are we going to do about that?

    Maybe it ups our selling price when sell data. Which strikes me as recursive.

    Regardless, I got to explore the SF and Oakland punk scenes at night.

    From our parochial perspective it was a dumb deal. We got next to nothing in profitable marketing, and they got the fucking data goldmine.

    I had told my boss repeatedly it was a bum deal. We now have enhanced possible marketable info on our customers. What does this gain us?

    I basically lived in San Francisco for the next year and a half. Well that’s not true, it was split. Like being the child of divorced parents my time in one geographic location was determined by my parents and entirely outside of my control. They said, I went.

    I was volunteered. I was single and childless.

    I told my immediate boss it was a bum deal. We, as a company, get no benefit. How often do people amenable to a sales pitch go out of their way to try to get a mortgage? Zero often. Maybe once or twice, maybe 3 times, in their whole lives. And there is no opportunity for retail branding or marketing. Well, extraordinarily little, tiny. We are, by design, a service provider to the service provider. We are essentially back-office operations. We are a department of a much larger banking company that knows a shit ton more about marketing and branding than we do. We provide mortgages. That’s the bread and butter.

    We were a slice of a bigger corporation that did retail banking, wholesale banking, investment services, HELOCs, short-term loans, business lending, Wall Street banking. The whole schemer.

    The whole reason they are courting us hard is the goldmine of customer data that we regard as immaterial. Once a deal is made that’s it for us.

    The breadth and reach of a mortgage application process is astonishing and data brokers want that information dearly.
    We are not going to have a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday essentially saying that if you want a mortgage we can help you do that. We’re not TurboTax! Everybody has to file a tax thingies every year, but a home puchase that requires a mortgage is a deliberate, conscious, big-ass choice and the mortgage lender is, at best, a tertiary consideration. No one cares. Mortgage lending is not brandable.

    I know Quicken is trying to make their mortgage op a branded thing. I don’t know why. Who cares? No one ever is going to demand that Quicken Mortgage be the sole provider option in the purchase contract. That will never happen ever.

    One thing I figured out really early is that ChoicePoint wanted to recruit me. I knew everything. The architecture, the structures, the dbmses we were running and why, the individual dbas. The warehouse. I was much more valuable to them as a trusted liaison than I was to the company that officially employed me. My people skills are just slightly above average at best. I am not a negotiator!

    I can link to your data structures easily remotely. Three-quarters of your work force are data people of one stripe or another. We could figure this out very easily over the phone or e-mail in less than a day. Why was I tasked to be there in person? It made little sense.

    They courted me hard, as hard as they could to and not void the agreement, but it was really fucking clear they wanted what I knew.

    I don’t know jack-shit about the financial arrangement and terms, but I do know this: the sheer amount and depth of financial probing we are legally allowed to do on you as an individual who wants a mortgage loan is fucking astonishing. And ChoicePoint wanted that data desperately.

    Getting full data access to the biggest mortgage lender in the land was their goal. Dangled some goodies in front of me as an enticement. I was the pawn. I sacrificed myself and said no.

    Fuck them both. I signed up with Greg and did contract work and made a shit-ton more than I did on salary. Multiple x more.

    In an alternate timeline I accepted and now live in San Francisco full-time. Would I be happier and more self-attuned? Or BusinessObjects and in France?

    ChoicePoint got bought out by LexisNexis. BusinessObjects got bought out by SAP.

    One late evening I realized I was working a hard problem needing to be cracked at 11 pm with a woman who was the mother of a four year old. Once I realized the time I told her to go home.

    I wasn’t her boss, I wasn’t even her collegue, I was just the contractor. I was single, had no life, was paid by the hour, lived in a hotel room. She was married with a wee kiddo and was working on salary. She wasn’t even being paid to be there. She was there to crack the problem our bosses had set before us. At 11 pm. As a salaried worker. I told her to go home.

    She ignored my input.

    Good on her!

    I recommended her to my boss as a potential recruit.

  35. Beth says:


    That was the first thing I though. You know he’d say that almost immediately. Probably followed up by something worse. I don’t know how one could handle the dissonance of that, no matter one’s ability to grovel. I just don’t get it.

    I’ll know more on thursday about the roof. It’s started leaking in the house though and more stuff is falling on my neighbors. Fingers crossed.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There are real concerns about privacy, but let’s set that aside. The other concern is how freely are your passwords, SSN, DOB, recovery questions (What was the name of YOUR first pet?), etc flowing around? Even if you trust your bank to keep it safe (you definitely shouldn’t) they are brokering it to lots of others. As the saying goes, two people can keep a secret… if one of them is dead.

  37. CSK says:


    Maybe Scott is figuring that Trump is old, obese, and unhealthy, so he’s betting that Trump won’t last much beyond 2026. Then Tim ascends to the presidency, and can run for re-election twice after that. He might think it’s eminently worth putting up with Trump’s shit to achieve that long-range goal.

    Good luck with the roof.

  38. gVOR10 says:


    How the hell would someone like Sen. Scott be able to handle that?

    Scott’s been handling it. He’s been a Black Republican since apparently at least 1995. Think he hasn’t mastered the “skills” involved?

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Rick DeMent: I’m not sure it will. She seems to have gone on from “only person who can win the guvship,” past “ideal Trump veep choice,” and on to “only choice for Senator.” Either very adaptable or short attention span. Not sure which.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: Well, at least Jake from State Farm isn’t “out of the office right now*” when you call.

    *and “we’re not sure when he’ll be back,” either

  41. gVOR10 says:

    I got a chuckle out of this bit from Kevin Drum. A guy used cell phone data to check how many people went to church. Outside Easter and Christmas turns out there are about 25 million Americans in church on any Sunday. He compared this to surveys asking people how often they go to church. Turns out they lie. A lot.

    A quarter of Americans say they attend church weekly, but in reality fewer than 3% of them do. That’s about 8 million regular weekly churchgoers.

    That’s . . . not very many. And not counting the Christmas & Easter crowd, only about 12% of Americans attend church at all. That’s not very many either.

    My brother, the Reverend, used to talk about his revolving door congregants, in at Christmas, out at Easter. He said part of it was TV preachers. People were watching them in lieu of church going. Hurt his church both financially and as a community. I wonder how many of the liars above occasionally catch a radio sermon and score it as church attendance.

    When I lived outside Dallas many years ago the radio stations all did a Sunday service broadcast. I used to listen to the big rock station if I was in the car Sunday morning. They did a Black Baptist service. Great soul music.

  42. Thomm says:

    @Kathy: in a move against tipping culture, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are paying servers at the redone casa Bonita 30 bux an hour.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: In my lifetime, I’ve purchased 3 houses. Everyone with a different lender. The last one had an additional different lender when the current one decided they didn’t want to refinance the house when my wife and I divorced (my guess is that because they were a small local mortgage company, they’d already sold the mortgage and couldn’t refinance it). Yeah. Brand identity for mortgage lending is weak at best.

  44. Kathy says:


    There was a big ep of Dubner’s Freakonomics podcast several years ago about no-tipping restaurants. Prices went up, naturally, and the salaries of servers, and the kitchen personnel were raised.

    There was no follow-up ep at some later point, that I know of. I did read later several of these places had gone back to tipping. Apparently one factor was that some customers still tipped.

    That’s what makes matters so complicated.

  45. de stijl says:

    Being single and childless I bought the bullet every holiday.

    Y’all did not know what you missed!

    Literally nothing happens in the HQ of a major corporation between December 24 and January 1. Almost no one is there.

    The people who are there exist to keep core functions running. That’s it. Nothing else happens. Don’t get me wrong. Core shit gets done well. Perhaps better than most days because there are almost no phone calls and e-mails to fuck up your flow.

    Some years I knocked out a crap ton of stuff off my to-do list. It’s astonishing what you can accomplish without all of the normal distractions.

    Most days was a series of games. We did boxing nun hand puppets. We did Rock-em sock-em robots. We played darts both 301 and double in/double out. (I brought in the board and the darts.)

    One guy was running a drop-in, drop-out D&D campaign out of his cube. Those are big-ass DM skills to incorporate random folks showing up as random characters randomly. He did it well. It was seriously well-thought through campaign on his part.

    One day I realized that I was probably the most senior person there in the whole building that most work days housed 6000 workers and that that day maybe 80 or a hundred. And I was fairly low on the totem pole.

    On Christmas Eve everyone at that office expects to be sent home shortly after lunch -that was the expected protocol. That year my boss’s boss was the designated send everyone home early designee. Special Ed’s problem was that he had three families to attend to because he was a serial adulterer. He showed up at 9 AM, gathered everyone up, gave a brief speech about how awesome we were, and told us to go home. He had a full schedule that day that couldn’t budge so he decided the gracious boss send folks home early thing needed to happen at 9 AM.

    I couldn’t go home because I was on the dead man’s watch until next morning in the server room, but a lot of people were ticked off. Why have us come in for an hour? That’s not gracious, that’s kind of dickish and exploitative. To get to work by 8 you have to get up, shower, prep, dress, commute. Being sent home at 9 is kinda a dick move. You could have sent an e-mail yesterday telling us not to bother.

    We were not entirely fucking off. Core shit got done or monitored appropriately. Perhaps better than most days.

  46. Mu Yixiao says:


    When I worked for my sister, it was tips only (my choice). I would make anywhere from $25-50/hr, and only worked for 4 hours (I was helping out on weekends). That’s at a small restaurant serving fish-fry in the middle of small-town Wisconsin, 15 years ago.

    When DC government wanted to eliminate tips and raise wages, the biggest opponents were tipped servers. They knew they’d be losing money.

  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    There are times when I am more even-handed and receptive to right-wing posters than many of you understand. It often leaves you puzzled, confused, or a little hostile. Why would I be like that?

    I just ran across a really good example of why on another website, where we’re talking about the play King Lear. (I think a few of you hang out there, too, though I think the poster in question doesn’t come here.) One poster, whom I recall being quite conservative, and with whom I agree politically on almost nothing wrote this about King Lear

    Also, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t get unless you’ve lived it. I saw Lear right after visiting my grandfather, who’d had several small strokes and was suffering from severe aphasia, as well as the general ailments of the extremely aged. He’d been moving out of his old apartment into a terminal-care facility, and he was very upset that all the things he’d spent so much time and effort carrying from place to place were just going to be thrown away, and he had a lot of trouble expressing that because of his difficulty communicating, and that made him more upset. And, y’know. Here’s King Lear, with everyone telling him “oh, your stuff is such a bother, get rid of all of it, we don’t care about it, we got our own stuff, yours is useless anyway, your whole life is useless garbage and we’re just waiting until we can throw YOU out with the rest of it,” and he’s too old and confused to explain why that upsets him or make a case for it. So, that kind of really hit me harder than it might have done two weeks earlier. (I did take a couple socket sets and a three-foot level, which I didn’t really need but they did fill holes in the inventory.)

    Wow, is that really great stuff. Human, relatable. It’s what I hope to encourage certain regular posters here to be more like. There are few persons I’ve met who didn’t have some good, valuable insight for me, though with some it takes some work to find it.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It may be one of those things that don’t matter until they do.

    As to how valuable data is, IMO no one keeps up mining data for years and years if they get nothing from it. Social media is not that old, but data mining precedes it. Online there were cookies, and ads, since I think the late 90s. Tivo famously mined viewing data.

    The data from one person is probably near worthless. The data of hundreds of millions may be worth a lot. It’s the same in other industries.

  49. Scott says:

    @gVOR10: I follow Chip Roy’s Press Releases on Facebook. Why? Because he’s my congressman. The comment section is just filled with the same apocalyptic commentary from the looney right. And it is not comments just from his constituents but from all over the country and even from outside the country. Why they want to comment if they are not constituents is beyond me. Social media will bring this country down.

  50. Michael Reynolds says:


    All the creatives are on our side. How hard can it be to create a narrative around progress?

    All we would have to do is include specific mentions of every single Democratic constituency from Koreans to Kurds to Kabbalists, tall, thin, plus-sized, male, female, none of the above, liberal, progressive, pro-reparation, people obsessed with paper vs. plastic, both military members and pacifists, capitalists, socialists, entrepreneurs and UBI fans, PETA, pescatarians, vegetarians, vegans, etc…etc…etc…ad infinitum.

    We can’t fashion a narrative because whatever narrative you come up with, someone – on our side – will denounce it. Then denounce the people who created the narrative. We are obsessive nitpickers, incapable of setting aside personal issues for the greater good, prepared to denounce each other for even the slightest linguistic infractions or failure to replace every familiar term with a euphemism or nonsensical neologism. And again, that comes with etc…etc…etc…ad infinitum.

    Progress? How can you talk of progress when the water rights of Navajos are not guaranteed? I don’t call it progress when otters are being poisoned by toxins! And are we not even going to mention the plight of the Palestinians? Do you not know about the massive raft of plastic garbage floating in the Pacific? Economic progress while we still have homeless? I mean, unhoused people?

    Their paradigm is military, ours is college. They’re trying to impose their will; we’re trying to sound smart. We are unserious.

  51. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    My very big question on this subject is: how do service workers fare in countries were tipping isn’t the custom?

  52. Jen says:

    Big data are only valuable if you have: a) the computing power to process it, and b) have the ability to sift through results to see what turns up.

    Predictive analytics are interesting. A college friend of mine did an interesting TED Talk on this back in 2014. The question really is how useful having more data really is. If all you are doing is marketing to ever-smaller subsets of people, that’s one thing. But, if you’re using it to identify and manipulate people (like Cambridge Analytica did), that’s another thing entirely.

  53. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Went out to dinner with my father and brothers a few years back. My father insisted on paying, and we all know he is a notoriously cheap tipper.

    So, I do what any reasonable person would do, and stuck a tip for the entire group under my plate. As did my brother, my other brother, my father’s wife… My brother’s wife, seeing how much my brother was sliding under the plate decided he was being stingy, and slipped a little extra under hers.

    We all laughed about it later when we realized what happened. My father had the last laugh when he pulled out the receipt to show that he was tired of being nagged for being so cheap and he tipped 30%, doing the math on his copy.

    Getting rid of tipping would have prevented the entire fiasco, and one of the nicer stories I have about my family — no one was being awful!

    I just want clear laws and signage about when tipping is expected and where it goes.

  54. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I don’t call it progress when otters are being poisoned by toxins!

    What do you want the otters to be poisoned with?

  55. CSK says:


    A service charge is added in a lot of places. But you still can make more money from tips.

  56. Michael Reynolds says:


    The data of hundreds of millions may be worth a lot.

    The fact that people persist in doing something is not in itself proof that what they’re doing makes sense. So, everyone is collecting data and by now all data has been collected many times over. Wells Fargo is not the only company that can nail my income to the dollar, a thousand companies can do that, and when everyone has all the data, what possible competitive advantage can it offer?

    I suspect companies are collecting data because companies are collecting data because companies are collecting data. There will never be a Hari Seldon, that is just not how humans or human society work.

  57. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There’s a clear narrative of a country built upon white supremacy…

    Wait, no.

    A country founded on ideals — a beautiful vision of equality and freedom — that we are slowly and inevitably moving towards achieving. Let people who don’t own property vote. Free the slaves. Give the ladyfolk the right to vote and own property. Break up the trusts. Raise seniors out of poverty. End segregation. Let women in the workforce. Let women control their bodies, at least for a little while. Marriage equality.

    There’s work to be done. There are those who want to legislate their religious morality, or use their positions of power to enforce it. Social mobility is declining.

    We’re Democrats. We’re liberals and progressives. We’re labor and the creative classes. We do that work.

    (It probably would have been better if Democrats renamed the party in the 60s or 70s, as that would have been a big symbol of the party switch)

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I’m not sure that I care as much about how much the prime (dinner hour) server is making as I am about the one who works say 11 to 2 pm. And yeah, I DO realize that your “but I can live in a small town/I can breathe in a small town” story is also absolutely representative of what every server makes everywhere.

    That said, I’ve known servers who quit restaurants that went to higher wages and discouraged tipping–but not many.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Not sure about not understanding being open to right wingey comments, but I do find myself a little gob smacked at times about how optimistic about humanity you are. It’s almost like you never really had that fundy upbringing you sometimes talk about.

  60. Michael Reynolds says:


    A country founded on ideals — a beautiful vision of equality and freedom — that we are slowly and inevitably moving towards achieving.

    I think you mean a country founded on hypocrisy, talking a good game while we enslaved Blacks and massacred Indians? We must put an end to this false narrative of idealism when the reality was the genocide of Indians and enslavement of Blacks, not to mention disenfranchisement of women. The Constitution was written to enshrine the power of the White patriarchy!

    Liberals used to do hope. Now we wear hair shirts and compete to be the most despairing.

  61. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Liberals used to do hope. Now we wear hair shirts and compete to be the most despairing.

    Be the change you want to see in the world*.

    You have a larger platform than some idiot kid who thinks that a poorly made Bahn Mi is cultural appropriation, or that LatinX is solving an important problem.

    You could just ignore them and try to be that hope which you lament is gone.

    *: I used to hate that phrase, but then I saw it used in our local lefty newsrag by a biking activist to justify not wearing a helmet because he longs for a world where there are no cars hitting bicyclists, and where curbs are soft and don’t smash skulls open. I may have added that last part about the curbs.

    I now embrace it with a Schrodinger’s Cat level of mocking/earnestness.

  62. de stijl says:

    @Ha Nguyen:

    I was a small cog in the machine that derailed the US economy in 2008.

    The refinance / sub-prime boom. If you were a mortgagee where the mortgage was initiated or held by rhymes with Bells Largo, I, by my own hands, was part of that mess.

    I didn’t create the mess, but I helped make the process that created that mess better, faster, cheaper. I had a major hand in optimizing a process that cratered the world economy for several years.

    If you got a mortgage refinance offer from rhymes with Bells Largo in the mid 2000s I identified you and singled you out as the recipient specifically.

    Orders came from on high. From these states, these zip codes, give us 60,000 addresses and the names associated to that address where the current FICO score for that name is greater than 700, they have not missed a payment in the last 18 months, and are left-handed, and have green eyes. Sort by FICO score.

    The left-handedness and eye color is a stand in for the other weird shit they would ask for.

    It was my job to give them those 60,000 addresses and names that fit their criteria sorted by current FICO score. After the second round I asked why 60,000? One woman from Marketing told me the expected acceptance rate was n% and they had established a call center / processing department that could process n refinance up-takes per day. Everyone was a temp.

    The committee were very precise in their criteria and very precise in the cut-off total number.

    After the second round I had to walk through the committee members in person what we could and couldn’t do and the time frames.
    I can’t give you current income or employment status – there is no reliable database that is anywhere near current. Maybe the IRS has it, but they’re not sharing.

    If your criteria involve these items it will take this long to produce this list. If you drop this criteria we can do do it a day faster, etc. I had to explain waterfalls and sets and ordering to lay folks precisely and understandably with examples.

    When you change the criteria order, for us, that’s basically a restart.

    They asked me to sit in on the deliberations. I had to demur. I was already working 18 hours a day 7 days a week just to keep up with you all plus getting a dba to do all the shit you want done. I’m landing all sorts of extraneous datasets willy-nilly and eyeballing twenty rows to determine how that column should be typed.

    It was a truly fascinating job and extremely intense. We developed an infrastructure to deal with it. Kinda. There were kinks, definately.

    I did not develop the strategy, and I did not pull the trigger, but I loaded the bullets, and made them better, stronger, faster on purpose over time.

    To me, initially, it was a hard, knotty problem I could solve by hook or crook. It was fun. I love that shit! I did not even think about ethics or morality.

    One morning I got an e-mail of the criteria. I am from Minneapolis and I knew those neighborhoods. By the criteria they’d selected this was clearly, to me, racially based selection. I knew from one or me training seminars from the legal department that racially based targeted marketing was an absolute not allowed thing.

    I went to my “boss” immediately, interrupted his day big-time, laid out my qualms/concern and asked him if I was over-reacting. He decided not. We called somebody in Legal and laid out the situation and the proposed criteria and asked for clarity. I would have called that person in Legal anyway even if my “boss” pooh-poohed the idea. I did not sign up for racially targeted marketing.

    In my gut I knew this was not allowed and most definitely unethical and probably illegal. I let every person know I needed clarity from Legal before acting on this. I cc’ed everybody, and their boss.

    I didn’t over-react. (Thankfully!) Legal objected too on the same basis.

  63. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    If you got a mortgage refinance offer from rhymes with Bells Largo in the mid 2000s I identified you and singled you out as the recipient specifically.

    Just refinances, or did it include purchasing newly originated mortgages too? If yes, you probably bought my mortgage.

  64. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    We did and it was lovely! Thank you so much! We appreciate your business.

  65. Stormy Dragon says:

    @de stijl:

    We did and it was lovely! Thank you so much! We appreciate your business.

    I’m actually betting someone is pissed I paid a 30 year mortgage off in only 15 years and you didn’t get nearly the return you were hoping for.

  66. Kathy says:

    We should call this note on Benito losing his nonsense petition to disqualify Fani Willis, Chronicle of a Ruling Foretold

  67. Gustopher says:


    Aileen Cannon must be deep in the tank for Trump. He praised her yesterday: “She’s very smart and very strong and loves our country. We need judges who love our country so they do the right thing.” Emphasis added.

    This is the same language he used about Pence right before Pence didn’t overturn the election.

    Trump doesn’t buy people who stay bought. He does, however, like to remind people that he has a large megaphone and can point his fan base at them.

    She’s not necessarily in the tank. She’s just being threatened.

  68. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have, off and on, tried to figure out how to write a utopian story. It may just be my own limitation, but each time I do I come up against the fact that happy does not make for good story. You need conflict. One way to do it, a way I’ve not found a way to mimic, is to create a utopian society (the Federation) and create external dangers that provide story without challenging the core of that utopian world. For example, a starship that represents a perfected human state but which keeps running into bad guys. (Klingons, Romulans, Borg.). Hold onto your utopia by off-shoring the conflict, so to speak.

  69. Beth says:


    I get that. I can understand Black conservatives, that’s easy. I sort of get why a Black person would vote for a Republican. I do have trouble understanding why a Black person would run as a Republican, given just how blatant the racism in that party is. That is, in my mind, worlds different than a guy like Sen. Scott choosing to debase himself for a man who is a wildly open racist (and a dumb one at that) and has absolutely no loyalty to anyone. Trump would be the first person to lynch Scott if the poop hit the propeller.

    For the record, LGBT quislings who vote Republican can die in a fire. Fuck those fuckers.

  70. Sleeping Dog says:


    There wasn’t room for him in the SC Dem party.

    Former MN senator Norm Coleman, a R, served on the St Paul city council as a Dem, served in the state legislature as a Dem and was a multi term mayor of St Paul as a Dem. After that he had nowhere to go. On social issues he was far too moderate for the MN Dems at that time, being a pro-union, social conservative. The MN R party was a mess at that time, so he ran for governor as an R, got the nomination, but lost in the 3 way race won by Jesse Ventura. Later he ran for US senate as IIRC served 2 terms. Scott’s story is likely the same.

  71. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    How about a story about an author who cannot find anyone to publish their utopian story? Or who gets abuse and derision for their published utopian story? Just intersperse parts of the utopia here and there.

  72. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I never said utopian. Liberals and progressives are anything but utopian.

    Never even said fiction — I was thinking more your entire “these kids are awful because they are concerned about the otters” thing. Instead of griping about them and grasping for defeatism, start pushing an overarching vision that is more constructive than just tearing down.

    The progressive movement has always been people building towards something bigger and better than they are, knowing that they will probably never achieve it, but that they will be improving things along the way. Sometimes successful, sometimes not.

    John Brown, Susan B. Anthony, the Black woman who the Montgomery Bus Boycott folks decided to not use as a rallying point because she was pregnant out of wedlock and they didn’t want to deal with that, Cesar Chavez, the Freedom Riders who thought they could use their white privilege as a shield while registering Black voters in the south and then found out it only protected them so far… there are lots of people whose stories are filled with successes and failures and conflict. Mine their stories for inspiration, or just use your platform to point your furry-adjacent fandom towards their stories and get that next generation 3% closer to the right track.

    You seem to think the world could be a better place and you would like that for your kid(s). And you have some resources.

    But popping in here to complain that young lefties in Oakland are up in arms over a school named after Founding Father Who Raped Slaves #12 or whatever doesn’t accomplish much. Unless it helps with your writing and your solution for your kid(s) is to leave them enough money to buy their way out of the problems of the world, in which case… carry on.

    (I figure I’m old enough that I’ll be dead before things get real bad, and then my cats will eat me, but you have more than that to care about)

  73. de stijl says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Prepayments make a huge amount of sense. It goes directly against the principal owed and re-jiggers the length of the loan in your favor. It greatly reduces future interest.

    My last mortgage was initially a 15 and I paid it off in less than six. And I was working for the bank that made the loan, which made it sweeter.

    I am not an accountant and definitely not a person well versed in the secondary market for MBSs, but I do know that aggregated pre-payments do fuck up the value of that MBS as do defaults. Banks are in business of giving people the most amount of as they sustain. They don’t want to over-loan or you will likely default and they don’t want to under-loan you or you might prepay.

    Here is my crazy-pants tin foil hat theory. Debt, especially long-term debt exists to dampen individualism and encourage proscribed societally approved roles.

    An indebted person barely scraping by is not going to want to upset the apple-cart. A debt-free person is much more likely to pursue a dream rather than work in an office because that’s what everybody else.

    I have friends my age ask me with concern why I was not working during my “prime earning years”. It wasn’t feigned, it was legitimate concern. “Why are you leaving all that money on the table?” I think I am not be being a dick or a narcissist in responding “Why would I want that?”

    I’m not moving to Oregon and starting an Ayahuasca retreat, although that would really cool, I decided that I have enough saved that I no longer have to and I prefer not to.”

    “What do you do all day?”

    I fuck around and have fun mostly by doing nothing.

    Being unobligated is my life-long dream.

    Some folks do not get it.

    I think I stand by my theory that society wants a populace that is properly indebted. They are more compliant. People in debt are easier to control.

  74. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I ended up voting for Humphrey. I debated with myself going in maybe voting for Ventura but decided not to. Coleman wasn’t a bad guy at all. He was a seemingly solid dude. He wasn’t an Arne Carlson type. He wasn’t an active asshole.

    That was one weird election!

    We got Ventura who turned out to be a know-nothing pfft. Who could have possibly predicted that? A Reform party governor with no legislative allies.

    One upside to Ventura is that nothing happened during his tenure. Arguably nothing good happened, but nothing bad happened either. I’ll take the staus quo over the potential bad.

  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Wow, is that really great stuff. Human, relatable.

    I saw Lear this past year, fantastic production. And I had just spent the past 2 years dealing with my in-denial elderly in-laws and my not-quite-incapable parents, getting them into situations that work. It hit home like a lightning strike.

  76. de stijl says:

    I actually looked at my water bill today.

    Before I open one tap, flush one toilet, take one shower, my water bill is $45.

    I pay $45 for the privilege of having an active hook in to the system. That seems egregious.

    If I were away the whole month and did not use one drop my water bill would still be $45.

    In my first apartment my water bill was often less than a dollar for the month. I felt odd about writing a check for 0 dollars and 78 cents so I usually waited 2 months so it was over a dollar.

    The only time I write a check nowadays is to the Polk County treasurer for property taxes twice a year. Other than that one time in 2021 and before then was in 2018 and my last 12 checks have been to Polk County Treasurer. Every time I write a check nowadays I have to recall the protocol.

    Write the current date in the upper right. Write out the name of the payee legibly. Write out the amount in quasi English. Write out the amount in numbers. Sign it.

    Not that very long ago I did that a dozen times a month with zero thought. Would go to the post office to buy stamps.

    $45 for a water hookup is bullshit. Build the infrastructure fees in to the usage.

  77. Matt says:

    @Mu Yixiao: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA holy shit that’s the exact opposite of what I experienced in small town USA in the late 90s into the 2000s. First of lets define small town mine was under 5000 people. The church people who showed up in droves every Sunday barely tipped after occupying the dining area for +2 hours. There were some regulars who would tip $5 but the vast majority was nothing or under $2. Delivering pizzas was no better as you would be lucky to get a dollar tip. Deliver $28.54 in food get handed $30 and told to keep the change. Legit all drivers had to have coinage issued because people demanded exact change back so often. Drivers made more money off gas mileage than they did actual tips. I experienced or saw this first hand in the few dining establishments that existed in town. Consistently people who were being paid under minimum wage because TIPS would end the day barely making minimum wage if they were lucky. Some of the people I knew in Chicago did better especially the bartenders.

    You are legit the only person I’ve met who has made that kind of money off tips. When I moved to a small city I was able to make better tips but nowhere was I able to make $50 an hour. Sure some nights I’d make +$100 in tips for a night but that’s over 10 hours and doesn’t include the cost of insurance, car payment, wear and tear, and gasoline. Sure as shit wasn’t enough to make up for the $8 an hour (in 2020) I was making while people at Mcdonalds were doing over $10 without destroying their cars or getting guns pulled on them. Before I moved I was legit about to just start flipping burgers because the minimum wage had raised enough they were offering $12 starting.

    Every person I’ve personally met at tipped food service jobs would trade tips in a second for a real livable wage. I’m sure there are exceptions but every place I’ve lived it’s sucked to be a food service employee relying on tips to make a living. One of those exceptions tends to be bar tenders but they also tend to get higher base pay…