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. Bill Jempty says:

    William Fortschen wrote a book One second after about an EMP attack on the United States. He has followed it up with three more books.

    I have read the books. The main character is a retired Army Colonel named John Matherson who lives in Black Mountain North Carolina. The first two books of this series were entirely set in BM or its surrounding areas.

    Why am I writing? I have serious problems with book #4 aka Five Years After. First off the book seems to have forgotten plot details from earlier books in the series. Kind of like ST:Picard where the writers totally forgot the outcome of season 2 concerning the Borg.

    Fortschen seems to have forgotten Matherson’s second wife was pregnant at the end of book #2 or that the US government in book #3 was operating out of somewhere in Virginia. The first of these is a minor detail but the second isn’t.

    Then in book#4 Fortschen has Matherson ignorant of the work done at the Army base Fort Detrick in Maryland. WTF? Detrick has been portrayed in movies and on television many times. Matherson is retired Army. His ignorance of Detrick does not compute.

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill Jempty: Are you sure there really is a fourth book and it’s not a counterfeit? It happens. Especially now with generative AI.

  3. Kathy says:

    I streamed The Flash over the weekend.

    Solid “Meh.”

    It was not a terrible idea, and the plot isn’t slow or boring, but it compares unfavorably to an older, similar animated movie called The Flashpoint Paradox. It’s the same basic idea: Flash goes back in time to change one thing, and this wrecks the present.

    Then they diverge, but end with the same necessary action (I’ll give you three guesses).

    Both movies, BTW, eff up causality and make it retroactive. The newer movie explains better how it happens, but not why.

    One thing I liked is what Flash does to change the past. It reminded me of Asimov’s The End of Eternity, where massive changes are wrought by small ones, like moving a container to a different shelf.

  4. Kathy says:

    Seeing as I’ve had good results from the cast iron pot, I’m wondering whether I should get a cast iron pan next.

    For now, I don’t think I should unless there are recipes I could make in one, that can’t be done in other cookware I already own. So, nothing that requires a pan on the stove only, as I’ve many pans. it would be stuff that needs to be cooked on the stove and then in the oven, like I’ve been doing with the cast iron pot.

    But then, a lot can be done in that pot that could also be done in a pan. So that’s not as much as it would seem (I think if I’d begun with a pan, I might not have then gone for a pot).

    I’m looking stuff up. One thing that requires a pan is pan pizza. I don’t have a stainless steel pan that would work, and the pot’s both too deep and not wide enough for a pizza.

    Corn bread is another thing a cast iron is recommended for. But since I like to mix it in a casserole, a plain baking dish works best. That’s out.

    I’ll keep looking.

  5. CSK says:

    In a Truth Social rant about Ron DeSantis, Trump spelled “rumor” as “roomer.” Even for Trump, that’s bad. He must be really losing it.

  6. CSK says:
  7. Kathy says:



  8. steve says:

    I have the big Lodge kettle (weighs 44 pounds I think) and 2 skillets. The kettle is great for church dinners. The pan retains heat for a very long time so it keeps food warm forever it seems. Use one skillet for searing and cooking stuff though not for fish. It works really well for getting that nice brown crust for steaks. The second skillet is for cornbread and some desserts wife makes. While you can spend a lot on a pan you can get very good ones the $20 range.

    Downside is they are heavy, harder to maintain, dont respond quickly to changes in heat. After cleaning mine I put them on the range on low heat for couple of minutes. For what it’s worth, I think if you grew up with one you can cook most anything in one. If you didnt you will likely end up using it only for certain kinds of cooking and it wont be your primary pan.


  9. DrDaveT says:


    For now, I don’t think I should unless there are recipes I could make in one, that can’t be done in other cookware I already own.

    The killer app for cast iron pans is usually steak. It’s very hard to get the same kind of sear from steel, aluminum, or nonstick. Cornbread is also wonderful in a seasoned iron skillet, as are most members of the cobbler family (cobbler, brown betty, pan-dowdy, etc.). Some of those might work in a pot, but it would be awkward.

  10. Kathy says:



    Cornbread I’ve covered. I don’t make many deserts, but that’s something I might try. It will be a cold, cold, cold day in hell before I ever try to cook a fish*.

    I don’t really care for steak just seasoned and seared. It’s ok, but I prefer beef in some kind of sauce, like goulash and similar options.

    Lodge is the brand I’ve been looking at. It’s very reasonably priced.

    *Or just about anything else that swims regularly or lives under water.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    Is it my imagination or has copy editing gone missing from any number of mainstream publications? I am not a good copy editor myself, so if I’m spotting multiple problems every day, I start to think they’ve just given up.

  12. gVOR10 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My impression is they’ve been relying on spell check and grammar check software. With predictable results. Microsoft: We’re smarter than ewe are.

  13. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Copy editing seems to have gotten a lot worse over the decades. It was fine with my fiction, but my non-fiction book…it really stank.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s been going on for a while, as noted above.

    I do see more typos, repeated words, bad editing (ie, “..previously the defendant had said something different previously…), and other errors, on live blogging on The Guardian, CNN, etc. On such occasions, where speed is essential, one expects such things.

    I’ve noted less errors in audiobooks, possibly because when read aloud it’s noticed and corrected. On Great Courses lectures, though, there are myriad verbal typos by the lecturer. Most are corrected on the fly (ie ..Alexander massed troops to invade Macedonia -excuse, me Persia-..)

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I always try to remind myself that these are childrens/YA movies, and so they are unlikely to have been exposed to the 50 or so variations on the exact same theme that I have.

  16. Stormy Dragon says:


    This recipe works great in a cast iron pan: A Quick and Easy Cassoulet Recipe – Pork & Beans with Benefits

  17. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve noticed that too. I’ve been wondering if some of the articles I’ve noticed it on were AI generated.

  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    A random thought about atom bombs: we sometimes think in terms of a false choice, between the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki living happy lives, and dying in a fireball. But the reality is that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were either going to burn in an atomic blast, or burn in a napalm firestorm. The reason the two cities were chosen is that we’d already burned down every other important city. Their populations were already dead.

    Eliminate that false choice and you have to face the real alternative: a year of B-29 raids, followed by mass starvation, the inevitable disease that comes with societal collapse, with civilian deaths estimated by the War Department at a minimum of five million. The brutal reality is that Oppie’s bombs saved millions of Japanese lives and made possible the rise of a new, richer, more successful Japan.

  19. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Is it my imagination or has copy editing gone missing from any number of mainstream publications?

    I started asking that about ten years ago, so I don’t think it’s your imagination. “We don’t need to pay copy editors, MS Word has spelling/grammar checkers” is an early (lame) version of Robotic Process Automation.

  20. Grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: I have a cast-iron Dutch oven which I’ve used for baking bread. Great for getting a wonderful crust.

    (I also use it to make meatballs, Shanghai ham, buta-kakuni, barbecue, and roast chicken.)

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Beth: @DrDaveT:
    Or over-reliance on spellcheck. But yeah, the stuff I see is not typically misspellings but weird word choice and failure to understand context. Could well be AI.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    I love a good cassoulet. But it’s heading to 106 today, here in Vegas. I need to see 60’s and 50’s before it’s cassoulet time.

  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    I’m willing to bet that with everything being so digital now, editing is seen as an unnecessary expense by publishers and has been heavily reduced to increase profits. If something gets missed, it can be fixed after the fact when people complain.

  24. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The brutal reality is that Oppie’s bombs saved millions of Japanese lives and made possible the rise of a new, richer, more successful Japan.

    Agreed. Not to mention tens (hundreds?) of thousands of US lives, and additional billions of dollars poured down a pointless hole.

    Anyone who told the allied high command at the outset of the Pacific war that there would be a way to cause Japan to surrender without their homeland being invaded would have been laughed out of the room.

  25. Grumpy realist says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I think it was in an autobiography by Laurents van der Post (who was in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp) where he pointed out that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also saved the lives of a large number of prisoners-of-war since plans had been put into place for the massacre of all prisoners of war once the US got closer to Japan. It was the sudden destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the immediate collapse of the military authority of Japan which froze all those war plans in place and kept the prisoners alive until they were able to be released.

    (And in spite of Prime Minister Suzuki and the Emperor conniving together so that the Emperor was able to get his personal desire to surrender through the Cabinet, there was STILL an attempted coup d’etat by hot-headed younger army officers the evening before the scheduled surrender broadcast. The fact that Japan didn’t fight on to the bitter end even after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is due to three men: the Emperor, Prime Minister Suzuki, and (IIRC) General Nojo, who refused to go along with the plotters (but who committed seppuku that night due to Japan’s defeat).)

  26. DAllenABQ says:

    My father turned 18 in March 1946 and he surely would have been drafted and then likely sent to Japan as part of the invasion. So it is possible that Oppie’s bombs allowed me to come into existence.

  27. Kylopod says:


    In a Truth Social rant about Ron DeSantis, Trump spelled “rumor” as “roomer.” Even for Trump, that’s bad.

    It depends on how many hamberders he eats while listing his achomlishments.

  28. Gustopher says:


    It was not a terrible idea, and the plot isn’t slow or boring, but it compares unfavorably to an older, similar animated movie called The Flashpoint Paradox.

    And the arc in the TV show. And the comics…. It’s not a great story, and it didn’t need three different adaptations in a few years.

    The big change (two Barrys, early in the movie it’s barely a spoiler) did add something to this version that was unique — there’s a bit of a buddy comedy with two Ezra Millers which is either good or bad depending on whether you want a buddy comedy with two Ezra Millers.

    Tonally the movie is a mess, shifting from silly comedy to “dark” themes that dominate the climax. “Luckily” Ezra Miller completely fails to deliver that performance, so it’s not as jarring as it would be.

    The coliseum of events towards the end, where Barry is in the speed force, surrounded by everything that can happen… visually it reminded me of Rise of Skywalker and all the Sith ghosts in the coliseum. That is not a good thing.

    And there are some CGI cameos that are basically unintentional jump scares because they are so badly done.

    This is a bad movie.

    I will say one good thing: I loved this incarnation of Supergirl. Also, Michael Keaton was fun.

  29. Scott says:

    @DAllenABQ: Same here. My Dad, in the summer of 1945, was at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, just after returning from the European theatre. They were preparing to ship to the Pacific. Discharged in Oct 1945 instead. He was 22.

  30. a country lawyer says:

    @Michael Reynolds: When the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, my dad, a staff Sergent in General Walter Kreuger’s army, and Battle of Manila veteran was training his platoon in the Philippines in preparation for the invasion of Japan. He left for the South Pacific shortly after I was born in 1943. Had the bombs not been dropped I might well have never known him.

  31. CSK says:

    Trump wants “the Jan. 6 Unselect Committee of Marxists, Fascists, and Political Hacks” to be criminally charged.

  32. JohnMc says:

    @DrDaveT: Read years ago a claim that so many Purple Heart medals were made as part of the planning for the invasion of Japan that they had never been reordered. Through Korean & VNam wars. There were plenty.

    Have never been able to relocate that ‘fact’ or verify it, so probably not true. But it did and does seem reasonable.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Flashpoint Paradox was also a 60+ issue series of comic books with crossovers to several other titles beyond the original 61 episodes in The Flash. At what comics retail for these days, my sense is that there are not a lot of YA and children who follow the character, and a fair number of subscriptions to the DC Universe streaming service must be adults given the degree to which the programming seems targeted to “Silver Age” comic consumers (i.e. people above 40). It’s one of the few streaming services that I’ve considered spending money for, and I turned 71 last month.

    ETA: Well, he who hesitates is lost. The streaming service was absorbed into HBO Max a couple of years ago, according to what I just discovered. Marketing to geezers is always a questionable move overall, though.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: I wouldn’t think so. From what we’ve seen so far, AI generated content would be more likely to be orthodox in spelling and grammar (the two features that are most mechanical) and faulty in content, meaning, logic, and factuality. Typos, grammar faults, and repetition and redundancy (and repetition) are all more human failings.

    @Michael Reynolds: Aha! Yes, the types of flaws you are seeing could well be related to AI issues or reading stuff written by Lounsbury.

  35. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Fun bit of comics lore — at the same time Flashpoint was being planned and published to reboot the DC universe, in the Superman titles they had expanded the bottle city of Kandor and created New Krypton where Superman finally got to interact with his culture.

    So, they created a dumb war with Earth, killed everyone on New Krypton, and made Superman mope across America mourning the loss. All to restore a status quo that would be tossed aside immediately after.

    They could have given Superman a happy ending with a new status quo, but they decided “nah, let’s just kill them all and have Superman unable to save his people”

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Just a week or two ago, I came across the creepiest comics series ever on Kindle Unlimited. I think it was called Superman 78 but I’m too lazy to go over to my Kindle and look it up. Either way, the gimmick was to draw all the characters as the actors who played the roles in the original Salkind Brothers’ production. EWWWWW!

  37. CSK says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    WF’s books are published by MacMillan, and I’d expect better of such an old and esteemed outfit. But…this sort of thing happens. In Dominick Dunne’s last novel, Too Much Money, a sequel to People Like Us, the characters were barely recognizable as who they were in the first book.

    Some authors get to a point at which the publisher just prints what they write.

  38. Jen says:

    Anyone curious about whether an article is AI-generated can run it through ZeroGPT and see.

  39. Kathy says:


    That’s going to be very hard because

    1) Blasphemy is not a crime in America.

    2) Benito isn’t Elon Musk.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Beth: @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I wouldn’t think so. From what we’ve seen so far, AI generated content would be more likely to be orthodox in spelling and grammar

    Unless of course, the AI had “determined” that faulty spelling and grammar resulted in higher approval ratings.

    I had three lengthy interactions with T-Mobile representatives recently and the more I think about it, the more sure I am that it was simply actual human beings reading AI generated scripts. And god help us all. A few of the things that I consider tells:

    – All three were endlessly chatty, constantly talking while mostly saying very little of actual use. I associate this strongly with generative AI. Every conversation was just a spew of words, with never a break for thought or to register what had been said.
    – On one occasion, the rep said, “Based on my experience, I’m sure that the reason your 5G home internet isn’t working is because the Apple TV in the basement is too far away.” I replied that it streamed HBO Max (or, rather, just “Max”) perfectly well, which demonstrated that it had the bandwidth it needed. But it would never even start to stream Netflix or Prime. He seemed to understand that, and veered off into another direction. But soon he returned with the same diagnosi, phased a little differently, and I repeated the information. This time, she didn’t acknowledge what I had said, but again veered off onto another direction… and then almost immediately returned yet again with, “I’m almost sure that it is because of the distance to the 5G router.”
    – All three repeated the same unlikely things in slightly different fashion. They all marveled that I had been a T-Mobile subscriber for 6 years. Really? Six years? They all indicated they had been working for T-Mobile longer than I had been a subscriber. Really? In a job with notoriously high turnover rates? And then somewhere in the conversation they suddenly blurted out, apropro of nothing the question, “What do you love about T-Mobile?”
    – They all had personal experience with the problem I was having and had successfully solved it. Really? The exact same problem?

    I could go on, but there were a hundred things that in retrospect made me believer they were simply reading off a screen rather than actually engaging. I suspect this is effective for people who need to be told to restart the hardware, but it is going to be hell for people with more sophisticated interactions.

  41. gVOR10 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: There is a case to be made that the Japanese were close to surrender without Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But my attitude is that there is no point to Monday morning quarterbacking the strategic and moral nuances of the inevitable. The sunk money in the Manhattan Project was massive. We’d been at war for going on four years. Europe and China longer. The plans on the table assumed we’d invade with massive casualties. Russia was already seen as a threat to be deterred by having the bomb. There was simply no way we weren’t going to drop it once we had bases close enough and actually had the first two bombs.

  42. Kathy says:


    I never got into the Arrowverse TV shows, all the too many of them. I did two season of batwoman before I lost patience with it.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Flashpoint Paradox was also a 60+ issue series of comic books with crossovers to several other titles beyond the original 61 episodes in The Flash.

    I’m so happy I never got into comic books. I can see myself obtaining all the dozens of issues that tell the whole story.

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Jen: My spiteful nature wants to use that to create original content that sounds like ChatGPT, as a game.

    My laziness wins out, however.

  44. Kathy says:

    Someone had the bright idea to move our department’s server to “The Cloud.”

    It’s driving me crazy. One can open and modify files someone else has open and is modifying. And I’ve no idea what the end result will be if changes are made simultaneously by several people to the same document.

    Also, when I remove certain things and attempt to save a file with a different name (long story), I get a different folder form the one I was working on as default. I misplaced files today for that reason. Not to mention One Drive kind of syncs when it feel like it, so after I change a document and close it, it might not be the version available to everyone else.

    I’ve One Drive and Google Drive (or whatever Alphabet calls it google cloud) at home. I’ve had them since they began. I lost patience trying to determine what they did and how, and in any case I’ve few personal files and don’t care to have remote backups of programs and other junk in the PC. I honestly don’t know whether they even work now or not, and don’t much care.

  45. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DAllenABQ: My old man was flying B-29s out of Saipan at that time. Crash landed on Iwo Jima twice, was once advised to put down in Tokyo Bay and hope for a submarine pick up. His pilot said, “Fuck that shit.” What the Japanese were doing to bomber crews at that time is understandable in hindsight, but nothing any human being should ever have to suffer.

    My old man never said much about the war, only talking about the laughs (like the time a rat bit him on his rather prodigious nose while sleeping on the plane in case of an air raid). (I learned a lot more from the video of the 50th reunion that he couldn’t make because of health issues).

    A buddy of mine’s father was a waist gunner on a B-24 flying out of Italy. Got shot down over Yugoslavia, found by Tito’s partisans and eventually picked up by a sub over a month later. My buddy learned of it when he found the journal his father kept while making his way to the coast (he sent the journal to his father as way of apology for not writing for that month and a half, which is where my buddy found it after his grandfather died) (sadly, the journal has gone MIA, I would not be surprised if his father had something to do with it’s loss)

    Anyway, after hearing this story I asked the old man if he had ever had to bail out. He said, “No, once we were lined up at the bomb bay but the pilot got the engine fires put out.” Me, being the ignorant fuck that I was, was disappointed. I did not know that bailing out over the Pacific was little more than a death sentence, something to be avoided at all costs.

    Long story short, if the war had continued, I doubt I ever would have been.

  46. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I thought both Supergirl and Superman & Lois started strong.

    Supergirl kind of meandered and got bogged down, and got too overtly political (there’s a fine line between earnest and preachy).

    S&L had a first season where Clark’s main superpower seemed to be bringing someone a much needed glass of wine at least once per episode. I enjoyed that, but I guess someone decided that alcohol wasn’t actually the solution to all interpersonal issues.

    I’m a season or so behind, but it’s been fine.

    Not as good as “My Adventures With Superman” (currently telling a story I’m not interested in because I’ve seen too many variations of it, but doing it very well)

    I have a deep love of Superman. Of all the various Superheroes, he seems the most believable.

    A billionaire trying to do good? Pfft. I can only suspend my disbelief so much.

    (Actually, the entire trend of gritty, “realistic” superheroes requires me to suspend disbelief on some things and not others and leaves me confused…)

  47. Kathy says:


    Begin all your sentences, or half of them, with “As a large language model…”

  48. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Having worked at companies where all documents are in the cloud, I never want to go back to “Steve, Jill and Bob each have a copy of the document that they made notes on, but entirely different versions of the document. And it branched when Amy added her design input for the service architecture, but Horace revised the requirements in a different copy, and Phil is trying to reconcile the new requirements with Amy’s design.”

    What happens if two people are modifying a cloud document? Something. And then it’s happened and we all have to live with the consequences, but there’s just one now. We have certainty, of a sort.

    (I would like to be able to add private comments to shared documents — prepping for a meeting? Mark up the doc. Half the time your questions are answered later on in the doc so you don’t want them shared until you’re done, they’re just for you.)

  49. Kathy says:


    The problem is we have very specific requirements for these documents, and very specific corrections, too. They are for proposals presented to government agencies, not stuff for meetings or even for customers. Seriously, small changes can get you disqualified.

    On your other post, even in the 90s Batman The Animated Series, Bruce was merely a millionaire. I’m sure that makes things different.

    As to the latest Superman cartoon, I like it. Partly that Clark has no clue about his past or what he can do with his powers, partly the youthful Lois and Jimmy trying to break into the news business.

  50. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: Do you have any evidence of AI programs having been taught such a tactic? On your discussion with whoever’s tech people, one of the things I’m afraid we’ll have to get used to is that even when we’re talking to live people, we won’t be taking to people who know the product because such people will be too costly to have working phones.

  51. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Your fear is the breakthrough that Stan Lee brought to Marvel in the 70s that led to increased mail subscriptions and made comics a “must buy” item for readers. Until story arcs, I bought whichever magazine had the most interesting story. Afterwards, buying was driven by FOAM.

  52. Slugger says:

    On Saipan and Okinawa the Japanese Imperial Forces used civilians as cannon fodder making unarmed school boys charge emplaced American troops. They pushed mass suicide. On Saipan they ran civilians off a cliff as a demonstration of civilian resistance. The bombings late in the war were terrible, but clearly the Emperor had less regard for Japanese peoples’ lives than Harry Truman.
    The people of Okinawa were quite upset when the Japanese government tried to whitewash this.

  53. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I prefer long series I don’t pay for specifically, like on TV or streaming, and that don’t take up too much of my time. I know I pay for streaming, but I would anyway, or quit watching TV almost entirely (there’s very little left on cable).

    At some point keeping up with multiple threads across several TV shows or books, just begins to feel like work rather than entertainment.