Monday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open 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

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    Comparing Russian, Ukrainian forces two years into war

    Military operations in Ukraine have cost Russia up to $211 billion, and the country has lost $10 billion in canceled or paused arms sales, according to the Pentagon. At least 20 medium to large Russian naval vessels have been sunk in the Black Sea, while 315,000 Russian soldiers have either been killed or wounded, the department has found.

    You have to go to the article to see the charts but…

    The London-based think tank also recently updated its Military Balance+ database, which assesses the defense capabilities of militaries around the world. The following compares select system types and data points between Russia and Ukraine, based on data from IISS, with footnotes at the bottom of this article. The data is current as of November, meaning it accounts for nearly two years of war.

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  2. Scott says:

    Also,

    31,000 Ukrainian troops killed since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Zelenskyy says

    “31,000 Ukrainian military personnel have been killed in this war. Not 300,000, not 150,000, not whatever Putin and his deceitful circle have been lying about. But nevertheless, each of these losses is a great sacrifice for us”, Zelenskyy said at the “Ukraine. Year 2024” forum in Kyiv.

    A U.S. intelligence report declassified in mid-December 2023 estimated that 315,000 Russian troops had been killed or wounded in Ukraine. If accurate, the figure would represent 87% of the roughly 360,000 troops Russia had before the war, according to the report.

    Independent Russian news outlet Mediazona said Saturday that about 75,000 Russian men died in 2022 and 2023 fighting in the war.

    A joint investigation published by Mediazona and Meduza, another independent Russian news site, indicates that the rate of Russia’s losses in Ukraine is not slowing and that Moscow is losing about 120 men a day.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gavin Newsom launches red-state abortion ads over ‘war on travel’

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday broadened his incursion into red America, unveiling the first in a series of TV ads that accuses conservative officials of holding women hostage by imposing restrictions on their travel for reproductive care.

    Newsom’s new ad, which debuted Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” will air in Tennessee, where a state representative is trying to outlaw transporting a minor for an abortion. Under the Tennessee proposal, adults who engage in “ abortion trafficking” — helping pregnant minors get the procedure out-of-state without parental permission — could be charged with a felony that carries up to 15 years in prison.

    Newsom’s ad opens with a young woman handcuffed to a hospital bed as she cries out for help. “Trump Republicans want to criminalize young women who travel to receive the reproductive care they need,” a voiceover says. “Don’t let them hold Tennessee women hostage.”

    Good on him.

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  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Yesterday, @CSK:, linked to an article discussing strange goings on in the Leominster Woods. It occurred to me later that the late, great satirist, Art Buchwald, attributed the source of the much blamed”outside agitators” to cave in those same Leominster Woods.

    Also following up from yesterdays discussion on Dr T’s GOP Disunity piece, there are a number of articles up today in the main stream and pundit blogs, discussing high levels of rejection of trump by R voters and what that may mean.

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  5. Bill Jempty says:

    Is there a shortage of bottled water and toilet paper in Hawaii right now?

    What’s your plan for the apocalypse? I’ll tell you what mine is: death. I am not really built for battle – I need five cups of coffee just to function and I have terrible allergies. My body can’t even handle pollen, it’s not going to do well with nuclear war. Plus, even if I was hardier – who wants to live a few extra months in a completely destroyed world?

    Billionaires. Billionaires do. As you have probably noticed bunkers have become the ultimate status symbol among the 1%. The bunker craze, accelerated by the pandemic, has been going on for a while now. However I’m starting to think that bunker-fever is getting out of hand. The rich are no longer content with run-of-the-mill $500,000 survival shelters, they’re taking things to the next level: a development which should probably worry us all.
    Biden can end the bombing of Gaza right now. Here’s how
    Mehdi Hasan
    Read more

    Look, for example, at Mark Zuckerberg. In December Wired published an in-depth report detailing how the Meta CEO has been constructing a 5,000-sq-ft underground shelter on his 1,400-acre compound in Hawaii. Very normal! Very cool! According to planning documents reviewed by Wired, the compound will be completely self-sufficient with its own food and water supplies. The price tag for the entire project is over $270m. It’s also shrouded in secrecy and people involved with the project are bound by non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). “The only other time you see that is when you’re doing secure military installations,” one local construction industry official affiliated with the site told Wired. “For a private project to have an NDA attached to it is very rare.”

    Two comments on this news item, if you believe it, because that is all the time I have for it.

    1- How can a project be shrouded in secrecy and reported in the MSM?
    2- Again if true, Zuckerberg is forgetting movies like this or a television episode here where the populace attacks people in a bunker or a spaceship leaving a doomed earth.
    3- How could you keep a massive project secret on such a small place as the Hawaiian Islands?

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Bill Jempty:
    Billionaires who survive the apocalypse will need men with guns to protect them. At which point those lovely compounds will belong to the men with the guns.

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  7. Matt says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Your post reminded me of an article read a while back.

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2022/sep/04/super-rich-prepper-bunkers-apocalypse-survival-richest-rushkoff

    Your comment reminded me of this part

    Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system, and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?”

    My thought at the time mirrored yours.

    The solutions that the billionaires proposed were absolutely hilariously stupid.

    The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed “in time”.

    @Bill Jempty:

    3- How could you keep a massive project secret on such a small place as the Hawaiian Islands?

    Well the fewer people involved and the most “isolated” those people are the easier it is to keep a secret. Sure it’s obvious to the few locals but

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  8. Monala says:

    @Sleeping Dog: and the NYT’s finger on the scales continues:

    For its part, The New York Times described Biden’s 96 percent win as “an uncertain measure of wider enthusiasm” while heralding Trump’s 60 percent win over Haley as “a crushing blow in her home state” in its respective South Carolina primary headlines.)

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  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I vaguely remember a science fiction book that had modern (Vietnam era?) soldiers end up either back in medieval times or on some planet that was at a medieval technology level. My (admittedly very vague recollection) was the story only briefly focused on what they would do with their overwhelming firepower… and then fast forwarded to a year or two later when most of them were dead and the remaining soldiers were in service to a king. I remember thinking, “Sure! After all, every soldier has more weapons a President or Prime Minister. And some even have access to nukes.” I think the problem for billionaires is that loyalty has been bought with money only they have access to. Once that falls apart, they will have to somehow come out on top in the new economy. Something tells me that isn’t happening with Elon Musk or Koch family.

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  10. gVOR10 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    At which point those lovely compounds will belong to the men with the guns.

    A few years ago I tried to read Nozick’s Anarchy, State, And Utopia. I tried, I really tried. But I read to be entertained or informed, and obviously neither was going to happen. And at great length. Nozick was building a castle in the air, and adding draw bridges, and crenellations, and bay windows, and rain gutters, and leaf guards, …. All built on the foundation of a “dominant protective association” that was obviously going to turn into a protection racket headed by a warlord.

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  11. Kathy says:

    SCOTUS is holding oral arguments today concerning content moderation on social media.

    Since the tech companies, as I see it, are asserting their right to choose what’s published and not published on their data mining platforms, the most logical inference is they can, because they have a right to exert an editorial function.

    This undermines their claim for protection against liability under the now infamous Section 230.

    The challenge for the Crow/Leo court, is how to allow the data mining companies to exert editorial functions without calling them editorial functions.

    If they can’t moderate content at all, then they’ll be even worse than Xitter is now, and they’ll hemorrhage product in great quantities; and then what data will they be able to mine, never mind sell?

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  12. Kathy says:

    The latest iteration of bean soup cot mixed results.

    I knew adding shredded chicken would turn it into a stew, which was fine. Adding black beans and marrow bones greatly improved the flavor and texture. So far, so good. But unaccountably I forgot to add tomato sauce to the mix.

    I did get all my ingredients in place beforehand, using the recipe to check them. the packet of tomato pure was right there on the counter, next to the multi pot. I think I felt rushed for some reason transferring the broth made with the chicken to the multi pot and adding the soaked beans.

    And I noticed I’d fail to add it while I was ladling the stew into a container. Too late to do anything…

    It’s till good, I tasted it after releasing the pressure, and even added some more paprika and turmeric (and could have added the sauce then and used the saute function to bring it to a boil). It’s just not done right.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    If you wanted to travel back to the middle ages, a modern gun would be useful only until you ran out of ammo. Ammo is heavy, and since you’d be using violence and threats of violence, the resistance would be counting the bullets.

    If you’re going down this path you’re going to want a good recipe for gunpowder and some relatively advanced smelting and casting techniques. Very hard to make a nine millimeter round, let alone create a pistol from scratch. But with a supply of gunpowder you can fashion muskets, or better yet, cast a decent cannon. Find a likely baron, build him a pair of cannon, blow a hole in his enemy’s walls. Besties for life.

    A backpack stuffed with men’s razors, Bic lighters and penicillin might serve you just as well if you prefer a subtler approach, one less likely to engender opposition. A close and bloodless shave, effortless fire starting and a cure for the plague. Knowledge is another commodity. Teach basic sanitation – medieval soldiers had a distinct tendency to die of cholera and typhus, and if they stopped shitting upstream and periodically boiled their clothing and bedding you’d have a much healthier and thus more powerful army.

    If you were to show up later, say in the 16th or 17th century, find a budding naval power and supply them with vitamin C and a solid, rewindable watch. A navy free of scurvy and able to calculate longitude before anyone else would dominate the oceans.

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  14. steve says:

    Nice piece here about how well the energy markets have adopted to the Houthi attacks and Russian sanctions and OPEC cut in production of oil. All of those negatives and oil prices are still good. Of note a big part of that is that the US is pumping a record amount of oil. So while the GOP claims that Biden is destroying the oil industry it is prospering as never before. As the article points out it is actually the industry that decides how much to pump and POTUS doesnt have much real influence, but if you believe POTUS matters Biden should get his due.

    Same site also has a very nice piece on why Israel was surprised on 10/7. A multitude of reasons including groupthink, troops pulled from Gaza to the West Bank, etc but its clear that there were a lot of warnings that activity was increasing and an attack more likely but the political leaders did not want to believe the warnings. Also interesting was that they noted that there are a lot of women working at lower levels of the intel services, the people who were most actively predicting the increased risk of attack, and that chauvinism towards the women influenced the decision to ignore their warnings.

    https://warontherocks.com/2024/02/red-sea-shocks-and-the-new-more-stable-normal/

    Steve

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  15. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    One of H. Beam Piper’s Paratime Police stories, goes something like that.

    A Pennsylvania state trooper gets stranded in a parallel timeline that’s got a medieval kind of technological development, which does include gunpowder. The problem is gunpowder is controlled by a religious sect, which holds the secret of making it. So they dole it out as they please to the four or five warring kingdoms in the area.

    The state trooper uses up the ammo in his personal weapon in short order, but he teaches his hosts to make gunpowder. They already have canons, but not handheld firearms. So they break up the monopoly and shortly take over the region.

    In a novella by L. Sprague de Camp, a man gets stranded in Rome at the time of Justinian. His attempts at gunpowder fail to produce a workable weapon (IMO because he only knew how to make meal powder and not grain powder). But his knowledge of the near term future and his successful attempt to make distilled spirits, allows him to rise in the Goth hierarchy in Italy.

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  16. EddieInCA says:

    A data point for 2024:

    Trump underperformed the 538 polling average in South Carolina by 8 full points this time. That’s completely consistent with him under-performing by seven in each of New Hampshire and Iowa. The polls in aggregate are way off and over-representing Trump voters.

    That tracks with my thoughts, and anecdotes. Now with the trend slowly moving towards Biden, I’ll be curious at what point the media narrative turns from “Biden is behind”, to “Biden is winning.” We now have a polls Quinnipiac, showing a Biden lead, and the other Trump leading polls show Biden closing the gap. Every one of them. As we get new data processed, expect some of those polling screens to change to better represent the actual electorate, which should help Biden numbers.

    Dems keep over-performing in actual elections, which polling hasn’t seemed to catch up to yet.

    Lastly, listening to Allan Lichtman today, who thinks Biden is not only leading, but leading comfortably, make me even more confident. And I’m the guy calming people down, saying “Chill. The old man is gonna be fine.”

    But we still have to do the work to get people to show up.

    BTW, Lichtman has never been wrong in predicting a presidential winner.

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  17. gVOR10 says:

    NYT can be so bad at times and so good at others. Here’s a very good piece on ties between the CIA and Ukrainian intelligence. They’ve been close for a decade. Part of Putin’s thinking was that the CIA was aggressively manipulating and controlling Ukraine when the reality was more the opposite. The Ukrainians were courting the CIA and providing valuable intelligence in return for any help.

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  18. gVOR10 says:

    @EddieInCA: I hope the narrative doesn’t change too quickly to Biden leading. We want Dems scared. And the MSM’s assumption Hillary would win got us Trump the last time.

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  19. DK says:

    @EddieInCA:

    A data point for 2024:

    Where is this quote from?

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  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: It was very convenient for the State Trooper to know how to make gunpowder. 😛

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, if he watched original Trek, he’d know that Captain Kirk quickly and easily made gunpowder, out of carbon, sulfur and saltpeter, to take down the Gorn.

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  22. EddieInCA says:

    @DK:

    Sorry. Thought I had included it.

    The Status Kuo

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  23. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I won’t say that I know how, but I know what the ingredients are: charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur. I’ve an idea of the proportions. So with the materials at hand and some time and space to experiment, I’d be able to recreate it in a few days or weeks. I even know how to test it without the need to blow it up.

    Then things get a bit harder.

    Once you have the ratio and mixture down, you get a fine powdery substance called meal powder (it looks like flour, hence the name). It will burn and blow up, but not very well. What you want is grain powder.

    It’s made by moistening the meal powder, shaping it into patties or cakes, and letting it dry off. Then it needs to be broken up, but not so much as to grind it back into meal powder. This seems tricky.

    I’ve never done it before. I’ve no idea where to get sulfur, either, or how pure it needs to be, or how to refine it if need be, and it’s a substance that requires some care in handling. It was known in ancient times, though. So this is all theoretical, but simply knowing what goes into the mix is a big step up.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’ve idly thought about this over the years and I figure the best tool a pink and pampered guy like me would have would be the scientific method and, locally, an opportunity to convince someone who could sponsor me that I would be worth the investment. I’d head right to materials science.

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  25. Jen says:

    The number of conservatives saying they will “protect IVF” and “will stop any and all efforts to ban IVF” is ABSOLUTELY F*&KING ENRAGING. (See: Lindsey Graham, Rep. Nancy Mace, etc.)

    You’d have to be a complete idiot to not understand the implications of the “personhood for embryos” crap that the GOP has been pushing for YEARS, and now that oh, look, the consequences of those actions has come home to roost they are all now on TV and social media screeching about how they will protect IVF.

    I’d ask if they think we are stupid but the answer is yes, yes they think voters are that dumb.

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  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    charcoal, saltpeter, and sulfur

    Given that there will be a huge language barrier (my understanding is that Old English would be greek to a modern English speaker, and I assume the same applies to pretty much any language (don’t tell the French!)), how would you locate the saltpeter and the sulphur? If I came across fairly pure sulfur I suppose I could identify it, but I have no idea what saltpeter is and where it comes from. I vaguely remember something about urine? But I wouldn’t bet on it, considering how many things uringe was randomly used for back in the “good old days”.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen:

    You’d have to be a complete idiot to not understand the implications of the “personhood for embryos” crap

    I don’t think that was their error. I think they never really understood just what they were letting the Federalist Society do. The Alabama judge is a f*cking religious nutball, a Seven Mountains Dominionist, and not just in his spare time either. He gives speeches about it. Very, very few Republican politicians are concerned with policy or the effects of what the appointments they champion or the laws they pass will be. Everything of that nature is handled at the highest levels and are not subject to discussion or vote.

    In days past, Democrat or Republican, everyone knew a snake handler when they saw one and they would work together to keep them off the bench. Today it’s gotten so bad that on the Supreme Court we have Amy Coney Barret, a religious fanatic and a literal cult member (no, I don’t mean cult of personality) and no one gives a sh*t because she seems like such a nice pretty white lady.

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  28. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Something tells me that isn’t happening with Elon Musk or Koch family.

    Meanwhile Musk is complaining on Twitter that he cannot use his new laptop because he cannot figure out how to get past the screen that asks for you to create or use a MS account to log into your machine. 10 seconds with google would give him multiple tutorials on how to get in without a MS account.

    Community notes that you can get in without an account and Musk of course responded with another tweet to argue that the community notes is wrong…

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My mistake. 🙁

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  30. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I think the universal plot laws of time travel and parallel timelines, will ensure one gets stranded in a place where either 1) the inhabitants speak modern English, or 2) the inhabitants speak a language the protagonist conveniently knows.

    Saltpeter can be obtained from piles of dung, somehow. I think it was known in ancient times. Sulfur, as noted, I’ve no clue. But it was known in ancient times.

    @Matt:

    I find it odd the richest tech bro in the world does not have a flunky or twenty to solve his tech problems, which he should be able to solve himself easily anyway.

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  31. Kylopod says:

    @EddieInCA:

    BTW, Lichtman has never been wrong in predicting a presidential winner.

    That has a couple of caveats.

    In 2000 he predicted Al Gore would win the election. After Bush secured the presidency (I refuse to say “won the election”), Lichtman clarified that it was a prediction of the popular vote, not the electoral vote.

    In 2016 he predicted Trump would win the election. When Trump won the EC but lost the popular vote, Lichtman clarified that ever since 2000 he had begun centering his predictions on the EC, not the popular vote.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Saltpeter is sodium nitrate (or sodium nitrite, I’m always getting the two mixed up). But I think you can distill it from celery because all the “uncured” meats/sausages on the market claim to be “nitrate/ite free”–except for the trace amount that is found in celery juice/extract (which, curiously enough, seems to be about the same amount as is added in non “free” products, hmmm…).

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  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    If you’re going down this path you’re going to want a good recipe for gunpowder and some relatively advanced smelting and casting techniques.

    Have you read Eric Flint’s 1632 et sequelae? The McGuffin is that a medium-sized West Virginia coal mining town gets plucked from its spacetime home and dropped into Thuringia in the middle of the 30-years War. Doughty American know-how and gumption are applied.

    Snark aside, the author (and later co-authors and contributing authors) tried to be realistic about what could be done with period resources, labor, politics, etc. I’m always intrigued when the hardest things aren’t the ones I would have expected.

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  34. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    Saltpeter can be obtained from piles of dung, somehow. I think it was known in ancient times. Sulfur, as noted, I’ve no clue. But it was known in ancient times.

    Sure, it’s been around and known since ancient times. But the thing is, you have to be able to find it. To ask for it. What would you say about sulfur? The yellow stinky stuff? There are a lot of things fitting that description. And, as for me, I have no idea what properties saltpeter has, so couldn’t even ask for it.

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  35. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    my understanding is that Old English would be greek to a modern English speaker

    Hwæt!?

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  36. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Assuming the universal plot laws of time travel and parallel timelines held, one would start by finding an apothecary or a physician.

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  37. CSK says:

    Alvin Bragg has requested that a partial gag order be imposed on Trump prior to his hush money trial.

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  38. DrDaveT says:

    @Kathy:

    Sulfur, as noted, I’ve no clue. But it was known in ancient times.

    Sulfur is fairly easy, if you live in a geologically active area. The gases vented from fumaroles and mudpots are full of it; you can just condense the captured vapors and scrape the yellow sulfur off the container when it dries. You can also collect the deposits that form around the fumarole. Native sulfur is also common in salt domes, which were also known in ancient times.

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  39. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: Do you use any of this knowledge (including stuff about aviation and cooking) in your day job? Because you seem remarkably underutilized there 🙂

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  40. inhumans99 says:

    The NYT says that Hungary’s Parliament voted to let Sweden become a member of NATO, sounds like they were the last holdout and Sweden is now part of NATO.

    Also, Kathy, the NYT also reports that the Supremes seem skeptical of laws that block sites like Facebook from being allowed to police the content they allow on their online platforms.

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  41. Kathy says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I had no idea about any of that.

    I recall plenty of experiments in high school chemistry involving sulfur, but I don’t think we ever precipitated any.

    @Franklin:

    Oh, this tedious, mind-numbing job would be far less boring if I did.

    Even when I do, I don’t. One time we needed to know the percentage of calories from proteins in a product. So I said, “Take the grams of protein per 100 grams of product from the nutritional table on the label and multiply by four. Then determine what percentage that is from the stated calories per 100 grams on the same table.”

    Instead, the supervisor spent half an hour chasing down someone from quality control, who informed them that proteins have four calories per gram. So just see how many grams of protein the label says there are in 100 grams….

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  42. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Hwæt!?

    Exactly what I say!

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  43. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    my understanding is that Old English would be greek to a modern English speaker

    Even Middle English would, to an extent. This fact is undercut by the fact that English orthography was somewhat frozen in time after the invention of the printing press, so that writing that looks relatively modern would have sounded much more foreign in speech. I’ve listened to an attempted reconstruction of how Chaucer’s text is supposed to have sounded when spoken, and believe me, without seeing the writing it sounds totally like a foreign language.

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  44. becca says:

    @DrDaveT: mm-mm, fumaroles…

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  45. CSK says:

    @Kylopod:

    Oh, here we are entering one of my few fields of expertise. Apparently northern Middle English was a more advanced form of the language, but the London dialect became the basis of what we speak now, simply because more people spoke it back in Chaucer’s time.

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  46. Kingdaddy says:

    Lest Darkness Fall is a good story about a time traveler who winds up in late imperial Rome. Not much about the logistics of bringing firearms to an ancient or medieval society, but a lot about how someone with foreknowledge, and some familiarity with technologies beyond that time period, could steer events.

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  47. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    That sounds like a book I’d enjoy. Getting ready to go to DC (wife has a thing at the Kennedy Center) then it’s off to Spain for a couple weeks. I need reading materiel.

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  48. Kathy says:

    On the streaming front, I’ve found the Netflix subscription with ads rather easy to take. I’ve been streaming all of Disenchantment from the beginning, limiting myself to no more than 3 eps per day. I’d say I get ads every four eps or so, certainly not on every ep played.

    This may be a function of the local market, or it may be what Netflix considers sufficient. I’ve no idea.

    Back when HBO Max became plain max, the change didn’t take place in Mexico. For a few days, the app logo on the TV did say “max” only, but changed back to HBO Max. Well, emails sent through February say the service will be renamed plan max tomorrow. No clue how that will change the shows and movies offered.

    I guess we’ll see.

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  49. Kathy says:

    @inhumans99:

    I read a bit on that on CNN. I’m concerned how lightly some justices use “censorship” on a first amendment context.

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  50. Kathy says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    Thanks. I’d completely blanked on the title.

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  51. Matt says:

    @Kathy: It explains a lot about Musk though. So over confident in his own brilliance he cannot be bothered to spend less than 10 seconds on google to confirm…

    Thanks to a koch bro level libertarian I worked with I learned how to make black powder using urine, manure, ash and straw. It takes several months to do though.

    @Michael Reynolds: You just laid out my problem with basically every mainstream post apocalyptic story too. “lets shoot bullets off like it’s a fire sale because we’ll never run out!!”. “Lets drive around like idiots and waste cars because we’re never going to run out of gasoline or spare parts!!”

    I can’t enjoy a lot of shows because it’s clear the writers have no fucking idea how anything is made.

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  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy:

    I’d say I get ads every four eps or so

    That’s how it starts….

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  53. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    That sounds like a book I’d enjoy.

    More opinions available here. I enjoyed it enough that I re-read bits of it now and then, and have read quite a few (though by no means all) of the franchise books that it spawned. It’s fluff, but entertaining and well-researched fluff.

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  54. Kathy says:

    @Matt:

    I sometimes ask things I could google. I’m not sure why. I mean, for complex things, it’s best to ask a rational, thinking person. Still…

    What I find hilarious in movies is when they shoot long, long, long streams of bullets on full auto, and never even have to reload. Or how they make modern, electrically-driven Gatling guns sound like Tommy Guns.

    @MarkedMan:

    Well, yes.

    Sometime Youtube goes haywire with ads. The other day, I got three ad breaks during a 12 minute video (not including the in-video ad by the host).

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  55. Beth says:

    Dear OTB Letters, I never thought it would happen to me…

    Lol, took me a day to recover from Saturday night, but that was an awesome night. So, Friday night, I went to a mainstream rave at an actual club. Went with the rave fam, which is an amazing collection of weirdos and degenerates. We partied so hard that some of us didn’t make it to saturday night.

    The Saturday night rave was a true underground held in some half abandoned storefront. It was on the Westside of Chicago, on a cold night and there was no coat check. I got dropped off and my Lyft driver Back to the Future’d outta there. I was a little nervous, mostly because I was half naked and very out of place. A couple other ravers found me and we went in search of the door. A couple of homeless dudes saw us walking down the ally and figured that whatever three have naked white people with no coats were doing was something they did not want to be involved in and noped outta there really fast. Lol, I don’t think the other two noticed, but I did. I don’t blame them.

    Inside was awesome. Got a free joint (don’t smoke, gave it to a friend). They were playing Powerpuff Girls on some projectors. Lol, then they turned out the smoke machines and I figured we were all going to end up on the news having asphyxiated. There was so much much fake smoke. The DJ’s were straight fire. Amazing.

    The our group ended up being 5 guys and 2 girls (tallest and shortest of the group). I didn’t really know two of the guys, they were friend of a friend. They were cool as hell. They basically just watched us be whack jobs and smiled. Two of the guys I know are like very manly men. Like, super masculine guys. Gym rats, macho, manly dudes. The guy, who is gay, turned to me and pointed out that one of the amazing things about our rave family is that the men are so secure in who they are that they are respectful of him and me. They all treat me like I’m just a really tall girl. I wish more men were like these guys.

    The highlight of the night, however, was the spank cage. You’ve read this far and like, hope the buildup was worth it. The spank cage was a fenced off area with a Domme in it with an assortment of paddles and floggers. At first, one of the burly macho guys was like, “I kinda wanna do it, but I’m kinda scared”. I’ve got nothing to lose, so I wandered in and was like, “My friends are scared of you, what’s the deal.” The deal was, for a tip, she would whale on you for either as long as you could take it or whatever time she felt the line would deal with. He went first and got a cute little bare handed spanking. He was cute.

    After him, I wandered in and was like, “lol, straight boys are sooooo cute. Use that paddle and go to town.” Friends, let me tell you, it was a REVALATION! I highly, highly recommend having a professional work you over with a paddle. I was holding on to the chainlink fence so hard I thought I was going to break my fingers. After she was done I could have fought god. Instead I gave her a hug.

    Later in the night, another friend wanted to try it, so this time we all went. He ended up using a larger paddle and at one point his eyes bugged out of his head like a Loony Toons cartoon character. My second time I had her use the paddle and the floggers. IT WAS WILD. It was like, intoxicating and focusing at the same time. I was mentally all over the place. I was laughing hysterically as she pounded away at me.

    If you ever find yourself with the chance to do it, I HIGHLY recommend visiting your local spank cage. For me, it was just pure happiness. The music, the intoxicants, the fog machine, the two girls dressed in white like some raver Dr. Zhivago lunatic extras.

    It is good to be alive.

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  56. Beth says:

    Now, for something radically different.

    In terms of time travel stories, I thought S. M. Stirling did a good job with his “Island in the Sea of Time” books. I thought he did a nice job of at least thinking things through. I don’t know if there is an actual direct connection between those books and his Emberverse books or if he just left it strongly implied.

    I think the Emberverse books did a good job of showing how bad it would get during an apocalypse and how various societies would end up cropping up. The initial main villain was a history professor who got a bunch of gang leaders to be his initial vassals. I don’t think our billionaire overlords would last 10 minutes in an apocalypse. I certainly hope I don’t.

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  57. dazedandconfused says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    With a cannon barrel of bamboo, IIRC. Yeah, that’d work….

    Never really became a Star Trek fan in general, the franchise became too preachy for me, but some of those first year’s episodes were good sci-fi, capable of holding their own with the best. “Charley X” springs to mind. Plots that O’Henry and Rod Serling would’ve been proud of.

    Later on they occasionally managed that here and there…one night channel surfing I came upon “The Inner Light”, the story of how a man lived a full life to advanced old age in his head. Marriage, kids, grandkids, the whole nine yards, only to awaken to find himself still the man he was..with another life yet to live.

    I paid some attention after seeing that wonderful story, but soon determined it had been highly atypical.

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  58. dazedandconfused says:
  59. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Matt:
    Start with, say, 200 rounds, in the full knowledge that as soon as you run out of lead you’re dead. You will not be spraying rounds everywhere like Hans Gruber’s guys.

    I tend to sneer at world-building that ignores logistics. Figure out the economics. Figure out food sources. That’s part of the fun.

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  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    @dazedandconfused:
    I stumbled on a Next Gen, Season 3 ep in which data constructs an android daughter and allows her to choose her own gender. Rather advanced. And another that was a metaphor either for Israel/Palestine or Ireland, and was surprisingly nuanced.

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  61. Matt says:

    @Michael Reynolds: One of the early episodes of voyager made a point to state that they had 38 torpedoes and that they couldn’t replace them. I was like cool they are actually going to face real logistical problems. 123 torpedoes later with no explanation..
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIGxMENwq1k
    I’m not even sure how many shuttle crafts they went through. A dozen or so?

    When writing a story I inevitably end up theory crafting how logistics and other “mundane stuff” would work and it always ends up affecting the story without me expecting it.

    I have to try really hard to turn that part of my brain off when watching something like star wars.

    @dazedandconfused: That’s considered one of the must see episodes of star trek TNG. “chain of command” is also one of them (specifically part 2). Deep space nine managed quite a few too.

    @Michael Reynolds: “The Offspring” is one of the episodes people like to bring up when MAGAs start complaining about star trek recently being woke.
    Are you talking about “the high ground” episode? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHsoPPynIIc

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