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. MarkedMan says:

    Re: Biden’s “gaffe” about Papua New Guinea cannibalism – however impolitic it was to mention it, the truth is that cannibalism was widely practiced in certain remote parts of Papua New Guinea during WWII and in fact at least up to the sixties, and still resurfaces from time to time. It was prevalent enough that a disease transmitted by eating human brains was well known to the inhabitants, who called it kuru.

  2. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: I remember hearing about this as a child from people who had been missionaries in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s, especially regarding kuru.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan: @Mikey:

    I think it is very insensitive of both of you to deride and condemn local cuisines.

  4. Kathy says:

    Not my best day cooking yesterday.

    The idea to use Fritos for breading chicken cooked in the air fryer worked exactly as I hoped. The result is crispy and delicious. However, I had trouble pulverizing the Fritos. I used a rolling pin over the corn chips in a bag. I distinctly recall having done the same years ago, but I got something more like large Frito crumbs this time. Yes, I could have used a food processor or mini chopper, but by then I was committed and didn’t want additional things to wash.

    Worse yet was the chicken. I got chicken medallions from a store I’ve used many times before. Man, they’ve gone down in quality. And I mean down. A chicken breast medallion is supposed to be a firm, round slice of chicken breast. These looked to have been pounded flat. They also tended to fall apart when I picked them up. I’m done using that store, especially since their ground beef was replaced by pink slime.

    Moving on, I made a sort of mushroom risotto. More like rice and barley cooked in a mushroom stew. It was good, I figured out the barley (at long last*), and it was easy to cook. Except, I planned to use sherry rather than white wine, as that goes better with mushrooms IMO. Apparently I had run out and din’t realize it. I could have added some wine, but I didn’t feel like opening a whole bottle to use half a cup.

    Next time.

    *It needs to be soaked like beans, the longer the better.

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    Today is Earth Day.
    Save gas, fart in a jar!

  6. Kathy says:

    The other day I saw a video review of an automatic stirrer. In the review, it’s used to make risotto, and the results seem better than the usual method of stir when you can and until you get tired or bored.

    I went looking for it or similar ones online, and spotted a few that seemed worthwhile. TL;DR, they’re too expensive. I’m sure they’d help make better risotto, but then it’s too much money for a device good for only one dish.

    I assume there are other dishes that could benefit from a few minutes, or a great many minutes, of constant, gentle stirring, but I can’t think of any. I’ve certainly cooked no others.

    Limited use cases would explain why there are few brands (as opposed to instant pots or air fryers, where where it seems every brand has their own), and why they cost so much. I’m talking north of US $150 including shipping.

    I paid far less for the ice cream machine. Now, that one is also single use for one thing, but I’ve been making ice cream every week for about two months now. I won’t make risotto every month, let alone every week.

  7. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: I’m not sure you are really getting this market capitalism/consumerism thing. We’re not buying the automatic pot stirrer because it’s useful, we buy it because it’s available and we don’t have one.

    ETA: And the fact of it being expensive relative to it’s utility makes it more valuable as a conspicuous consumption item.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Mikey: When my wife was in the Peace Corps in the Fiji Islands in the late ’80s she heard guys from two other islands ( I think Tonga was one) rib each other. One would call the other a “Biscuit Planter” and the response would be “Shoe Eater”. She asked what this was about and it turns out “Biscuit Planter” equalled “Bonehead” because long ago the chief of his island supposedly received a tin of biscuits from a British ship and he loved them so much that when they were almost gone he ordered the remainder be planted so he would get biscuit trees. “Shoe Eater” on the other hand, meant “Boneheaded Cannibal” because legend had it that when they encountered their first shoe wearing foreigners, they tried to eat the shoes along with the feet, not realizing they weren’t part of the body. No idea if it’s true but I thought it interesting these were considered good natured insults suitable for ribbing between friends.

    And lest anyone think I’m singling South Pacific out for canabilism, my Irish ancestors were painting themselves blue and eating each other well into the era of recorded history.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Hah! I just finished my long comment on “shoe eaters” and then clicked onto your comment, which began, “Not my best day cooking yesterday. A bit jarring!

  10. Neil Hudelson says:


    Two ways to make risotto without having to stir (much).

    Baked risotto, which I’ve seen on some websites as a “new hack” but I’m pretty sure is a much-used method in many parts of Italy. Here’s Garten’s version:
    At times when I’ve done the baked method, the bits of rice near the edges get crispy crunchy. Not bad, it adds a nice contrasting texture every so often, but it might not be what you want.

    And then instant pot method. This has never failed for me, though I’ve only used it with rice, not barley or farro. Those grains might demand stirring in order to release their scant starches.

  11. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I thought that was why people bought vacation homes and watches, not kitchen appliances.

  12. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan: @Mikey: @Michael Reynolds: @Kathy:

    It took only four posts to go from cannibalism to breaded chicken and mushroom risotto. Must be a new OTB record.

    The progression is hilarious.

  13. Scott says:

    Just the thing to make your day more depressing:

    The Evolving Danger of the New Bird Flu

    Spreading to mammal species near you.

  14. Bill Jempty says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think it is very insensitive of both of you to deride and condemn local cuisines.

    One of my short stories*, inspired by Michael Rockefeller** but not anything like what happened there, involves two US government agents searching for the son of a very wealthy family but spend most of the story talking to a local tribeswoman on PNG.

    It is revealed at the very end of the story that she and her people are cannibals. My regret- I didn’t title the short story ‘You are what you eat’.

    One other thing, another author said I’m the only writer of the niche fiction I do who could ever do one with cannibals. That same author has a short story with a stoned T-Rex in it.

    *- Published in 2014
    **- I didn’t say when the story took place but did make mention of John le Carré’s The Honourable Schoolboy in it. That novel was published in 1977 and the fictional government agency my characters worked for wasn’t created till the mid-1980s. Clearly it is not meant to be Rockefeller.

  15. Kathy says:


    I post reports on my weekend cooking often.

    BTW, I made coffee ice cream, which I’ve yet to try, and today I also got real roasted and ground coffee from Veracruz and Oaxaca. That’s too much caffeine after lunch.

  16. Bill Jempty says:


    It took only four posts to go from cannibalism to breaded chicken and mushroom risotto. Must be a new OTB record.

    The progression is hilarious.

    I’m working hard to bring it back to cannibals as my post above does.

    One cannibal says to the other

    Your wife makes an excellent roast.
    Yes and I’ll miss her.

    Television show about cannibals- The Brady Brunch

    While they are not the same, we’re talking head hunters, for Gilligan’s Island head hunter and NFL MVP Roman Gabriel died at age 83 over the weekend.

  17. CSK says:


    I know you do, and I read them with enjoyment. But you must admit that the sudden jump from cannibalism to risotto is pretty amusing.

  18. Mr. Prosser says:

    Today is Earth Day, the day I hang the hummingbird feeder with care knowing the Broadtails and Black Chinned so0n will be there.

  19. Kathy says:


    I associate cannibalism with other old, outdated, childhood stuff, including bad jokes about cannibals, people with disabilities, and people with mental health issues. So I tend to skip right over and not pay attention to the matter.

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Well, I add barely to the risotto, rather than make a risotto-type dish with barley. I like how it tastes.

    The instant pot idea seems interesting.

  20. Franklin says:

    @MarkedMan: I was laughing about that as well!

  21. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    “…fart in a jar.”

    Someone should tell that to Trump. Apparently the courtroom has become uninhabitable.

  22. Bill Jempty says:


    Hah! I just finished my long comment on “shoe eaters” and then clicked onto your comment, which began, “Not my best day cooking yesterday. A bit jarring!

    I think there was one time on The Munsters when in preparing some magic, one of the ingredients Grandpa had to put in the pot was some form of footwear.

    There was an episode of F Troop where Corporal Agarn while doing a stint as Fort cook, mistakenly cooks one of his boots.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Bill Jempty:

    Do you think it’s weird we eat chicken, turkey. and pork skin, but we wear cow skin?

  24. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I think it is very insensitive of both of you to deride and condemn local cuisines.”

    I think we all understand that Jeffrey Dahmer’s greatest crime was cultural appropriation.

  25. wr says:

    @just nutha: “I’m not sure you are really getting this market capitalism/consumerism thing. We’re not buying the automatic pot stirrer because it’s useful, we buy it because it’s available and we don’t have one.”

    Such a shallow view of consumer capitalism. The correct reason is “we buy it because it’s available and the Joneses don’t have one.”

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I have eaten cow skin, in Ghana. Nothing edible goes to waste.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @wr: OK. I didn’t click on that because I’m afraid this thread (which I started) is quickly descending. But in reality, it was worth a thumbs up.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    Leper jokes…

    Why did they stop the leper Hockey Game?
    There was face off in the corner.

    What did the leper say to the prostitute?
    Keep the tip.

    (Don’t blame me. Blame the ambulance driver that I knew who came in the swill hole where I was sitting at the bar. I watched as at least two people ran out the door gagging after he ripped these off along with a few more. One of them dropped their hamburger on the floor. I only wish I could remember the rest of his repertoire.)

  29. Bill Jempty says:


    Do you think it’s weird we eat chicken, turkey. and pork skin, but we wear cow skin?

    Life is weird.

  30. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Different economic levels, different expressions of conspicuous consumption. It’s practiced at every level where surplus income exists.

  31. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: I don’t. Cowhide is too thick to eat and poultry skin is too thin to make wallets and shoes from. That pork rinds are edible is a pleasant mystery.

  32. just nutha says:

    @wr: Good point! I stand corrected.

    ETA: RE: MarkedMan’s Peace Corps experience. Thank you for the new information. I had no idea skin from cattle was edible. The things one can learn here …

  33. Kathy says:

    @just nutha:

    I’m trying to recall whether cabrito is cooked and served with the skin on or not. If it is, then I’ve eaten goat skin (too long ago).

    Culture affects what’s eaten and not. Biologically speaking, just about the whole cow, except the bones (but including the marrow), hooves, and waste found inside its digestive tract, should be edible to most omnivores and many carnivores.

  34. Scott says:

    News like this just makes me happy. And we don’t get a whole lot of that around here.

    NASA’s Voyager 1 Resumes Sending Engineering Updates to Earth

    For the first time since November, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is returning usable data about the health and status of its onboard engineering systems. The next step is to enable the spacecraft to begin returning science data again. The probe and its twin, Voyager 2, are the only spacecraft to ever fly in interstellar space (the space between stars).

    Launched Sept 5th, 1977, just consider this:

    Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have identical computer systems. The Computer Command System (CCS), the central controller of the spacecraft, has two 18-bit word, interrupt-type processors with 4096 words each of non-volatile plated-wire memory.

    The computers aboard the Voyager probes each have 69.63 kilobytes of memory, total. That’s about enough to store one average internet jpeg file. The probes’ scientific data is encoded on old-fashioned digital 8-track tape machines rather than whatever solid state drive your high-end laptop is currently using.

    Your smallest phone app requires more memory.

    As an old fart, I still get excited about space exploration.

  35. CSK says:


    According to Anthony Bourdain, cabrito al pastor is served and eaten skin-on.

  36. Kathy says:


    I’m surprised NASA has forgotten Pioneers 10 and 11, both of which left the Solar System before the Voyagers did.

    Granted they didn’t return as much useful data on conditions as the Voyagers. But, seriously, there are five probes out and heading out of the Solar System. How can a NASA publication forget 20% of them.


    Then I’ve probably eaten goat skin.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: What do you call a leper in a hot tub?

  38. Grumpy realist says:

    @just nutha: chicken-skin used to be used in making ladies and gentlemen’s fans. Regency period and earlier.

  39. Kathy says:

    This reminds me of time when I used to see kids renting time on a PC at Office Depot or Costco, and the clerk asked them to show they had money on them.

    And there’s this gem: “..Alina Habba, said Engoron “doesn’t even understand basic principles of finance.”

    I think law schools should have a mandatory course for all new students called “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T PISS OFF THE JUDGE!”

  40. Mister Bluster says:

    Supreme Court justices yawn at ‘new evidence’ Kari Lake cited in urgent demand to ban Dominion voting machines, jettison her case without comment
    The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court were uninterested in Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake’s far-reaching attempt to ban Dominion Voting Systems’ machines from use in Arizona elections and beyond, sending her petition to the dust bin despite the hype generated around the failed effort.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Bones are most definitely edible, although you would have to do something to cow bones because of their size. But a small fish was native to the lake I lived by in Ghana, and after futilely trying to debone one of these child’s palm sized things (tilapia? We called them apatwe) my colleague suggested I just “chop the bones” i.e. eat them. I asked the Peace Corps nurse about it and she said as long as I chewed them thoroughly I would get calcium and other hard to get nutrients from them. Bu the time I left I would eat a chicken leg, bone and all. Of course at one point I weighed 40 pounds less than I do now, and while I could stand to lose 10 pounds, 40 was definitely not healthy.

  42. Kathy says:


    There are documented instances of animals eating bones on purpose. I think dog food contains something called bone meal, which I’ve assumed is ground up bones. I’ve also seen people eat the cartilage off chicken pieces (yuck).

    I wonder whether whole bones or bone pieces will be digested before they make their way through the large intestine.

    I’ve also seen large dogs crack bones and eat the marrow inside. They don’t eat the bones, though.

    But fish are not edible 🙂

    Also, well, leave a cadaver out in the open, or in a cave, and even if no animals or insects eat it, bacteria will consume it. But the bones will remain, to be eroded by wind and water, or be fossilized under the right conditions.

  43. DrDaveT says:


    Not my best day cooking yesterday.

    I am delighted by the proximity of this comment to the discussion of kuru.

    (Sorry, late to the party, busy day today.)

  44. DrDaveT says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Two ways to make risotto without having to stir (much).

    My best man, who is a classically trained chef in a previous life, makes risotto in the microwave. Zap; stir; zap; stir; add broth as needed. I’m guessing the continuity of the heat and stirring can’t really matter that much.

  45. DrDaveT says:


    There are documented instances of animals eating bones on purpose.

    Including me.

    When I was a kid, my mother would occasionally buy canned salmon as an upgrade/treat to canned tuna. The most common dish made from it was a salmon croquette, sort of a crabcake-like thing. Most of the cans had at least a couple of salmon vertebrae in with the meat, and my brothers and I would fight over who got to eat the croquette with the bone, because it was delicious.

  46. Kathy says:


    The location of my microwave on a shelf over the counter, kind of makes it this method less convenient (it’s always something).

    And I’m curious. Does your chef friend make a portion of risotto, or a big batch?

  47. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    law schools should have a mandatory course for all new students called “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T PISS OFF THE JUDGE!”

    very very very late to the commentariat today, but life so got in the way. This was the hardest lesson to impart to baby lawyers. Dawg knows, it was soooooo hard.

    Rule #1, of course, is don’t piss off the judicial assistant/clerk. Rule #2 is don’t mouth off to/piss off the judge. very very very bad. never good. Unlike television, never good, no matter how much of a Perry Mason you think you are.

    ETA – There were a number of ESG novels where, in reality (especially in the 30/40/50’s) where Perry’s fanny would have been jailed for contempt.