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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Caspian Sea says to the Gulf of Mexico, “Hold mah beer, watch this!”

    Mark Tingay

    Big jet of fire in the Caspian Sea off Azerbaijan at ~9:30pm local time on the 4th of July.
    First official reports say its a big offshore mud volcano eruption.
    This may be the Makarov Bank mud volcano, which did exactly this in 1958.

    Let’s start a quick evolving thread!

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘He died in agony’: how mistaken identity led to a man’s execution

    In the final minutes of The Phantom, Patrick Forbes’ shattering new documentary on the American death penalty, a prosecutor from Texas who possesses an uncanny resemblance to a grizzly bear shares with us his thoughts on crime and punishment. “The justice system’s about keeping people from killing each other,” Steve Schiwetz begins.

    “Does it work perfectly?” he goes on, the faintest smile flickering disconcertingly across his face. “Of course not, nothing does. We’re humans.”

    And then, in one of several jaw-dropping instances in the movie, he quotes Immanuel Kant. “The crooked timber of humanity, out of which nothing straight can be made. Right?”

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    McWhorter is back and picking on the language police (a rich target).

    Apparently, we must retire victim, survivor, trigger warning, and African-American too. We must do so, that is, if we seek to ignore some linguistic fundamentals while also engaging in distinctly callow sociological calisthenics.


    …the list proscribes calling things crazy or insane, because these terms can be construed as disrespectful of people with actual psychological problems. Better to say bananas.


    One can imagine a future list condemning bananas not just because it too mocks mental illnesses but also, perhaps, because it dismisses the hard work of those who pick the fruit.

  4. Paine says:

    American Greatness needs a better editor. Headline:

    Republican Governors Left Out of White House Meeting on Wildfires

    Second paragraph:

    As wildfire season continues, the summit featured only seven governors in total, from the states of California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming; all are Democrats except for the governors of Utah and Wyoming.

  5. Sleeping Dog says:


    They’re trying too hard to pretend conservatives are being cancelled.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: My guess is that in any movement there are a lot more people that get off on lecturing the insufficiently pure than there are who are actually trying to advance the cause.

  7. Sleeping Dog says:


    Well it is certainly easier, isn’t it? Late night dorm room debates by people in positions of influence.

  8. Michael Cain says:

    @Paine: Local reporting suggests that the phrase “Biden hosted a meeting…” is inaccurate. Rather, Biden and Harris appear to have been add-ons to a long-scheduled virtual meeting of the Western Governors Association and several Cabinet officials on the first day of the WGA’s annual meeting. As a working assumption, I’d go with the White House didn’t actually extend invitations to any individual governors, Biden just spoke to (and probably not with) whichever governors were online at the time.

  9. Kathy says:

    I don’t know how seriously to take this:

    Nightmare scenario: alarm as advertisers seek to plug into our dreams

    On the one hand, it’s reminiscent of Futurama’s Lightspeed Briefs. ON the other, there’s this quote from the piece:

    “Something like 30 million people have these listening, Alexa-type devices in their bedroom. And those devices can play anything they want whenever they want and advertisers could buy advertising time, [for adverts] they want played at 2.30 in the morning,” Stickgold said.

    That’s a real concern.

    I don’t own a “smart” speaker, but the principle would work for cell phones just as well.

  10. becca says:

    @Paine: they know who reads beyond the headline and who doesn’t, I suppose. Kinda like the 2nd Amendment – some people never seem to get to the well-regulated militia part, they stick on the headline.

    And what Sleeping Dog said.

  11. Kathy says:

    The thing about microorganisms, is that they evolve quickly because they reproduce quickly. Reproduction rates vary, but a bacterium that splits every 20 minutes is common. That means it goes through three generations per hour.

    If they also face constant pressures, then natural selection applies to them just as fast, given enough mutations and/or conjugation with other microorganisms.

    Think of vaccines as an evolutionary pressure on SARS-CoV-2. Viruses that try to infect vaccinated people die instead of reproducing, which is a dead end. They likely can’t change enough, not right away, to succeed and spread.

    Now consider what the largest populations of vaccinated people consist of. In most countries priority was given to the elderly and frontline healthcare workers. the latter are a rather small, diverse group. The former a larger and more homogeneous one (biologically speaking). therefore the pandemic virus finds it hard to infect that group.

    What happens is it infects unvaccinated individuals. These tend to be younger (50 and under), and they used to weather the infection better. But this group is where the virus will mutate and become, through natural selection, more effective.

    So whereas younger people were at less risk for the original strain, both for developing symptoms and severe disease, they will become less capable of fending off the variants that evolve to adapt to them.

    Also, if natural immunity is weaker than vaccine immunity, SARS-CoV-2 will find it easier to reinfect unvaccinated people who recovered from an infection than the vaccinated group a a whole.

    As I’ve been saying for months now: it’s not so much a matter of whether an individual gets vaccinated or not, but that we’re all better protected as more people get vaccinated, ideally 100% of the population.

  12. Michael Cain says:


    I don’t own a “smart” speaker, but the principle would work for cell phones just as well.

    One of my retirement hobbies has been building a “bedside appliance” that does various things (alarms, music, hosting web forms for this and that…). Recently I’ve been adding voice commands. I’m sure I could get Alexa add-ons that would do most of it. But I’m moderately paranoid about where my audio samples are sent, and what gets played on the speaker.

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: There are so many instance where my (or anyone else’s) ownership of a computing device is ignored. There are EULA’s a mile long that “allow” it. But it’s my computer. Get your crap off it. It’s just a legal trojan horse.

    I kind of doubt that we will ever see ads at 2:30 am, because if you wake people up with that, the device is likely to get thrown out the window. But we could easily see ads on it in other contexts.

    This is not what I devoted my professional life to computing to see. Not in the slightest.

  14. Teve says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    There are so many instance where my (or anyone else’s) ownership of a computing device is ignored. There are EULA’s a mile long that “allow” it. But it’s my computer. Get your crap off it. It’s just a legal trojan horse.

    my Gmail account fills up with daily spam messages, and my phone number gets spam texts and calls. We invent an amazing new technology, and then allow assholes to render it barely usable.

  15. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:
    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t suppose they’ll wake you up, but rather provide subliminal type cues to make you dream of a brand. We don’t understand dreams well enough to know whether that would work. Stuff like the Futurama dream ad is either impossible or far off into the future.

    I do mind that the phone is listening to things I say when not making a call, issuing voice commands, or recording into it (which I rarely do anyway). My work phone in particular tends to activate the Google assistant often, largely in reaction to what it hears when I run a podcast or audio book while driving.

    That happened a lot when I was reading audio books on the history of the Internet, and on the rise of Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple. Never in any book was the phrase “Hey, Google” spoken, but “Google” was commonly said multiple times in each. It happens less frequently with other books.

    I should look up how to get it to not pay attention to such things.

  16. Kathy says:

    I’m re-watching Star Trek Discovery (of my own free will, why do you ask?) I’m amazed at how many things I’d forgotten from season 2, but not from season 1. I’m also amazed how many things I recalled incorrectly.

    For instancie, I remembered they’d dropped the whole Magical Mushroom Drive (aka spore drive) throughout season 2, but that was way off. It’s no longer central, and they don’t use it as much as on season one, but there was Captain Pike Himself saying “Black Alert,” and ordering the Magical Mushroom Drive into action.

    I’d also remember Paul pulling Hugh back from the Magical Mushroom Network as happening near the end of season 1, not on season 2. And I thought Rebecca Romjin’s Enterprise’s Number One character as appearing on more than three episodes.

    As to criticism, of which there has been enough, season 1 treats the bridge crew as extras. It’s the Michael Burnham Show, co-starring Ash Tyler and Captain Lorca, with guest appearances by Stamets, Saru, Cornwell, Tilly, and, L’rell, and featuring Emperor Georgiou. Everyone else is background (I think Evil Detmer gets more relevant lines than Prime Universe Detmer, for example).

    This is corrected in season 2, Though the bridge crew and Dr. Culber remain secondary characters, they get to say more lines and appear as real people on the ship, not just as bridge or sickbay props.

    Partly, I think, this stems from the shorter production run of 13-14 eps per season as compared to the 25 eps standard in older series like The Next Generation, DS9, and Voyager. remember they had so many eps to film, they even had stories centered on minor characters. No more.

    Partly Discovery suffers from the same problem Burnham does: Both see Michael Burnham as responsible for everything, as noted by Spock on season 2.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    Trying to decide whether this should be; What did you expect? or, It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: @Sleeping Dog: They’re just louder.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I kind of doubt that we will ever see ads at 2:30 am,

    Oh I don’t know about that. Many’s the time I dreamt of an ice cold Budweiser right out of the cooler with the mountains in the background and Clydesdales…

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I should look up how to get it to not pay attention to such things.

    Unplug it.

  21. Kathy says:


    It runs on batteries.

  22. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..I do mind that the phone is listening to things I say

    Not sure if my not-so-smart phone, LG-vn 280, can eavesdrop on me. I live alone so it won’t hear much. Ironically in the last few days it might have picked up the sound from my DVD copy of The Conversation that I have watched repeatedly with and without narration by Coppola and Walter Murch since this masterpiece was mentioned in these threads the other day.
    I lived in San Francisco for a year just after that film came out. I might have even seen The Conversation at a theatre there but I can’t be sure since it was so long ago. The place has alot of nostalgia for me and for my friend Joe when he was alive as the two of us first visited The City in Mar. of 1974. Then just a few months later he and I and two other Hippies moved there to seek our fortunes. Within a year of our pilgrimage three of us left one by one. Joe stayed for 20 years. The services and opportunities for a wheelchair bound quadriplegic were far surperior in California compared to anything he could find in the midwest in 1974.
    I always had a place to stay in my several visits during that time.
    The San Francisco Municipal Railway trolley busses in the movie are the same ones that were running when I lived there. When the Muni bought new accessible busses with wheelchair lifts a few years later Joe got a job as a consultant to train the Muni drivers how to use them.
    The film doesn’t have a lot of outdoor scenes but there are a few that I recognize.
    There is a recurring shot through Harry Caul’s apartment window where he sits and plays his axe. The building next door is being torn down and is pretty much gone by the time of the last scene when the closing credits are shown. A view made all the more eerie considering recent events in Florida.
    It was also interesting to see a face that I recognized from two relatively recent Law and Order episodes, Michael Higgins. He also appeared in The Conversation 20 or so years earlier.
    I believe wr and Eddie in California are the resident OTB film freaks. Maybe they will know why Duvall is not credited for his part.

    If anyone is listening to my LG-vn 280 while that movie is playing on my DVD I should take the phone into the bathroom when I take a break and flush the toilet.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paine: On the positive side, Washington’s governor not being invited means that we’re not having wild fires this year… yet.

    (Then again, living about a mile and a half from the Oregon border make our personal situation no different than usual. Oh well…)

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Don’t leave out those who are lecturing people about being TOO pure. They have a role to play also.

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Hasn’t sleep conditioning/learning been pretty well dismissed on the basis that during most of the sleep cycle, you don’t actually hear anything? (It’s been a long time since I studied any of this, but I recall some stuff about attention thresholds.)

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: On the other hand, I can see FG’s point. Overturning the election didn’t happen. You don’t get paid for contingency work where you don’t deliver–and shouldn’t, I would add.

  27. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    It has, which is one reason I’m skeptical of the whole idea.

  28. Mister Bluster says:
  29. Michael Cain says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Given the transcripts that have been released have VP Harris deferring to Gov. Brown of Oregon after the President finished suggests even more that this was an offshoot of the WGA annual meeting being held that same day. Brown is the current WGA chair. Also the Cabinet-level departments and agencies listed as participating in “Biden’s meeting” appear to be an exact match for the departments and agencies previously scheduled to take part in discussions during the WGA meeting.

    Open for debate: The core of the WGA, the 11 contiguous states in the Census Bureau’s western region, produced 105 of Biden’s electoral votes and 15 of the 50 Democratic seats in the Senate. Someone in the administration, probably Harris, has convinced people that fire and water in the West need to be important issues for the Democratic Party.

  30. Teve says:

    “This app looks like a dumpster fire that was coded from the lavatory of Donald Trump,” Soltani told Motherboard. “It literally took me longer to copy the screenshot images off of my testphone than it did to find the actual bug.”

    It’s not just a clone. It piggybacks on Twitter, pulling the social media’s trending topics and using them on GETTR, according to Soltani.

    Within one minute of opening the app, while scrolling on an unrelated account, Motherboard was served blatantly violent, racist posts advocating for murdering Black people.


  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Ok, take out the batteries.

  32. CSK says:

    That would be my advice.

    On a different topic: The Trumpkins now have a new hero–Bill Cosby. He claims the Mainstream Media stormed the Capitol on January 6.

  33. Kathy says:

    I had occasion last weekend to wear a pleated pseudo-surgical mask briefly.

    Compared to the KN95 masks I’ve worn since last November, I swear it felt like I was wearing nothing at all.

    Given that pleated masks do help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, I honestly wonder what’s the big effing deal about wearing even those.

  34. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: It figures they would lionize a self admitted serial rapist.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Your moment of “Duh”:

    jelani cobb

    I once talked to a Confederate apologist who told me “the majority of South Carolinians didn’t support the Confederacy because they were racist.” I said “The majority of South Carolinians were black. They didn’t support the Confederacy at all.” He literally gasped.

    Annette Gordon-Reed
    · Jul 2
    The problem is that when people say “Southerner”, they mean a white person. Blacks are Southerners too.…

    I mean, I’d never thought about it in those terms.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You’ll love this:

    Rex Chapman Retweeted

    Jake Reetz

    Jul 3
    The 2021 NBA finals


  37. CSK says:

    When people tell me that the south seceded because of “states’ rights,” I tell them to read the declaration of secession made by South Carolina. The state’s right they were interested in preserving was the right to keep slaves.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Yep. I’ve had this conversation a few times and having read the Constitution I have always felt the need to point out that the phrase “states’ rights” is not in it. I know people refer to the 10th Amendment when they speak of “States rights” but the 10th Amendment speaks of powers, not rights.

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    I know, IANAConstitutionalL, just a dumb ass carpenter, but I have to think they meant what they said. As best I can recall, any time they refer to “rights”. they speak of the “rights of the people“.

  39. Teve says:

    Conservatives Have No Plan To Win the Culture War. They Intend to Rule Anyway.

    Conservatives would have to make changes to win the hearts and minds of the young. They have no intention of doing that. They intend to kill democracy, instead

    by David Atkins July 5, 202

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Peter Bell

    In case you’ve not met Karen … Face with tears of joyRolling on the floor laughingFace with tears of joyRolling on the floor laughing

    34 seconds of you have to see it to believe it.

  41. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Soccer players could learn a thing or 2 from her.

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ChapmanHorse racing Retweeted
    Zooted Spitwell

    This is the most amazing dad shit I’ve ever seen. Dude let the baby go, caught the ball, recovered the baby mid air, only spilled a drop of beer and the baby didn’t drop the bottle.


    Kinda reminds me of the 2am baby wakeup with my first born where I lost him halfway out of the crib. 4 and 1/2 seconds of absolute terror as I juggled him in the pitch black trying to find a handle, and then 30-40 seconds of “Holy shit… I can’t believe I caught him… Holy shit…”

  43. Teve says:


    Once I was in the spa in a hotel in Vegas getting a massage. When I finished I turned over and to my shock Paul Rudd was massaging me. He saw me go in and convinced the masseuse to let him take over, thinking I’d notice immediately. I didn’t, and Paul did the entire rest of it.

  44. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    And for this Giuliani lost his license to practice law in NY state.

  45. Jax says:

    Wish me luck. Tomorrow my cattle go to “It’s a freakin tinderbox up there” public lands. Also the one year anniversary of my Dad getting seriously injured in a horse wreck. Let’s just hope everybody stays in one piece and no fires start on the forest this year!

  46. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The Conversation was a great movie. Still is. Someone hears my ramblings.

    It hinges on intonation: “They would kill us if they had the chance…”

    And paranoia.

    Do not even get me started on the utter genius of John Cazale. I wish he had had a longer career.

  47. de stijl says:


    Good luck! Bon chance!

  48. Dudley Sharp says:


    As always, the Guardian leaves out a few major details in death penalty stories.

    Report questioning execution doesn’t sway lawyers

  49. Dudley Sharp says:

    and . . . as Texas has a law to declare actual innocence and provide compensation, which DeLuna’s family has not availed themselves of, for 20 years.

    There is a reason for that. Based upon the facts it would be denied.