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. Jax says:

    I’m going to be severely disappointed if Elon Musk buys Twitter and lets Trump back on it.

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  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “It was a home where people lived, and they thought they heard some odd rumbling, snoring-like noises but ignored it because it simply didn’t make sense … and the neighbors said they were imagining it because they didn’t hear anything,” the Bear League said in a Facebook post.

    It added: “The bear family awoke and prepared to exit, and the people in the house could no longer deny there was probably a bear under the house.”

    The unnamed residents called the Bear League, who helped usher the bear family into the woods, as well as making sure the human family in the house was also unharmed.

    source.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: I think musk is about to find out he is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is. If he gets it, my money is on him losing a whole lot more money.

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  4. Jon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think musk is about to find out he is nowhere near as smart as he thinks he is.

    I am pretty sure that Elon’s superpower is that he totally incapable of realizing that.

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  5. Kathy says:

    I streamed The Batman over the weekend. Not bad.

    My practice lately is not to read anything at all about movies or shows I want to see, lest these be spoiled, but I do catch or hear a few snippets here and there. For this movie, there seemed to be something of a buzz about how Batman is shown more as a detective than an action super hero.

    There is some of that. Without spoilers I think I can sum it up by quoting Hercule Poirot in another movie I streamed recently, Death on the Nile: “There are many brilliant detectives. No, that’s not true. There are many average detectives.”

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  6. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    He says it’s not about money, but about freedom of speech.

    I believe him, but there’s nuance: it’s about freedom from accountability for his speech, at the least.

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  7. Jen says:

    I was listening to “Hidden Brain” yesterday as I was out & about, and it was as always fascinating. The episode was about the pull that exists between honesty and loyalty, and in one of the segments they talked about moral license. As defined on the show, this is the mindset that exists when one is certain of one’s moral superiority, which then leads the group/individual to overweight loyalty over honesty, because of a belief that their collective/own morality supersedes the decision-making capacity of others. Example provided was the Catholic Church’s behavior in child abuse scandals–i.e., mentality was: “the Catholic Church does vast amounts of collective good, so we’re going to hide these abuse cases because this subset of problems can’t be allowed to overwhelm the good that we do–loyalty to the institution is excused and expected over honesty about abuse.”

    This strikes me as a very apt description of Republicans, individually and collectively. They have a deep belief that they are truly morally superior to Democrats, therefore they will overlook the massive amounts of corruption that is coming to light each and every day about their activities.

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  8. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That story reminds me of February, 2017, when the skunks I didn’t realize were living under my house went into mating season, and I could no longer deny that there were, indeed, skunks getting it on under my house. 😛 😛

    Gawd, that was an awful two months. I trapped 29 skunks.

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  9. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @Jax:
    Life must be exciting when you don’t have a cellar.

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  10. Scott says:

    I found this completely fascinating. Finland, considered one of the “happiest” nations on Earth, is also, unlike the US, a totally serious nation.

    Ukraine war puts new focus on Finland’s network of bunkers

    At an underground sports centre in central Helsinki, a group of teenagers were playing floorball, a type of hockey popular in the Nordic country during the long winter months.

    Not far behind one of the goals, a small door led to the “control room”, a dimly lit space with large oxygen systems and electricity generators.

    If the worst fears of Europe materialise and Moscow’s war in Ukraine spills across the continent to other neighbours of Russia, sports centres like these can quickly be turned into emergency bomb shelters ready to accommodate thousands of Finns.

    “I sleep much better at night knowing we have these bomb shelters. Especially now with what is happening in Ukraine,” said Tomi Rask, a safety instructor of Helsinki’s Civil defence centre who was leading the tour of the bomb shelter, which can host up to 6,000 people.

    Rask said all buildings in the country above a certain size had to have their own bomb shelters, estimating there were approximately 5,500 civil defence shelters with roughly 900,000 places in Helsinki alone, more than the capital’s population.

    Finland, a country of 5.5 million people, can muster a wartime army of 280,000 personnel, while in total it has 900,000 trained reservists.

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  11. @Jen:

    This strikes me as a very apt description of Republicans, individually and collectively. They have a deep belief that they are truly morally superior to Democrats, therefore they will overlook the massive amounts of corruption that is coming to light each and every day about their activities.

    This is humanity writ large, yes? Be careful not to assume that only Republicans can behave this way.

    And consider how this behavior is amplified by having only two choices in the politics!

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  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jon: There is no bottom to his id.

    @Kathy: Robert Reich agrees with you.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Gawd, that was an awful two months. I trapped 29 skunks.

    HA! Once when trying to get some melon raiding raccoons, I live trapped a skunk in my garden. They say you won’t get sprayed if you hold up a blanket or tarp before you as you approach and drop it over the cage when you get to it. I don’t know, but that’s what they say.

    @CSK: It can be. Miss Kitty once caught a copperhead in our bedroom. That was an interesting evening, tho I’m sure the copperhead wouldn’t have described it that way.

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  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And consider how this behavior is amplified by having only two choices in the politics!

    Why would having only two parties amplify this basic characteristic of human nature? (Not fault finding, genuinely curious as to what you are thinking here.)

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  15. KM says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Except the Republicans are actively using the law to enact that deep belief and punish people and groups they find morally lacking. They absolutely believe they are truly morally superior and are doing something about it right now to the nation’s detriment. My belief I’m morally superior to MAGAts is limited to me posting this at the moment. If you only get to choose between smeared sh^t on a stick and old baloney on stale white bread, it’s pretty damn clear what’s the wrong choice. That’s it’s even a decision to think about means something is wrong with the chooser – it’s not a binary choice, it’s a pass/ fail at life.

    Be careful when warning others to remember that they are not perfect to miss the dangers of the current threat. Its like a parent scolding a child for not putting their socks away while ignoring the sibling is setting fire to the curtains – don’t fall into the trap of thinking all sins are equal and we need to pay just as much attention to the messy kid as the arsonist.

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  16. MarkedMan says:

    For those who were wondering about my hearing aids, they are the Moxi B-R technology level 9 (Moxi B9-R on the box).

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  17. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh, I have a wonderful story about a cornfield, a raccoon, a skunk, and a Have-a-Heart trap…

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  18. @MarkedMan:

    Why would having only two parties amplify this basic characteristic of human nature? (Not fault finding, genuinely curious as to what you are thinking here.)

    Because when you only have two teams to choose from, when your team has flaws you have a greater incentive to engage in rationalizing that behavior because there are so few options.

    If I am D and a D politician does something problematic, I am not going to become an R, and since there are no other places to go, the behavior in question is just more deeply incentivized.

    Or, if we want to get more specific: I may think that Trump is a buffoon and a crook, but hey, Roe may get overturned, among other things, so what am I going to do? Am I going to join the Ds over the corruption or am I going to rationalize the corruption on my side?

    What did feminists do when Clinton was caught over the Lewinsky situation?

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  19. KM says:

    @KM:
    Actually, let me elaborate on this a little more. I *hate* when people respond to valid criticism with “well, you’re not perfect either”. Never claimed to and offering criticism doesn’t not come with the implicit argument that the speaker is perfect/ never wrong/ flawless. It’s a BS deflection of blame, essentially those without sin can throw stones so you don’t get to say sh^t to me. I have a diagnosed NPD relative that immediately retorts with that whenever the slightest criticism is raised and it’s infuriating.

    Just a pet peeve but I’m sure I’m not alone in having it.

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  20. @KM:

    Be careful when warning others to remember that they are not perfect to miss the dangers of the current threat.

    Based on my writings on this site, do you think I am unaware of the threat? (Honest question).

    Also: it strikes me as always useful to be cautious in asserting that only the other side does some questionable thing that is really part of human nature. That way lies a host of bad behaviors.

    Moreover, and probably the main reason I even commented: I think that this point underscores points I keep trying to make about partisanship itself, and so thought it worth noting.

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  21. @KM:

    I *hate* when people respond to valid criticism with “well, you’re not perfect either”.

    Well, while I can see why you would say that, that was not my intent–indeed, it isn’t what I said.

    I noted that the behavior is not unique to Republicans. Do you think that’s incorrect?

    I would note, too, that you are demonstrating the deeply team-based nature of this discussion because you are placing yourself and Jen in the “Not Republican Team” without me doing so at all.

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  22. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I know in the early days there was a big concern from investors about whether or not it was a viable acquisition candidate (the normal exit strategy for start ups) due to the liabilities involved (incitement due to hate speech, etc). They took it public instead, which paid off the initial investors handsomely. The way they monetize may be problematic. They have only been profitable in 2018 and 2019, losing over a $1B in 2020 (I didn’t see any information for 2021 yet). So you have to wonder if selling the company to Musk in its entirety is a way for everyone else whose wealth is tied up in it to climb down off the tiger and put Musk on its back.

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  23. Ultimately, I think we would all be better off if we understood the ways in which partisan identification affects not only broader politics but ourselves.

    I am also concerned about the growing Us v. Them nature of our politics. Indeed, I think it is a major problem on the R side and wish to caution against it growing on the D side.

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  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Because when you only have two teams to choose from, when your team has flaws you have a greater incentive to engage in rationalizing that behavior because there are so few options.

    While this sounds reasonable, I’m curious if there is any research to back it up. In other words, is there any evidence that governments formed in multiparty systems are less likely to suffer from scandals?

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  25. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I use these steel box traps I got from Fish and Wildlife Services. I have had no luck NOT getting sprayed when I pick it up, but my Dad, he’s got the ninja moves. He always does the honors of…..dealing with them.

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  26. @MarkedMan:

    is there any evidence that governments formed in multiparty systems are less likely to suffer from scandals?

    Perhaps I am missing something, but I didn’t understand this to be about the scandals, but the degree to which supporters can rationalize bad behavior.

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  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    A couple of years ago, there were two women who lived in Bellingham, WA who put a device on nearby railroad tracks that caused automatic engagement of the emergency braking system of an approaching train. The device hacked a system intended to detect a train ahead on the tracks.

    So an approaching train indeed executed an emergency stop, causing it damage. The train was carrying hazardous materials, I don’t recall what. The pair intended this as a protest to the traffic of hazmat trains through the county. Of course, what they did greatly increased the probability of an accident or spill.

    This, to me, is an example of people on the left who act with an assurance of moral superiority, and prize loyalty over good behavior.

    This is the logic of protest and of civil disobedience. “I do this thing that is wrong to prevent or call attention to this other thing which is much worse”. However, this can become unchained from any generally held sense of proportion.

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  28. @MarkedMan: @Steven L. Taylor: From the original comment:

    therefore they will overlook the massive amounts of corruption that is coming to light each and every day about their activities.

    I took the “they” to mean supporters of a given party.

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  29. Michael Cain says:

    @Jon:

    I am pretty sure that Elon’s superpower is that he totally incapable of realizing that.

    From what I can tell about financial arrangements over time, Elon’s superpower is convincing other people to invest large sums of money into his projects. IIRC, he put $70M into Tesla, mostly as part of much bigger financing rounds, and $100M into SpaceX. Relatively little into The Boring Company relative to what was raised in subsequent funding rounds. NASA paid for launch services years in advance of when SpaceX could deliver them. (In hindsight, I think NASA got a hell of a deal.)

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  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Hence, we have this: Twitter ‘in takeover talks with Elon Musk’ after pressure from shareholders. Everybody wants to get rich. Failing that, they at least don’t want to get poorer.

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  31. Jon says:
  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: I managed to avoid getting sprayed by not even trying the whole blanket thing.

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  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: This, to me, is an example of people on the left who act with an assurance of moral superiority, and prize loyalty over good behavior.

    This is the logic of protest and of civil disobedience. “I do this thing that is wrong to prevent or call attention to this other thing which is much worse”. However, this can become unchained from any generally held sense of proportion.

    No. It is not. It is the logic of terrorism. I suggest you read MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail. It is impossible to excerpt but at the heart of civil disobedience lie these 2 questions:

    “are you able to accept the blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?”

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  34. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Be careful not to assume that only Republicans can behave this way.

    On the one hand, yes, I know.

    On the other hand, Republicans are far more likely to pull this “God is on our side”/moral superiority schtick not just as a defense of their positions, but as a justification for their dishonest behavior.

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  35. Beth says:

    Brief update on me:

    I’m resting comfortably. The roaring pain in my guts has subsided to a sullen nag. It still hurts, but it’s manageable. I apparently have gallstones, but my gallbladder is not in too bad of shape. They were thinking of leaving it in for a bit until the morning blood test showed an increase in liver enzymes. Now I’m waiting for a GI doc to see if any of the stones are blocking the duct. I guess if that happens, adios gallbladder.

    I’m also having a bit of fun terrifying the nurses with my amazing low blood pressure skills.

    In terms of animal pests I grew up in a suburban home close to a creek so we had raccoon problems constantly. My dad’s solution was to trap them and bring them to his truck repair shop which was near a different creek.

    One day one of the mechanics lifted the trap out of the truck and instead of walking it to the creek, he just opened it. The scared raccoon made a bee-line right for an equally scared mechanic. The second guy freaked out and soccer kicked the raccoon over his own head. The raccoon then ran straight into the shipping container we used for parts storage. We all made my dad go and get parts for the rest of the day. No one wanted to face raccoon revenge.

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  36. Jen says:

    @Jen: I will add that there’s also the existence of self-delusion, which is present in all camps (right, left and center) that makes clear decision-making challenging.

    There are climate activists that are lying about the potential effects of their policy prescriptions, and I don’t think it’s moral superiority that is driving that–it’s delusion about what our current systems are capable of handling combined with a (fairly justifiable) panic.

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  37. Kurtz says:

    @Kathy: @Jax: @OzarkHillbilly:

    He says it’s not about money, but about freedom of speech.

    I believe him, but there’s nuance: it’s about freedom from accountability for his speech, at the least.

    I came to share theBusiness Insider article about Musk’s comment.

    The first thing I thought was about Joyner’s post re moderation and freedom of speech. I didn’t comment on that thread, but I thought it was one of his best pieces.

    Regardless of Musk’s intelligence, he strikes me as the quintessential engineering type who lacks sophistication and depth in subjects outside of his background.* He ain’t Mencius Moldbug in terms of philosophical sophistication.

    Maybe he just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe I’m just an iconoclast. But for me, he’s an anthropomorphic red flag.

    *I’ve mentioned similar things in the past, and our beloved, late @Teve (he’s missed) cited one of those internet “laws.” I can’t remember the name. But it was something like, if an engineer disbelieves AGW, he probably majored in CS. To be fair to Musk, his undergrad degrees are in physics and econ.

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  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    but the degree to which supporters can rationalize bad behavior

    I was using eventual scandals as a proxy for whether groups would root out or accept bad behaviors on the part of their leaders. Of course, there could be other metrics.

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  39. Jen says:

    Here’s the episode of Hidden Brain. It’s worth listening to, IMHO.

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  40. Kathy says:

    I’m reading a short Great Courses lecture series on conspiracy theories, by noted skeptic Michael Shermer. He’s good and knows his stuff well, but early on he undermines his position on conspiracy theories.

    He does this by saying there are and have been real secret conspiracies.

    This is true, and irrelevant.

    Take one he mentions, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Yes, there was a secret conspiracy by a Serbian nationalist group, known as the Black Hand, to kill the archduke during his visit. And yes, the assassination unleashed a series of events that culminated in the monumental collective act of sheer idiocy and death we call World War One.

    But the objectives by the Serbian nationalists had to do only with Serbia’s subjugation to the Autstro-Hungarian empire, nothing more. It was questionable whether killing the archduke would even serve their goals. It was definitely not a ploy by a cabal of powerful, moneyed interests to unleash four long years of meat-grinder war, take down the Russian empire, install the Communists in power, go on a spree of self-determination for white peoples in Europe, etc. etc.

    So the conspiracy theories people believe and indulge in have little to nothing to do with actual, real conspiracies.

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  41. Arnold Stang says:

    @Beth:
    I went thru that ordeal last summer, surgery to remove a gallstone and then, a week later, my gallbladder. Hopefully, you come out of the whole ordeal like I did. I now have a lot less heartburn.

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  42. CSK says:

    @Beth:
    Glad you’re feeling better. You sound in good spirits.
    What happened with the armed man in the elevator?

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  43. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Kathy:

    And the actual murder in that conspiracy was itself an accident and not due to the conspiracy. IIRC (and I may not), there were (approximately) 182 assassins lined up on Ferdinand’s parade route. The archduke passed the first assassin, who just stood there unmoving, watching the car creep by. Then the Ferdinand’s unknowingly passed by a second assassin, who also decided maybe being a cold blooded murderer wasn’t his thing.

    Passing a third assassin, the car was hit with a bomb which bounced off the side and exploded in the crowd, injuring dozens. The bomb thrower quickly took a cyanide pill and jumped into the nearby river. Except the cyanide pill was years past its expiration date, and a seasonal drought had lowered the river level to about a foot and a half deep.

    Carrying on, the Archduke’s posse passed by yet a few more assassins, including Gavrilo, who all stood mutely letting it pass.

    Dejected at his cowardice, and the unlucky bombing, Gavrilo stopped by a cafe and ordered a coffee outside. A few minutes later (which would have been at this point hours after the first assassination attempts), the Archduke’s car comes ambling by the coffee shop, only to stall out directly in front of Gavrilo.

    The rest is bloody, bloody history.

    So yes there was a conspiracy to murder the Archduke, but his actual murder was just a good ol’ crime of opportunity.

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  44. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: While I applaud the sentiments you cite, and that Martin expressed, I don’t necessarily want to engage in a turf/terminology war of the form “what constitutes protest and what constitutes terrorism”.

    “Are you willing to take the blows without retaliating” is a good concept, a very good concept. It is far from universally held.

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  45. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Or, if we want to get more specific: I may think that Trump is a buffoon and a crook, but hey, Roe may get overturned, among other things, so what am I going to do? Am I going to join the Ds over the corruption or am I going to rationalize the corruption on my side?

    Traditionally this has been handled by holding one’s nose while voting, rather than inhaling deeply and loudly proclaiming that it smells great. I think we are seeing more of the latter these days, especially from the Trump aficionados.

    I respect the pro-lifer who voted for Roy Moore despite him being creepy as hell. I don’t respect the guy who tries to explain that biologically, a 30 year old man should be pursuing high school kids and that therefore it’s all fine and good actually.

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  46. grumpy realist says:

    @Beth: If they do decide to take your gallbladder out, they’ll probably do it with laparoscopic surgery. You’ll probably be able to go home the day after. The only immediate restriction will be not being able to lift anything heavier than 5 lbs for several weeks and keeping a low-fat diet for a while. Oh, and you will discover exactly how much you in fact use your core muscles even when you don’t think you’re using them. (I was making a bunch of Chinese pot-stickers the week after surgery and had to sit down and rest after each pot-sticker was filled. Very bizarre.)

    Hope you feel better soon!

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  47. CSK says:

    A judge has imposed a $10,000 a day fine on Trump for not turning over documents relating to his businesses to Letitia James.

    I suppose the MAGA fans will pony up to pay it.

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  48. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Close enough 😉

    I think the archduke’s driver was trying to back up and turn around, but in essence that’s when Princip saw his target just sitting there, and he took his chance.

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  49. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    That’s why I suggested locking him up until he coughs up the documents.

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  50. CSK says:

    @Kathy:
    He could be jailed for contempt, though it’s unlikely. Damn it.

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  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kurtz: Regardless of Musk’s intelligence, he strikes me as the quintessential engineering type who lacks sophistication and depth in subjects outside of his background.*

    That can be said of a lot of people. The difference is that most of them are willing to listen.

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  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: The main difference I see, is that engaging in civil disobedience has to include a willingness to suffer for one’s cause, ie get arrested, get tear gassed, etc. Where as a terrorist has to be willing to make others suffer for his/her cause.

    Where it gets a little muddy is when say a protest march causes a traffic jam and someone is late for a meeting. But there is a big difference between that and possibly causing a train derailment and environmental disaster. The 1st is an inconvenience, the 2nd is a whole nother thing.

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  53. just nutha says:

    @MarkedMan: Thanks!

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  54. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Never tried it and have no experience with skunks, but I assume that the theory is based on the tarp/blanket getting sprayed rather than you. And like most theories, success will still depend more on the skill of the practitioner than on the technique itself.

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  55. Kurtz says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    That can be said of a lot of people. The difference is that most of them are willing to listen.

    I didn’t really finish my thought. But I think you all probably understand my point.

    I agree with your first sentence. I’m skeptical of the second. Wrt Musk, the Twitter as town Square argument he used, also used by Republicans complaining about social media bans to argue they should be protected by the 1A, is facile and stupid because of Twitter character limitations, as well as social media incentive structures. Not to mention that if a town square hosted an irl Twitter thread, it would hardly resemble communication, much less discussion.

    And of course, he was more than willing to work with that regime in Riyadh that regularly makes principled stands in defense of free speech when he wanted to delist Tesla. The thing that foreclosed a partnership was his perception that the Saudis said something different publicly than they did to him privately.

    I just can’t take him at his word when he describes his motivations.

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  56. CSK says:

    Musk has reached a deal to buy Twitter for 44 billion.

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  57. Jen says:

    So Twitter is going to be MORE of a cesspool? Ugh. No thank you.

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  58. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    The faint hope is that Musk may ruin Twitter as much as it and other social media are ruining the world.

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  59. Kurtz says:

    Twitter could be useful if it wasn’t for the users.

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  60. CSK says:

    @Jen: @Kathy:
    From various news sources:
    1. Biden officials are worried that Musk will allow Trump back on Twitter.
    2. Trump says he won’t go back to Twitter.
    3. Shares of Trump’s SPAC (TruthSocial.com) fell 44% in price since the Musk purchase of Twitter was announced.

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  61. Kurtz says:

    @CSK:

    2. Trump says he won’t go back to Twitter.

    He’s going to demand that Twitter call him and ask him nicely.

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  62. CSK says:

    @Kurtz:
    Actually, his immediate response was that he’d be posting on TruthSocial in seven days.

    I wonder if he’ll ask Liz Harrington to stop posting his crap on her Twitter account?

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  63. DK says:

    @Jen: Ha. The world’s richest man owning a platform like that. What could possibly go wrong. Hehe.

    Have historians ever settled on exactly how much responsibility William Randolph Hearst had for the Spanish-American War?

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  64. DK says:

    @Kathy: Given how much of a disaster Twitter already is, scary to think it probably can get worse!

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  65. Kathy says:

    @CSK:

    2. Trump says he won’t go back to Twitter.

    I believe that as much as his promise to release his tax returns.

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  66. Kathy says:

    @DK:

    I don’t use it much. Sometimes I click on a link to it from here or from a news website.

    But letting Benito back on would be bad.

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  67. Jen says:

    I’m sort of marveling–in an abstract way–that something that was developed a few years ago with a limit of 140 characters, that quickly was derided as tech people telling everyone what they had for lunch is now being purchased for 44 BILLION DOLLARS. Is the ad revenue it’s pulling in really worth that much?

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  68. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    I’m no expert, but I think the data mining is more valuable than the advertising. The irony, assuming I understand this correctly, is the data is sold mostly to advertisers.

    What I’d really like to know is how Uber stays in business. My understanding is that it has yet to have a single profitable year.

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  69. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: What I’ve read in the financial press is that Uber’s core operations have been profitable for quite some time. They are showing a loss because of big investments. That’s not gospel, but the sources seem pretty reliable.

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  70. CSK says:

    Marjorie Taylor Greene texted Mark Meadows on Jan. 17, 2021 that Trump should declare “Marshall” law.

    Enforced by the Gazpacho, perhaps?

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  71. Jax says:

    @CSK: The misspelling of martial law as Marshall law is how I judge their education level and their politics.

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  72. Beth says:

    Thank you everyone for the kind words of support. It’s been very helpful.

    I just got word that the fancy MRI found multiple stones. That apparently means I’m going upstairs at some point to get my gallbladder removed.

    Party.

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  73. Jax says:

    @Beth: You will feel so much better! My SIL had to go through a couple months where they were “iffy” on removal, and she was miserable.

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  74. Beth says:

    @Jax:

    Yeah, I’m pretty miserable right now. The pain has mostly subsided, but I haven’t eaten anything other than two bowls of broth that tasted like feet for the last two days. I’ve got a weird feeling in that I’m kinda hungry but also very much not. I know if I try to eat anything it’s gonna be bad.

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  75. @Beth: Sorry to hear that. I hope you feel better soon!!

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  76. Jay L Gischer says:

    In his statement Monday, Musk said he wants to “make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

    Let’s go over his goals point by point:

    1. Enhance the product with new features. Blah blah corporate speak. He ain’t saying what.

    2. Make the algorithm open source to increase trust. This could be significant. It’s going to get engineers excited. How does that translate to the public? Hard to say, but I like it.

    3. Defeat spam bots. Harder than it sounds. He’s a smart guy, maybe he has a better plan, but I’m skeptical. It’s a nice goal, though.

    4. Authenticating all humans. Whoa! This is actually big. Very big. He’s going to make Twitter into an identity server, like Google and Facebook are. Maybe there’s more. This could have a very big impact, not just on Twitter.

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  77. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jay L Gischer: There’s probably some “blockchain” tie-in to some of Musks stuff. Sigh. Maybe it will work, but I wonder.

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  78. Jax says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I intend to quit Twitter completely if he lets Trump back on. I suspect it will quickly become a cesspool, and he’s gonna get a quick lesson in content moderation. I don’t do much on Twitter, anyways, besides yawn and go to sleep.

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  79. Gustopher says:

    @Beth: Sometimes a person and their gall bladder grow apart over the years and have irreconcilable differences. If that’s the case, then separation really is the best approach.

    Good luck.

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  80. Gustopher says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    1. Enhance the product with new features. Blah blah corporate speak. He ain’t saying what.

    He’s been quite clear on this — add an edit button and make the url shorter by removing the w.

    2. Make the algorithm open source to increase trust. This could be significant. It’s going to get engineers excited. How does that translate to the public? Hard to say, but I like it.

    You think there’s a real algorithm? It’s likely mixing the results of scoring by N different models, where the algorithm inside the model evolved through training data.

    This goal shows he really doesn’t understand the product he is buying.

    3. Defeat spam bots. Harder than it sounds. He’s a smart guy, maybe he has a better plan, but I’m skeptical. It’s a nice goal, though.

    Is he smart? I mean on a technical level? His plan to defeat spam bots is almost certainly “defeat spam bots.”

    Figuring out the difference between an actual bunch of spam bots and a crowd of right wingers repeating three talking points that they think are brilliant is going to be hard.

    Though I would like to see the error message: “Whoops, looks like someone else with a beard and wrap around sun glasses sitting in their truck already said that!”

    4. Authenticating all humans. Whoa! This is actually big. Very big. He’s going to make Twitter into an identity server, like Google and Facebook are. Maybe there’s more. This could have a very big impact, not just on Twitter.

    Marginalized people will flee. As the song goes:

    Note to self
    Don’t be gay in Indiana
    Big heads up:
    That’s a really stupid plan

    There are places where it’s in to be out
    Maybe San Francisco or thereabout
    But in Indiana without a doubt
    If you’re not straight
    Then guess what’s bound to hit the fan?

    And then there are the people in the developing world under more repressive regimes.

    One thing Twitter has done well to date has been to aggressively protect user’s anonymity, and make sure that when they are forced by court order to turn over someone’s information that the user has a chance to fight it. See DevinNunesCow as an example.

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