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. EddieInCA says:

    After five days in Arkansas, I’m predicting we’re about to have a huge Covid surge in about 8 weeks all over the South again. No one is taking this new variant seriously, and it’s an ass-kicker. Two of my crew are already hospitalized – and they’re vaxxed and double-boosted.

    We are in for some rough times. Covid isn’t finished with us yet.

  2. de stijl says:

    Has anyone seen the new Elvis biopic? I have not, yet.

    I’ve heard the guy who plays Elvis did a pretty good job. Also heard that Tom Hanks basically shat the bed as Col. Parker. As in worst performance of his career.

    Is that true? Did Hanks actually shit the bed on this?

    Again not having seen it, but I could easily see how people could be freaked out and react negatively to Hanks not playing an unabashedly good person like he almost always does. Parker was a rat bastard and he manipulated Pressley into shady deals that benefitted him more than Pressley. A decidedly bad dude.

    Are the criticisms of Hanks portrayal of Parker valid? Or is it cognitive dissonance in the audience?

    Frankly, I would care more about an Elvis Costello biopic, myself. I’ll get around to this eventually. In a bit. Maybe.

    But I am curious as to whether Hanks actually shat the bed with that role, or are people freaking out because they are stupid idiots.

    If you’ve seen it, what is your take?

  3. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    but I could easily see how people could be freaked out and react negatively to Hanks not playing an unabashedly good person like he almost always does.

    Hmmmm. I wouldn’t describe his character in A League of Their Own as an unabashedly good person, but maybe that doesn’t count; that was more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold role (and was an important turning point in his career, it represented the first shift from the bland romantic leads he’d been playing throughout the ’80s).

    And then there was The Ladykillers. His character in that (based on Alec Guiness’s in the original) was pretty unquestionably a bad guy, though more comic than sinister. I know a lot of people hate the film, call it the Coen Bros’ worst; I don’t share that view. But I don’t think people usually lay the blame on Hanks.

    As for my view of one of his worst performances up to now, I remember thinking he was asleep at the wheel in The Da Vinci Code (a movie I really hated). I never watched the prequel Angels & Demons, but I remember reading a review which called that the worst performance of his career.

    I saw a review for the new Elvis film a couple weeks ago, and the gist I got with regard to Hanks was that he goes way over the top. Then again, this is Baz Luhrmann. Is anyone surprised? I guess some actors are better at getting away with overacting than others.

  4. de stijl says:

    Saw a headline on the NY Times. It read:

    Federal Judge Blocks Temporary L.G.B.T.Q. Protections

    Why in the fucking fuck would you put a period between every letter of LGBTQ? And leave off the plus sign at the end? Stylebook fuck up.

    That is stylebook massive failure. People are not idiots. They understand ACLU and NAACP. There is no need to put a god damn period between every letter of a commonly understood acronym.

    The headline editor defaulted to the style book, the editor above approved it. It got published. It was procedurally correct. What were they fucking thinking?

    The NY Times stylebook on that is wrong. Just flat out wrong and obviously stupid. No sane person would put periods between every letter of that acronym.

    I didn’t even read the article because the edited and approved headline was so fucking stupid. Got too annoyed to continue. Idiots!

  5. de stijl says:


    Don’t forget Road To Perdition.

    Yeah, he ends up a good person, but he starts out as a mob fixer or enforcer.

  6. de stijl says:


    My favorite gag in Hot Fuzz was that the theater production was not Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but Baz Luhrman’s Romeo + Juliet complete with angel wings on the woman with the most annoying laugh in the world.

    Second favorite, actually. The best was the bromance between Pegg and Frost constructed as a meet cute romcom relationship.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: I saw him in that movie as more of a Jekyll and Hyde.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    Whoa! The pro-gun crowd is having a great couple of weeks! First, the Baltimore squeegee kid (who was being attacked by a homicidal suburbanite with a baseball bat) stood his ground and put that guy six feet under! And last night, a good guy with a gun stopped a mass shooter in Indiana, after only three people had been killed! Pretty good response! I mean, you are always going to lose at least one person, right? Cause, of course, you don’t know the guys a shooter until he actually pulls the trigger. But the good guy was able to draw his gun and put the shooter down with only two additional deaths. Great day for the gun crowd (assuming all those shot were by the mass shooter and not from the good guy shooting into a crowd, but hey! That’s just the price we pay to ensure everyone is packing, amirite?)

    Now, could one of our resident gun fetishests lecture us on the types of guns used and how they should be classified? I mean, how can we discuss this without knowing?!

  9. CSK says:

    There’s a saying in Hollywood that if the book is lousy, the movie movie will be good, and if the book is good, the movie will be lousy.

    The Da Vinci Code refutes that. Both were awful.

  10. Scott says:

    More deadly consequences courtesy of our Supreme Court.

    Texas hospitals are putting pregnant patients at risk by denying care out of fear of abortion laws, medical group says

    The Texas Medical Association is asking state regulators to step in after it says several hospitals afraid of violating the state’s abortion ban have turned away pregnant patients or delayed care leading to complications, The Dallas Morning News reported.

    In a letter to the Texas Medical Board — the state agency that regulates the practice of medicine — TMA officials on Wednesday said they have received complaints that hospital administrators and their legal teams are stopping doctors from providing medically appropriate care to patients with some pregnancy complications. They ask the board to “swiftly act to prevent any wrongful intrusion into the practice of medicine.”

    According to the Morning News, the TMA included in its letter examples of some cases in which treatment was denied or delayed but did not name specific hospitals. In Central Texas, a physician was allegedly instructed to not treat an ectopic pregnancy until a rupture occurred, which puts patient health at serious risk, the letter says.

  11. Scott says:

    Went to Kansas City a couple of weeks back for a wedding. Did a little sight seeing. Beautiful city. In particular, if you’re there, check out the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Well worth your time.

  12. CSK says:
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Previously, Winfrey and others had pitched tents and parked their trailers in the nearby city of Lancaster. But sheriff’s deputies and other authorities there in recent years have cracked down on homelessness, banning people from camping in certain spots, giving out citations for “loitering” and related violations and conducting encampment sweeps that advocates say destroy people’s belongings.

    The measures, unhoused Lancaster residents say, in effect banished them to unincorporated desert land. There, they face less police harassment, but live isolated from paved roads and basic services in town.

    As the region enters another brutally hot summer, the crisis has become a public health disaster – one that advocates say illustrates deep flaws in California’s homelessness response.

    Sullivan Misery ain’t much better. As long as you don’t see them, it’s not a problem

    (local LA county supervisor) Barger did not respond to questions about homelessness in the Lancaster region, but said in a statement, “I am deeply concerned by the increasing rates of homelessness and homeless related deaths in Los Angeles, especially those in [my district]. It is unacceptable and a grim reminder that the status quo isn’t working.” She said the county was in the process of revamping its approach to how it coordinates services.

    Barger’s spokesperson referred inquiries to the county public health department and the LA County Homeless Initiative, which oversees homelessness spending and housing efforts, and both agencies declined to comment. The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (Lahsa), which does outreach across the county, did not respond to inquiries about desert residents. LASD, run by a sheriff who has campaigned on a platform of cracking down on homelessness, declined to comment.

    Lancaster’s mayor, R Rex Parris, has criticized the ACLU, telling a local reporter last year: “We’re not dropping these people out in the desert. I don’t want people out there with no water. But they’d rather go out into the desert than go back to LA where they’re [at risk of being] raped and killed.” He said he was not at “war” with unhoused people, but added, “Am I going to allow people to sleep wherever they want and try and get money from people who are shopping? That’s not going to happen.”

    Parris, a Republican, also made headlines when he suggested residents arm themselves in response to the growing unhoused population. He defended his comments by calling unhoused people “criminals and thugs”.

    Trigger warning: That last link goes to a pic of a really terrifying thug.

  15. Scott says:

    The big news here in South Texas is the continuing shitshow of the Uvalde massacre. The Texas House committee released its fact-finding report yesterday (strictly facts, no conclusions or policy recommendations yet).

    What stood out to me was this factoid:

    In total, 376 law enforcement officers — a force larger than the garrison that defended the Alamo — descended upon the school in a chaotic, uncoordinated scene that lasted for more than an hour.

    The report also reveals for the first time that the overwhelming majority of responders were federal and state law enforcement: 149 were U.S. Border Patrol, and 91 were state police — whose responsibilities include responding to “mass attacks in public places.” There were 25 Uvalde police officers and 16 sheriff’s deputies. Arredondo’s school police force accounted for five of the officers on the scene. The rest of the force was made up of neighboring county law enforcement, U.S. marshals and federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers.

    Holy crap! 376 law enforcement personnel. Did they all independently decided to respond? Were they directed to respond? How does this work anyway? Many of them may have been local LE living in the community. I can see them responding like any other parent but a whole lot were just voyeurs and tourists.

  16. Kathy says:


    Well, if they’d had a semiautomatic, small caliber, high velocity rifle, they could have stopped more attackers and active shooters.

  17. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Stuck in my mind:
    How many of these officers had the thought— “I have no legal obligation to protect these children. Sure I might lose my job, but that is preferable to losing my life. I have no duty to protect…. I have no duty to protect … I have no duty to protect”

  18. Kathy says:


    I saw that. It looks more like good old fashioned ways to sidestep the problem while making a profit.

  19. Kathy says:

    The latest season of Picard* has me thinking about counterfactuals.

    Let’s start with a topical one: what if Mike Pence had done as Benito the Cheeto demanded and made a hash out of the ceremonial certification of Electoral College votes on Jan 6th 2021?

    It’s hard to say exactly, given the number of actors involved (Congress, the Duopoly parties, the armed forces, federal law enforcement, court, etc.), and attempting a step-by-step narrative would be impossible and leave some crucial players out. Oh, and there was the armed insurrection going on in the premises. So I’ll present two scenarios:

    1) Best case. The GOP Senate delegation refuses to go along and demand Pence revert to his ceremonial role and get it over with. But this leads to further complications if they replace Pence with the Senate’s president pro temp (see what I said about a detailed narrative).

    2) Worst case. We get a civil war in a nuclear state, one where no side has planned for it.

    *I’m trying not to binge the season, and so far have managed to see only three eps over the weekend. Please no spoilers without a spoiler alert.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: And of course, if everyone was open carrying long guns or high powered pistols, we could have had 15 or 20 people taking the guy down and bullets flying everywhere! That’s a well regulated militia for ya’!

  21. Slugger says:

    I found the Elvis movie thrilling. Not perfect, not a totally 100% representation of every dark corner of the American soul, but thrilling, exciting, and highly entertaining. The last time I had this much fun at an Elvis flic was at a matinee of Jailhouse Rock when I was a preteen in about 1957-58. When the title song with its choreography started, the theater exploded with teenagers jumping, dancing, and screaming. This movie recaptures that excitement. Now, I know that some of us are too smart, too hip, too sophisticated to see a movie without finding a thousand faults, and I’m glad that they found something to complain about. Simply having a bit of fun is one of my life’s goals; my needs were met/exceeded.

  22. Jen says:


    Two of my crew are already hospitalized – and they’re vaxxed and double-boosted.

    First, I hope they are both better very soon.

    Second, this is terrifying. I don’t go out much, but am scheduled to travel several times during the latter part of this year/early next year. I had been delaying my second booster in an effort to try and time it for maximum effectiveness during my travel–I now think I should just go and get it done and keep my fingers crossed that this won’t prevent me from getting an omicron-specific vaccination if one is introduced later this year.

  23. CSK says:

    That’s a good idea.

    You can get a second booster now and then get the omicron vax when it’s released in October, according to Dr. Monica Gandhi.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Ain’t America great?

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: I have but one requirement of any movie I watch: That it entertains me. Sure there are things that get under my skin by the 4th or 5th viewing, But if it still entertains me, I don’t care.

  26. Bob@Youngstown says:

    Please release me. Pretty please.

  27. Scott says:

    This made me laugh.

    9/11 FAMILIES CALL OUT TRUMP OVER SAUDI GOLF DEAL — The LIV Golf tournament backed by Saudi Arabia and set to take place at Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf course this month earned a rebuke Sunday from the families of 9/11 victims, who asked Trump in a letter to cancel the event, NYT’s Azi Paybarah reports. “It is incomprehensible to us that a former president of the United States would cast our loved ones aside for personal financial gain,” they wrote.

  28. MarkedMan says:

    Omicron has spread through my household in the past week. Everyone but me was feeling under the weather for a while, so it’s hard to say wh0 gave it to who. My daughter was in over last weekend (9 days ago) and then tested positive on Monday. My son, who is living us, went positive on Wednesday and my wife on Saturday. I had COVID in May, so I might have been had immunity already – or I’m about to get it.

  29. CSK says:

    I suppose it’s possible that the 9/11 families have a well-developed sense of irony.

  30. Kathy says:


    I had COVID in May, so I might have been had immunity already – or I’m about to get it.

    Not mutually exclusive.

    I’m reevaluating how I think of vaccines, and IMO we all should. It may be we need periodic boosters for some diseases, even if that isn’t the common practice.

    During the second half of 2020, when COVID vaccines were being tested to much expectation, there was much talk about how neutralizing antibodies waned over time. I thought this was normal. after all, B cells stop making antibodies when there are no more pathogens to chase down, or vaccine decoys like dead viruses or spike proteins. I recall saying, maybe even right here, that we don’t keep cranking out antibodies for measles, rubella, polio, etc. all our lives. That if we did, our blood would consist of nothing but antibodies, given how many vaccines we take in childhood.

    Instead, some B cells move to the bone marrow and become memory B cells. There they lie dormant until their target appears again. Then they go into action, along with the rest of the immune system and other memory cells of the adaptive part of the system.

    The question is whether these memory cells are enough to forestall infection years or decades later.

    The answer seems to be: it depends on the pathogen, the duration of the memory cells, and who knows what else.

    One thing I’d love to know is how likely someone who took the two dose course of Pfizer in 2020 would be to be infected with the original strain. I mean, if they were exposed to it. No one gets such exposure anymore, because that strain was replaced by other variants long ago. It no longer circulates. But they should have memory B and T cells from the vaccine still. would they act in time to stave infection or not?

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Right now in Baltimore there is a perfect illustration of the way “political correctness” prevents any meaningful progress on tough issues. In this case, I’m using “political correctness” to mean playing to a crowd, whether it is to show that you are tough and no-nonsense, or that you are empathetic and woke. In other words, politically correct for your side.

    A couple of weeks ago a guy jumped out of his car with a baseball bat and charged a bunch of squeegee kids. One pulled out a gun and killed him. Setting aside everything else, I think it’s interesting to focus on how the squeegee kids are being portrayed by various groups, and how that portrayal prevents any meaningful progress.

    First, here’s the reality. That particular corner is a five minute walk from where I live and I walk past or drive past multiple times per week. I encounter squeegee kids there (and elsewhere) all the time and am very familiar with what goes on. Although the way they are often described is that they wash windows for tips, that’s really not true. They are in traffic on a busy street, so there is no real time for a chance to do any actual washing. They are panhandling, and may spray a little water on your windshield if you give them some money. This panhandling appears to be pretty successful for them, as I often see pretty serious rolls of cash when they are making change for someone. The press often reports that they can make $100-200 per day. Most of the time when I pull up next to them and wave them off (I don’t give money to panhandlers) they usually just go on to the next car. Occasionally they will be aggressive or obnoxious and try to intimidate me into giving them something. And, while this hasn’t happened to me and I haven’t seen it, there are fairly frequent complaints that they snap off or bend windshield wipers.

    So that’s the background. The way it is playing out in the public debate is one side portrays the kids (and they are kids, the killer was 14) as thugs and gang bangers extorting and spreading terror, while the other side portrays them as misunderstood youth just trying to get by. The first side has a “lock ’em up” mentality, with a big police presence, while the second side says (and I’m not really exaggerating here) that nothing should be done until we solve the problems of poverty and lack of jobs.

    Both sides have, in my opinion, unrealistic views of what is actually happening and who these kids are, but they aren’t really trying to communicate with each other. Rather, they are simply reinforcing their views to their own side, playing to the echo chamber.

  32. Mister Bluster says:

    Has anyone said this yet?
    Uvalde, Texas
    One bad guy with guns.
    21 CORPSES

  33. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I’ve seen it. I’m trying to get up the courage to read it.

  34. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: A doctor?!!? What would SHE know about COVID-19?

    And how do we know that she’s not just shilling for some Big Pharma companies?

  35. CSK says:

    @Just nutha:
    I’m snickering and rolling my eyes, which is the reaction I assume you intended to elicit with your comment.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    (Warning: my comments are all over the place today)
    Some months back there was a big kerfluffle about how the Biden administration had hurt France’s feelings by convincing the Australians to buy our submarines rather than France’s. This analysis was wrong on so many levels it made my head explode. The real story, the one that was only reported in media that actually did foreign policy analysis, was that after a decade and a half of Australia migrating towards France’s view on relations with China, they had turned their back on them and re-embraced the US view. The French view was that big powers should only care about their own outcomes in dealings with China and not get involved in, say, coastline disputes or trade rights between the PRC and Vietnam. The US view is that China is aggressive and must be stood up to at every level, lest they become so regionally strong we have no choice to capitulate to them on virtually everything.

    So I found this quote interesting. It’s from an Atlantic interview with a policy analyst about France’s role to date in Ukraine. Here it is:

    Serhan: You’ve argued against the West giving Putin what Macron called an “exit ramp.” How did your own experience at NATO—a tenure that was bookended by Russian aggression in Georgia and Crimea—inform that position?

    Rasmussen: In hindsight, we reacted too mildly and we sent the wrong message to Putin, both after his invasion of Georgia in 2008 and his invasion of Ukraine in 2014. He calculated that he could, almost without any cost, grab land from his neighbors.

    That is why Macron’s statement is so disastrous. It suggests that we are approaching a new world order where it’s not the rule of law that matters but the rule of the strongest.

    The French appear still dedicated to their policy of “geo-realism”.

  37. Mikey says:

    Re: COVID, my wife and I had the original two shots of Pfizer in January/February 2021, a Pfizer booster in October, COVID hit us late this past April, and yesterday we got boosters but Moderna rather than Pfizer. No idea if this “cocktail” of different vaccines and Omicron (likely BA.2 based on when we got it) will mean we are better-protected against the newest Omicron sub-variants, but one thing’s for sure: whenever the Omicron-specific vaccine comes out we’re getting it.

    We all feel exceedingly fortunate that our initial vaccines and booster kept our COVID experience quite mild, but we don’t want to take any chances the next round will hit us hard.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: On a more serious note, I find myself wondering about how it will work when, probably in the next GQP Congress, Federal funding for Covid vaccinations goes the way of the dodo because it’s “too expensive” and “doesn’t work anyway.” I don’t know how expensive flu vaccines are to manufacture, but my understanding is that Covid vaccines are expensive/fragile (storage wise) and have other qualities that make it unlikely that the program can continue apart from fairly significant government expenditure on them.

    I have Medicare and my supplemental policy covers a lot of service that I don’t even use, so I’m not concerned for my own situation, but I do wonder how needing several boosters a year is going to play out over time. (I’ll be taking my 4th shot later this month so that I’m close to peak protection when the public school superspreader season starts.)

  39. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    It’s a good question. Most vaccines require refrigeration.

    The Pfizer lasts 2 weeks under ideal conditions, the Moderna till its expiration date, and the J&J for 2 years.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: As the story relates to Ukraine, it may be more significant that third parties are still in the mindset of being the important people who decide stuff about other people’s lives and futures. As an abstract principle, I will tend to agree with Macron’s hope for a way to have less fighting and dying, but I can also see why a national security professional might disagree on that point–especially when his country is not being called on to do any of the fighting and dying and has specifically announced that it won’t.

  41. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Oh, trust a Luddite, the snickering eyeroll was exactly the reaction he wanted! Well played, Cracker!

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I got my 4th booster last month while meeting with my new PCP. Nice person, great sense of humor, but these days I’m usually thinking “Who is this youngster?” and then they pull out pictures of their grandkids. Sigh.

    But seriously, the superspreader event is going on right now at Staples. Back to school sales started two weeks ago, and the ads hit TV-Land ™ over the weekend. I’m masked up, and already tired of people asking when the sneeze shield will come off of the counter. Le Sigh.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Well, it certainly makes sense that the vaccine with the dead baby extract as the preservative would have the longest shelf life. (Yes, I am making this stuff up as I go along; I think it’s part of the current expectations–alternate facts and all that.) On the Moderna vaccine, is it still requiring ultra-cold storage? (I don’t know about now, but originally, my state wasn’t buying any Moderna vaccine because we didn’t have warehousing cold enough to store it for shipping. I don’t suspect that’s changed any.)

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: “…people asking when the sneeze shield will come off of the counter. Le Sigh.”

    Given that glassed-in theater ticket booths and bank teller cages started with the Spanish Flu megadeath event (IIRC) and are still a thing in some places even now, I wouldn’t expect that the sneeze shield will be going away any time soon. 😉

  44. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Yep, that’s America. “How do we make a buck out of this?”

    I suddenly have an edit function. My first impulse is to delete this reply to a statement I replied to hours ago but forgot I had. On further thought I have decided to let it stand as a monument to forgetfulness.

  45. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Good question.

    Here’s what Pfizer’s Prevnar 13, a vaccine to prevent pneumococcus bacterial infections from 13 different strains, costs in the US. Say between $217 and $268. That’s rather high, though the vaccine’s supposed to be taken once in a lifetime, around age 60.

    Here’s a piece from October 2021 comparing prices per country. these are the prices charged to governments, which buy at least tens of millions of doses.

    Maybe the AstraZeneca vaccine will become more popular once it has to be paid for by patients or insurers. If it gets approved in the US, and if it makes variant vaccines.

  46. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    I think it was the multiple-dose vials of Moderna that needed the ultra-cold storage.

  47. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    As the story relates to Ukraine, it may be more significant that third parties are still in the mindset of being the important people who decide stuff about other people’s lives and futures.

    Couple of points. Ukraine is not asking for this exit ramp, i.e. the France negotiating separately with the Russians to take Ukrainian territory and put the people there under a puppet regime or direct rule, or perhaps do on a larger scale what has already been done to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians – forced relocation to refugee camps and replacement by loyal Russians. The Ukrainians are not part of these French/Russian discussions, but would be presented with an ultimatum to accept whatever had been decided for them. This, of course was France’s position in Georgia and 2014 Ukraine.

    And, yes, if we are providing billions of dollars and weaponry to the Ukrainians and supplying them vital intelligence and training, then we have a moral and practical obligation to be involved in the decision making.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Both Pfizer and Moderna use an mRNA molecule encased in a lipid coating. mRNA is a very delicate molecule, with very short survival times outside of a cell (inside a cell it’s used up in a very short time). As I recall, before the vaccine roll out, Moderna claimed its vials, once thawed from ultra low temps, could last for a couple of days, I think, at refrigerator temps. Pfizer had a shorter lifespan. the difference lay in the composition of the lipid coatings.

    FWIW, when I got both Pfizer doses last year, they were taken from coolers, indicating some kind of refrigeration to the injection site.

  49. Lost in Quebec says:


    The latest season of Picard* has me thinking about counterfactuals.

    *I’m trying not to binge the season, and so far have managed to see only three eps over the weekend. Please no spoilers without a spoiler alert.

    There are no spoilers in the comment to follow.

    Picard is horrible.

  50. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    Frankly, I would care more about an Elvis Costello biopic, myself.

    The music would be better, but Mr. Costello strikes me as a bit of a dick in a boring, repetitive way.

    I’d rather get the biopic from 100 years from now where shoddy research and a lack of familiarity has somehow merged Misters Presley and Costello into one Uber-Elvis. The late career Elvis, dogged by reports of his own death, giving interviews for tabloids that then proclaim “Elvis Is Alive!” and people aren’t sure it’s true, dressed in a ridiculous cape, performing in Vegas with Steve Naive, doing stripped down, melancholy versions of songs of youth, while sitting on a toilet.

    That’s the biopic I want. And I’m not sure it would be any less accurate than any other.

    The Costello & Nieve arrangement of “Temptation” is wonderful — there was a little box set of live EPs that captured bits of those shows.

  51. Stormy Dragon says:

    I sure am glad we did all that “Realpolitik” groveling last week:

    BRENT Analysis: Saudi Arabia Rejects Biden Request, Eyes on Nord Stream

    Saudi Arabia held on their ground and refused Biden’s concert to increase oil production by keeping their commitment to stick to the OPEC+ production plan.

  52. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Only if I’m lucky, my friend. Only if I’m lucky. I’ve been advised that the mask mandate is officially on for employees, but we aren’t allowed to keep our distance from customers and must take off our masks to engage with them if requested.

    I’ve gone back to wearing the masks you gave me when I was doing chemo. No, they don’t block anything, but when people see me standing there in a laughing panda mask, cackling and giggling maniacally, they keep their distance.

  53. Beth says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Just wait till red states start blocking vaccines from their Medicaid programs as “experimental”. That should be fun.

    Also, I thought “dead baby extract” was what made hot dogs taste so good?

  54. JohnSF says:

    News from the UK:

    In Conservative leadership, contest we have the latest round of MP votes

    votes in the third round of the vote.
    Rishi Sunak 115
    Liz Truss 71
    Penny Mordaunt 82
    Kemi Badenoch 58
    Tom Tugendhat 31

    So Tugendhat is out; probably most of his supporters will now swing to Sunak; leaving an amusing dogfight among the three others.
    Pass the popcorn.

    But, entertainment value aside, Johnson remains PM till it’s settled. 🙁
    And today showed the sort graciousness that is the essence of his nature, channelling his inner Trump:

    “The Leader of the Opposition and the deep state will prevail in its plot to haul us back into alignment with the EU as a prelude to our alignment to our eventual return.”
    “Some people will say that this is the end of our support for Ukraine.”

    If the man won’t just clear off, at least he could shut up.

    And temperature records tumble:
    37.1°C in Hawarden, hottest ever in Wales =98.8°F
    38.1°C in Santon Downham, Suffolk =100°F
    Forecast even hotter tomorrow, likely to break 41°C = 105.8°F

    Very uncomfortable; given that household air conditioning is almost rare as hen’s teeth.
    IIRC c.1% of homes have air con.
    Tonight is going to be bastard hot.
    Forecast for midnight 24c, 43% humidity, in houses that have built up to oven hot during the day.
    Icky sticky.

  55. JohnSF says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    That analysis is arguable.

    Saudi Arabia Crude Oil Production is at a current level of 10.46M, up from 10.21M last month and up from 8.394M one year ago. This is a change of 2.45% from last month and 24.62% from one year ago.

    Aziz Kenjaev seems to be over-interpreting a Saudi statement that medium term production can’t easily be pushed much higher.
    As he is also a crypto-bro, I’d take it with a pinch of salt.

  56. dazedandconfused says:


    Just in case this hasn’t occurred to northern denisons of the sub-arctic regions, who are unaccustomed to that, a good method to getting to sleep is a shower as long and as cool as you can stand it, which is cooler than first feels stand-able. You get used to the cool in stages and can usually get right down to pure cold tap water. Let the shivering set in a bit before getting out. The hot bed will feel good.

    With a bit of luck you can drop off before the sweating starts.

    Lotsa luck.

  57. Kathy says:


    I spent part of the summer of 85 in Cambridge, not far from London. I don’t recall whether it was in June or July, but it was nowhere near as hot as what got reported today. I think I was more disconcerted with sunsets around 9 pm. That was just wrong.

  58. JohnSF says:

    Yes, a cold shower before bed can work.
    It’s hint passed on from my father, who was with the RAF in India, where they often did that.

    OTOH, I sometimes find it just wakes me up. 🙁

  59. Gustopher says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: I’m wondering if a P100 cartridge mask would have the same effect of driving people away.

    They look insane, plus they are good at filtering, you can talk through them pretty clearly, and apparently comfortable. That could be a winning combination.

    American Airlines made someone take theirs off during a flight as it was disturbing other passengers, so that sounds like an endorsement to me.

  60. JohnSF says:

    I love the long dusks and late sunsets of Midsummer.
    Actual sunset on the longest day where I live is around 9:30 and depending on the weather it can twilight till 11.
    Some nights you can see the sunglow on clouds on the northern horizon till dawn. 🙂

    OTOH, midwinter days are brief, around seven and a half hours sunrise to sunset.
    And in the UK, it’s a big assumption that there is a visible sunrise or sunset in midwinter. 🙁

    Also, due to sun angle, insolation even at mid-day is pathetic; it’s a fraction of what you’d get in midwinter in the northern US.
    That’s why solar power has massive problems as year-round energy option in northern Europe.

  61. CSK says:

    @dazedandconfused: @JohnSF:
    Interesting. I’d always heard that cold showers were a way to tamp down, ah, lustful urges.

  62. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m glad we agree on the 3rd parties acting as the people who get to decide things. I will still hold that if an exit ramp were available (and I don’t believe one is) it would be up to the people fighting and dying to offer/avail themselves of it, but that, as a principle, whatever will reduce the amount of fighting and dying happening is worth considering at a minimum–acknowledging that I, particularly as an outsider, cannot do any ROI/CBA worth a rat’s ass.

  63. Kathy says:


    Short winter days I can take. Gloom, too. But sunsets that late felt like being in another planet.

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: I think it’s actually sodium nitrite, but dead baby extract may play a role, too. It’s hard to know what goes in hot dogs. [retching emoji] (Said the guy who bought a package of the cheapest bologna that WalMart sells on his last trip to the store.)

  65. JohnSF says:

    Yer doin it wrong!
    The way to control lustful urges is a warm shower.
    With a friend.
    A few hours later, all lustful urges should be in abeyance.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: I used a similar mask when I worked tossing watermelons during the summer at the produce warehouse. They’re very uncomfortable and my was unsuitable for use involving Covid-19 because it was vented.

  67. CSK says:

    I stand corrected…I think.

  68. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: As to the venting… in a world where no one is masking, and we’ve all gone “every man for himself,” I say fvck it.

    Confort is another issue though.

  69. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Used to use something similar many years past when working for an industrial services frim at the Rover car plant, when we used to have to work in the paint spray bays, or for a spot of variety the foundry.

    Not comfortable at all, but beats getting you lungs lacquered.
    Ah, the fun we used to have changing the flooring grids when the curing oven venting wasn’t working right.
    Or shifting a contaminated batch of forging sand from one of the casting hoppers.

  70. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnSF: In 1972 my first remembered trip to Ireland as a boy, I remember seeing a newspaper headline, “No Relief in Sight. May Reach 80 Degrees Again Tomorrow. ” (This was before the whole Celsius thing, of course)

  71. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: And buy a fan. Once you start sweating again, the fan will help evaporate the sweat and keep you cool.

  72. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: The thing is, Ukraine hasn’t asked France to do this negotiation. France has taken it upon itself. I find it hard to see this as anything but a sellout of the Ukrainians in order for France to play both sides.

  73. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: You know, I just can’t bring myself to buy food at Walmart. I know too much about how they treat their suppliers and what their suppliers do with respect to quality in return.

  74. BugManDan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I had a roommate in college that worked at a hotdog factory. His section was beef. He said it was just old cattle. Could be old bulls or more often old milk cows that had stopped producing. It was ground very fine to get rid of toughness, cooked in brine and then formed into dogs.

    The other kinds were essential the same. And unlike chicken farm/factories, they would only take healthy chickens.

  75. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    France has taken it upon itself.

    Which I understand and is the ” third parties are still in the mindset of being the important people who decide stuff about other people’s lives and futures.” I am sorry that I did not make my statement with a strong enough negative connotation to suit you, though. Either time.

  76. CSK says:

    Oh, yes. I think it was actually “Temperatures in Seventies Again; No Relief in Sight.”

    The U.K. has had ultra-hot spells before, in August 1911 and in 1930. Well before all our time. The temps reached triple digits.

  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: As I noted a couple of days ago, I tend not to notice inflation affecting what I buy beyond gas because I’ve shifted to what economists call inferior goods very quickly and easily. As to the specific purchase I made that day, the product is from an old Seattle meat packing firm that was purchased by venture capitalists and moved to Canada–in the same factory that makes Canadian Jumbo Hot Dogs IIRC–so I’m thoroughly conversant with the product’s quality–or lack thereof.

    I also tend to avoid shopping at WalMart, but their pencil is just too sharp on OTC medications that I use. The main reason that I avoid WalMart, though, is price, not product quality. It’s just mostly too expensive on the products I buy at the grocers. And even the impulse purchase of bologna that day was one cent over what I’d have paid where I normally shop. The other thing were either cheaper or not available at my regular store. (Which is also closer to my home.)

  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: Yeah. That. I found that using it was superior to breathing the dust and mold that was in the watermelon storage area. (This was back in the days before they were shipped in palletized containers and we used to buy bales of hay to spread on the floor where we stacked them (and added bonus, asthma wise [thumbs up emoji]).

    An advantage of the mask was that it blocked the smell emanating from melons that had split and started to rot from the inside out (as watermelons will do given the opportunity–every so often, one would throw an unnoticed rotting melon, which would explode on contact, to the catcher–fun times).

  79. JohnSF says:

    This is odd from Rasmussen.
    It’s true that initially France appeared sceptical about Ukrainian capacity for resistance.
    But that was far from unusual.
    And nervous about supplying heavy weapons; but again that was not restricted to Paris.
    See Germany.
    And indeed, there still seems to be a faction in the US NSC who are chin-stroking about “escalatory threshold management” nonsense: hence the non-supply of ATACMS munitions for HIMARS, failure to initiate training on flying and supporting western fighters, etc.

    Like many other countries, France is not giving details of items supplied.
    However, it is known to have sent 18 CAESAR 155mm self-propelled howitzers (a weapon system up there with the Panzerhaubitze or the Krab);
    instructed howitzer manufacturer Nexter SA to step up production to ‘war time’ mode to enable future supplies;
    “significant quantities” of VAB armored personnel carriers;
    Mistral infantry SAMs;
    Milan ATGM;
    ammunition of various sorts including vital 155mm shell including the extended range and terminal guided types;
    various other military materiel;
    $2 billion in direct financial aid;
    the French share of the EU programme now at € 2.2 billion;
    access to French intelligence resources including satellite intel; etc etc.

    If France is denying assistance to Ukraine, they’re choosing a damned expensive way to go about it.

    As for pushing an appeasement solution, it’s well known Macron and the Quai believe in keeping lines open to Moscow to enable a negotiated settlement.
    BUT that works as well for a compelled withdrawal i.e. a defeat, as for any other outcome.

    See the mid-June visit to Kyiv of Macron, Scholz, Draghi and Iohannis where French spokesmen emphasised they did not want Ukrainian concessions, just that they did not see humiliating Russia as a goal in itself.
    French embassy in Kyiv:

    ´We are in favour of a total victory with the restoring of the territorial integrity of all territory conquered by Russia, including Crimea’

    I’m pretty decidedly on the side of “support Ukraine on Ukraine’s terms” (short of direct NATO intervention).
    If France and Macron were attempting to coerce a settlement, I would condemn it.

    But I have to say I think a lot of this comes from “analysis” by some media columnists rather over-keen to spin any rhetorical nuances into an imminent alliance collapse.
    Splits = clicks.

  80. Beth says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I don’t know why; I love hot dogs but I can’t stand bologna. I don’t like the smell, the texture, anything about it. It’s horrible.

    Hot Dogs? Eat them all day long.

  81. JohnSF says:

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t count the AUKUS subs deal as all tied up just yet.
    There is some chatter in Canberra about emphasising the “other aspects” of the deal.
    Defence (mostly) and Navy still want to press ahead, but others, including some national security types are worried about the costs eating the whole defence budget, are a bit less eager.
    Also, those who don’t like the possible anti-proliferation aspects of transfer of weapons grade HEU.
    So some are emphasing the “wider than subs” elements of AUKUS.

    And hinting that at least as an interim, a European “super conventional” sub design might be an option.
    Or even back to the French for an LEU reactor driven design mated to US weapons/sensor systems. LOL.

    As I said at the time, a lot of AUKUS decisions in Australia related to domestic, politics, and the internal politics of the Liberal (that is, conservative) Party and Morrisons relations with the Murdoch NewsCorp editors and columnists.

    AUKUS eggs may not add up to oceangoing submersible chickens… 🙂

  82. CSK says:

    The Pulitzer Prize board has refused Trump’s request that they rescind the awards theyy gave the NYT and WaPo in 2018 for reporting on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

  83. Beth says:

    In the next step towards a two-tiered system of legal discrimination:

  84. B says:

    The Florida headline of the day-

    Cows block traffic for 30 miles on Florida’s Turnpike in Osceola County

    Too bad Dudley Moore wasn’t around to say ‘Keep moving, keep moving’.

  85. Jax says:

    @B: I wonder how the hell he let them out? Those trucks don’t have ramps, they have to back up to one! I guess if you could get backed up to an earthen berm on the side of the interstate it might work, but if his rig was on fire….them bitches be jumpin!

  86. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnSF: Fair enough. I suspect I often over react to anything France gets involved in.

  87. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnSF: I actually don’t think the subs, as such, was the important part of the deal, at least from a strategic perspective. So emphasizing “other aspects” is just fine with me.

  88. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: I’ve been thinking about the Elvis movie some more, and I think they will never do better than Bubba Ho-Tep, so I’m not sure why they bothered.

    Bruce Campbell as Elvis, and Ossie Davis as JFK, in a retirement home, fighting a mummy.