Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Millions could lose access to food stamps under Trump proposal, study finds

    Feature, not a bug, because causing children to go hungry is exactly what Jesus said to do.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If’ns anyone is interested, I sent Anne Laurie over at Balloon Juice a bunch of pics of frost flowers I took a few weeks ago and she is running them this AM. If you don’t know what a frost flower is, go take a look.

    I find frost flowers wondrous to behold,each one a unique and stunning expression of natures endless works. As with so much on our home planet, indeed Mother Earth herself, they are oh so fragile and only here for a very short while. Every time I see them I know I have been blessed all over again.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Wow, just wow. This guy has too much time on his hands but I love what he did with it.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jenga, taken to extremes. More people with waaaaaayyyyyy too much time on their hands. Gotta love it.

  5. CSK says:





  6. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Those are absolutely stunning photos–thank you for sharing that link.

    We are about to get our first big snowstorm of the season, starting later today. I hope all of our out-of-state presidential campaign workers are ready!

  7. CSK says:

    @Jen: We’re projected to get snow, wintry mix, snow, and wintry mix from today till Tuesday. Nasty. You?

  8. al Ameda says:


    If’ns anyone is interested, I sent Anne Laurie over at Balloon Juice a bunch of pics of frost flowers I took a few weeks ago and she is running them this AM. If you don’t know what a frost flower is, go take a look.

    Thank you much, those are beautiful pictures.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @al Ameda: I would say to all, “Thanx for the compliments.” but the truth is, it is damned near impossible to take a bad picture of a frost flower.

  10. Teve says:

    This is Florida. I should legally be allowed to wear a sarong to work.

  11. Teve says:

    I just read yesterday that the richest 8 men in the world own more than the bottom three billion people.

    Ryan Knight ️‍
    We are the wealthiest nation in history, but we don’t have universal health care, universal public college or universal child care because we are also the greediest nation in history. Our democracy is not dying because of Trump. He is the symptom. It is dying because of GREED.

  12. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Those are fabulous! I have never seen such a thing, how do they happen?!

  13. Teve says:

    Charlie Kirk is so goddamn stupid I’m starting to think he might be a parody account.

    Charlie Kirk
    · 19h
    Hunter Biden is requesting to have his financial records sealed

    His lawyers worry the records will be used “maliciously” by the media

    Exposing the truth about how he and his father sold out our country isn’t “malicious”

    RT if the Senate should subpoena his financial records!

  14. CSK says:

    @Teve: But Donald Trump’s financial records are totally and completely off-limits, correct? And must remain so. Yup. Sure.

  15. Teve says:

    @CSK: approximately 99% of the hundreds of replies just happen to mention that fact.


  16. Teve says:

    If you can’t think of anything to get someone for Christmas, get them the best aftermarket bidet ever made in the history of the universe.

  17. Kathy says:


    According to my hasty research, they form when moisture seeps out from plant stems under the right freezing conditions.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: @Kathy: From a comment I posted at BJ just 5 mins ago:

    FFs can be difficult to find. I have gone years without seeing them. Sometimes because conditions were never quite right for them (last year was one such). Other times because my schedule was too inflexible for me to search them out when conditions seemed ripe.

    It takes a period of wet weather to fully saturate the ground (2 1/2 days of steady rain did the trick this year) followed by a night of sustained below freezing temps (the length of time below 32 determines the size and extravagance of the flowers) while the ground is still soaked but not yet frozen. As the water in the stems freezes it is squeezed out cracks in the stem. As the ice expands out it pulls fresh water up the stem till it too freezes, and the cycle continues till the sun comes up. I always look for a mowed field or roadside as the blades of the mower fracture the stems which makes for the most extravagant FFs. I once found some as big as dinner plates. It got cold and then clouded up before the sun rose so that it stayed well below freezing not just all night but half the day too.

    The last requirement is a willingness to get up well before the sun and get out looking for them in the gray light of dawn. Once the sun hits the FFs, their fate is sealed. Because the temp was down to 18, these lasted longer than I expected. I have seen them disappear in as little as 5 or 10 mins at temps above 25.

  19. de stijl says:

    If you have Starz, Fargo is on right now.

  20. Mikey says:

    @Teve: It’s like Poe’s Law, but for idiocy.

  21. de stijl says:

    The opening music is an adaptation of a Marin Marais.

  22. Jax says:

    @Jen: We’ve been snowed in since Wednesday. We probably ended up with 18 inches or so, plus wind. The kids were really bummed it happened over the holiday and not on school days….our school district doesn’t declare snow days for any reason whatsoever, but a lot of the ranch kids get snow days. This would’ve been one of those “ranch kid snow days”. 😉

    Time to fire the tractor up and start clearing out the road so the little darlings can get to school in the morning! (evil laugh)

  23. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I live in CA now, but I used to live where it freezes, and I have vague recollections of things that looked a little bit like that. Thanks for sharing!

  24. de stijl says:

    The accents are OTT, but so much is correct.

    Old Dutch potato chips (Old Dutch the snappy chips / something something something something / Old Dutch Potato chips!) Forgot the middle bit.

    Bring on the Hamm’s beer jingle too.

    There is no Paul Bunyan statue.

  25. de stijl says:

    So much social anxiety.

    Passive aggressiveness as a coping devise.

  26. de stijl says:

    Continuity error. That’s a Cutlass. Not a Sierra.

  27. de stijl says:

    And Norm got the 3 cent stamp.

    Exit with Marais.

  28. de stijl says:

    If you have an affinity for classical music check out Marin Marais. He is the king of the double bass.

    There was a small French film Tout le Matins de le Monde. Gerard Depardu as dude.

    Biopic, so mostly boring, but the music is otherworldly transcendent. So dense. So full.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    Thank You FDR! (I think….)

    Just got a notice that my OASDI (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) benefits will increase a whopping 1.6% for 2020. I can’t get too excited last years increase was 2.8%.
    Of course the deduction for medicare increased by $11.10 so that leaves me with a net increase of $13/mo.
    Illinois starts selling legal recreational weed January 1. Maybe I’ll be able to buy a joint with my new found wealth.

    Illinois lawmakers became the first to legalize the adult (21 and over) use of cannabis through legislation, rather than ballot initiative.

  30. Jen says:

    @CSK: We are predicted to get anywhere from 8-14″ of snow, starting tonight and going all through Monday and well into Tuesday.

    @Jax: I hope we don’t get wind–we’re on a bit of a hill and the wind makes a dreadful howling noise, it freaks the dog out so we end up not getting much sleep. Also, that brings down branches and we’ll lose power, ugh.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl:

    There is no Paul Bunyan statue.

    I seem to recall having seen it somewhere in MN. I want to say Ely but I think I might be confusing it with a walleye statue I have seen there. Or maybe the Walleye statue was somewhere else.


  32. Mister Bluster says:

    There is no Paul Bunyan statue.

    On Mars…

    13 places you can see Paul Bunyan this summer

  33. Gustopher says:


    Feature, not a bug, because causing children to go hungry is exactly what Jesus said to do.

    Didn’t Jesus say that there would always be the poor?

    In the Gospel According To Andrew Lloyd Weber And Tim Rice, he chastised that socialist Judas who wanted to sell those fine oils used to keep Jesus’ hair magnificent, and then redistribute that wealth to the poor.

  34. CSK says:

    @Jen: No snow yet. But predictions are dire.

  35. sam says:

    And then there are these wonders by Theo Jansen: Strandbeast Evolution

  36. Jax says:

    Do any of you guys have weather stations you can recommend? I’d like to get one of the kinda fancy ones that measures wind speeds, has wifi so I can upload to weather underground, preferably solar but I can probably get power to it if need be, and a good weather camera would be great, but not necessary.

  37. de stijl says:

    Forgot how good Money Ball is. Such a cast.

    Not a baseball movie. Baseball is the framing device. OBP is the metaphor.

    Pitt. Chris Pratt. Brent Jennings. Hoffman with a belly.

    Regret. Creative disturbance before that was phrase.

    Pitt as Beane has a load of The Clash memorabilia in his office never commented on.

    Have you been to Oakland Colesium? Worst ballpark. And I have seen hundreds of games at the Metrodome.

    My friend was the woman who designed the graphics and figured out how to apply it to the infamous baggy in right field.

    Ford Trucks mostly. Cub Foods or TCF Bank on non televised games.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Too cool, too fucking cool. Thanx.

  39. Mister Bluster says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:..@Mister paul bunyan statues

    it only took this long for me to figure out that @de stijl: is talking about Fargo.
    No Paul Bunyan but there is this.

  40. Mister Bluster says:
  41. de stijl says:


    Go with the crowd.

    Highest rated.

    My ‘rents bought me an old school metereorlogical kit in the early 70’s. Totally analog. Go outside and watch the anemomter spin up. Grab the relative humidity.

    Didn’t have to. They mostly sucked at parenting. Short on the whole hugs thing. Swedes have coffee. Affection is …

    Affection is quite hard to define in that family structure.

    Buy yourself the best fucking weather station you can afford and hug your kids hard.

    They did give their oddball kid a thing he wanted. They tried.

  42. Mister Bluster says:


  43. Mister Bluster says:

    Joe Sestak is out!
    (of the Democratic Presidential campaign)

  44. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The little one was funny looking.

  45. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I thought of you today when we had to break into my chicken coop. The door latch was frozen solid (-19 this morning), so I had to send the teenager in through a tiny window with a hairdryer. For some reason, I thought you’d enjoy the hilarity of the moment. 😉

  46. de stijl says:


    There is a big ass northern pike statue in somewhere. Hayward? Maybe Spooner? NW Wisconsin lake country.

    I went deer hunting in Wascott. In the boonies. Never was going to actually shoot a deer. Did it once and never again.

    It died in front of me. Horribly. Red froth out of his mouth. The most terrible bellowing. He was dying. He was terrified. I caused that. I pulled the trigger.

    Never again.

  47. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    The Blue Ox!

    My heart is full.

    There is a weird waterfront strip joint in Duluth. I hate strip joints. But this one is the coolest. My experience is via Bachelor parties. I like naked women, but not strangers, thank you very much.

    On Sunday they have a jazz brunch. I’ve been.

    They have the most fascinating stuffed squirrel dioramas. Little stuffed squirrel as doctor. As priest. There’s 8 – 10 little squirrel dioramas behind glass.

    Plus horseshoe bar. I hate strip clubs as a class. This one kicks squirrel ass.

    Art was getting married to Angie, so I went.

  48. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I always internally call that guy Sleestak which are slow walking mummies in a rubber reptilian body suit. From Land Of The Lost.

    He was running? I did not know that.

    We shall miss Sleestak.

  49. de stijl says:


    Coldest I ever experienced was -48 F.

    We went out into it (very briefly) basically to say we did. We were stupid.

    Hairdryer? That’s a long extension cord.

    People who live in the south cannot imagine what northern winters can be like.

    One time it took me most of an hour to shovel out a passage out of my doorway. Wind was strong and it drifted up high in the lee. Most of time was spent actually trying to get the door open wide enough to employ the shovel properly. 1982?

    This was in St. Paul. Not Yakutsk. People who grew up in Miami Beach would be paralyzed.

  50. de stijl says:


    Bemidji, not Brainerd. And it is a goofy ass looking thing. Paul Bunyan as designed and built by a seven year old.

  51. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I’ve spent a winter or two in Minnesota, I know what that cold be like.

    Y’all got the humidity, I feel positively southern with my -19 and no humidity! (southern accent)

    Well….the chicken coop has serious power….but it’s all on the inside. You have to get IN there to plug it in, and I have “predator proofed” really well.

    (Note to self….call electrician and put a plug on outside, for future hairdryer incidents.) 😉

  52. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I lived in central minnesota, right off the interstate. Worked graveyards at the Perkins there, waaay back in the 90’s. Don’t know if it’s still standing or not, but daaaaang, did I meet some characters there. 😉

  53. de stijl says:


    Whatever that was I approve. Stupendous.

    Giger, Michaelangelo, Escher.

  54. DrDaveT says:


    The door latch was frozen solid (-19 this morning), so I had to send the teenager in through a tiny window with a hairdryer.

    We lived a bit farther south, but I do remember that one particularly cold Christmas visit to Grandma’s house when the car wouldn’t start because the crankcase was frozen, so my dad went out with a propane torch to crawl under the car and warm it up but that wouldn’t work because the propane liquified in the nozzle before it could burn, so instead he took apart an electric space heater, defeated the anti-tip switch, put it back together, and ran an extension cord from the porch light fixture out to where he’d put the space heater on its side under the car. Half an hour of that, and the car started right up…

  55. Mister Bluster says:

    Oakland Coliseum. I saw the A’s v ? in the 80’s. It was a sunny day game. Didn’t seem all that bad to me. I’ve heard it has deteriorated.
    Saw the Giant’s play the Mets (?) at Candlestick one time. Also a day game. Nasty winds.*
    I remember the Giants won in the bottom of the 9th.

    *During the first All Star Game of 1961 (at Candlestick) Giants pitcher Stu Miller was blown off balance by a gust of wind and was charged with a balk. Two years later, wind picked up the entire batting cage and dropped it 60 feet (18 m) away on the pitcher’s mound while the New York Mets were taking batting practice. WikiP

  56. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: I vaguely recall some tense mornings with blowtorches trying to get tractors started when I was a kid. Now we just go get the #1 fuel from the airport for the giant heaters.

    Even that fuel gels up at certain levels of cold, though. Dad suspects they’re not getting the fuel they are paying for. 😉

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl:

    There is a big ass northern pike statue in somewhere. Hayward? Maybe Spooner? NW Wisconsin lake country.

    The north country is peppered with that shit. Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie. It would be easy to make fun of it until one remembers the Corn Palace, the worlds largest ball of string, the worlds biggest rocking chair (I think the first was just down the road from me in Cuba Mo but there are several of them now) etc etc etc, and of course the epitomic tourist trap Wall Drug. Which I have to say is well worth the stop if for no other reason than to gawk at the tourists.

  58. DrDaveT says:


    The north country is peppered with that shit. Walleye, Northern Pike, Muskie.

    My brother-in-law once dated a woman who had been Miss Coho Salmon, from Honor MI.

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @DrDaveT: Better than Miss Bull Moose from Kabetogama, MN.

  60. Kathy says:

    I decided to make a fusion kind of chicken cordon bleu. The regular kind, as I know it, stuffs the flat chicken breast with ham and cheese. I wanted, at first, to substitute the ham with chorizo.

    I did, but I went further.

    I applied bread crumbs only on one side. On the other I smeared refried beans, chorizo with onions and tomato sauce, and manchego cheese.

    For various reasons, I finished baking the dish around 8 pm on Sunday, so I won’t know how well it came out until lunch today around 2 pm CST.

    I think it would be easier not to cook the chorizo beforehand. Just remove it from the casing, slice it lengthwise in half, and stuff the chicken with it, plus beans and onions and red sauce and cheese.

  61. Teve says:

    Gabriel Zucman
    Nov 30
    In 1950, a worker paid full time at the federal minimum wage earned 60% of the average income in the US

    Today it’s 20% — the lowest level since the creation of the minimum wage in 1938

  62. gVOR08 says:

    I lived in Arlington TX for a couple years back around 1970. At lunch one day ran into another guy who, like me, was born and raised in ND. We started talking about winters there. Ended up with the rest of the group going. ‘Haha, listen to these guys tell tall tales. Want us to believe there are electric engine heaters that people plug in overnite, even claim there are parking lots with electric plugs.’

    ETA – Link failed, you can search google images. Mention “block heater” or you’ll get electric car plugs.

  63. Mister Bluster says:

    Rep. Duncan Hunter to change ‘not guilty’ plea on campaign finance violations
    A hearing notice was posted Monday morning on the U.S. District Court docket, but it’s unclear what Hunter will be changing his plea to. An attorney for the California Republican could not be immediately reached for comment.

  64. EddieInCA says:
  65. Kit says:

    Don’t even try to pretend that people voted for that Nazi because of anything other than Hillary’s emails.

  66. Kathy says:

    So the chorizo chicken cordon bleu was retty good.

    But: 1 ) I couldn’t really taste the beans (and did I took a while to figure out how to put them in!)

    and 2) It occurs to me it would be far easier, and faster, to simply bake some milanesas, cut them in small pieces, cover them with the chorizo and sauce and cheese, put them in the oven to melt the cheese.

    Next time.

  67. DrDaveT says:


    I think it would be easier not to cook the chorizo beforehand.

    Easier, but much less safe. It’s notoriously hard to get raw sausage to cook properly as a stuffing inside poultry. Either you leave the pork undercooked, or you hammer the bird.

    The modern option is to microwave the stuffed poultry to get the interior(s) nearly cooked, then roast to get the browning you want.

  68. Teve says:

    Trump Orders Navy to Strip Medals From Prosecutors in War Crimes Trial -NY Times headline.

    Not going to burn one of my New York Times allowances on Trump.