Open Forum

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

The floor is yours.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Suspicious substance mailed to ‘Straight Pride’ organizers turns out to be … glitter

    “My neighbors are now probably pretty irritated with me,” he said while describing himself and his glittered associates as “victims”.

    Racioppi lamented the “violence” they received at the hands of the anonymous glitter-sender.

    “I wouldn’t wish this for anyone,” he said.

    Awwwwww… Pobrecito. The horror of being straight, white, and male. It must be tough bearing up under such a heavy cross.

  2. Teve says:

    I find it amusing that Facebook and Twitter, both run by socially dysfunctional manchild nitwits, can’t figure out what to do about Nazis and abusers and murderers and foreign operatives, whereas Revelry, a site primarily used by women, is like “(WHISTLE) YO, LISTENUP–NAZIS, HIT THE FUCKIN BRICKS!”

    I, for one welcome our feminist overlords 😀

    seriously though if I ran Facebook the first idiots I’d get rid of are the ones detailing their fresh vs. aged urine therapy protocols.

  3. Teve says:

    One of the shitty things about the Trump Era is how you’ll read something that in any normal time would make you say “Come on, get the fuck outta here.” but now you pause and think “…I really hope this is conspiracy nonsense.”

    Fred Harding

    Watching him on Tucker, it’s clear now.

    The Homeless are going to be the next group going to camps, perhaps under the guise of “Public Health” concerns. They’ll be the test case for internment of American citizens.

    They are going to keep working their way up the ladder.

    3:24 AM – 2 Jul 2019

    95% odds this is bullshit. 5% chance by next year Sean Hannity will be praising Freedom Camps.

  4. Teve says:
  5. Teve says:

    A Day of Sorrow for American Democracy

    The Supreme Court’s contorted reasoning in a gerrymandering case leaves a fundamental flaw in our constitutional democracy without hope of a judicial remedy.

    6:00 AM ET
    Charles Fried
    Professor of law at Harvard and solicitor general in the Reagan administration

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: John Deere already won that point of law.

  7. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The john deere case led to a copyright office extension allowing farmers the right to repair, but that extension expired last year and I haven’t kept up with what’s happened.

  8. Teve says:

    Open Forum: Monday was my 98th 5k of 2019. If anybody has suggestions for pumped-up workout songs please give them. There’s only so many times I can listen to Right Above It and Can’t Be Touched etc 😛

  9. Kathy says:

    I’m watching Star Trek Discovery. It’s clear one ought to quit trying to make sense of the timeline. It’s not just the Klingons, but the infinite speed spore-powered drive, the whole fungi spores as The Force.

    I wonder how Trekkies are coping.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: here’s some obscure ones that I’ve used:
    – Todd Rundgren’s “Just One Victory” for when you need a song that starts out slow nd just builds
    – Steriogram’s “Walkie Talkie Man” for a full speed ahead raucous good of a song
    – Jenn Grant’s “Getcha Good”
    – Imelda May’s “Mayhem”
    – Creature’s “Kandahar”
    – Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer”
    – John K. Sampson’s “When I Write my Masters Thesis”
    – Sam Roberts’ “Detroit ‘67”
    – King Khan and the Shrines’ “Stay Away”

  11. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: Creature’s “Kandahar” just reminded me of Song 2 by Blur, which I somehow neglected to put on the playlist. 😀

  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    Proud Boys go door to door in a Philadelphia LGBT neighborhood putting intimidating stickers on everyone’s doors and threaten the residents on their enemies list:

    (thread)(thread)I research the far-right.Almost a dozen members of the violent SPLC-designated hate group Proud Boys paid me a threatening near-midnight visit Saturday, asking a neighbor if he knew me and instructing him to tell "that fat bitch" to stop.— Gwen Snyder is uncivil (@gwensnyderPHL) July 2, 2019

  13. Kathy says:

    So Malcolm Gladwell’s new season of Revisionist History is out.

    I’m wondering whether I should bother. On occasion he comes up with truly brilliant episodes, like the very first one on moral licensing, or the one about Sammy Davis Jr’s relationship with Nixon. But sometimes he drops the ball in spectacular fashion, or he engages in trivia, or both.

    The end of season two, in particular, combined both.

    The next-to-last episode concerned McDonald’s decision to switch from beef tallow to vegetable oil for making fries. That’s not entirely trivia, as the decision came from pressure to deliver a healthier product. What made it trivial, was that Gladwell did not say whether vegetable oil is in fact healthier than beef tallow. It was about how fries taste.

    The last episode mentions a double-blind nutrition study. There are very few of those. This case involved groups of people given things like margarine instead of butter without knowing what they got, among other things. But the episode focused on the researcher’s son looking for, and finding, the old tapes from the study. No mention, again, of any results.

    For someone who claims to be besotted with the Big Ideas, he tends to let the Big Conclusions unexamined.

    Well, maybe someday someone can do a Re-Revisionist History podcast.

  14. Teve says:
  15. Teve says:

    @Kathy: As someone who’s read literally every issue of The New Yorker for over 20 years, I have 2 comments:

    1) I deeply, deeply enjoy Malcolm Gladwell articles.
    2) They are very often frauds.

    Gladwell has perfected a formula for an intellectually surprising article which is captivating and seems backed up by science and fascinating anecdotes. The problem is the substance is often bullshit. But it’s so well done!

    Why You Shouldn’t Trust Malcolm Gladwell

    The Dumb, Dumb World of Malcolm Gladwell

    Am I Missing Something or Is Malcolm Gladwell a Fraud?

    I still enjoy the pieces, but I’m aware that it’s often a scam.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    I saw some random post (might have been somewhere on this site) that the reason Pence got pulled back to the White House at the last minute the other day was because Trump was replacing him on the ticket with Ivanka. It gave me a chuckle and I figured I soon forgot about it. But instead I find it sticking in my head. Was this why he carted her along on his European trip and to the DMZ in Korea? He’s such an addled mess of bodily fluids and grunting urges that I could see him doing this.

    I realize the odds are vanishingly small even for a proto-human like him, but please, please god, let him do it.

  17. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve: Am I supposed to somehow be irate that Apple has a monopoly on maintenance of their proprietary product that you knew was proprietary when you bought it? Be glad that iPhones can be repaired at all; that’s increasingly rare for a consumer product.

  18. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: I paid $200 for this Nokia 6.1, which is the best phone I’ve ever had, and I have little sympathy for Apple customers, but the whole apparatus of using patent and copyright law to further redistribute money to the plutocracy is something we should all be concerned with.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He couldn’t recognize glitter? WTF?

  20. Kathy says:


    Here’s a comment about Gladwell I wrote last year right here:

    There are some issues. One, Gladwell is a very skilled writer and he’s very persuasive. He can knit a compelling narrative solely to make a point. He weaves in rhetorical tricks into it, and these can pass unnoticed as such. He also performs very well, which adds to his persuasiveness.

    Now, he usually backs things up with facts. But one has to be careful to note the facts do support his argument, rather than considering the argument alone.

    So, yeah. It’s pretty obvious.

    But sometimes he hits upon something, like moral licensing, or the amount of money some universities have in their endowment funds. So it’s infuriating when he brings up something really interesting, and detours to the story and narrative and leaves the really interesting bit behind.

    Then, too, I’m more skeptical of the facts he cites as fact now.

  21. Kathy says:


    I think of Apple as a bit of a cult. Sure, the original mac, way, way, back in the mid-80s, was a very intuitive machine to use. As opposed to a PC running DOS, or even an Apple ][e, you could see some of what the thing could do without knowing any commands like “RUN” or “DIR A:”

    But that was a long time ago. Windows was about as intuitive, especially from Windows 95 onward(*). I had little trouble switching from DOS to Win95 back in the day. The same goes for the iPhone vs Android (though I find Android has far fewer annoying “features”).

    Since then, the company seems to be coasting on a sleek design and little innovation.

    (*) Except for Windows Edsel; sorry, Windows New Coke; I mean, Windows 8.

  22. EddieInCA says:


    If anybody has suggestions for pumped-up workout songs please give them.

    “Invincible” by Adelita’s Way.
    “Forgotten Sons” by Rise Against
    “Strength to go On” by Rise Against
    “Bleed it Out” by Linkin Park
    “Remember the Name” by Fort Minor
    “London Calling – Live” by Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Grohl

  23. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: I have a few friends sharing that notion as well, re: Ivanka on the ticket. It seems unlikely to me, for a lot of reasons, but with this crew in the White House you never really know.

  24. Jen says:

    I found this blog post, by Sue Bird (Megan Rapinoe’s girlfriend) to be very amusing.

  25. Teve says:

    @Jen: the stuff about her pink hair was the best.

    ““Remember the Name” by Fort Minor” Oooo good choice. I’ll fit that somewhere near Bulls on Parade. 😀

  26. Stormy Dragon says:

    BTW, whatever happened to Butch Bracknell?

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Jen: It would be especially cute if we got Ivanka on one side and either Harris or Warren on the other.

    Talk about blowing the minds of the alt-right and all others who don’t think women have the brains to be in power….

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Teve: 5k is fine, but I don’t understand the folks who want to do marathons.

    The first guy who did a marathon dropped dead upon completing it. Why would anyone try to replicate that?

  29. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: if successful, that would be the first time a President wanted to boink their VP since Nixon…

  30. Matt says:

    @Kathy: The only real advantage mac had over PC was the usage of a superior processor architecture. Apple’s RISC CPUs were better or as good as wintel CISC CPUs in every category of performance for a time. Wintel chips caught up though because Apple’s partners couldn’t dump the money into chip design to keep up with intel/amd in performance improvements. That’s why apple straight up turned their macs into PCs by using intel CPUs. They are going to ARM now so we’ll see how that goes.

    Oh and for a short period of time mac had a superior audio editing suite.

    Star trek discovery is a terrible joke and I’m amazed it’s still going as all the old trekkies I know don’t even watch it. I can’t stand what they did to the lore. Let alone the magical vastly more advanced tech in an era hundreds of years prior to the next generation and ds9…

  31. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: I think marathon running might be more destructive than beneficial. I just turned 43, I don’t want to wreck my joints or prematurely age my mitochondria. I need intense daily exercise to lessen depression and insomnia, and keep the vodka and Camels away. I can do 5ks every other day, and some yoga and weights, but IDK if I could do much more and recover.

  32. SenyorDave says:

    @Teve: If anybody has suggestions for pumped-up workout songs please give them.
    I’m partial to songs with a strong beat when I workout
    Ballroom Blitz – “The Sweet”
    Easy Living – Uriah Heep (I’ve been teased mercilessly by a friend on this one but it works for me, driving beat)
    Heartbreaker – Pat Benatar
    Hey, St. Peter – Flash and the Pan

  33. Teve says:

    @SenyorDave: people have some good suggestions. I’m not a big music person but really aggressive music can definitely intensify your workout.

  34. Kathy says:


    Plus there were cheap PCs but not cheap Macs. I still find their prices outrageous, especially when it comes to accessories.

    I really don’t mind more advanced tech now, or more advanced-looking tech now, even if the show takes place years before Kirk, Spock, and McCoy took to the airwaves. You want to make use of current visual effects, after all.

    But it would have been better for the fans to do a sequel rather than a prequel, or take it to an alternate timeline like the new movies did.

  35. SenyorDave says:

    @Teve: Also,
    Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & the Waves
    Super Freak – Rick James

  36. Teve says:

    @Kathy: Macs used to come at a premium, but a friend of mine who’s in IT in San Francisco told me last week that he priced a PC with the same specs as the new Mac pros, from a gaming company called Digital Storm, and the Mac pro was actually significantly cheaper. I’m not going to be paying more for a Mac though simply because I haven’t been a power user for over a decade. If I replaced my $200 Nokia 6.1 phone with $1,000 iPhone I’d be 10% happier for 500% the price.

  37. An Interested Party says:

    It would be especially cute if we got Ivanka on one side and either Harris or Warren on the other.

    Actually, I suspect a debate between Buttigieg and Pence would be something to behold, especially when they started talking about religion…

  38. Kit says:


    I still enjoy the pieces, but I’m aware that it’s often a scam.

    A scam? Certainly not. I haven’t run across much Gladwell in print these past few years, but when I do, I gobble it up. And by print, I really mean online articles. I’ve got no time for or, nor interest in, his books. Podcasts aren’t really for me, although I’ve listened to a few of his and thought them excellent.

    Criticism of Gladwell seems to fall into two broad sour-grapes buckets: 1) academics annoyed that he simplifies real research and is widely popular, and 2) second-rate journalists sniping from the sidelines, jealous of his popularity, and (embarrassingly) offering up themselves as examples of how it’s really done.

    These groups remind me of two of my favorite quotations:

    Men will find it easier to criticize me than equal me! (Zeuxis: ancient Greek painter)


    Criticism finds acceptance in a culture that measures success by small errors rather than by large-scale successes.

    As for myself, the dozen or so times that I’ve read a major article by him were the intellectual high points of my day. He invites me to think. He challenges me. And half the time, I end up disagreeing. But when I do, I don’t think him a fraud. Instead I’m grateful for the mini, masterful intellectual adventure he set me on.

    I can find the facts anywhere. I follow several writers with whom I generally agree. I know a few writers who can often teach me. But no other name springs to mind when it comes to writers who regularly wake me from my intellectual slumbers.

  39. James Joyner says:

    @Teve: @Kit: “Scam” and “fraud” are weird ways of assessing the flaws in Gladwell’s work. I agree with Steven Pinker, whose review of a Gladwell book was linked in the first piece in Teve’s comment, that Gladwell is a dilettante and sometimes makes mistakes because he doesn’t fully understand a concept that has been explained to him. But in his articles, books, TED talks, and podcasts Gladwell is always effusive about the actual experts. He spends much more time in SSRN reading articles than I do as an actual academic. He’s brilliant and intellectually curious and tries to make connections across a lot of fields of scholarly endeavor. Inevitably, he’s going to get some of it wrong. But, as Kit implies, Gladwell’s job is to entertain and make people think.

    People in my field, international relations, tend to hate Thomas Friedman for the same reason behaviorial economists and social psycholigists dismiss Gladwell. Both are popularizers who have made their fame and fortune translating the work of others. But Gladwell is right: few academics are good at writing for the masses. I’m no Gladwell or Friedman but I’m decent at that. But I’m really more a policy wonk than a political scientist at that point and don’t do all that much real social science. Those who do both well, like Dan Drezner, are vanishingly rare—and are often subject to the same sort of disdain that Gladwell gets because pure academics tend to resent those who become famous from writing for mass audiences rather than for their niche.

  40. Kit says:

    @James Joyner: It’s not just academics who get annoyed at popularizations, of course. We all love films, but when our own little area of expertise is portrayed on the big screen, we suddenly react as if Hollywood failed a documentary!

  41. James Joyner says:


    We all love films, but when our own little area of expertise is portrayed on the big screen, we suddenly react as if Hollywood failed a documentary!

    Yup. It’s hard for me to watch films portraying the modern military because they seldom even try to get the details right.

  42. Teve says:

    I have no problem with popularization, in fact most of what I read could be considered a popularization, three of the best books I’ve read this year Are She Has Her Mother’s Laugh by Carl Zimmer, the Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and Flash Boys by Michael Lewis. But those people present complex subjects from a multitude of angles and their presentations respect the complexity. I made it clear that I like gladwell’s writng, I even went to see him give a talk at Duke* a few years ago, but he has a formula of setting up a Conventional Wisdom that’s not wholly accurate, then expertly cherry picking items and data and stories so that you come away with this deep cosmic lesson that is counterintuitive to the CW and therefore seems clever. Then when he’s called on that bullshit move he says oh well you’re not supposed to stop with what I wrote I’m just trying to get people hooked they’re supposed to then move on to the deep real research, which nobody ever does. I like him, and I still read everything he writes, but I like it in the same way that I like Penn & teller’s Fool Us, I like seeing the sneaky maneuver masterfully executed. It’s fun. It’s sad that he’s almost never in the New Yorker any more, but if I could go to GE or IBM or wherever and babble pseudo-profundities for an hour and get a $50,000 check on my way out the door I wouldn’t have time to write for the New Yorker either 🙂

    (BTW if you haven’t seen it check out his 15-minute story about David and Goliath that’s available on YouTube. Very clever!)

    * Boooo Duke Sucks

  43. Kathy says:


    Last year my mom was having trouble with her Mac’s wireless keyboard. She wound up buying a new one, and the price at the Apple store led me to suggest the staff should wear masks and carry guns. It doesn’t even have a number keypad.

    As performance goes, it may be a Mac is now comparable in price to a similar PC. But also there’s no economical, less powerful Mac available for a lower price. Whereas PCs range from dirt cheap to gold-plated. Apple only does gold-plated.

    Speaking of price, I’m more appalled each day for what a phone goes for these days. granted, “phone” is a major misnomer. They’re now really very portable computers with a phone app. Which makes the frequent trading more ridiculous. Again, granted, the change in model every two or three years is aided by phone distributors subsidizing the phone, or letting one pay it over two or three years.

  44. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: Wait, you mean Agnew?!! Now I’m going to have that image in my head all day….

  45. Teve says:

    @Kathy: as the kind of person whose first computer was an apple 2gs and who remembers when Linux was a big stack of 3.5 disks, I definitely can’t say that Apple stuff is as cheap as PC stuff, it’s not. My friend was just making the point that by specs at the moment the (high-end) base systems are pretty comparable. Apple’s high-end boutique model is not for me, but I accord it some measure of success because they didn’t go the way of tandy or commodore or 50 other competing standards. (I had a particular fondness for Be, personally).

    paying $1,000 for a new phone looks ridiculous to me, but I guess if you look at the total cost of ownership, I got really lucky and got an actually unlimited, uncapped AT&T plan for 50 bucks a month, and now that plan is more like 75 or 100 a month, and so in the long run my $200 phone is not terribly cheaper overall.

  46. Teve says:

    Kind of surprised the 4th of July post still isn’t up.

  47. MarkedMan says:


    he priced a PC with the same specs as the new Mac pros, from a gaming company called Digital Storm, and the Mac pro was actually significantly cheaper.

    This has been true for a while. I had a MacBook Air through my work and when I moved over to a different position (this was 2015) I decided some of the apps I need to use were only native on PC so I went that route. The IT department has strict standards on things like durability of hard drives, displays and keyboards and notebook they gave me ended up being more expensive than the MacBook Air had been 4 years prior. When I compared them side by side the Air display was very noticeably better, sharper and brighter. I also assumed that Windows had reached a level of maturity comparable to Apple products but that proved to be very wrong. The nature of the PC / Windows environment is that one party makes the operating system and hundreds of other parties are responsible for the hardware. As configured from the manufacturer the touchpad had come with he wrong driver and it took weeks before I figured that out. (Our IT department was good, but mine was a new model and different from the roughly other 10K units they had to deal with and so I had work it out on my own or accept a whole new computer and start over) Even more annoying, I had gotten into the habit of just closing my Air when done with it and it was in exactly the same place, instantly, when I reopened it. I could literally go months without shutting down or rebooting the MacBook. The PC had the same feature, but about one in 10 times it failed and it would go through a 10 minute plus rebooting process. If it had failed more often I would have never used that feature, but it was just rare enough that I would get lazy, use it, and then find myself in a meeting doing a song and dance while I stalled my presentation until the computer rebooted.

    All that said, even though I don’t like Windows/PC myself, I’m glad they exist and happy for those who like them. I find Android phones incredible annoying and the Android operating system itself to be a beeping blaring nightmare, different on every phone you pick up, and a nightmare to develop for if you need access to video, audio or the microphone. But I’m glad they exist and happy that people who do like them have a wide choice.

  48. MarkedMan says:


    paying $1,000 for a new phone looks ridiculous to me

    At the risk of sounding like a Mac fanatic, the top end Samsung also goes for $1000. And the cheapest iPhone you can buy is $450 and is a darn good phone (better than the four year old model I’m still fairly happy with.) You can buy that same phone directly from Apple as a refurbished model for $379 and all their refurbished products have the same warranty as a new one, are absolutely pristine (they replace the case if their is any sign of use) and come in a new shrink wrapped box with all the accessories, exactly as if new. So yes, the iPhone can cost $1200, but the iPhone can also cost $379 for a really nice phone with a great ecosystem.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kit: @James Joyner: I believe that it was Howard Hughes who responded to such a complaint by saying “I’m making a movie here, dammit, not history.”

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:(I think they’re all distracted by the fight over voting Trump, “blue no matter who,” and voting “principles/3rd party.) ETA: Aw snap, my smiley face winking emoji was deleted– 😉

  51. Kathy says:


    paying $1,000 for a new phone looks ridiculous to me,

    There was an attempt a couple of years back to market a phone that could substitute for a desktop PC. The idea was to plug it into a docking station with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It failed, but it was a good idea (though how’d you answer the phone when docked??) IMO we’ll get to that eventually, perhaps with a wireless connection. It makes way more sense to pay that much for a phone if it’s also a desktop, laptop, tablet, and entertainment center.

  52. Kathy says:


    So yes, the iPhone can cost $1200, but the iPhone can also cost $379 for a really nice phone with a great ecosystem.

    I’ll relay just one thing, and won’t go into detailed explanation.

    My employer pays for my cell line, and we don’t get much data included with it. So I have to save data use for really relevant things. Therefore I set data-intensive apps like Kindle, Audible and podcast players to download only on WiFi and not use cell data.

    For a brief time I had an iPhone 4. It was ok, but it had the nasty habit of popping up a warning that “cellular data is not turned on for this app,” whenever I ran any of the data-intensive apps I had deliberately set to use no cell data. The damned warning came up every time, and it blocked the use of the app until I tapped to dismiss it.

    That alone(*) decided me never, ever, again to own an iPhone.

    (*) There were multiple other issues, like shoddy manufacturing, but I said I’d only tell you about one.

  53. Stormy Dragon says:


    Would you be happier if he meant Ford?

  54. Kit says:


    BTW if you haven’t seen it check out his 15-minute story about David and Goliath that’s available on YouTube. Very clever!

    That was well worth the 15 minutes. Thanks!