Open Forum

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

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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. Teve says:
  2. @Teve:

    Mansplaining for Christians

  3. Teve says:

    romance tips for angry incels

    BBC video on FB, I couldn’t find it on YouTube so I hope it links properly.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Isn’t it always that way? Or is that just my Catholic upbringing speaking?

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The dossier marked “official-sensitive” prepared for the EU Exit Negotiations Board is dated 28 August. It details how the findings of all advisory groups informing the government on the Northern Irish border are being kept deliberately under wraps to try to avoid hampering Britain’s intended renegotiation of the backstop agreed to by Theresa May.

    Alternative systems to avoid a hard Northern Irish border after Brexit have become the central tenet of Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy. He sees this as a way of unlocking a new deal with Europe and has claimed that there are “abundant solutions”.

    However, the damning report shows there is no single deliverable solution at present, despite the fact Johnson is almost a third of the way through the “30 days” target that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, gave him to come up with a fresh border proposal.

    The report said: “It is evident that every facilitation has concerns and issues related to them. The complexity of combining them into something more systemic and as part of one package is a key missing factor at present.”

    Johnson’s claim that a hard border could be avoided with mobile checks of livestock and crops was dismissed by experts as the most unlikely option to work. The report said: “Overall there were a number of concerns surrounding the deliverability of technological facilitations.”

    Keep fucking that chicken, Boris.

  6. CSK says:

    Donald Trump claims never to have heard of Category 5 hurricanes, even though there have been five during his administration.

  7. Kathy says:


    He also thinks it will hit a state that’s nowhere near its path.

  8. CSK says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, I saw that about Alabama. There’s no way for the cultists to spin that, so they’ll ignore it.

    Rex Tillerson called Trump “a fucking moron.” John Kelly called him “an idiot.” James Mattis said that dealing with Trump was like dealing with a sixth grader. Any argument?

  9. Moosebreath says:


    “Donald Trump claims never to have heard of Category 5 hurricanes, even though there have been five during his administration.”

    What’s even weirder is that Trump says that every time there’s a Category 5.

    I am next expecting him to say he knows far more about hurricanes than all the meteorologists.

  10. Kathy says:

    Here’s one thing I’ve been wondering:

    In an airline with a hub and spoke system, how many passengers traveling from a small airport to a hub are visiting the city the hub is located in, and how many are only making connections there?

  11. CSK says:

    @Moosebreath: How funny. I was thinking the same thing: that he’d brag about his superior knowledge of hurricanes.

  12. Stormy Dragon says:


    They probably told him the hurricane was hitting the Bahamas and his swiss cheese brain turned “Bahamas” into “‘Bama”

  13. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Which, as we all know, are situated west of Georgia.

  14. Bill says:


    In an airline with a hub and spoke system, how many passengers traveling from a small airport to a hub are visiting the city the hub is located in, and how many are only making connections there?

    Kathy I flew over 400,000 flight miles between 1996 and 2001. I mostly flew Northwest or Continental. Northwest and Continental’s hubs were- Minneapolis, Memphis, Detroit, Tokyo-Narita for NW and Houston and Cleveland for Continental. The amount of times I ever stayed in any of those places? Twice. One time it was Cleveland and I played in a tournament there. (And it was a terrible trip for a long list of non-Airline related reasons I won’t get into) The other, Detroit, because Dear wife and I’s plane had mechanical issues in Amsterdam and we missed our US connection on our way home from our trip to Poland, Prague, and Vienna.

    NW didn’t have a good reputation but they always took great care of me and DW. I can write a very long comment based on my 96-01 experiences.

  15. Bill says:


    He also thinks it will hit a state that’s nowhere near its path.

    Obviously Trump never played Game of the States. I did when growing and it was a great way to learn Geography and other things.

  16. A bit of a different perspective:

    The Tariffs Are Not Just About The Economy

    The post-WWII world order based on the United Nations and the Western liberal tradition of human rights is now being challenged by the autocracies of China, Russia, and Iran and their proxies in North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela. What is telling is that China, Russia, and Iran have significant historical and Ideological conflicts, but these are superseded by their common bond of autocratic control of power. Their common desire is to replace the Western liberal tradition with a new type of world order and to make the world safe for autocracies.

    China does not seek a direct military conflict with the United States, but seeks to use its technological advances to achieve a global economic hegemony. A control of the infrastructure in communications, transportation. artificial intelligence, aerospace, biomedicine, renewable energy, and advanced weapons systems, as well as a global leadership in manufacturing and trade, can all be used to achieve a predominant military position as well. Iran and Russia also have energy and military resources with which to make other countries dependent. The common objective that they share is to replace the world order based on the Western liberal tradition of individual freedom and equality. Their tactics also show a disregard for ethical constraints as demonstrated by their support of North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and terrorist groups, as well as their own abuse of human rights and the persecution of any opposition. The overt uses of power are less needed, however, when one also controls where a person can live or even travel, their educational and job opportunities, and their ability to freely assemble or to freely express their opinion or religion.

    China — The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly — at

  17. Teve says:
  18. MarkedMan says:

    We are driving back from Montreal this morning and passed over the Thousand Islands into the US. Within 10 miles we passed a pickup truck with “Glock Nation” in big letters across the rear window. Now, in all probability this is just an angry jerk with a chip on his shoulder, typical of much of the depraved gun culture we have here in the US. But it could also be a potential psychopath about to start shooting. Either way you should avoid such people and keep your kids away from his kids.

  19. Kathy says:


    Thanks. That’s very useful. I’d no idea Continental had a hub in Cleveland, or that anyone would visit there 😉

    Mexico City is Mexico’s biggest hub, so I’ve taken rather few flights involving connections. The last was in 1985, Mexico to London, when I flew, coincidentally, Continental with a connection in Houston.

    Ok, back in the 80s, when airport congestion was already a thing, there was this idea to build big airports in literally the middle of nowhere, and use them only as hubs to connect cities. So you’d fly, for instance, Albany to Podunk and connect there to San Antonio.

    The idea, called Wayport, never went anywhere. I didn’t think much of it back then. My notion was that a flight from Albany to, say, Atlanta, would carry a sizable portion of people visiting Atlanta. After all, there were other hubs, of other airlines, which could be used to connect to other cities. Whereas no one, or very few people, want to visit Podunk.

    These days the hub and spoke model of the major airlines is complemented by the point-to-point model of “smaller” airlines (that aren’t really that small), and airport congestion is still a thing (and much worse).

    The closest thing to the Wayport, i guess is Keflavik airport, base and hub of Icelandair, as well as the late, lamented WOW airlines. The model there is to sell cheap(er) flights between Canada and the US to Europe, using Iceland as a hub with stop-over privileges.

    But then this works well if you fly NY-Iceland-Paris, say. From Albany you would still need to fly to NY first.

  20. Teve says:

    Happy Labor Day!

    “Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

    -Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message, Dec. 3, 1861

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I grew up in the Baptist church–an a particularly conservative/separatist sept at that–and that poster could have been from my Seattle, Washington church in 1965 (except there would have been no black presenter then).

    (BTW: How separatist were we? In case you were wondering, we voted to expel a church from the denomination locally when they changed their identification from “Baptist” to “Community.”)

  22. Tyrell says:

    @Kathy: The few times that I have flown the flight always went to Atlanta. That was with Eastern AL . If we wanted to just go to Atlanta it is close enough to drive in a few hours. I have not been down there in years, but they say the traffic around the city is horrible. I would like to go down there to their Aquarium and to a ball game.

  23. MarkedMan says:


    So you’d fly, for instance, Albany to Podunk

    Just for the record Podunk is (was?) a real place in Connecticut. It shows up on some maps but not on others. Today it’s center is just an intersection of tow rural/suburban roads lined with houses an 3 acres of land.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Well, we all know that, but does Trump?

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @James Rutherford:
    The common objective that they share is to replace the world order based on the Western liberal tradition of individual freedom and equality.

    No, they have separate objectives of survival. China is worried about internal dissent, but globally their concern is the US Navy and its bases located so as to cut off Chinese shipping should we decide to do so. Russia has more to fear from China than from the west or from westernizing influences – just take a look at population density maps of the Russo-Chinese border.

    Russia’s problem is always Russia. No country is better at bad decisions than Russia. In the last 30 years their entire system was overthrown, their country was dramatically downsized, they have an expansionist NATO in their west, a rising China in their east and the ‘Stans to their south. And they have nothing close to the resources to manage all that in the absence of nuclear weapons. That’s why Putin cracked his whip and got Trump to kill the INF treaty. We don’t need IRBMs, we have no use for them, but Putin sure does.

    As for Iran, they have not been the aggressors in the ME, we have been. It’s a horrible regime but the idea that a Shi’ite theocracy, a fading Russian kleptocracy and the rising Chinese economic superpower are united in common cause is too America-centric to be accurate. These are three different enemies, three different sets of needs, no real possibility of unity of purpose or action. Russia can’t help the Chinese break out of US maritime encirclement, China can’t help Russia being vastly over-extended and under-resourced, and neither can do anything to save Iran if the US decides to drop the hammer.

  26. Kathy says:


    Just for the record Podunk is (was?) a real place in Connecticut.

    It’s also a real place in Michigan, as per Wikipedia. But it’s above all the designation given a small, insignificant town, like Peoria (*), in this case used to illustrate a large airport in the middle of nowhere.

    (*) Yes, I know that’s a real place. There’s also a Tar Heel, North Carolina.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    ” No country is better at bad decisions than Russia.”

    Fair enough, but we’re hot on their trail now and have the advantage of a voting public that is heavily invested in bad decision making.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    I’ll see your Tar Heel and raise you a Possum Trot just down the road apiece from Monkey’s Eyebrow in western Kentucky.

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Mister Bluster: I have personally lived 3 miles beyond Boring, MD. It was about what you would expect

  30. Bill says:


    Thanks. That’s very useful. I’d no idea Continental had a hub in Cleveland, or that anyone would visit there

    They did and I wish I hadn’t made that trip.

    I used to play in these tournaments. Because of my flying and having a NW visa card, I piled up miles and miles. So I would occasionally fly to non-Florida tournaments.

    So I go to Cleveland for one in Nov 1999 after getting an invite. The problems started at once.

    1- I didn’t learn till I went there the tournament was played at a almost empty lodge W of Cleveland and not near anything. When I played, I get airport/hotel transport and never rented a car.
    2- The lodge had a restaurant but nobody showed up to open it on Saturday morning. I got no breakfast. No coffee.
    3- When I finally got food (lunch), my plain McDonald’s cheeseburger wasn’t very plain.
    3- Only five other players showed up. A tournament needed 8 to be official. If I knew this I would have never gone.
    4- After leading the tournament from the start I crumbled on Sunday afternoon.
    5- On returning to my room at the end of play, the Lodge’s power kept going on and off. I checked out and went to spend the night at a airport hotel.
    6- Starting at around 1230 am a party returned to the hotel. They were loud, doing stuff in the hallways, and banging on people’s door. I called the police. Things didn’t calm down till like 3 a.m. When checking out, I refused to pay my room bill. First and only time I ever did that.
    7- Oh and to add to all this, I either lost or had a credit card stolen from me. Someone ran up about $5000 in charges before the loss was discovered by me.

    My flying was mostly NW but they had a sharing agreement with Continental. That was my one and only time through Cleveland.

    Northwest I think had a mini-hub in Seoul for a while. I flew into that once. That’s another long story and it even involves Salisbury steak*.

    I was heading to the Philippines to meet my wife for her embassy interview and spent 3 nerve-wracking (but sometimes funny) days in Seoul.

    *- Seoul’s Lotte hotel kept wanting to serve stranded passengers this food for lunch and dinner. Just imagine that for three days…..

  31. Bill says:


    I have personally lived 3 miles beyond Boring, MD. It was about what you would expect

    In my second to most recent published ebook, I humorlessly make mention of man magically turned into a lesbian but changed back now. They were from Lickey End.

  32. Kathy says:


    That’s not just the trip from hell, but also unnecessary. Damn.

    My worst trip was to Reynosa in 1997 for a wedding. The hotel was across from a club, which didn’t shut down until 2 am. When it finally quieted, we discovered the walls were the opposite of sound-proofed, and got to hear a newlywed couple having trouble getting down to business.

    I’ve not flown that much, though I consider myself experienced. So I’ve never had a long delay, a cancelled flight, a diversion (though I came close once), and I’ve never missed a flight (though I also came very close once).

    I think my very worst travel experience was 1) A Dan Air flight Tel Aviv London in a beat-up old 737 in 1985, without any entertainment and nothing to read; but I was excited that it was my first time on a 737, and 2) A late flight to Monterrey three years ago. I got in too late to find any open restaurants near the hotel, I hadn’t had time to get dinner beforehand, and I wound up eating a convenience store sandwich and some chips.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “I used to play in these tournaments.”

    What kind of tournaments? Bridge? Chess? Table Tennis? Croquet? GTA? WoW? Doom? DandD? Magic, The Gathering? Pokémon? (Just curious…)

    ETA: Salsbury Steak was a big deal in Korea in 1989. Lots of people there were still eating meat only on special occasions even then. (Even in 2010, many of my adult students claimed not to buy meat to eat at home most of the time. “No, we only eat meat at home once or twice a week.”)

  34. Kathy says:

    @James Rutherford:

    The Tariffs Are Not Just About The Economy

    No, they are about Trump’s misunderstandings about the economy.

    Putin is pushing for undemocratic models. Making friends with leaders with authoritarian tendencies (see Trump and others), messing with elections and the Brexit referendum. Criticizing democracy. Staging sham election in Russia. and more. But I don’t see China doing much of this outside of China (inside I suppose you can get arrested for voting on where to get lunch with your coworkers).

    Oh, sure Beijing did target their tariffs mostly to damage the GOP’s and Trump’s bases. But that is standard for trade wars to pressure the president, or in this case Trump, who’s playing around with tariffs.

    Iran and Syria are more complex. this goes back to the fight for leadership of the Baathist movement between Saddam and the elder Assad (ironically they both wound up developing cults of personality). Syria supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war in the 80s, and even contributed troops to the coalition that expelled Saddam off Kuwait under Bush the elder.

    Iran’s support of Syria now is partly helping an ally, partly suppressing the competition in the theocracy department (think what it means the Islamic State is too extreme for a country largely run by mullahs).

  35. Bill says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    What kind of tournaments? Bridge? Chess? Table Tennis? Croquet? GTA? WoW? Doom? DandD? Magic, The Gathering? Pokémon? (Just curious…)

    Strat-O-Matic baseball*. Here’s their website. I haven’t played in any since 2002. I did finish 4th in the 2001 National Points Standings.

    Short version of the Salsbury steak story- NW paid for hotel and food for 3 days. As for the food, we were given vouchers. The vouchers were generous but restaurant management tried to decide what food we would eat. After one day of S. Steak, I was back at the restaurant for lunch and another stranded traveler told me what the deal was. So when I got seated for lunch I said I wanted to order. I had a lively but courteous argument with the manager who acted like he only spoke poor English (This is 4 or 5 star hotel catering to International travelers. He can barely understand English and I am Donald Trump) but I got things straightened out. I ordered what I wanted to eat the rest of the time we were stuck there.

    *- I still play the game as a hobby at home.

  36. de stijl says:

    For US folks, Lodge 49 starts in ten minutes on AMC.

    If you haven’t watched it, I recommend streaming the first two episodes to see if it strikes your fancy. I love it.

    It’s late capitalism existential blues in Long Beach meets adult friendship and belonging and denial and hope (and maybe alchemy).

  37. de stijl says:

    So I totally do not get the lack of love for Cleveland.

    It’s a great town. Great food. Great bars. Great people. I have an affinity for scrappy, underdog towns.

    It’s not a world destination city, but so what? In my book, Cleveland rocks.

  38. de stijl says:

    I was playing an older version of Civilization and in one of the modes, you can custom name cities you establish. I use cities I’ve lived in.

    I’m playing thru and kicking tushie, and a splash screen comes up to tell me what’s happening in the wider world and informs me that:

    “Duluth replaces Paris as the world’s greatest city. Culture flourishes in Duluth.”

    I got verklempt and semi-chubby. It was awesome.

  39. de stijl says:

    How can Rick Bayless be the brother of Skip Bayless?

    The distinction of personality and the take on how one relates to the world is huge and immediately discernable.

    How are they related, let alone brothers?

  40. Teve says:

    @de stijl: my brother and I are polar opposites so I don’t see any problem with the Baylesses. The bigger mystery is how nobody has pushed Stephen A Smith off a fucking cliff yet.

  41. de stijl says:

    Rick is a champ and a mensch (apparently, anyway) and has done a meaningful life’s work.

    Skip is a gasbag for hire with a Dallas Cowboys obsession.

  42. Mikey says:


    Keep fucking that chicken, Boris.

    Boris just lost his working majority in Parliament because Conservative MP Phillip Lee got up in the middle of Boris’ speech and walked across to sit down with the Lib Dems.

    Unlike our own GOP, there are some conservatives in England still willing to put country before party.

  43. Just nutha ignint crracker says:

    “Unlike our own GOP, there are some conservatives in England still willing to put country before party.”

    Still, probably not enough to do any good at stopping the clown car from going off the cliff. And I suppose that there are conservatives here of like principles; again, just not enough to make a difference. There are plenty of places for people of principle to go that don’t involve having to associate with conservatives–and that’s the problem of the conservative movement.

  44. Teve says:

    This is just too funny to pass up. From the Republic not a Democracy files:

    News item:

    CBC News Alerts
    · 1h
    All 21 lawmakers from ruling Conservative Party who voted against gov’t are being kicked out of the party, Downing Street confirmed soon after the vote. They include Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, and 2 former finance ministers -Philip Hammond and Kenneth Clarke.

    Sarah Silverman’s response:

    Sarah Silverman

    Is that how democracy works?

    A rando’s reply to Silverman:

    Replying to

    USA is not democracy!!! other wise hillery would been are president with poplar vote