Saturday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. de stijl says:

    Hope everybody is doing okay today. Hope the day treats you well.

    Woke up about 2:15 AM. I’m retired and single so the sleep schedule regularity thing is basically irrelevant. I have learned to not care and just flow with it.

    But, this morning I woke up in the middle of stress work dream. I was desperately trying to find my desk and a deadline was looming.

    Most dreams are done and forgotten. Your brain produced it, processed it, and shut down. Happens three times or so a cycle.

    If you wake up during the producing phase sometimes your brain does not realize you are awake and continues to try to make / allow the dream to happen and play out. Rare, but it happens.

    I was so discombobulated when I woke. My amygdala and hippocampus were hyper stimulated. I inadvertently broke the process by waking up too early during. Usually the process shuts down when you wake up and waking normality kicks in. 99.9% of the time.

    This morning my brain decided to not play by the rules.

    It wasn’t a “groggy” feeling per se, but adjacent. Major, persistent discombobulation. My awake brain had a tag-along sleeping brain companion that had not shut down properly at waking. It took about a half hour until I felt normal. Kinda disturbing, but really interesting half hour. Definitely not comfortable.

    BTW, my brain’s dream operator / director is a genius! Things I cannot imagine while awake happen nightly while asleep. The POV shifts, the amalgamation of a dozen cities and work places and residences into one shifting one, day and night cycle, the pacing and acceleration of tension. Brilliant!

    Seriously, the dream director and cinematographer that lives in my sleeping brain is a god damn genius and is really good at their job. Christopher Nolan would be awestruck at the inventiveness.

    Stanley Kubrick lives inside my head, but he is only awake when I am not. I find that fairly disturbing.

  2. Tony W says:

    @de stijl: I have always maintained that we do our filing while we sleep.

    Sleep gives us a chance to sort out the things we experienced while awake, and categorize them all – filing and keeping the things that we might need again, and processing/discarding those we will likely never re-encounter.

    Sometimes you see young children get zoomy and scrambly when they are tired, that’s because everything is new, and their inbox has filled up, and there’s no more room for new information.

    The analogy works for me.

  3. MarkedMan says:

    This is for Andy re an old thread. I replied to your latest comment here @MarkedMan:

  4. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I woke up grouchy and discombobulated, as well. I couldn’t get out of a dream where I was outrunning an avalanche, on repeat, until finally one of my cats woke me up. I really want to go back to sleep, but can’t.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Braggart. I didn’t wake up, but only because I never fell asleep.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    Interesting data point re COVID death rate, from the WaPo:

    Another infectious-disease physician, Shira Doron, has been researching how to more accurately attribute severe illness due to covid. After evaluating medical records of covid patients, she and her colleagues found that use of the steroid dexamethasone, a standard treatment for covid patients with low oxygen levels, was a good proxy measure for hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. If someone who tested positive didn’t receive dexamethasone during their inpatient stay, they were probably in the hospital for a different cause.
    Doron’s work was instrumental to Massachusetts changing its hospitalization reporting a year ago to include both total hospitalizations with covid and those that received dexamethasone. In recent months, only about 30 percent of total hospitalizations with covid were primarily attributed to the virus.

    Doron acknowledges that there is a gray zone in the data in which covid might not be the primary cause of death but could have contributed to it. For instance, covid infection could push someone with chronic kidney disease into kidney failure. She and her colleagues are collecting data on this as well.

  7. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I did go lay back down and get a little dozing off time. I’m in a little better mood now. Hoping the avalanche dream wasn’t a portent of the snow coming, we just got the ranch road cleaned out enough that the garbage and fuel trucks can make it in. 😛

  8. Jax says:

    Sigh. Another day I didn’t wake up a lottery winner. 😐

  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    So I’m looking into ways I can protect some of my money in case of a US debt default this summer.

    For my retirement account it’s easy, because I can put move money into the stable value fund where the assets are insured against default. But I’m having trouble finding an equivalent outside of retirement accounts.

    Anyone know a similar sort of fund that exists as an ETF or Mutual Fund?

  10. Slugger says:

    Every once in a while, like four times a year, I have an anxiety dream. When I was a child, I would dream that I went to school without my pants. As I got older, I would dream that I’m sitting in the student union when one of my instructors walks by and asks why I missed the final exam. Now I dream that things are going poorly at the office and a financial catastrophe is looming. It feels so good to awake and remember that I’m safely retired!

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    Dutch grocery chain added “slow lanes” for seniors who insist on having long conversations with the cashier:

  12. Mimai says:

    I was having an interesting discussion the other day. One question that animated much of it: “Why and how should I have an opinion about X?” [We left aside the question of “what” said opinion should be.]

    A few things that we noodled:

    Do I (can I) have any impact on this issue?

    Does this issue have any impact on me? If so, enough of an impact to warrant me forming an opinion?

    Do I have sufficient understanding of the issue to make my opinion “informed”? Will/Can I acquire such understanding? How much does “informed” matter (see next question)?

    What is my motivation for having an opinion?

    There were many other questions/threads, but that’s the gist. I’m curious how the OTB commentators (opinionaters) think about this.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:
  14. gVOR08 says:

    A commenter at WAPO posted a quote from Harry Truman,

    Republicans approve of the small American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They much prefer the corporate farmer. They stand four-square for the American home–but not for housing. They are strong for labor–but they are stronger for restricting labor’s rights. They favor minimum wage–the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all–but they won’t spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine–for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing–but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing–so long as it doesn’t spread to all the people. And they admire the government of the United States so much that they would like to sell its functions to their cronies.

    Snopes says it’s genuine, Oct 13, 1948.

    plus ca change. It ain’t just Trump.

  15. Tony W says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Our measly few million bucks is a rounding error for the people who control this country – people who will not allow a debt default.

    They will huff and puff and posture and bloviate, but they will not default on the U.S. debt.

    An increase in the interest rate we have to pay against our national debt, due to increased risk of default, would bankrupt us.

  16. Mister Bluster says:


    Should I express my thoughts soon after they enter my brain or should I sleep on them?
    After sleep and reflection I might just want to keep my mouth shut.

    EDIT key appears.
    I know that I do not always follow my own advice.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    A couple days ago James posted on Matt Yglesias and his move to Substack. Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice excerpts a piece by Drew Magary in Defector on the general phenomenon of “The Sh*tposter Economy”. He starts out talking about Matt Taibi, but broadens the discussion to,

    Bari Weiss is a nobody. She can’t write. She can’t really do much of anything, outside of checking her personal Google alerts to see who’s destroying Western civilization by daring to make fun of her at any given moment. Weiss belongs to a cottage industry of what I’ll call credible shitposters: Andrew Sullivan, Matthew Yglesias, Bret Stephens, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Jesse Singal, JD Vance, and more. Some of these people are talented. Taibbi was the preeminent watchdog of the finance sector not too long ago. I loved Taibbi’s work. Now he’s writing increasingly reactionary stuff on Substack and making strange arguments about QAnon.

    [A]chieving that outsider status has proved lucrative. Yglesias, Greenwald, Taibbi, Sullivan, and Weiss all write newsletters that are at the top of Substack’s subscription leaderboard. They each have thousands or even tens of thousands of paying subscribers, and they are making a lot of money off their work. All the culture war scabs these people picked at while at their old jobs, and all the hate-reading that their work induced, has earned them exactly the sort of attention they needed to make the pivot to professional shitposting. That these pivots just so happened to coincide with the rise of a publishing platform that can make writing on one’s own profitable is probably less of a coincidence than it is the result of canny personal branding. And of exploiting their grievances, virtually all of them imagined, without guilt or an editor getting in the way…

    I’ve observed that the only political writers you can trust are lefty bloggers, because they aren’t making enough money off it to lie. James, Dr. T, et al fall under that heading. Substackers with thousands of subscribers at ~$100 a pop do not.

  18. CSK says:

    According to Trump, E. Jean Carroll just LOVED being raped by him in a department store dressing room.

  19. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jax: That’s every day for me, but I don’t play, so there’s no reason to be disappointed that I didn’t win. (I suspect that the main reason that I don’t play is because I don’t carry cash since Covid-19 had everybody here asking me not to pay in cash and because I’m never anywhere that playing will be convenient.)

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Wait a second. Is he talking about the rape that was absolutely a figment of the imagination of a woman that he’s never even met or is it a different rape?

  21. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, he’d never met her, but she’s not his type.

  22. Stormy Dragon says:


    Prediction: within 5 years Nate Silver is going to be in that “credible shitposter” group

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: I remember the days when I could lay back and fall asleep at the drop of a helmet/carabiner. I remember one expedition where every other photo was of me napping in some semi famous cave room/formation or another.

    Dawg, I miss being able to do that.

  24. Jax says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That was my first thought about Nate Silver earlier today, too. Started out as a wunderkid, everybody’s go-to polling guy, and he’ll end up jaded and pissed. We saw a little bit of it this year.

  25. DrDaveT says:


    Started out as a wunderkid, everybody’s go-to polling guy

    Actually, no. Started out as a wunderkind, the hot new baseball analyst. Politics came later.