Saturday’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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Not a lot of comments from Luddite this week, but the topics have certainly given me a lot to think about. Unfortunately, many of the thoughts have revolved around how totally f#qed this release of homo sapiens truly is, especially HS Americanus.

    Thanks again to our hosts and fellow OTB’ers for the assist in what passes for maintaining my sanity.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gotta be the Florida headline of the day: Experts say ‘cocaine sharks’ may be feasting on drugs dumped off Florida

    Cocaine Sharks is expected to be among the biggest draws of Shark Week, the Discovery network’s popular annual showcase of the species from great whites, hammerheads and tiger sharks down to the smallest varieties.

    In their research, conducted during six days at sea in the Florida Keys, the ecologically sensitive island chain off the state’s southern tip, Fanara and British marine biologist Tom Hird observed sharks exhibiting peculiar behaviors. A hammerhead, a species that would usually swim away from humans, came directly towards the divers, moving erratically. They also observed a sandbar shark swimming in circles as it focused on an imaginary object.

    They also conducted experiments, including dropping dummy bales in the water, which many of the sharks took bites out of, and loading balls of bait with highly concentrated fish powder to simulate cocaine. The effect, the researchers said, was akin to catnip on felines. “It’s the next best thing [and] set their brains aflame. It was crazy,” Hird says on the show.

    Fanara said they chose the Florida Keys as the best location for their research because a convergence of ocean currents made the region “prevalent” for floating bales of cocaine.

    Florida serves as a staging point for large quantities of drugs making their way into the US from South America, and plastic-wrapped bundles of cocaine are often lost at sea or tossed overboard by traffickers being pursued by law enforcement.
    How much cocaine the sharks were actually ingesting, she said, was impossible to determine based on experiments that were only precursory.

    “At the end of every research publication you read ‘more research must be done’, and that’s definitely the conclusion from this,” she said, noting previous in-depth studies of polluted inland waterways suggesting fish had become addicted to methamphetamine.

    In the coming months, Fanara plans to partner with other Florida marine scientists to take blood samples from some of the sharks to evaluate cocaine levels.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A major collector of antiquities and benefactor of the Metropolitan Museum of Art took a reputational hit this week as efforts by the Manhattan district attorney to return looted artifacts to their countries of origin moved into high gear.

    Shelby White is a Met trustee whose name, with that of her late husband, Leon Levy, hangs over the spectacular Greek and Roman Art galleries at the museum on Fifth Avenue. White also sat on a committee advising the museum on acquisitions. But White was this week identified by the New York Times as having had 71 looted artifacts removed from her home over the past two years.

    Since February, the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, has returned 29 antiquities from White collection’s to Greece, 12 to Turkey, four to Iraq, two to China and one to Yemen. One item retrieved from the Met and returned, a Chinese funerary artifact, was still caked with dirt in its crate.

    Concluding an investigation which began with a dawn search of White’s Upper East Side apartment in June 2021, Bragg said 89 antiquities with a value of $69m and originating from 10 different countries had been seized.

    It is not suggested that White, 84, or her husband knowingly bought stolen antiquities. In March, Bragg’s office said it “thank[ed] Shelby White for her assistance and cooperation with our investigation”.

    Something sounds a little off here.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A 13-year-old girl kidnapped in Texas was rescued in southern California when passersby saw her hold up a “help me” sign in a parked car, police said.

    The rescue occurred 9 July in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, when officers responded to a call and found the “visibly emotional and distressed girl”, police said in a press release on Thursday.

    “Through their investigation, officers learned the Good Samaritans were in a parking lot when they saw the victim in a parked vehicle holding up a piece of paper with ‘help me’ written on it. They acknowledged the note and immediately called 9-1-1,” police said.

    Steven Robert Sablan, 61, of Cleburne, Texas, was arrested and on Thursday was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of kidnapping and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, according to the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

    Still not a drag queen.

  5. Kathy says:


    Many animals like drugs as much as people. Some citrus plants produce caffeine in their blossoms, which seems to be very attractive to bees and other pollinators.

  6. JKB says:

    Charles Murray is out with a study of where the rising in crime in NY, SF and Washington, DC started.

    What I found was more complicated than a pre-Floyd/post-Floyd discontinuity. The years after 2020 did see new outbreaks of crime, but the years leading up to 2020 had paved the way.

    One might think good news for recent Democrat city governance, but he does show it tied to a collapse of “broken windows” policing.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB: Anything Charles Murray writes is absolute garbage.

  8. Kathy says:

    It’s not just Florida where home insurance is getting scarce and expensive

    About 10-15 years ago, there were several commentators who did not deny climate change was taking place, but argued it would be no big deal or even beneficial. The usual arguments. Extreme cold is more deadly than extreme heat (really?), more CO2 means more trees and crops (not quite), things like that.

    None said anything about insurance vanishing when natural disasters increase in frequency and intensity.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A murdered writer, his secret diary of the invasion of Ukraine – and the war crimes investigator determined to find it

    “Something happened to me that I cannot convey to you,” she (his mother) tells me. “I had a realisation, suddenly, that he was no longer among the living. But I tried to suppress those thoughts.” She pauses. “You know, I sometimes felt like I wanted to fall upon the road and hit my head against it, just hit it and hit it, and then I would raise my head and Volodya would be standing in front of me.”

    Her son never did stand in front of her again. His corpse was found six months later in a mass grave outside Izium. He had been killed by two bullets from a semi-automatic Makarov pistol. But before he was abducted for the second and last time on 24 March, he did something important: he buried a diary in the back garden, beneath a stand of cherry saplings he’d planted. Six months afterwards, on 10 September, the Russians were driven out of the Izium area by a Ukrainian counteroffensive. And a fortnight after that, on 24 September, the Ukrainian novelist Victoria Amelina dug the diary up.
    That day, 24 September, Amelina took detailed testimony from both of Vakulenko’s parents. It was while she was talking to his father, Vakulenko Sr, that he remembered his son had buried a diary under cherry saplings. They went out the back, beyond the little garden shed. Amelina stooped to pick up a fallen acorn and put it in her pocket; when we speak in March, she has it still.

    At first, Vakulenko Sr couldn’t find the diary at all. He promised to look for it, telling Amelina to return the following day. She, though, less patient and more robust than her 73-year-old companion, took the spade herself, and after a while she hit something just under the surface of the black soil. It turned out to be a plastic bag containing a waterlogged, coverless exercise book.

    She called friends with jobs in museums and libraries, asking advice on how to make sure it didn’t just disintegrate. They told her to find some kind of album and place it between the pages. She replied, frustrated, “Guys, I’m in a recently deoccupied area and I don’t have any album with me – what are you even talking about?”

    But Vakulenko Sr had given her a copy of a poetry book by his son, so she slipped the diary between its leaves, the pages of the printed book absorbing the moisture of the manuscript. When she and her colleagues returned to their base at the end of the day, she called one of Vakulenko’s friends and asked him if she should open the diary. “Of course,” he said. “What else can we do?”

    “I couldn’t read much of it,” Amelina tells me. “I’m not an expert in handwriting. But what struck me most was the last entry in the diary. It was about spring. He saw the cranes in the sky, and he wrote that it seemed to him the birds were crying, ‘Ukraine will be well again.’”
    Things are different now. The main room of the library smells of fresh paint, in pistachio green, the shelves are stocked with new children’s books and there’s a portrait of Vakulenko above them. There are bright blue beanbags on the floor and light floods in through brand new windows. The date Vakulenko is thought to have bured his diary, 23 March, has been named his memory-day in the village. This year it was marked by an event here in the library, with drawings and stories and games for the village children. “I wanted it like this,” Amelina, who co-organised the day, tells me this spring. “I wanted to commemorate him not by some pathetic speeches and crying, but by making sure the children in his village have some connections to books and writers again.”

    It’s a long read, some of it is hard, but it’s well worth the time. The post script is a real gut punch.

  10. Jen says:

    @Kathy: The insurance industry has been sounding this alarm for years. The issue is that states regulate insurance and many have tight caps/restrictions on how much insurers can increase rates. Florida, California, and Texas are the biggest problems right now, but Louisiana and Colorado are right behind them. What homeowners in Florida need to be concerned about right now is what is known as a “death spiral.” While this term is most commonly associated with health insurance and adverse selection, it is increasingly being used to describe problems with homeowners insurance.

  11. Jen says:

    All the grown men losing their minds over the Barbie movie…good grief. The criticism is so over the top I actually am considering seeing it in a theater, rather than just waiting for the streaming.

  12. CSK says:


    I hadn’t heard about this. What’s the fuss about?

  13. Sleeping Dog says:


    This is one of those situations that simply letting the market do its thing would resolve the problem. Presently property owners are being subsidized to rebuild in at risk areas and aren’t being charged the actual ongoing costs for living in those areas.

    When a property is in a designated ‘at risk’ area, if it is destroyed or significantly damaged, say repair costs are 50% or greater than assessed value, the insurance pays off for the building and a government program buys the land and no one is able to rebuild on that property.


  14. Stormy Dragon says:


    Cocaine Bear vs Sharknado crossover movie?

  15. charontwo says:


    I have not seen anything about the controversy, but can guess from the movie’s plot.

    Barbie leaves Barbieland and discovers how women are treated in Real World. Meanwhile, Ken learns how to be patriarchal instead of Barbie’s boy toy.

  16. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I can’t wait.


    But I’m assuming the men who ohject would have no problem with Ken learning to be patriarchal.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: Some men are little more than snowflakes who have a meltdown every time a woman pokes fun at them, especially when it’s too close to the truth.

    ftr: not at all into the Barbie thing but I’m a Ryan Gosling fan and I read that he has all the best zingers so I’ll probably watch it at some point in time.

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: But I’m assuming the men who object would have no problem with Ken learning to be patriarchal.

    I suspect Barbie’s put downs on that score is what upsets them.

  19. clarkontheweekend says:

    I did the thing that men aren’t supposed to do yesterday. I asked a female colleague if she was pregnant. And it turns out she wasn’t. I was kinda surprised at the level of anger I got for asking the question – I didn’t ask out of malicious intent or anything. Matter of fact she’s a fit, attractive young 30’s woman. But there was a random gift bag on her desk, she was talking about a baby shower that I overheard… well, excuses by me really. Just feel shitty about it. One of those things that happened. Worst part, the gift was a sympathy gift because her dog died. Talk about a dagger on top of a f-up. I asked/insinuated she was pregnant the same week and because of the fact that her dog passed. Not great, not great at all.

  20. CSK says:


    Good Lord, what a fuss about nothing.

  21. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m curious if your critique is based on reputation or if you’ve ever read anything by him? The only thing I’ve ever read was “The Bell Curve” when it first came out and before I had any idea who he was. I was very interested in IQ at the time. After reading it I felt there were major flaws, mostly based on his assumptions and what he left out. For instance, he accepted that IQ measured inherent superiority, and some of the best evidence for that was a California researcher (Stanford? It’s been a long time), who followed a group of high IQ children well into adulthood. They did better than average on many indices, but he also intervened in their lives, writing them letters of recommendation for college entry, introducing them to influential people in their fields, etc. Murray cited that research without commenting on that, even though it was widely known at the time. He also never touched on the fact that the SAT, PSAT and ACT tests are essentially IQ tests, and so using them as an entranceway to prestigious institutions weights the scales. If Harvard admitted by height, would we say the success of tall people at these institutions and afterward shows tallness equals genetic superiority?

    I could go on, but I’ll just point out the thing that, for me, killed the whole book. He demonstrated that IQ could be mapped on a bell curve and if you separated Whites and Blacks the curve was shifted lower for Blacks. He made a great deal about this, and attributed all kinds of social ills to it. But “the Black race” or “the White race” doesn’t do anything. Only individuals act. The curves overlapped except at the edges and the great majority of both blacks and whites fell into that overlap. He felt that differences in IQ a were responsible for the troubles of blacks and not prejudice or historical injustices. But he never made any attempt to try to explain how, if IQ was so determinative, the collective IQ of a group could overwhelm the actual IQ of an individual.

    Later editions of Steven Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man” included a forward that was a lengthy takedown of “The Bell Curve” that pointed out many additional flaws. As far as I know, Murray never responded.

  22. becca says:

    @clarkontheweekend: on the social screwup scale, yours is barely registering. Only a nice person with a heart would feel so bad about this faux pas.

  23. becca says:

    @Jen: I’m going to see Barbie with my daughter and oldest granddaughter. I’ll go see anything with Michael Cera in it.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    How the politics of racial resentment is killing white people

    Why do many working-class white Americans support politicians whose policies are literally killing them?

    This is the question sociologist and psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl tries to answer in his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland. The book is a serious look at how cultural attitudes associated with “whiteness” encourage white people to adopt political views — like opposition to gun laws or the Affordable Care Act — that undercut their own health.
    Sean Illing

    Why are so many poor and working-class white Americans endorsing policies that are literally killing them?
    Jonathan Metzl

    That’s the core question I address in the book. I look at the rejection of the Affordable Care Act in the South. I look at policies that make it far easier for people to get guns and carry guns everywhere. I look at tax cuts that benefit wealthy Americans but cut roads, bridges, and schools in poor and working-class areas. Every one of those policies has been sold as a policy that will make America great again. But they have devastating consequences for working-class populations, particularly working-class white populations, in many instances.

    You can’t really understand why people might support those agendas if you just start the conversation today. There are long trajectories of anti-government sentiment that course through the South that Trump has tapped into. There are also concerns about what it means to have the government intervene in ways that equally distribute resources that working-class white populations fear might undermine their own sense of privilege.

    I think the GOP has also been remarkably successful at tapping into this narrative — a narrative that makes people anxious that immigrants and minorities are going to take away privileges that are theirs.

    Much more at the link.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: No, I haven’t, but I’ve read enough about his writings by people* I trust that feel no need to subject myself to him.

    *their critiques of The Bell Curve track with yours.

    eta: I took an IQ test in the 9th grade and decided then and there that it was at best a questionable tool for measuring intelligence. One question really stuck with me:

    “Which side of the faucet is the hot water on?” Anybody who has ever lived in an older house/apartment knows that flipping a coin is about as reliable as the standard left side. There were many other questionable questions.

  26. Slugger says:

    I remember Barbie fondly. My daughter was about 5-6 years old and wanted the glamorous and expensive toys that advertised on kiddie TV shows. I was building my business and didn’t have much spare cash. I found a Barbie at a yard sale for $2, and my daughter was thrilled. We frequented yard sales for a couple of years and found Barbies including a brunette with hair, outfits, and gear for a few dollars that made her happy. She eventually moved on. However, we visited FAO Schwarz on a NYC visit (hoping to dance on the piano like Tom Hanks), and they were featuring a I Love Lucy Barbie. We bought one for a friend who was a big Lucy fan. That Lucy Barbie cost as much as all the ones I bought previously put together, but I was rich by then.
    Maybe I should see the movie.

  27. MarkedMan says:

    I just need to vent at how annoying it is that a google returns so many extremely low quality Generative AI results. I just searched for a specific error code on my canon printer and the first few results were extremely wordy and nearly useless, a sure tipoff. The wordiness combined with an “English is my second language” feel, something which almost never occurs in real life, makes it a virtual certainty. Unfortunately, they are good at writing catchy titles, so I fear we are nearing the end of third party useful info on the internet. I scrolled down until I found the official canon website and skipped all the rest.

  28. gVOR10 says:

    NYT has a story (jail broke) today about WAPO. I’ve felt over the last few years there was a deterioration at WAPO. More bothsides, amplifying nothingburger stories (today the site has three stories on Jason Aldean), some useless editorial hires like Hugh Hewitt and Gary Abernathy, and an obsession with cutting SS and Medicare. I’ve suspected it was Bezos taking a more active role. But perhaps it was Fred Ryan (a Bezos hire) as publisher from 2014 until he resigned last month.

    telling employees that he planned to start the Center on Public Civility, a new project by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, where he is chairman of the board.

    A Republican based center for “civility” seems very much of a piece with the problems at WAPO. The guy has a long history predating WAPO of GOP involvement and worse, was a founder of POLITICO.

    A Ms. Stonesifer is acting Publisher while Bezos searches. NYT says she’s not taking a salary. They didn’t say anything about stock options or bonuses. I guess I’ll keep my subscription and hope for the best. Although that wouldn’t be my prediction.

    I criticize FOX for not having much news in their news. WAPO and NYT seem to be going the same way. Of late I’ve been relying on The Guardian for actual news.

  29. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    America is arguably the most powerful Nation on Earth in the history of History, and this is the best we can do? F#qqqqqqk!

    Le sigh. I think I’m going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head. This is too depressing.

    Oregon has spent more than $25 million housing 462 kids in foster care in hotels after the state promised to stop the practice as part of a legal settlement in 2018.

    On Tuesday, a federal judge took the rare step of appointing an outside expert to oversee the state’s Department of Human Services, noting the state agency has not figured out how to wind down the practice known as “temporary lodging” on its own.

    The state has not only failed to curb the practice, child welfare officials have increasingly relied on placing kids in hotels. In the first six months of this year, 75 kids were placed in hotels; ranging in age from 6 to 19 years old. Twenty of those kids have lived in a hotel for more than 60 days.

  30. gVOR10 says:

    @MarkedMan: It’s been decades since I read The Bell Curve or any of the critiques. And the experience was hardly such that I’d read anything else by Murray. But taking an ill defined concept like IQ and an even worse defined concept like race and combining them to conclude Blacks have problems because melatonin = low IQ is facially ridiculous. Especially when it leads to the standard and convenient conservative response to everything – that’s just the way things are, nothing can be done.

    The Bell Curve was quite a long book. I have a theory that conservative prose tends to be too prolix*. And that it is so because it hides the paucity of actual thought.

    * I’ll award an upvote to whoever identifies the literary reference first.

  31. gVOR10 says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:

    America is arguably the most powerful Nation on Earth in the history of History, and this is the best we can do?

    I made a 5,000 mile tour of the midwest in May. I commented here that it gave me a big impression of just how rich this country is, yet we act as though we are poor.

  32. Jen says:

    @CSK: Well, the ever-excerable Ben Shapiro has weighed in, but aside from that, there was also a grumpy WSJ critic.

    Instead of giving those bitter men any clicks, here’s the write-up from Jezebel.

  33. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The market solution is to charge premiums that cover the risks. The people in areas at risk won’t want to pay them. Increasing everyone’s insurance, including especially homes nowhere near a risky area (like many cities), would also be painful.

    So we’ll get government subsidies for home insurance, or outright government insurance. Of course, this is the same thing regarding how much people will pay. Be it in premiums, taxes, debt, or reduced other services.

    When a property is in a designated ‘at risk’ area, if it is destroyed or significantly damaged, say repair costs are 50% or greater than assessed value, the insurance pays off for the building and a government program buys the land and no one is able to rebuild on that property.

    I like this idea.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    1) Barbie is opening huge. Huge. The Hollywood Reporter is talking 155 million which is, to repeat myself, huge. 2) This Barbie movie is apparently (seeing it later this week) overtly feminist. 3) The backlash is small and obviously weak given 1).

    Warner Brothers pulled off a hell of a marketing campaign, they got lucky, and they did not send their minions out to proclaim their virtue and talk about the first this and the first that, and down with the patriarchy. And yet, the message of the movie is distinctly feminist. And the backlash is late, small and impotent, as opposed to the Disney/Kathleen Kennedy approach, which created a tsunami of backlash.

    Sorry, I’m a bore on this subject, but to put it simply: WB: Right, Disney: Wrong. You do not change hearts and minds by announcing your intention to change hearts and minds. You do not elevate people by talking down to them and offering to raise them up into the glow of your righteousness. Or randomly gender-swap in ways that make no sense and in fact undercut the female characters you’re hoping to promote. IOW the diversity, equity and inclusion thing requires a bit of subtlety, a bit more understanding of humans, not ham-fisted self-congratulation.

    It’s really not that hard to do, except for this one thing: creatives and their various execs need to stop making everything about them. No one goes to see a movie (or read a book) because a writer or director or producer or god help us a publisher or studio, is a paragon of corporate virtue. Create cool characters. Tell a compelling story. Use your characters and your story to convey your message, while you, Mr. and Mrs. writer/author/director/publisher/producer, you stay out of the frame and STFU. It’s not about you.

  35. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Oh, I agree. But that would require states getting out of the way of premium increases and…that isn’t going to happen. Or, at least, it won’t happen until the entire system is near to collapse.

    Reinsurance is a big part of the problem–that industry, which insures insurers, has lost money the last 4 out of 5 years. And inflation and labor market increases have accelerated the problems, since it costs far more to rebuild now than it did even a few years ago.

  36. charontwo says:
  37. MarkedMan says:

    Hah. Grown men getting themselves worked up about a movie that is exactly the type of movie they wouldn’t like. Kind of the playing to the stereotype, aren’t they.

    I have no opinion about Barbie (I was a GI Joe kid myself. Parachutes made from my fathers handkerchiefs and all that) and, as of yet, none about the movie, although my wife and I might go if we can fit it in. I’ll like it, or I won’t, but I recognize that my daughter and her girlfriend and millions of others seems to be liking it, so good on them. There are more movies that I don’t like than I like, but that’s okay because I still have tons of movies I really like and I suspect that is true for these Man-Baby whiners. It says more about them that they feel the need to vent over being left out than it does about the movie.

  38. charontwo says:


    Excerpts: Warning, very spoilery:

    A normal grown-up human would probably seem out of place in such a sun-soaked, glitter-drenched fantasyland, but Gloria (played by America Ferrera) is no mere tourist: She’s a woman who, as a little girl, spent hours and hours playing with Barbie (Margot Robbie). Now, as an adult, Gloria has been trying and failing to connect with her teenage daughter. In her sadness, she revisits her comfort toy, and accidentally imbues the doll with her darkest thoughts, causing Barbie to “malfunction”—her arched feet go flat, and she starts thinking about death. When Gloria meets Barbie in the flesh through a series of magical events, she becomes Barbie’s guide to understanding her capacity beyond being a plaything—as well as the surprising key to understanding the film, pulling its many ideas into focus through a showstopper of a monologue.

    Gloria’s speech arrives at a moment when her role and Barbie’s have reversed. In the real world, Barbie (who’s known as “Stereotypical Barbie,” to distinguish her from the other variants) has discovered that women don’t actually run everything in existence. Her angst deepens when she returns to Barbie Land, where the Kens, after learning how human men behave, have installed their idea of a patriarchy—Kens running the government! Barbies bringing them beers! Horse paraphernalia everywhere!—leaving Barbie with no purpose but to be an ornament to her Ken (Ryan Gosling, a hoot) in her own supposed paradise. Responding to Barbie’s existential crisis, Gloria gives her a pep talk that turns, line by line, into a sharp and sympathetic dissection of the impossible expectations that come with being a woman.

    “Somehow we’re always just doing it wrong,” she begins, before launching into a litany of examples. Women are expected to be thin but not too thin; to strive for leadership roles but not be too aggressive; to love being mothers but not make motherhood their only job; to acknowledge that gender inequality exists but not complain about it. “You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line,” Gloria explains. “It’s too hard; it’s too contradictory … I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so people will like us. If all of that is also true for a doll just representing a woman, then I don’t even know.”

    It’s a quintessentially Gerwig-ian monologue, following the frank analysis of marriage in the writer-director’s adaptation of Little Women, the nervous reconsideration of a parent-child relationship in Lady Bird, and the heartfelt evaluation of best friendship in Frances Ha (which she co-wrote with her partner, Noah Baumbach, who also co-wrote Barbie). Like those speeches, Gloria’s is a little rambling, a little self-conscious, a little indignant—and completely earnest, performed by Ferrera with just the right amount of exasperation. Much of what Gloria says might be obvious to adult women watching the film, but her unvarnished, matter-of-fact delivery is refreshing for its rawness. That the monologue ends on a resigned and rather unsatisfying note only makes it more powerful. The scene builds with each sentence, and Gloria seems poised to outline a solution worthy of a TED Talk—but none exists.

  39. Mister Bluster says:

    I tried to reply to this post in the “Still Thinking About the Past” thread on my phone last night but the link did not work. It should work now since I am using my MacBook Air.

    grumpy realist says:
    Friday, 21 July 2023 at 19:47
    Next up: “you black people should be happy that we brought your ancestors over here to America!”

    I thought I had heard this before:

    NJ Lawmaker Said African-Americans Should Be Thankful for Slavery.
    If slavery was the price that a modern American’s ancestors had to pay in order to make one an American, one should get down on one’s knees every single day and thank the Lord that such price was paid,..

    This is from a few years ago. I’m not sure if I want to follow up on this fuck stick. Maybe later.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Sorry, I’m a bore on this subject, but to put it simply: WB: Right, Disney: Wrong.

    Looking at the success of their respective superhero properties, I really don’t think this analysis holds up.

    Are there other areas where we can see a clear 1-1 comparison across a number of projects, rather than just a handful of one offs?

    Barbie looks fun and campy in a way that Disney’s house style wouldn’t create, and looks to be a bizarre summer hit. Good for them. It’s not really a sign of anything bigger though.

    (The new Superman cartoon is a joy to watch so far, too. If they could capture that energy on the big screen, they might have something that can compete with MCU’s relentless adequacy, and I would love a recognizable Superman in the mainstream again, rather than the Zach Snyder inspired version)

  41. charontwo says:
  42. Kathy says:


    The new Superman cartoon is a joy to watch so far, too.

    I like the irony Superman is played by Jack Quaid, who plays Hughie in The Boys.

    He also plays Boimler in Lower Decks.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I think that the men were probably upset by the fact that the Kens were tricked into competing with each other for supreme patriarch and that competition allowed the Barbies to regain control. (I read the Wikipedia article.) That and some third way (?) deconstruction of feminism that proposes that men and women can both “win” rather than that women need to “know their role.”

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    as opposed to the Disney/Kathleen Kennedy approach

    While you travel are in the industry, and travel in those circles, and so get a pass because it’s probably just be a natural bit of detail for you, every time I see someone reference Kathleen Kennedy by name, I immediately suspect they are somewhere on the anti-woke, alt-right, QAnon pipeline*.

    I’m not going to defend her in any way, not even being sure of what her job entails and how much she is responsible for the details of anything**, but a lot of the vitriol from the Star Wars fan base seems to boil down to “she’s a girl, and she got her girl cooties on my action figures!” blaming her for everything from random Easter eggs to the existence of Black people who aren’t Billy Dee Williams to the whole everything about the franchise.

    Anyway, I don’t really want to harp on her too much, but I’m just wondering what random, almost innocuous, not-overtly-political, tell-tale cues other people pick up for the people sliding down a rabbit hole.

    *: I almost want to say that having a trans kid may have kept MR from going down that path, but there are a lot of people who go down that path anyway, so I’m just going to stick to my theory that he’s a big ol’ softie at heart.

    **: she does seem to be responsible for green lighting a Star Wars trilogy with no outline for the second and third movies, and that seems like a mistake…

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Men getting in a snit over a fuss about nothing. Hmmm… I’m not seeing the disconnect here.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    flipping a coin is about as reliable as the standard left side.

    In the apartment building I live in (build in 1923), the tub in my apartment has the hot tap on the left, but the sink has it on the right. I assume that’s because the faucet sets are exactly opposite each other on facing walls.

    ETA: It seems to me that if the hot tap was always on the same side the faucets wouldn’t have to be letter and color marked for identification purposes. Then again, what would I know? And yes, I’d probably have answered “the side with the tap marked ‘H'” and gotten the question wrong.-

  47. DK says:


    Are there other areas where we can see a clear 1-1 comparison across a number of projects, rather than just a handful of one offs?

    There’s no one-to-one comparison between Barbie and a property like, say, The Little Mermaid, except to someone suspending disbelief.

    For example, Disney’s marketing for The Little Mermaid mostly assiduously avoided making it about identity or social justice.* Those triggered by Disney’s casting were the ones who made it about race.

    If Barbie — a character seen historically as white — had done everything the same marketingwise but instead been cast with a beautiful black woman, it would have faced racist backlash from day one and ended up had same good-not-great domestic box office as The Little Mermaid. And if The Little Mermaid had marketed itself the same exact but cast a pretty white girl in the role, continuing the tradition, it would have pulled in a bigger initial audience.

    Those who can’t see this is are either painfully naïve or in denial. But pretending it’s all just marketing is maybe easier than grappling with complex layers of representation and discrimination. You can’t market white supremacy away.

    *Isn’t it sad that marketing materials that say “Wow! Isn’t it great how this casting choice is inspiring little black kids!” or “Wow, this is really empowering for women!” is apparently a bridge too far some demographics? I’m embarrassed for them.

  48. Franklin says:

    @clarkontheweekend: If it makes you feel any better, I also committed a faux pas a few days ago that I felt pretty bad about. Again, a poorly timed misunderstanding. I’ll try to make this story short: some intimate apparel belonging to my ex-spouse appeared in my house unexpectedly because it got mixed up in our kids’ laundry. I had our daughter return it to her, which unfortunately happened in view of my ex’s current partner. This caused a clusterf**k and I got raked over the coals for being insensitive/unthinking. I immediately apologized, because it is true that I should have been more discreet about returning a sensitive item. (As an aside, the partner is jealous and controlling. That exacerbated the issue, but I still take responsibility for the bad appearance.)

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR10: Hugh Hewitt? WA!

  50. DK says:


    Good Lord, what a fuss about nothing.

    Is it Ron DeFascist’s new campaign slogan or perhaps the title of a future history about the anti-woke, anti-CRT, anti-Pride mass hysteria?

  51. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s not exactly secret inside information that Marvel is pushing out TV and movie flops. Ditto Star Wars. And Pixar. And Indiana Jones. And Willow just. . . evaporated. Disney stock is dragging and Iger’s talking some pretty desperate talk about dumping major portions of the Disney empire, maybe begging Apple or Amazon to help him save ESPN.

    There are a lot of reasons – the day and date move, for example, the Covid pandemic, stresses with China, superhero fatigue, sequel fatigue. But it was also not helpful that Disney turned so many things meant to be fun into things meant to push a line. It’s a line I agree with, but even I can’t watch some of their shit – I’m not into being spoon fed propaganda by a 20-something writer whose world experience amounts to 4 years at college and a wild weekend in Cabo.

    I don’t have a lot of patience with good intentions bungled. Hollywood is quietly dumping their DEI people, granted they’re laying off a whole lot of people, but I suspect, though no one’s going to say it out loud, that the era of ‘first this and first that,’ and gender swaps and deconstructed legacy male heroes, is over. Too many expensive movies and shows have crashed and burned. What’s succeeded? Top Gun Maverick, Super Mario, Barbie, Oppenheimer and modestly-budgeted horror movies.

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR10: “Patty Stonesifer, the founding chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and an Amazon board member…”

    Okay. I can connect the dots now.

    ETA: Wikipedia tells me she’s Michael Kinsley’s wife FWIW.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR10: I’m gonna guess Ayn Rand as the example/reference. Specifically either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, everybody’s “greatest book evah(!!!!)”

    As to who might have suggested the principle, I have no clue. I assume you’ll want credit for it.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR10: “We” are poor. “I,” for example, am beginning to struggle with housing myself let alone the homeless.

    That fact that “we,” in aggregate, are arguably the richest nation in history (yes, Lounsberry, another of my leftie hyperboles) is immaterial given that “we” are also strongly individualistic, which means that the answer for those with no bootstraps with which to pull themselves up is that they shouldn’t have wasted their boot money on candy.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I know nothing about the marketing campaign other than that the Progressive commercial featuring Jamie bragging about having Barbie (whom he cannot name) as a customer gets a lot of play on the shows I stream. (Yet another reason why I don’t object to TV ads; I’d have never heard about this movie at all without advertising because I never check what’s playing at the theater and don’t read movie reviews [my AI driven feeds don’t even suggest any].)

  56. charontwo says:

    Massive “Streisand effect” maybe with Barbie and WSJ, NR, Ben Shapiro etc.

    This is interesting pattern:

    Barbie vs Oppenheimer popularity in USA by state

    Nitter version:

  57. Kathy says:

    I’ve to say prior to coget reviews and analyses of “Barbie,” I saw no reason to see it (even though Margot Robbie is in it).

    Now I might stream it when it goes into any of the services.

  58. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: you specifically made a comparison between Disney and Warner Bros. “Disney Bad, Warner Good, Me Hungry.” Etc.

    I’m just trying to figure out whether you have something to say that could be dragged out with comparisons of someone doing diversity well. But you don’t. And the majority of your examples aren’t even Warner Brothers. It’s just “here are several things that aren’t Disney that are doing well.”

    Disney’s big-budget movie factory may not be well suited for post-Covid. And they’ve run out of recognizable characters in Marvel (Fantastic Four and X-Men coming soon!), and the latest batch aren’t the cultural touchstones of the previous waves. None of that seems diversity related. (I don’t know why they don’t recast as actors age out… we could have a new Tony Stark, etc)

    Meanwhile Sony had a very successful Spider-Man cartoon about 12,000 Spider-Men who aren’t white men. So, probably not a diversity issue.

    Curious: Who’s been gender-swapped lately? You brought that up a couple of times. Did Indiana Jones spin the Dial of Gender along with the Dial of Destiny?

    Also, you may be horrified to learn that Warner Brothers has been making Jimmy Olsen a black man in all movies and tv shows for about a decade now. Totally forced. And also weirdly true to the character, who was created as a redhead not long after “No Irish Need Apply” signs began coming down.

    And the latest Lois Lane is a slightly darker shade of probably-white than Clark Kent. She might be Latina, or even… LatinX!

    Is it wrong that I want some crossover where Jimmy Olsen and the Little Mermaid have lots of Black children?

    (Wait, if she’s the Little Mermaid, and about human sized… how big are metrmaids supposed to get? Should we have kaiju sized mermaids?)

    I also eagerly await a big comics event in DC where Jimmy becomes Black, because I am sure that it will be handled with the subtlety and care that such a sensitive topic deserves.

  59. Kenny says:

    @Mister Bluster: That guy, after 24 years in the statehouse, did not run for the NJ legislature in 2019. He ran instead for county surrogate, a five-year position that oversees probate in New Jersey. He was defeated in the primary.

  60. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kenny: ..defeated…

    Thank you for the reply.

  61. EddieInCA says:


    While you travel are in the industry, and travel in those circles, and so get a pass because it’s probably just be a natural bit of detail for you, every time I see someone reference Kathleen Kennedy by name, I immediately suspect they are somewhere on the anti-woke, alt-right, QAnon pipeline*.

    I’m not going to defend her in any way, not even being sure of what her job entails and how much she is responsible for the details of anything**, but a lot of the vitriol from the Star Wars fan base seems to boil down to “she’s a girl, and she got her girl cooties on my action figures!” blaming her for everything from random Easter eggs to the existence of Black people who aren’t Billy Dee Williams to the whole everything about the franchise.

    Anyway, I don’t really want to harp on her too much, but I’m just wondering what random, almost innocuous, not-overtly-political, tell-tale cues other people pick up for the people sliding down a rabbit hole.

    No. No. No. Fucking no. Kathleen Kennedy deserves every little bit of fucking vitriol that comes her way. Every little bit of it. And it has nothing to do with her being a woman. Your comment made me want to throw my fucking computer through the goddamned wall. No. Kathleen Kennedy is a horrible, horrible human being, and even worse as a producer. He’s fallen up ever since she was Stephen Speilberg’s assistant way the hell a long time ago. I’ve known her for 30+ years, and have turned down so much work over the years on projects she’s involved with. No. Life is too short.

    She’s mean, nasty, never takes any responsibility for mistakes, and continues to keep her job despite how many times, projects she fucks up.

    So no. Just fucking NO. Do not think for a second that she is deserving of any compassion “because she’s a woman” Fuck that.


  62. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA: You get the “in the industry, knows more than just a woman’s name and the word ‘woke’” exception. You, presumably, know people doing similar jobs at Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers, etc., by name.

    That would not be the case for brother (who drives auto parts from one store to another for a living), or my friend’s brother (who works for the DoT overseeing potholes) and who really seem to have keyed in on Kathleen Kennedy. Nor the idiots on various sci-fi fan sites.

    She may be a horrible person and woefully incompetent. But most of those people have no way of knowing it. And they’re often consuming right wing media chock full of brain worms where this is one of the first to gain root.

    It’s like when someone says that so-and-so is an ephebophile or a hebephile rather than a pedophile. They might be correct, but it raises questions.

    And again, I was really just hoping to see people chime in with the random seemingly innocuous things that they’ve noticed the people sliding down the right wing rabbit hole say and do. (I was secretly hoping Kathy would have something aviation related that would leave everyone dumbfounded, about people who prefer to sit directly behind the bulkhead because of Pinochet or something)

  63. EddieInCA says:


    For the record, many, many, many the Star Wars fanboys are racist douchebags. My wife is a Star Wars nerd, so I have to do the good husband thing and go to several Star Wars events per year, including Celebration, wherever the hell it happens to be in the world. Fortunately, the one this year was in Anaheim, just a short drive away. Unfortunately, 2025 is in Japan, so you all know where I will be during that week.

  64. just nutha says:

    @EddieInCA: Hey. I’ve been to Japan lots of times multiple days. It’s a pretty nice place to be. Lots of worse places.

  65. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “It’s not exactly secret inside information that Marvel is pushing out TV and movie flops. Ditto Star Wars. And Pixar. And Indiana Jones. And Willow just. . . evaporated.”

    Just wondering… is this awful race-and-gender pandering by Disney also to blame for the recent string of super-hero disasters like Shazam: Fury of the Gods, Black Adam and The Flash, all released by (checking notes here) brilliant anti-woke crusaders Warner Discovery?

    Or is it possible that you are simply attributing a series of failures to the thing you don’t like? I mean, you have decided that the failure of Willow, a sequel no one asked for to a forty year-old movie no one remembers, to wokeness?