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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Simone. ‘Nuff said.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Bronny James went into cardiac arrest during a basketball workout at the University of Southern California last month because of a congenital heart defect, according to a family spokesperson.

    Huh. Who knew vaccines could cause congenital heart defects.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Discovered in the deep: an octopus’s garden in the shade

    Scientists have solved the mystery of why tens of thousands of octopuses cluster on the foothills of a giant underwater mountain, two miles down off the coast of California. The pearl octopuses, so named because from a distance they look like scattered gems, seek out warm water seeping through the seabed and use it to speed up the hatching of their eggs.

    This was the initial hunch scientists had when they discovered the “octopus garden” near Davidson Seamount in 2018, the second of four known deep-sea octopus aggregations.
    The mauve, grapefruit-sized female octopuses each lay about 60 eggs and cement them to the bare rock, then guard them until they hatch. Temperature probes showed the water bathing the eggs ranged from 5C to 10C (40-50F), while less than a metre away it dropped to a frigid 1.6C.

    Revisiting individual nests, the team saw that rather than taking a decade or longer to hatch, as would happen in the very cold deep sea, baby octopuses emerge from their cosy nests after less than two years, dramatically boosting their chances of survival.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Kevin Drum: Raw data: Test scores were about the same in states that kept schools open and closed during COVID

    We all know that NAEP test scores dropped substantially between 2019 and 2022, largely due to virtual teaching replacing in-person teaching. At least, that’s what we think happened.

    I got curious about this the other day: Did states that kept schools open during the 2020-2021 school year do better than states that closed schools? First, here is an “in-person” teaching index from Burbio. I’ve included the top ten and bottom ten states:
    There’s just nothing there. If I were less lazy I’d do a scatterplot for all 50 states, but I really doubt we’d see anything much different. Despite all the conventional wisdom, it looks like closing schools really didn’t make much difference. Something else about COVID was responsible for the score declines.

    So yeah, something was going on, but it would appear that the closing of schools did not have much to do with. Somebody should do a study!

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Joe Delfausse didn’t intend to stop traffic on a recent Tuesday night in Brooklyn, but Saturn had other plans. The amateur astronomer, who has been a fixture in his Park Slope neighborhood for more than 20 years, regularly lugs out a telescope on clear nights and encourages passersby to take a look at the cosmos.

    Delfausse began his Tuesday night observation on the sidewalk, but he couldn’t see anything from that vantage point. He was about to pack up and go home before he realized he could get a perfect view of the ringed planet if he stood in the middle of the street. That’s when the line formed.

    As a crowd of people left an outdoor concert put on by the indie pop band Alvvays, Delfausse invited them to take a turn at the telescope.

    Daphne Juliet Ellis, a 26-year-old musician who was leaving the show, took a video of the scene, which showed Delfausse proudly working the crowd. “He was really this kind of Zen Buddha in the space, shepherding a bunch of hippie kids who just got out of a concert,” she said.

    Cars slowed to pass by, and despite his location, Delfausse managed to keep a smooth traffic flow.
    “The main thing I do is bring out my telescope where I know there are going to be people, so I can show them the heavens,” he said.

    New Yorkers are cautious by nature, but not when they’re around Delfausse. “All of a sudden, they drop their guard,” he said. “They’re talking to the people in front and behind them. I guess we’re all starved for connection, and when you see someone’s eyes widen because they’ve never seen anything like that, you feel like you’ve made a difference.”
    “I’m in my 80s, and you want to do something meaningful in your life,” Delfausse said. “I can’t think of anything that’s more meaningful than this kind of stargazing with people.”

    One can find beautiful people in some of the least likely places.

  6. Kathy says:


    Was it discovered by Eleanor Rigby in a Yellow Submarine?

  7. CSK says:


    She is magical.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I didn’t see her name on the research paper. Couldn’t say what color the submersible was.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I think of her as “otherworldly”.

    eta as in “no human can do that.” except, she can.

  10. CSK says:


    I think I meant the same thing as you.

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    Poor Ozark, you have apparently fallen for Octopropoganda. These eight-limbed, beak-mouthed monsters are obviously assembling to plot world domination.

  12. Kathy says:

    I’m not sure I’ve said this before, but I should have: We’ll know we’re making real progress into space when launching people to orbit gets boring.

    SpaceX launched its 11th crewed mission

    I think we’re getting there.

  13. Kathy says:

    Not to derail the feeding frenzy on the other thread, I’m posting this here.

    Regarding how people misconceive the rule of law, some years ago an airline, I forget whether it was Aviacsa or TAESA, got their credit for fuel and air services suspended due to large unpaid debts to the government agency responsible for these services.

    Rather than pause or end operations, the airline filed a motion before a court, asking for a stay of the suspension of services. This makes eminent sense, as how are they supposed to pay up if they can’t operate flights and sell tickets? Of course, from the government’s perspective, they want to write off what’s owed, maybe get something back from bankruptcy and liquidation proceedings, and not devote more resources to a dying airline.

    As both sides have a point, a neutral arbiter like a court is the right place to adjudicate the matter.

    At the time, I still had the news on the radio while commuting to work. And this business news guy reporting on the matter, claimed the airline’s filing was a blatant violation of the rule of law.

    Think about it. filing a motion as prescribed and indicated by law in the appropriate court, is a blatant violation of the rule of law?

    You’d think this man considered “rule of law” to mean “unquestioning obedience and compliance to state orders.” Me, I think that’s dictatorship, not “rule of law.”

    whichever airline it was, it ceased operations a short time afterwards. When any airline gets to the point of owing a lot in fuel and air services, it’s only a matter of time before they are liquidated. even a favorable ruling which let them keep flying, probably won’t let them earn enough to pay their debts, nor attract sufficient financing to survive. But it’s easy to see why they would try.

  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: I think that the man in question believed, for whatever reason there would be, that the company’s request was going to have an effect that he did not want to see and that “violation of the rule of law” sounded more principled than “will lead to a result that I don’t like.”

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: This is the problem I have with all the Musk hate. Not that he doesn’t deserve hate for a lot of things. If I had to describe him I would say “sexually active InCel” which makes no sense but somehow describes him perfectly. But the guy has helmed multiple startups that are changing the world. And yes, he buys his way into them but for chrissakes, most businesses fail and for world changing businesses that is “most” to the power of ten. PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla, Tesla Energy (which may gave an even bigger impact than Tesla by agglomerating people who own batteries (EV cars, Power Walls, etc) and giving them negotiating power with utilities), and Starlink. The normal path is for a driven individual to luck/drive into an innovative company, make their fortune, and then every “innovative” thing they do after that is an incredible failure. Musk has had four profoundly important companies. That just doesn’t happen.

    Years ago a scientist said to me, “You can judge a scientist by whether they speak or let the data speak.” In a just world, someone as much as an asshole as Musk would be an abysmal failure. But that’s not how the world works.

  16. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Adventures in Open Carry Laws–OK division
    Bring your gun to the high school football game. What could possibly go wrong there? 🙁

  17. Gustopher says:

    The right wing had found their new small town music hero to follow up Shithead’s “Try That In A Small Town”. Except Anthony Oliver apparently doesn’t like them that much, leading to this:

    Oliver Anthony is now openly calling America a (((melting pot))) and saying diversity is our strength. Using the voice of the downtrodden *white* working class to smuggle this message is one of the most despicable antiwhite psyops ever.

    I guess it’s like they always say: Never meet your heroes. They might turn out not to be as racist as you hoped they were.

  18. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Things like this always remind me of my late fathers comment, some decades back, when I asked him his opinion on the US debate on gun rights (and bearing in mind, Dad had been a rifle club member as a teenager, and taught me to shoot .22 pistol and rifle):

    “Having spent several years of the war sat behind some rather large guns, my general feeling is that firearms have little place in the everyday life of a civilised country.”

    (Dad’s workplace, 1943-44)

  19. Matt says:

    @MarkedMan: The management at Space X is setup to keep Musk away from anything of importance. Space X would be just as effective without Musk even existing. This is all based on my interactions with Space X personal and management.

    Tesla is supposedly run in a similar manner to keep musk from fcking things up..

  20. Slugger says:

    A sheriff in Jacksonville has been grossly violating Florida law by calling an ambush murderer at a Dollar General a racist. There is no racism in Florida, and only someone steeped in CRT could make such a woke statement. I have not heard a response from the governor, but I’m sure he reference the power of the Almighty with whom he is on a first name basis.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: one thumbs up (i’d give you 3 or 4 or 5 for the giggle.)

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: My old man’s was a very dark cubicle on a B-29. He was a radar operator.

  23. JohnSF says:

    It’s been my general experience that the people most acquainted with organised military ultra-violence (and due to family and personal connections, I’ve known a fair few) are the most inclined to laugh in the face of “right to arm bears” types.

    BTW, Dad always said he had a serious case of B-29 envy. He flew B-24’s.

  24. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    These eight-limbed, beak-mouthed monsters are obviously assembling to plot world domination.

    Octopoid Starry Wisdom Cult press spokesman responds: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fthagn. So there.”
    Defamation suit incoming. 🙂

  25. DrDaveT says:


    the power of the Almighty with whom he is on a first name basis

    He calls her “The”?

  26. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @JohnSF:

    My father fought at Salerno, San Pietro, and the First Battle of Monte Cassino. I don’t think he ever wanted to see a firearm again.

  27. JohnSF says:


    “My father fought at Salerno, San Pietro, and the First Battle of Monte Cassino”

    Two of my uncles, and one sorta-unofficial “uncle”, were around those places as well at the same time.
    I remember visiting the area some time back, and thinking “soft under-belly of Europe my ass”.
    Never seen better defensive terrain.
    The Italian campaign gets overlooked a lot for being an utter bastard of a fight.

    And of my grandfathers, one was with the KSLI on the Somme; the other at Megiddo. Neither had any illusions about the nature of war.

    As I said, I’ve encountered a lot of people who looked like, and in fact were, peaceable old dudes. But in their day had been, of necessity, stone killers.
    None of them made much of it, but if I’m any judge, every last one would have laughed in contempt at the current crop of “finger-less gloves, carbine at low-ready alert, special forces stylee” cosplay clowns.

  28. Kathy says:


    I wrote about how I soured on St, Elon God Emperor etc. a few days ago, and won’t rehash it here. Before that time, he struck me as someone who wanted to do something with his money, rather than just accumulate more money.

    I still see this, only now he’s really going largely in the wrong direction. Namely he’s helping the effort to discredit and destroy democracy.

  29. DrDaveT says:


    The Italian campaign gets overlooked a lot for being an utter bastard of a fight.

    Overlooked excellent war movie: Von Ryan’s Express
    Patton also spends considerable time on the Sicilian portion of the Italian campaign.

  30. Gustopher says:


    I wrote about how I soured on St, Elon God Emperor etc. a few days ago, and won’t rehash it here. Before that time, he struck me as someone who wanted to do something with his money, rather than just accumulate more money.

    You think he doesn’t want to do something with his money now?

    He’s moved on from being the salesperson for a rocket company and a car company to trying to change the culture of western democracies to promote far right political views including (but not limited to) hatred of “wokeness” and promotion of Russian propaganda.

    I do wonder whether the change was his trans kid coming out, or when he was called out for sexual harassment (remember when it was revealed he offered someone a horse for a handjob?*). He does seem to have the antitrans brain worms, but we’ve seen lots of awful men across the political spectrum shift to the right rather than give up being awful (Matt Taibbi leaps to mind).

    Anyway, I think he stopped smoking pot and switched to cocaine. He should try ecstasy, or a fistful of fentanyl. Either.

    *: is it worse to offer a horse for a handjob, or a handjob for a horse?