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. Kathy says:

    Good-Bad News. I found Niven’s outline for blowing up Known Space: Down in Flames.

  2. Moosebreath says:


    Meh. I prefer how Niven actually wrapped up Known Space a few decades later, in the Fleet of Worlds series. Far fewer cases of “all this stuff in my prior books didn’t actually happen”.

  3. Kathy says:


    The Down in Flames thing is like the equivalent of smashing your sand castle or Lego model after you’re done building them.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @anjin-san: Anjin-San, thanks for the tip on Elizabeth and the Catapult. Really interesting.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:
  6. CSK says:


    Those are wonderful. I laughed out loud at some. Thank you.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A woman sentenced to work at a fast-food restaurant after being convicted of throwing her Chipotle order at an employee of the chain eatery says she is committed to paying her debt to the justice system and hopes she can eventually progress past the highly publicized episode.

    In a recent interview, Rosemary Hayne said again that she was sorry for the actions that landed her in court and on a video that went viral on social media. She said she’s a service industry veteran herself and believes she’s never treated a customer as brusquely as she was treated on the fateful day, but she added that she would not make any excuses as she prepared to complete her unusual judicial punishment.

    “Those who know me realize that moment didn’t show my true character,” Hayne also said.

    The victim in the case, Emily Russell, was working behind the counter of a Chipotle in Parma, Ohio, in September when she encountered the 39-year-old Hayne as a customer at the fast Mexican-style food establishment.

    As people there recorded on their phones, an irate Hayne brought a burrito bowl up to Russell, slammed it down, and confronted her, as the Ohio news outlet WJW reported. She ultimately threw the entire bowl in Russell’s face, leading to an assault charge.

    Stress has a way of putting one’s true character in the spotlight.

    She apologized to Gilligan, who nonetheless sarcastically said to her: “I bet you won’t be happy with the food you are going to get in the jail.”

    I like this judge.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: They are all good but I think I liked the sheep dog best.

  9. CSK says:


    So did I!

  10. CSK says:

    I may have asked this question before, but…why does Trump keep referring to Nikki Haley as “Birdbrain”?

  11. Scott says:

    I don’t know whether this is becoming national news or not; however, I find it outrageous that the courts are allowed to fight over a human beings’ basic rights:

    Texas Supreme Court temporarily halts ruling allowing Dallas woman to get an abortion

    exas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state Supreme Court to intervene and stop a Dallas woman from having an abortion.

    Paxton’s office petitioned the high court just before midnight Thursday, after a Travis County district judge granted a temporary restraining order allowing Kate Cox, 31, to terminate her nonviable pregnancy. Paxton also sent a letter to three hospitals, threatening legal action if they allowed the abortion to be performed at their facility.

    On Friday evening, the state Supreme Court temporarily halted the lower court’s order but did not rule on the merits of the case. The court said it would rule on the temporary restraining order, but did not specify when.

    That was in response to this:

    Judge says Texas woman may abort fetus with lethal abnormality

    For the first time in at least 50 years, a judge has intervened to allow an adult woman to terminate her pregnancy.

    When Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble handed down the temporary restraining order Thursday, Kate Cox, 31, of Dallas burst into tears. Cox and her husband desperately wanted to have this baby, but her doctors said continuing the nonviable pregnancy posed a risk to her health and future fertility, according to a historic lawsuit filed Tuesday.

    “The idea that Ms. Cox wants desperately to be a parent, and this law might actually cause her to lose that ability is shocking and would be a genuine miscarriage of justice,” Gamble said.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded Thursday afternoon in a letter addressed to three hospitals — Houston Methodist Hospital, The Women’s Hospital of Texas in Houston, and Texans Children’s Hospital in Houston — saying the temporary order would “not insulate hospitals, doctors, or anyone else, from civil and criminal liability for violating Texas’ abortion laws.”

    In the meantime the Texas Supreme Court is tangled with a related lawsuit:

    Texas Supreme Court considers abortion challenge

    The Supreme Court of Texas heard arguments Tuesday in a landmark case that could impact how the state’s abortion laws apply to medically complicated pregnancies.

    In August, state District Judge Jessica Mangrum ruled that the near-total abortion ban cannot be enforced in cases involving complicated pregnancies, including lethal fetal diagnoses. The state immediately appealed that ruling, putting it on hold.

    Texas law allows abortions only when it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant patient. But this lawsuit, filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights in March, claims that doctors are unsure when the medical exception applies, resulting in delayed or denied care.

    “No one knows what [the exception] means and the state won’t tell us,” Molly Duane, senior attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, told the justices Tuesday.

    Our adulterous, indicted felon, impeached but not convicted, devoted Christian AG Paxton actions and motives are clear: 1) To run out the clock and 2) To not be forced to clarify the vague law that was passed.

  12. Kingdaddy says:

    Back in the late Seventies, my mother and stepfather, who owned a bookstore, did interviews with various SF writers. I have no idea what to do with them.

  13. CSK says:


    Probably any university or college would be happy to take them off your hands.

  14. de stijl says:

    From the obscure Presidential candidate thread from yesterday.

    I get about 5 or 6 spam texts per day from R presidential campaigns. I cleared out my spam folder out last Sunday – I now have (checks) 35 text messages from R presidential wannabe campaigns. Network TV and cable is nigh unwatchable due to the amount of political ads. I have worn the icon off the mute button on my remote. I am now used to the skip icon popping up after 5 seconds countdown on YouTube, so sitting through an unskippable full 30 seconds advertisement is now hell on earth. Holy crap! 30 seconds is so fucking long!

    I thought we would be exempt this year. The Iowa caucuses got shuffled back into the calendar. Nope. Wrong! Only the D caucuses got pushed back. The R caucus is still first in the nation for R voters and happens in January so I get every political ad invasion ever invented pointed at me simultaneously.

    This is arguably the most important election in the world. The POTUS job is basically the world’s biggest job. And we are so stupid to allow media over-reactions to the Iowa and New Hampshire votes. The problem isn’t first in the nation votes, it is the reaction to and over-reaction to those outcomes. It’d be like picking the Superbowl winner based on the pre-season. That’d be a super stupid way to choose a party nominee.

    We do that every four years.

    In most instances I like America quite a lot. We do a lot of things pretty okay. I like us as a whole. I am a bit of a patriot.

    And then the presidential ekection cycle comes around again and I inevitably become hateful and cynical. Not because of the process, but because the endless fucking ads meant to provoke us and incite us to harmful action.

    Every four years is worse than the last. During my lifetime, at least. I like America, I like Americans. On the whole we are pretty good. We don’t suck. The ethos is okay. The populace and citizenry are largely good folk and good neighbors.

    And then every four years we pit neighbor against neighbor.

    At best, we (Iowa and New Hampshire) knock out wannabe non-contenders. Who the fuck cares who “won” or not? It is a months long process. Well, it should be, but most go-rounds it’s utterly decided the day after Super Tuesday irrevocably.

    Two thirds of America basically does not get to vote for a party nominee. It’s basically decided even before they get to vote. Super Tuesday is incredibly undemocratic and I despise it. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina have hegemony on clearing the field. It’s up to y’all to pick the nominee.

    Well it should be in a rational system. But, we don’t live in a rational system and both parties and the media align to set up a head to head cage match with folding chairs SMASH UP!


    Presidential elections are a lot like WWE Showdowns. The title match contestants are pre-determined, and the outcome is rigged by the owners to goose ratings.

    A November episode of F-Boy Island

    Since I have lived in this state I never voted for a Republican once. Not even by accident. I had to register as D to attend the caucus so I did it even though it aggravated me to self declare my partisan status to the state registrar. I don’t even align with the Ds that much, I would prefer to be much more radical on policy, but they are a way, way better fit for me than any R is. I vote D, but secretly I owe no allegiance to them and am basically against R policy wise and world fit.

    In a binary system I am anti-R.

    I still am the focal point of a crap ton of unwanted, unnecessary political ads for a party I will never vote for. Fucking Republicans, God damn it, I thought I’d dodged the bullet this time, but no…. I get hell every day and for candidates I will never vote for.

    Spam political texts come with a tag, a tell. They are addressed to a person that isn’t you. Specifically directed to either Irving or Almo. It is meant to be read as a misdirected text to induce you to interact with that text to tell them “Sorry, you fat fingered that phone number. I’m not Irving / Almo. By the way, I am a clueless Boomer who has never heard of phishing. Please extort money from me.”

    They utterly give up the game when they send you the second text, or the 55th. You know it’s a scam. Nikki Haley will address the We Hate SJWs and Trannies and Soy Boys Too Club at 1000 Main St. In Waukee, IA Saturday night. Be there!

    What is extremely weird is that both Haley and DeSantis spam texts both use the “Hey Irving” opening. It’s almost like it came from the same off-shore text spam shop HQ’d in Belarus or Azerbaijan and funded by the FSB.

    I’m not fooling. I can share receipts. My spam filter is full of those bs texts directed at Irving or Almo. I am a cuss and spike in the wheel. I open all. I block them. I report them.

    Most folks would just delete them unopened, but the big brain move is to fuck with their access to you. Shut down every access point.

    Block, report.

    Change the system. The current one sucks.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Practicing medicine with out a license is illegal in most states.

    eta: ‘Grifters and sycophants’: the radicals who would fill key posts if Trump is re-elected

    A primer if anybody feels the need for one

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kingdaddy: @CSK: Large public libraries too.

  17. Kingdaddy says:

    Something uplifting for a weekend morning: Nick Cave performs “A Rainy Night In Soho” at Shane MacGowan’s funeral:

    And a rousing rendition of “Fairytale of New York” by Glen Hansard and Lisa O’Neill, also from the funeral:

  18. becca says:

    @Scott: Paxton will come to regret this blatant act of cruelty. I bet Trump is pissed Ken has put abortion rights up in giant neon lights across the social media universe.
    Cruel, venal and stupid on a whole new level.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy: Written or taped?

  20. Kingdaddy says:

    @MarkedMan: Taped.

  21. de stijl says:


    The central library in your town.

    Librarians will steer you right.

  22. Moosebreath says:


    “The Down in Flames thing is like the equivalent of smashing your sand castle or Lego model after you’re done building them.”

    That doesn’t make it worth reading. Rather the opposite, in fact.

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Kingdaddy: what about releasing them as podcasts?

  24. gVOR10 says:

    Kevin Drum today has The Republican worldview in one chart. He looks at YouGov polling and lists things a majority of Republicans say they believe, including:
    Barack Obama not born in US
    We are in a recession
    See fake news frequently (kind of a trick question, that)
    Country is out of control (I don’t even know what that means. and I suspect the “yes” respondents don’t either)

    Drum’s bottom line, “If you believed this stuff, you’d act like a Republican too.”

    To me, the bottom line is that conservatives need an enemy. Given that we are among the wealthiest, safest people who have ever lived, it’s hard to come up with an enemy. They’ve settled on the only “enemy” strong enough to hurt “us”, the other half of the country. FOX/GOP want us divided, have worked very hard to divide us, and have succeeded.

  25. Kingdaddy says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I know I’ve mentioned it before, and thanks for those earlier ideas, too. Just haven’t figured it out, and unfortunately, it’s been low on the agenda.

  26. Kingdaddy says:

    Thanks for the suggestions. I know I’ve mentioned it before, and thanks for those earlier ideas, too. Just haven’t figured it out, and unfortunately, it’s been low on the agenda.

  27. Kathy says:


    I didn’t claim it was a good thing.

    I also never managed to build anything with sand at the ebach. But that’s a different matter.

  28. de stijl says:


    Thanks! I would have missed that had you not posted it.

    I loved / love MacGowan. A great singer. No, a totally crap singer by any objective mark. A true poet who also sang poorly but well. And also brilliantly. Pierced my heart many a time.

    When I went back to my empty room /
    I guess I must’ve cried

    From Thousands Are Sailing

    That lyric in full context unmans me.

    I could have been him. My love of drink was prodigious in my early youth. To 30. Alcohol beats anxiety down. And fairly cheap, too, all things considered. It is a valid path to quell anxiety. A bad path, harmful, but it sorta kinda works for a long, long while.

    The world is less with his absence.

    It saddens me that you really cannot talk about Shane MacGowan and not address his alcoholism.

  29. Michael Cain says:

    From memory, so suspect, but didn’t Ringworld establish that the wave front from the exploding galactic core would reach Known Space in another 20,000 years and wipe out everything? It was a fairly important plot point.

  30. Jay L Gischer says:

    @gVOR10: I don’t disagree with your take, but I think there’s an additional dynamic going on.

    Democratic policies align far better with the teachings of Christianity than Republican ones do.
    (Remember Jesus? He’s the guy who said, “sell all that you have, give the money to the poor, and come and follow me.” This does not square with “prosperity gospel”) For that to not win voters over, those voters have to be convinced that Democrats are “evil” and don’t actually want to help people. Instead they want to sell children to pedophiles. Or whatever.

  31. de stijl says:


    I never got into Nick Cave as much as a person like me should’ve. I always meant to. Now I have nothing but time on my hands I shall. Well, if I enjoy it. I suspect I will.

    I love the Mountain Goats and AJJ who are both first branch descendants. I suspect I will love the mother tree as well. A person like me should have a working knowledge of Nick Cave including with the Bad Seeds.

    I love folk punk. This is entirely up my alley. Why have I never explored this? People I knew and I respected them as a person and for their music / aesthetic taste love Nick Cave the way I love Paul Westerberg both in and out of The Replacements. I never got around to it somehow. I am often foolish and driven by inertia.

    I owe it to myself to delve deep. Give it a solid shot.

  32. de stijl says:


    A really nice film with Glen Hansard is Once. A little indie film from 2005 or so. Co-star was his partner at the time. A scrappy little movie with great songs where nothing much happens beyond whether or not dude and gal couple up. It really doesn’t matter.

    Low stakes. Not a rom-com. Maybe a rom-dram. Great songs in it. Neither are natural actors so some scenes come off a bit stilted. I remember walking away really loving the vibe of it, but it was just a slice of life. I really liked it, but not really memorable. Up my alley, but very low key stakes. Check it out if you want. It’s called Once.

    I watched it in a theater in an inner suburb then went downtown to my local for a pint and so I could bullshit with the bartender who was also a pretty good friend. Hutch, I need a chocolate stout and just some normal back and forth bullshit.

    I’m close to admitting to myself my creeping depression is real and I don’t know how to deal with that so please give me alcohol and engage in witty, clever banter with me for an hour or so before I go home to an empty condo unit awash with shame and utter regret and two separate video game consoles that help me dodge and ignore loss and anxiety.

    Fairytale always makes me weep.

  33. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer: No, they don’t. Evangelicals only need to be sold that private charity is better than gubmint charity.

  34. @de stijl: I quite like Nick Cave–and Kingdaddy actually is the one who connected me to him back when he posted a link to a Nick Cave song on his old blog. Same with Leonard Cohen, in fact.

  35. gVOR10 says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    For that to not win voters over, those voters have to be convinced that Democrats are “evil” and don’t actually want to help people.

    Indeed. Republicans have nothing to offer. Nothing. Doing anything might raises taxes, so all they can do is push this culture war stuff, pandering to the masses by catering to their worst, prejudices without offering solutions to any actual existing problems and making Ds out as spawn of the devil. (I’ve seen “Democrat = Demonic” on a bumper sticker.) These people believe utter nonsense. Very sincerely. It really is a tribute to the effectiveness of propaganda.

  36. Kingdaddy says:

    The other group like The Pogues I recommend is Black 47. More political, more about the immigrant experience (and New York in general). Some examples:

    And given the season, here are The Dropkick Murphys:

  37. wr says:

    @de stijl: “A really nice film with Glen Hansard is Once.”

    Written and directed by Jim Carney, who has built a career of lovely comedies about people figuring out their lives by making music. My favorite is Begin Again, just a little miracle of a movie starring Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. But it’s hard not to love Sing Street, in which a Dublin kid in the 80s gets up the nerve to meet a beautiful girl by asking her to star in the video for his band — and when she agrees, he realizes he has to start a band…

  38. wr says:

    @Kingdaddy: And while we’re at it, Flogging Molly.

  39. anjin-san says:
  40. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Kingdaddy: The MIT Science Fiction Society’s library would likely be a very very worthwhile recipient.

  41. anjin-san says:


    We discovered Elizabeth when she opened for Amy Helm a few years back. Apparently she lives in Portland now, so I am hoping for more west coast shows.

    Something recent from Amy Helm:
    Amy Helm – Cotton & the Cane

    And something terrific I lucked into at a local record store:
    Lady Blackbird – It’ll Never Happen Again

  42. Jax says:

    @Kingdaddy: I’m going to go see the Dropkick Murphy’s in February. And two other bands I don’t know but better listen up on. 😛

  43. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    A great singer. No, a totally crap singer by any objective mark. A true poet who also sang poorly but well

    A great singer blessed/cursed with a shitty instrument that he had to find a way to work with. Reminds me of Tom Waits that way.

    Dylan is just a terrible singer who is held up by his words. (His Nobel Prize for Literature was just a Nobel Prize of Your Singing Sucks. I love him though.)

  44. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:


    The core explosion is a hoax.

    Yeah, I don’t much care for the Down in Flames outline either.

  45. DrDaveT says:

    @Kingdaddy: You might find someone at Locus Magazine who would be interested. That’s the most appropriate venue I can think of for publishing them, or excerpts from them.

  46. de stijl says:

    There is a rythym to functional alcoholism and daily anxiety / depression. You find a balance. You find the dosage. You cope daily.

    In my mid twenties I was I have a day job so I can have an apartment and groceries. I drink just enough everynight as a coping mechanism so I can have the day job and not freak out during.

    It’s a balancing act. Drink enough to mute the unwanted internal voice everynight so you can go to the day job that pays for the alcohol you use to quell the nagging voice.

    If you nail the dosage right you can go for years and no one really notices. You drink enough to go to sleep. You sleep enough to go to work. You cope. Rinse and repeat.

    You tell yourself you’re okay. My dose was a 20 oz of Heineken and a sixer of locally produced pale ale. Daily. Then get wrecked black out drunk on hard liquor Friday and Saturday night. That was the routine every night, every week, every year for at least a decade and a half. I pulled it off.

    All because I was too chicken to go see a doctor and deal with the actual problem. To confront myself. I chose to ignore that, stifle it down, push it down, shut it up. With just the proper dose of alcohol I can make this go away until tomorrow. Just enough but not too much. I need to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed come 8 AM tomorrow morning. I did it. It worked. I coped. For an amazingly long while. No one knew! You can get away with shit like that for years and years if you nailed the dosage.

    I knew it would give the game away if I went to the same liquor store every day so I had a network of stores I would shuffle through so it wasn’t outwardly apparent that I drank a shit ton of booze to cope with unresolved mental heath issues daily.

    I did that for days, weeks, years on end. Eighteen years plus. That was the daily cycle. And I fucking nailed it during. I got raises and promotions. My colleagues loved me and welcomed my input. Sought it out. I was simultaneously really good at my job and a functional alcoholic every night. No one noticed which was so validating and welcome. It feels nice to get away with a long con.

    I had nailed the functional alcoholic life coping mechanism lifestyle precisely. With the correct dosage you can cope enough to sleep well and succeed at your job.

    Then it fell apart rapidly. What had worked no longer worked. I needed to confront my undealt with issues. Bam!

  47. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I was listening to a Mountain Goats song earlier and thought of you. A guy with a name very similar to yours is name checked directly. Mr. Steven Tyler of Aerosmith fame.

    A song called Pictures of My Dress by the Mountain Goats.

    You get name (pretty close) checked about half-way through. You don’t miss a thing. Main woman is in a Dallas, TX Burger King looking for protein and a full belly and has a serendipitous encounter.

  48. de stijl says:

    Just from listening to Fairytale of New York you can’t help but be awed by Kirsty MacColl as well.

    A superb voice. I like A New England and her original version of They Don’t Know which Tracy Ullman later covered.

    English born, but she had that piercing, almost keening Celtic tone to her voice when she wanted to. The daughter of a noted folk singer.

    She died way too young.