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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Hospitalization data flawed in Missouri, perhaps elsewhere

    O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — With the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization rising at alarming levels, Missouri and perhaps a handful of other states are unable to post accurate data on COVID-19 dashboards because of a flaw in the federal reporting system.

    Since Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service’s coronavirus dashboard has posted a message that the total number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 has been underreported since Oct. 17. The note blamed “challenges entering data” to the portal used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for collecting daily hospitalizations around the country.

    I check the dashboard at least once every 2 or 3 days, and I have yet to see this “message.” So figuring it’s got to be there somewhere, I went digging. About all I can say is they must have buried it pretty deep in an obscure location because I still can’t find it… AHA! I found it. On the hospitalizations page of course. It says all is well now, nothing to see, move along move along, nothing to see here. In size 4 font.

    The Misery dashboard really does leave a lot to be desired. It’s hard to tell just exactly what some of the numbers displayed actually mean.

  2. Teve says:

    Gabrielle Blair
    Sep 13th 2018, 63 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
    Bookmark Save as PDF
    I’m a mother of six, and a Mormon. I have a good understanding of arguments surrounding abortion, religious and otherwise. I’ve been listening to men grandstand about women’s reproductive rights, and I’m convinced men actually have zero interest in stopping abortion. Here’s why…
    If you want to stop abortion, you need to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And men are 100% responsible for unwanted pregnancies. No for real, they are. Perhaps you are thinking: IT TAKES TWO! And yes, it does take two for _intentional_ pregnancies.
    But ALL unwanted pregnancies are caused by the irresponsible ejaculations of men. Period. Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through it. Let’s start with this: women can only get pregnant about 2 days each month. And that’s for a limited number of years.
    That makes 24 days a year a women might get pregnant. But men can _cause_ pregnancy 365 days a year. In fact, if you’re a man who ejaculates multiple times a day, you could cause multiple pregnancies daily. In theory a man could cause 1000+ unwanted pregnancies in just one year.
    And though their sperm gets crappier as they age, men can cause unwanted pregnancies from puberty till death. So just starting with basic biology + the calendar it’s easy to see men are the issue here.
    But what about birth control? If a woman doesn’t want to risk an unwanted pregnancy, why wouldn’t she just use birth control? If a women can manage to figure out how to get an abortion, surely she can get birth control, right? Great questions.
    Modern birth control is possibly the greatest invention of the last century, and I am very grateful for it. It’s also brutal. The side effects for many women are ridiculously harmful. So ridiculous, that when an oral contraception for men was created, it wasn’t approved…
    … because of the side effects. And the list of side effects was about 1/3 as long as the known side effects for women’s oral contraception.
    Male Birth Control Study Killed After Men Report Side Effects
    Science has failed yet again to come up with hormonal birth control for men. The most recent study was stopped because the men reported problems with side effects like mood swings and acne.
    There’s a lot to be unpacked just in that story, but I’ll simply point out (in case you didn’t know) that as a society, we really don’t mind if women suffer, physically or mentally, as long as it makes things easier for men.
    But good news, Men: Even with the horrible side effects, women are still very willing to use birth control. Unfortunately it’s harder to get than it should be. Birth control options for women require a doctor’s appointment and a prescription. It’s not free, and often not cheap.
    In fact there are many people trying to make it more expensive by fighting to make sure insurance companies refuse to cover it. Oral contraceptives for women can’t be acquired easily, or at the last minute. And they don’t work instantly.
    If we’re talking about the pill, it requires consistent daily use and doesn’t leave much room for mistakes, forgetfulness, or unexpected disruptions to daily schedules. And again, the side effects can be brutal. I’M STILL GRATEFUL FOR IT PLEASE DON’T TAKE IT AWAY.
    I’m just saying women’s birth control isn’t simple or easy. In contrast, let’s look at birth control for men, meaning condoms. Condoms are readily available at all hours, inexpensive, convenient, and don’t require a prescription. They’re effective, and work on demand, instantly.
    Men can keep them stocked up just in case, so they’re always prepared. Amazing! They are so much easier than birth control options for women. As a bonus, in general, women love when men use condoms. They keep us from getting STDs, they don’t lessen our pleasure during sex…
    … or prevent us from climaxing. And the best part? Clean up is so much easier — no waddling to the toilet as your jizz drips down our legs. So why in the world are there ever unwanted pregnancies? Why don’t men just use condoms every time they have sex? Seems so simple, right?
    Oh. I remember. Men _don’t_ love condoms. In fact, men frequently pressure women to have sex without a condom. And it’s not unheard of for men to remove the condom during sex, without the women’s permission or knowledge. (Pro-tip: That’s assault.)

    Why would men want to have sex without a condom? Good question. Apparently it’s because for the minutes they are penetrating their partner, having no condom on gives the experience more pleasure.
    So… there are men willing to risk getting a woman pregnant — which means literally risking her life, her health, her social status, her relationships, and her career, so that they can experience a few minutes of _slightly_ more pleasure? Is that for real? Yes. Yes it is.
    What are we talking about here pleasure-wise? If there’s a pleasure scale, with pain beginning at zero and going down into the negatives, a back-scratch falling at 5, and an orgasm without a condom being a 10, where would sex _with_ a condom fall? Like a 7 or 8?
    So it’s not like sex with a condom is _not_ pleasurable, it’s just not _as_ pleasurable. An 8 instead of a 10. Let me emphasize that again: Men regularly choose to put women at massive risk by having non-condom sex, in order to experience a few minutes of slightly more pleasure.
    Now keep in mind, for the truly condom-averse, men also have a non-condom, always-ready birth control built right in, called the pull out. It’s not perfect, and it’s a favorite joke, but it is also 96% effective.
    So surely, we can expect men who aren’t wearing a condom to at least pull out every time they have sex, right?


    And why not?
    Well, again, apparently it’s _slightly_ more pleasurable to climax inside a vagina than, say, on their partner’s stomach. So men are willing to risk the life, health and well-being of women, in order to experience a tiny bit more pleasure for like 5 seconds during orgasm.
    It’s mind-boggling and disturbing when you realize that’s the choice men are making. And honestly, I’m not as mad as I should be about this, because we’ve trained men from birth that their pleasure is of utmost importance in the world. (And to dis-associate sex and pregnancy.)
    While we’re here, let’s talk a bit more about pleasure and biology. Did you know that a man CAN’T get a woman pregnant without having an orgasm? Which means that we can conclude getting a woman pregnant is a pleasurable act for men.
    But did you further know that men CAN get a woman pregnant without HER feeling any pleasure at all? In fact, it’s totally possible for a man to impregnate a woman even while causing her excruciating pain, trauma or horror.
    In contrast, a woman can have non-stop orgasms with or without a partner and never once get herself pregnant. A woman’s orgasm has literally nothing to do with pregnancy or fertility — her clitoris exists not for creating new babies, but simply for pleasure.
    No matter how many orgasms she has, they won’t make her pregnant. Pregnancies can only happen when men have an orgasm. Unwanted pregnancies can only happen when men orgasm irresponsibly.
    What this means is a women can be the sluttliest slut in the entire world who loves having orgasms all day long and all night long and she will never find herself with an unwanted pregnancy unless a man shows up and ejaculates irresponsibly.
    Women enjoying sex does not equal unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Men enjoying sex and having irresponsible ejaculations is what causes unwanted pregnancies and abortion.
    Let’s talk more about responsibility. Men often don’t know, and don’t ask, and don’t think to ask, if they’ve caused a pregnancy. They may never think of it, or associate sex with making babies at all. Why? Because there are 0 consequences for men who cause unwanted pregnancies.
    If the woman decides to have an abortion, the man may never know he caused an unwanted pregnancy with his irresponsible ejaculation.
    If the woman decides to have the baby, or put the baby up for adoption, the man may never know he caused an unwanted pregnancy with his irresponsible ejaculation, or that there’s now a child walking around with 50% of his DNA.
    If the woman does tell him that he caused an unwanted pregnancy and that she’s having the baby, the closest thing to a consequence for him, is that he may need to pay child support. But our current child support system is well-known to be a joke.
    61% of men (or women) who are legally required to pay it, simply don’t. With little or no repercussions. Their credit isn’t even affected. So, many men keep going as is, causing unwanted pregnancies with irresponsible ejaculations and never giving it thought.
    When the topic of abortion comes up, men might think: Abortion is horrible; women should not have abortions. And never once consider the man who CAUSED the unwanted pregnancy. If you’re not holding men responsible for unwanted pregnancies, then you are wasting your time.
    Stop protesting at clinics. Stop shaming women. Stop trying to overturn abortion laws. If you actually care about reducing or eliminating the number of abortions in our country, simply HOLD MEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTIONS.
    What would that look like? What if there was a real and immediate consequence for men who cause an unwanted pregnancy? What kind of consequence would make sense? Should it be as harsh, painful, nauseating, scarring, expensive, risky, and life-altering…
    … as forcing a woman to go through a 9-month unwanted pregnancy?
    In my experience, men really like their testicles. If irresponsible ejaculations were putting their balls at risk, they would stop being irresponsible. Does castration seem like a cruel and unusual punishment? Definitely.
    But is it worse than forcing 500,000 women a year to puke daily for months, gain 40 pounds, and then rip their bodies apart in childbirth? Is a handful of castrations worse than women dying during forced pregnancy & childbirth?
    Put a castration law on the books, implement the law, let the media tell the story, and in 3 months or less, tada! abortions will have virtually disappeared. Can you picture it? No more abortions in less than 3 months, without ever trying to outlaw them. Amazing.
    For those of you who consider abortion to be murder, wouldn’t you be on board with having a handful of men castrated, if it prevented 500,000 murders each year?
    And if not, is that because you actually care more about policing women’s bodies, morality, and sexuality, than you do about reducing or eliminating abortions? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
    Hey, you can even have the men who will be castrated bank their sperm before it happens — just in case they want to responsibly have kids some day.
    Can’t wrap your head around a physical punishment for men? Even though you seem to be more than fine with physical punishments for women? Okay. Then how about this prevention idea: At the onset of puberty, all males in the U.S. could be required by law to get a vasectomy.
    Vasectomies are very safe, totally reversible, and about as invasive as an doctor’s exam for a woman getting a birth control prescription. There is some soreness afterwards for about 24 hours, but that’s pretty much it for side effects.
    (So much better than The Pill, which is taken by millions of women in our country, the side effects of which are well known and can be brutal.)
    If/when the male becomes a responsible adult, and perhaps finds a mate, if they want to have a baby, the vasectomy can be reversed, and then redone once the childbearing stage is over. And each male can bank their sperm before the vasectomy, just in case.
    It’s not that wild of an idea. 80% of males in the U.S. are circumcised, most as babies. And that’s not reversible.
    Don’t like my ideas? That’s fine. I’m sure there are better ones. Go ahead and suggest your own ideas. My point is that it’s nonsense to focus on women if you’re trying to get rid of abortions. Abortion is the “cure” for an unwanted pregnancy.
    If you want to stop abortions, you need to prevent the “disease” – meaning, unwanted pregnancies. And the only way to do that, is by focusing on men, because: MEN CAUSE 100% OF UNWANTED PREGNANCIES. Or. IRRESPONSIBLE EJACULATIONS BY MEN CAUSE 100% OF UNWANTED PREGNANCIES.
    If you’re a man, what would the consequence need to be for you to never again ejaculate irresponsibly? Would it be money related? Maybe a loss of rights or freedoms? Physical pain?
    Ask yourselves: What would it take for you to value the life of your sexual partner more than your own temporary pleasure or convenience?
    Are you someone who learns better with analogies? Let’s try this one: Think of another great pleasure in life, let’s say food. Think of your favorite meal, dessert, or drink.
    What if you found out that every time you indulge in that favorite food you risked causing great physical and mental pain for someone you know intimately. You might not cause any pain, but it’s a real risk.
    Well, you’d probably be sad, but never indulge in that food again, right? Not worth the risk!
    And then, what if you further found out, there was a simple thing you could do before you ate that favorite food, and it would eliminate the risk of causing pain to someone else. Which is great news!
    BUT the simple thing you need to do makes the experience of eating the food slightly less pleasurable. To be clear, it would still be VERY pleasurable, but slightly less so. Like maybe you have to eat the food with a fork or spoon that you don’t particularly like.
    Would you be willing to do that simple thing, and eliminate the risk of causing pain to someone you know intimately, every single time you ate your favorite food?

    Condoms (or even pulling out) is that simple thing. Don’t put women at risk. Don’t choose to maximize your own pleasure if it risks causing women pain.
    Men mostly run our government. Men mostly make the laws. And men could eliminate abortions in 3 months or less without ever touching an abortion law or evening mentioning women.

    The end.

  3. Teve says:

    81,000+ new Covid cases in the US yesterday.

    We’re fucked. It’s going to become endemic.

  4. Bill says:
  5. Tyrrell says:

    More asteroid close calls. Neil Degrasse says that one could hit the earth on November 2. “Too many to count and we can’t see all of them” he said on CNN.

  6. Bill says:
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    via BruceFromOhio over at Balloon Juice comes this nice story: A passerby smashed up a busker’s guitar — so Jack White bought him a new one

    He described the incident on the fundraising page, saying: “Often I don’t rise to people coming up and talking nonsense but this lady was pushing it too far. She was in my face swearing and shouting at me. I told her to go away and she wasn’t having any of it. She grabbed my guitar and smashed it over the ground.”

    What happened next, however, was a much nicer surprise.

    By the following day Grant had raised £4,000 (around $5,200) — more than enough for the guitar, as well as other pieces of kit he planned to replace.

    But when he arrived at music store guitarguitar, the staff had a message for him. They had received a call from a “third party,” who was trying to track Grant down to buy him a new guitar.
    Much to Grant’s surprise, the benefactor turned out to be none other than “Seven Nation Army” singer Jack White.

  8. CSK says:

    This is a truly epic article title:‘t-poop-pants-wins-debate/

  9. Northerner says:


    There’s a lot to be unpacked just in that story, but I’ll simply point out (in case you didn’t know) that as a society, we really don’t mind if women suffer, physically or mentally, as long as it makes things easier for men.

    True. Of course, as a society we don’t mind if poor men suffer either — the long history of conscripting and sending poor men out to live in horrible conditions before being killed for the benefit of the rich and powerful shows that. But hey, it’s not a big deal if you wrack up 60,000 deaths in a few days in places like the Somme, they were probably better off dying than fighting in mud and disease filled trenches anyway. Almost doing them a favor to have them run out into machine gun fire.

    For that matter, working in horrible conditions for barely subsistence wages wasn’t a big deal for most of history (and still isn’t a big deal). Someone has to go into mines, and the rich are too important to take those risks, or live that way.

    Basically, our society sees rich and powerful men as the only worthwhile group. One of the big lies conservatives have managed to sneak across is that poor men have the same interests as rich men. They don’t, and its not even close. Same for race — convincing poor whites that they have more in common with rich whites than poor people of colour is one of the most successful con games out there.

    Its funny how over the last two or three decades there’s been almost no recognition of just much economic class drives peoples lives — it went from being an obvious truth to something barely mentioned in politics (and by any party) in a startlingly quick way. And the really fun part is that this has happened while the gap between rich and poor (and the disappearance of the middle class) has grown dramatically.

  10. Mikey says:

    Jeremy PLEASE WEAR MASKS! Konyndyk

    If the US prioritized properly – closing other transmission sources, investing in classroom adaptation, testing, data – we could find ways to do this safely. It’s insane that that isn’t happening.

    The choice parents, teachers, admins continue to face is not “are we able to establish conditions for a safe reopening.” It’s still “we can’t establish safer conditions; should we reopen anyway?” That is scandalous.

    Policymakers could put schools first: designing reopening plans around getting schools open safely first, before reopening other less essential things. Instead we’ve seen nearly the opposite. Policymakers have focused on businesses, with schools an afterthought.

    And rather than policymakers taking ownership of whether/how to open safely, they’ve left that to parents and school administrators.

    But parents and school admins don’t have the means to set community/state/country-wide reopening priorities.

    And other big tasks that could help get schools open safely – like the major testing and tracing programs at some universities, or new ventilation measures – have been ignored entirely. Adaptations to school operations have been woefully under resourced.

    Even if you think school risks are exaggerated, it’s not enough to just open schools normally (hopefully with masks, at least) and say “your fears are overblown, get back in there.” Worried parents and teachers need some assurance.

    That assurance could come from setting clear standards for safe operations, training to those standards, resourcing implementation of those standards, and orienting other reopening policies around meeting those standards. Then systematically collecting and analyzing safety data.

    That would make schools substantially safer. It would give reassurance to the people who have to put themselves or their kids back into school that the risks are being managed rather than ignored. Virtually none of it has happened.

    That’s what we should be debating. And that’s what we should be demanding from our politicians.

    Instead, much of the recent public debate has veered toward blaming parents and teachers for their safety fears, rather than blaming the politicians who have failed to address those fears.

    So let’s maybe stop with recriminations against people nervous about an unmanaged risk, and instead focus on the people who are failing to manage that risk?

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:
  12. CSK says:

    For a guy born in Oneonta, NY who didn’t find his way to Austin till he was in his late twenties, he certainly transformed himself into the archetypal Texan.

  13. Mu Yixiao says:
  14. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: You mean sort of like this?

    Community members have asked about the differences between the numbers we report in our Daily Data Summary and those we use for our School Data report. On October 12, we reported a total of 49 cases from 9/23 – 10/6, which does not align with our Daily Data Summary update total of 64 cases over that same time period. Curious about why this is? Learn about how we analyze COVID-19 data, and the differences between these two reports, on page 4 of our “10/14/2020 Cowlitz County COVID-19 data report”, available here.

  15. mattbernius says:


    More asteroid close calls. Neil Degrasse says that one could hit the earth on November 2. “Too many to count and we can’t see all of them” he said on CNN.

    OMG Is it time to accept that we’re about to make contact with the Sweet Asteroid of Doom?!

    Let’s check the tape:

    Fortunately, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, 2018 VP1 [a * car sized* asteroid] has a 0.41 percent chance of entering Earth’s atmosphere. It would likely burn up anyway.


  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Yep, just like that. So rather than get buried in details that are meaningless for my purposes, I just watch the trend lines, which way things are headed. Which, right now is to hell in a hand basket.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Just what I would expect from a commie pinko socialist like him.

  18. becca says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He’s gone home with the armadillo.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Male Birth Control
    I met a woman in 1978 and we lived together for sixteen years. I was 30 and she was 22. When we met she had been married and divorced once to a man older than me. We talked about marriage for maybe ten minutes or so. At the time it was clear that she was not interested in matrimony or childbearing and I was of the same mind. However we left the door open for both.
    Seven years after we met we decided that it was time to close the door on procreation and made an appointment to consult with a physician about a vasectomy.
    When we went to the clinic we were up front with the doctor about not being married and my girlfriend sat in during the consultation. The surgery was to follow immediately.
    As the consultation ended the doctor stood up and my girlfriend surprised me and him when she asked: “Can I observe the procedure?”
    He was so startled at the request he took a full step backwards. I was sure he was going to say no. I was surprised when he said “yes”!
    We all went into the cutting room where the nurse fitted her with the appropriate gown and other protective garb. All I could see was her standing there right next to the nurse and the doctor.
    Local anesthetic. Cut. Snip, snip. Tie off. It was over in minutes.
    Our relationship ended about nine years later but I never once regretted the decision.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I just look at the total active cases, myself. On Friday, we declared 63 cases recovered, lowering us to 200% of the total number of active cases we had on the day we reopened for Phase II.

    I looked at the graph once. It was too depressing.

  21. Sleeping Dog says:


    RIP Jerry Jeff. Later I’ll play the Nightriders Lament in memory.


    It’s best Lehrer explicitly release his copyrights as you never know what the family will do when you’re gone. A musician acquaintance, intended that his music pass into public domain, but after he died, his son had other ideas. The kid renewed the copyrights of those songs that hadn’t already expired and took the .pdf songbook off the website and offered it for sale.

  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    A musician acquaintance, intended that his music pass into public domain, but after he died, his son had other ideas.

    This is why you put such things into your will. (which reminds me I need to write the addendum to my will).

  23. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    There was a joke among single women that, on a desirability scale of 1 to 10, a guy who’d had a vasectomy was a 15.

  24. Tyrell says:

    @Mister Bluster: We already have male birth control. Around here it is called digging holes for bushes and trees.

  25. Mr. Prosser says:

    @Tyrrell: Tyson took the place of Carl Sagan as a serious explicator of science but lately he seems to be becoming a caricature of himself.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    I got to wondering about the 2022 senate elections and what maybe competitive races.

    The only potential Dem loss that jumps out at me is NH, with one term Maggie Hassen up for reelection in a non presidential year, that has historically been when the state leans R. Particularly since her anticipated challenger is likely to be one of former Sen. Kelly Ayotte or incumbent Gov, Chris Sununu. Dems should hope that both chase this ring, as the R primary would be bloody.

    Of R incumbents the best Dem opportunities are the open seats in PA & NC and Iowa, with by then a 89 YO, Chuck Grassley either retiring or running.

  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    I had it done. But I have a thing about needles, either a phobia or I’m a huge wuss. In any case I asked the doctor ahead of time whether he would mind very much if I fortified myself prior to the operation with my own preferred anesthetic and anti-anxiety medication. Fortunately, he was an Irishman and had no objection at all, at all, laddie.

    So my advice: whiskey. Worked like a charm. All I remember is the smell of burning flesh from the cauterizing wand. It did not concern me.

  28. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mr. Prosser:

    Tyson took the place of Carl Sagan as a serious explicator of science but lately he seems to be becoming a caricature of himself.

    I grew up reading Asimov non-fiction (starting in first or second grade) and loved how he was able to explain complex scientific concepts in ways that I could understand.

    But it was Carl Sagan on the original Cosmos that really solidified my love of science and the fact that anyone could understand these amazing concepts.

    When Cosmos was revived with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, I was excited. I knew nothing about Tyson other than the fact that he was a “popular scientist”. I made it through only a couple episodes. I found him to be an odd combination of boring, passionless, and condescending. It seems like he sees himself as the “rockstar scientist” and craves attention.

    Sagan was “the Mister Rogers of science”. There was something about his quiet, not-quite-perfect speech patterns that just drew you in. It was about the science, not him.

    The closest I’ve seen to that is Michio Kaku. You can tell that he truly loves science, and he has a subtle passion that draws you in. At the same time, he’s able to (again) take incredibly complex science and describe it in ways that the average person can understand.

    I often run into people who are experts in their fields and say “You wouldn’t understand” when someone asks them a question. I keep returning to the quote from Einstein:

    If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

    It was either Cosmos or a Nova episode that explained gravity (warping of space) as objects on a rubber sheet. I was in grade school when I saw it, and a lightbulb went off.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..a guy who’d had a vasectomy was a 15.

    Modesty prohibits me from commenting on such a notion. However the vasectomy doesn’t necessarily relocate a man’s brains from his crotch to his head. You know, that lump three feet above your ass.

  30. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mister Bluster:..crocth

    Please repair the EDIT function!

    Now the EDIT function appears. Reloaded the 12:35 post several times to no avail.
    EDIT finally appears in both comments after reloading 12:38 post two times!

  31. Mu Yixiao says:


    There was a joke among single women that, on a desirability scale of 1 to 10, a guy who’d had a vasectomy was a 15.

    If they’re looking for a bed partner, perhaps.

    But, as amazing as it may sound, a lot of women want children–maybe not a lot, but at least one or two.

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that gravity is indistinguishable from acceleration. 1907 when Einstein worked that out. So I’m only about 113 years behind the curve.

    However, as smart as Albert was, he was wrong that anything properly understood could be explained. There are things which simply defy the use of words and must rely on numbers. Most people don’t speak that language, certainly not at the level of really understanding much beyond simple arithmetic.

  33. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I did say “single women,” and single women generally aren’t looking to have children until they’re married, and no longer single, which most people agree is the optimal situation for child-bearing.

    I also said it was a joke. J-O-K-E. A wee jest. Not, by any means, a prescription for living.

  34. KM says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    One of the jobs I had in college was working in a group home. I loved nights in particular because I could do my homework on the job and nobody would care. Some of the guys wanted to know why I always had my books out in the common room and long story short, I ended up teaching them a lot of the material I was learning. They were ace at subjects like algebra, trig and calculus specifically – to the point it pissed of the other staff and I was officially reprimanded for it (nobody likes being shown up by the residents, apparently). See, innumeracy has its roots in thinking patterns, not the *ability* to think. Anyone can learn complicated math if shown how to do it properly; some will struggle more with the process because of things like learning disabilities but the fundamental capability is there for most. The true problem lies in perception, not capacity.

    I will never forget the sight of an older man (IQ around 55) patiently explaining a trig equation he learned earlier in the day to an irate night staffer who kept insisting he was nuts for saying things like assume x=4. “X is a *letter*, not a number! They’re not the same thing! You’re stupid!” I was blown away at how concrete thinking limited the staffer into not being able to grasp a simple mathematical concept like substitution whereas someone who society deemed a lower IQ individual was able to grasp the fluidity inherent to the notion thus could do the “hard” math. Simple explanations like “swap this for that” or “this stands in for the thing we are looking for” only work if you are capable being fluid; people think of math as super rigid with clear correct answer but as you said, that only works at the base level you learn in kindergarten. We’re taught from a young age that “math is math” and thus “hard” because we drill strict adherence to a limited mindset.

    My guys had a blast when I showed them how to count in different bases – it meant that they could annoy condensing people correcting them by saying “that’s only wrong in base 10!” Math became fun and understandable because it started to becomes real, not just a set of rules to apply and memorize. Languages are always easier to learn when done organically as opposed to boring grammar and vocab lessons so why do we force people to learn math in the worst way possible?

  35. BugManDan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I do believe that to get to the stage of not worrying about the smell of burning flesh, I would be approaching or past the stage of vomiting from the smell of burning flesh.

  36. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    However, as smart as Albert was, he was wrong that anything properly understood could be explained. There are things which simply defy the use of words and must rely on numbers. Most people don’t speak that language, certainly not at the level of really understanding much beyond simple arithmetic.

    That only applies if you’re talking about “understanding” meaning “completely understanding the details”.

    A few weeks back I saw a YouTube video on the “you might also like” list (I didn’t watch it) which had a PhD explaining a concept 4 times: To a grade-schooler, to a high schooler, to a college student, to a scientist.

    When explaining gravity to a grade school student, I might use the analogy of a tug-of-war. Big people pull harder, but if you run really fast, they can’t get you.

    Back in the early 90s when the WWW had just started (I’d been using the internet via Usenet, Gopher, Archie, Pine, etc., for a while by that point), I explained computers and the internet to a stagehand using the metaphor of “beer”*. He got it. I didn’t have to explain HTTP or TCP or SMTP. I explained it to his level.

    * Data is beer. HDD = fridge. Floppies = beer mugs. Internet = a tap.

  37. Mu Yixiao says:


    I did say “single women,” and single women generally aren’t looking to have children until they’re married, and no longer single, which most people agree is the optimal situation for child-bearing.

    But if those single women are looking to get married (and then have children), a vasectomy would be a bad thing.

    And yes, I know it’s a joke. But I enjoy being pedantic now and again.

  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    Two things I regret in my life are not learning more about music and never learning anything useful about math. I think you’re right that anyone can be taught, but of course that’s miles away from being good at something.

    I always claimed I could write anything, do anything with words except for poetry. Then I was working on a TV pilot idea for which I would have to write some bits of stand-up comedy. Well, little Michael’s arrogance died a swift death on that. Head? Meet Brick Wall. I realized that in order to write stand-up comedy I’d need to completely re-orient my brain, how I look at the world. I calculated it would take me ten years to get marginally competent at joke writing and that even then I would top out at a C+. Maybe. And there was zero chance that I’d be good enough to write for a Seinfeld or Chapelle.

    I think the same is probably true with math. Give me a decade to change how I think and I could probably rise to the level of, say, an aspiring physics student who hoped to be Hawking but would never get beyond teaching high school math. Ditto music. Could I get to where I’d be able to pick out a tune on a guitar? Sure. Could I get to, say, 5% of Eddie Van Halen? Nope.

    Most any bright person can be taught most anything. But to be good at it requires talent, and talent cannot be taught. Still, I could have been at least competent at math rather than having the math skills of a rutabaga.

  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    I’ve watched a number of those ‘explained four ways’ videos. I can usually get to level two. After that I can hold onto the idea for a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, then it dribbles right out of my brain.

  40. Northerner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’m still trying to get my head around the fact that gravity is indistinguishable from acceleration. 1907 when Einstein worked that out. So I’m only about 113 years behind the curve.

    Interestingly enough that common description of general relativity is an example of what you say afterwards

    There are things which simply defy the use of words and must rely on numbers. Most people don’t speak that language, certainly not at the level of really understanding much beyond simple arithmetic.

    Because in fact gravity and acceleration are only distinguishable for point particles — extended bodies (ie all real objects) can distinguish between them because of tidal forces from gravity (ie stretching and compression across the bodies), and you end up using math (curvilinear coordinate transformations) to determine if its acceleration or gravity. Einstein of course was well aware of this (its part of his theory of general relativity), but in trying to explain things simply that complication is often dropped.

    Quantum mechanics is perhaps the best example. The math works. Physical interpretations of what the math means not so much (there are many different schools of interpretations of quantum mechanics, and none really work past the hand-waving stage — which is why there are so many schools of interpretation). Reality is stubbornly complex.

    I suspect the same is true for writing. You understand writing, but I doubt you could explain how to write to someone like me — creative writing is also stubbornly complex for those of us who can’t do it well.

  41. Michael Reynolds says:


    I suspect the same is true for writing. You understand writing, but I doubt you could explain how to write to someone like me — creative writing is also stubbornly complex for those of us who can’t do it well.

    You’re absolutely right, but I also can’t explain it to myself. I try sometimes because kids or other writers will ask me how I create characters. I have a rep for being good with character, and that’s always surprised me because I know very few people, I have no friends outside of work relationships and I’m seriously anti-social. I cannot imagine why I of all people would be good at character, and I certainly don’t have a clue how to explain it. “Um, OK, start by being a misanthrope, avoid human contact, and…..go!”

  42. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve watched a number of those ‘explained four ways’ videos. I can usually get to level two. After that I can hold onto the idea for a few seconds, maybe a couple minutes, then it dribbles right out of my brain.

    Do the first two levels give you a general understanding of the topic? If so, then they have done their job.

    Einstein wasn’t saying “If you understand a topic you can teach anyone how to understand it at the same level as you”. He was saying “If you can’t simplify it enough for the average person to understand the basics, you don’t really grok it”.

    If you truly understand a subject you should be able to explain it from the most basic to the most complex. You understand what is needed for a compelling story. I’m betting that you could explain that to a 3rd-grader in terms they could understand.

  43. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Being able to create character has nothing to do with being either a misanthrope or a social butterfly. You’re observant. You notice things. You remember the things you notice.

  44. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Okay. So I’m wrong.

    You’re absolutely right, but I also can’t explain it to myself. I try sometimes because kids or other writers will ask me how I create characters.

    Or… conversely right: You don’t understand what you do. You just do it.

    But, I bet I could sit down with you for an hour and get you to understand what you do. With one word: Why?

    I’m guessing that writing comes naturally to you. You’ve never sat down and thought about why you do what you do when writing. It “just makes sense to do it that way” or “that’s the way it needs to happen”.

    There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how a lot of the best people in every area work.

    But it does mean that you don’t truly understand what you’re doing.

    As a teacher (at many levels), I’ve had to step back and look at “that’s just the way it is” and figure out the reasons.

    The most difficult was when I was teaching English in China and students would ask “Why?”. Things I had known as absolute truths for 40+ years suddenly became… “Ummm…. because?”

    I gained a better understanding of American English during my 4 years teaching in China than I had in the previous 40. I taught English and forensic speech, I have a couple publishing credits (nothing big), and I held several jobs which relied on my skill with the English language.

    But I didn’t understand (American) English until I had to explain it to people for whom it was utterly foreign. Literally.

  45. Mu Yixiao says:


    Being able to create character has nothing to do with being either a misanthrope or a social butterfly. You’re observant. You notice things. You remember the things you notice.


    I’m not overly social–and I’m definitely socially awkward*.

    But because of that, I’ve learned to watch people. When I was in HS, my friends and I would sit in the mall and play “What’s their terrorist role?”.

    Assume that every person you see is some sort of terrorist or spy. Based on what you can gather as they walk past you in the mall, what would their role be?

    It taught me to look at people and figure them out. I might not be very good at talking to people, but I’m rather good at understanding them based on what I see.

    * Unless I kick into “waiter mode”, where I put on a social mask and engage in an advanced level of small talk.

  46. Teve says:


    The entire conservative movement is a bunch of Eric Cartman white dudes screaming “I do what I want!” while millions suffer and die–including their own friends and relatives.

  47. Teve says:

    “Hold up a second… I just want to see a show of hands…How many people here have secret Chinese bank accounts?”

    Barack Obama in Miami today

  48. Dutchgirl says:

    Some things take talent, granted. But what is talent and must it be innate? I don’t view myself as talented so much as passionately engaged in doing certain things, at which I have become quite good and now people tell me how talented I am. Natural, unlearned, talent is a thing, to be sure. But what about the talent to relentlessly practice a thing? Just some Saturday morning thoughts.

  49. flat earth luddite says:

    Growing up in the 60’s, I was largely (to the extent I wasn’t raised by rabid ferrets) raised by my maternal grandmother, after raising 7 of her own. Her instructions on this subject were always crystal clear:

    No means no. Always.
    If you’re going out in the rain, wear a raincoat. Always.
    Passion is fleeting. Love may be forever. Child support is 21 years.

    With those mantras firm in my heart, I lived through adolescence in the 60’s/70’s, and adulthood, without STDs, or unplanned children. Got mocked a lot by my cohort who figured out that I lived by these rules.

  50. CSK says:

    The talent to practice something relentlessly way be a function of a) love of it, b) perseverance, and c) believing you’ll succeed eventually if you keep at it.

  51. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I always claimed I could write anything, do anything with words except for poetry. Then I was working on a TV pilot idea for which I would have to write some bits of stand-up comedy. Well, little Michael’s arrogance died a swift death on that. Head? Meet Brick Wall. I realized that in order to write stand-up comedy I’d need to completely re-orient my brain, how I look at the world.

    When I first writing the stories I do (but for free at the time), I came up with this farce of a story that make fun of some of peculiarities at the website my (To then five stories) were posted. You think dung beetle fiction is insane, but my story topped that.

    A short list of what the story contained- Marx Brothers, A circus elephant, Cast members from ER, F Troop, Miss Saigon, Dr Smith and the Robot from Lost in Space, Howard Cosell, Superheros Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Superman, and some villains like Catwoman too. Various Muppets, including Swedish Chef teaching Martha Stewart one of his favorite recipies- ‘Chocolate Moose’. I had a timeout for comments from the author’s muse and another timeout for a reader to complain there was no sex in the story, and a truckload of hungry kangaroos. All of this happening while website authors and volunteers try to have a meeting. Oh I forgot The Coyote and Roadrunner are in it too.

    Shortly after I finished that story, I had the idea for a sequel. The volunteers and authors are kidnapped by someone named Ann Arky (Anarchy, get it?) as part of her plot for world conquest. A rescue is attempted. For that story I would have Godzilla, James Bond, Bugs Bunny, Slim Dusty and a parade of kanagroos, The woman from the weakest link and more.

    I have had that idea for a sequel for 18 years. It still isn’t written. Some actor once said ‘Dying is easy, Comedy is hard’. It sure is.

  52. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Mu has adopted the role of resident deconstructionist for the comment threads. Whatever you say, he will find the exception that causes your comment to collapse on its own internal inconsistencies.

  53. Teve says:

    Ali Velshi:

    Voting is personal for me. I grew up in Canada, a country to which my family and I immigrated. I’ve joked that unlike Barack Obama, I actually AM a Kenyan-born Muslim. But that’s not the whole story—and the whole story shows why voting matters so much to me. #velshi
    In 1981, 10 years after my family arrived in Canada, and having just recently become citizens, my father ran for office. I was 11 at the time, and maybe the hardest working campaign volunteer he had. #velshi
    Late on election day, when all was done but the counting, my dad and I drove home to get ready for the big night. He was going to make history, becoming the first person of South Asian descent to be elected to any major office in Canada. #velshi

    We got back into the car to drive to the campaign headquarters. We turned the radio on. At 8pm, the election broadcast started. Results would take a while, except for one constituency in which the outcome was so obvious they could declare a winner. #velshi
    That race was my dad’s. We had lost the election. Before we even reached the campaign headquarters. It was over, and I was devastated. But my father wasn’t. “Of course we lost,” he told me. “We were never going to win.” #velshi
    I asked my dad what it was all for if he knew he was going to lose. He said he ran because he could. His candidacy gave voters a choice—a choice he wasn’t able to make as a young man. #velshi
    Unlike me, my parents were born and grew up in South Africa, where my father, and his father, and his father before him fought the injustice of the racist apartheid regime from the wrong side of the law. #velshi
    Because of the color of their skin—of my skin—my forefathers could never run for election. They couldn’t even vote. Or own land. Or freely express ideas or opinions that differed from the government without risk of being thrown in jail or even killed. #velshi

    My father saw his candidacy as a choice for voters. What they decided was up to them. That choice—that vote—is democracy itself. #velshi
    Your right to vote was hard earned, in blood and in jail time, from the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War, to the Suffrage Movement and the Civil Rights movement. And yet, in America, only about 55% of eligible voters actually vote. #velshi
    In Australia, voter turnout is above 90%. But voting is much simpler there. Australians can vote at any polling station… IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. Voting is actually compulsory in Australia. If you don’t do it, you get fined. #velshi
    In Canada—like in most other developed countries—there is a national standard for voting applied across the board. Eligible citizens are automatically registered to vote, and unless someone produces evidence to the contrary at your polling station, you get to vote. #velshi
    America, which boasts of being the world’s free-est and fairest democracy, has managed—and some of it is deliberate—to complicate the fundamental underpinning of our democracy in a way that has become a form of voter suppression in and of itself. #velshi

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. My dad ran for office because the system couldn’t stop people from making a choice to support the ideas he championed. And they couldn’t stop him, and they can’t stop you. You have ten days left to BE democracy in action. #velshi
    By the way, my dad ran again in 1987. That time the voters chose him. Like I said: voting is personal for me. #velshi

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    why do we force people to learn math in the worst way possible?

    Just a guess, but I suppose that it’s because we don’t understand that math can be acquired as language is. There it may also be related to acquisition methods being good only so far as learning tools. At some point, speakers stop simply acquiring language and require more deliberate methods to, for example, expand reading comprehension, tighten communication ability so that one says exactly what one means to say, and other nuances.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I posted before I was finished and wanted to note that many people do get to understanding of very complicated math and linguistic things from acquisition alone, but sometimes are not good at teaching because they have no knowledge of what they do related to how to explain it to others. Sort of like Ronnie Gilbert from The Weavers who explained that singing is easy, “you just throw your head back open your mouth and the sound comes out.” True, but not much help to someone for whom that doesn’t “just happen.”

    Mostly though, the biggest thing in both language math and language speaking is that both are very labor intensive. The individual steps and increments are very small but the hundreds of repetitions necessary to imprint them is a long process. Longer for some than for others also, sad to say.

  56. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @Mu Yixiao: I have a thing about wills: I don’t believe they should exist.

    You’re dead. All that stuff that you used to own? You don’t anymore and you can’t dictate how it is used from beyond the grave. If you wanted something specific to happen with it you should have made sure of it while you were alive.

    Now obviously, as a 100% rule, with the way laws are written now, that wouldn’t work. BUT… If I were King?

    And so I applaud Tom Lehrer’s relinquishing of rights to all his music. He wrote it for everyone to enjoy and now they can.

    PS: Yes I have a will. In this world one has to. But if I were king?

  57. dazedandconfused says:


    An old saw: “If you want to learn a subject, teach it.”

  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Playing guitar has more involved than just music, though. There’s coordination, ability to manage what your hands do, and physical phenomena related to things like fast fire v slow fire nerve impulses, and such. I majored in music at university but never got good at playing piano–and I’m talking about not being able to play “Chopsticks” with both hands good. I just don’t have the coordination to do it.

    One time I was joking about my bad piano playing and someone said, “I can’t understand that, you’re supposed to be so musical.” I replied that playing piano is to being musical what touch typing to being an author. They sort of got it. (And even then, someone can become proficient at playing the piano without being a particularly good musician just like a person can be a touch typist without being able to write a novel. There’s the part that is, in fact, ineffable–you just can do it.)

  59. Michael Reynolds says:

    Is peyote involved in some way.

    Post a link, dude. We can’t find you as ‘Bill’ on Amazon. You have potential customers here.

  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Yeah, that’s a big, big part of it. I never learned to type let alone pick out a tune – my fingers are not having it. It’s the like knowing the game well enough to coach in the NBA, but not being seven feet tall.

  61. Michael Reynolds says:

    And then, there are people like this who just…I don’t know how.

  62. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I was taught how to pick a tune, but this? Her absolute and sheer joy just explodes across the internet. Yeah, I have no idea either. Some people just have it. I never did.

  63. Michael Reynolds says:

    Joy is le mot juste. I’ve never been that happy in my life.

    She’s got another video where she performs her (I believe) own song, lead guitar, bass, drums and vocals, edited together. I insist on believing she at least had some help with the tech.

  64. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I have fallen down a Nandi Bushell youtube rabbit hole. If I am never heard from again, let my last words be “FUCK YOUUUUUUUUUU MICHAEL REYNOLDS!!!!!!!!!”

  65. Michael Reynolds says:

    Also of note, though not surprising, Dave Grohl is a mensch.

  66. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Indeed he is.

  67. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have you seen Grohl’s interaction with drum / multi-instrumentalist phenom Nandi Bushell?

    It is so adorable! Nandi is eleven.

    That quite a bit of 2020 does not entirely suck rests on interactions like that.

    When Nandi unboxed her gift from Grohl I wept shamelessly. Made me feel great vicariously by her joy and delight.

    Grohl is a super mensch. Nandi is freakishly talented.

    I need to immerse in old Foo Fighters soon and deep.

  68. de stijl says:

    Nandi contains a universe of pure unalloyed joy and delight. She gets it by scratching her itch.

    2020 does not totally suck.

    If Trump gets his ass handed him so hard he cannot try to litigate his way out, Rs lose the Senate, and lose more of the house, we will have turned a corner on one of worst times in our history.

    An eleven year old from England and Dave Grohl saved this year for me.

  69. Mikey says:

    @Michael Reynolds: At about 2:40 of that video you can hear her belt out “AND I WONDERRRRR” it’s just so fantastic.

  70. Teve says:


    ufc: no kicking your opponents in the balls, those are too important

    fighters: ok. can we bash them in the head over and over until they’re unconscious?

    ufc: oh ya totally, go for it

  71. de stijl says:

    Another one of 2020’s upsides is I no longer have no shame attached to admitting my psychological issues.

    In fact, social pressure made me suppress and ignore issues waay too long. Better had it been mitigated earlier.

    I had to pump myself up with aggressive music to cope with walking out my front door just to address the world.

    Back in the day, admitting that sort of “weakness” was mockable, unmanly, pitiful. Fuck that.

    I am me. I deal with anxiety. It is one of if not the most difficult foe I’ve ever faced.

    In the very near past this admission would have prompted taunts and derision.

    Today I am calm admitting the obvious.

  72. Teve says:

    Among the various weirdo problems with the site, does anybody else get this gray line bullshit? image

  73. Teve says:

    @de stijl: A major thing I do to de-stress is watch the Great British Baking Show. I’m nearing the last season, and when I finish it, I’m going to start over at season one episode one.

  74. CSK says:

    No line for me. What’s interesting about the site gremlin is that it seems to manifest different quirks for each of us. Some get the edit function. Some don’t. You get a gray line. I don’t.

    Ah, sweet mystery of life…

  75. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    I don’t think there’s anyone here who would deride you.

  76. de stijl says:


    I construct Saturday mornings around The Great British Baking Show (… Bake Off) repeats on PBS. It’s so wholesome. The only day I actually set my alarm is for Saturday morning. Counterintuitive I know.

    I like OG Hollywood and Berry seasons.

    That and America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country. Saturday morning is best morning.

    It makes me feel warm and embraced.

    I usually only do trad breakfast fare on weekends so it is doubly special. Eggs, bacon, and subtly passive aggressive Mary Berry.

    Whole week I look forward to Saturday morning.

  77. de stijl says:


    I know that now. Thankfully.

    A few years back issues I face was fair game for derision. Mockable.

    I never would have admitted issues even a few yeats back.

    One thing no one ever taught me was that admitting your issues gives you power. You (the larger societal “You” not you you) can no longer shame me or intimidate me into silence. I feel more powerful now than I ever have. I feel braver.

    It is liberating and healthful to be able to acknowledge your issues and know that it will be not used to smack you down in a community forum.

    This would play out differently not so long ago.

  78. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Sometimes the most valuable lessons you have to learn for yourself.

  79. de stijl says:


    Always identified with the underdog and the disposable.

  80. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: All of my friends have known about my anxiety issues for ages, and it’s just been a thing, like being tall, or not being able to eat onions. Mildly annoying, but not a big deal. “Gus couldn’t come because he’s panicking today.” “Le sigh.”

    A few years back, after seeing a junior engineer on my team have a rather severe crisis because he was trying to power his way through a mild crisis, I decided to just be completely open about it. Partly for myself, and partly for others. I’m smart and senior enough that people have to put up with me, so I figured I could do it with basically no harm to my career — I don’t want to be promoted anyway, and no one was going to fire me for it. So I can help normalize it.

    Basically right after that everyone began coming out of the anxiety closet. I’ve never been so trendy. And anxiety really is the least worst mental health issue — merely annoying rather than dangerous.

    Flash forward one pandemic, and I’m one of the best adjusted people I know, because I’m used to living in constant fear. Most people are just amateurs.

  81. de stijl says:


    You are a giant. Especially for tending to your mentee so well.

    This is a new thing.

    This admitting holes in our armor. Especially for men. For young men, Boys Don’t Cry is beat into us figuratively and sometimes literally.

    I almost wrote “admitting weakness” above (I actually wrote it out and thought better and deleted and replaced it.)

    I was enculturated to see mental issues as weakness and as abnormal. That mindframe is wickedly pernicious.

    I also deal with agoraphobia at times. Panic attacks. Not fun, but I keep trying. Behavioral therapy requires repeated exposure.

    I am going to listen to and experience anew Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure now.

  82. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    An eleven year old from England and Dave Grohl saved this year for me.

    It was Dimash Kudaibergen, Morissette Amon, and Geoff Castelluci for me.

  83. de stijl says:

    Boys Don’t Cry is remarkably uncathartic. It’s presented as unrequited crush. Boo friggin hoo.

    This is not the experience I was longing for.

    I need catharsis.

    Maybe Creep by Radiohead. The CH-CHNK guitar bit gets me off hard.

  84. de stijl says:


    Be you. Whatever does it for you is good.

  85. Gustopher says:

    Joe Biden is a mensch.

    And his PR folks are absolutely right that this is what I needed to see today. After 4 years of one of the ugliest human beings around, I’m happy with the mensch. He wasn’t my first pick on policy, and I’d like someone younger, but I’m not sure a younger politician can be this kind without it seeming phony or pandering or corny or weird.

    I think Biden is shifting from being Uncle Joe to Grandpa Joe. Just as out of touch with kids these days, but more willing to be slightly performatively kind. I’ve been enjoying this turn. There’s a strength in not being embarrassed to look corny and sentimental.

    So, overall, great pandering. Looks genuine, like he wants to pander to people looking for basic human decency.

  86. CSK says:

    @de stijl:
    Donald Trump once remarked that he was afraid to look too deeply within himself for fear he wouldn’t like what he saw.

    It’s the only thing he’s ever said or done that made him, to me, remotely likable. I wonder if he recalls it.

  87. de stijl says:

    I know it’s cliche but Song #2 by Blur is fucking cathartic.

    Yeah yeah!

    Just what I needed. Thank you, lads.

    Maybe one or seven more times in a row.

    First time I heard this I was in Dallas suburbs driving with a co-worker. I freaked out more and harder than I should have in front of a colleague in a professional sense, yet I don’t regret it at all. It was not his speed, but he got to see me as me. Steve G. was such a solid guy.

  88. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: When I clip items from here to send to other people, the clip pastes on the page with the grey background. Is that what you’re talking about? The image your link showed didn’t look different from my usual display.

  89. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I can do lyrics.

    I can do poetry (which I know you disdain, fuck you)

    I can do short stories. Some are quite clever. Some not so, but good practice nevertheless.

    I absolutely cannot do long fiction. It wanders, it digresses, it sucks so hard. It has no point. It has no arc. It just sits there plodding and derivative.

  90. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Ah! On second look, I see the gray line you mention, and no, I don’t get that on my page.

  91. de stijl says:

    Song #2 as loud as your speakers can handle will change your life.

    My eardrums hate me.

  92. de stijl says:

    Great drumming impresses me so much.

    It is alien to me. Cannot do it. I could practice for a million years and would still basically suck. Too many moving parts simultaneously.

    I tend towards monofocus.

    People who can percuss well, keep time, and do appropriate bells and whistles are absolutely fascinating to me. I watch in awe and envy.

    Genius drumming makes my head hurt but good. How can she do that? I can barely keep time. (Actually, I always speed up, so I cannot even keep time.)

  93. Mikey says:

    @de stijl: My musical catharsis tends toward the extreme end of heavy metal. One of my favorites is a band called Nile, and their drummer is…something else.

    Watch this video, even if it’s not your “bag” musically speaking. Watch the dude’s feet when he’s hitting the double bass at about a million miles an hour. It’s nuts!

  94. de stijl says:


    That was astonishing. How is a human brain capable of multitasking that well and sustain it? I know a lot is muscle memory and practice, but crikey Moses that was spooky good.

    The kicking!

    Even the base level of adequacy is far beyond my ken. I’m fascinated watching those that excel at it.

    Have you boarded the Nandi-train yet? Her exuberance makes me smile to watch her.

  95. Mikey says:

    @de stijl: I actually got tears in my eyes watching Nandi. Her pure joy is so uplifting.