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:

    Hooboy, 3:42 and I’ve already got 3 to pass along. First from Adam Silverman over at Balloon Juice, a good piece on why A Retired General Officer or Flag Officer Should Not Be the Next Secretary of Defense. The nut of it:

    But the bulk of my career for the better part of the past 15 years has been serving as a senior civilian advisor to senior Army leaders, from colonels commanding brigade combat teams to lieutenant generals commanding Army Service Component Commands. And I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been either permanently or temporarily assigned to an excellent batch of senior leaders. It is important to realize, though, that they’re professionally raised differently than civilian senior leaders. I watched general officer I was assigned to, who was senior in overall time of service, defer to a higher ranking general officer on an issue – a general officer who lied to his face about what was going to be done to deal with that issue – because of socialization to the chain of command. Because that’s what a more junior officer, even if that junior officer is a general or an admiral, does when given an order or guidance by a more senior leader. And there is no more senior leader for the US military than the president.

    The whole of it is worth reading.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:


    Ocasio-Cortez hits back at critics who pounced on $58 ‘Tax the Rich’ sweatshirt

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had a swift response for conservatives criticizing her for selling a “Tax the Rich” sweatshirt for $58. The price was right, the leftwing New York Democrat said, because the campaign merchandise was made by unionised workers in the US rather than in China, unlike political wear sold by, for example, Donald Trump.

    “And by the way: Tax the Rich.” Ocasio-Cortez added on Twitter.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Christian group tears down mysterious monolith on California mountain

    In a video, which was livestreamed and posted online, the group of young men drive from southern California to tear down the structure. Under cover of darkness, they hike up to the structure and tear it down while chanting “Christ is king!”. They then erect a homemade wooden cross in its place and drag the remains of the monolith down the mountain to their car.

    During the video, the men also make offensive comments and drink substantial quantities of energy drinks, while also referencing Donald Trump and the QAnon conspiracy theory and their mission is to demonstrate “how much we love Jesus Christ”.

    It’s even money on whether or not they burned the cross after erecting it.

    The vandalism angered local officials.

    “We are upset that these young men felt the need to drive five hours to come into our community and vandalize the monolith,” Atascadero’s mayor, Heather Moreno, said in a news release. “The monolith was something unique and fun in an otherwise stressful time.”

    No no, Ms Mayor, these are Christians. Don’t you understand how superior they are to all others and how we must all defer and cater to their special feelings?

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:
  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security

    US #COVID19 cases:

    1st case to 1M – 96 days
    1 to 2M- 44 days
    2 to 3M- 27 days
    3 to 4M – 15 days
    4 to 5M – 17 days
    5 to 6M – 22 days
    6 to 7M – 25 days
    7 to 8M – 21 days
    8 to 9M – 14 days
    9 to 10M- 10 days
    10 to 11M- 7 days
    11 to 12M- 5 days
    12 to 13M- 7 days
    13 to 14M – 5 days

    The U.S. Has Passed the Hospital Breaking Point

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, public-health experts have warned of one particular nightmare. It is possible, they said, for the number of coronavirus patients to exceed the capacity of hospitals in a state or city to take care of them. Faced with a surge of severely ill people, doctors and nurses will have to put beds in hallways, spend less time with patients, and become more strict about whom they admit into the hospital at all. The quality of care will fall; Americans who need hospital beds for any other reason—a heart attack, a broken leg—will struggle to find space. Many people will unnecessarily suffer and die.

    “If, in fact, there’s a scenario that’s very severe, it is conceivable that will happen,” Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease doctor, said in mid-March. “We’re doing everything we can to not allow that worst-case scenario to happen.”

    Fear of this scenario drove many of the most stringent stay-at-home orders in the spring. “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed,” Liz Cheney, a leading House Republican, said a week and a half later.

    Yet that worst-case scenario never came to pass at a national level. At the springtime peak, even as northeastern hospitals faced a deluge, 60,000 people were hospitalized nationwide. When the Sun Belt frothed with cases this summer, hospitalizations again reached the 60,000 mark before they started to fall.

    A month ago, in early November, hospitalizations passed 60,000—and kept climbing, quickly. On Wednesday, the country tore past a nauseating virus record. For the first time since the pandemic began, more than 100,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States, nearly double the record highs seen during the spring and summer surges.

    The pandemic nightmare scenario—the buckling of hospital and health-care systems nationwide—has arrived. Several lines of evidence are now sending us the same message: Hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, causing them to restrict whom they admit and leading more Americans to needlessly die.

    And yet, New Jersey investigates Republican gala over Covid rule breaches

    The president of the New York Young Republican Club, Gavin Wax, scoffed at the criticism online, saying the group had done nothing wrong.

    “We embrace life and living while you all cower in your pods worried about a disease with a 99%+ survivability rate,” he said in one tweet, referring to a pandemic that has killed more than 24,000 people in New York City alone and more than 17,000 in New Jersey.

    A rather large part of me hopes that this asshat has a compound fracture of his leg and is denied surgery because they don’t have the time, the space, or the personnel to fix him up and that he then spends the rest of a very long life in constant pain with an inability to walk more than 25 feet at a time.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Eric Feigl-Ding

    WALL STREET BANKERS ARE NOT MORE “ESSENTIAL” THAN TEACHERS & 1ST RESPONDERS—American Bankers Association is petitioning to designate Wall St finance workers as essential workers so they can get #COVID19 vaccines before most Americans. Cant make this up!

    2) “We are encouraging public health authorities to follow the existing DHS guidance and include financial services employees as part of the 1b group, but we think front-line bank employees who deal with a large number of people every day should be gave priority to, at a minimum”

    3) I think Wall St actually should be lower priority for reasons that most of their work can be done remotely, other than the limited number of bank tellers. But even then they often have plexiglass barriers to prevent robberies (and limit exposures).

    My bank has closed their lobby. If one needs to go inside (to access a safe deposit box for instance) one needs to make an appointment ahead of time. All dealings with tellers are done at the drive thru. Which by the way is a horrific infringement on my freedumb. I should be able to conduct face to face mask free banking any time I feel like it. trump should issue an executive order banning this unchristian practice immediately.

  7. CSK says:

    Well, I guess my first question would be: Why would anyone think that a piece of free-standing metal is anti-Christian? Or un-Christian? Were pagans observed worshiping it and making sacrifices to it?

    And even if it were pagan? So what? The world is full of pagan symbols.

  8. SKI says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: FYI – their request was limited to public-facing bank workers, like tellers. Not traders.

  9. CSK says:
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    “We are encouraging public health authorities to follow the existing DHS guidance and include financial services employees as part of the 1b group, but we think front-line bank employees who deal with a large number of people every day should be gave priority to, at a minimum”

    Note, they differentiate, starting by saying the all inclusive “financial services employees” and then separately speaking of “front-line bank employees”…. “at a minimum”.

    They want it for all, and are trying to piggyback it in on the need to protect tellers. As I mentioned above there are already ways to do so, which is not to say there aren’t good reasons for putting tellers in the 1b group, there may well be.

  11. charon says:

    The Kraken, Sidney Powell and QAnon:

    The Kraken: What is it and why has Trump’s ex-lawyer released it?

    It’s also become an internet meme representing a sprawling, unsubstantiated set of claims that purport to outline the case for widespread fraud in the US presidential election.

    Pro-Trump groups including QAnon conspiracy theorists have amplified the idea under the hashtag #ReleaseTheKraken, and it’s being widely shared by those supporting the legal campaign to challenge the election results.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Abuser and the Terrorist
    The under recognized web of shame, honor, and twisted masculinity that connects domestic violence and political violence.

    I am running on East Eighty-Ninth Street in the dark. Cannot breathe, cannot stop. In the streets kids are playing stickball—I can hear them, but they are a blur of pink and brown, flesh and T-shirts, voices. Keep running. Behind me somewhere is the man who whispers to me in the night, but I cannot look back, can only run. Keep running. Air and night close around me, darkness at my throat, hair in my eyes, boots on the sidewalk, breathe, choke, a man asks, “Are you all right?” but I do not, cannot stop to answer. Keep running. Legs heavy; Eighty-Ninth Street going west is all uphill. Some nights it is whispers and some nights it is curses and tonight it was hisses, hot and filled with spit as a switchblade flashes to the corner of my eye and does not move from there, spit from his mouth spraying against cold steel, distorting the reflection. I am looking forward, only looking forward, do not dare to move my eyes. Until he drops the knife. “Too good for you,” he mutters and turns to walk to where I know the gun is, and this is where I start to run, pull the lock open, the door, down the stairs and through two front doors. Surely he could have caught me by then if he’d wanted to. I am just five feet, and he is six foot one.

    Run. Heels hard against the pavement, a hot June night, I still remember, run.

    I turn left. Left is the obvious direction: toward home, not away. But I turn left, and he knows I will turn left and so he catches up to me, a hand on my shoulder, the lights stop, breath stops, footsteps stop, and I realize that deafening drumming in my ears has been the sound of my own footsteps because that, too, stops.

    “What are you running from?” Boris says. “Come back with me.”

    Years later I still remember we are standing on Third Avenue in the dark in front of a deli between Eighty-Eighth and Eighty-Ninth Streets and he is wearing jeans and the pale brown hairs of his chest are visible beneath a denim work shirt that is two too many buttons unbuttoned, and I am seventeen years old and I am stuck. If I go home to my parents I will have to explain why I am back before 9:30 on a Saturday night. I will have to act as if everything is fine when it is not. I turn to face him. There does not seem to be a gun. “Don’t be such a silly,” he says and sweeps me into an embrace, the kind of embrace the good guy sweeps the frightened maiden in when he comes to save her from the evil king, the evil bandits. My head is spinning again but I am too confused and still too dumb with fright to argue.

    “Silly,” he says again. “Don’t you know how much I love you?”

    Food for thought. She has a lot to say, more than can be put into an article, hence it’s an excerpt from a book.

  13. gVOR08 says:


    Why would anyone think that a piece of free-standing metal is anti-Christian? Or un-Christian?

    If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Everyone and everything must support them or is the enemy. Do they make a stink about Starbucks holiday cups because they carry an anti-Christian message? No, they just fail to carry a pro-Christian message. These people are incredibly insecure.

    Forget where, but I saw a nice piece yesterday saying it’s comforting to see Hannitty back to bitching about Starbucks cups. After four years of Trump it’s nice to be back to familiar, trivial nonsense.

  14. Kingdaddy says:

    @CSK: Rod Blagojevich, Sean Spicer, Joseph diGenova, Dinesh D’Souza, Richard Grenell, Rick Gates, Matt Gaetz, Dick Morris, all together…As Tim Miller said, a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    From Iowa Is What Happens When Government Does Nothing:

    Iowa’s problem is not that residents don’t want to do the right thing, or that they have some kind of unique disregard for the health of their neighbors. Instead, they looked to elected leaders they trust to tell them how to navigate this crisis, and those leaders, including Trump and Reynolds, told them they didn’t need to do much at all. (Although some residents have certainly deliberately ignored the advice of public-health experts.) “When our strategies are not consistent with CDC evidence, when we are not adhering to even the advice of the White House task force, it raises questions in people’s minds on the seriousness of the pandemic and the validity of the mitigation strategies,” Lina Tucker Reinders, the executive director of the Iowa Public Health Association, told me. “People don’t necessarily know what the right thing to do is.”

    At what point do we stop making excuses for these people? After all, they had access to the same data as I and yet an 8 point majority just voted for 4 more years of this shit. Misery gave trump a 15.4% margin and I can assure you, I’m not excusing a single one of those pig ignorant pricks.

  16. CSK says:

    Gee, I hope they never get loose in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or Boston’s MFA, or the Chicago Art Institute, or the Getty in Los Angeles. Lotsa pagan shit in those places.

    That was a good piece, wasn’t it?

  17. Sleeping Dog says:


    We’ve always known that when the vaccine became available that the wealthy would seek to finagle their way to the top of the queue. This is one attempt at getting the camel’s nose under the tent.

    Why pray tell bank tellers? Why not the checkout person at the grocery and bus drivers?

  18. charon says:


    Instead, they looked to elected leaders they trust to tell them how to navigate this crisis, and those leaders, including Trump and Reynolds, told them they didn’t need to do much at all.

    They actively wanted to be told to conduct their normal lives, employment, business etc., that’s the source of the approval of Trump’s handling of Covid-19.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: This is one time where I think the govt should be allowed to sell vaccines to the highest bidder: “$415,649 going once… going twice… SOLD to the man in the pinstripe suit!”

    Why not the checkout person at the grocery and bus drivers?

    They have already been defined as essential workers.

    @charon: Tell people the lies they want to hear and they will accept them without question.

  20. de stijl says:


    The Governor ostriched her way through spring and summer. If I don’t look at it, it will go away. Echoed Trump’s blarings.

    A very substantial threat you ignore because of partisan fealty. I hate her.

    In raw numbers Reynolds killed more people than Noem. Though Trump has the top slot nailed.

    Early in the spring I e-mailed my state Rep and Senator to encourage a more proactive state response. The replies were hearty and surface optimistic. Subtext was “not gonna happen”.

    What can I do? Think good thoughts, they said. Volunteer.

    They knew Reynolds was going to ignore this pandemic until it became an undeniable crisis.

    They were correct. Exactly what happened.

    The inaction is shameful. Immoral. Unprofessional. Monstrous.

  21. Northerner says:


    If you’re not with them, you’re against them. Everyone and everything must support them or is the enemy.

    If you’re not part of the solution then you’re part of the problem?

    Though I suspect lack of a sense of humour is the bigger problem — anyone who’s seen or even heard of 2001: A Space Odyssey should be able to get the monolith joke.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Responding to various above:

    I don’t see Aragorn as the hero of LOTR. He shows up well into Book One. He is sent off on a side jaunt for most of Book Two. He scores multiple ‘assists’ with the central goal, the destruction of the ring, but only assists. And he’s gone by the end. He’s certainly important, but the restoration of the monarchy is a side effect of the destruction of the ring – Frodo’s plotline. Aragorn’s success is a function of Frodo’s, not the other way around. Had Frodo failed, Aragorn would have had no chance.

    In terms of ‘screen time’ in the books, Frodo clearly dominates, but who else is always present? Sam. He carries the central plot, but he fails in the end, seduced by the ring. Sam, OTOH, does not fail but is only failed by Frodo. Nevertheless Sam persists, literally carrying Frodo up Mount Doom. Sam bore the ring briefly and was able to give it up. And it is Sam who we hear from last as a weakened Frodo sails off into the west.

    Tolkien was an old-school Christian. Frodo’s life is sacrificed, but unlike Christ who could, presumably, have magicked himself right off the cross, Frodo fails the ultimate test. Who never fails the test? Sam. Who forms the foundation of Hobbit society going forward? Not Frodo, Sam.

    Tolkien was an Oxford don but he had a middle class (in the American sense) background, he was not posh. So WW1 would not have been his first introduction to the hoi polloi. The relationship between officers like Tolkien and their soldiers, and particularly their batmen, which is Sam’s role, is interesting. Occasionally the toffs (and poets) did manage to notice that they were no better on the battlefield than the common soldier.

    Though I’ve belted you and flayed you,
    By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
    You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    Why do they insist on fucking with AOC? She’s always three steps ahead on social. They’re like drunks heckling a comedian and imagining they’re going to win a verbal confrontation. Nope.

  24. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yes, this is the wrong thread. If I had a goddam edit function…

  25. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Samwise is the undisputed hero of LOTR. If not for him, all was for naught.

  26. Slugger says:

    At some point we must stop allowing ourselves to be scammed. Thus I propose a small step toward consigning Trump to obscurity:
    This Tuesday let’s not mention him. I know he’ll be doing something outrageous, but let’s just let it go. Ignore him on this website.

  27. Teve says:

    @CSK: jesus.

    I wanted to find out what these folks were being told, so I committed myself to hours upon hours of viewing. You may think you have a sense for what is happening on The Max, but I promise you it is much weirder, more alarming, and more debased than you can imagine. Here’s some of what I saw:

    The president’s campaign lawyer saying that a former Trump official should be executed.

    A host saying that Biden’s election would bring a war between the races and that Barack Hussein Obama is a “reprobate” who is “pimping” a book.

    Hosts and guests suggesting several times an hour that Republican state legislatures should overturn the will of the people to keep Trump in power.

    Fantastical stories of millions of votes being dropped off by tow trucks in the dead of night after nationwide blackouts.

    The term “ballot harvesting” bandied about indiscriminately.

    An endless stream of Lionel Hutz-level legal analysis.

  28. sam says:

    Sotheby’s is selling an Ansel Adams collection. In the collection is this picture.

  29. de stijl says:


    That’s a nice sky.

  30. Teve says:

    Meme on FB

    Congress is literally living European socialist lifestyles while carrying the Banner of capitalism for everyone else. Long vacations, free healthcare, a decent salary. And then they dare question that anyone else demand the same.

  31. Teve says:

    @sam: 20 years ago I took a look at Ansell Adams’s stuff but it left me cold. Maybe I should take another look at it.

  32. sam says:

    There are little places like Hernandez all through northern New Mexico, where they speak a version of Spanish traceable back to the conquistadors.

  33. Gustopher says:


    This Tuesday let’s not mention him. I know he’ll be doing something outrageous, but let’s just let it go.

    You are tempting fate. He might do something outrageous and obscene that needs to be mentioned. Or preposterous.

    What if he says this: “A lot of people are saying that I’m winning this election. A lot of people. It’s because I see the big picture. It’s like the Buddha asked, ‘would you rather sit on a dick and eat a cake, or sit on a cake and eat a dick?’ People struggle with that. For hundreds of years people have struggled. But I know — Neither. It’s easy when you see the big picture.”

    Or he will sign an executive order to set homeless people on fire.

  34. Slugger says:

    @Gustopher: Of course he’ll say or do something outrageous: that’s what he does. We don’t need to give him our attention. Our attention is valuable; let’s withhold it from him.

  35. CSK says:

    If you can do it, I salute you. Trump’s like a 20-car-pile-up for me: I don’t want to look, but I can’t keep myself from so doing.

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Slugger: most days he’s about a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. You’re tempting fate that No Trump Tuesday will be way more than 7.

    If the Four Seasons Lawncare Fiasco was on a No Trump Tuesday, would you want to miss it?

    Oh, god, I just started laughing. I’m going to be that way for the rest of my life, aren’t I?

  37. CSK says:

    Apropos of nothing:
    We appear to be having our first major snowstorm of the season: up to 18 inches in some areas. It started at 3:30 and the plows have already gone by. Oh, well: I did my panic buying yesterday.
    Coffee? Check.
    Vodka? Check.
    Toilet paper? Check.
    Italian sausages? Check.

    I’m good.

  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Hey! There’s only so much money out there. More for you is less for me. Try to guess which side of the equation I prefer to stay on.

    You know that it’s not like when I was young and one salary kept a person’s family with a roof over their heads at least, right? Them days is gone.

  39. de stijl says:

    The Breaking Bad finale was in Sept. 2013.

    My brain rejects that. That was maybe three years ago. Tops.

    2013? No freaking way.

    I know the timeline is true. Part of my memory processing is stunned by that date and refuses to accept it.

    I know this is true. It feels false.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: You’re so lucky–snow and Italian Sausages. All we have here is cold temperatures and a thermal inversion/stagnant air alert. But my new year’s supply of albuterol came a couple of weeks ago, so I’m good, too.

  41. de stijl says:


    Be safe. Have fun with it. I get a big charge out of big snowstorms. It’s primal.

  42. Sleeping Dog says:
  43. de stijl says:

    @CSK: @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    There is a relatively famous local sausage maker. People raved about it.

    I tried it and it was weird – too much fennel, too much some spice I think is paprika.

    Now I buy a pound a week. It no longer tastes weird. Time is funny.

  44. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    The sausages are simmering on the stove in a tomato, green pepper, onion, and garlic-basil sauce. I’m sipping a vodka martini. The plows have made 3 passes so far. If the power doesn’t go out, I’ll be fine.

    @de stijl:
    It’s beautiful here. Jen and Sleeping Dog just a bit to the north of me are probably experiencing the same thing.

  45. de stijl says:

    This month we have new Sigur Ros and new The Mountain Goats and Sean Bonnette (AJJ) does a weekly at home concert Live From Quarantine.

    2020 sucks hard, but there is hope. All is not lost.

  46. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Tolkien was a bit ambivalent about Sam; and “ordinary” Hobbits in general (both upper and lower class: Bilbo and Frodo both being very much out of the ordinary) .
    In one of his letters he said Sam had

    “a mental myopia which is proud of itself, a smugness […] and cocksureness, and a readiness to measure and sum up all things from a limited experience, largely enshrined in sententious traditional ‘wisdom’”

    With the difference from most Hobbits that he was at least open to curiosity and awe in regard of the elves and Numenoreans.

    OTOH he also wrote of Samwise as the “chief hero”, the “jewel among hobbits”, “the geniune hobbit” (probably in the sense of the Hobbits indifference to the glories of the ancient world being linked to their indifference to power, and thus less open to the corruption of the Ring)

    On the third hand IIRC Tolkien also said that if Sam had had to endure being the Bearer (not to mention morgul-wounds etc) as long as Frodo, he would have failed as well.

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: She’s always three steps ahead on social.

    Hence my love of her. I wish I was half as quick as she is.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Slugger: I’m on board with that, tho sad to say I’ll need a reminder come Tuesday morn. Hope you get up early. 😉

  49. Michael Cain says:

    @CSK: We’re doing sunny with highs in the 50s and no wind this week. We’re in a new city so I’m still learning where I can get a variety of things to go. Tomorrow I’m going to hit up one of the barbecue places for their sampler.

  50. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    I recall you saying you liked Millwall after I referred to their “Nobody likes us, we don’t care” attitude; and I referred to them as “a rather argumentative bunch”.
    Well, that was British understatement.
    I should have been clearer.
    Gonna be now.
    There a reason nobody f@ckin’ likes them.
    They are not very nice people:
    Millwall fans embracing their long-awaited return to the stadium by … booing their players — and Derby’s — for taking the knee. What the hell is wrong with these people?

  51. de stijl says:

    I had a nice walk today. Then a sit.

    Looked at bare trees and a creek bed. Listened to aggro music.

    Then a nice walk back home.

    Super sweet!

  52. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @de stijl: Good.

  53. CSK says:

    @Michael Cain:
    I think you said you and your wife had bought a townhouse, am I correct? I’m guessing you have a small backyard where you can relax and have a drink. Perhaps cook out. I miss not having a private outdoor space of my own, but then…I don’t have to take care of it. Everything’s a trade-off.

  54. de stijl says:


    Always a sucker for an underdog, but racism is not a thing I am ever going to be okay with.

    Fuck Millwall.

    Newcastle it is then, I reckon.

  55. Teve says:


    Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Bryan Cutler and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, have sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation urging them to object to PA’s Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.

    Riots? The dissolution of the state? Tune in tomorrow to find out!

  56. Michael Reynolds says:

    I imagine most writers have ambivalent feelings about characters. I do. I see my characters as employees. I hire them to do a job. Reluctant hero. Main villain. Significant other. They are all imperfect instruments, deliberately so, usefully so.

    It sounds like one of those bullshitty author things to say, but characters often end up surprising you, going in ways that are logical but not what you anticipated. And that seeming lack of control is what you hope happens, on the page it’ll mean the character has a sense of life about them. It’s also one of the advantages of not outlining, at least to me, it frees you to improvise and embrace randomness.

    I give my employees a long leash and, if they don’t work out, I kill them.

  57. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Absolutely. The best fiction is always character-driven. Otherwise it falls flat.

  58. de stijl says:


    If you are looking for a scrappy US baseball team, I highly recommend the St. Paul Saints.

    Not affiliated with an MLB team. They have a cute trained pig that runs the balls out to the ump. Bill Murray is a part owner.

    They used to play at Midway Stadium in a bleak industrial zone north. Sold good, local beer. A mile from where I went to Uni. Nuns in the right field bleachers doing massages. Trains running directly behind center field blasting horns randomly.

    They have a new park downtown which I have not been to yet. Word is it is pretty awesome.

  59. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Sounds interesting, pig-wise 🙂
    And if I can understand the rules of cricket, I’m pretty sure I can figure out baseball.
    Just reassure me it’s not like American football that stops every couple of minutes for no apparent reason.
    (As a rugby fan I can appreciate the sheer prowess and accuracy of American football but for the love of Osiris can’t they just GET ON WITH IT!)

  60. de stijl says:


    American football was born from rugby, but became a different animal. Four downs. Set plays. Compact, intense action, then pause until next play.

    In gaming terms, a turn based RTS.

    Go Vikes!

  61. Sleeping Dog says:


    It is only raining here. An advantage to being about 1/3 of a mile to that large, weather effecting puddle to the east. I expect that if we get any snow it will be less than an inch of slush. It will melt tomorrow.

  62. Sleeping Dog says:

    @de stijl:

    The news probably hasn’t made it to Des Moines, but the Saints will be the Twins’ AAA farm club.

  63. JohnSF says:

    @de stijl:
    Whereas Rugby is the real time zerg rush! LOL.

    Watched the NFL slot on BBC late Saturday a few times.
    Intense, but I can’t get into the lack of flow and continuity.
    Too “bitty”.
    Key difference apart from that is that forward passes are legal; it would be laugh to try a rugby game that allowed forward passing, but not the team swap-overs thing or off-the-ball tackles.
    Probably go crazy as each team clocked up a try ten seconds after kick-off!

    Thinking about it, it’s prob. only off-ball tackling that make American football anything but just a “boom-try” sequence.

  64. Michael Cain says:

    @de stijl:

    George Will: “Football combines two of the worst things in American life. It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.”

    Anyone who has attended a live NFL game has to be impressed by the difference. The TV directors are amazing, filling the dead space between plays with a replay, a shot of the coach on the sidelines, cut to the cheerleaders, maybe showing the players shuttling in and out, and occasionally the commercials. The live experience, OTOH, has a lot of down time punctuated by intense group experience that simply doesn’t come across on the screen.

  65. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Same in Newburyport. I’m about 20 miles further inland.

  66. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Should anyone care, here it’s 1°C, 100% humidity, mist.
    Rising tomorrow to a balmy 4°C, 93% humidity, cloud.
    Sunrise 8:03, Sunset 3:56

  67. CSK says:

    Sounds just like England in December.

  68. de stijl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    No shit! As of when?

    Actually, I’ll push back on that. You have to show proof. I’ll eat crow, no prob. But I seriously doubt that and Google agrees.

    The Iowa Cubs are a very nice AAA club. They have a pretty decent park just south of downtown. I used to live in a highrise about a mile north.

    Been to a shit ton of games. Best is when they play the Isotopes. Makes my Simpsons’ nostalgia relevant.

    After the seventh inning they withdrew guards on the turnstiles so you could walk in unchecked.

    My buddy Pete and I would get boozed up at the Mile and shimmy in at the top of the eighth.

  69. JohnSF says:

    I recognise that name from somewhere.
    H.P. Lovecraft and the fishy folks?

  70. JohnSF says:

    *ding* We have a winner. 🙂

  71. CSK says:

    I don’t think Lovecraft did Newburyport. He was Rhode Island. Newburyport is on the northeast Mass. coast. But that’s a good guess on your part.

  72. CSK says:

    How did I ever guess????

  73. de stijl says:

    One time at the Metrodome I had a bad epiphany.

    I can’t recall. It might have been the Vikes, or the Twins, or the football Gophers.

    I am sitting on a plastic seat under a plastic dome looking at a plastic field. Woah!

    The Timberwolves played their inaugural season at the Metrodome. I went to two games. It was horrific.

    The coolest thing I ever saw at the Metrodome was Kent Hrbek hit a home run so solid that it was a straight vector line from his bat until it hit a broadcast booth above center field.

    That ball would have gone a half mile before gravity took over if not for the intervening infrastructure.

  74. de stijl says:


    I spent the majority of two days trying to understand cricket. It is really opaque to a newbie. The rules are very obscure on scoring.

    Australian Rules Football OTOH is bonkers fun. I have no idea what is happening, but it is glorious.

  75. gVOR08 says:


    (As a rugby fan I can appreciate the sheer prowess and accuracy of American football but for the love of Osiris can’t they just GET ON WITH IT!)

    I recall reading years ago TV broadcasts of NFL games were popular in the UK. In 2007 they actually played a game in London. Supposedly everyone reacted, “Three bloody hours?!” They’d been cutting dead time out of the broadcast games.

  76. de stijl says:

    If you have clothes in your closet you do not use regularly, please consider a donation to your local homeless shelter.

  77. Mikey says:
  78. de stijl says:


    Dude! I love the concept of Millwall. I would love to embrace Millwall. (I ordered a jersey due to be delivered sometime next week.)

    Not down with a solid cadre of racist fans.

    It’s English football, so there’s going to be racist fans.

    But I prefer my club’s fans to boo out the racist wankers rather than chime in.

    If Man U and City were not so big and powerful, I would be totally okay with Madchester just because of the explosion of musical talent in the late 70s. That was glorious.

    But no way am I gonna root for the EPL equivalent of the Dallas Cowboys. Fuck Jerry Jones.

    Highly recommend 24 Hour Party People.

    RIP, Ian.

  79. de stijl says:


    Off the ball “tackles” are blocks and are 100% legit (within the rule-set).

    Linguistic oddity: you say sport when we say sports. You say maths when we say math.

  80. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: conservation of the letter s.

    I’m betting there are all sorts of words that are missing a u in England to make up for all the colours and favours. I have no idea what those words are though. Thogh?

  81. de stijl says:


    That is the first physics based linguistic theory I’ve ever heard.

    For every phoneme there is an equal and opposite anti-phoneme. That kinda explains Scandinavian vowels.

    Hawaii absorbed our cast off u’s. Ukulele. Muumuu. Pu pu platter.

    It amuses me when Brits claim spelling rights on certain words. Dude! That word is categorically a borrow word from French. It’s barely five centuries old in usage.

  82. de stijl says:


    Baseball is like Netflix when you have spotty wifi.

    Action for a few dozen seconds and then the ouroboros buffering endless circle.

    Baseball is great when you wanna drink beer and jaw with your friends for three hours. A half hour of that is relevant gameplay.

    Mostly its gassing about with your lads / ladettes.

    It’s great fun. I recommend.