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:

    Seattle hospitals rushed out Covid-19 vaccines to hundreds of people in the middle of the night after a freezer they were being stored in failed.

    It’s not clear what exactly caused the freezer failure Thursday night, but the Northwest and Montlake campuses of the UW Medical Center and the Swedish Medical Center received more than 1,300 vaccine doses that needed to be used before they expired at 5.30am Friday, the Seattle Times reported.

    Word of the unexpected doses spread on social media, and a line of hopeful vaccine recipients snaked out the clinic door and through a parking lot at UW Medical Center-Northwest.

    At Swedish Medical Center, a hundred people lined up. The hospital tweeted at 11.59pm that it had 588 doses to give out, and by 12.30am, all the appointment slots had been taken.

    At the UW Medical Center-Northwest, assistant administrator Jenny Brackett walked along the crowd calling out and asking if anyone was over 65. Brackett said the hospital was doing its best to vaccinate those eligible, but that the main objective was to get it into arms and avoid waste. But many of those who showed up were too young and healthy to qualify under Washington state’s current prioritization categories for vaccine distribution.
    Anyone who received a first shot Thursday night will also receive the second shot in the two-dose regimen, regardless of age, said Cassie Sauer, president of the Washington State Hospital Association.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    We now have the answer to the gnawing question that has so bedeviled each and every one of us:

    How wombats produce their cube-shape poo has long been a biological puzzle but now an international study has provided the answer to this unusual natural phenomenon.

    The cube shape is formed within the intestines – not at the point of exit, as previously thought – according to research published in scientific journal Soft Matter on Thursday. The paper expands upon preliminary findings first presented at a meeting of the American Physical Society’s fluid dynamics division in Georgia in 2018.

    Dr Scott Carver, wildlife ecologist at the University of Tasmania and one of the authors of the research paper, said “there were wonderfully colourful hypotheses around but no one had tested it”. There was speculation that wombats had a square-shaped anal sphincter, that the faeces get squeezed between the pelvic bones, as well as the “complete nonsense” idea that wombats pat the faeces into shape after they deposit them.

    The project originated four years ago when Carver was dissecting a euthanised wombat hit by a car and noticed the cubes in the last metre of the wombat’s intestine. Carver described it as an “isn’t that odd moment”.

    “The thing that is striking, how do you produce cubes inside essentially a soft tube?”

    The team of researchers in Australia, including the head veterinarian at Taronga zoo, Larry Vogelnest, tested the tensile strings of the intestine while physicists in the US based at the Georgia Institute of Technology created mathematical models to simulate the production of cubes. The team discovered big changes in the thickness of muscles inside the intestine, varying between two stiffer regions and two more flexible regions.

    “The rhythmical contractions help form the sharp corners of the cubes,” Carver said.

    When preliminary findings were presented in 2018 “at that point researchers believed there were four stiff and four flexible regions,” he said. “But what final research has confirmed is that the wombat’s intestine has two stiff and two flexible regions.”

    Well I feel better now, don’t you? Now I can ponder the many uses of platypus bills.

    Also, I foresee an IgNobel in somebody’s future.

  3. Kathy says:

    I had a really odd dream involving a book I’m reading, and Season 3 of Discovery. The book is “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman.”

    I forget much of the dream, but part involved me, and others, storing some information in very elaborate safes, that the future people very much wanted to access (Feynman has a whole chapter about cracking safes).

    By elaborate, I mean elaborate. Things like stasis fields, out of phase locks, explosive booby traps, quantum entangled combinations, etc. One, I recall, required very high speed, because the lock simply blew up when turned, and one had to reassemble the parts that exploded before the res of it did (preposterous!)

    The thing is, I wrote the combination to all the safes in notes plastered all over. Naturally all the safes were opened, but then I recall someone in the future telling me:

    “Where’s the real information? You can’t possibly have succeeded so well with taxes and wages that high!”

    Then I said, “see? You can lead Republicans to hard data but you can’t make them believe it.”

    I think it qualifies as a nightmare.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: “Surely you’re joking, Mr. Feynman.” is a great book, lots of fun to read.

    Any dream involving Republicans qualifies as a nightmare.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An Austrian man who fled the Nazis with his family during the second world war has bequeathed a large part of his fortune to the French village whose residents hid them from persecution for years.

    Eric Schwam, who died aged 90 on 25 December, wrote the surprise gift into his will for Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, located on a remote mountain plateau in south-east France that historically has a large Protestant community known for offering shelter to those in need.

    “It’s a large amount for the village,” the mayor, Jean-Michel Eyraud, said. He declined to specify the amount since the will was still being sorted out, but his predecessor, who told a local website that she met Schwam and his wife twice to discuss the gift, said it was about €2m (£1.8m).

    Schwam and his family arrived in 1943 and were hidden in a school for the duration of the war, and remained until 1950. He later studied pharmacy and married a Catholic woman from the region. Eyraud said Schwam asked that the money be used for educational and youth initiatives, in particular scholarships.

  6. sam says:

    Pardon me, but is that a perjury charge in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me (or both)?

  7. CSK says:

    Two Republican Ohio legislators want to make June 14 “Donald Trump Day” in their state.

  8. Kathy says:

    I had a PET CT done yesterday. Yes, I know what it’s supposed to look for, but it seems to be taboo to mention it. That is, the doctor who ordered the test did not say the C word, and neither did my mom and brother when they fund out. In any case, the results won’t be in until Wednesday.

    The radiologist came in mid-study to tell me of the timing, and he also wanted me to pee (I was given a whole liter of water t drink before the scan, and I suspect the infamous “contrast medium” also goes out that way. Between that and my shoulder acting up, I did not ask a follow up question when he said about the scan so far, “There’s nothing urgent.”

    So I find out Thursday, because the results are given at 6 in the evening.

    I feel perfectly fine, and honestly replied “no” to the diagnostic questions the doctor and the radiologist asked.

    Also, they took a glucose test before the scan, and the technician said “It’s in the middle range of normal.” I’d no worries on that score, but I don’t recall a prior glucose test ever.

    I’m really inexperienced when it comes to medical treatments first hand. I’ve never been hospitalized, I’ve had no surgeries save a tonsillectomy when I was 5 or 6. The most seriously ill I’ve been was bacterial pneumonia back in late 1985 or early 1986, with high fever and hallucinations one day, but it responded well to antibiotics. Over the las thirty years, the only doctors I’ve seen were ophthalmologists (mild myopia and astigmatism), and dermatologists (I had rosacea, an adult form of acne, for a few years, and neurodermatitis twice).

    So, overall I’m not worried, but you never know. And I do need surgery to repair a hernia soon. Hell, had the PET CT not been needed, I think I’d have scheduled it by now.

    On trivial matters, the directions for the scan included no solid foods 6 hours prior. This was easy, as it was scheduled for 8 am. After we were done, I was given a small bag containing a no sugar added Greek yogurt cup, a small container of orange juice, and a cereal bar. That’s not much of a breakfast, but as the directions also stated to stay away from other people for 6 hours after the scan, due to the radioactive junk they need to infuse for the scan, this simplified things.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Sounds good to me. It can become the national holiday where liberals set bags of shit on fire on GOP stoops.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Fingers crossed.

  11. JohnMcC says:

    @Kathy: Wishing you health and good outcomes!

    Edit seems working. I’ll take the opportunity to mention that a PET Scan is a Positron Emission Tomography. It shows where scar tissue is and where viable tissue is by discovering where glucose is being consumed. If it was ordered as a consequence of your hernia, probably it was to help decide where some of the loops of bowel might have been trapped in the pocket formed by the weakness of the abdominal wall. (My 0.02 worth).

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Best of luck, and you are right not to worry too much. There are all kinds of indications for cancer and most turn out to be nothing. I’ve had it ruled out probably a half dozen times, so far so good. My only advice is not to put off the hernia operation. I’ve worked with a fair number of hernia surgeons and they would all agree that getting that tear repaired when it is still small is the best way to go.

  13. MarkedMan says:

    I gotta admit I am astounded at the momentum that is welling behind electric cars. If we can keep Democratic control for at least four years we might actually start to crack this global climate change nut.

  14. CSK says:

    @Kathy:Sending you my best wishes. I’m sure everything will turn out fine.

  15. CSK says:

    I wonder if Sarah Palin ever looks at Trump and thinks: “Gee, that coulda been me.

  16. Joe says:

    @Kathy: We will all need a report Thursday and will expect the best. Good luck on the surgery.

  17. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The obsession to prioritize by age is causing unnecessary slow downs. Young healthy people are the ones spreading Covid. If we can’t get it in an elderly arm in 2-3 days just get it in anyone’s arm willing take it.

  18. Tyrell says:

    “Lawyer says laptop taken from Pelosi’s office during Capitol riot still hasn’t been recovered!” (The Denver Channel). Are you kidding?
    It seems Speaker Pelosi’s laptop went missing the other week. Think about that. Imagine getting access to: “Roswell Files” “Area 51 project schematics”, and information on secret government projects that would amaze and shock people. Many documents should have been declassified long ago. Since the Speaker of the House is in the line of succession, there could possibly also be the secret missile launch codes. Think about that for a while.
    The other year a NASIC contractor had thousands of secret documents from Wright-Patterson AFB (Hangar 18) in his home! (Tomas Gnau, Dayton Daily News). A virtual treasure trove of government files about UFO spacecraft, portals, and advanced technology. Enough to keep History Channel busy for a year. Wonder what happened to that guy.
    Then there was a time when some big general’s briefcase was taken from the Pentagon. We never heard any more about that one. Imagine some terrorist group getting hold of that!

  19. CSK says:
  20. Kathy says:


    Thank you all for your good wishes.

    The tear is already pretty bad. I neglected treatment for months due to COVID, which looking back on it was a bad idea. I mean, April seemed to be the peak, and then things just got worse. Well, lessons for the next one (there will be a next one).

    I had a CT a week earlier, the doctor had concerns about it, consulted a radiologist, and ordered the PET CT. I suppose it will be of additional help for the surgery, but the main reason was something else.

    But, like Spock’s father said, it’s illogical to suffer consequences before you even know there are consequences to suffer. So I’ll wait for the results and go on from there.

  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    Best use for a safe:

    1) Buy safe
    2) Position prominently
    3) Put nothing inside
    4) leave your diamonds in a box mixed in with cheap costume jewelry.
    5) Buy IR camera so you can watch the poor burglar spend hours to find nothing.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

    I spent 22 years worrying about something that never happened.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    At work I keep a petty cash fund, usually with less than $1,500 though sometimes it has more, in a metal box with its own little lock, inside a locked drawer in a metal cabinet.

    I also keep certain office supplies there, namely pens, thumb drives, packing tape, glue sticks, post it notes, etc.

    The real reason for the lock is the office supplies. The cash box is just a convenient place to keep notes together and coins sorted.

  24. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..I was given a small bag containing a no sugar added Greek yogurt cup, a small container of orange juice, and a cereal bar.

    In keeping with your culinary prowess this is the only prayer that I can think of to offer up.

    Good Food, Good Meat
    Good god, Let’s Eat!*

    Be Well.

    *(I am quoting the first person I ever heard invoke this plea. Whenever that was.)

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Also, I foresee an IgNobel in somebody’s future.

    Nah. It’s just a testament to how much money there is out there just aimlessly drifting and looking for opportunity.

  26. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Lemme guess–to celebrate the day, POC and Muslims have to work for free and pay their employers if they end up working overtime?

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I like your celebration idea much better. 😀

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: I expect that once people start feeling safe enough to go to the doctors, there will be a lot of people dealing with everything that could be delayed. Sorry your hernia got worse.

    I hope the rest of the tests come back negative. I’m thinking negative thoughts for you, in the best possible way.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: Chuck Tingle is great. Who else could bring you Pounded by the Pound: Turned Gay by the Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the European Union.?

    The title alone is amazing. And to know that he’s also the author of Bigfoot Pirates Haunt My Balls, and My Ass Is Haunted By The Gay Unicorn Colonel, and seeing him branch out from the poltergeists of his private parts to the sociological implications of Britain leaving the European Union? He’s kind of a genius.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Young healthy people are the ones spreading Covid. If we can’t get it in an elderly arm in 2-3 days just get it in anyone’s arm willing take it.

    Yes, I was disappointed that the prioritization didn’t focus more on propensity to spread and less on vulnerability. You save more lives by interrupting transmission than by armoring the end of the transmission sequence. Vaccinating front line health care workers is exactly right, but after that it should be people in other essential jobs that mandate public contact and/or long exposures to others. That would (for example) distinguish people in nursing facilities from generic elderly.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: Indonesia is taking that approach. I guess we will see how it fares. There are also a lot more multigenerational households there, than here, so if it s he right approach anywhere, it’s likely there.

    There are going to be a whole lot of interesting studies in a few years, as we are basically running experiments all over the place. Poorly controlled experiments with overlap and contamination, mind you, but if there are dramatically better approaches they will be visible.

  32. CSK says:

    The Georgia Bar Assn. has asked Lin Wood to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He refused.

    Hey, just cuz a guy announces publicly that he’s the second coming of the Messiah is no reason to think he might be crazy. Right?

  33. Tyrell says:

    @MarkedMan: There are still some problems. The cost is too high for them unless it is a car not much different than a golf cart. The battery range is still not very long. Until they get to a minimum of ten hours, it’s a problem. Charging time needs to be close to the same as a restroom/snack break on a trip: 15 minutes. The cost of a new battery set is high. Battery disposal could be a problem: toxic chemicals. There is the issue of meeting electrical demand when all the charging occurs. How about the sound ? I like a loud, low exhaust. Many people do.
    “She’s real fine my 409” (Beach Boys)
    I saw a ’69 Pontiac GTO Judge today. It was not completely authentic, but close enough to quicken anyone’s pulse. And raise testosterone.
    “We build excitement” Pontiac – GM’s best division.

  34. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    Hey, just cuz a guy announces publicly that he’s the second coming of the Messiah is no reason to think he might be crazy. Right?

    Absolutely! And by the way, look to Mr. Wood to become the next “take seriously but not literally” guy.

  35. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    It will be interesting to see if Woods’ claim to be the Messiah is taken seriously but not literally.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: ” Charging time needs to be close to the same as a restroom/snack break on a trip: 15 minutes.”

    I can’t remember where, but just this week I read an article noting that China has demonstrated a charging system that will recharge the battery in as little as five minutes. Not a claim, people have actually seen the technology working.

    “How about the sound ? I like a loud, low exhaust. Many people do.’She’s real fine my 409’” (Beach Boys).

    Again just this week, another article noting that, IIRC, Maserati among others are already using subwoofers and sound generating programs to replace the throaty sound of the old gas hogs you so love but which the newer engines and unleaky, one-piece exhaust systems can’t duplicate. You need better sources, Tyrell.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Hey, just cuz a guy announces publicly that he’s the second coming of the Messiah is no reason to think he might be crazy. Right?

    I’ll have you know I am quite sane.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: “We build excitement” Pontiac – GM’s best division.

    Yes, that’s why Pontiac has taken it’s rightful place right along side Edsel.

  39. flat earth luddite says:

    Over the course of 4 years, I was doing CT scans on a 6-week rotation, with PET scans every 6 months. I’m sure this is all very disturbing to you, but best wishes and good vibes from all of us to you. For me, the worst thing about the PET scan was having to be in the quiet dark room for over an hour after being given the radioactive injection… Well, that and staying awake in the tube. It annoyed the techs no end that I am apparently the rare person who can fall into a restful slumber in the CT/PET tube. Who knew?

  40. flat earth luddite says:

    What I want to know is how the reviewer for The Guardian got the job of reviewing this stuff? Where was the ad? I never saw the ad? Guys? I was right. over. here.

  41. Kathy says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    Well, the room where they stashed me was not dark, and it was kept warm. You’re allowed to use your phone, too, though there’s no WiFi.

    The room with the scanner was cooler, but they gave me a blanket. and then I kept falling half asleep, which is no surprise given it was early in the morning and I’d had no coffee

  42. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @flat earth luddite: @Kathy: ssssnnnnnooooorrrrree….. They hate me.

  43. Gustopher says:


    The cost is too high for them unless it is a car not much different than a golf cart.

    Cost is coming down, and if we were to price-in the climate costs of gasoline engines, the electric cars would be cheaper. We need to raise the taxes on gas on other carbon-leaking fuel sources.

    Until they get to a minimum of ten hours, it’s a problem.

    Very, very few people need to drive that far in one sitting on any regular basis. And fewer are able to do so safely.

    But, for the near term, there is likely to be a need for people to adapt to a short term rental world when taking big trips. Your commuter car doesn’t need to go for 8 hours at a time, and it’s really not comfortable for that long either. Renting a bigger vehicle, where the family can stretch out a bit more, or haul their crap, would make people happier.

    Commercial trucking, may require a non-electric technology just to have that much concentrated power. Delivery fleets would likely have more batteries than vehicles for quick swapping of power sources.

    How about the sound ? I like a loud, low exhaust. Many people do.

    This sounds like your stupidest complaint, but it’s a genuine concern for pedestrian safety. A friend of mine had one of the very early electric cars, a Honda refitted with electric engine as part of a pilot program (the car is briefly seen in a documentary “What Happened To The Electric Car?”, where it is on a lot to be destroyed after the program ended) — parking lots were a nightmare because no one could hear him approaching.

    I’m surprised they don’t make fake sounds to alert pedestrians. People look for them now, but there are people with vision problems. I would expect novelty sounds right after that, where you download a package of Jetsons flying saucer sounds, or Sean Connery making engine noises.

  44. Teve says:
  45. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “I like a loud, low exhaust. Many people do.”

    I like the sound of a horse’s hooves clopping on cobblestones. Didn’t do much to stop that technological revolution.