Sunday’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. MarkedMan says:

    My wife and I landed in Lisbon a few hours ago and just got off the bus and checked into our AirBnB in Obidos. We will be here, then Porto, then Pinhao and eventually back to Lisbon. Any recommendations?

  2. Kathy says:

    For today’s weekend music, I’m going with an old reliable, Beethoven’s 5th.

    On related matters, I’ve been thinking what music would be like if humans had six fingers rather than 5, or if we had four hands instead of two.

    Thus far I’ve come up with nothing. It’s a bit like picturing more spatial dimensions.

  3. CSK says:


    Well, with four hands, one might be able to play at least two instruments.

  4. BugManDan says:

    @CSK: That’s what a society of one armed beings thinks about having 2 arms.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An attempt to repeal a Michigan law that punishes unmarried couples who live together is being thwarted by Republicans in the state legislature. The law, which dates to 1931, targets “any man or woman, not being married to each other, who lewdly and lasciviously associates and cohabits together”. It is rarely enforced but violations carry a penalty of up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. Senate Bill 56, which seeks to repeal the law, attracted support from all state senate Democrats and half of Republicans. But nine Republicans voted against.

    Edward McBroom, a Republican, spoke in opposition to the bill on the senate floor – for, he said, the sake of the “common good”. He said: “This law was not passed to be mean … it was passed for the betterment of society, particularly for children.”

    McBroom argued that unmarried cohabitation does not promote marriage, and that such arrangements lead to broken homes that hurt children.

    Another Republican state senator against repealing the antiquated law said his reasons for doing so were tax-related. Thomas Albert said: “I very easily would be a yes on this bill if the tax structure continued to encourage marriage.”

    If McBroom was really interested in the betterment of society, he would resign from his seat, dig a hole in the ground, and disappear for the next 20 years or so. Dawg save us all from Republican morality.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A federal judge donated tens of thousands of dollars to New Orleans’ Roman Catholic archdiocese and consistently ruled in favor of the church amid a contentious bankruptcy involving nearly 500 clergy sex abuse victims, an Associated Press investigation has found, but the judge won’t step down from the case.

    Confronted with AP’s findings, which had not been previously reported, US district judge Greg Guidry abruptly convened attorneys on a call last week to tell them his charitable giving “has been brought to my attention” and he would consider recusal from the high-profile bankruptcy he oversees in an appellate role.

    “Naturally,” Guidry told them, “I will take no further action in this case until this question has been resolved.”

    Guidry indicated he would seek guidance from the federal judiciary’s committee on codes of conduct. And in a separate hearing called on Friday, he told attorneys in the case that the committee had approved his continuing to handle appeals related to the bankruptcy.

    I smell a corrupt Catholic rat.

    The reporting by Jim Mustian of the AP on Guidry is only one example of how many links are shared by the New Orleans area’s legal establishment and the local archdiocese, which serves a region with a half-million Catholics and is the oldest to declare bankruptcy amid the clergy sex abuse crisis.

    Many many many corrupt Catholic rats.

  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    This shop called Republica da Flores, in the Chiado area. It defies description. It’s basically everything you ever wanted but have absolutely no use for.

  8. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: In Niven and Pournelle’s book “Footfall,” the Earth is invaded by an alien race (the Fithp) who are elephantine in appearance, but with split trunks that have four “fingers” at the end of each. As a result, their numbering system is base eight rather than base 10. I would imagine if human hands had six fingers each, our numbering system would be base 12.

  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Open letter to Senators McBroom and Albert:
    When I was 30 I met a gal who was 22. She was divorced. I had never been wed. We cohabited for 16 years. We lewdly and lasciviously associated all the time.
    See you in Hell.
    (Which by the way is in Michigan.)

  10. EddieInCA says:


    My wife and I are considering Portugal for retirement, if I ever retire. I’d love to know what you think of Lison nad Porto. I’ve been to Spain multiple times, but have never made it to Portugal; probably because I speak Spanish and Portuguese seems very difficult.

  11. Mimai says:

    Lisbon restaurants…
    Taberna Anti Dantas — Interesting building and take on “traditional” cuisine.
    La Tagliatella — good pasta/pizza on the waterfront.

    General… weather and ability permitting, I found Lisbon to be an especially lovely city to explore on foot. So many “hidden” gems, eg, skate park on a hill overlooking the city, unsanctioned dog park nestled between some otherwise manicured hedges, children’s bookstore that sells quince jam wrapped in parchment in the back room, etc.


  12. Michael Cain says:


    Or something as simple as length of fingers. Rachmaninoff had an unusually long reach at the keyboard. One of the things that makes some of his piano works difficult is that he wrote using finger placements that were physically hard unless you had hands like his.

  13. Kathy says:


    Maybe, assuming the extra limbs came with extra cerebral capacity to control them separately. It’s hard to do one thing with one hand and a completely different thing with the other, unless the latter is something passive like holding something.


    In other Niven works the Kzinti have four fingers per hand and also a base 8 system. Clarke’s and Lee’s Octospiders also have a base 8 system. But I wonder if number of digits/limbs is determinant. The Maya were humans with ten fingers and a base 20 system. Maybe they counted their toes as well?

    @Michael Cain:

    Interesting point. I always thought difficult piano pieces were a result of composers trying to top each other.

    Oh, and what if people could hear a wider range of frequencies?

  14. Mister Bluster says:

    @Kathy:..what if people could hear a wider range of frequencies?

    Despite the fact that at 75 my auditory sense is slowly failing I can still hear racist Republican dogwhistles all the time.

  15. CSK says:


    But pianists do different things with either hand quite proficiently.

  16. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    I’m so ancient I can actually remember white people saying, with a straight face, “He’s a credit to his race” of a Black man.

  17. Matt says:
  18. Matt says:

    @Matt: Not sure why I have such trouble getting the edit function to appear or why I keep posting when I hit enter to go to the next line.

    At 6:48 he begins playing a different beat on each foot and with each arm independent of each other. Overall the video shows multiple examples of him maintaining complicated odd timing patterns on different limbs at the same time.

  19. CSK says:


    Indeed. Any musical instrument I can think of offhand requires two hands to do different things.*

    *One of our resident savants will now appear with a citation of a single-handed musical instrument.

  20. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The following in the article caught my attention:

    Referencing that new landscape, a Democratic state senator, Erika Geiss, tweeted: “Between this and the anti-abortion laws that are now repealed in Michigan, 1931 was quite the year in Michigan when its legislature was composed of solely men.

    “But this legislature in 2023, composed of mostly women, is fixing that shit.”

    The MI legislature is mostly women now? I wasn’t aware of this.

    Unfortunately, I went to the websites for the house and senate, and this claim doesn’t appear to be accurate. According to my head count, there are 44 women out of 110 house members, and 15 out of 38 senators. That’s about 40% women in each chamber. I’m pretty sure that’s above the national average (a quick Google search tells me that 33% of state legislators in the country are women, and it’s risen dramatically in recent years–it was just 25% in 2017), but it’s well below a majority.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Cain: Sounds like a famous classical violinist whose name I am brain farting on, who wrote pieces nobody else could possibly play for the same/similar reasons.

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I suspect that is true of most/all musicians.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: One of our resident savants will now appear with a citation of a single-handed musical instrument.

    Heh, exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote @OzarkHillbilly:

  24. Kathy says:


    It seems I didn’t think it through

  25. Erik says:

    @CSK: Didgeridoo?

    *not a savant, but I took it as a challenge to think of weird instruments

  26. CSK says:


    From what I’ve seen, you need to hold it with both hands.

  27. CSK says:


    You can’t think through everything sll the time.

  28. Just nutha says:

    @CSK: I’m not particularly a savant–except of the idiot variety–but having played clarinet and oboe since childhood, I’ll volunteer I don’t perceive my hands as doing 2 different things while playing. They’re working in tandem at one task–just like when one pats their head while rubbing their tummy.

  29. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Paganini, if I recall correctly.

  30. CSK says:

    @Just nutha:
    Sure; your hands act in concert (pun intended) to produce music, but they’re in different places on the instrument with the fingers pressing different keys.

    You can’t play a clarinet one-handed.

  31. just nutha says:

    @CSK: @OzarkHillbilly: And I’ll log in again to note that even though I spent several decades being a musician, the number of situations where I can do different things with each hand at any level of proficiency at all is small. Maybe non existent.

  32. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Kathy: We went to a “Heroic Beethoven” concert last night at the local university. Featured were the 4th Piano Concerto, the Pathetique, and the Eroica. I love the Eroica, but it ran on for what seemed like forever.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Thanks! Sounds like our kind of thing. BTW, Obidos is our kind of place. Ancient walled city, now a tourist town. The two things they have latched onto are chocolate and literature

  34. just nutha says:

    @CSK: No, but you can play trumpet one handed. The left hand only provides additional support. (I did this. Dislocated ankle elbow playing soccer during teacher training.)

  35. BugManDan says:

    @just nutha: Bugle doesn’t need any hands but for support. Neither does the kazoo or harmonica.

    There are pieces written for one-handed piano.

    Finally, drums (see Def Leopard).

  36. Mister Bluster says: armed beings

    I had a broken arm for a while. I am right handed and it was my right arm. For the first few weeks the broken limb was immobilized as it was taped to my body and I couldn’t use it for anything. The truck I was driving at the time had a 4 speed manual transmission. It didn’t take long for me to be able to drive with my left hand and let go of the wheel, reach over to the floor shifter, change gears, grab the wheel, change gears again, grab the wheel again, etc. till I got up to speed. If my girlfriend was with me she would shift the gears as I worked the clutch and steered the wheel. Unfortunately with only one wing I was unable to drink a beer, smoke a cigarette, roll a joint and drive with my knees all at the same time as I had done every Friday after work as I headed into town to my favorite swill hole.
    As far as the bathroom was concerned I amazed myself with how quickly I learned that I could do things left handed that I had been doing right handed all my life.
    As I write all this I am reminded of a fellow that I knew years ago. He lived way out in the country. One day as he was bush hogging his property he fell off the tractor which ran over him completely severing his left arm at the shoulder. Some how he managed to grab his severed arm run to the house call 911 and run to the end of his driveway to see the ambulance run right by him. The ambulance saw him did a quick reverse and got him to the local hospital from which he was helicoptered to the nearest trauma center. There was no saving the arm. He was in the hospital for several weeks. There was more bad news because when the local Sheriff went out to his property the next day to investigate the accident they found his rather large reefer patch. It cost so much for a lawyer that his girlfriend had to sell her house to keep him out of jail.
    The good news was when his girlfriend told me about how when she picked him up to drive him home she let him drive for a while. She said it was a big boost to his morale.
    I haven’t seen either one of them in years.
    I wish them well.

  37. Thomm says:

    @CSK: trumpet is one handed. 3 fingers to be exact. Trombone… tuba… gong..probably others I am not thinking of right now.

  38. CSK says:


    Sure, but you need the other hand to hold up the instrument.

  39. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: On trombone, yeah, but tubas and Sousaphones have marching straps and other devices that will allow one-handed play.

    Also, if you ocarina has only 4 holes (instead of the usual 9 or 12) it can be played one handed. Wikipedia (or somebody) tells me that there are 4-hole ocarinas, so I’ll take their word for it. (And no, I don’t know how one plays a 12 whole ocarina with only 10 fingers and thumbs.)

  40. Matt says:

    @CSK: Then you have two people like clown core and their song “computers” at one point the drummer is playing two keyboards a bass drum a snare and a hi-hat at the same time. The drummer has been outed as Louis Cole who is quite good.

  41. BugManDan says:

    @Mister Bluster: Funnily enough, my wife had shoulder surgery just over 3 weeks ago and has been without her dominant arm/hand. I have been her chauffeur. She is going to start driving tomorrow, but an automatic.

    In a further parallel, had a friend who was putting hay up in a barn with a hay elevator and his wedding ring got caught on it and it was uncleanly removed. He couldn’t find the finger, but did drive himself to the nearest doctor.

  42. Mister Bluster says:

    @BugManDan:..putting up hay

    Good luck to your wife on her recovery.
    I learned how to drive on a “three on a tree”. 1960 Dodge Dart. Some of my new trucks were stick shift but more recently my rides have been automatics as that’s what was on the dealer’s lot when I was ready to buy.
    I don’t know if it’s still true but I once read that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the US.

  43. Jay L Gischer says:


    Interesting point. I always thought difficult piano pieces were a result of composers trying to top each other.

    With composers such as Rachmaninoff, who would play the pieces he composed in concert and had such performances make up no small part of his income, this is also true.

    I recently heard a quite amusing tale about how Rachminoff, when he was in New York in the 20’s, would go up to Harlem to hear the jazz pianists of the day, such as Fats Waller and, most of all, Art Tatum. He would often be accompanied by Leopold Stokowski and other classical musicians you’ve heard of. Of Art Tatum, he said, “If he ever learns to play classical music, we’re all out of a job”.

    One concert pianist has called Var. 15 of the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini the “Art Tatum variation”.