Sunday’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. Kathy says:

    Using water to brown food would never have occurred to me. I tried this method to make caramelized onions. Or rather, tried to try it, as I got the directions wrong a couple of hours after watching it. Pretty much I added water later, but it did work faster and with less oil than the regular method.

    I think I’ll give it another try next week, probably to make balsamic red onions.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My eldest granddaughter’s mother is at Burning Man*, she goes every year volunteering for set up before and clean up after as well as duties between the start and finish.


    Tens of thousands of “burners” at the Burning Man festival have been told to stay in the camps, conserve food and water and are being blocked from leaving Nevada’s Black Rock desert after a slow-moving rainstorm turned the event into a mud bath.

    Organizers responding to the unusual weather indicated the closures could endure, as local reports described the conditions at the festival as “treacherous” with “thick, slimy mud that clung to shoes and anything else it touched”.

    “No driving is permitted on playa except for emergency vehicles,” event organizers said in a 5am statement on Saturday. “If you are in [Black Rock City], please shelter in place and stay safe.”
    As of noon Saturday, Nevada’s Bureau of Land Management declared the entrance to Burning Man shut down for good. “Rain over the last 24 hours has created a situation that required a full stop of vehicle movement on the playa. More rain is expected over the next few days and conditions are not expected to improve enough to allow vehicles to enter the playa,” read a BLM statement.

    The topper?

    The weather-related disruptions have caused suspension of the cleaning and emptying of thousands of portable toilets.

    Ugh. Been there, seen that, a sight that still haunts my dreams.

    * Burning Man sounds like hell on earth to me, but different strokes and all that.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A complex deal to take Donald Trump’s social-media platform Truth Social public faces a crucial test next week that could determine whether it becomes a multibillion-dollar company that the former US president once vowed would stand up to “big tech” or instead languish in financial limbo.

    Under the terms of the deal, announced in October 2021, Trump’s Trump Media & Technology Group was destined to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp, a special-purpose acquisition company, or Spac.

    But shareholders in Digital World are now being asked to give the company another year to complete the deal. If they refuse to do so at a meeting on 8 September, the enterprise may never become the $1.7bn company it once envisioned. The path to tech riches the deal floated for Trump and his supporters has not been smooth.

    To say the least, but that is what one expects from idiots. And now?

    If shareholders fail to approve an extension, Digital World will be required to liquidate and return $300m it raised, leaving Trump’s Trump Media & Technology Group with nothing from the transaction.
    But at one time investors in Digital World were hot for the Trump tie-up. Shares in Digital World soared to $175 when the merger was announced. On Friday, they stood at $16.51.

    Trump himself envisioned a social media company that, he said, would “stand up to the tyranny of big tech”.

    But there have been signs recently that even Trump maybe tiring of his own social-media play. There are estimated to be about 2 million users of Truth Social – tiny compared with Facebook’s 2.9 billion, YouTube’s 2.5 billion, WhatsApp’s 2 billion, Instagram’s 2 billion, and X, formerly Twitter, which counts about 541 million users.

    The greatest business man ever.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My understanding is that Trump has no personal financial risk in this. It’s all about the SPAC shareholders losing their money. As is the norm in a Trump scam, he got paid up front, although he would also benefit if the deal actually went through, since he was simply given the shares in the company and invested nothing of his own.

  5. Kathy says:

    Qantas likes to sell tickets for cancelled flights.

    THe good news is that Australian regulators may be able to impose a really big fine.

  6. CSK says:


    And Burning Man is nine days of hell at that. At least Woodstock–which I would have attended only at gunpoint–was only three.

  7. MarkedMan says:

    Yesterday’s discussion on polarization helped me crystallize my thinking on the difference between politics and governance. I would guess that, excepting the contingent here, less than 30% of the voting age population is actually interested in politics, maybe much less. They may declare a political allegiance but it really doesn’t indicate involvement anymore than those who root for the local sports team but can’t name more than one or two players or even their won/lost record. And while the percentage actively engaged in politics is small, the amount interested in actual governance is even less. There are those professionally interested such as companies or individuals who may profit or lose by decisions the government makes (build a highway, invest in this neighborhood as opposed to that, change zoning, etc) and the lobbyists they hire, but they are not generally interested outside that area. That really leaves a very small number of “good governance” types, ranging from the sensible and enlightened to the malignant and toxic.

    It has me wondering if I should get involved in that way when I retire. I see no place for me in politics other than as an informed voter, as selection of and allegiance to a party seems paramount and all consuming. And, all due respect to the good doctor Taylor, the type of electoral system doesn’t seem to be any kind of an indicator of the quality of governance, except in the broadest possible sense, so working to change electoral systems doesn’t seem worth the effort.

  8. Mister Bluster says:

    noun: playa; plural noun: playas
    an area of flat, dried-up land, especially a desert basin from which water evaporates quickly.

    We shall see.

  9. Tony W says:

    @Kathy: Wow. Lan Lam is amazing – I was not familiar with her before.

    I watched a few of her videos this morning and I’m very, very impressed.

    This will be my new rabbit hole.

  10. Stormy Dragon says:


    I suspect the fact Trump is suddenly posting to Twitter again indicates which way the future of is going…

  11. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Since August 24, he’s only posted his mugshot on Twitter (X). I’m pretty sure he’s still raving like a maniac on Truth Social.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Typical.

  13. Kathy says:

    @Tony W:

    I like that she demonstrates her techniques, but does not insist they are the only right techniques.

  14. steve says:

    Lan Lam is very good especially for technique. The America’s Test Kitchen people in general are pretty good now. I like the father and son Chinese duo. I spend way too much time watching food porn and have a bunch of favorites. The Youtube people are better than what you will see on TV almost all of the time. It’s a good way to learn technique and you can fast forward thru stuff so you can watch 3 or 4 recipes for something and pick out the parts you like the best. We have somewhere over 200 cookbooks but I seldom open them anymore now that I have Youtube.


  15. CSK says:

    In his deposition for Letitia James, Trump said he was far too busy saving us from nuclear war to commit fraud.

  16. anjin-san says:


    Woodstock–which I would have attended only at gunpoint

    I know a number of people who attended Woodstock or played there, and they all have nice things to say about the experience.

  17. CSK says:


    Well, if you don’t mind sleeping in the mud in a trash-strewn field for several days, I suppose it would be tolerable.

  18. anjin-san says:


    if you don’t mind sleeping in the mud in a trash-strewn field for several days

    Like I said, they look back on it fondly, and they were there – is there any particular reason you feel the need to dump on the experience – especially considering you were not there (or so I assume)?

  19. CSK says:


    Nothing I’ve heard or read about it sounds remotely appealing–to me. But, as Ozark pointed out when he described Burning Man as hell, different strokes for different folks. If you were at Woodstock, it’s quite nice you can look back on it fondly.

  20. Sleeping Dog says:


    The best memories and stories frequently come from the most disastrous experiences. I suspect that those who have been Burning Man attendees in the past will remember this one, long after the memories of the others have faded.

  21. anjin-san says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    In the case of Woodstock, having participated in a unique (I don’t count subsequent pretenders), generation-defining experience probably more than cancels out any negatives people might have been through. Dealing with mud and inadequate facilities becomes more of a badge of honor. If someone wants to examine a music festival gone horribly wrong, there is Altamont…

  22. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I think it’s very likely that people who don’t enjoy living in the rough probably don’t attend outdoor festivals like Woodstock and Burning Man anyway.

  23. anjin-san says:


    people who don’t enjoy living in the rough probably don’t attend outdoor festivals like Woodstock

    One of my closest friends ran away from home at 15 to attend Woodstock. He and his buddies did not have a plan. Their gear consisted of cheap sleeping bags and canteens (and pot). They did not give it a lot of thought, they just said “we are going!”

    I think that was a pretty typical Woodstock experience. There is just about zero overlap between someone who went to Woodstock and Burning Man attendees heading out in an 80K SUV loaded up with bitchin’ gear from REI and North Face.

  24. Beth says:

    I don’t know if I would actually do Burning Man (unless Daddy Reynolds wants to take me next year). However, I desperately want to do Electric Forest next year.

    after spending a weekend getting shit on by my Mother in Law I would love to experience the unreality of a festival today.

  25. Mister Bluster says:

    My ex mother in law always liked telling the story of how my ex wife and her girlfriends wanted to go to a rock concert when they were still in high school. “I’ll have to drive you there to check it out.” xMIL told them. When they got there xMIL looked around and said: “OK girls, have a good time.” Yeah, it was Woodstock.

  26. wr says:

    @anjin-san: ” If someone wants to examine a music festival gone horribly wrong, there is Altamont…”

    Or for the young uns out there, the Fyre Festival.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: The big problem isn’t ruralness for me. It’s crowds. It’s not mandatory to camp out at these things (well, ya SORTA had to for Woodstock back in the day) but it’s hard to get away from the people, and I’m more misanthropic and claustrophobic with each passing year. Even in my youth though, my strategy for arena events was usually to find a place with a decent sight line out on the fringe and away from the crowd. I saw Bowie’s Serious Moonlight tour from the rim of the Tacoma Dome. Yeah, there were 20 thousand people down on the floor around the stage, but what would the point of doing that have been?

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Beth: Does the guy filming the stage have any spaces left in his balloon?

  29. de stijl says:

    Today I learned some people dislike the end of No Country For Old Men. In fact, some folks actively hate it. That sort of freaks me out a bit.

    Everyone has seen the hero’s journey story / the Joseph Campbell thing several thousand times at least. It is the metanarrative. It can be / often is boring if worked through naively and basically. Tropes, cliches, borrowed story beats, the ur-story is boring! Please give me variation!

    The protagonist dies off camera. The antagonist gets away basically scot-free. The Narrator talks about dreams and has already given up.

    The end really pisses some people off very hard.

    Those people are idiots.

  30. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I agree. I don’t like crowds, either.

    There’s one stand-out time for me at a rock concert. My agent had thrown a big party for me (tax deductible) to celebrate the publication of one of my books. It took place at an inn on the Hudson where Blue Oyster Cult was playing. My agent invited them. They came, They played. Free.

    Best. Party. Ever.

  31. DK says:

    @de stijl: Count me as one of the idiots in the pissed off camp, proudly so. I am biased against gore, misanthropy, and nihilism in film. Give me an old-fashioned, neatly-tied-up happy ending any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Or at least a narratively pleasing ambivalent ending: GWTW, Now Voyager, Psycho.

    But I dislike variation for variation’s sake. It’s too forced, a la letting Tony Soprano live at the series fade to black, defying six seasons of death wish and fatalistic buildup. So much sex with no orgasm, what were they thinking?

    Some friends object, ‘But that’s not real life.’ My response: ‘Why go to the movies or turn on a TV show just to watch real life?’ As Bette Davis said, “Cinema should be bigger than life.”

    Or Joan Crawford’s riposte to critics of stylized, idealized Hollywood glamour: “If you’re looking for the girl next door, go next door.”

  32. dazedandconfused says:

    @CSK: If he is re-elected Mt Rushmore is not safe.

  33. CSK says:


    I’ll say. Some MAGAs want to add his head to it. He’s the greatest prez we’ve ever had, you know.

  34. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Today I learned that people care at all about No Country For Old Men.

    My memory of the movie is basically this: it was bleak, there was a character who decided if people live or die based on a coin flip, there was Tommy Lee Jones, and he wasn’t playing Two Face from Batman.

    I suppose it must have had an ending.

    But mostly a bleak movie where each two minute slice was lovely, but the overall whole was lacking. I don’t need happy movies, but I do want something.

    I would have felt a lot more positively about it if Tommy Lee Jones had the role of the assassin, so it could have (but wouldn’t, for obvious reasons) tie into that terrible Batman movie.

    When a movie has me longing for a connection to Batman Forever, I think it’s fair to say that it has missed its mark for me.

  35. Kathy says:


    Maybe a complementary monument next door. We could name it Mount Rushless, and we’d carve the asses of prominent white House occupants. Benito would be the first, and for decades the only one. That’s the greatest honor ever, manypeoplesaythat.

  36. CSK says:


    You’d need a whole mountain range to accommodate a sculpture of Trump’s posterior.

  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: How would we be able to see his little, tiny cut-off head stuck up there with all those big ones? (Not that I’m opposed to cutting off Trump’s head to place it at Mt. Rushmore, you understand.)

    And where would we glue it on the monument? (And what kind of adhesive do you use to attach things to stone? Would we need rebar to stick the head on? Lots of questions. But I’m still with trying it out.)

  38. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’ve seen drawings with Trump’s visage blasted into the rock alongside Lincoln’s. It’s enough to make you puke.

  39. Kathy says:


    To be fair, it has the emetic effect even when not shown next to Lincoln’s.

  40. CSK says:


    Yes, that’s true. But a 60-f00t-tall rendition of Trump’s head might cause mass cyclic vomiting syndrome.

  41. Joe says:

    Did Dr. Taylor take down his what other Republican could beat Biden post? I was skimming it and planning to apologize for all the knee-jerk responses. I am guessing Dr. Taylor was looking for a little deeper dive, a little more imaginative thought experiment. I saw no evidence that he was getting it.

  42. DK says:


    However, I desperately want to do Electric Forest next year.

    My ex- and future boyfriend are likely doing Tomorrowland next year. Have you been?

    Haven’t yet gone to Burning Man, as the burners I know are at best insufferable and at worst libertarian douches. The exception is an Oakland-based retiree who’s long been in charge of building The Man. He’s awesome.

    The insufferable are the huge clique of gayburners in L.A. and SFO, who are fun but often fit the worst stereotypes of pretentiousness and privilege.

    Then there’s a Slavic-born New Yorker I dated who runs one of the big gay camps. Decent guy, but a mark for Russian propaganda and Substack bros. Muted him due to dumb anti-Ukraine Facebook posts.

    The douche is my straight bestie, a Hillary-hating Berniebro turned Rogan-addled Instamodel who hangs out at Mar-a-Lago with Aaron Schock. He was supporting fellow antivaxxer RFK Jr. at last check-in. Heard he now supports DeSantis. Our relationship right now is only “Miss you!” texts. He has invited to Burning Man more than once. I love him from afar for now.

    I wouldn’t dare assume the burners in my orbit are representative, but it’s hard to say yes to invitations when so many attendees are ‘small doses’ types not ‘Let’s be stuck in the desert together’ types.

  43. CSK says:


    See “Sunday Discussion Question” (Aug. 20) in EDITORS PICKS at the bottom of the home page.

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Wait… They don’t want Trump’s actual head up there? I’m soooooooo disappointed. 🙁

  45. de stijl says:


    I’ve always wanted to go to Burning Man just to check it out.

    I don’t own an RV or a camper. I car camp. I own a tent. I own a closed cell foam sleeping pad. I own two sleeping bags, one serious and a summer one that I mostly sleep on top of or use as a comforter – the summer one gets way more use.

    I have a couple of buddies who could get talked into it pretty easily. I assume you can rent an RV, although I also assume it would be danged spendy and would involve a crap ton of paperwork and insurance waivers.

    I wanna go one year. I shall.

    I also want to do an ayahuasca retreat.

  46. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl: I’m not sure I would say I like the ending of No Country for Old Men. When I watched it, I got through the end, then went to dinner with my wife and daughter all while wondering “what just happened to me?”.

    I respect and admire it. It was not pleasant. That ending specifically teases you with expectations, and then doesn’t ignore those expectations so much as mocks you with them. Oh, were you expecting this to be THAT kind of movie? Too bad for you…

    The film makes so much sense on a metaphorical level. Death always wins. That doesn’t mean people can’t be heroes though.

  47. de stijl says:


    I really loved The Sopranos finale and the fade to black.

    In my head, the guy at the counter casually walked behind Tony and popped him in the back of the head and walked out the door as Willow was entering. Maybe? Maybe not.

    I embrace ambiguous endings. I revel in subverted expectations.