Thursday Open Forum

Have at it. Posting may be light today.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Teve says:

    New politico story certainly doesn’t have a mild title.

    “Sanders and Trump Stare into Their Graves”

  2. Teve says:

    Pull Quotes make sense in magazines. They’re supposed to be something brief and interesting that catches the attention of someone flipping through the pages. I’m so sick of seeing Pull Quotes halfway through goddamn online articles. It doesn’t make any sense.

  3. Bill says:

    The sky is falling headline of the day-

    Large asteroid will fly by the Earth next month, but won’t hit us, reassures NASA

    If the asteroid was going to hit the Earth, would our leaders tell us? I’ve watched way too many disaster movies but I will quote this one=

    When they tell you not to panic… that’s when you run!

  4. Bill says:

    While watching the 6 o’clock news last night*, at least one of our local television stations was still running Mike Bloomberg ads. The Bernie Sanders advertisements have begun.

    Is it November 4th yet?

    *- Remember I live in Florida

  5. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    So…Schumer; yay, nay, or meh?

  6. Mu Yixiao says:


    I’m so sick of seeing Pull Quotes halfway through goddamn online articles. It doesn’t make any sense.

    It’s a way of retaining the attention of readers who tend to zone out after 300 words. In magazines it was “stop, there’s something interesting here”. On line, it’s “keep going, there’s something interesting coming up”.

  7. Teve says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Except half the time it’s something that you’ve already read. It’s just repetition of the form in a new context where it doesn’t make any sense, but the writer or the editor are too stupid to understand that.

  8. Kathy says:


    And the other half it’s a spoiler for what comes ahead.

    I mostly ignore them. What really bothers me are ads that come on suddenly over the text, especially in mobile devices. Magazines never rudely interrupted me like that.

    And auto play videos. I hate auto play videos. They just slow things down and waste electrical power.

  9. Teve says:



  10. Jen says:

    @Kathy: I haaaaate those ads that pop up when you are in the middle of reading. There are a few online publications that are almost unreadable now, between those and the blinking ads on the side.

    People ask why I still read dead-tree versions of magazines–it’s because I hate being interrupted *when* I am reading.

  11. Kit says:


    When they tell you not to panic… that’s when you run!

    Where are we supposed to run to?

  12. Kathy says:

    It takes me longer to drive to the polling place than to cast a vote, even accounting for waiting in line.

    But then, elections in Mexico are very simple. You get three ballots, one each for president, senator, and representative (diputada). They are printed with big logos for each party (or coalition of parties), with the candidate’s name. You mark your choice with an X, fold the ballot in half, and deposit each in it separate urn. In midterms, you get two ballots.

    That’s that. there’s no election of judges, DA, or any other officials. Local officials are elected, as are state officials, but again, just the top executive and legislators.

    Voters, though, are assigned to particular polling places. you find out yours by checking the web site of the National Electoral Institute (INE), where you search by entering a code on your voter registration card.

    At the polling place, you show your card, which is checked against a list (you can check the lists at the INE website, too, before the election, and demand to be added if your name is missing). Once they find your name, they cross it off, hand over the ballots, and stain your thumb with indelible ink (it wears off after a few days).

    It could be better. Absentee ballots are not common. There are contingent polling places for people who are traveling or otherwise not home, but these are few and have a limited number of ballots. There’s no early voting or voting through the mail.

  13. Kathy says:


    Have you noticed such ads often hide or delay the spot you need to click or tap to remove them? Sometimes, though not always, hitting ESC on the keyboard sends them back to the digital void whence they spawned from.

    Now and then I come across sites so filled with ads, there’s really only a narrow, squat area of actual content. It feels like you’re scrolling more than you’re reading. I tend not to revisit them.

  14. sam says:


    uMatrix is your friend.

  15. Gustopher says:


    The sky is falling headline of the day-

    Large asteroid will fly by the Earth next month, but won’t hit us, reassures NASA

    How about “Large asteroid taunts us by hinting at a quick and merciful ending, but fails to deliver”?

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kit: RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! becaus that rabbit’s dynamite!

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Tulsi… she is SO playing the long game…

    Since she has he one delegate from American Samoa, now she qualifies for the debate stage with only three other contenders!

    Yes… one delegate to rule them all… My Preciousssss…..

  18. Mu Yixiao says:


    Depending on the browser you’re using, AdBlock+ and NoScript plug-ins are a god-send. I’ve had to browse without them a couple times, and I have no clue how people do it.

  19. Jen says:

    @sam: Good to know, thanks, I will add that to Firefox.

    I should note that I use different browsers based on what work I’m doing–I have adblocker enabled on one, but much of my work entails going to sites that require you to disable an adblocker to read the content, so I just do all of that work with a different browser rather than turning the adblocker on/off or whitelisting. It’s a monumentally different web experience when I am not using an adblocker.

  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    It’s being reported that Warren will drop out today.
    I know she is closer to Sanders, ideologically…but I hope she endorses Biden, for the good of the party and the country.

  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Warren was my preferred candidate, although I never really saw the path.
    We need a President like Warren.
    I don’t think we are ready for a President like Warren.
    Smart, assertive, powerful, thoughtful.
    Right now I think we all need to get behind Biden. I hope she agrees.

  22. sam says:


    You could also install uBlock Origin along with uMatrix. You can read about them both here.

  23. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    At work, I can’t install anything on my PC without authorization from IT. the hassle is just not worth it.

    At home, I’ve tried ad blockers. at first they were ok, but then I hit largely blank pages telling me to turn off the ad blocker so the content would load. I’m thinking of moving back to Firefox and trying again. But if I can’t read a site because it’s too cluttered, or because it won’t load due to ad blockers, the outcome is effectively the same.

    Maybe I have a knack for ignoring distractions (I get lots of practice at our crowded office with the radio on most of the day), or maybe I’m just not good at noticing things.

  24. grumpy realist says:

    Looks like the new play toy of those-who-want-to-be-scared is the coronavirus. The DT is having great fun writing panic-stricken articles and how the U.K. is doomed, DOOMED I tell you! Ditto my ex-friend, who has been littering his Facebook feed with the worst of the conspiracy theory postings out there. When did he turn into such a weenie? And why?

  25. Teve says:

    I can’t do normal browser plug-ins on this here iPad, so I’ve got an app called Adblock Focus that routes all my traffic through a VPN, and the VPN strips all the ads away.

    It’s on the Apple store, so that gives me some amount of trust, but I don’t know whose VPN it is so I don’t do banking when it’s on.

  26. de stijl says:

    @Teve: @Mu Yixiao:

    Pull quotes are there in on-line pubs because the art team is bored and underutilized. They can play with the layout and test new fonts and backgrounds. I like black Tommy over light purple right justified, says one bored dude. The boss says “Do it!” Ta da, useless eye-catching doo dad was added.

    Sucks to be the art team. After the aesthetic has been established, there is not a whole lot to actually do until the next overhaul.

  27. grumpy realist says:

    Interesting article from NPR covering the difference in death rates between what happened in Wuhan and what has been happening–well, everywhere else.

    One thing the article doesn’t mention is that there seem to be two strains of coronavirus–the first, a more virulent type (which is what was supposedly seen in Wuhan). Second is the milder type which it seems to have mutated into. (The DT, like usual, gets it ass-backwards, claiming that the more recent virus is the more virulent one.)

    I suspect that this damned thing will have soon mutated into being a typical flu and will be no more lethal than any other of the flus we have to deal with during the winter. Note that it is killing off the old, the already-health-compromised, and the worked-to-death doctors/nurses (literally).

  28. Teve says:

    @de stijl: I do hate online fads. Remember when as you scrolled down in an article, every website had an inch thick banner that followed you all the way? That was fucking horrible. I had to install CSS deFuck-u-lators to get rid of that shit. At least it finally went away.

  29. Mister Bluster says:

    @Bill:..When they tell you not to panic… that’s when you run!

    Trump says “Go to work” with corona virus. You will be OK.

  30. Teve says:

    @grumpy realist: 3,089 confirmed cases in Italy, 109 deaths. 162 confirmed cases in the US, 11 deaths. 52 cases in Australia, 2 deaths.

    I think the death rate is lower than these numbers suggest because there are unknown infected people roaming around, but it’s not looking mild.

  31. Teve says:

    I work in a retail store in Florida and handle elderly people‘s phones all the time. I could be Typhoid Teve.

  32. de stijl says:

    Why did no one tell me how great Frostpunk is?!

    I knew about it when it came out, and “Bah, another city builder, pass”, but it truly is amazing. I have been awake since 7 am yesterday. My eyes hurt. My brain is fried. I will crash hard later.

    It is crazy hard. The moral choices are brutal.

    This game has kicked my ass so hard since yesterday afternoon.

    I can do this. No way am I going to spoil myself and Google how to min max this.

    The key is, actually I have no idea what the key is-gather resources, deploy folks, research new tech. It’s mechanics are simple, but really harsh. You have to monitor discontent very carefully.

    I thought I was an a good path then my workers rebelled and they shanked me because I pushed the “Emergency Shift” too many times too often.

    This game is brutal.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    Interesting and sad article at The NY Times about the fallout from anti Semitic incidents at a NJ military school. My reaction is pretty much the same as with that Kentucky Catholic HS incident: the tragedy of adults put into positions of power over young people who have neither the sense nor the moral character necessary to guide them.

  34. Moosebreath says:

    On the subject of things we hate on websites, I would include sites (like Vox) where if you click on an article and once you finish reading it want to go back to the main page, it won’t let you, and instead it takes you back to whatever site you were on beforehand. I guess they think they are goosing their number of visits that way.

  35. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Second is the milder type which it seems to have mutated into.

    Makes sense. A variant that makes the host less sick and doesn’t kill them, which lets the host move around spreading the variant longer, will reproduce far more than a more virulent variant that incapacitates the host and kills them.

    This doesn’t mean all viruses will evolve this way, they need to acquire one or more mutations first. But it does mean many viruses tend to evolve in this manner. remember the “purpose” is to produce more copies of the virus, not to kill the host.

  36. de stijl says:


    Buzzfeed makes my brain hurt.

    I do like the endlessly recycled content. It amuses me. Stuff blatantly grabbed from various subreddits.

    Their are people at Buzzfeed whose job it us to rip off actual original thought and content and pass it on as their own. Add a ht disclaimer after if the original author complains.

    Plus updates on beefs between youtubers. My fave was between Bhad Bharbie and Skai Jackson.

    It is bullshit cubed, end of the empire, fall of Rome degeneracy. Future historians will write about this era.

  37. PJ says:

    One would think, considering that the elderly are the most vulnerable to the corona virus and that they voted for Trump, that he would be a lot more concerned about the virus and trying to stop it. Well, unless he’s planning to use it to postpone the general election.

  38. grumpy realist says:
  39. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    The linked article quoting Rush Limbaugh. “All superpower nations weaponize bioweapons.”

    No s**t, Sherlock. And they weaponize chemical weapons, and nuclear weapons, and conventional weapons.

    When will this weaponization of weapons stop?

    One would take reports of a bioweapon escaping the lab seriously, were not every new disease, and many older ones, claimed to be bioweapons escaping the lab.

  40. de stijl says:


    I could not handle retail.

    Did it briefly as a very young pup. Never again.

    Many of our neighbors are nasty, ill-mannered people incapable of completing a simple transaction without creating pointless drama.

    I 86’d a guy who used Jew as an active verb at me.

    Had politely told him twice to knock it off. I made a smidge over minimum and the owner sets the prices. Sir, I am assuredly not trying to Jew you out of your money. I cannot haggle. Buy it at that price or leave, those are the options. We are way down a path I did not sign up for.

    Dude called manager. I got fired. Optimal solution all around.

    Wasn’t worst job I ever had, but top three.

  41. de stijl says:


    Slate used to have the most annoying feature where every back triggered a refresh that dumped you at the top.

    You can’t blame that on the art folks. That is basic UI functionality.

  42. Bill says:

    The opening of the next James Bond film, No Time to Die, has been pushed back from April* to November. Was this due to just the Corona virus, Producers worried about poor box results, or both. I think both.

    The last JB film, SPECTRE, I consider one of the worst entries in the franchise’s history. Only Moonraker and Die Another Day are definitely worse. I’ve seen all of the movies of course, and have bought them through Amazon.

    *- The original premiere date, April 9 for the United States, I thought was a poor choice. That is Holy Thursday or 3 days before Easter. Some moviegoers are going to wait till after the holiday weekend if that date had held. Including me and the wife who normally see them on opening day.

  43. de stijl says:


    Does it support white-listing? I like giving the small marginal revenue to sites I like and trust.

    Sorry, that was rude. I could look that up.
    [looks it up].

    Yes, you can, but you have to manually edit the filter file. Boo!

    White-listing should be easier. Click to allow.

    My rule of thumb for autorun ads on folks sites I like and trust, is anything less than a minute I let run. Anything longer gets skipped.

    Any political ad gets super skipped.

  44. DrDaveT says:


    I think the death rate is lower than these numbers suggest

    Most of the reports on mortality rates that I see completely fail to account for the fact that most confirmed cases have not yet resolved, and many (most) cases have not been confirmed.

    If you look only at resolved cases (i.e. already died or recovered), in every new location you have an initial peak in mortality rate (due to being taken by surprise in the local health system?) followed by a slow decline in cumulative mortality. Worldwide, the cumulative mortality within resolved cases has been declining steadily, and is now under 6%*. The good news is that the worldwide number of unresolved confirmed cases has also been declining, and is now at about 40k, down from a peak just under 60k.

    *ETA: This is of course an overestimate of the lethality of the disease, because people who were never sick enough to realize they had COVID-19 are missing from the denominator.

  45. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Rand Paul is the lone no-vote in funding for COVID-19.
    What a fuqing douche.

  46. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    C’mon…Die another Day was worth it solely for Halle Barry walking out of the ocean.

  47. Bill says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: A review at Amazon, titled ‘Threw it away years ago*’, pretty much sums up what I think of Die Another day.


    Or what I think the Producers should have done with this disgrace of a movie.

    Where do I start on Die Another Day’s problems.

    1 Terrible CGI.
    2 The Invisible car
    3 Terrible CGI
    4 A horrendous title song
    5 Terrible CGI
    6 James Bond surfing in Iceland.
    7 Terrible CGI
    8 Predictable (Miranda Frost) and recycled plot (Satellite weapon. Diamonds are Forever anyone?)
    9 Terrible CGI
    10 Bond returning to Graves lair not once but three times.

    Die another Day has other problems but it has been a while since I watched it. Did I mention that the CGI were really bad?

    The film did open promisingly with the hovercraft chase and Bond being captured but it degenerated quickly after that.


    I could also mention the sci-fi elements of the plot that had a Cuban doctor who could turn Will Yun Lee into Toby Stephens. Sounds like something right out of the stories I write, but my stories are sci-fi and the JB series doesn’t consider itself that. Oh well.

    At my Wikipedia User page, I have a userbox that says DAD is the worst James Bond film.

    *- Its a quote from the film where JB replies to M after being reminded he had a cyanide tablet.

  48. Gustopher says:

    I’ve been impressed with Jay Inslee’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in Seattle, and the entire local government’s response so far (lots of emergency funding, paying for uninsured people’s tests, racing to set up quarantine centers…). It could all be a complete fiasco, but it’s a very plausible sounding fiasco.

    I know he’s a boring technocrat in a lot of ways, but this is the first time that I’ve noticed that we have a governor.

    I’d say that if he keeps this up he should get a VP nod, but we might still need him.

  49. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Again…Halle Barry walking out of the ocean.
    I don’t remember the rest of that stuff…

  50. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Concur on Halle Barry. That was well framed and shot.

    I saw Moonraker in a theater original release. I now have to look up release date and figure out how old I was.

    I was 15. And knew even then how smacking terrible that film was. I felt I had been ripped off of the cost of a ticket. It was a cheat.

    It wasn’t that Bond wasn’t Connery because that switched awhile ago, it was because it was a garbage cartoony mess seemingly written and filmed by a team of precocious 8 year old kids plucked from a focus group session gone terribly awry. No adult supervision. Spit-balling on screen.

    Callow me lacked the critical sense and vocabulary to tell you why is sucked, but 15 year old me knew immediately it did indeed suck major donkey balls.

  51. Mister Bluster says:


    After two years of Jr. College I continued my Quest for Knowledge at SleepyTown U in 1968 where the tution and fees, including book rental, amounted to $105.15/semester. My share split 4 ways of the house rent was about $25/month + utilities. Even then we could not afford a telephone.
    I ended up borrowing $5000 in student loans. After not attending classes and majoring in sex and drugs and rock and roll and a few political demonstrations (riots) my last term in college was in 1973. I never did get a degree. I finally paid back the $5000 in 1984. Plus interest.

  52. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Libertarians embracing this obviously corrupt bottom feeder as their white knight tells you everything you need to know about him and them.

  53. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Former Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) has come out as gay.
    While in office Schock opposed marriage equality and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,”.
    Too, he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded the federal hate crime law to those targeted because of their sexuality and gender identity. In spite of his opposition it became law in 2009.
    Another Republican, hypocritical, piece of shit.

  54. de stijl says:

    Colbert had a recurring bit where he ran a focus group of kids where they spitballed out a movie.

    Colbert + kids pitch.

    I know there at least two: Teeange War and Strangest Things (season 1): The Golden Mystery.

    Those were good pitches. Idina Menzel in the role of Bob was spot on casting.

    Colbert as focus group leader was scary good. The way he included everyone and echoed back what he heard. Moved the discussion forward while acknowledging what had just been discussed in a natural manner.

    I would hire that guy.

    The problem with focus groups is that they self select and know it is monitored so people perform rather than be. So you get community theater version of consumer rather than actual.

    Schrodinger’s focus group. It knows it is being observed so alters behavior and statements to please the observer.

  55. de stijl says:


    Boring technocrats are cool.

    We need more.

    Charisma is a dump stat.

  56. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    This is my Schocked face.

  57. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @de stijl:
    Maybe Lindsey Graham is next?

  58. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Coming out is a good and brave step.

    He has time to atone.

    Appreciate his honesty.

    Schock and aww

    (Sorry! I am a sucker for bad puns.)

  59. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    At what point does an open secret stop being a secret?

    That decision is entirely Graham’s. I do not like his politics and especially not his submission to Trump, but who he bangs (adult, consensual) is not my business.

    If he wants to share he can. His choice.

  60. Tyrell says:

    @Teve: I recently looked at some figures comparing the rise in college costs compared to other things such as a car and house. I was shocked.
    With any proposals of paying off tuition, these increases should be addressed.
    Just think how long it would take a beginning teacher to pay off their tuition. And that includes working a summer job.
    If I call a hvac technician out, they will charge $100 just to look at our unit. There is a lesson there somewhere.

  61. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @de stijl:
    Remember…a pun isn’t mature until it is full-groan.
    Yup…I don’t care…but I hold a special contempt for people who hurt others, while hiding themselves.

  62. Mu Yixiao says:


    One of the reasons for that spike in tuition costs is all the aid from the government–including the ease of getting government-backed loans. Universities realized that they can jack up the prices and still get paid–by the government.

    If “free college” becomes a thing, you can expect those tuition (and additional) costs to jump a whole lot more.

  63. Kit says:

    @Bill: I thought the sword fight was very well done.

  64. Mikey says:

    Judge Reggie Walton doesn’t sound too pleased with AG Barr:

    …[T]he Court cannot reconcile certain public representations made by Attorney General Barr with the findings in the Mueller Report. The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary.
    These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr’s lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr’s credibility…

    “Lack of candor.” In federal legal speak, that means he lied.

    It’s not every day a federal judge says the Attorney General of the United States lacked candor and questions his credibility.

  65. de stijl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I enjoyed that. That was due pun-ishment.

    I know where you are coming from and it is a good a righteous place. I value fairness and justice most highly.

    (I am so glad some big brain figured out that political alignment meshes quite tightly with value prioritization.)

    But Graham’s private personal time is his alone. He as a politician has not been focused on bashing. He does fly the R flag though, which has.

    Bush 2004 campaign ran on so-called preservation of marriage as a central issue. Basically, state driven amendments effectively banning SSM constitutionally.

    That was not very long ago.

    Thankfully, the world has moved on from that nonsense.

    I am conflicted about Graham.

    1. We do not know, we assume
    2. Not our business
    3. His choice

    I will argue to leave Graham alone on this but doggedly pursue him on submissively toadying up to Trump.

    His turnabout from all but declared Never Trump to sycophantic cheerleader is sickening.

    Granted, I might be off the mark. I tick all the privilege boxes: white, male, straight, cis. Sometimes nuances pass under my regard.

  66. Kathy says:

    I’m convinced it’s impossible to go a whole month without some sort of fight with the IT department. Last month it was about the toner policy. I won, but only by calling the head IT guy at 3 am one Wednesday to request more toner.

    This month, sparing the tedious, arcane details, I asked for account numbers for the expenses software, and they changed the default accounts to the ones I asked about. Problem: those account for like 1% of my expense reports, and the original defaults for like 95%. Now they say they can’t keep changing them around.

    I think someone’s getting a call at 3 am tomorrow…

  67. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    My first job was Toys R Us at age 16, at Christmas. But I was a stock clerk and didn’t have to deal with the public, aside from improving the anatomical accuracy of Ken and Barbie dolls, which I’m sure the customers appreciated. And occasionally I might have to respond to the cries of a patron who found a Cabbage Patch doll hanging from the overstock shelf. Other than that I shunned the humans and they shunned me. I’d argue both sides in that had good reason. No one but a psychopath buys a Cabbage Patch doll.

    I also waited tables for a lot of years and don’t remember any real trouble with patrons. It may be the 6’2″, 225, resting prick face that did it. Or maybe they sensed I was the kind of guy who’d hang a doll. May have been a vibe I put off.

  68. Monala says:

    @Teve: SNL’s skit, Millennial Millions, captured this perfectly. It was a game show in which Millennial contestants spun the wheel and landed on prizes, which they could keep if and only if they could silently withstand 30 seconds of being lectured by a Boomer. So when one contestant, who had a master’s degree but could only find a job at Burger King (the other contestant was an unpaid intern at Google), landed on “$100,000 of debt forgiveness,” he was thrilled. “That will pay off half my student loans!” he declared. But he then had to listen to a Boomer scolding him about why he shouldn’t have had so much in student loans in the first place, and instead should have worked his way through school like the Boomer had. The Millennial contestant couldn’t take it without reacting.

    Meanwhile, the Gen X game show host laughs at both of them, saying, “I’m just sitting back watching the world burn!”

  69. de stijl says:


    Careful not to poison your own well.

    A tightly constructed email with judicious use of cc’s and perhaps a bcc could resolve it before going full nuclear.

    Feel free to ping me. I am the master of passive-agressiveness. Documentation is your friend.

  70. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I agree with de Stilj on this. Coming out is brave, especially for a person who has staked out the political positions he has. And while I can empathize with your thinking him a “hypocritical piece of shit,” a better way to look at it might be found in this Carly Simon lyric from my childhood…

    Their children hate them for the things they’re not/They hate themselves for what they are

  71. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Long story, not worth getting into, but the 3 am call was his idea, so it’s far from nuclear.

  72. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    If I call a hvac technician out, they will charge $100 just to look at our unit. There is a lesson there somewhere.

    There is. The lesson is that the hvac guy charges you what he thinks you will pay and the teacher’s salary is based on what the citizens are willing to tax themselves for educating other people’s children.

    Considering that the market always provides the best services for the smallest amount of money, there’s no telling how much he could make if the citizens set his salary based on how much they would tax themselves for his work. We sure dodged a bullet on that deal.

  73. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Resting prick face has now officially been entered into the lexicon.

    Retail and me was a bad fit.

    I was also 16, maybe 15.

    It was at an independent convenience store.

    Cigs, beer, soda, sundries, an aisle of groceries, wank books. Normal kit.

    It provided some small service to the nearby community. And I facilitated their transactions. I was infallibly gracious and blandly pleasant. There was a “Good morning” or afternoon or evening to every customer. A thank you after every sale.

    Dude could be buying cigs, condoms, spaghetti’o’s, and a wank book (actual transaction) and dude would get a “Thank you, sir. Have a nice day.” My brain would spin out the possibilities of that guy’s life.

    My stint was brief but illustrative. A lot of people lead lives of quiet desperation. Thankfully there were no public restrooms. You reveal a lot about yourself by what you buy. I learned not to judge strangers too harshly. Speed can help you through a shift if you were up all last night. All good things to learn.

  74. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Fine, but I doubt that Barr really cares much about what the judge thinks. I expect that the consequence for his “lack of candor” will look similar to the consequence suffered by a building principal I worked for years ago who falsified a student’s transcript so that he could get a high school diploma that he hadn’t earned (a class B felony in that state, BTW)–a stern warning not to do it again from the school board and promotion to district superintendent 2 years later.

  75. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    Everyone should have a public-facing, low-status job for at least a year. Better than college for understanding humans. If you pay attention there are definitely lessons, some good, some not so much.

    Whenever my wife and I start to buy our own bullshit we can whip out the two Polaroids of us cleaning public toilets, in our thirties. We get an, “Oh yeah, that’s us, we are those people,” corrective. It instilled in me a deep unwillingness ever to be an asshole to a working person. It would be utterly impossible for me to like someone who was a dick to a waiter. It’s not quite the level of a child-molester, but there’s a baked-in hatred for people who punch down.

    I’ve seen some writers lose their grip when they begin to succeed. And truth be told, so did we at first, but it’s grounding to be able to repeat drop-out, clerk, gopher, burglar, waiter, cleaner…

  76. de stijl says:


    I trust you have a good handle on it. You’re a good egg.

    If things do go sideways in the future, a tip.

    Send an email neutrally recounting the interaction. Note the time and manner / place. CC your boss and their’s. End with “Please let me know if I am mischaracterizing anything.”

    That is a virtual war declaration. They know you are establishing a documentation chain. Make sure you are in the right and you may want run it by your boss first before hitting send. Title it “Recapping our conversation”.

    I am the evil genius of passive-aggressive emails. The CC line is the message. Bwah ha ha hah! I have solved your office politics, puny humans!

  77. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: I have an adblocker on firefox. When I hit those pages I just say, “I didn’t really need to read your shit anyway.” I know they are trying to support their work with ads and if they didn’t repeatedly destroy the whole idea of “browsing on the internet” with their bullshit popups and videos I’d be happy to let them earn a few bucks that way. But as is, fuck that shit. I support the places I go to regularly but everybody else still has to earn my bucks.

  78. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My first stab at signing on to a non-corporate gig with no salary and no health care plan renews my soul but was so scary.

    I spent 15 years bootstrapping myself out of nowhere going nowhere into a semi functional adult with a credit card and marketable skills.

    At first I was quite impressed with new boss. In the next month as I got to know him better, he consistently always ordered off menu, or combinations of dishes. He was polite and gracious and not overtly rude. Charming, and quite the gentlement. Standard tipper.

    I am more of a stand-up there or take-out back to desk guy. Sit down dining with service is not my preferred food intake mode.

    Every time we ate out he asked for more of this or less of that, combine x with y. Very graciously, quite politely. It became creepy.

    My friend Greg started up his own shop. Brian came aboard. Wren was in. I bailed on picky eater guy and spent my carefully hoarded bounty to buy in. That was a scary day, month, year.

    Best decision ever.

    We had zero overhead. No liabilities. Our assets were our skills. Everyone kicked 20% back to the pot to be shared equally.

    It worked out, but I wrote a lot of RFPs that first year. At least I was in my jammies at home.

    I knew I could always go back to the corporate route, but I didn’t want that. Thankfully, I never had to again.

    What’s weird is that my speciality is not that dauntingly hard. If you are bright and curious, give me a month, and I can teach you. The implementation is easy scut work.

  79. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    One day, working in a Hardware aisle at Home Depot, my last nerve frayed. I looked at the guy and just said, “ You’ve never worked retail a day in your life, have you?” And to his credit, he actually stopped harassing me and shut up. 😀

  80. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:
    @Michael Reynolds:

    I lost the thread previously by patting my own back so hard which is a bad practice. That needs to stop.

    Order off menu guy was not explicitly punch down. He was infalliably polite and quite charming.

    However, every meal made for him had to be especially created for him to his specs.

    He insisted on being special. Cater to my whims. I desire butter braised lark tongues nestled on a bed of guanciale, minions! Chop chop!

    Not sure if that is bona fides punching down, but he was establishing dominance. Which is a dick move.

    Made the right call in bailing.

  81. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I worked 13 years waiting tables. The last place….the worst place, and yet still the best place….we had a lot of senior citizens. The kind who routinely argue whether the ribs are pork or beef, despite it specifically stating on the menu that they were pork ribs. The manager bringing the Sysco box out to the nasty “regular old man” to show him the ingredients did not work. Every Friday, he showed up, complained, and got his food for free.

    Til I came along. I have that little “wink and a tilt”, you see, old people loved it. They’d leave chewing gum for the other gals, complain to the manager about their food, get it for free….they had literally run brand new waitresses I’d spent a lot of time training off on their first full night on the Friday night floor.

    I had some Irish guys on the grill one night, I think they’d had like 5 days on the big fire grill where they had to be fancy and cook the food in public. They’d been warned, the whole crew stood up and paid attention when the Friday Senior Citizen Coupon Rush walked in the door. YES!!! King of the Bitcher’s was in the lead.

    I flounced my way on up there and personally led him and his crew of fellow old men to their table. They all ordered the ribs. I winked at Robin on the grill from across the floor, and he got their shit ready.

    It was the first time these guys ever LOVED their food. No complaints, used their coupons, left me a $20 (pretty big for old people on half price coupons in the 90’s), my manager breathed a sigh of relief when they left the restaurant. He asked Robin what he did to make the ribs so much better this time.

    “I walked around with them in my shorts all afternoon while I was prepping food.”

    Poor Nate (the manager). He went goggle-eyed and his mouth opened and closed like a fish, then just walked away. 😉

    Never ever EVER fuck with your retail or food workers.

  82. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Never be embarrassed by spending money you earned. Just don’t be a dick about it.

    Buy as much expensive shit as you want, but be modest during the actual transaction.

    Afterwards, you can cackle evilly and roll about on your pimp sized bed stuffed with hundies. Bathe in a tub of imported alpaca blood. Be you.

    Most Expensivest is awesome because 2 Chainz continually undercuts the premise and preaches frugality.

  83. de stijl says:


    Someone watched Fight Club recently.

  84. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Actually, do you want to know what I did all day? I fixed a front left side tractor tire on a 120 HP tractor.

    But while I did it, I argued with a Trump friend on whether it was actually flat or not. I declared the tire was not flat. He’s like….”ummmm, do you want to talk to my tire guy?”

    No, I don’t want to talk to your tire guy, nor do I want to read the owner’s manual, and I stated the only reason he wanted me to do so was because he was biased against flat tires. “Many people say” you can drive on flat tires, so that’s what I was gonna do. 😉

    It took him a bit.

  85. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    It’s why if I had to get a job I’d much rather work for a woman. Most men just can’t stop playing some kind of dominance game and I just won’t have it. If I’m in a subordinate role I immediately become Iago. I will totally convince you to murder your wife.

    I reject alpha and beta roles, I don’t want to play that game at all, I just find it tedious, and I can’t possibly respect a man so needy he has to play those games. There are times I’ve just wanted to say, don’t you understand that the mere fact you want to play dominance games means you’re weak? It means you need something from me. That’s power in my hands, power just given to me, gratis. How am I supposed to take a guy seriously who’d just hand me his balls like that?

    It’s one of the reasons I have such contempt for Trumpies. Strutting little wanna-be alphas who are weak little betas inside, all with daddy issues. Love me far away Orange Daddy, love me! I’m gonna grow up just like you, Orange Daddy, because secretly I know I”m a piece of shit and so are you, Orange Daddy, bestest daddy ever.

    So many boys out there desperate to be men and not knowing how.

  86. de stijl says:


    I played Frostpunk all day. Indoors.

    I drank tea with half and half with a smooch of honey.

    I had some Tang. I found a can of Mountain Dew in the back of the fridge.

    Caffeine! Gimme!

    A burger with provolone and raw white onion. Tater tots.

    I had a beer. A local IPA not too tart.

    You did actual work today. I faffed about doing nothing at all.

    I win! Totally!

    Faffing about is very relaxing. You had to deal with stress and annoying people. I had tea and played Frostpunk. Compare and contrast.

    I have been awake far too long.

  87. Mister Bluster says:


    No one is surprised that you worship your hero Witch Doctor Trump because as he has confessed he sexually molests women and screws porn stars to commit adultery.

  88. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I’ve already made my preference known for a Friday afternoon nap today. We shall see if the tires, snow and cattle agree. 😉

    On the plus side, I saw running water outside, and a 2 ft patch of actual dirt. Everything’s been frozen, still and silent for so long, it was amazing! Also, I think I saw a blade of green grass under a recently shrunken snow bank!

  89. Michael Reynolds says:

    When have I ever tried to convince anyone of my normalcy, you imbecile? You think a professional fiction author with something like 30,000 published pages, 6,000,000 words on paper, creator of $150,000,000 worth of IP, doesn’t know what he’s putting on the fucking page?

    You gormless old man, there is never a time when I don’t know what story I’m telling. Never. You’re a retired, never-very-smart, ‘businessman.’ I’m the guy who between ages 60 and 65 wrote 11 books, 4500 pages, not counting the two TV pilot scripts and the feature script.

    Stick to golf with your fellow sundowners. Go have some early bird chicken noodle at the Souplantation. Idiot.