Thursday’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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    High levels of PFAS discharged into the Cape Fear River from a Chemours plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina, are likely making local alligators sick with autoimmune disorders that appear similar to human diseases like lupus, a new study finds.

    The peer-reviewed study, published Thursday in the Frontiers in Toxicology journal, tested blood from alligators in the Cape Fear watershed that have been exposed to Chemours pollution for decades. The alligators showed extremely high levels of PFAS compounds and markers of immune disease in their blood.

    “This really highlights the damage that we’re seeing across the ecosystem from PFAS, and shows we’re just starting to scratch the surface of their impacts,” said North Carolina State University researcher and study co-author Scott Belcher. “The idea that they’re going to be around and contaminating water systems for the foreseeable future is truly shocking.”
    The new study compared Cape Fear alligators with a cohort from Lake Waccamaw in a neighboring watershed not subjected to direct Chemours pollution. Cape Fear alligators’ blood showed much higher PFAS levels, and had twice as many compounds, including Chemours-produced chemicals like Nafion byproduct 2 and GenX.

    The expressions of interferon-alpha responsive genes in the Cape Fear River alligators were 400 times higher than those of the Lake Waccamaw alligators. Interferon alpha is a secreted immune protein involved in stimulating immune response, and the type that Belcher’s team checked for responds to viral infections.
    The most unusual finding was a high number of unhealed or infected lesions on the alligators’ skin, which Belcher said is “super incommon”. Alligators’ lesions usually heal quickly, and the issue suggested immune system interference.

    As the immortal Tom Lehrer said, “Don’t drink the water and don’t breath the air.”

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A beloved Seattle-area dog known for riding the bus around the major US city by herself in order to get to the dog park has died at the the age of 10. Eclipse, a black Labrador, had become a firm Seattle favorite and also famous around the world for her solo trips on public transport.

    The strange phenomenon began in 2015 when her owner, Jeff Young, was finishing a cigarette and failed to notice in time that Eclipse had got on the bus by herself. The bus then drove off but Eclipse exited at the correct stop and was later found by Young happily playing at her usual dog park. She then made regular solo trips to the park, usually two to three times per week. A friend to all, she became well known in her community and especially among fellow bus riders who enjoyed petting the pup on their commute.

    RIP, Eclipse.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Liz Truss has resigned as prime minister after just 45 days in office.

    The announcement, made by Truss outside Downing Street, follows the near-complete evaporation of her political authority which has seen her crash the markets, lose two key ministers and shed the confidence of almost all her own MPs.

    Truss will be the shortest-serving prime minister in UK history.

    Buh bye, Liz.

  4. JohnSF says:

    But what fresh hell shall follow?

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What a pregnancy actually looks like before 10 weeks – in pictures

    Abortion is now banned or severely restricted in 14 states in the US, the outcome of a decades-long campaign by anti-abortion advocates. In many states, abortion is no longer seen as a health procedure, but a morality issue. Pennsylvania’s Doug Mastriano – once a state senator, now running for governor – is one of a number of Republican politicians who has called for murder charges for people who defy abortion bans.

    In 13 of those 14 states, abortion is banned even in the earliest stages of pregnancy.

    These images, supplied to us by the MYA Network, a network of clinicians and activists who came together earlier in the pandemic when some states tried to deem abortion as “non-essential” medical care, show what tissue in the first nine weeks of pregnancy actually looks like.

    No, you won’t see any of these pictures on anti abortion placards.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No edit function, wanted to add:

    “Often people don’t speak to anyone about getting an abortion. They make a very quiet, private decision because they’re afraid to see people’s reactions. And then I do this simple procedure that’s a few minutes longer than a Pap test. For those who choose to look at the tissue, you can literally feel the tension come down. People have been on this emotional roller coaster. And they’re like, ‘You’re kidding. This is all that was?’” says Fleischman.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JohnSF: Only time will tell what you are about to be subjected to.

  8. JohnSF says:

    All hail Lord Lettuce.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    What was that about all political trends ending as a racket?

    (This one looks to be far-right loopy bingo. Couldn’t have happened to a better bunch of bastards, as the saying goes. I originally pulled up the article because $1M is small change when it comes to movie-making and I was wondering why people were even bothering making a stink.)

  10. Kathy says:


    They should be in all pro-choice placards. Along with the words “Show me the heart.”

  11. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Latest post-Roe horror story:

    ‘This is the best version of the story’: Texas couple shares tale of stillbirth post-Roe state bans

    “The loss of my daughter was inevitable. What happened next was not.”

    So begins a personal essay by Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman who suffered a miscarriage but had to wait days before it was considered life-threatening before getting treatment. A TikTok video posted Tuesday takes viewers through Zurawski’s story in the wake of Texas’ strict abortion ban.

    The video, which was also shared on YouTube, was posted by the account @drjenniferlincoln and is the first in a series of videos highlighting women who say they have been affected by new abortion restrictions passed in states like Texas. The five-minute video has received more than 250,000 views and 34,000 likes since being posted Tuesday afternoon.

    Zurawski was told that she had an “incompetent cervix,” a condition in which the cervix prematurely dilates, usually during the second-trimester of pregnancy, often leading to premature birth. The loss of her daughter was inevitable, Zurawski was told.

    “I was left wanting to get either so sick that my life was at risk or that my baby’s heart would stop beating so it could be over,” Zurawski says through tears in the video.

    Zurawski further explained that she was told there was nothing the doctors could do, and that she and her husband weren’t able to make the decision for themselves to end the pregnancy early, despite the baby’s death inside the womb.

    In Texas, doctors can be sentenced to life in prison for performing an abortion, except in cases where the life of the mother is threatened. Texas is surrounded by multiple states where abortions face similar restrictions, except in New Mexico. That made it difficult for the couple, who live in Austin, to leave the state in order to terminate the “doomed pregnancy.”

    Finally, Amanda was admitted to the hospital with a fever of 102 degrees, and doctors were then allowed to deliver the stillborn child.

    Unfortunately, that was not the end. There was complications and sepsis.

    “This is the best version of the story,” Amanda says. “That I was in the ICU for a week but I didn’t die.”

  12. Kathy says:

    IMO, Biden needs to explain where the Ukraine aid money goes.

    For instance, much of it, the aid for weapons, will go to the companies that make the weapons. This could mean US or European manufacturers, depending on the weapons provided. It’s like the line by Churchill in “Darkest Hours,” when he tells Roosevelt Britain “paid you for the planes with the money you loaned us.”

    Something similar happens with humanitarian aid, though that’s more flexible because there are more manufacturers of , say, medical supplies than weapons.

    What does not happen is the US transfers $X billions to Ukraine and then Zelenskyy goes shopping online.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: There was complications and sepsis.

    Well, it’s not like women are real people, right?

  14. Kylopod says:

    One thing I’ve noticed about urban legends over the years is how often people spread them by claiming the incident in question happened to a friend. For example, anyone remember the story about Eddie Murphy in the elevator with a scared white lady? In an interview, Murphy had this to say about the story:

    “There’s a story I was on an elevator with 10 bodyguards. An old lady was there. One bodyguard said, ‘Hit the floor,’ as in ‘press the button.’ The old lady got scared and dropped to the floor. And we were so embarrassed, and we helped her up, and sent her flowers and paid her hotel bill, and it never happened! Here’s the clincher: Whenever I go, ‘No, it never happened,’ they always say, ‘Yes, it did. My cousin was there.’”

    Well, just the other day Joe Rogan repeated the story about litter boxes being installed in schools because there are kids identifying as furries. This story has been making the rounds on conservative media for months now despite its having been repeatedly debunked by reporters who have looked into it. But here’s the kicker: Rogan claimed it happened at a school where the wife of a friend of his works.

    Now, I totally don’t trust Rogan as an honest actor. It would not shock me to learn he lies through his teeth. Still, I think the broader phenomenon of people repeating false stories by claiming they happened to someone they know is probably some form of the Mandela effect. People’s minds can play tricks on them when there’s a big enough motivation.

  15. Mu Yixiao says:

    It’s a long read, but… wow.

    Texts from Sen. Kelly Loeffler show collusion to overthrow the vote on Jan 6.

    US Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jody Hice also involved.

  16. CSK says:

    Welp. Michael Steele, the former head of the RNC, has called the MAGAs “lice, fleas, and blood-sucking ticks.”

  17. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Subscriber only.

  18. Mu Yixiao says:


    Weird. I’m not a subscriber, and I got to read the whole thing.

    I wonder if it’s because of my ad-blocker/script-blocker add-ons? Nope. Just tried it in a guest window. Able to see the entire thing.

    Try this:

  19. Neil Hudelson says:


    The book Freakonomics had a story about a woman who named her sons Orangejello and Lemonjello. Ever since that book came out–what, nearly 2 decades ago?–at least once a year someone tells me about how they know/their child’s classmate/their neighbor’s son, etc has two classmates named Orangejello and Lemonjello, and isn’t it so funny how these people name their kids?

  20. CSK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:


  21. KM says:

    The thing is Rogan might legit know someone who has litter in the classroom but it ain’t because of furries and it likely ain’t in an actual litter box. Kitty litter is absorbent AF and can be used to clean up bodily fluids. If a teacher has some it’s because they need to clean up vomit, blood, urine or any other biological mess and it’s something they can get with their own money. Kinda like how you can use pads or tampons to stop bleeding in an accident, it’s a common product that’s relatively cheap, easy to get and carry for a crisis situation.

    A classroom with kitty litter is planning to use it to sop up blood or urine. Asking why they need to plan for that means confronting uncomfortable truths; better to spread rumors about furries and use a real fact to pass off an ugly lie.

    Also, why wouldn’t the litter box be in the bathroom if it really was legit? Why would including furries mean letting kids poop in plain sight during English? The whole fight over trans kids was letting them in the appropriate bathroom, not creating a new pee space next to Little Jonny in the back of classroom!

  22. Kylopod says:

    @KM: The most charitable interpretation I can come up with for Rogan’s remarks is that the story was sent to him on social media or email by this friend whose wife is a schoolteacher, and Rogan misunderstood it to mean the friend was describing his family’s personal experience and not just passing along something he had heard. That would suggest that Rogan isn’t a liar, just a moron.

  23. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Filed under For Flying Fwks Sake, Vol.27, Ch 19

    Grant Middle School
    School district officials and a high school student in Michigan have drawn the ire of parents who allege that a painted mural contains LGBTQ propaganda, a depiction of Satan and a message of witchcraft.

    Oh FFFS, indeed …

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: LOOKIT THE FURRIES!!!

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: I love this part:

    Afterward, one woman stood up to say, “I feel that she did a really good job finding excuses to defend the things she put on. None of us are that stupid.”

    You’re right, on the 1-10 stupid scale with 10 being the most stupid you rate a 17.

  26. Stormy Dragon says:


    It’s even worse if you know how the whole kitty litter urban legend got started. After Columbine, several school districts in Colorado issued 5 gallon of buckets of kitty litter to classroom, so that if kids ended up trapped in the room for hours during a lockdown, they’d have some place to go in an emergency.

    So basically the Republicans took something that’s the result of their failure to deal with mass shootings and turned it around into a way to attack LGBT+ children and teens.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Is that the Michael Steele who is the turncoat RINO black former head of the RNC? If so, why does his opinion matter to real Murkans?

  28. JohnSF says:

    This is interesting from Dave Keating:

    Big news Macron announces 1st compromise deal at EUCO:
    He has just agreed with Sanchez & Costa to cancel MidCat pipeline across Pyrenees, to be replaced by a “Green Energy Corridor” of multiple pipelines with mainly “renewable gases”.

    And on “renewable gas”, this is something the French have been working on:

    Its aim is to transform electricity into gas so that it can be stored. First of all, excess electricity from renewable sources (wind, solar etc.) is transformed into hydrogen (Power-to-H2) by electrolysis of water. Then comes methanation: the hydrogen is combined with CO2 to produce synthetic methane (Power-to-CH4).

    Current estimated cost are around 70–125 €/MWh.
    Current Dutch futures price is €124 MWh; was €107 earlier this week; hit €300in August.
    As syngas costs are expected to come down, if it is introduced at scale, as such things tend to do, it’s not outside the bounds of likely economic viability.

    And also this:
    A new concept for low-cost batteries
    Potential for new much lower cost batteries using an aluminium/sulphur/chloro-aluminate salt design.
    Also gets round the problems of rare elements (lithium, lead, cobalt etc) needed by other battery types.

    So, routes to solving renewables intermittency/storage issues may be closer than some had feared.

  29. CSK says:
  30. grumpy realist says:
  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Kylopod: You might enjoy Jan Harald Brunvald‘s work. He was an urban anthropologist who specialized in urban legends and wrote several popular books on the topic. I’ve come across a number of them myself, one in particular at least 3 or 4 times. (Little girl kidnapped in a mall, taken to a bathroom, drugged, her long hair cut short and then she’s dressed as a little boy. But the police close down the whole mall and the kidnapper abandons the drugged little girl in the bathroom where she is eventually found. My sister insists this happened at a mall near her to this day, despite nothing in the newspapers, because the “mall owners are powerful and kept the police from reporting it”.)

  32. Rick Smith says:

    @MarkedMan: And despite the fact that the internet makes it easier than ever to verify things, it also lets this kind of garbage spread much faster.

  33. Gustopher says:


    A classroom with kitty litter is planning to use it to sop up blood or urine. Asking why they need to plan for that means confronting uncomfortable truths

    Kids are disgusting?

    I agree that’s uncomfortable, but it’s not like anyone doesn’t know it.

  34. Kathy says:


    Thanks for the recommendation. I have a minor interest in urban legends. I’ll definitely look it up.

  35. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: I expect kids are now setting up litter boxes in classrooms, with signs saying “we support furries”.

    I know I would.

    Anyway, I expect the right wing to have “evidence” soon.

  36. KM says:

    Meant school shootings but yeah, some parents don’t like talking about the fact that children are human beings and need to use the bathroom. You’d be surprised how many parents with little kids get grossed out by the idea that some other kid made a mess. If it’s their child, meh it happens but when another child has an accident or bleeds suddenly OMG gross, how unsanitary the teacher is negligent! Especially if the other child in question is POC / poor / neurodiverent /just plain Other.

    Never underestimate a person’s ability to be offended by anything or any hypocrisy involved.

  37. Kathy says:


    I have vague memories that in pre-school there was a supply of clean underwear in case any children who had accidents.

    And clearer memories that janitors in elementary schools had sacks of sawdust to deal with “spills.”

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: I remember one night at a bar in Benton Park with a buddy and he and I were talking about the very ugly divorce I was going thru. He got up to go to the bathroom and left me there stewing in my juices. I got up walked out the door, up the block to where my old junker truck was. Took a piece of steel pipe out of the bed and proceeded to wale the fuck out of the passenger side gunnel of the truck bed. after a couple minutes I stopped and thru the pipe back in the bed. Took 2 steps, stopped, went back and grabbed the pipe again and waled on it for another 30-45 seconds. That made me feel better. Thru it back into the bed and headed back for the bar. As I walked up to the door, 3 people were looking at me with dinner plate eyes from across the street and I just said, “It’s OK, it’s my truck.” and went back into the bar.

    3 or 4 weeks later I’m sitting at the bar in Molly’s (Soulard, close to Benton Park) and the guy sitting next to me starts telling me this really wild “true” story that his buddy who was there told him. The guy was well into the 8th or 9th minutes before it dawned on me that the story was about me, waling on my truck. The details that got added in were great. Totally fictitious but I had to hear the end of it. For the life of me I can’t remember much at all of it, but it was wild.

  39. Beth says:


    I can’t tell you how much I’d love to be someone’s urban legend.

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Beth: I only heard it the one time, so it probably didn’t last very long. Either that or it mutated beyond all recognition.

  41. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: love it