Thursday’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. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Happy Friday Eve, everyone!

  2. Kylopod says:

    Per our discussion the other day about generations, Ruben Gallego was asked if he has any classified docs lying around, and he said, “I’m a millennial, so I don’t do paper.”

    Gallego was born in 1979.

  3. Jen says:

    @Kylopod: My cousins were born in ’80 and ’83. It’s a strange bracket…they don’t really fit in Gen X or as millennials. I’ve seen “Xennials” used as a term for this microgeneration, which seems to fit.

    More generational bracketing silliness, I suppose.

  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Not surprisingly, Mayor ACAB is shutting down all the programs at Rikers to protect LGBTQ+ prisoners:

    Under Eric Adams, a Rikers Island Unit That Protected Trans Women Has Collapsed

  5. Scott says:

    What could possibly go wrong?

    When May a Robot Kill? New DOD Policy Tries to Clarify

    Did you think the Pentagon had a hard rule against using lethal autonomous weapons? It doesn’t. But it does have hoops to jump through before such a weapon might be deployed—and, as of Wednesday, a revised policy intended to clear up confusion.

    The biggest change in the Defense Department’s new version of its 2012 doctrine on lethal autonomous weapons is a clearer statement that it is possible to build and deploy them safely and ethically but not without a lot of oversight.

    Also “ethical AI”. What the heck is that?

    Pentagon updates autonomous weapons policy to account for AI advances

    The Pentagon’s policy shop released updated guidelines for developing and operating autonomous weapons that incorporates the Defense Department’s vision for ethical artificial intelligence and requires additional reviews for new systems.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pepper spray for the school run? The weaponised SUV set to terrify America’s streets

    While its competitors offer heated seats and optional roof-racks, this souped-up SUV boasts bulletproof glass, blinding strobe lights, electrified doorhandles, and wing mirrors that can shoot pepper spray – handy for putting those pesky cyclists in their place.

    “Vengeance is yours,” trumpets the website, which details how the car can release a dense smoke screen to confuse people following you, as well as detect electromagnetic pulses from nuclear weapons. Always handy for the supermarket run.

    Picking up the kids from school? You can announce your arrival through the car’s booming intercom system. Or why not just drive straight through the gates? The vehicle’s hefty steel ram bumpers and military-grade tyres would make mincemeat of any parking barrier – and dispatch the headteacher while they’re at it.

    One thing oddly missing from the Vengeance (priced from $285,000, rising to $499,000 with all the extras) is a rear windscreen, because of course that would be unsafe. Instead, drivers are treated to a live video rear-view mirror and a front camera overlaid with “augmented reality”. Perhaps it shows an imaginary zombie army for you to mow down on your way to the mall.

    A steal at twice the price!

  7. daryl and his brother darryl says:

    Biden’s destruction of the economy continues, apace.
    GDP rose 2.9% in Q4 of 2022, slightly more than the 2.8% that was expected.
    Weekly jobless claims fell by 6,000, down to 186,000 for the lowest reading since April 2022 and well below the 205,000 Dow Jones estimate.
    Amongst a ton of good economic news there is one concern, though. Fixed residential investment plunged 26.7% pointing to a sharp slide in housing. Housing is often a leading indicator for the economy.
    Thankfully the Crazy Caucus in the House is only interested in pointless investigations. The last thing we need is for them to fuq with anything economic.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Speaker Kevin McCarthy reiterated Tuesday that he will block Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California from serving on the House committee that oversees national intelligence, saying the decision was not based on political payback but because “integrity matters, and they have failed in that place”.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… gasp…. wheeze…. If integrity was important to McCarthy, he wouldn’t be Speaker. Also, George Santos.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Scott: There’s a Ron Goulart short story which is written around the question: what happens when your robocop AI starts going off its rocker?

    The major problem with AI, especially with DNN, is that you have no idea as to what is actually going on “judgment-wise” in those hidden layers. You also have no idea how the system will react to data with no overlap with the training set–it should reject it, but there’s a pretty good probability that you’ll get an assured “response”.

    I’m starting to see more and more of this stuff coming across my desk. (engineering) (add DNN)….(profit!)

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Kylopod: @Jen:

    In all the discussions I’ve had for seemingly many years about generations, and specifically where to divide late Gen-Xers and new millenials, I keep coming back to the differences in how 9/11 impacted my sister and her classmates (born 1983), those immediately before her, and those immediately after her.

    In poor rural areas, at least in my experience at the turn of the century, lots of high schoolers signed up to join the national guard, taking the split training option. I remember the afternoon of 9/11, seniors’ pagers and flip phones ringing, getting information about what it could mean about their guard status. In the weeks that followed, a lot of newly turned 18 year olds signed up in some branch. In the two graduating classes ahead of mine (roughly, those born ’82/’83, and ’83/’84, who were 18 or about to turn when the towers fell), 10 boys enlisted., out of a total combined class population of 80 or (very small rural high school, class sizes averaged 40).

    By the time I came of age, 20ish months after 9/11, we had already invaded Afghanistan, the neocons were ripping off the “no nation-building, compassionate conservative” mask and were beating a drum to invade first Iraq then Syria, and the patriotic fervor that had seized her classmates and those older than her was dissipating quickly. Out of my class, no one enlisted. I think one guy in the class below me did. It’s kind of always stuck with me that those born in or before ’82, who were actual adults on 9/11 even if barely, were impacted by 9/11 quite differently than those who were, say, 16 or younger.

    Obviously these wars went on for decades, and Gen-Xers, millenials, and early zoomer soldiers all bore the burden. But, if we have to create these segmentations of “generations” and choose a random year to draw the line, that’s my argument for drawing it at 1983.

  11. Kathy says:

    Meta is letting Benito back into Fakebook.

    That ends social media for me. I won’t delete my account, but won’t log in more than a few times per year just to keep it active.

  12. Joe says:

    I understand your frustration, Kathy, but I never in all of his prior days on FB encountered a post from him or any organization purporting an association with him. I do have a couple of very Trumpy FB friends who occasionally posted Trumpy things before he was banned, while he was banned and will presumably post Trumpy things now that he’s back. But his banning had no direct impact on my feed and I don’t expect it too now that he’s back.

  13. Sleeping Dog says:


    At the Atlantic this AM, Charlie Warzel has a not very complementary take on TFG and FB.

    Trump and Facebook’s Mutual Decay

    Then there is this brutal take on Trump by Charles Cook at the National Review.

    Trump Has Completely Lost His Grip on Reality

    Trump is done, stick a fork in him. He could win the R nomination because of the cult and the structure of the R nominating process, but won’t be elected prez and might be in danger of receiving less than 40% of the popular vote.

  14. Kathy says:


    It’s not about my feed, but the destructive effect letting toxic people in will have.

    BTW, I did get suggestions to follow trumpy groups before I learned to ignore them.

  15. Sleeping Dog says:

    Sununu predicted that Trump couldn’t defeat President Joe Biden — or just about anyone — in a 2024 general election. Asked why, he paused.

    “Really?” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “Just fill in the blanks.”

    A milder take on TFG coming to NH this weekend.

  16. CSK says:

    @Kathy: @Joe:

    Did Trump ever post on FB himself? Or was his personal account deleted? All I can find is a Donald Trump for President page and a President Donald Trump fan page.

  17. Kathy says:

    On other things, I’ve been thinking about a concept gaining interest lately: life as we don’t know it.

    The classic example is life based on something other than carbon. Silicon is a popular choice. There are reasons to think this is not possible. But imagine it were, and it also made use of oxygen to help power its biochemistry. Such beings would breathe in a gas, oxygen, and breathe out sand, silicone dioxide.

    I would love to see something like that.

    A more likely possibility is carbon based life that has a different biochemistry from ours. say it encodes info in proteins rather than nucleic acids. I’ve no idea whether this is possible at all, but I know prions are proteins that can mold other proteins to their shape. And proteins overall have a measure of organization.

    This is going to lead to all sorts of other interesting places.

  18. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I’m assuming that a Democrat will win the general in 2024, because Trump will do one of two things: Get the R nomination and lose, or not get the nomination, run as a third party candidate (for revenge), and lose.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @CSK: From your lips to God’s ear. I would much rather see Trump the R nominee than DeUseless. Trump is more certain to lose. And should the R by some mischance win, the threat to the Republic is lower with Trump. So if DeUseless is nominated, please God Trump runs as an independent.

  20. CSK says:

    I think Trump would be doubly committed to thwarting DeSantis. I don’t think Trump gives a damn if a Democrat wins in 2024 as long as he gets revenge against the Republicans who scorned him.

  21. Kylopod says:

    @CSK: The other day I created a map speculating on what a three-way race between a Democrat, a Republican, and Trump on a third-party ticket might look like.

    I’m still sticking with my original position that Trump is probably too lazy and broke to follow through on a third-party threat, and I think he knows it would expose something he doesn’t want exposed, which is that most of the support he currently has would collapse if he were to abandon the GOP altogether. He needs the party more than he lets out. He’d do relatively well for a third-party candidate–maybe even the territory of Perot–and I think he would carry some states. But it would be a pretty small slice of the overall electorate. It would make the Wizard look like an old man behind the curtain. At least from his perspective.

  22. CSK says:

    Interesting. Why do you think Florida and Texas would go blue? Or Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona?

  23. Kylopod says:


    Interesting. Why do you think Florida and Texas would go blue?

    If this scenario were to happen, the closest analogue would be the 1912 election when former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt ran a third-party campaign against sitting Republican President Taft and the Democratic nominee Woodrow Wilson. Wilson won an electoral landslide (he was the first candidate to break 400 EVs), but it was based on winning pluralities in the 30s and 40s where TR’s and Taft’s vote together was much larger. And he won states Dems had no business winning at the time. For example, 1912 is the sole election between 1852 and 1964 in which Maine went to the Democratic nominee. He won it with just 39% of the vote. In 1916, when the GOP was unified once again, he lost it.

    I would say that if we had a three-way Trump-GOP-Dem race, then any state he won by less than 10 points in 2020 would very likely go blue. I think Texas has a decent chance of flipping to the Dems in a two-way race anyway (not likely by 2024, but possible), but even red-trending states like Ohio, Iowa, and Florida would probably flip to the Dems in this hypothetical three-way matchup, due purely to the split in the GOP vote.

  24. Jay L Gischer says:

    I could see a scenario where Trump gets behind in the primaries, claims he’s winning but has to withdraw because of family issues or something like that.

  25. MarkedMan says:


    life as we don’t know it

    When I’ve thought about this, my train of thought has always gone: Hmmm, who’s to say what processes are available to life at a much larger or much smaller physical size? And, what processes are available on a much faster or much slower time scale? And then, given enough difference in size and time scale, would we even recognize it as life? And finally, if there were living things, maybe even intelligent things happening at such different scales that we couldn’t recognize them, who’s to say they couldn’t be happening right here on earth, right now? And then my brain explodes.

  26. CSK says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Very few people would believe Trump would withdraw because of something as trivial to him as a family issue.

  27. Kurtz says:


    My cousins were born in ’80 and ’83. It’s a strange bracket…they don’t really fit in Gen X or as millennials. I’ve seen “Xennials” used as a term for this microgeneration, which seems to fit.

    More generational bracketing silliness, I suppose

    My cohort. And yes. Also, yes-silly. Don’t fit neatly with anyone, but partially because people internalize the ‘logic’ of generational analysis and form expectations.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: Years ago, I was having a discussion with some middle school students in a lit class. It was in the earliest days of AI, and I think that the Spielberg movie had just recently been released, IIRC. Someone mentioned the dangers of what (I think) is called the convergence, and one of the students suggested that it was impossible for anything bad to come from such an event because it is illegal for robots to harm humans, citing Asimov’s laws of robotics.

    I wasn’t surprised that middle school students confused fictional “laws” with statutes and am not surprised when adults do the same. How many adults are actually smarter than a middle school student?

    As for AI ethics, that’s the same type of theoretical pap as “good (in the moral sense) war,” i.e. a theoretical construct that we can use to justify our actions–like going to war with Ukraine to fight fascism and Nazis. Surely that makes a war “good,” right?

  29. Jay L Gischer says:

    @CSK: In my estimation, Trump cares very little about whether people believe him or not. I mean, the true believers will believe him. They think he’s a Man of God and a great businessman, etc.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ve seen this show before. Back in the run up to 2016’s election, I listened to Glenn Beck in the morning and Mark Levin in the afternoon to see how long it would take them to go from “never” to “never doubted for a second.” They were both fully onboard before the convention IIRC.

    B: Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
    R: But that trick never works…
    B: This time for sure. PRESTO!

  31. BugManDan says:

    @Kylopod: In that situation, I think that Dems would probably also pick up MO and possibly TN. Both have 2 large cities that could probably over come the split R votes.

  32. Michael Reynolds says:

    For people who think I’m just making it up when I talk about progressives intimidating publishers. The case of American Dirt.

    A creative industry that used to thrive on risk-taking now shies away from it. And it all stemmed from a single writer posting a discursive and furious takedown of “American Dirt” and its author on a minor blog. Whether out of conviction or cowardice, others quickly jumped on board and a social media rampage ensued, widening into the broader media. In the face of the outcry, the literary world largely folded.

    “It was a witch hunt. Villagers lit their torches,” recalled the novelist and bookseller Ann Patchett, whose Nashville home Cummins stayed in after her publisher told her the tour was over. The two were up all night crying. “The fall that she took, in my kitchen, from being at the top of the world to just being smashed and in danger — it was heartbreaking.”

    Right-wing efforts to bully publishing were repelled. But the Left-wing attack succeeded. This is a point I’ve made repeatedly – the Right is louder, but the Left did the damage.

  33. Stormy Dragon says:


    One question related to that: all proteins come in two forms, left-handed and right-handed, and all known life on earth strictly use the left-handed proteins.

    There’s an open question of whether this is because there’s some unknown advantage to the left-handed proteins, or are both equally usable and it just so happened to that the Last Universal Common Ancestor just happened to be a left-handed microbe and it was all essentially a coin flip?

  34. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s not we don’t believe you, we just find it rather hyperbolic to describe a New York Times #1 Best Seller book that got a 1-hour Oprah hosted TV special as a victim of “progressive intimidation of publishers”

    Particular when, in the middle of libraries being shut down by Republican controlled governments, you also claim that “Right-wing efforts to bully publishers were repelled”.

    This is what real publisher intimidation looks like:

    Framework for AP African American Studies course to be updated

    The College Board, the non-profit organization that designs and manages the Advanced Placement courses, announced Tuesday that the framework for the course will be updated.

    This comes after Florida’s Department of Education’s decision to deny the College Board the opportunity to run a pilot AP course on African American Studies in one or more high schools.

    The DOE found “concerns” in six areas of the curriculum, including the teaching of critical race theory and the teaching of theories about racism’s effect on current government policy, the justice system and social interaction. It rejected key writings by Dr. Angela Davis, an activist and former Communist Party member. A portion of the course called “Movements for Black Lives” was dismissed for suggesting some corporations promote white supremacy. And lastly, the topic of Black Queer Studies.

  35. Mimai says:


    If you aren’t already, you might check out Betül Kaçar. Here’s her wiki. And her lab page is

  36. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Reading that NYT article, I just got infuriated all over again about how that situation unfolded.

    It is, frankly, alarming that people became that unhinged. I wonder how many great books will go unwritten or unpublished because of it.

  37. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Right-wingers aren’t book buyers or readers, so no one cares–especially publishers–what they think or say.

    You’ll enjoy this. About 20 or so years ago, one of my manuscripts was rejected on the grounds that “this book is too well written to be commercially viable.” My agent called me and read this to me in tones of disbelief, which is something they generally don’t do.

    A book is too well-written to be published. Mindboggling.

  38. Kathy says:


    She was mentioned in some articles I’ve read on the subject. Thanks for the links.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Geometry is hugely important in biology. Meaning a left-handed protein organism would derive enough nutritional benefit from consuming a right-handed one, nor derive much benefit from their byproducts. If so, you’d expect all or almost all organisms to align in which way their proteins are oriented.

  39. Jen says:

    @CSK: Ha…I’m not even sure how to respond to that! Wow.

    The notion that someone cannot write–edit: strike that is not *allowed* to write from a perspective that they have not lived is ridiculous. I just finished reading Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s a great book, a modern retelling of David Copperfield, written from the perspective of a boy/teen. Barbara Kingsolver is not a teenage boy. Am I supposed to reject this book as “not a lived experience”? She grew up in Appalachia, but probably not as poor as her protagonist, should that factor into how I respond?

    Honestly, it IS frustrating to have this type of thought policing out there, and more to the point, it’s wrong.

  40. Sleeping Dog says:


    Sort of like so and so won’t be a successful singer because he/she sings on key.

  41. CSK says:

    It just occurred to me that there probably isn’t a single one of these thought police who could write his or her way out of a paper bag.

  42. Kathy says:


    That should read “a left-handed protein organism would not derive enough nutritional benefit from consuming a right-handed one,”

  43. Stormy Dragon says:


    Correct, and that’s what keeps everything “locked-in” to left-handed proteins, but is the fact the original (pre-predation) organism was left-handed an inevitability, or would an entirely right-handed eco system have been just as feasible?

  44. DK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    This is what real publisher intimidation looks like:

    Framework for AP African American Studies course to be updated

    Governor Pritzker responds:

    The Chicago Democrat is warning the nonprofit that oversees the Advanced Placement program that Illinois will reject a revised African American Studies course if it doesn’t include “a factual accounting of history, including the role played by black queer Americans.”

    …Pritzker objected to any change “in order to fit Florida’s racist and homophobic laws.”

    “In Illinois, we reject any curriculum modifications designed to appease extremists like the Florida Governor and his allies,” Pritzker wrote in the letter obtained by the Sun-Times…

    Last year at a Florida Democratic Party conference, Pritzker likened DeSantis to former President Donald Trump, saying he is “really just Donald Trump with a mask on.”

    “He’s trying to pass off his covert racism, homophobia and misogyny as a more reasonable form of Trump Republicanism,” Pritzker said…

    Thank you Gov. Pritzker.

  45. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t trust The NY Times on anything “woke” — they do incessant Cletus Safaris and I think they have had a glowing profile of every single person who has detransitioned and shoving it into every article about queer kids of every stripe being threatened in the red states. There’s something going on at The NY Times, and it’s not good.

    (I have not been a fan since they uncritically published the lies that led to the Iraq War 2, then they did the Hillary’s e-mails thing…)

    But, let’s assume this article that I skimmed is accurate — I don’t care.

    The author’s book tour was cancelled. The book was a best-seller anyway. This does not seem like a great affront to anyone. Her feelings were hurt by the fact that other people’s feelings were hurt and they weren’t quiet about it.

    Checking Wikipedia for their take on this they point out things The NY Times downplays — that a lot of Mexican-Americans found the depictions inauthentic.

    Myriam Gurba was one of the first reviewers to give a negative review. Originally requested by Ms. magazine, her review was considered too negative, and she instead posted it to the academic blog Tropics of Meta. She says of the protagonist, “That Lydia is so shocked by her own country’s day-to-day realities […] gives the impression that Lydia might not be…a credible Mexican. In fact, she perceives her own country through the eyes of a pearl-clutching American tourist.” In Medium, writer David Bowles called the book “harmful, appropriating, inaccurate, trauma-porn melodrama.”

    On January 30, 2020, The Guardian published an op-ed by author and critic Daniel Olivas, who explained why Latinx writers were so angry about the circumstances behind both the publication and promotion of American Dirt: “American Dirt is an insult to Latinx writers who have toiled – some of us for decades – to little notice of major publishers and book reviewers, while building a vast collection of breathtaking, authentic literature often published by university and independent presses on shoestring budgets. And while the folks who run Flatiron Books have every right to pay seven figures to buy and publish a book like American Dirt, they have no immunity from bad reviews and valid criticism.” He noted that “it’s not that we think only Latinx writers should write Latinx-themed books. No, this is not about censorship. A talented writer who does the hard work can create convincing, powerful works of literature about other cultures. That’s called art. American Dirt is not art.”

    There’s more of that type. Skipping down to the description of the controversy.

    Due to widespread criticism, several bookstores cancelled appearances with Cummins to promote her book. On January 29, 2020, Flatiron Books cancelled Cummins’s book tour, citing threats to Cummins. In the same statement, they apologized for using barbed wire decorations at the launch of the book. On February 10, 2020, Dignidad Literaria confirmed from Flatiron Books that Jeanine had received no death threats.

    Overall, it sounds like the author white a very nice but inauthentic and patronizing book, and a bunch of people being depicted didn’t like it and said so. Might have been better with Elves or Fairies.

    (Also, the Great British Bake Off did not create authentic Mexican food, and deserved to be mocked)

  46. Beth says:


    Stripping out the Black LGBT issues probably runs afoul of IL law:

    In public schools only, the teaching of history shall include a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of this country and this State.

    105 ILCS 5/27-21

  47. @CSK: Congressional Quarterly Press rejected my co-authored book because it had too much data and not enough stories. Luckily Yale University Press published it.

  48. Gustopher says:

    @Stormy Dragon: It would also suggest that there is a niche for right-handed protein based, less edible, life to spring up alongside the left-handed protein kind. Left-life spread so fast and occupy every environment so thoroughly that there was no chance for right-life to get a foothold?Or is life so amazingly improbable that the right-handed variety just hasn’t happened and we should be shocked that any form of life occurred?

    I think that as soon as we have the technology we need to start engineering simple life forms based around right-handed proteins, to find out. What’s the worst that could happen?

    (I suspect mankind will be destroyed by a grad student at some point anyway)

  49. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Yes. A good publisher picked up mine shortly after that.

  50. Mu Yixiao says:

    {Mu Yixiao steps up to the line}*

    Exactly one year ago, I didn’t die.

    {Yixiao sips a 14-year-old Glen Morangie (port-wood finish) and tosses his glencairn into the fireplace.}

    We now return you to our regularly-scheduled political fisticuffs.

    If you’ve read the chronicles of Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon, you’ll grok.

  51. senyordave says:

    @daryl and his brother darryl: The economy grew at 2.2% for the year, inflation peaked at 9%+ at one point. Not sure that is exactly a badge of honor. Not to mention that we are staring into the face of a recession. Biden didn’t do anything wrong, IMO he did a decent job of righting things.

  52. Gromitt Gunn says:
  53. Jay L Gischer says:

    Regarding American Dirt, the first thing for me to note is that I’ve never read it and just heard about it today.

    The next thing is that, reading over comments and the quotations of Wikipedia, I have some reactions, that probably don’t matter as much as other people’s reactions.

    The criticism that the book does not fairly or accurately depict Mexicans is a valid thing to criticize the author about. Definitely valid. I’ve seen this kind of complaint in a variety of places about a variety of things. I have my own eye-roll moment at certain depictions of programmers (and others I like).

    The remarks by Daniel Oliva about how many Latinx writers have toiled in obscurity is fair at one level. Of course this leads to frustration and unhappiness. Is it fair to put that all at the feet of Jeanine Cummins? Of course, it seems like he doesn’t, though other complaints seem definitely focused on Cummins.

    And I’m gratified that he thinks that yes, people who aren’t Latinx can write things about Latinx people and have it seem solid and authentic. It does take a lot of work, though. I’ve done a number of cross-play characters (women). I am careful to identify RL women I use as models, to listen to how they express themselves and what their specific habits are. I’m also careful to try to love them as best I can. Mockery doesn’t play out well. It can be done across lines, but it’s much, much harder.

    Finally, I completely reject Oliva’s assertion “it isn’t art”. Of course it’s art. My daughters 5-year-old scribbles were art. Just not very good art. “It isn’t art” is one of my pet peeves. I have claimed, elsewhere, that freeway interchanges count as art.

    It’s a garbage argument, that commits the writer to nothing at all. It’s in the same category of complaint as “that isn’t music”. Usually that has exclamation points. You have every right to not like some art, or some music. But no person is the Great Arbiter of what is art and what isn’t.

  54. Stormy Dragon says:


    It would also suggest that there is a niche for right-handed protein based, less edible, life to spring up alongside the left-handed protein kind. Left-life spread so fast and occupy every environment so thoroughly that there was no chance for right-life to get a foothold?

    As I understand: there is a level of complexity referred to as “the Darwinian Threshold” where organisms become complex enough for the vertical “survival of the fittest” sort of evolution most people are familiar with starts to operate. Before that point, evolution depends on what is referred to as “horizontal evolution” which is based more on organisms swapping genes between each other (picture genetic trading cards). If left-handed organisms popped up first, that would put later right-handed organisms at a disadvantage as they’d have a harder time finding trading partners and would continually fall further and further behind their left-handed competitors in the evolutionary arms race.

  55. DK says:


    Not to mention that we are staring into the face of a recession.

    The vaunted ‘observers’ have been promising a recession just around the corner for the better part of two years. It’s starting to resemble us staring into the face of a Red Wave election.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    My entry for best hyperbole of the day:

    In his letter to Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the speaker claimed his decision [to remove Schiff and Swalwell from the Intelligence Committee] was all about “integrity.” This is not just the death of irony; it is a North Korean–style, firing-squad-by-anti-aircraft-gun execution of irony.

    Of course, the quote begs the question of what Speaker McCarthy knows about either intelligence (in either the broad or Congress-specific sense) or irony, but that’s why it worked.

  57. Kathy says:


    There’s another question without a clear path to an answer: why does the universe not contain equal amounts of matter and antimatter?

    According to several conservation laws and what can be deduced of the Big Bang, equal amounts of both antimatter and matter should have arisen at the same time. Instead there’s mostly matter (after dark energy and dark matter), and only a little antimatter*.

    No one can explain it.

    *Not really enough of it to matter.

  58. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: But they all read, and if they reject what one writes???? Welcome to the FREE market.

    I swear to gawd, I am sick to death pf people complaining when the free market doesn’t produce the results they want. I long ago made peace with the fact that some people don’t want what I produce.

    Your turn now.

  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: I’ve received several promos on American Dirt both by email and on teaser ads that pop up when I open my Kindle. But if one doesn’t use Amazon for book buying or Kindle for reading,* it would be easy to miss both the book and the “conflict.” Until today, I was unaware of the conflict myself. BTW, passed on the book. Doesn’t seem interesting to me. (Yes, I’m an ethnocentric philistine.)

    *My suspicion is that most people don’t use Kindle, even if they have one. I suggest this because e-readers may well a tech toy that people buy to have, not to use and because Kindle tells me that even with my poor reading habits and disinterest in longer-form literature, I’m in the top 5% of users. Scary. 🙁

  60. CSK says:

    Trust me, I’m used to rejection for all sorts of seemingly asinine reasons. But it does seem a bit odd to reject a book because it’s “too well written to be commercially viable.”

  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I would have interpreted that to mean too highbrow for our ignint, mouthbreathing cracker readership. A valid complaint, I would add. You have to match product to customer base.

  62. Kathy says:


    You’d think by now medical science would have developed a treatment for brain blow.

  63. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I wasn’t even aware Kindle tracked things like that. After some Googling I found the Amazon Reader Insights page which certainly gives a lot of information about my reading history, but where do you go to determine if you’re in the top x % or whatever?

  64. @Just nutha ignint cracker: Kindle is my preferred read-in-bed-until-I fall-asleep method. But that is mainly what I use it for–that and travel reading.

  65. steve says:

    I read a lot and I use my Kindle. It saves money and late at night when eyes are tired I just increase font size.


  66. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: I vaguely recall reading a sci fi story decades ago about some guy suffering a freak electrical accident and having all his proteins flipped. Part of the story was that despite eating he was starving to death. They had to, at great expense, duplicate the accident, but with food.

  67. Kathy says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    Audible keeps lots of stats, too, and sends you a link to your stats page at year’s end.

    I’ve a kindle app on the phones, but not a kindle device. I was given one by the company in Dec. 2019. I think I posted about it here. TL;DR, I sold it.

    I don’t read print that much anymore. Not books. I read plenty of articles and news online, and in particular articles I find of interest in an app called Pocket. Books I’ve relegated pretty much to audio. It’s amazing how many books one can go through listening in the daily commute and while cooking.

  68. Kathy says:


    Wouldn’t that require a daily great expense?

    I’ve found it an uncommon trope in some SF stories, too. Like all the plant and animal life in some alien planet is inedible.

    A related bit is reverse symmetry. Like someone from a parallel universe has their heart titled right off center, and the majority is left handed. and for some reason electric polarity in their appliances is reversed, too.

  69. JohnMc says:

    @Mu Yixiao: on July 17th a decade or so ago, my sorry butt was whisked into a cath lab and those good folks saved my life.

    If you are celebrating something like that — I’ll lift a toast to you, sir.

  70. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “The case of American Dirt.”

    A three year-old case dredged up by possibly the worst columnist in the history of the NY Times who is so desperate to ride her cancel culture pity pony and yet can’t seem to dig up anu instances from this decade.

  71. wr says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: “My suspicion is that most people don’t use Kindle, even if they have one. ”

    I can’t speak for “most people,” but I do all my reading on the Kindle app for my iPad. I amassed physical books for years, but once I switched I never went back…