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. sam says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me that if Trump loses the election, then one minute after his successor is sworn in, indictments are unsealed in the SDNY and the office of the Manhattan District Attorney.

  2. Scott says:

    COVID-19 in San Antonio

    Yesterday: 241
    6/4: 93

    ICU patients:
    Yesterday: 91
    6/4: 36

    On ventilators:
    Yesterday: 43
    6/4: 19

    Test Positivity rates
    Yesterday: 17.5%
    5/31 – 6/6: 4/5%
    6/7 – 6/13: 9.3%

    How’s your town doing?

  3. sam says:


    (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist it.)

  4. MarkedMan says:

    One possibility for why Arizona’s death rate is not spiking as quickly as their case rate: they may be classifying deaths as due to pneumonia rather than C19. In all of 2018 they had 902 deaths due to pneumonia but so far this year they have had 1462, and that number specifically excludes C19 related pneumonia. Arizona is a Republican state and a Trump State, so I’m skeptical there is a legitimate reason for this discrepancy.

  5. Scott says:

    @MarkedMan: There was the same issue with Florida. There will be many subsequent deaths with COVID-19 that will be classified different. While the attacks the lungs, the virus also can enter cells that have the ACE2 receptor such as the heart and intestines which is why many recovered COVID-19 patients have residual heart and gastrointestinal issues. If these lead to further complications, they will be grouped with their respective organs and not attributed to the virus.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Scott: It’s surreal. This type of retconning reality is what we used to laugh at the Soviet Union about. It is now standard Republican procedure. Not just on the coronavirus, but climate change, police brutality, effectiveness of tax cuts, and on and on. No attempt to deal with reality. We have always been at war with EastAsia.

  7. CSK says:

    Jean Kennedy Smith, 92, and Vera Lynn, 103, have died. Kennedy Smith was the last surviving sibling of her generation, and Vera Lynn was a symbol of hope In Britain during WWII for her song “We’ll Meet Again.”

  8. Scott says:

    New U.S. broadcasting chief fires agency heads

    The new chief of U.S.-funded international broadcasting on Wednesday fired the heads of at least three outlets he oversees and replaced their boards with allies, in a move likely to raise fears that he intends to turn the Voice of America and its sister outlets into Trump administration propaganda machines.

    Since Trump is determined to turn us in a version of Putin’s Russia, Congress should just get brutal and defund the entire operation rather than turn VOA into TASS.

  9. KM says:

    @MarkedMan :
    The problem they have is those deaths need to be recorded *somewhere*. An unusual spike in pneumonia in June during a pandemic? Sure, buddy – pull the other one. In a few weeks when the deaths start racking up and the MAGAts start telling themselves Aunt Sally died of the flu in the middle of summer, a few of the smarter ones will twig on that something’s wrong. After all, it’s in their town now and not just a liberal state’s problem. When family starts getting pretty sick outside of flu season and friends start dying, they can’t help but notice.

    My FOX-loving elderly relatives stopped believing it was a hoax weeks ago when a great-aunt was hospitalized. She recovered but several acquaintances of the family have not. Just yesterday my mother got a call about a good friend from school passing away from “pneumonia” down in FL. We know it was COVID because they were talking before the woman was hospitalized. Mom’s furious they’re lying about her death and that others are just accepting the BS the state is shoveling. It’s finally dawning on them that not only is the state perfectly willing to let them die needlessly but to cover it up so it can keep happening.

    FL’s in for a rough summer. That’s a lot of death to hide and snowbirds are going to get anxious when their neighbors keep dropping like flies.

  10. Jen says:

    @Scott: I’m just so sickened by that. I guess just add it to the list, it’s discouraging though.

    I hope some of these institutions are able to recover once this horrific administration is gone. VOA is one of the better news orgs out there.

  11. MarkedMan says:


    a few of the smarter ones will twig on that something’s wrong

    Yep, maybe a few. But don’t forget that even during the collapse of the Soviet Union there was a significant portion of the population that continued to believe the government propaganda. I can vouch for the fact that even among the well educated in China, there are significant numbers that accept (believe may be too strong here) the official party line.

    The Republican Party is an actual harm to the US and must be rooted out branch and shoot.

  12. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: Since Reagan the Republican administrations have tried to make the VOA and Radio Marti into propaganda outlets with every US effort morally perfect, wildly successful and tractor production up 8% every quarter, while the Democrats have attempted to return it back to a mission of reporting the truth whether that is favorable to the US or not. The Democratic theory is that demonstrating we are strong enough to deal with the truth is all the propaganda we need, and that the strategic value of having a trusted news source in places that are opposed to us is worth any short term issues this or that negative story might bring.

  13. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Florida is breaking CV-19 records every week lately. Social distancing and masks pretty much disappeared in my part of Central Florida. Word has spread about the spike so now a few more masks are showing up in stores. Good news is lots of hand sanitizer is showing up on store shelves–with no limit. I’m stocking up for the second wave. Still no Lysol to be found though.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32: Hand sanitizer is fine, but I’m curious why there is such a run on it. The recommendation is to wash hands with soap for 20 seconds, or to scrub with sanitizer for 30. If you don’t go for the full amount of time, you don’t break down the lipid shell surrounding the virus. Soap just seems easier to me.

  15. Kathy says:


    This type of retconning reality is what we used to laugh at the Soviet Union about. It is now standard Republican procedure.

    One day everyone will be entitled to their own facts, but not their own opinions.

  16. senyordave says:

    Two thoughts for today:
    1. How come the US is one of the only countries in the world to not have flattened the curve? If you take away NY and NJ the curve hasn’t changed much at all.
    2. How in God’s name did wearing a mask become a political stance?

  17. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: The perception is that it is more instant. I for 1 hadn’t heard about the 30 sec recommendation for sanitizer. My understanding was that soap amounts to a physical attack–breaking surface tension so the germs slide off your hands and sanitizers/disinfectants amount to a chemical attack breaking down the lipid casing. Once the alcohol is applied, it can take up to an 30 min to degrade the covering.

  18. Sleeping Dog says:


    My FOX-loving elderly relatives stopped believing it was a hoax weeks ago…

    For years, there has been a group of old codgers at the local coffee shop bandying about the latest falsehoods from Carlson, Hannity or Rush as if they were gospel. I hadn’t been in there since the lock down, but with outside dining open an a beautiful June morning, I stopped. And there they were, but interestingly sitting in the parking lot six feet apart with masked at least around their necks. My guess is this group of MAGAts no longer bought that C-19 is a hoax.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:


    One day everyone will be entitled to their own facts, but not their own opinions.

    That is what it is coming to.

  20. Jen says:

    The Cook Political Report is showing Montana Senate as a toss-up. MONTANA.

    At some point, even the sensory-deprived sharks are going to be able to smell the blood in the water if the Montana Senate seat is in play.

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: In a few weeks when the deaths start racking up and the MAGAts start telling themselves Aunt Sally died of the flu in the middle of summer, a few of the smarter ones will twig on that something’s wrong.

    The smarter ones have already left the cult.

  22. Teve says:

    Have you seen some of these emails the Trump campaign is sending out to garner donations, they’re written to be maximally effective to someone who has obvious and severe cognitive deficits. Here’s some text from one sent from Lara Trump:


    I need to ask you something.

    Why haven’t you entered to win a chance to meet President Trump yet?

    The President saw the list of Patriots who have already entered and he noticed that your name was MISSING.

    He asked me to reach out to you because he REALLY wants to meet you and he can’t imagine having anyone else there with him.

    You’ve got to be living in a state home with a cork on your fork if you believe that.

  23. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The President is reportedly urging officials to track down and prosecute those responsible for leaking information about his trip down to the building’s bunker.


  24. Sleeping Dog says:

    In her column in this mornings Times, Gail Collins mulls the possibility of Kentucky retiring Moscow Mitch.

    It seems that McConnell could be vulnerable as his approval rating is the lowest of any sitting senator and trails Tiny’s approval in the state by double digits. But the power of incumbency…

    The Dems have yet to settle on a nominee with the candidates being a center-left, white woman with a great story v. a leftist AA man who is strong vibrant personality. In a state like KY, I’m prone to favoring the moderate, but according to Collins, she appears to lack a coherent ideology that she is offering in her campaign.

    I’d love to see McConnell dumped, anyone with insight into what’s happening in KY?

  25. Kathy says:


    1. How come the US is one of the only countries in the world to not have flattened the curve?

    Par for the course for third-world countries, no?

  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Dreamers win the DACA case at the SCOTUS.
    Trump loses…so much winning…

  27. Jax says:

    @MarkedMan: I saw an interesting hand washing sign in a public restroom that I had never seen before the other day. It said “Wash your hands if they are VISIBLY DIRTY for 20 seconds with warm water and soap, if they are not visibly dirty, use hand sanitizer.”

    This was at a convenience store/gas station. I haven’t been out a whole lot the last couple months, but when did the bathroom hand washing signs change?!

  28. MarkedMan says:


    a cork on your fork

    OK, there’s obviously a reference here, but I’m not getting it. What’s the deal?

  29. MarkedMan says:

    @Jax: I’m not sure where that comes from. Surgeons use soap. They don’t use hand sanitizer. There’s a reason for that.

    I’m not saying hand sanitizer is bad. Just that you have to use it correctly.

  30. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: If there’s a cork on your fork, you can’t injure yourself with it, would be my guess?

  31. Teve says:
  32. Teve says:
  33. Kathy says:


    Surgeons use soap. They don’t use hand sanitizer. There’s a reason for that.

    Soap is superior to hand sanitizer for cleaning one’s hands.

    Hand sanitizer is for occasions when soap and water are not available. It doesn’t hurt to use it, say, after driving to the store before going in, coming out of the store, riding the elevator to your apartment, etc.

  34. CSK says:

    Trump just Tweeted the very strong implication that if he’s not re-elected this year, the Second Amendment will be jeopardized. This is in reaction to the DACA decision. Interesting how he ties that to a loss of gun rights.

  35. Kathy says:

    Physics joke of the day:

    One day driving across Europe, Schrodinger stops at a border checkpoint, where the guards ask if they can look in his trunk. Schrodinger consents.

    A short time later, one of the guards calls out, “Professor, did you know there’s a dead cat in here?”

    Annoyed, Schrodinger replies, “I do now.”

  36. Kylopod says:

    The popular belief that hand sanitizer is somehow more effective at getting rid of germs than soap–when the opposite is in fact the case–is I suspect something that results, at least in part, from long-time propaganda by the hand sanitizer companies. It’s deeply ingrained in our culture. The movie cliche of someone with OCD or germophobia preferring hand sanitizer (I think Monk used it) goes back decades. In reality, its only significant advantage is that it’s quicker and dryer. Also, liquid soap can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. It has for me on occasion, though it’s turned out to be not much of a problem as long as I rinse well, and I use bar soap in the bath anyway (though that has a story behind it as well–my grandmother was a hoarder and built up a lifetime’s supply of soap which members of my family are still using).

  37. Tyrell says:

    “Red Saharan dust to hit Florida, Louisiana!” (Newsweek)
    “Mega 7.4 quake hits New Zealand, tsunami warnings”(Zee News)
    “Mysterious green fireball spotted above Australia” (Newsweek) Scientists are baffled!
    “Massive hail stones pummel Texas!” (Washington Past) The size of grapefruit! This coincided with freak snow storms in desert areas!
    “Bufo killer toads: giant killer toads threaten southern Florida!” (Fondrenpetcare)
    These can kill a dog in fifteen minutes!
    Are the plagues of Egypt returning? Are these warnings?

  38. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: The longer version makes it a traffic stop and adds Heisenberg. The cop asks, “Do you know how fast you were driving?” “No, but I know precisely where we are.”

  39. MarkedMan says:

    Spending more time in the excess deaths rabbit hole and finally found the holy grail, the CDC excess deaths website. Random factoid: during the height of the pandemic in the NE, nearly 2000 excess deaths per week were attributed to Alzheimer’s and dementia. I assume that is predominately from the nursing homes.

  40. Kathy says:


    But then the cop says “You were doing 88 mph.”

    And Heisenberg replies, “Great! Now I’m lost!”

  41. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell: God’s judgement of a bad Pharaoh?

  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    I’m taking advantage of the open forum for the following:

    Animorphs, the massively popular kids book series from the 1990s, is finally headed to the big screen. Scholastic is partnering with Erik Feig and his Picturestart banner for the first feature film based on the sci-fi series by K.A. Applegate.
    [ ]
    “We couldn’t be more excited to work with Scholastic to adapt Animorphs, an iconic book series with a wildly unique combination of exciting, witty, outlandish and grounded elements that feel all too relevant for our times,” said Feig. “We know these books have a deservedly deep bench of passionate fans — ourselves included— and we hope to make Katherine Applegate and her co-author, Michael Grant, proud as we bring Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias to life for a new generation.”

    From now on, please refer to me as, Hollywood Mike.

  43. Michael Reynolds says:

    Although I will continue to respond to, ‘Hey, asshole.’

  44. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:


    But aren’t you concerned everyone and their kid sister will start sending you their screenplays?

  45. Michael Reynolds says:

    They already do. But the real social media pressure comes on casting. Everyone wants to be a star!

  46. Monala says:

    @Teve: “No one likes you” is trending on Twitter. Apparently, Trump tweeted this morning that the Supreme Court doesn’t like him, and that’s how the Twitter-verse has responded. It’s hard not to go, “Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

  47. OzarkHillbilly says:


    “Red Saharan dust to hit Florida, Louisiana!” (Newsweek)

    Happens every year.

    “Mega 7.4 quake hits New Zealand, tsunami warnings”(Zee News)

    Happens every other year.

    “Mysterious green fireball spotted above Australia” (Newsweek) Scientists are baffled!

    A Meteor? Space junk? Scientists don’t know!

    “Massive hail stones pummel Texas!” (Washington Past) The size of grapefruit! This coincided with freak snow storms in desert areas!

    When hailstones the size of grapefruit damn near destroyed my Aunt and Uncles new fishing camp, nobody thought it was the end times, just possibly the end of my Aunt and Uncle’s new fishing camp. And I would not be the least surprised if some high altitude desert somewhere got snow at that time.

    “Bufo killer toads: giant killer toads threaten southern Florida!” (Fondrenpetcare)
    These can kill a dog in fifteen minutes!

    Another human introduced species into a new environment.

    Are the plagues of Egypt returning? Are these warnings?

    No, and No.

  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Braggart. Congrats to you and your lovely wife.

  49. Tyrell says:

    @gVOR08: Yes, but the pharoah was warned several times and had the chance to change.
    The Hebrew people spent a lot of their time in the wilderness complaining, even though they were provided with everything that they needed, and more.

  50. Monala says:

    @Monala: Worse, however, is this Tweet from Trump:

    These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd. Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!

  51. Monala says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Looking forward to the movies, asshole! (I couldn’t resist :D)


  52. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @Michael Reynolds:
    Well, you could conflate the two and be known as “Hollywood Asshole.”
    Just kidding. My heartiest congratulations. Yes, the fans who think you and Katherine are responsible for the casting will drive you nuts with their suggestions.

  53. KM says:

    @Tyrell :

    Are the plagues of Egypt returning? Are these warnings?

    Man, MAGAts better hope not. If it’s really the End Times, he’s the AntiChrist and they’ve sold their souls for a stupid red hat and little else.

  54. MarkedMan says:

    Congrats Michael. I wish you both a speedy path to release.

  55. Kingdaddy says:

    @Kathy: Ohm was in the car, too. He was arrested for resistance.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: If DACA is eventually approved, Mexican young people are going to be able to buy guns. So, we’ll need to restrict access to guns, and legitimate white law abiding gun owners will suffer. See? Clear as a mountain stream.

  57. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Thank you. That clarifies the issue immensely.

  58. flat earth luddite says:


    As always, we thank Mr. Cracker for his insightful clarifications of these confusing issues. If they could trust him, he could act as an interpreter for the GOP in the upcoming campaigns. Unfortunately for them, he has a spine, morals, and ethics.

  59. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Congrats to you and Katherine. See it pays to marry well 🙂

  60. Kathy says:

    So one of my coworkers discovered a restaurant that offers dine-in service inside, in violation not only of existing pandemic rules, but also of the most basic common sense. Just the same, several others in the department are going to lunch there today.

    When they asked me, I replied “No, thanks. My religion forbids me from taking stupid risks.” This was not well received. Because cramming ten people in a table inside a room with who knows how many other customers, none of them wearing masks, when cases of COVID-19 are still rising, has got to be safe?

  61. MarkedMan says:

    @flat earth luddite: Excuse me. Is that “Mr. Cracker” or “Mr. Ignint Cracker”?

  62. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: Hold strong and stay safe. Unfortunately history is replete with millions of examples that shows very little correlation to how self righteous and certain human beings are about something and how risky or dangerous that thing is.

    Now that I think about it, there could be an inverse correlation.

  63. MarkedMan says:

    On another thread, Kathy remarked:

    Remember Pierre Cardin? His brand was the usual high-class French prestige brand. In Mexico the people who licensed it began churning out clothes priced for sale at places like Walmart or Woolworth’s . Nothing high-class French prestige about that. The trademark sank like a sack full of stones.

    Some time ago I heard something on NPR about exactly this. A marketing conglomerate buys a prestige brand and then walks it down in discrete steps until it is the bargain brand. In the US that would be something like Lux soap.

    An example given was Vidal Sassoon, a prestige hairdresser (and guy with an absolutely fascinating life story – seriously), who was world famous as the go to person if you wanted to suddenly change your image with a hair cut. He had his own line of product and was on top of his game and licensed his stuff to a conglomerate. They spent the first couple of years building it up to be even more prestigious, but that was low volume stuff. Then they started doing once a year introductory specials. Then it was regular sales. You see where this is going. At each step they leveraged the prestige of the previous one to drive dramatically higher volume. Once that previous prestige was used up, they brought it down to the next level. By the time I was aware of his stuff it was in the cheap section. (Not that I spend much for hair care.) He was angry and bitter, but I bet the conglomerate made many multiples of what they would have keeping it a prestige brand. Which just goes to show you – if you put your name it, don’t license it.

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: “Ignint” is simply the adjectival modifier in a common slang appellation. “Mr.” is really a step too far in terms of courtesy, as I should be referred to simply as “cracker” or “that cracker.” Some people have, in the past, gone with “that Dago/Wop,” but that was not as well received.

    As the old joke goes: “call me whatever you want as long as it’s not late for dinner.” Serving as my own chef now, that joke has faded into irrelevance. Alas.

  65. Moosebreath says:


    “Ohm was in the car, too. He was arrested for resistance.”

    Say Watt, was he driving a Volt?

  66. Teve says:

    I’ve heard that’s called Brand Deflation. You extract the value of the brand until people realize you’re selling crap.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Nonsense! The GOP and my agents are still in negotiations. The number is simply wrong! I may be a consort, but I’m not some cheap street ho doin’ BJs in an alley or something. Pay me what I’m worth or get out! 😉

  68. Kathy says:


    Things change in many ways. I used to go out to lunch to a restaurant with coworkers nearly every weekday, as that’s what most people do. then I started cooking regularly, and found that I preferred 1) my own cooking*, and 2) eating alone. I pretty much go to restaurants only when I travel, and now and then on social occasions.

    So having all restaurants closed affects me as much as a ban on baseball would.

    But I’m odd.

    * Not surprising, since I cook to suit my tastes.

  69. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Hey asshole, Congratulations.

    I used to own a Visser-3 Transformer… it was not great.

    I bought it because of my love for Transformers. I haven’t read an Animorphs books, but would likely see the movies. I still blame you for that toy though. Asshole. 🙂

    Apparently there was a smaller, redder one that was much nicer looking.

    Perhaps a new movie will mean new toys.

  70. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Congrats! (Any word on the GONE series??)

  71. Michael Reynolds says:

    TBH neither of us was ever able to put one of those Transformers back together.

    In a ‘hmmm’ moment I remember walking around Target with K soon after we sold the first six, long before it was any kind of hit. I told her, ‘I predict the day will come when we’ll have our own line of action figures.’ To which she replied by asking what an action figure was. This is the same woman who din’t know who Iron Man was until the movie. I mean, she has a BA but it is from the University of Texas.

  72. Michael Reynolds says:

    We are having the special effects done on a teaser we shot, hope to have that in ~3 weeks. Then we take our dog and pony show on the virtual road again. Of course now that I’m apparently going to be a producer on a major motion picture, I assume all I have to do is snap my fingers.

    I’ll just check that with @wr and @EddieInCA. That’s how it works, right?

  73. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Oh, yeah. Just snap your fingers. Right.

  74. CSK says:

    I’m a mean person, so I’m finding this amusing: Chick-fila-A, the fast food chicken joint that became the darling of right-wing fundamentalist Christians because of its abhorrence of same-sex marriage, has now totally alienated those same right-wing fundamentalist Christians. Its CEO, Dan Cathy, announced that all white Christians should seek out an AA stranger and shine his or her shoes. (This strikes me as unwise advice, given that an overly enthusiastic shoe shiner pressing his or her attentions on an unsuspecting recipient might find him or herself arrested for assault, or possibly simply kicked in the teeth. And it is equally possible that a POC wearing sandals or sneakers might justifiably take umbrage at having them coated with Kiwi. But whatever.) In any event, Mr. Cathy’s earnest supplication appears to have gone over like a lead balloon with the intended audience.

  75. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I have an out in my contract with Warner Brothers if you need a Line Producer. Hahaha.

    And congrats. I know how hard it is to finalize a deal like that.

  76. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: How things change. I’m now back to the situation where I prefer things that I haven’t cooked. They don’t even have to be particularly good, just as long as I don’t have to cook them. I also suspect that my cooking is significantly more perfunctory than it had been in the past. This may play a role in my attitude.

  77. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Although I will continue to respond to, ‘Hey, asshole.’

    Dance with them what brung ya.

    Congrats, though.

  78. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I can see that.

    Much as I like cooking, at the start I looked for complex recipes. I made tomato soup from scratch, for instance, or I’d do stews with lots of different vegetables, etc.

    Now, I still make such things from time to time, but most times I want something simple that doesn’t involve peeling, chopping, etc, and that doesn’t require lots of attention on the stove (my rather recent risotto experiments to the contrary notwithstanding).

    But I still prefer eating by myself.

  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I don’t really see that as particularly surprising. By the time I was in junior high (middle school now), if you were still “into” comics, it was considered weird (I was weird, but comics were the low level evidence). I had friends in college who thought that Iron Man was only a song by Black Sabbath.

    And I’ve never met any women who will admit to being into comics. Comix is another story, but still mostly a male phenomenon.

  80. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Of course now that I’m apparently going to be a producer on a major motion picture, I assume all I have to do is snap my fingers.

    I’ll just check that with @wr and @EddieInCA. That’s how it works, right?

    I know you’re kidding, but it’s surprising how many people actually think this way. I can’t tell you how many times I have to tell young writers, Directors, and even Producers who have had a hit or two, “Calm down. This town doesn’t care about yesterday. It’s about tomorrow.” Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Tom Hanks, Steven Speilberg, James Cameron, JJ Abrams, or any other A-Lister you can imagine has a pile of scripts they want to do that no one will finance. Of course, some of them can (and do) finance some small projects, but most of them have to fight like hell to get their projects made. There are only a few filmmakers that pretty much do what they want because: A. They make movies at a price. B. They’re true artists that write all they direct. C: They make movies that make money (because of A). The most obvious example of this, right now, is Quentin Tarantino. In the past, filmmakers like Woody Allen, Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch fell into this category.

    BTW, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are amazing producers in that they know how to find material, and hire good writers to write the scripts, and then put together strong creative elements to make the movie. But even they have massive battles with studios over financing.

    Here’s an inside Hollywood anecdote. “The Big Short” was a very good film. Brad Pitt was the producer. He put together a package which included Adam McKay to write and direct. At the time, and since, Adam McKay has never directed a movie that didn’t make money for it’s studio and financier. Additionally, Pitt got Christian Bale (Academy Award winner), Steve Carell (Academy Award nominee), Ryan Gosling (Academy Award nominee), Marissa Tomei (Academy Award winner), plus Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez. They put together a budget and schedule then asked Paramount for $30 million to make the movie. Given that star power, that’s a no-brainer for pretty much any studio. Not Paramount. They agreed to the $30M budget on one condition: Brad Pitt had to be in the movie. He never intended to be in the film, but Paramount wouldn’t greenlight it without Pitt IN the movie, despite the rest of the star power. The movie ended up being a huge hit, and made alot of money for Paramount, even after they spent another $20M to “open it’.”

    So… No. Michael. You can’t just snap your fingers. Well, you can, but we will all ignore you, unless you make us some money first. 🙂

  81. Moosebreath says:

    Congrats, Michael. Here’s hoping the remaining steps until it is released go well.

  82. de stijl says:


    I missed it when you talked about your daughter’s BF and the tragedy and the deep sorrow for his family and yours.

    I am so sorry that happened to you all.

    You have people to lean on.

    So, so sorry for your daughter and his family.

  83. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Buy at least one useless extravagance.

    Spendy. Make it hurt a little the bank account. Infinity pool type indulgence. Don’t ask me what; whatever the greediest part of your character wants the hardest.

    It will reveal. You will either be “Hey, asshole!” or you will be “Hollywood Asshole”.

    If in two years, and you have a PA, and you berate her because the coffee order wasn’t precisely correct, you are a Hollywood Asshole.

    If you regret you spent too much money on the infinity pool or whatever (choose your substitute), you are a regular “Hey, Asshole!”

    Every now and again, I will say “Hey, Asshole!” to you just so you focus.

  84. Mister Bluster says:
  85. de stijl says:

    @Mister Bluster:

    Good on Klobuchar.

  86. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Thank you for that. It’s been hell on wheels, not gonna lie. She wanted to cry in her bed, her grandfather decided it was just as easy to cry on a tractor, so he kept her moving. I think it was best that way.

    They did a memorial ride, where everybody who loved him showed up with their redneck trucks, fancy cars, dirt bikes, Harley’s, and everything in between. It was lovely, almost 3 miles long.

  87. de stijl says:


    Be strong.

    Be weak.

    I am not going to tell anyone how to grieve. Crying on a tractor is okay. Crying in your safe bed is okay too. Don’t let Grandad be too practical with her.

    Grief needs quiet time.

    I am glad there was a parade for him.

    Take care of yourself. Take care of those you love.

    It’s okay to hurt. Especially for your daughter and his parents.

    Reach out here if you need an ear.

  88. de stijl says:


    Besides the names, that sounds a lot like my old job.

    Bring me the person who did the HSBC project and we’ll sign.

    Greg didn’t do actually much on HSBC. Hamid and Brian and Wren did 98% of acquisition and integration. Checked in to makes sure things weren’t going awry.

    Heather and I did the front end and infrastructure behind it of which Greg knew exactly Jack, diddly, and squat. (He did get better.)

    But he was the face. No Greg, no gig. If it’s a bunch of MBAs they value the face and the soothing patter. MBAs make projects worse and more likely to fail especially if Risk Management was MBA driven.

    Btw, I apologize that idiots chose to use our tools poorly in 2008 (actually in 2002 to 2007 that led to 2008.) I do have some culpability. Do not ask about the Icelandic banking crisis.

    If I give you a purpose built tool that you hired me to build and you subsequently misuse it, how much of the blame is mine?

    You can lead idiots to data visualization tools, but you cannot make them think.

  89. de stijl says:

    The problem with MBAs is they want to monetize everything.