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:

    I bring you greetings from the far future. The future is…

    Luddite and Cracker, in the cigar bar, with cider and smoke…with dinner!

  2. CSK says:

    Thursday’s Forum on Wednesday????? Isn’t this a trifle premature?

  3. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    Oh the future was great fun. Weird, but fun

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Ahem… Your internal clock is running a little behind. Maybe you should change the batteries.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Courtroom video shows defendant attacking judge in Nevada

    Redden was not in custody when he arrived at court on Wednesday. He wore a white shirt and dark pants as he stood next to Almase, asking the judge for leniency while describing himself as “a person who never stops trying to do the right thing no matter how hard it is”.

    “I’m not a rebellious person,” he told the judge, later adding that he did not think he should be sent to prison. “But if it’s appropriate for you then you have to do what you have to do.”

    As the judge made it clear she intended to send him to prison, and the court marshal moved to handcuff him, Redden yelled expletives and charged forward amid screams from members of the public in the courtroom.

    Ummm… Methinks you done fvcked up your play for leniency, Deobra

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The “Law and Order” party?


    Over the last 10 presidential administrations, 330 of 335 indictments for criminal offenses were against Republicans, but yeah both sides are the same.

    Dave Madison

    Click on the screen shot to see it better.

    (a politifact screen grab)

    Not saying it’s true, but I find it very believable.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    More Americans are stockpiling abortion pills without pregnancy – study

    I am quite sure that ALEC is currently writing laws against this practice with sentences ranging from 5 years to Life w/o Parole.

  8. MarkedMan says:

    Music to my ears, from the NYT (sorry no gift link available):

    Around 170 people have been convicted at trial, while only two people have been fully acquitted. Approximately 710 people have pleaded guilty

    350 cases pending and arrests continue at a few per week

    Ed – Whoops, forgot to include the line for those who don’t need the freebie:

  9. Kathy says:

    I recall an old joke about someone who bought instant water, and didn’t know what to add to it.

    Well, here’s something I stumbled across recently: dry water.

    This video explain how it happens. It’s only 1 minute long.

    I thought Oobleck was like the ultimate weird fluid. It might still be more fun to play with,

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    He’ll be a legend in the joint. Of course now he’ll be there for quite a bit longer than originally anticipated, but the cons will greet him with rattling bars and loud huzzahs.

  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    Yesterday was my first day socially transitioned at work. I was surprised how little anxiety it ended up producing. A brief spike as I arrived at the parking lot and was about to walk into the building for the first time wearing a skirt, but it passed quickly, and after that everything felt amazing.

  12. CSK says:


    Nope. This forum was up and running for a little while last night. (Ask Luddite.) I posted my comment at 8:40 p.m. yesterday.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A Pennsylvania dog shocked his owners and veterinarian after eating $4,000 in cash. Cecil, a seven-year old goldendoodle from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is usually well behaved, according to his owners, Clayton and Carrie Law. But last month, Cecil ate $4,000 in cash that had been sitting on the Laws’ kitchen counter, waiting to be stowed away.

    “This dog, I swear to God, has never touched anything in his life,” Carrie, 33, told the Pittsburgh City Paper. “Suddenly Clayton yelled to me, ‘Cecil’s eating $4,000!!!!!’ I thought, ‘I cannot be hearing that.’ I almost had a heart attack,” she added, referring to her husband Clayton, 34.

    The money had been a withdrawal from the couple’s joint savings account, the Washington Post reported. Within 30 minutes of retrieving the funds from their local bank, Cecil had already chowed down on the cash, leaving behind just some torn bits of their money. The panicked couple first reached out to Cecil’s vet to see if the dog needed any medical treatment. Thankfully, given his size, Cecil only needed to be monitored at home, the Post reported.
    While Cecil had thrown up some of the ingested money, the Laws had to recover much of the cash through Cecil’s bowel movements.

    “There we are at the utility sink,” Carrie said to the City Paper. “[We were] washing this shitty money, yelling ‘Yay! Yes! We got one!’ It smelled so bad.”

    Carrie told the Post that she’d “never thought” she’d be “able to say I’ve laundered money, but there is apparently a first time for everything”.

    I’d always heard this was a “dog eat dog” world, but I guess they lied.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: For sure.

    @Stormy Dragon: Happy I am to hear this.

    @CSK: And you were awake and online for that? You need to get a life. 😉

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Good for you!

  16. MarkedMan says:

    Stormy’s news has gotten me thinking about skirts and dresses and how, in hot climes at least, it’s a fairly recent thing that they weren’t unisex. (I think it is different in colder areas because fitted clothing is much better at retaining heat.) And it still is unisex in a number of places. I remember being a little startled to see big, tough, manly-men Fijian policemen wearing wrap around skirts. And I myself have worn “cloth” at Ghanaian funerals and at other occasions. I never really felt comfortable, though, because even a half cloth* is a lot of material and Ghana is hot! Also, didn’t like having a naked shoulder. Surprisingly, shaving my armpits didn’t bother me.

    *It seemed to me that a full cloth was about nine yards of material (A lot of material to wrap around you! Most people I knew wore half cloths) and I wondered if that is the mysterious origin or “the whole nine yards”

  17. Neil Hudelson says:


    The first time I ever wore a skirt for a costume party, it was in the middle of summer. The whole party I was just amazed at how much more comfortable a skirt is in the middle of summer. Men’s stupid views on masculinity are keeping us from being much less sweaty when its 90 degrees out.

    ETA Re: whole nine yards, I have read that it was a phrase used after belt-fed machine guns were installed in airplanes. A fierce dogfight would result in using up the whole nine yards of bullets. Apparently that’s a load of BS.

    From wikipedia:

    “The whole nine yards” or “the full nine yards” is a colloquial American English phrase meaning “everything, the whole lot” or, when used as an adjective, “all the way.”[1]

    Its first usage was the punch line of an 1855 Indiana comedic short story titled “The Judge’s Big Shirt.”[2]

    The earliest known idiomatic use of the phrase is from 1907 in Southern Indiana.[3] The phrase is related to the expression the whole six yards, used around the same time in Kentucky and South Carolina. Both phrases are variations on the whole ball of wax, first recorded in the 1880s.[4] They are part of a family of expressions in which an odd-sounding item, such as enchilada, shooting match, shebang or hog, is substituted for ball of wax.[4] The choice of the number nine may be related to the expression “To the nines” (to perfection).

    Use of the phrase became widespread in the 1980s and 1990s. Much of the interest in the phrase’s etymology can be attributed to New York Times language columnist William Safire, who wrote extensively on this question.”

  18. just nutha says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Nonsense! The first post was only 8:30 EST. Evening had barely started. Even Luddite’s reply was only midnight Pacific time.

  19. Mister Bluster says:

    Timestamp check.

  20. Mike in Arlington says:

    So The Girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Western Sicily this April for 9 days. (Mt. Etna has been grumpy for the past year or two, so we figure we should stay on the west side to minimize the chances of disruption.)

    Has anybody been there and can give me some places to go (and to avoid)?

    We figure that we’ll be staying in Palermo for 3-4 (maybe more) days, and use that as a “base of operations” for some 1 day excursions. At least one of those 1 day excursions will involve a vineyard. We’d like to spend a day in Erice, Agrigento, and probably Selinunte. That said, our itinerary is far from set.

    Also, any advice on getting around the island? I’ve read that their train network isn’t nearly as comprehensive as it is on the rest of Italy, and driving (at least in cities) can be … challenging (as it is in many cities in Italy).


  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Men’s stupid views on masculinity are keeping us from being much less sweaty when its 90 degrees out.

    My view is that no one needs to see any part of body not covered by long-ish shorts and a short sleeved shirt, even accidentally. I’m doing a service to the world.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Neil Hudelson: As I remember Safire’s (and subsequent) investigations into the origin, no one knows. Even the very first recorded usages don’t say what the nine yards consists of. So I’m sticking with West African cloths, simply because I’m tired of reading about cement mixers and football games and, yes, ammo belts.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @just nutha: Oh suuuure, that’s a likely story.

  24. Jen says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I don’t have any direct advice for Sicily, but Italy in April is lovely (we were in Amalfi a few years ago in April).

    The driving/traffic is astonishing and terrifying. Unless you are a superb driver with nerves of steel, I would not recommend a rental, although things might be different on an island. We rented a car, and I spent about every moment in it with my eyes shut, clutching the dash. I swore if we ever returned to Italy and rented a car, I’d need a scrip for Xanax.

    I’d recommend tracking down and watching Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy, season 1 ep. 6, which was about Sicily.

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: A trip without a rental car is a different kind of trip. For some, like my wife and I, it is vastly superior but for others it might feel constraining and frustrating. Last spring we visited Portugal for the first time and took busses and trains and sometimes taxis and ubers, plus a lot (a lot!) of walking. It allowed us to meet a lot more people, and to stay in the middle of old cities and towns we would never want to navigate with a car. And the train ride along the river into the Douro valley was beautiful and relaxing. We managed to get around even in the tiny town where we stayed by calling ahead for taxis, and enjoyed the grounds of the small winery we stayed at, and walks of a couple of miles rather than banging around driving from one “must see” sight to another. And because we weren’t driving, we never worried about ordering an extra glass of wine with dinner.

  26. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jen: We went to Naples just shy of 2 years ago, and just loved it. Honestly, I liked Naples more than I liked Rome, although Naples was a lot. We built in a 1 day rest between the two cities by going to Paestum, which was just fantastic (go if you’ve never been). It has some of the best preserved Greek temples outside of Greece in a giant archeological park. The fact I spent 2 hours sitting on a bench, drinking Italian white wine and listening to the birds sing in the grove of trees is completely irrelevant.

    Driving in Italy does appear to be a challenge. I’ve heard that driving in the country side is a lot less likely to trigger a cardiac event, but I’ve also heard that driving in Palermo is very similar to Naples, which is to say “crazy” and I have no desire to drive a car within the city limits.

    The problem is that not only does Sicily have fewer trains, some the sites are out in the middle of the countryside with few transportation options. There are some bus tours to various places, and that may be what we end up using.

    Thanks for the recommendation of the Stanley Tucci show. We’ve watched it (as well as others), but we should really rewatch it just to refresh our memories.

  27. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: We travel to the UK quite frequently (1-2 times a year before the pandemic), and we always get a car there (family and friends are far-flung and it’s easier for us to get to them to visit without the constraints of train and bus schedules). And having a rental car in Iceland was pretty much a necessity. I think for most of our trips, it makes sense, but I will never do so again in Italy. A small sample of what we saw: scooters driving in heavy traffic with riders who were smoking while typing on cell phones, large tour busses going over narrow, 1-lane bridges at speed, trucks passing with inches to spare between them…I could go on and on.

    We stopped at a small cafe for lunch one day–as it was a Monday most restaurants were closed. This one catered to truckers, as it was open and near an autoroute. Every single truck driver had a carafe of wine in front of them. So, yeah, truck drivers are having a drink with their lunch and then navigating all of those sharp hairpin turns in Amalfi.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Yeehaw! The next piece of the ecological damage puzzle has become ubiquitous. 🙁

    Plastistones, a new type of sedimentary rock that’s part-plastic and part-rock, has been found on at least five continents and 11 countries.

  29. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Jen: The Washington Post had an article over a decade ago about the worst drivers this one reporter experienced. He said that his weirdest experience was getting nudged by a car in Athens. The only thing is that he was sitting in a chair at a sidewalk cafe at the time.

  30. CSK says:

    Jen, let us know if you get clobbered by snow this weekend. Sleeping Dog and I probably less so, although who knows?

  31. Mimai says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    Driving in Italy does appear to be a challenge. I’ve heard that driving in the country side is a lot less likely to trigger a cardiac event

    Can confirm. I spent some time in the Aosta Valley region a few years ago. Driving was pretty chill (assuming one is not panicked by mountains).

    Cycling on the other hand did indeed tax the cardiovascular system. But in a good way. Kinda sorta.

    It’s a stunning region. Highly recommend.

  32. CSK says:
  33. Sleeping Dog says:


    The prediction is 3-5 here at the beach. Before xmas, I was noting that though the mild weather was nice and I didn’t miss the ice, the landscape was pretty ugly w/o snow. Careful what you wish for, rears its head.

    Of course, the prediction for Tuesday is rain and 50, so the snow won’t last long.

  34. Beth says:

    1. JohnSF, if you happen to see this, do you happen to know any Emigration solicitors (or whatever flavor of attorney handles this)? Or if anyone else who has UK contacts knows any attorney who works in that milieu. I’ve decided that it’s simply too dangerous to put off looking into whether I can claim UK citizenship through my dad. Initial view is yes, but I need confirmation and to get started. I’m not waiting till November to get my bug out bag ready. I’m not risking my family.

    2. Why do I need to do this you ask?

    In one of the most extreme bills of the last decade targeting transgender individuals, a new bill introduced on Thursday afternoon in Florida seeks to end all legal recognition of transgender people and mandates mass biological sex affidavits for both transgender and cisgender Floridians. These affidavits would be necessary at the DMV for license renewals, enabling the state to gather records of the biological sex of all individuals in Florida who apply for driver’s licenses. The affidavits could allow the state to compile lists of transgender people with Florida driver’s licenses. They could then be used to enforce other anti-trans laws in the state. Additionally, the bill would impact every law in Florida that references sex, effectively removing all legal recognition of transgender people in the state.

    3. @Stormy Dragon: I’m so happy. The best part is how quickly it becomes boring.

    4. @MarkedMan:
    @Neil Hudelson:

    Pants are the devil! Cast them off! you only have your shackles to lose!!!!! Well, that is until winter and you find out the only thing worse than pants are tights. Fucking tights.

  35. CSK says:

    Actress Glynis Johns, 100, has died.

  36. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    It’s 3″-6″ in northern coastal Mass. and 6″-9″ a little further inland. Further west in Mass. and NH.

  37. CSK says:


    …it will be 9-12 inches. So they say.

  38. JohnSF says:

    Unfortunately, I don’t.
    I can try to contact my nephew who’s a solicitors trainee, but their field is corporate law, so I don’t know if could help.
    Maybe he has a contact who can.
    But he’s on holiday skiing in Spain for a couple of weeks, and I don’t have his mobile.
    (I’m such a hermit when it comes to phones. Soz.)
    AFAIK the rule is: British parent (legally married) = automatic citizenship right.
    My suggestion would be check with the British consulate service.
    You can also apply online, but I don’t know if that has any potential legal blowback in re. US law.
    If you are in urgent need, I can try to get in touch via my brother, but may take a while, ’cause he’s currently also off down in Cornwall where modern technology is usually disabled by the pixies.
    Sorry I can’t be more immediately useful, but please get back if you want me to try.

    Also, IIWY, might be worth waiting on the outcome of our elections, which look like being this autumn: if Conservatives win, things might go for the worse here. Though I’m pretty sure Labour will get it done, given last 20 years, optimism can be difficult. See recent govt. block on Scots legal reform re trans persons.

  39. CSK says:

    Alina Habba says she’d rather be pretty than smart because she “can fake being smart.”

    Her words.

  40. JohnSF says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    Old Italian joke re. traffic lights and the regions of Italy:
    “In Turin, they are an instruction. In Milan, a regulation. In Rome, an indication. In Naples, a suggestion. In Palermo, a mere decoration.”

  41. CSK says:

    I figured they would:

    Republicans and Independents are pushing this as well as Democrats.

  42. CSK says:


    Illinois has joined Massachusetts.

  43. Beth says:


    Thank you. Yeah, my dad is one of Peterborough’s miscreant children. From what I looked at last year it looked pretty straightforward. I am looking to find people on both sides to tell me what the ramifications are. You’re also right about the political climate there. I’m more optimistic about your elections than ours though. I’d rather not wait till the last minute though, better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. For what it’s worth, I’m probably going to pay a US based immigration attorney to give me an opinion I can share with other people about obtaining refugee status in Canada and Mexico.

    Right now, if we have to leave, the plan is to try and settle in Scotland. A good solid part of me thinks that the SNP is partly using trans issues to stick it to the English. It would be interesting to find out how close that is to reality.

  44. Beth says:


    Lol, we’re never the first and we’ll undoubtedly screw it up somehow. I love IL, but we have to do things the wrong way several times before we figure it out.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Considering what cohort of ‘Murkuns she has to appeal to she may be right–on both the being pretty is better and faking smart is easier counts.

  46. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: \

    I’m sure Habba’s looks were the deciding factor for Trump. Who knows? She may be hoping to become the fourth Mrs. T.

  47. Kathy says:

    How about that? We did get a bonus for the very hard five weeks of Hell Week just past.

  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Congratulations!! Treat yourself to something you wouldn’t ordinarily have/do.

  49. CSK says:


    Congrats. You sure earned it.

  50. Stormy Dragon says:


    Pants are the devil! Cast them off! you only have your shackles to lose!!!!!

    “But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.”

    ‘Cause skirt go spinny or something =3

  51. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Katharine Hepburn adored pants. She told Barbara Walters she had one skirt, and would wear it to Barbara’s funeral.

  52. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Well, the desktop PC has begun to act up again… I still won’t get a new one until, and if, Win12 drops. But I can get a big monitor for the laptop.

  53. DrDaveT says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    Has anybody been there and can give me some places to go (and to avoid)?

    Caveat: I’ve only been to Sicily by cruise, so can’t advise about transportation.

    Must see:
    Cappella Palatina, Palermo
    Monreale cathedral, outside Palermo
    Ruins at Agrigento (south coast)
    Taormina (east coast)
    Siracusa, the whole city (southeast corner)

    Offshore: Aeolian Islands — Lipari, Volcano, Stromboli

    If you can find a confectioner that makes the candied bitter orange peels dipped in dark chocolate, buy as much as you can carry. Last time I was there it was unavailable — the heat (40 C) was prohibitive for making it.