Thursday’s Forum

You think today is going to be better

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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I’ve been awake since 1:42, so about 2 hours already. Ain’t insomnia great?

    ‘When it gets your hospital, it becomes real’: inside a hospital in one of the hardest hit US counties

    The folding chairs outside the windows appeared late last month, after the maintenance staff at St James parish hospital labeled each window with patient numbers so families and friends could at least see their loved ones battling Covid-19.

    Yet even this small solace the Louisiana rural hospital can offer is tainted for Leslie Fisher, a clinical nurse educator. She has to remind the family members to take shifts to properly physically distance from each other – even when their loved ones could quite possibly be in their final moments.

    The difficult conversations feel unceasingly cruel, she said, but she feels she has an obligation to protect these people, too. All she can do is look them in the eyes and say: “I’m so, so sorry.”

    This is the new normal for St James parish hospital, a 25-bed rural hospital located about 45 minutes from New Orleans, a pandemic hotspot. Its county – or parish, as they call them in Louisiana – of 22,000 residents already has confirmed more than 175 cases and six deaths as of Tuesday. That earns it the horror of being one of the hardest-hit counties nationwide for cases per capita, placing its rural hospital that sits just blocks off the east bank of the Mississippi River on to the frontlines with a continuous swell of patients.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    NYT: Coronavirus Turns Urban Life’s Roar to Whisper on World’s Seismographs

    Seismometers may be built to detect earthquakes, but their mechanical ears hear so much more: hurricanes thundering hundreds of miles away and meteoroids exploding in the skies on the other side of the planet. Even the everyday hum of humanity — people moving about on cars, trains and planes — has a seismically detectable heartbeat.

    But coronavirus has upended our lives. Hoping to curtail the pandemic’s spread, nations have closed their borders, cities have been shut down and billions of people have been instructed to stay home. Today, in cities large and small, the thumping pulse of civilization is now barely detectable on many seismograms.

    “It did make the scale of the shutdowns a bit more real to me,” said Celeste Labedz, a graduate student in geophysics at the California Institute of Technology.

    In person, you can see only your neighborhood’s dedication to remaining home. With seismometers, Ms. Labedz said, you can see the collective willingness of millions of the world’s urban dwellers to hunker down. As a result, the planet’s natural quavering is being recorded with remarkable clarity.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Just in case you were wondering: Federal Support Ends For Coronavirus Testing Sites As Pandemic Peak Nears

    The stupid, it hurts.

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Kids these days…

    Uncle Saka

    This kid is 17, and he built a site that tracks Coronavirus numbers. He was offered $8million to place ads on the site, and guess what he did …

  5. Bill says:

    On March sixth I posted about how a plane crashed very near to my home. The NTSB has come out with their initial report and their preliminary conclusion for the cause of the accident. Would you believe fuel exhaustion?

    BOYNTON BEACH — A small plane that crashed in a Boynton Beach neighborhood March 6, killing the pilot, likely took off from the nearby Lantana airport with its fuel tanks nearly empty, a preliminary report suggests.

    According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s initial report, posted Wednesday morning, the single-engine plane’s two fuel tanks, one on each wing, both were ruptured but contained “no evidence of residual fuel” and that the crash site had no fuel smell and no browned grass, which would indicate a spill.

    On top of that, the report said, the valve that switches between tanks “was devoid of fuel,” as was the engine-driven fuel pump. And the carburetor’s “float bowl” had only about two drops of fuel in it.

    “Sounds like he took off empty. No fuel,” Dave Freudenberg, a former Boca Raton city commissioner and a longtime private pilot, said Wednesday of the report’s wording.

    The pilot was 67 years old. Still it is hard to think someone can forget about fuel but there was a Medevac plane crash in Illinois less than 10 years ago where the pilots flew the aircraft till it ran out of fuel. My wife knew the couple that was killed in the crash. She spoke to the wife the day of the accident.

    Even professional pilots can do stupid things with airplanes.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:
  7. Scott says:

    I know this has been discussed to death, but here is a complete tick tock of the USS Theodore Roosevelt fiasco:

    The Battle of USS Theodore Roosevelt: a Timeline

    Here is what jump out at me:

    February 26: Defense Secretary Mark Esper directs combatant commanders to tell him before they make decisions about protecting their troops from COVID-19, the New York Times reports. His aim is to keep the military from contradicting President Trump, who that day declared that the 15 U.S. cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

    Because protecting the troops comes after protecting the President from embarrassment.

  8. Scott says:

    Had to drive to base here in San Antonio yesterday afternoon. Driving on the way back through the commercial district outside the base, I passed a new place called Daiquiris to Go. The drive thru line of cars was backed into the street and continued down a couple of blocks.

    I love America.

  9. Bill says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @OzarkHillbilly:

    A headline for our times: Sex toy sales triple during New Zealand’s coronavirus lockdown

    That’s my nominee for headline of the day but the article doesn’t mention if battery sales (for vibrators) are up too.

    From the looks of the story, there is no ebook material in it for me. I did write a short story about people experimenting after a hurricane hit and they were all without electrical power.

    And I’m still writing another ebook while I endure my 15th day of lockdown. Something about sisterly love* at a Philadelphia sorority house. I have 62 pages and over 18,000 words written and I started a week ago.

    I just pray there are still people alive to read it when I am through.

    *- No, not incest

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Revealed: 6,000 passengers on cruise ships despite coronavirus crisis

    Dozens of fatalities have now been linked to cruise ships, with both passengers and crew dying while at sea and after disembarking. Yet, according to analysis using the ship-tracking site CruiseMapper, at least eight ships remain at sea with passengers – including one vessel on which 128 people have tested positive for coronavirus.
    Cruise industry representatives say they were caught “without warning” by the pandemic. But operators continued to launch cruises as late as mid-March – after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic – and companies have been accused of failing to disclose the scale of ship-born outbreaks before allowing passengers to disembark.

    As far back as early February, outbreaks were detected on cruise ships. The Diamond Princess was quarantined in Japan on 4 February after an outbreak onboard which eventually claimed at least 10 lives.

    At least six ships which had coronavirus outbreaks set sail from the US after the CDC advised against cruise travel on 8 March – including two that departed after the WHO’s pandemic declaration.

    Yeah, and they want a bailout?

  11. Scott says:

    I spent 20 years voting by mail. I never committed fraud.

    Trump says voting by mail is bad. US troops do it all the time

    “Election offices sent 655,409 absentee ballots to military and overseas voters in 2018 and received 344,392 back, for a return rate of 53%,” according to FVAP’s latest report to Congress. “The rejection rate was 6%.”

    I was more concerned that my vote was actually counted. I always heard rumors that they only counted absentee ballots if the election was close.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @Bill: This makes me wonder if the pilot did his initial flight check. Or if he did, whether he paid attention to the information he was supposedly measuring.

    (My flight instructor told me about someone who attempted to take off in a GA aircraft which had its tail missing. You’d think that THAT would be noticed as well.)

  13. Kathy says:


    There are ways to forget about fuel or to get it wrong. I’d check whether the fuel gauges were in working order, if that’s possible. In the case that came to be known as the Gimli Glider, part of the problem were inoperative fuel gauges on a brand-new 767.

    Since then, fuel gauges have been added to the Minimal Equipment List of all commercial aircraft (astonishing they weren’t before!). Short version, if anything on the list is missing or inoperative, the plane cannot take off.

    So perhaps this guy thought he had fueled up, or someone told him the plane had fuel, and the fuel gauge didn’t work.

  14. Kathy says:


    The Grand Moron is trying to draw a distinction between absentee ballots and vote by mail.

    That’s like saying URLs are the devil’s work, but Universal Resource Locators are just peachy.

  15. Bill says:


    So perhaps this guy thought he had fueled up, or someone told him the plane had fuel, and the fuel gauge didn’t work.

    Those things could have happened and if either of them did, investigators most likely won’t be ever able to prove it.

    Pilots or other flight deck crew shouldn’t leave vital checks to anyone. If not, there can be disastrous consequences. Like the 1974 DC-10 crash outside of Paris. If the flight engineer had done a complete pre-flight inspection, the improperly closed cargo door might have been discovered and 346 people may have not died that day.

  16. Teve says:

    @Scott: I didn’t know Richard Nixon wrote Trump a letter telling him to run for office. It further cements the notion that Trump is not a usurper of the GOP throne, but its rightful heir.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    Megan McArdle advocates socialism. For insurance companies. Dems should take this up and use the opportunity to add M4A who want it to Obamacare.

    Matthew Yglesias believes winning over the Berniecrats is too great a reach for Joe. If this is so and it likely is, Joe should write them off and pursue center right voters who are troubled by Trump. Quite likely there are more obtainable centrists than unreachable Berniescrats.

    Why would any parent or student for that matter, want to be involved in a school run by this horses @ss.

    And on the C-19 front: Coronavirus May ‘Reactivate’ in Cured Patients, Korean CDC Says

    A similar report emanated out of China last month, needless to say it is not good news. It also raises the question as to whether a vaccine would be effective?

  18. Bill says:

    Calling all Cobol engineers-

    On top of ventilators, face masks and health care workers, you can now add COBOL programmers to the list of what several states urgently need as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.
    In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has put out a call for volunteers who know how to code the decades-old computer programming language called COBOL because many of the state’s systems still run on older mainframes.
    In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly said the state’s Departments of Labor was in the process of modernizing from COBOL but then the virus interfered. “So they’re operating on really old stuff,” she said.
    Connecticut has also admitted that it’s struggling to process the large volume of unemployment claims with its “40-year-old system comprised of a COBOL mainframe and four other separate systems.” The state is working to develop a new benefits system with Maine, Rhode Island, Mississippi and Oklahoma. But the system won’t be finished before next year.

    “Literally, we have systems that are 40-plus-years-old,” New Jersey Gov. Murphy said over the weekend. “There’ll be lots of postmortems and one of them on our list will be how did we get here where we literally needed COBOL programmers?”

    I took a high school computer science class 42 years ago where I was taught Basic. So this work is out for me even if I did remember more of what Mr. Schepis taught me.

  19. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Megan McArdle advocates socialism. For insurance companies. Dems should take this up and use the opportunity to add M4A who want it to Obamacare.

    In fact, Nancy should add M4A who want it to every economic relief bill that is aimed at corporations.

  20. Kathy says:


    I’m far less familiar with GA operations. If there is a maintenance log, it may say the gauges didn’t work. If there is one and if that was the case, that is.

    Another possibility is the pilot simply didn’t follow a checklist, and forgot to check something as basic as fuel.

    There was an incident in Spain, I think, where the pilot interrupted the first officer as they were running through the pre-takeoff checklist, and they never took it up again. As a result, they tried to take off with the flaps up.

  21. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I realized Megan McArdle was a piece of shit when she simultaneously advocated the following things:

    1) homeowners who had been scammed into ruinous mortgages should sacrifice everything else in their lives to pay the bank, because it’s important to avoid moral hazard and promote a culture of responsibility.

    2) when it comes to issues like banks foreclosing because the payment was $.47 short, banks should be ruthless in using every tool at their disposal to enhance the bottom line because capitalism is important and shareholder value etc.

    You got that? In a dispute between poor homeowners and rich banks, the poor homeowners should be pressured to uphold high moral standards, while rich banks should be allowed to act like psychopaths, extracting every dime regardless of the damage to people. In disputes with rich institutions versus poor people, the poor people are the ones who should have a hand tied behind their backs.

    I’m glad I’ve never been offered the amount of money it would take for me to write such morally repugnant garbage.

  22. scott says:

    This should be broadcast to the masses.

    Cut salaries, taxes to reopen U.S. economy says Laffer, conservative fav

    “If you tax people who work and you pay people who don’t work, you will get less people working,” Laffer said. “If you make it more unattractive to be unemployed, then there’s an incentive to go look for another job faster.”

    My question is this: 1% owns 40% of the wealth. Isn’t this a disincentive for the rich to create jobs. Shouldn’t we take their wealth away to restore their self-esteem and job creation abilities?

  23. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ll just put out my standard McArdle warning here: she is incredibly shallow and in the years before I gave up reading her, everything she wrote that touched on a subject I actually knew about was wrong, and usually wrong in such a way as to show she didn’t even understand the concept. I can’t think of any specific examples right now but, to paraphrase someone else commenting on a different journalist, she’s the type of writer who could do a whole column based on the fact that pennies are worth more than dimes because they are bigger.

  24. Scott says:

    @Bill: I once knew Basic, Fortran, and Pascal and I knew a lot of COBOL programmers in the 70s. We’re all old now.

    My question is this: I thought we did away with a lot of COBOL systems when we had to upgrade for Y2K issues. There was a shortage of COBOL programmers in 1999 and 2000 then. I guess they were quick patches. More death of expertise.

  25. Michael Reynolds says:

    I think we should bail out any cruise line that registers its ships as American, pays US taxes and follows US employment laws. Which, by my rough count, would be none of them.

    The effrontery of these tax-dodging assholes asking for tax money. They can go ask Panama and the Bahamas for help.

  26. Teve says:

    @scott: If people getting free money makes them lazy and unproductive, then we should immediately stop allowing multi-million-dollar inheritances.

  27. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: It is not as if cruise ships are an essential element of the economy. Walk through what happens if the cruise lines go bankrupt. They will go into receivership, reorganize or sell off their assets, investors or stockholders will take a haircut, and then go back into business. I see no reason for taxpayers to be involved at all.

    BTW, our good buddies the Saudis have bought at a greatly reduced price 20% of Carnival.

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @scott: I think we should engage in activities that will enhance Laffer’s self preservation instincts.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Exactly.

  30. Kathy says:


    I don’t code or program, though I took BASIC and some Pascal and Logo in high school. In the 90s, we got a payroll software that ran on COBOL. We had to get a COBOL disk so it would run. I was under the impression then that it was already obsolete.

    The payroll software was really good. Very flexible, it allowed informative concepts, like hours worked or pieces made, without adding them to the total, and it handled two payroll tax reforms without requiring an update.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    @Bill: FWIW running COBOL doesn’t necessarily have to be outdated. Back in the Y2K years I learned there were a lot of banking and accounting COBOL programs running on virtual machines. The code worked, was very efficient and had been field tested for decades, so they would just stand up a virtual machine fire it up and run a single transaction. They could do tens of thousands of these simultaneously. It actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. That original COBOL Hardware probably had kilobytes of memory to do everything. It would be hard to get more efficient than that.

  32. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: efficiency was understandably the origin of the y2k problem.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    An update on the Trump Administation (with Republican acquiescence) seizing hospital and state purchases of PPE and distributing them to private entities to resell on the open market.

  34. Kathy says:

    I’m trying to get a sense of the odds of catching COVID-19.

    So far, reports of confirmed cases stand at around 3,200 for the country, with about 1,250 in Mexico City and the State of Mexico. I assume this is off by about a factor of ten, as testing is ridiculously low. So that would mean about 12,500 cases in my area.

    This goes way up if, as some nebulous reports have it, some people get infected and develop no symptoms at all, or symptoms so mild they don’t even think they’re sick. This could be another factor of ten, 125,000 cases nearby, or more. I’ve no idea. It might be less, too.

    Still, even 125,000 cases in a metropolitan area of 21 million makes for 0.6% infection rate. Lower, really, as the State of Mexico is geographically large, with a population of 3-4 million outside the Mex City metro area.

    But I do the 11 kilometer drive to work, and then again from work, every day. There are still plenty of people in the office, and who knows what precautions they take. Some in my department even have traveled in the past three weeks (one just arrived back today). I also go to the supermarket once a week, same caveats.

    So call it a 12% chance of coming across an infected person (possibly overstated). that’s way too high. So I take all possible precautions. It may be a good idea to start wearing a would be an even better idea to get other people to wear masks, as they contain stuff far better than they prevent it from coming in.

  35. Sleeping Dog says:


    I seldom read McArdle for the same reasons, but the teaser headline at memeorandum got me to read the article. It was good old Megan, support for corporate interests and to hell with the rest of us. I believe she came to the WaPo as part of their hire the handicapped campaign, she filled the niche for writers who were devoid of logic, consistency and fairness. She really is a dumb sh#t.

  36. Kingdaddy says:

    The latest from Liberty University, an oxymoron if there ever were one: Jerry Falwell, Jr. wants two journalists arrested for trespassing.

  37. Michael Cain says:

    @Scott: I’ve spent the last 20 years voting by mail, first by permanent no-excuse absentee ballot and then a full-blown vote-by-mail system.

    As part of a long-term project, I collect ways that the US Census Bureau’s 13-state western region is different from the rest of the country. Vote-by-mail is one of them. Collectively, the very large majority of all votes cast in the region are cast by mail. Five states now mail a ballot to every registered voter in every election (CO, HI, OR, UT, and WA). In two states (AZ and CA) the majority of ballots that will be cast are mailed out. Neither of those two use the term absentee any more; people there sign up for “vote-by-mail ballots” on a permanent basis.

  38. senyordave says:

    I saw this recently:
    AG Bill Barr, on Fox News, refers to current restrictions as “draconian measures” and says at end of April, he thinks we should “allow people to adapt more than we have, & not just tell people to go home and hide under their bed.”
    Maybe Barr should go into a hospital and care for some patients, making sure not to wear any PPE (which I’m sure he could get by calling Jared and getting some of his stash).
    Is Bill Barr the worst AG in history? I thought John Mitchell had the title, but Barr seems worse, he actually comes off as almost intentionally evil. He also weighed in on other matters:
    Barr also criticizes “snarky, gotcha questions from the White House media pool” and says of Trump & hydroxychloroquine, “As soon as he said something positive about it, the media’s been on a jihad to discredit the drug.”
    Barr says what happened to Trump in Russia investigation was “one of the greatest travesties in American history.” Probe, he says, was started “without any basis” & steps taken post-election were meant “to sabotage the presidency”

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @Kathy: The pre-flight check for GA aircraft doesn’t rely on dial gauges–you actually hop up on a stepladder and use a dip-stick into both tanks to measure the amount of fuel.

  40. Kit says:


    AG Bill Barr, on Fox News, refers to current restrictions as “draconian measures”

    Barr probably would have been a supporter of Draco, a good law-and-order type if ever there was one:

    Concerning the liberal use of the death penalty in the Draconic code, Plutarch states: “It is said that Drakon himself, when asked why he had fixed the punishment of death for most offences, answered that he considered these lesser crimes to deserve it, and he had no greater punishment for more important ones”.

  41. wr says:

    My blood is still boiling over Wisconsin and over the outright corruption of the US Supreme Court. I suggest a new political movement:

    Since Republicans hate voting rights and love gun rights, let’s give them what we want — every time they threaten our right to vote, we’re buying guns.

  42. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    The latest from Liberty University, an oxymoron if there ever were one: Jerry Falwell, Jr. wants two journalists arrested for trespassing.

    What”s the line form the Bible…”forgive those who trespass against us?”

  43. gVOR08 says:

    @Scott: Vote by mail fraud has been a known thing for years. People with two residences vote in both. People who have two residences tend to be wealthy and/or retired, demos that favor Rs. Somehow, for all their professed outrage over vote fraud, this actual vote fraud never seemed to catch their attention. Until now.

  44. Tyrell says:

    Former police officer arrested for playing t-ball with his six year old daughter in his own backyard!, (Brighton, Colorado/ ABC news)
    Have people completely lost their minds?

  45. Michael Cain says:

    @MarkedMan: In many cases, old COBOL code is hard to replace because there’s no separate specification. That is, the only documentation for all of the details of what the system should do, and how, is the COBOL code itself.

  46. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    Vote by mail fraud has been a known thing for years.

    Have never heard this, before.

  47. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @gVOR08: @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Vote by mail fraud has been a known thing for years

    Likewise, Tax fraud by mail.
    Solution ? Require hand delivery of tax returns to IRS office.

  48. @scott: I found that article as well and have just posted a response.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I was going to suggest the Alaska Marine Highway System (the cruise company to Alaska before Princess Cruises discovered there were piers there), but looked them up. Turns out it’s a socialist plot–state owned.

  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Mostly something I’ve seen mentioned now and again for years. Best I can find quickly is this from Slate. Deals with other forms more than dual residence. There was also the recent NC case where a GOP operative was collecting absentee ballots and not mailing them in.

    Absentee/mail-in fraud happens at a negligible rate. But it does happen, unlike the in-person fraud the GOPs have been up in arms about. I’m not offering this as an argument against hugely expanded vote by mail this year or in future, which we must do. I’m offering Republicans’ sudden concern about mail-in fraud as an example of their absolute hypocrisy in all things at all times.

  51. Michael Cain says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: There are small amounts of voter fraud in all systems. There are cases of successful election stealing using absentee ballots. All of the ones I am aware of were in rural Southern counties and involved the county recorder forging a few dozen ballots. There are claims of large-scale fraud in vote-by-mail. TTBOMK, none of those have held up under serious examination. A few years back the Republican Sec of State in my vote-by-mail state came up with a list of 4,000 names and addresses that he claimed were persons illegally registered to vote. The county clerks checked the entire list — at considerable staff time and expense — and found four people that were actually illegally registered. All had been registered by the same overzealous worker at a drivers license office who just signed them up without asking. One of the largest sources of such claims has been the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program. They produced on the order of seven million “suspects” each year. As part of a court settlement in 2019, they were enjoined from distributing such lists because not a single one of their suspects has ever been convicted.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @Michael Reynolds: But Michael, you misunderstand. Chartering your company and registering your ships overseas just means you don’t pay taxes here. It doesn’t mean you can’t hire lobbyists here. Nor does it mean, contra Justice Alito’s “Not true”, that you can’t find ways to channel money to politicians here.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to find the “distributing them to private entities to resell on the open market” part of the story you’re citing. Now I know that it’s fun to do the whole “Trump is a big crook” thing and have no doubt that he is, but embellishing stories to include information that they don’t have is still bad form and we don’t like it when Guarneri, 95 South, or the cosplay picture guy do it. We shouldn’t do it either.

    Not (directly) an accusation about you or your motives; I just can’t find that part of the story on any of the links in the TPM article and don’t see it in the original article either. Help me out.

  54. Kingdaddy says:

    I once sat through a COBOL tutorial. It felt as though someone were reading the Necronomicon aloud. Thanks, I’ll stick with programming languages that pose less of a threat to my sanity.

  55. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kingdaddy: Not really. Falwell Sr.’s definition of “liberty” was bog standard Dominionist–the freedom to do as one pleases while impinging on the freedom of others.

  56. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: The whole line–it’s from The Lord’s Prayer–is “forgive us our trespasses [in the same manner] as we forgive those who trespass against us.” But to be fair, I’ve never known anyone, myself included, who really wants equal treatment in that sort of sense.

  57. gVOR08 says:

    Long ago in a University far away my intro to programming (FORTRAN) class had a chapter on COBOL. Does that qualify me for a job like Vic’s in Dilbert. He has a sinecure because he wrote the company accounting system “a million lines of undocumented spaghetti logic”. “The Holy Grail of technology!!”

  58. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “The pre-flight check for GA aircraft doesn’t rely on dial gauges–you actually hop up on a stepladder and use a dip-stick into both tanks to measure the amount of fuel.”

    I took one flying lesson once — a gift from a friend — and the very first thing the instructor had me do was to walk around the plane to check the gas in both tanks…

  59. Kit says:

    When it comes to voting by mail, I wonder how many husbands fill out their wives ballots.

  60. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    The Times had a couple of articles on mail voting this morning, here is one.

  61. Monala says:

    Based on what I’m seeing on Twitter, rightwingers have a new talking point: Trump has saved 900,000* Americans! To criticize him means you don’t care anything about the 900k American lives he has saved!

    * I’m assuming they mean that some were predicting a million deaths from Covid-19, so if only 100,000 Americans die, Trump has saved the other 900,000.

  62. Kit says:


    Based on what I’m seeing on Twitter, rightwingers have a new talking point: Trump has saved 900,000* Americans!

    The unstated assumption is that Trump didn’t have to save any of us. We should all bow down in thanks, both Republicans and Democrats. And so what if 100k had to die: we needed the lesson.

  63. Michael Cain says:

    @Kit: I hear this a lot. Living in a vote-by-mail state, I suspect the answer is “hardly any.” One or more felonies are involved. If it were happening, it would show up as part of background in divorce proceedings and restraining order applications.

  64. Kit says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I suspect the answer is “hardly any.”

    I hope you are right. That is the one aspect of vote by mail that bothers me on more than just a speculative level. Maybe men are better than I give them credit for.

  65. DrDaveT says:


    I took a high school computer science class 42 years ago where I was taught Basic. So this work is out for me even if I did remember more of what Mr. Schepis taught me.

    I had half a year of COBOL in high school, about the same time. It was already nearly archaic then, in terms of new system development. My paid work a couple of years after that was in FORTRAN and (Hewlett Packard’s spiffy expanded version of) BASIC. Five years after that, it was all Pascal and C.

  66. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Yeah…I don’t give the Times my $
    From what I can tell the problem, if it exists, is miniscule.

  67. Monala says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Right now, the Times is offering their articles related to coronavirus free to the public.

    Also, tip: if you have a columnist at the Times that you like (say, Paul Krugman or Charles Blow), you can subscribe to their column and have it delivered to your email inbox, without paying the Times a dime.

  68. Michael Cain says:

    After Colorado had been through a couple of vote-by-mail elections, one of the polling outfits tucked the question “Should Colorado retain its vote-by-mail system?” into one of its larger state-wide polls. 85% of Democrats said yes. 80% of independents said yes. 75% of Republicans said yes. It was heavily favored across all of urban, suburban, and rural respondents. Apple pie doesn’t poll that well here, and Mom ought to be worried.

    The writing is on the wall. Within a decade, the American West will vote by mail and districts will be drawn by commissions that can’t favor one major party over another. Both red and blue states.

  69. Michael Cain says:


    I took a high school computer science class 42 years ago where I was taught Basic. So this work is out for me even if I did remember more of what Mr. Schepis taught me.

    I wrote my one and only COBOL program in the summer of 1976. I was a paid intern for the Nebraska Legislative Fiscal Analyst’s office. They had realized they needed some software tools, but didn’t know exactly what, and I was writing little prototypes for them. I wrote a recursive PL/I program for one of the things they wanted to look at. That one was so handy they asked if I could rewrite it in COBOL, since that was the only language actually supported by the statehouse IT staff. I went to the used book store, bought a beginning-to-intermediate COBOL book, and started. At least at that time, COBOL didn’t support recursion. It barely supported arrays flexible enough to simulate recursion. Eventually the program worked properly. I swore a mighty oath that I would never touch COBOL again, and have stuck to that for almost 44 years now.

  70. CSK says:

    Boris Johnson is out of intensive care.

  71. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:
  72. grumpy realist says:
  73. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ve put my sources for this claim in previous citations. Here is one, from Gov Pritzker of Illinois via Talking Points Memo

    Gov @GovPritzker confirms that the federal ‘Air Bridge’ flights from China, organized by the White House taskforce, are bringing PPE back from China which are then turned over to private companies. The states then have to bid against each other to purchase from those companies.

  74. MarkedMan says:

    This from the NYT:

    Federal officials say they are trying to expedite the shipment to the United States of large quantities of medical supplies procured by private health care providers such as McKesson Corporation, Cardinal Health, Owens & Minor, Medline and Henry Schein. FEMA allows those distributors to sell about half of the equipment to companies and counties that had previously placed orders.

    The Trump administration denies they are seizing supplies at the border, but there are about a dozen cases where states or hospitals that say that’s exactly what they were told by their distributors.

  75. MarkedMan says:

    From Vox:

    A number of governors — including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — have said they’ve seen orders for masks and other needed equipment canceled because the federal government outbid them. This has led to some finding creative ways to disguise their orders to mask them from the Trump administration.

  76. MarkedMan says:

    From Crains:

    Under Project Airbridge, “They’re bringing stuff back from China to the United States and then they’re delivering it to private companies in the United States, not to the states, and they’re letting all of us bid against each other for those goods that are owned by the private companies,” Pritzker said. “So we’ve just gone around all that and gone directly to manufacturers wherever we could.”


    Medline is one of five companies to receive a federal waiver that allows them to coordinate the sale of personal protective equipment throughout the U.S. without worrying about antitrust complaints that would normally apply if companies as large as Medline, Cardinal Health, McKesson, Owens & Minor and Henry Schein, all partners in the program, were to work together to gain control over pricing and distribution in the marketplace.

  77. Kathy says:


    Odd. I know of no state governor named Trump.

  78. Robert Sharperson says:

    What I have heard generally from women is that they vote for who the hell they want to vote for despite their controlling husbands. I am sure in Vote by Mail states, the wife is going to make sure she mails her own damn ballot.
    And if I am not mistaken, those states have had a gender gap for years

  79. MarkedMan says:

    From Vanity Faire:

    The Times also reports that the federal government is seizing or canceling PPE orders placed by states—despite telling the states that they should be getting their own supplies—since the Airbridge strategy requires distributors to send half of their shipments to whatever regions the federal government has prioritized, with only the other half going to companies or states that had actually placed orders. And what areas the federal government deems a priority appears to be shaded by personal politics, as the Times notes that Kushner has pushed supplies to states that have happened to get President Donald Trump on the phone, even if they haven’t submitted formal requests. “It would be like high school cafeteria drama if it weren’t life or death,” political consultant Jared Leopold, the former communications director for the Democratic Governors Association, told the Times.

  80. MarkedMan says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I have to admit that I resent being lumped in the same category as RWNJ’s (or LWNJ’s for that matter). I always try to cite my sources, and if something proves incorrect or unfounded I retract it. In the case of the post where you accused me of going all Trumpian, I didn’t repeat my citations but I’ve been posting them for a week or more in other threads.

  81. KM says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I hear this a lot. Living in a vote-by-mail state, I suspect the answer is “hardly any.” One or more felonies are involved.

    Wow. It’s almost like someone who would willing take someone’s agency away by deciding how they are going to vote would care about it being a felony or that it would even cross their mind. Considering abusive spouses have been known to commit other felonies such as identify theft and misrepresentation for finances and government forms, filing out a mail vote wouldn’t be a second thought.

    If it were happening, it would show up as part of background in divorce proceedings and restraining order applications.

    Most of the women it’s happening to aren’t getting divorces or restraining orders because they’re still stuck with their abuser. They never get free and you’ll never hear from them. It’s also a lot harder to prove then bank fraud or signing her name on a check since it’s supposed to be a secret ballot. Hell, the wife might not even know she “requested and submitted” a ballot in the first place!

    I’m not claiming it’s rampant but it’s definitely more then “hardly any”. Any abuser who’s got you on lockdown in terms of your agency, finances and free will isn’t going to let you freely vote. You’ll do what they want, when they want…. if they even let you know what happening in the first place.

  82. MarkedMan says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: From the article you referenced:

    The Denver Post today editorialized about one of the most egregious examples. Last week, as we reported, a shipment of 500 ventilators to the state of Colorado was intercepted and rerouted by the federal government. Gov. Jared Polis (D) sent a letter pleading for the return of the equipment. Then yesterday President Trump went on Twitter to announce that he was awarding 100 ventilators to Colorado at the behest of Republican Senator Cory Gardner, one of the most endangered Republicans on the ballot this year. As the Post put it, “President Donald Trump is treating life-saving medical equipment as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It’s the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives.”

  83. Gustopher says:


    Something about sisterly love*

    Nuns? Nuns do love everyone. Good choice.

    Maybe a short story collection with every form of sister, culminating in a tale of Sista Soulja discovering that her sorority sister, Whoopie Goldberg, is her real sister, on the set of Sister Act 12.

  84. Gustopher says:


    Any abuser who’s got you on lockdown in terms of your agency, finances and free will isn’t going to let you freely vote. You’ll do what they want, when they want….

    So, like Trump or Bernie voters then…

  85. CSK says:

    Over at, Cult45 has decided that Dr. Fauci, that Hillary Clinton-loving Deep State slimeball, is sending hand signals to Jim Acosta, apparently as part of a plot to bring down Trump. They got this notion from The Conservative Treehouse.

  86. Bill says:


    Nuns? Nuns do love everyone. Good choice.

    Sorority, LUGS, I will let you figure it out.

  87. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: Thank you.

  88. Mister Bluster says:

    Appomattox, Virginia April 9, 1865. 155 years ago today.
    “We are all Americans.” Attributed to Ely Parker

  89. Matt says:

    @Bill: Fuel exhaustion happens quite a bit in general aviation (or at least more than it should). Usually involving the pilot using the wrong tank by forgetting to switch or accidentally switching to the wrong one etc. In your case the pilot might of been just too comfortable with flying and missed some of his check list.

  90. Kathy says:


    because emailing or sending secure messages with Whatsapp or Telegram would be too complicated in this day and age?

  91. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    A lot of people haven’t yet processed quite how much”socialism” (or rather, state intervention) is going to be required as this crisis continues.
    It verges on an economic “out of context problem”.
    And no wishful thinking about an “early restart” will avoid it now.

    To avoid economic collapse due to collapsed incomes of individuals, companies and sub-national government, national governments and central banks are going to have to hit the problem with a tidal wave of fiat money.

    Further on, the secondary crisis will be the need to restart an economy whose physical and human capital is still extant, but where claims of debt (and “rents” generally) may need quite radical limits to avoid recovery being choked off as it begins.

    Then, these factors will also quite likely produce the need for measures to limit inflation without crippling interest rates; (temporary?) limits on asset valuations and returns, and central bank debt cancellation (and probably state “management” of effective debt liabilities of large debtors to avoid both some forced insolvencies and some potential debt-offloading shenanigans).

    All this is going to radically alter the financial/regulatory/legal foundations of Western economies.

  92. Teve says:

    Robert Sharperson says:
    Thursday, April 9, 2020 at 16:31
    What I have heard generally from women is that they vote for who the hell they want to vote for despite their controlling husbands. I am sure in Vote by Mail states, the wife is going to make sure she mails her own damn ballot.
    And if I am not mistaken, those states have had a gender gap for years

    Take just a second to try to imagine what kind of shitty person would downvote that comment. If he’s that shitty, I’m sure he’s a Trumper.

  93. Teve says:

    @JohnSF: I’ve been hearing that hyper inflation is right around the corner for 30 years. And yet the inflation rates for the last 10 years have been 1.5, 3.0, 1.7, 1.5, 0.8, 0.7, 2.1, 2.1, 1.9, 2.3, 2.3. For the time being I’m going to keep dismissing these claims.

  94. Michael Reynolds says:

    I just got some very interesting news. Which I can’t really talk about. But it’s like the clouds parted and the sun broke through on a project from the 90’s. Kind of like we’d been stalled at the starting line of the marathon for years and now, all of a sudden, we’re at about mile 7 or so. Hope is really annoying.

  95. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Having lived and worked as a laborer during Stagflation and the subsequent Carter “national malaise,” I, too, will have to see it to believe it.

    @Michael Reynolds: Then don’t get your hopes up 😛 , but congratulations just the same if they turn out appropriate.

  96. JohnSF says:

    Likewise, I’ve tuned out the incessant squawking of “monetary conservatives” that soaring inflation was due real soon now, often morphing into goldbuggery, or more recently bitcoin enthusiasm.

    When I bothered to reply it was along the lines of:
    If you think hyperinflation is imminent follow these steps:
    1) Borrow as much as you can at fixed rates
    2) Borrow more
    3) And more
    4) Invest in productive physical assets likely to be in permanent demand e.g. farmland, mines, energy, manufacturing and profit enormously as your debt is wiped out.
    And, above all:
    5) Don’t come crying to me when you lose your shirt because hyperinflation doesn’t occur.

    Because of central bank monetary management and market constrained prices.
    (And arguably mis-allocation of effective demand due to wealth inequalities).

    However, the scale of monetary and fiscal intervention required now is off the charts.
    Like nothing since the Great Depression and WW2.

    Inflation effects are likely to be limited by supply constraints being balanced by demand reduction.
    But there is a lot of potential for some nasty side effects when the real economy starts to revive.

    Hyperinflation is eminently avoidable; but doing so will need fiscal and financial/monetary measures that will give a lot of people set in conventional “conservative” economic thinking the screaming abb-dabs.
    And may set others to thinking that, if such management of effective wealth is possible, why not use this beyond the present emergency…

  97. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Hmm…lemme guess…you’re attached to a reboot of The Princess Bride, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Westley and Megan Fox as Buttercup?

  98. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    GOP hawks want to punish China for coronavirusWhat? Like it’s China’s fault that you guys bumbled and dithered and played politics with the problem for a month or so? Really? That’s all ya got?

  99. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Michael Bay’s Animorphs?

  100. Kit says:


    Take just a second to try to imagine what kind of shitty person would downvote that comment. If he’s that shitty, I’m sure he’s a Trumper.

    Don’t look at me! I was in bed 😐

    We have a serial down voter here (tt, is it you?), so there’s little use on speculating what any single vote means. Still, if you read what @KM wrote, I think that @Robert Sharperson might come across as slightly blithe.

    I find it somewhat off putting to brush off the concerns, especially after having given the issue a quick look online. Hell, I suspect my own father of at least low-level intimidation towards my mother in this regard.

  101. rachel says:

    @Teve: @Kit: It could just be someone with fat fingers and a tiny smartphone screen too.

  102. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’ve seen/heard similar. They basically want to assess some kind of penalty on China for both creating the conditions (basically, allowing wet markets) and letting it get out of control/lying about the spread.

    Everyone wants someone to blame, but no one wants to face the logic that the next pandemic absolutely could begin here. Everywhere that humans encroach on wilderness presents a risk, and the US is no different. We don’t have wet markets but we do have plenty of other gathering places (the fact that an early cluster was at a wet market has confused people into thinking it was food that spread it–that is flat-out wrong. It was simply the gathering place.)

    Arrogance and sticking heads in sand are apparently conservative traits.