Steven L. Taylor
Thursday, September 9, 2021
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).
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Last night I finished Three Body Problem and was left very underwhelmed. It started with a lot of promise, but the way the narrative was structured was just all over the place. Two-thirds in, the story comes to a screeching halt while the author fills in pages and pages of back story for one of the main characters. The global conspiracy at the heart of the tale is silly. And the reveal of the villain lands with a dull wet thud.
After finishing it I started reading Altered Carbon and I’m really enjoying it. The world builds organically with the plot, characters (thus far, about 30% in) are multidimensional, and the sex scenes are actually erotic, a rarity in sci fi.
Yesterday recommended to Teve the poet Jane Kenyon. Here’s a link to “Otherwise,” one of her most notable works. It will stay with you.
@Neil J Hudelson: What you say is all true but nonetheless I really enjoyed The Three Body Problem. But I read it while living in China and I was fascinated by the machinations of the author in his efforts to “color inside the lines” and make sure it was politically acceptable, especially given that sci-fi in general is in sketchy territory there.* This, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure the author is a true believer in China’s greatness and racial superiority and all that stuff.
One of the most fascinating things was that if two or more groups were in competition for something, even groups who were not otherwise enemies or even rivals, the author took it as an inviolate rule of human nature that once it was apparent one faction was going to lose they would immediately focus 100% of their efforts on making sure no one could win, by any means necessary. (It’s more obvious in the later books). That really gave me pause.
* For example, while I was there some ministry announced that stories about time travel were decadent and no more movies, TV shows or books could be created with such plots. I don’t know if anyone actually paid attention to it – government ministries made all kinds of pronouncements all the time. Many were ignored, but others could result in your disappearance. I was not clued in enough to predict which was which.
I have been a long, long, LONG time lurker of this site, and this is my second comment. Great thanks to Drs. Taylor and Joyner, and the late Mr. Mataconis, for long maintaining a living laboratory of meaningful, respectful discourse for political junkies and intellectual nerds.
I have always been bemused by the title of this site, “Outside the Beltway”. Mr. Mataconis’s bio described him as a lawyer in Fairfax County, Virginia, and Dr. Joyner now lives in Fairfax County. Well if you live in Fairfax County and you are outside the beltway, you ain’t too far from it. Maybe a dozen miles? (I grew up in Loudoun County, the next county west of Fairfax.)
I don’t know if you have seen it, but there’s an extremely questionable study going around the inter-webs claiming that Ivermectin causing impotence.
But it made me think; if the anti-vaxxers are latching onto bullshit stories about magnetism, micro-chips, etc., to justify not getting vaccinated…maybe to way to get to them is with bullshit stories abut their alternative treatments? Tell them it’s going to make them impotent, or make their hair fall out, or cause Beelzebub to appear, or whatever.
Panera dining room closed all day today, for the second time this week, cuz can’t staff the place. Good.
Missed this yesterday:
President Ford addresses the nation September 8, 1974. This is 9 min 34 sec long and is not word for word identical to the written text sourced above.
I am always dissapointed with the poor quality of the video recordings from the past.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
Read to the end of the comments thread at the COVID post at BJ, Snopes says total BS.
@CSK: oh, that’s good. Thanks.
I took a short break from Bad Blood to catch up with some COVID/SARS-CoV-2 related podcasts by Enrique Ganem and his partner, Maria de Los Angeles Aranda, on their podcast.
On the matter of side effects from the Pfizer shot, a study in Israel looking at hundreds of thousands of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, found a higher incidence of miocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) in those vaccinated.
How much higher? 5 in 100,000 vs 1 in 100,000.
This seems a lot in relative terms, a five-fold increase, but it remains tiny in absolute terms. Percentage-wise we’re talking a baseline risk of 0.001% vs 0.005%
The risk of catching COVID and falling ill sans vaccine is far higher than this, and the risk of long-term complications, or death, from COVID without a vaccine is also far higher.
Get the vaccine.
It moves along so simply and quietly, almost matter-of-factly, and then the ending….pow.
I can’t get to OtB on my tablet at all. Just keep getting a Bad Request error. It’s probably on my end, since my phone here is working fine, but it’s just a new one for me.
@Kathy: I saw breathless headlines, the vaccine causes myocarditis!, and investigated a little bit, and the estimate was something like 50 to 100 per million people. But sensationalist media…
Wasn’t Relativity “discredited” or something during the Cultural Revolution? I kind of vaguely recall something to that effect.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
Rebecca Watson at Skepchick has a piece about it today. Also debunks the overdose on ivermectin epidemic.
I have that problem intermittently. AdBlock didn’t help, but using a private window seems to work.
Perhaps an ad is badly formed?
Re: Ivermectin and infertility–Jax posted a piece in the open thread yesterday, it was an article on a news website out of Florida somewhere. She noted at the time that it felt sketchy, but is still funny. The article covered an extremely small study out of Nigeria, so definitely not worth investing any credence in, as far as I was concerned. I figured we would have heard something much earlier on if that was the case, since Ivermectin is administered to humans and is widely used as a treatment for parasites.
@Kathy: FWIW, I think China is in the midst of second cultural revolution. The change was starting when I arrived there for the first time in 2010. Up to then China had been gradually getting freer. Then they got really scared of the internet and things started to steamroll. You now have concentration camps, genocide, and political reeducation camps. The government used to mandate that children learn English and now, not only have they stopped that, they are pulling language learning apps like Duolingo off the app stores. Bad, bad things are happening there, with no end in sight.
@Jen: And I don’t know why, but ever since I read the list of how the sperm were supposedly affected, I’ve had “One-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater” stuck in my head. 😛
The Florida station says it has removed that story from its website.
I wonder what the MAGAs would have done had the tale been true? It would have been quite a quandary for them.
Absolutely. Just look at Hong Kong. Remember “one country, two systems”? That’s hardly the case anymore, and Xi keeps making it less so.
I’ve almost finished the first Mary Poppins book. It’s Not the Disney film.
This is amusing:
Axios (and other sources) seem to believe that this is going to be a hatchet job on Donald and Melania. I do hope so.
The title, I’ll Take Your Questions Now, is hilarious given that Grisham as press secy. never once held a press conference.
“I’ll Take That Martini Now” is more like it.
@Neil J Hudelson:
I’m reminded of the movie “Hero” (the 2002 Jet Li movie, not the 1992 Dustin Hoffman movie). It was stunningly beautiful but left me cold because the story was ultimately just a justification for an authoritarian dictatorship.
The “Three Body Problem” series seems essentially the sci-fi version of that. It creates a universe specifically for the purpose of justifying an authoritarian dictatorship (“we need to control all communications so that we can keep the homicidal aliens from finding out about us!”)
I was thinking perhaps The Lost Weekend or Days of Wine and Roses.
@DAllemABQ: Thanks for the kind words.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Earlier today I was using on the fact that one of the many things I love about OTB is that you can come here with a question and get a raft of useful, literate answers no matter whether the subject is particle physics, American political history, or a recipe for Tournedos Rossini.
Should be “musing on the fact,” not “using on the fact.”
There are some serious issues with anti-Semitism on the left.
I observed some of this when following the Oh-11 special election for Martha Fudge’s old Congressional seat, in which local pol Shontel Brown defeated Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner. Because Oh-11 has a large Jewish population, many on the left attributed Turner’s defeat to “dark Jewish money.”
Another big issue that happened this summer were the nationwide “Marches for Medicare for All” (MM4A). They took place in July, I think, in dozens of cities across the US. I don’t think any given march was very big or had much impact. But the relevant point it, each march had a keynote speaker and the organizers did a poor job of vetting them. In one city, the keynote speaker was an anti-vaxxer; in another, a guy with a history of making TikTok videos about wanting to rape lesbians to turn them straight; and in a third, the keynote speaker turned out to be a neo-Nazi.
Many organizers of the MM4A were embarrassed by this outcome and publicly apologized, but others doubled down: “If rapists, anti-vaxxers and neo-Nazis support M4A, then that’s good! We should welcome anyone who supports the cause!” (They didn’t express it exactly like that, but that’s the general idea — don’t turn away possible support, regardless of what you think about the people in question).
Most recently, another Sanders surrogate, Briahna Joy Gray, had writer Talia Lavin on her podcast. Lavin, who is Jewish, recently wrote a book, Culture Warlords, about the year she spent infiltrating the online spaces of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, pretending to be one of them in order to expose them. One of her big conclusions, mentioned in her introduction (I’ve already purchased her book), is that you shouldn’t ever give these guys a platform or normalize them in any way, because you then allow their hatred to fester and grow. So things like allowing them to join your MM4A is a hard no, no matter how much they may say they agree with it.
During the interview, Gray basically accused Lavin, someone who lost family in the Holocaust, of being “performative,” because how could Lavin, a white woman, possibly hate and fear Nazis more than Gray, a black woman?
BRB going to see which movie theater butter popcorn Publix has on BOGO. I’m gonna back my Fiesta up to the front door and pop the trunk. 😛
I’m all for deplatforming Nazis. Richard Spencer is crying into his Bleached-Flour Cheerios that nobody likes him and restaurants around town refuse him service. Good.
Left anti-Semitism is indeed very troubling. But it’s not exactly a new phenomenon. I first encountered it decades ago–in a university setting.
They’re already melting down about this over at Lucianne.com.
Safest story to tell in China: something based on history or myth, preferably a thousand years back or more. It should involve a hero that initially fights to expose or stamp out evil or corruption, but then ultimately traces it back all the way to the top, usually the emperor, and so the hero realizes that exposing that corruption could lead to instability or chaos. This is to be avoided at all costs so the hero ends up heroically giving their life in defense of the corrupt system.
I’ve seen that movie done at least a half dozen times, the same but different. I’ve never seen “Hero” though. Does it fit?
@Neil J Hudelson:
After reading the first two books, I was inclined to think some of the Chinese characters seemed almost more alien than the aliens.
I don’t know how far Cixin Liu portrays Chinese society objectively, or if it’s just his personal view, or even the justificatory narrative of the part, but my god, “crab bucket” on steroids!
Society has no good will; political movements tend to insanity (Cultural Revolution and the “pro-aliens”); negative sum social pseudo-darwinism to the nth.
And the belief of humanity that it could rival the Trisolarians, only to be almost contemptuously crushed certainly puts me in mind of episodes from Chinese (and Japanese) history.
In many ways the trilogy is a setting for the author to explicate his own social and historical attitudes.
There’s a scene in the second book, IIRC, where the fleet commanders are trying to formulate a system for compelling the adherence of military units to the mission.
I cannot imagine this sort of concern ever even occurring to commanders of the British Armed Forces.
Morale issues yes; basic motivation of the corps, no.
Again is this Cixin Liu, or is a view more general in China?
If the latter, China has some serious problems.
@Daryl and his brother Darryl:
In the South, would that be Beelzebubba?
@Jax: Have you been streaming the second season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency on Hulu or anything like that recently? That might account for it.
Exactly why I found it so fascinating.
When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana I used these second grade bi-lingual story books to help me learn Twi. A number of them were Anansi stories, and I was delighted at just how different they were from the fables I grew up with. Not just that I couldn’t fathom any moral or lesson coming from them, or even tell if there was supposed to be one. But I often just couldn’t understand why the characters did what they did in the first place.
“FWIW, I think China is in the midst of second cultural revolution.”
Translation: Everyone Can Sense That a Profound Transformation is Underway!
It’s a translation of a widely read opinion piece by a Chinese columnist. From the intro to the translation:
I hope the Chinese don’t go down Hysteria Road like the hated Japanese did in the 1930s. But it looks like they might.
For some reason, that statement brings to mind the joke where the punchline is “laugh if you want to, but you’re next.” (Maybe it’s because I can’t imagine myself standing in the middle of a pool of gasoline and wanting to light it up.)
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Yeah, I know. Sounds like a suicide mission to me, too.
@sam: I’m sure in a few years President DeSantis and Vice President Boebert will have us in a new Cold War with China, fighting interminable wars in client states.
Cold War??? With the Pistol Packing Mama?
@Just nutha ignint cracker: No, but my dreamscape has been crazy the last week or so. So today I’ve got purple people eater and Y’all motherfckers need Jesus fighting for space in my brain. 😛 It’s getting a little crowded in here.
@MarkedMan: “I’ve seen that movie done at least a half dozen times, the same but different”
How is this story any different from the Democrats who manage to seize office from a corrupt Republican administration and then decide they can’t possibly charge the Republicans for the crimes because that would destabilize the system, so they immolate their own administrations…
And the funniest part of MF’ers need Jesus is that in my dream, it was an upside down world where Reynolds was not a writer of books, but the lead singer in the punk rockabilly band that sings it. And there was weed. Soooooo much weed. So Reynolds is up there screaming at us that we need Jesus, and there’s a bunch of random people buzzing around in little cartoon race cars picking buds. And THEN comes the purple people eater.
Yeah. Cray cray. 😛
The new trailer for The Matrix Resurrection. Music by Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit.
The new trailer for The Matrix Resurrections. Music by Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit.
Silly edit function.
Looks like Trump has endorsed Harriet Hageman to run against Cheney. Interesting choice. She’s pretty much a Trump nut, but she’s also “establishment”. No word yet on whether Democrats will be able to field a viable Democratic challenger.
Cultural difference and cultural difference over time is an interesting thing.
If you read some Welsh or Irish legends, a lot of the motivations make no sense at all to most moderns.
Even in the Icelandic sagas, which are a lot more realistic, some basic personal drivers are pretty strange, re. clan honour and feud.
It needs to be remembered: the Japanese were, if not driven down that road, given “bridge out” signs on the other route.
Japan in the 1920’s desperately needed, to survive, to be able to export products and import food and raw materials.
US policy in the post-WW1 period wrecked the international trading system, and drove states towards non-convertible currency autarchic imperial economies, and to military dominance zones.
The national chauvinist hysteria IMO was just a by-product of the economic-political imperatives, in Japan, in Germany etc.
Don’t you want some (edit function) to love…
About time, though it doesn’t go far enough.
Question: does “all employers” include state and local governments?
Oh, don’t worry.
You’ll surrender soon enough.
FWIW Dan Crenshaw is suggesting Biden’s vaxx mandate may provoke Armed Revolt.
A serious-ish point being:
US may need to contain and constrain China, because China is currently acting in ways that are testing the limits of international order.
However, it would be very dangerous to place China in a position where it thinks its only viable path is domination.
@Jax: Have you considered taking a break from OTB? Like a month or 2? Maybe a year? If Reynolds ever showed up in my dreams I’d seriously think about forever.
@Jax: Dem challenger??? In Wyoming?
Oh, MAGAWorld can’t wait to exercise its 2nd Amendment rights.
So they say.
@OzarkHillbilly: I think it’s this inner-ear infection I’ve been fighting for a month. The first round of meds didn’t do a damn thing, so I’ve been on high-dose steroids and a much stronger antibiotic and ear drops. Everybody around here has learned not to expect me to get on a tractor til I’ve been through the grazing phase after taking the steroids….if I don’t eat, I start hallucinating a little bit and make dumb decisions on the tractor. It’s obviously affecting my sleep, as well. 😐
A thought for the end of the workday (PDT): They say you can’t fix stupid. Turns out you can’t quarantine it either.
@Jax: Get well soon. Sleep deprivation sucks.
@OzarkHillbilly: How are you feeling?
@Jax: I can see you haven’t taken enough steroids over the course of your life. By the time I was old enough to drive, steroids weren’t effecting my balance or judgement at all anymore. I was down to the eating binges, but some of them were spectacular.
@Jax: Meh. Got an ultrasound on the stents this AM. Waited all day for the Doc to call with a “phone consultation”. I’m done letting them do that BS.
“No. You can not call me. Set up an in office appointment and I WILL be there.”
I did get a call from the saw bone’s scheduler this AM. (didn’t reach the phone in time) I will call her tomorrow and set up the shoulder surgery. Not sure how the new blood thinners will have to be handled. I suppose that Doc is up to date on it. Or not.
Sigh. I’m just way past ready for all this shit to be done. And I am a minimum of 6 weeks recovery from finished after the shoulder surgery.
@Just nutha ignint cracker: This summer is the first time I’ve ever been put on a steroid regimen (they prescribed it then because of a rheumatoid arthritis flare), and I’ll tell you what….thought for sure I was having a bad acid flashback the first couple days. The water in the ditches and my irrigation dams was awfully….friendly and splashy. And I wasted an inordinate amount of time watching the creatures in it. 😛
@OzarkHillbilly: What are they doing to your shoulder? If it makes you feel any better, you might feel bionic after you get that done! A friend of mine got his done before the last COVID surge, he’s back to pitching baseballs again!
In the Obama mold, Biden is such a classless fuxxck. A true disgrace to America.
@keef: They serve at the pleasure of the President. You didn’t have any problem when Trump did it.
Trump Mocks Reporter with Disability
*AKA Mature adult Republican male.
@queef: Learn how to spell
@Scott O: 😛 😛 😛 Riiiight?!
Generally. It’s based on history, about the RL warlord who first united China into a single country. The warlord is massacring entire villages to achieve this, and a group of warriors come up with a plot to get one of them close enough to the warlord to assassinate them (although doing so will end up in getting the other two killed in the process). The plan works, but at the last minute the assassin decides that it would be letter to let the warlord go on massacring people because having a unified china is more important than stopping massacres and thus leaves the warlord to go get suicide-by-copped by his soldiers (and also meaning his two friends died for nothing).
You too can join the ranks of the unvaccinated, by refusing the booster shots.
Vax Crow – A legally sanctioned system of vaccination-status discrimination practiced in the Democrat controlled areas of the United States
We have fewer Nazis than the right, but yes.
A lot of the left positions on Israel give cover to antisemitism. The BDS movement is chock full of antisemites. They are also right on what they are willing to say out loud in mixed company — Israel is an oppressor state, and we should not be supporting it uncritically.
It’s a quick hop, skip and a jump from complaining about the wealthiest 0.1% dominating America to complaining about Jewish bankers pulling the strings. But the 0.1% do have way too much power, and income inequality is a problem.
It seems that wherever you go, any political movement, left or right, seems to have antisemites on the fringe trying to take over the movement. It’s something Proud Boys and 9/11 Truthers can agree on.
But, where are the politically moderate antisemites? You never hear of someone saying “we should raise the minimum wage a little bit, allow higher density zoning three neighborhoods over, and kill all the Jews!”
Are they just better at hiding it? Or is antisemitism something that clusters to the edges?
Sure, you could, but that would be a dumb thing to do. I’d get my booster now, if they’d let me.
My brother got covid, nearly died from it. Seems like not a great death. Why would anyone risk that when there’s a safe and effective vaccine?
Keep workshopping that, Buddy. It’s weak. It doesn’t really roll off the tongue and it loses enough of the cadence of Jim Crow that it doesn’t even get a quick emotional irritation. It sounds too much like escrow.
The “my body, my choice” appropriation is better. I think “covid ghetto” has a certain ring to it, but that might just because I want you forcibly sent to one.
Also, you’re free to get weekly tests, if that is your preference. Have there been any health effects of testing? Heart inflammation? Q-tip fetishes?
Can’t be worse than the transvaginal ultrasounds that Republicans keep trying to make women go through to access their constitutionally protected right to an abortion. I think the Chinese were developing an anal swab, if you prefer.
We just don’t want your filthy disease ridden ass around us, so we can go back to life as normal. If you had tuberculosis (consumption, to someone who doesn’t read things published after the Great Depression) we wouldn’t want you people around us either.
Why, you are vaccinated, and so unlikely to have a bad case of COVID, even if you do join the filthy disease ridden SARS 2.0 positive population, which is very common for the vaccinated.
And Old Joe isn’t requiring those southern border crossers he’s spreading across the country to be vaccinated, or tested. Nor is he requiring it for the Afghani refugees. Hell, the Afghanis have brought along active measles.
If you only knew how hard I had to work, with out PHS medical staff, to keep tuberculosis positive foreign scientists, most often Chinese, off ships. And that was arguing with idiot PhD chief scientist biologists. The EU scientists were mostly just a VD risk.
Cry more. Your tears are delicious.
How do you reconcile your position with the fact that we already have any number of vaccine requirements in place in the US, and have for decades? When I was in K-12 I had to have a number of vaccinations. When my son lived in the dorm, he had to have certain vaccinations. No doubt there are any number of jobs that already require vaccinations.
You sound irrational pretending like this is a new/somehow indefensible thing to do.
Aaaaaand, the xenophobia/racial component rears its ugly head along with the trope that dirty immigrants bring diseases.