Tuesday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Some guy’s toast to a pair of newlyweds:

    “Y’know, I just got, I turned off the news, I get all these flash reports, and they’re telling me about the border, they’re telling me about China, they’re telling me about Iran – how’re we doing with Iran, how do you like that? Boy, they were ready to make a deal, they would have done anything, they would have done anything, and this guy goes and drops the sanctions and then he says, ‘We’d love to negotiate now,’ [and Iran replies], ‘We’re not dealing with the United States at all,’ Oh, well, they don’t want to deal with us. And China, the same thing, they never treated us that way, right?
    “You saw what happened a few days ago, was terrible, and uh, the border is not good, the border is the worst anybody’s ever seen it, and what you see now, multiply it times 10, Jim – he’s the only one I know who would handle the border tougher than me. What’s happening to the kids, they’re living in squalor, they are living like nobody has ever seen anybody, there’s never been anything like what’s, and you’re gonna have hundreds, and you have it now, they have the airplane photos, the shots, and they call ’em shots, and these things are showing thousands and thousands of people coming up from South America and it’s gonna be, it’s just uh, look, it’s a disaster. It’s a humanitarian disaster from their standpoint, and it’s gonna destroy the country, and frankly, the country can’t afford it because you’re talking about massive, just incredibly massive amounts. Our school systems, our hospital systems, everything.

    “So it’s a rough thing, and I just say, ‘Do you miss me yet?’”
    “We did get 75m votes, Nobody’s ever gotten that, They said, ‘Get 66m votes, sir and the election’s over.’ We got 75m and they said … but you know, you saw what happened, 10.30 in the evening, all of a sudden I said, ‘That’s a strange thing, why are they closing up certain places, right?’ Now, a lot of things happening right now. I just wanted to say, it’s an honor to be here, it’s an honor to have you at Mar-a-Lago, you are a great and beautiful couple … have fun.”

    No complaints, you dumbfcks invited the A-hole.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Laurie Garrett

    Brazil now carries the sorry mantel of #COVID19 Ground Zero, suffering more deaths in one week than the USA+Mexico+Italy+Russia — COMBINED.
    #JairBolsonaro is proving the worst #pandemic leader in the world. Given the competition, that’s saying something.

  3. sam says:

    Interesting piece by Ross Douthat today, ‘Babylon Berlin,’ Babylon America?

  4. Teve says:

    @sam: pass.

  5. sam says:

    Worth a read, T.

  6. Teve says:

    I am out of New York time stories for the month anyway; if I still had one left I’d be reading Krugman‘s new essay ‘why can’t Republicans be populists’.

  7. sam says:

    If folks know about Kurt Weill, it’s probably that he wrote Mack the Knife. But he was also a classical composer of some note. After he fled the Nazis and came to the United States, he worked on Broadway and in the movies. I did not know that he had written the wonderful September Song, with Maxwell Anderson, from the musical Knickerbocker Holiday, nor that he had written the song, Speak Low, with Ogden Nash, from the movie One Touch of Venus. Broad talent, there.

    It’s said that it was Louis Armstrong who put the reference to Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wife, into the English version of Mack the Knife. Lotte Lenya plays Rosa Krebb, psychopathic Number 3 of SMERSH in, to me, the best of Sean Connery’s James Bond films, From Russia with Love.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Economists are becoming positively giddy about the potential for economic growth this year as President Biden and Congressional Democrats look set to push forward a $3 trillion infrastructure bill.

    What we’re hearing: “Stimulus helps build the bridge for the recovery to reach the other side, but an investment in infrastructure is the fuel to jump start the economic engine,” Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global, says in an email.

    S&P predicts Biden’s infrastructure plan will create 2.3 million jobs by 2024, inject $5.7 trillion into the economy — which would be 10 times what was lost during the recession — and raise per-capita income by $2,400.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    Did I imagine over the weekend that a tape surfaced that had McConnell discussing ways to kill election reform with, literally, a Koch representative? Because I thought it would be huge. From TPM:

    “ According to the New Yorker, which obtained a recording of a private meeting between a policy adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and leaders of many conservative groups, public messaging against those provisions is not going well.

    Specifically, support for the bill’s measures forcing more disclosures of secret donors was so broad that a senior operative from the Koch network advised just killing it in Congress rather than trying to turn the tide of public opinion”

  10. Teve says:

    Accused Capitol rioter arrested in T-shirt reading ‘I was there’ with Trump’s photo, insurrection date

    When police showed up at Garret Miller’s Dallas home earlier this year to arrest him on charges that he had participated in the Capitol riot, his wardrobe spoke for itself.
    The 34-year-old unemployed man, who allegedly forced his way into the U.S. Capitol building and threatened a congresswoman and a police officer, was clad in a T-shirt emblazoned with a photograph of former president Donald Trump and text declaring: “I Was There, Washington D.C., January 6, 2021.”
    New details of his Jan. 20 arrest were revealed this week in court documents as prosecutors urged a judge not to release him before his trial, noting that he allegedly admitted to bringing a gun into the Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Police also found an array of weapons and gear in Miller’s house, prosecutors said, including a grappling hook, ropes, body armor, night vision goggles, a crossbow and arrows, and multiple firearms with ammunition.

    More fun details at the link.

  11. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: they whined that they even tried to somehow call the bill Cancel Culture and voters weren’t having it.

  12. Jen says:

    An interesting and sobering read.

    He said he was going to watch cartoons. Instead, he opened his dad’s gun safe.

    What they didn’t know was that simply owning a gun significantly increased Tyler’s chances of killing himself. In fact, a 2019 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that the best predictor of a state’s youth suicide rate is the proportion of homes that contain a firearm. Remarkably, one of the study’s authors said, that single piece of data is a “far more accurate” indicator than the percentage of children in the state who have previously attempted suicide.

    It’s pathetic that we cannot address this issue as a nation. Pathetic.

  13. Teve says:


    Police also found an array of weapons and gear in Miller’s house, prosecutors said, including a grappling hook, ropes, body armor, night vision goggles, a crossbow and arrows, and multiple firearms with ammunition.

    Neal Stephenson:

    “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

  14. Teve says:


    It’s pathetic that we cannot address this issue as a nation. Pathetic.

    The anti-gun people aren’t as fanatical as the pro-gun people.

  15. mattbernius says:

    Little more Mac the Knife trivia. The song (“The murder ballad of Mac the Knife”) wasn’t even intended to be in Brecht and Weill’s 3 Penny Opera. It was written and composed at the last minute because the actor playing Macheath demanded it. He felt the character needed to be introduced to the audience. Brecht and Weill complied but they didn’t give the song to that actor.

    Even more coincidental, the song was originally supposed to be played on an organ grinder, but that instrument failed at the premier and so the pit (jazz) band took over. And that led to it’s becoming known as a jazz standard.

    Last bit of trivia, Lottie Lenya, in addition to being Weill’s wife, was also an actor in 3 Penny Opera originating the character of Jenny in both Germany and the US. Her song “Pirate Jenny” became a lesser-known jazz standard.

  16. Barry says:

    @sam: “Interesting piece by Ross Douthat today, ‘Babylon Berlin,’ Babylon America?”

    Interesting as a revealing piece about Rod, as well. IMHO, these guys run the gamit from ‘nice country – if you oppose us and win we’ll be forced to go fascist’ to ‘fascism Now!’.

  17. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  18. Teve says:

    A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll of 1,227 people found that 30% of American adults say they will not get vaccinated against COVID-19. Among Democrats, just 11% say they won’t get vaccinated; among Republicans, that number jumps to 41%.

    The way Fox News hosts discuss vaccines is a public health nightmare

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Underlining the contempt Republican pols have for their voters. All the more reason to rig the vote.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I’d intended to add that I found curator’s claim hard to believe considering that Lenya doesn’t sing the song in The Threepenny Opera.

  21. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: Alas, the nation’s motto isn’t “E Pluribus Unum” any more. It’s evolved over the years to “I got mine; fwk you.”

  22. Scott says:

    @sam: Douthat’s basic premise is that the radicalized right wing is too weak to actually succeed.

    A couple of somewhat random thoughts:

    1) The German worker’s revolution at the end of WWI threw out the German monarchy. It then split into left and right. Grievance and resentment fueled the right more than the left and it became dominant. The Prussian aristocracy decided it could coopt Hitler and company and the Lutheran establishment joined in. In the end, they all be came one entity. BTW, fascism was strong here in the US (a kind of forgotten history) supported by the Fords and the DuPonts (our own aristocracy) and may have succeeded except for Roosevelt and WWII.

    2) The parallel here in the US is a resentful and grievance filled blue collar class, split between left and right, lots of billionaires funding all kinds of organizations undermining basic norms, and a religious movement actively seeking power. I’m not as optimistic as Douthat in that this is a weak hand.

  23. CSK says:

    Garret doesn’t seem overly endowed with brains, does he?

  24. Teve says:
  25. Teve says:

    @CSK: once again, the Trumpers get up to something that, if you wrote it in a novel, people would call you a hack.

  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    From Douthat’s Babylon Berlin article that @sam: linked to above.

    “I’ve said this before. And I’m telling you, I worry that I’m right. The right is going to pick a fascist within 10 to 20 years.”

    That’s a quote from Jesse Kelly, a pugnacious right-wing talking head, on Tucker Carlson’s show last week. His prediction, as you might expect, is very different from the left-wing version of the same prophecy. The left worries that the right is going fascist because conservatism is so racist, anti-democratic and depraved. But Kelly thinks the right might “pick a fascist” as an understandable response to left-wing radicalism and the corruption of the liberal establishment. It’s the prediction as threat: It’s not that we want the G.O.P. to get fashy, but if it happens, it’ll be the progressives’ fault.

    Douthat describes a mini-series set in the Weimar period and goes on and describes similarities and differences between Wiemar Germany and the US today. Summing up:

    But then alongside these familiarities there is the stronger shock of difference. The scale of poverty and degradation on display, even before the Great Depression hits, is a reminder that the world in which the Nazis rose was extraordinarily poorer than our own, with a fundamental fragility even for the middle class that neither the Great Recession nor the coronavirus have yet delivered to Americans. The violent legacy of World War I, its brutalization of an entire generation, is palpable in both the violence in Berlin’s streets and the literal shell shock afflicting multiple male characters: No recent American trauma can compare.

    This goes on for several paragraphs, with other defining differences.

    His conclusion:

    But under contemporary American conditions, further right-wing radicalization seem more likely to be a suicide weapon — a way for a weakened movement to instigate a period of crisis, maybe, but one that would probably only hasten its marginalization and defeat.

    I can’t find anything wrong with that result.

  27. charon says:



    He’s recommending a show on Netflix, about Weimar Germany. I have seen good reviews of Babylon Berlin elsewhere.


    So this guy A. Hitler is working for the German military as a propagandist who send him to influence and monitor a group of about 100 activists called IIRC the DAP. (What eventually became the NSDAP). That really worked out well.

  28. CSK says:

    Behold Donald Trump’s new website:


    If you want to throw up, make sure to check out the “about” section.

  29. charon says:


    DeSantis says here that he will endeavor to forbid *private sector* from requiring proof of vaccination from customers. He specifically mentions movie theaters, sports, and theme parks as venues he would wish to prohibit from protecting the safety of employees and other customers


    For privately owned businesses, legal experts say the executive order doesn’t apply to them.

    “A private entity is entitled to do that and a private business can have restrictions,” said Pamella Seay, Florida Gulf Coast University Law Professor.

    Maybe, there is some controversy whether he can do this:

    We are not supporting doing any vaccine passports in the state of Florida…. It’s completely unacceptable for either the government or the private sector to impose upon you the requirement that you show proof of vaccine to just simply be able to participate in normal society. You want to go to a movie theater, should you have to show that? No. You want to go to a game? No. You want to go to a theme park? No. So we’re not supportive of that. I think it’s something that people have certain freedoms and individual liberties to make decisions for themselves.

    Kooks like Cawthorn, Boebert, MTG, Jim Jordan are already all in on this.

  30. CSK says:

    More on Trump’s new website, celebrating his “magnificent legacy”:


  31. sam says:


    September Song was added to the end of Knickerbocker Holliday because Walter Houston (John’s father) who played the lead, wanted a song for himself. He didn’t have much of a singing voice, but his version is touching.

  32. Kathy says:


    If you want to throw up, there are medically prescribed emetics, which are likely far more pleasant.

    I don’t want to hear about the Grand Orange Ass unless charges are brought against him or indictments filed.

  33. KM says:

    At this point, I only give a damn about these nuts because they serve as a reservoir for potential COVID mutations. They don’t want their spot in line? Fine, let someone else who’s smarter get the vaccine so when the next strain comes roaring through, at least they’ll have some protection. Hopefully the vaccines will help mitigate future variants to be less fatal to those who’ve had their shots if not offer protection from infection.

    I’m hoping we can get to the point by end of summer where non-vaxxed status indicates MAGA nuttery rather than limited access to resources. It would be darkly ironic if in a few months when it comes back (and it *will*, this is a forever thing now) the only ones who are dying from this will be those who cheered their master’s death cult of lies. I can see a future where care for COVID is dependent on your vax status; if you refused the shot, insurance won’t cover you and you might even get turned away from the hospital as too-resource intensive. If COVID truly becomes a yearly scourge like the flu or common cold, capitalism demands we stop wasting resources on these people. America won’t tolerate shutdowns again and they won’t accept not being able to go to the doctor because beds and time are always taken with COVID patients. Hell, the medical profession itself might finally step in and start demanding changes to the law that let them refuse to care for those people to prevent burnout of staff and stem future loss of people entering the field.

    We can’t keep going like this and it’s very easy to see how this is going to break. Anti-vaxxers aren’t going to like it when Big Business finally decides they cost too much money and starts insisting on shifting the financial burden. Those medical bills are gonna start coming due any second now….

  34. Scott says:


    I guess there goes herd immunity.

    BTW, I haven’t heard it mentioned but with 20-25% of the US population being under 16 and not yet authorized a vaccine, we weren’t going to reach herd immunity anyway. Now with a substantial portion of so-called adults declining, I don’t think we will at all.

  35. CSK says:

    I wish that if we ignored him, he’d just go away. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

  36. Jen says:


    “However, Parler has always recognized that there are legal limitations on free speech.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHA….(wheeze, breathe)…HAHAHAHAHAHA

    Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

  37. Teve says:

    @Jen: before their original idiot CEO was shown the door, the system they had for deciding when to take something down was that five random users would be shown the offending post and if all five agreed that it should be taken down it would be taken down. And it’s Parler, so if you grabbed five random users you’re guaranteed to get two neo-Nazis and a guy who wrote a book about how the Rothchilds control the US Treasury.

  38. Kathy says:

    I’m reading The Data Detective by Tim Harford. It’s about how to make sense of statistics, and comprises ten rules.

    It’s also the first book I’ve read that brings up COVID, albeit the early stages of the pandemic. I find it interesting to look back at March or April of 2020, and compare the situation then to things now.

  39. senyordave says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: When I read something like this my first question is why not have endless massive infrastructure spending. I suspect that $3 trillion is the tip of the iceberg, there could probably be $10 trillion+ in infrastructure spending to really address all the issues. For years we were told the debt is a major issue, when debt to GDP ratios reach a certain threshold we’re in deep shit. The economists were wrong, at least so far because we have blown through many of those ratios. Bottom line is that it appears the macroeconomists don’t know what will happen, if they did they would be rich. I don’t know what will happen otherwise I’d be rich.
    My guess is that when interest rates begin to go back up there will be a major correction in the stock market because market appears to be overly leveraged but I wouldn’t bet my money on it.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    @MarkedMan: The invaluable Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money, has a piece at New Yorker on that conversation. That billionaires shouldn’t be able to buy influence polled really well with the general public, and just as well with Republicans. That seems to have set them back on their heels. But what really has Chuckles Koch lit up is that H.R.1 would require donors be identified.

    Hopefully this discussion between GOP pros and their donors will be more widely publicized. It certainly should be.

  41. inhumans99 says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Yeah, I feel that folks might want to give Douthat’s column a read if they still have free articles they can read on the NYT site, it is one of Douthat’s strongest articles in quite some time.

    I got lucky and I guess it was my last NYT freebie. I wish the Times had offered a digital subscription deal closer to that of the Post’s at the end of last year, that $40 I spent for a dig. Post subscription (and ability to give a free subscription to my Sister) was awesome, all those times I now would click on a link in the comments section on this site and places like Mother Jones and now that obnoxious you have X # of free articles remaining, do you want to subscribe box that pops up as you try to read an article is a thing of the past.

    Anyway, in the article Douthat’s revulsion that a January 06 event could happen again if some folks do not change course in this country is nearly palpable and he is very much right to point out what seems to be like saying water is wet for some of the more informed in this country, that without the military the insurrection was doomed to fail.

    We all say on this site, duh, I knew that bruh, but it bears repeating that we have a military that was so disinterested in joining Trump’s merry band of rioters to overturn the election that they put out some unusual public statements that pushed back against what some folks might have been hearing from the talking heads on Fox News Channel. These are not statements that the military had to go public with when we went to the polls to elect folks like Bush, Clinton, or Obama.

  42. gVOR08 says:

    @sam: Sorry, “Interesting piece by Ross Douthat” is still an oxymoron. If I may paraphrase,

    By gawd conservatives are gonna go fascist, not because they are but in defense against the oppression from the left. … Strained analogies to a fictional account of Weimar Germany including comparing 1/6 to the Reichstag fire rather than to the tragicomic Beer Hall Putsch and mentioning the Nazis had wealthy industrialist backing without mentioning Koch. … But we probably won’t really go fascist. Except maybe kinda sorta.

    Weimar Germany had suffered massive death and famine in the course of crushing defeat, part of the country was still under Allied occupation, they were suffering from the Great Depression, had seen their hugely powerful near neighbor undergo a ruinous Communist Revolution, and their neighbors undergoing civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and genocide from the disastrous breakup of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires under the Treaty of Versailles. The real lesson to be drawn from all this is that conservatives see their current situation in the U. S. as like Weimar Germany. A testament to propaganda and the Manichaean nature of conservative psychology.

  43. James Joyner says:

    @sam: @gVOR08: @inhumans99: I tend to like Douthat, although he was better on The Argument podcast than as a columnist. The Berlin piece to me reads more like a blog post than an actual column. It’s the sort of thing I do here often: muse about a topic I’m working through without much of a point. It’s a useful conversation-starter and often helps me think through the topic. But a column should have an actual thesis that it argues and, if Douthat has one, I was unable to spot it.

  44. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: OK, politically incorrect, very politically incorrect. Once we killed off the Indians and the buffalo it seems the only way a guy can feel macho is to buy a big pickup truck and a bunch of guns. I suppose they could join the Marines, but then there’s a chance they might actually get shot at.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Thank you. Nice encapsulation of how I feel about Douthat. My usual reaction at the end of a Douthat column is, “Huh, what was all that about?’

  46. de stijl says:


    Neal Stephenson is consistently weird of which I approve highly. As a writer of prose and speculation he is always great; as a constructor of novels, he is inconsistent.

    Micro: great, interesting writer. Macro: wildly varied.

    He can bash out great sentences and paragraphs, but too often the whole is lesser than the parts.

    Undoubtedly brilliant and willing to explore new ideas, yes. Satisfying as a read, often no.

    I do like him and read his novels, but warily.

    Outlining plot is not his forte. He does excel in other ways, though.

  47. Kathy says:

    I’ve been wondering for the past year how viruses evolved.

    On the one hand, they are the simplest lifeforms, if we consider them such, which means they should have arisen early. On the other hand, they can’t reproduce, their one vital function, without the presence of working living cells, which means they didn’t arise until after cellular organisms did.

    More likely they evolved alongside cells. Going with Bill Bryson’s insight in “A Short History of Nearly everything,” the purpose of DNA is to make more DNA (and likewise RNA). One can imagine a strand of nucleic acid with a lipid and protein cover, evolving to take material, perhaps whole nucleotides from other such proto-lifeforms. So, when cellular organisms arise, these parasitic ones would evolve ways to use the living cells for their own reproduction.

    It’s clear viruses have been around a long time, though to my knowledge no one’s ever found a fossilized virus they way we’ve found very early bacteria, or even a preserved biosignature of one. What makes it clear viruses are ancient, is that the genomes of various plants, animals, and bacteria, contain viral DNA sequences. Odds are these were left behind by viral infections long ago.

    The extent of viral species is unknown. We know some viruses, known as bacteriophages*, infect bacterial colonies. It’s likely we carry viruses within us which keep the gut microbiome in check. Hm. I’m thinking it may also be possible some diseases might arise from viruses attacking our symbiotic bacteria in the gut and elsewhere.

    It really is a field that merits further study. We know the vast majority of living organisms on the planet, both in number and mass, are bacteria. The extent of viruses ought to be as vast. we also know some of the roles bacteria play in the ecology. We should learn what roles viruses perform, like keeping bacteria in check, perhaps also keeping parasitical populations down.

    *Phage comes a Greek root meaning “to devour.” Viruses don’t actually devour bacteria, but do kill them in large numbers. A well-known word using this root is “sarcophagus,” which means something like “devours flesh.”

  48. de stijl says:

    I tried mead for the first time yesterday.

    No expectations going in beyond made from honey.

    Less overtly sweet than “made from honey” suggests. Winey and tart. (Big Lost meadery out of Gillette, Wyoming. 18% ABV.)

    I have a decent palate for beer and a crap one for wine (and I generally do not relish wine). Can drink mid-brow bourbons no problem, but am pretty picky on Scotch.

    Really, I have no base to judge it on. I will keep an open mind, but that bottle did not hit on what I like. 4/5ths left. I’ll take a nip or two today, but likely this is going to the back of the cabinet to collect dust.

  49. Jen says:

    @de stijl: We have a bottle of mead in our liquor cabinet gathering dust. It was a gift and I just haven’t had the urge to try it, I think part of my caution is that I don’t like sweet wines and the “made from honey” gave me pause. I adore wine, but like pretty dry ones. I too am pretty picky about Scotch.

    I don’t know where this leaves me vis-a-vis the mead, other than I guess thanks for the post which reminds me that we have some. 😐

  50. Jax says:

    @de stijl: I experimented with making mead for a while. It was pretty good. Sweet like wine, kicked like whiskey!

  51. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Not a biologist, but to my knowledge there are many examples of organisms evolving into something simpler and more primitive–actually losing characteristics and complexity they once had, and becoming more dependent on other organisms for survival. Why can’t viruses have evolved from something more fully alive?

  52. de stijl says:


    It can’t hurt to give it a try. Maybe you’ll like it.

    No way to know if but trying. Be bold!

  53. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    My twitter-fu is even weaker than my Google-fu, and IIRC we didn’t cover this in high school, but isn’t that Pedicabo ego vos mihi habeum.”?

  54. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    One upside from “made from honey” is it never goes bad.

    You can open it, have a small snort, try it again a year later, and it will have not gone off or oxidized (that is my understanding). It comes screw top like liquor despite 18% ABV.

  55. Kathy says:


    I can think of fairly advanced organisms that lost things like limbs or senses when adapting to a different environment. like whales. So that could happen. But losing the ability to metabolize nutrients seems extreme.

  56. Scott says:

    @Kathy: It is something a little murky but biologists don’t consider viruses to be “alive” or at best in a gray area between life and non-life. As for origins, that is also not well understood but they could be a degenerate form of cells that “devolved”.

    Even more odd are prions, a form of reproducible protein without either DNA or RNA.

  57. Teve says:

    @de stijl: I wish he would quit writing fiction entirely and stick to the nonfiction that he is great at. If you haven’t read it, look up two long essays he wrote for Wired, In the Kingdom of Mao Bell, and Mother Earth Motherboard.

  58. Teve says:

    @Scott: Carl Zimmer‘s new book is entirely about the border between life and non-life.



  59. de stijl says:


    Within my lifetime, gun culture went from hunting safety protocols classes provided by an apoltical NRA to hyper-political open-carry advocating and obviously R aligned NRA.

    Then gun fetishization. All to the bad.

  60. Teve says:

    @de stijl: i’m sure the gun companies realized that if they scared the yokels with the United Nations and Bill Clinton and so forth, Jethro wouldn’t just buy a Mossberg rifle for hunting, he’d buy an AR-15, some extra receivers, accessories to put on the rails, a Red Dot scope, a Taurus .45, a Beretta 9 mm, a Browning A5, an SKS…

    Alcohol companies don’t make money on you buying a six pack for the barbecue on Saturday, they make money on the alcoholic who buys a 24 pack seven days a week. The gun companies behave much the same way.

  61. de stijl says:


    One time back when I invented the neologism “paterophagy” when it was revealed that Keith Richards snorted his father’s cremains.

    I am kinda proud of that.

  62. Kathy says:


    I had a subscription to Discover magazine in the 80s. I vividly recall I read a piece on prions there in the early 80s, and it was mostly savage mockery of Prusiner for suggesting the idea.

  63. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: I tend to agree, but as a fallback will note that once the evangelicals discover that they won’t actually be in charge, they’ll retreat, which might be enough to weaken the whole.

  64. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: No, he’s not the sharpest little spoon in the silverware tray.

  65. Teve says:
  66. de stijl says:


    I will. I can see him as an essayist.

    I do like Stephenson as a speculative writer, though, don’t misinterpret that. He rocks at that. He can mis-fire when putting ideas into a novel successfully. Snow Crash, my first read of his, crushed my brain with its inevitableness.

    Plus, I have a quasi-fetish for cryptography he eminently scratches.

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Gee I dunno; I thought the bio was pretty funny. The most interesting thing was that, assuming the Melania biography is even close to accurate, she has more concrete achievements and noteworthy facts in her biography than all the vaporware that the author could put together about her husband.

    And, the picture of Donald and Melania dancing on the Presidential seal makes him look like one of those Lego blocks that you use to represent a person. 😀 😛

  68. de stijl says:


    Discover was a great magazine. I subscribed too.

    Omni, too. Altho slightly different genre.

  69. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @CSK: They better have a selected a host with great cybersecurity. Pwn’ing Trumps site will be quite a scalp on the belt of hackers.

  70. Scott says:

    @de stijl: I still like reading magazines. Reading off the phone or laptop just doesn’t cut it for me. Still get Discover along with National Geographic and Texas Monthly. Got Omni from the very beginning. Always amazed that it came from the same guy who gave us Penthouse.

  71. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @inhumans99: You must be luckier than I am–or I don’t understand the rules at FTFNYT–because all I ever get from trying to open a Times article is a firewall asking me to sign in.

  72. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Oh—so they’re like Conservatives……

  73. de stijl says:


    Gun manufacturers own the NRA and have chosen their preferred party. It’s a lobby house masquerading as a 2A policy house.

    Actually, that’s unfair: it is a lobby house that was in very part responsible for RW gun fethishization that serves it’s sponsors by scare-mongering that buying more guns makes you safer.

    The NRA is probably one of the most culpable actors in turning modern Rs into proto-fascists.

  74. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Thanks! This was the best comedy video I’ve seen since… well, forever!

    Uh, you mean that wasn’t meant to be funny? But the poses! The pictures! The bios! Great comedy!

    Personally, I was stunned at the photos he picked. Trump leaning at an angle against a wall? Him holding an umbrella over himself while leaving the First 3rd Wife in the snow? Legoman dancing on the Presidential Seal? This is for real? Surely you jest!

  75. de stijl says:


    I was a huge magazine reader. At one point, I believe I subscribed to sixteen in very late 90s or very early aughts.

    Not to be too graphic, but toilet time is great for magazines. Sit and read for a few minutes.

    Also, many an evening I would have TV on muted and CC enabled, music on, and a magazine in front of me. Media overload.

    Now, we get that on our phones. Just don’t fumblefinger and drop it in the toilet.

  76. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Still get Discover along with National Geographic and Texas Monthly.

    Same here. I get the Smithsonian too. You should try it, our tastes seem similar and I love it.

  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: According to Google Translate, close. You need something that will give you a possessor of “mine.” I don’t do ancient languages, so I can’t help you and Korean grammar doesn’t SEEM comparable to Latin.

  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    @Flat Earth Luddite: Google Translate suggests habeo meum est; vilis but I don’t know.

  79. Scott says:

    @CSK: @Just nutha ignint cracker: @flat earth luddite:

    You know what would make me laugh?

    U.S. State Department seals, the U.S. Great Seal, logos, and other official insignia may not be used or reproduced without written permission. Use of the Great Seal of the United States is governed by Public Law 91-651, Title 18 of the United States Code.

    Come on, Merrick Garland!

  80. Mikey says:


    We have a bottle of mead in our liquor cabinet gathering dust. It was a gift and I just haven’t had the urge to try it, I think part of my caution is that I don’t like sweet wines and the “made from honey” gave me pause. I adore wine, but like pretty dry ones.

    There are some dry meads out there, pretty good ones in fact. Like wine, mead runs the gamut from sweet to dry. But you can also find some really interesting expressions. Look for some by the B. Nektar meadery, they are among the most interesting–Kill All the Golfers, for example, which is made with black tea and lemon (Arnold Palmer, get it?) or Dragons Are Real which is aged in barrels that previously held Dragon’s Milk stout beer.

  81. Scott says:

    @de stijl: We’re a reading household. Have a magazine rack in every bathroom.

  82. Teve says:


    Marjorie Taylor Greene says that a vaccine passport is “Biden’s Mark of the Beast” and that any company that requires one is engaging in “corporate communism.”

  83. charon says:


    In the third season of David Simon’s The Wire, Police Major “Bunny” Colvin reaches a breaking point when one of his officers is shot while trying to buy three small vials of cocaine during an undercover operation. He launched what came to be known as “Hamsterdam” with this speech.

    In that fictional world, the result was that violent crime and robberies were reduced significantly in Colvin’s district as his officers focused on “real police work.” But he kept his methods a secret. Once word got out about what he was doing, the city shut Hamsterdam down.

    The reason I’m recalling those episodes of The Wire is that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby initiated a city-wide replication of Hamsterdam at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She announced that the city would no longer prosecute drug possession, prostitution, trespassing and other minor charges, to keep people out of jail and limit the spread of the deadly virus. Much like the fictional account, Mosby brought in behavioral health services as an alternative to law enforcement. The results were astounding.

    And then crime went down in Baltimore. A lot. While violent crime and homicides skyrocketed in most other big American cities last year, violent crime in Baltimore dropped 20 percent from last March to this month, property crime decreased 36 percent, and there were 13 fewer homicides compared with the previous year. This happened while 39 percent fewer people entered the city’s criminal justice system in the one-year period, and 20 percent fewer people landed in jail after Mosby’s office dismissed more than 1,400 pending cases and tossed out more than 1,400 warrants for nonviolent crimes.

    More at the link.

  84. de stijl says:


    Evolution doesn’t favor sophistication, it rewards survival.

    Often, the two are intertwined, but it not hard-wired.

    Sentient humans have a predilection towards smarter is better. It often is. Often not.

    Smart prey and smart predators have an advantage, yes. But faster might be better given environmental circumstances.

    Evolution does not bend towards smart by design, but as a side-effect. Clever and fast means more babies.

    But survival is the key factor. Nature often favors speed and camouflage over smarts in the macro fauna.

    In microfauna is where the interesting experiments play out. Viruses, bacteria, underground little beasties. Genius little buggers adapted to their niche.

  85. de stijl says:


    I recently lost my glasses into the toilet bowl. Into a combo 1 and 2 toilet bowl. I am a moron. Had to fish em out and sterilize the suckers.

    I have to wear them so I did, but my reptile brain was screaming “Agh! Unclean. Face cooties!”

  86. de stijl says:


    So, I tried a bottle of Big Lost Crazy Woman (Hibiscus and hops) mead.

    Did I choose poorly for my maiden voyage?

    Am I bailing too early?

    I remember my first taste of beer as not pleasant, and look back at that 14 year old with pity and disdain. Good beer, well made, is a huge pleasure to me now.

  87. wr says:

    @Scott: When people point at the complexity of the human eye as proof of a Creator, I tend to ask them to explain the point of viruses and prions…. “God works in mysterious ways” is the greatest weasel in history.

  88. Mikey says:

    @de stijl:

    Did I choose poorly for my maiden voyage?

    I wouldn’t say so, but if you want to experience mead in its basic form that’s probably not the one to choose. If you prefer dry wine, a good dry mead should be easy to drink.

    Not that I’m a mead expert, but I also don’t like sweet wine so I’ve tried to find dry mead. My favorite, sadly, can only be gotten in Germany, along with my favorite beer. And I will miss both greatly this year as COVID-19 means our biannual visit is abgesagt.

  89. Teve says:

    @wr: they give God all of the credit for the good, and none of the blame for the bad. It’s a rigged game.

  90. Teve says:

    Dominion just added seven new lawyers for their lawsuit against Fox et al.


  91. Teve says:


    When people point at the complexity of the human eye as proof of a Creator

    Oh yes they are such an engineering marvel. Its perfection clearly points to a Divine Creator.

    Tell me again why fully 75% of people wear glasses or contacts? Why 25% of people have astigmatism in one or both eyes?


  92. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    One could hardly be less accomplished than DJT.
    @Jim Brown 32:
    I’m sure a million hackers are working on it as we speak.
    @flat earth luddite:
    It’s a laff riot!
    I would so enjoy that.

  93. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    Evolution doesn’t favor sophistication, it rewards survival.

    You mean natural selection does. Evolution tends to be more random. 🙂

    My take is that evolution increases in complexity over time. From organic molecules to amino acids to proteins to DNA/RNA to cells to multicellular life, because it can build on prior developments. Natural selection may undo some complexity if that aids in survival long enough for reproduction.

  94. flat earth luddite says:

    Oh, boy, it it looks like Ted Cruz may have competition for his title of, well, whatever you Texans call Cruz these days:

    A congressional candidate who lost in November is running again. That in itself isn’t so surprising, but Dan Rodimer is making headlines because he’s now running in an entirely different state—he lost in Nevada and is now running in Texas only months later. More than that, though, the Republican is making headlines because he made an ad about bull-riding that has drawn ridicule from both sides of the political aisle.

    Rodimer is a NJ native and former pro wrestler, who lost twice running in Nevada, has been lampooned by both Ds and Rs for his ads featuring a body double. Personally, when FL Rep. Matt Gaetz rips you a new one, that’s probably a bad sign.

  95. Teve says:

    Evidence that Trumpers are declining the vaccine: my county in North Florida went for Trump 70%, and that’s with a 20% African-American population. So seven out of eight white people here voted for Trump. Right now, the vaccine is supposed to only be available to high risk workers and people 40 and older. A 36-year-old friend texted me to say that she just got an appointment for Thursday to get the vaccine. I suspect what happened is fewer people 40 and up registered for the vaccine than they expected, and they have doses that will expire so they dipped into younger populations for appointments.

  96. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Im waiting on the other shoe to drop but for right now….this 2nd vaccine shot feels like it was loaded with Red Bull. Ive advised the Mrs she might want to take a couple of Aleves before bed tonight.

    When do you get the 3rd one?

  97. Teve says:

    @Jim Brown 32: which vaccine did you get and when did you get the second dose?

  98. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Teve: Got the second Pfizer this morning. Felt weird for a few hours then a tremendous burst of energy thats now going on 3 hours.

    It might be the mRNA mating with Zulu and Creole DNA.

  99. Kathy says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    When do you get the 3rd one?

    With any luck, later this year.

    For next year, get used to hearing about polyvalent COVID vaccines, either in one or two doses. And since this is less seasonal than the flu, ti will be a year-round thing.

  100. Teve says:
  101. Kurtz says:


    Are you in my neck of the woods? NBC-2 is my local affiliate.

  102. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: I’m,not sure that Gaetz has any room to criticize anyone anymore. Not that he’s likely to stop or anything. [eyeroll emoji here]

  103. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    And I have to admit, as a spin, this one’s a little… well “ewwwwww” comes to mind.

    No charges have been brought against Mr. Gaetz, and the extent of his criminal exposure is unclear.

    Mr. Gaetz said in an interview that his lawyers had been in touch with the Justice Department and that they were told he was the subject, not the target, of an investigation. “I only know that it has to do with women,” Mr. Gaetz said. “I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward.”

    Seventeen-year-old ex-girlfriend? Ooooo Kaaaayyyyy.

  104. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Yeah, ewwwww.

    I think I’m surprised it was a 17 year old girl.

    For those who want a link, here’s the NYT piece: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/us/politics/matt-gaetz-sex-trafficking-investigation.html

  105. Jax says:

    @Jen: I always thought there was something super fishy about the kid he calls his adopted son that nobody knew about.


  106. flat earth luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Well, I know I’m shocked, shocked I say (snicker). Also, I hate to burst his party balloon, but the difference between being the “target” and the “subject” of an investigation of this nature is, IIRC, pretty much meaningless distinction.

  107. de stijl says:


    I’m cool with your terminology. Not a prob.

    My point remains: the process rewards survival. Which may, or may not, involve smarts. There is no goal.

    We, as humans, value sentience and intelligence. We underestimate what makes the most optimal otter. Given the circumstance and environment, otters logically make sense. They are good at what they do.

    System complexity arises over time because better prey begets better predators and vice versa. Morphology too.

    It is not directed. It happens.

  108. de stijl says:

    I want some crowd-sourced feedback to check my decision making on a very important topic.

    I believe that as I have had Covid and recovered, I should wait until the last of the line. I should have some level of immunity and / or resistence.

    So, I would prefer others go first as they have more to lose and are more susceptible.

    I am aware that immunity is not absolute and variants could re-infect me plausibly. I am aware and am taking all precautions with masking and distancing. Adamantly.

    I could sign up now in my state. I believe I should wait and be amongst the last in line and free up up that spot for another until vaccine availability is no longer a constraining factor.

    I have no problem being a hermit for a month or two more if it allowed someone else that slot.

    I can wait with little to no burden, so I reckon I should.

    Is that correct / logical?

  109. charon says:


    No, I just followed a link. I am in AZ, one of the Sun Cities in the NW Phoenix burbs.

  110. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: Well, even if there were a distinction, it could change at the drop of a… well, almost anything that can be dropped, in fact. 😉

  111. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: Unless there is some sort of shortness of supply in your area, go when you get the opportunity and it makes sense logistically to do so. Worrying about others is kind of you, but I don’t think it is necessary to push yourself to the very back of the line considering the way the question is playing out now.

  112. Jax says:

    @de stijl: You may have some immunity because you already had it, but it wasn’t one of the new variants that you had, and from what I’ve read so far, the new variants like the people who have already had it because their immune system is already depressed.

    Please at least put yourself in line for one!

    Make sure you mention that you’ve already had COVID, they may only recommend one shot. We had a gal here that already had it, major long-haul symptoms, she got her second shot and ended up in the hospital. They think she would’ve been fine with just one shot as a “booster”.

    You can still wear a mask. I plan on wearing a mask any time I am sick, from now on. All these people who claim it’s just the flu, but look how good the flu count death rate is this year, BECAUSE OF MASKS! I’d like to think a lot of us will do so. Maybe we don’t HAVE to lose 80,000 a year because of the flu.

  113. Kylopod says:


    Make sure you mention that you’ve already had COVID, they may only recommend one shot.

    Hmmm. I didn’t mention I had Covid with mild long-haul symptoms when I got the first Moderna shot earlier today. Maybe I should call them and discuss it before I go for my second shot in a few weeks.

  114. Kathy says:

    @de stijl:

    I concur with the others: get it at the first available opportunity.

    We don’t know for sure how effective the mRNA vaccines are against variants, but if they are of any help, then what’s best for everyone is that as many people as possible get vaccinated.


    I plan to wear a mask during flu season, and to stay home from work if I get sick even with the common cold, even if only a day or two. Many serious respiratory diseases, like COVID, may look and feel like a cold or flu at the outset.

    IMO, hospitals should make masks mandatory for all staff from now on, regardless of whether there’s a pandemic or not. But I’m not hopeful that will happen. Still, I’d like to see a study on hospital infections in the COVID year.

  115. DrDaveT says:


    Her song “Pirate Jenny” became a lesser-known jazz standard.

    My favorite version of that one is still Maddy Prior with Steeleye Span, but then I’m a huuuuuuge Steeleye Span fan.

  116. de stijl says:


    I plan to wear a mask until fall at least. Longer if necessary. Not a problem at all. Gladly.

    It is a small thing that helps.

    I know why mask wearing became politicized: because Trump and lackies made it so, and I understand why – short-term political gain. To “win” the day’s news cycle.

    But it was so fucking petty and counterproductive. I don’t believe Hell is real, but Trump deserves eternal torment for what he wrought.

  117. Jax says:

    @Kylopod: I would if I were you. Our public health office seems to be recommending only one shot of Moderna if you have long-haul symptoms.

  118. DrDaveT says:


    Marjorie Taylor Greene says that a vaccine passport is “Biden’s Mark of the Beast”

    @DrDaveT: What do I win?

  119. Jax says:

    @DrDaveT: I made a meme for my Facebook, Voter ID = Check, Vaccine Passport = Check. If they’re ok with one, but not the other, they can fuck off ten ways from Sunday.

  120. de stijl says:


    I prefer MTG over standard issue GOP pols. She says what she means. Which makes her easier to beat.

    I hate, hate, hate assholes like Graham and Grassley who spout nonsense and then claim for decorum when they get pushback.

    Greene wouldn’t know decorum if it kissed her on the cheek.

    I would absolutely prefer sober pols, but if the experienced pros are lying to provoke the true idiots, I would prefer a true idiot over one who is pretending to be one in order to get re-elected.

    Cuts out the middle-man. It’s easier to outmaneuver the newbies.

    The pros have had ample opportunity to shut this madness down but instead they have leaned into it harder and harder as time has passed for short-term political gain. Fuck them.

    As opposition, I’d prefer an idiot like Greene or Gosar or Gohmert over someone savvy.

  121. Mimai says:

    @de stijl: Not typically my style but since you requested…

    When your number is called, answer. It comes from a good place, but your reasoning about waiting is more likely to be counterproductive than anything else. Do yourself and your community a favor and pony up that meaty deltoid. The universe has already tapped you on the shoulder once during this pandemic. Best pay attention.

    Here’s an even more specific recommendation:

    On the scheduled day, show up and get jabbed.

    While waiting the requisite 15 minutes, place a pick-up order for Mama’s Pizza and another one for Barrel Theory (Temple of 1ooo doors is you’re an IPA fan, Used To Might Still if you’re into sours, or Rage Quit if a clean/crisp pilsner is more your thing…..regardless, the naming convention seems fitting).

    Pick up said orders and retire to your comfy spot at home.

    Fire up some good tunes…perhaps a vintage Purrkur Pillnikk.

    Consume with pleasure, knowing that you are a competent adult.

  122. DrDaveT says:

    A question for you musically savvy denizens…

    I have a Pandora account that I occasionally invite to play me classic rock music. And it does. And it’s NOT THE SAME song that I remember from back in the 60s or 70s or 80s. And YouTube is the same deal — I’m listening to some dude react to the The Beatles “Let It Be” right now, and it’s not the same orchestration, not the same guitar solo that I remember. Remastered is one thing; this is just a different performance.

    Am I imagining this? Or did the classic performances of my youth somehow vanish into the ether?

  123. Mimai says:

    I believe this might be an instance of the Mandolin Effect.

  124. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT: I haven’t used Pandora in a long time so I can’t answer your question. I do know there are alternate versions of songs, and sometimes when the copyright demons are strong on Youtube, you hear some cover version of a song you look up. I don’t get that much anymore (I used to get that a lot with the Beatles), but I did last week when I tried to play Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady.” There wasn’t a single version of the original available.

    I do have some weird Mandela-Effect moments when it comes to songs. For instance, if I go to find Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee,” I coulda sworn the radio version I used to hear my parents play as a kid was different in a number of ways. But everything I read about it doesn’t indicate there are multiple versions.

  125. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: we don’t remember, we recreate, and imagination is involved.

  126. de stijl says:


    For a clean, crisp Pilsner I like Urquell.

    For a lager, Samuel Smith Organic Lager. So fresh, so clean.

    For stout, Fuller’s. Same for porter.

    I will take your (and your all’s) advice, and get the shot and follow-on as it becomes available. An abundance of civic mindedness can be counterproductive to overall community health.

    As for the meal, I will go for curry I make on my own. I know, hubris. But my curry kicks so much ass. Humbly.

    For music, Marin Marais’ Les Folies d’Espagne on period instruments.

    It’s spring so probably lager.

    I will toast the death of Liquor Lyle’s. So many hours spent gabbing with friends and with people I had just met. A superb dive bar with not half-bad food. Great staff.

  127. flat earth luddite says:

    Late night left coast giggle, courtesy of The Guardian (Australian ed.)

    Shades of Maxwell Smart, Agent 86

    Missed it by that much / Australia falls 3.4m doses short of 4m vaccination target by end of March.

    Sorry about that, Chief!

  128. flat earth luddite says:

    G. Gordon Liddy, Watergate bag man, wanna-be actor, and radio talk-show host, has died today in Mt. Vernon, VA. He was 90.

  129. de stijl says:

    @flat earth luddite:

    He was still alive?

  130. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @de stijl: apparently so. I was surprised too. Hit my news feed tonight.

  131. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl: Here’s what I tell people who want to let others go because they are in a better situation:

    If you want to be a hero and let other people go before you… that’s your prerogative. But, make sure others are getting it.

    Every day at noon, try to get an appointment. If you can, take it and go get the shot. When the appointments don’t get filled a few hours after being released, you don’t get to wait for others.