Tuesday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. senyordave says:

    J D Vance decided to go down this rabbit hole:
    JUST IN – PayPal teams up with the Anti-Defamation League to “uncovering and disrupting the financial pipelines that support extremist and hate movements,” according to a joint statement.

    Here’s JD’s take on this:
    Remember that the ADL is now a joke of an organization that just goes after conservatives.
    Repeat after me: the next stage of deplatforming will be denying access to the financial system.
    This response says it best:
    It always goes well when demagogues tell angry white men that the Jews control their economic future and are against them.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Scientists Just ‘Looked’ Inside Mars. Here’s What They Found

    This week, scientists are dropping an Olympus Mons of findings from the two brave robots. In three papers published today in the journal Science—each authored by dozens of scientists from around the world—researchers detail the clever ways they used InSight’s seismometer to peer deep into the Red Planet, giving them an unprecedented understanding of its crust, mantle, and core. It’s the first time scientists have mapped the interior of a planet other than Earth. And yesterday, another group of scientists held a press conference to announce early research results from Perseverance, and the next steps the rover will take to explore the surface of Jezero Crater, once a lake that could have been home to ancient microbial life.

    Scientists still have a lot to learn about the Red Planet. “It’s built from similar building blocks as our own planet, but Mars looks very different,” says University of Cambridge global seismologist Sanne Cottaar, who penned a perspective paper in Science on the three new studies. “There’s lots of evidence that its evolution has been very different. And now forming this image of the layering of the planet will give us the tools to work out how this formed, how Mars came to be.”
    The scientists at the press briefing laid out what Perseverance has been up to on its road trip so far. “The challenge is figuring out exactly where we want to go and how we’re going to fit everything into our schedule,” said Vivian Sun, a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Sun said they decided to detour Perseverance about 3,000 feet south of its landing site to extract its first rock samples, which will be stored in the belly of the rover and later cached on the planet’s surface for a future return mission that will ferry them to Earth.

    Perseverance is equipped with a 7-foot arm carrying a suite of new gadgets, including the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, that has already demonstrated the conversion of small amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen. The arm also includes sensors to assess the present climate and high-resolution cameras to take pictures of the rover’s surroundings. “We’re getting photobombed by dust devils,” said Caltech geochemist Ken Farley, and large wind gusts that, to him, appear very Earth-like.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @senyordave: But he supports Israel, therefor he can’t be antisemitic.

  4. Kylopod says:

    Conservative Nashville radio host hospitalized with COVID-19 regrets vaccine stance

    Conservative radio host Phil Valentine is now taking a completely different stance on the COVID-19 vaccine after being hospitalized with the virus.

    “We’re here to do some damage control on an error in judgment that he regrets,” says Mark Valentine, brother of Phil Valentine.

    Just a few days ago, Phil Valentine’s family thought he wasn’t going to make it. The conservative radio host has been in the hospital since July 16 with COVID-19 after contracting pneumonia.

    Right now, Phil is using an oxygen machine to help him breathe.

    He’s been an outspoken skeptic of the COVID-19 vaccine and never got it himself.

    On social media, he’s posted about potential rare side effects and doctors telling him children should not get the vaccine.

    “Phil posted on Facebook instances of vaccine hesitancy and said, ‘common sense told us that if you weren’t at risk for COVID, you shouldn’t get the vaccine’ and he’s talked about several side effects from the vaccine. Does he wish he went about this differently?” asked FOX 17 News Reporter Amanda Chin.

    “Oh yeah. He got it wrong, and I mean, it’s that simple. He looked at the information and assessed his own physical condition, his age,” says Mark.

    Mark says he went to get the vaccine right away after seeing his brother’s condition and encourages others to do the same.

    “We’re anxious for that word to get out. We’re anxious for the politics to be taken out of this. It’s a public health situation,” says Mark.

    “I know that you told me Phil regrets not encouraging the COVID-19 vaccine more and does he feel people didn’t get the vaccine because of his stance on it?” asks Chin.

    “I realize now that my not getting it probably encouraged other people not to get it, and I’m here because he can’t be here to tell you that he’s adamant and he’s upset that he was not more adamantly pro-vaccination when he had the opportunity to be,” says Mark.

    Mark says they’ve had many people reach out to the family, telling them they decided to get vaccinated after hearing about Phil.

  5. charon says:


    The researchers used their framework to model COVID-19 prevalence in the U.S. and each of the states up through March 7, 2021. On that date, according to their framework, an estimated 19.7% of U.S. residents, or about 65 million people, had been infected. This indicates that the U.S. is unlikely to reach herd immunity without its ongoing vaccination campaign, Raftery and Irons said. In addition, the U.S. had an undercount factor of 2.3, the researchers found, which means that only about 1 in 2.3 COVID-19 cases were being confirmed through testing. Put another way, some 60% of cases were not counted at all.

    Lots of blah blah blah to wade through to get to the interesting paragraph.

  6. Scott says:

    Good. The Anti-Anti Vaxx pushback is accelerating. Quite frankly, those who are not vaccinated by this time are just freeloading on the rest of us.

    VA health care workers will be required to get COVID-19 vaccines to keep their jobs

    Department of Veterans Affairs leaders will require all health care employees to receive the coronavirus vaccine by mid-September or lose their jobs under a new policy announced Monday.

  7. Jax says:
  8. JohnMcC says:

    @Jax: There is a youtube channel that loves displaying the stupidity of Pastor Lock and many of his fellows. Goes under the name: Telltale Fireside Chat.

  9. wr says:

    @Jax: I can’t decide if six months from now we’re going to discover that he embezzled five million dollars from the church or that he’s been trolling on some gay sex app. Possibly both.

  10. Teve says:

    @Jax: that article is great.

    Since the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, Greg Locke, the pastor at a Nashville-area church, has repeatedly called covid a hoax, undermined emergency mandates and refused to comply with guidance from public health officials.
    This week, Locke took his defiance a step further, making a sharp warning regarding mask-wearing.
    If “you start showing up [with] all these masks and all this nonsense, I will ask you to leave,” Locke, 45, told scores of Global Vision Bible Church parishioners during his sermon on Sunday. His statement was followed by cheers and applause.
    “I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church,” he added.

    Global Vision Bible Church did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.
    Locke’s fiery five-minute diatribe, in which he also denied the existence of the delta variant, comes as vaccination rates in his home state slow and infection rates climb. So far, about 44 percent of Tennesseans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to The Post’s vaccine tracker, making it among the states with the lowest rate. The state recently reported that 98 percent of people who died of covid and 97 percent of covid hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.
    The delta variant is causing outbreaks across the U.S. Here’s how we beat it.

    The delta variant has become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States, resulting in a rise in infections and hospitalizations. (John Farrell/The Washington Post)

    The vaccine rollout in Tennessee made national headlines after the controversial firing of the state’s top immunization official, Michelle Fiscus, on July 12. Fiscus’s firing was the casualty of the Tennessee Department of Health’s campaign to encourage teenagers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The effort attracted ire from Republican state lawmakers.

    In an interview with WTVF on Monday, Fiscus said Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee (R) consistently resisted the state’s promotion of the vaccine.
    “I feel like the [health] department was gagged,” she said.
    Locke’s evangelical church in Mount Juliet, Tenn., about 20 miles east of downtown Nashville, has grown during the pandemic, CNN reported. The pastor’s controversial commentary on covid and the 2020 presidential election has attracted far-right churchgoers.
    During a sermon last month, Locke called President Biden a fraud and “a sex trafficking, demon-possessed mongrel,” a reference to QAnon, an extremist ideology based on false claims.
    He has also falsely claimed that the pandemic is “fake,” that the death count is “manipulated” and that the vaccine is a “dangerous scam.”
    And the pastor has preached misinformation about the vaccine, including falsely claiming that it’s made of “aborted fetal tissue.”

  11. Kylopod says:

    @wr: He did already leave his first wife for his church secretary, so there’s that.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:
  13. CSK says:

    Locke claims Joe Biden is “demon possessed.”

  14. KM says:

    Once healthcare get “vax or you’re fired” established, it will cascade down the chain of big business that doesn’t want to have any more disruptions or employees racking up unnecessary medical bills. The exception for medical issues will remain but with mRNA vaccines, you are less likely to have a reaction and thus they will be few in number. Religious or belief exemptions will end up being yanked as too many will abuse it and using alternate protocols like masking will fall aside as people not willing to vax aren’t gonna wander around masked all day either.

    They’ve painted themselves into a corner – any reasonable alternative or accommodation is not acceptable to them as they are convinced it’s all part of the hoax. They won’t mask, social distance or quarantine if infected. Any lawsuit will run afoul of them not wanting to take precautions against the disease, which is necessary as part of a compromise for not wanting to take the shot. Nurses who don’t want flu shots have to be masked and gowned all season long or else they’re eligible to be fired -that’s the workaround you have to agree to if you skip the shot. COVID deniers won’t do that so legally they can get tossed on their asses for non-compliance.

    I had to toss several people out of our first day back in office for repeatedly not wearing their masks in violation of the 40 million signs posted everywhere and ignoring instructions. The company doesn’t give a damn what the government says – you’re in their building and you do what they say for the safety of others. They are super serious about it and sent out an email stating you needed to sign a form before going in, agreeing to consequences if you violate protocol. I had to write those folks up and pass it on to HR, where they now have a strike against them and are temporarily banned from the building. I know for a fact it’s going to reflect negatively in their quarterly reviews and may even cost some people their bonuses / raises. They didn’t believe me but are about to find out pretty soon. The mandatory vax directive is coming as soon as the FDA approves the shots so their time is rapidly running out.

  15. Mikey says:

    This was always about overturning Roe.

    Josh Hawley
    Today I am proud to ask the Supreme Court to do justice and to overturn the historically unjust decision Roe v Wade. Privileged to be joined by my friends and gifted lawyers @tedcruz
    and @SenMikeLee
    in our brief for the Dobbs case https://supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/19/19-1392/184947/20210726160225898_2021-07-26%20Hawley%20Amicus%20Brief%20FINAL%20-%20PDFA.pdf

  16. Kathy says:


    His chances of catching COVID are sky high. We know the virus has an affinity for stupidity*, too.

    *Well, an affinity for people who leave themselves open to infection by SARS-CoV-2. Like, say, those whoa re unvaccinated, and gather in large groups indoors without masks or distancing.

  17. CSK says:

    The lengths some people will go to grovel to Trump–and for nothing:


    Jonathan Last points out that when Trump reads that poem “The Snake,” he’s telling you exactly who he is.

  18. Kylopod says:

    I was thinking more about the story I posted above of the radio host who’s changed his mind about Covid after contracting it. On the surface, it might seem like yet another example of a conservative changing their tune on an issue only after it affects them personally–like Rob Portman on gay marriage, or Megyn Kelly on maternity leave.

    But there’s an important difference here. In those earlier examples, the root of the problem was the difficulty these conservatives had empathizing with those different than themselves. It wasn’t so much that they lacked awareness of what others went through as that they found it easy to adopt a “suck it up” attitude as long as it concerned other people. With Covid denialism and anti-vax conspiracism, it stems from a complete detachment from reality. They aren’t necessarily expressing a lack of concern for others (though some of them are doing just that), but mostly wallowing in a fantasy with a topsy-turvy view of what is and isn’t harmful. Many of these people are grifting, in which case they are truly heartless and cruel. I’m sure Tucker is fully vaxxed. But that obviously isn’t the case for everyone in the movement. Some of them actually believe at least some of the bs they’re selling–and end up paying a steep price for it in their personal lives.

    And while I’m happy this particular host (assuming he survives) and his brother have seen the light, and I hope they do what they can to use their platform to encourage others in this direction, it shows how much their perception of reality is shaped by anecdote. Indeed, what happened to him isn’t even a good reason for changing his mind on the issue–just because you happen to get deathly ill doesn’t in itself prove anything in particular about how common it is; that can only be determined from listening to scientific experts doing research on the population, the very thing he’s spent months dismissing. Even though he’s reached the correct conclusions now, it still reveals how poor an understanding he has on how to properly gather facts about the world and assess risk.

  19. Teve says:

    Some restaurant called Basilico’s has a sign reading


    and some other stupid gibberish.


  20. Teve says:

    @Kathy: oh, yeah, they’re not going to make it to October without a huge outbreak. The new grocery sales start tomorrow, maybe Winn-Dixie will have Orville Redenbacher on sale.

  21. Mu Yixiao says:
  22. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: humans are storytellers. Narrative trumps spreadsheets eight days a week. People who think scientifically, who learn to suppress the myriad cognitive biases and trust data, are the weirdos.

  23. Kylopod says:



    A yellow star?

  24. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: Yes. And it’s something politicians and public speakers are trained to take advantage of. A million statistical data points aren’t anything compared to a single story of a child hooked to a respirator.

  25. liberal capitalist says:

    As my departed father would have said: Ain’t this a shit?!!!

    A conservative website is blaming BIDEN for 200,000+ deaths on his watch…. which is mostly a result… of Trumpists not getting vaccinated… because they say that COVID is not real.

    Shortest path to cognitive dissonance ever.

    Biden’s COVID-19 Death Count Hits 200K, the Equivalent of 83 Pearl Harbors

    Oh… he’s also apparently personally responsible for the USA Olympic basketball team losing to France as well.


  26. KM says:

    @liberal capitalist:
    Don’t you know a real man would have forced his will and *made* them get vaxxed if it was that serious? Don’t you know a real Alpha would have showed them the Truth and they would have naturally fallen behind his great leadership to do the right thing? If it weren’t a hoax, he should have been someone they’d listen to so they knew how bad it was! Obviously it’s Biden’s fault they ignored all safety warnings and did what they wanted. It couldn’t possibly be their fault! Why were they allowed to make such a bad decision – why wasn’t there any protection to save them from their stupidity?

    Reminds me of people who climb a fencing with a billion warning signs and then threaten to sue when they get hurt because no one stopped them. Don’t Tell ME What to Do quickly morphs into Why Didn’t You Save Me You’ll Pay For This!.

  27. Kathy says:


    I wonder if we should hunt for radioactive elements on Mars. One theory holds the Earth’s core hasn’t cooled down yet due to heat produced by radioactive decay. this is important, as with a cooler core we’d have a weaker magnetic field, or no magnetic field at all (like Mars), which serves to jeep out a lot of radiation from the Sun and other sources.

    BTW, we’ll surely repeat this type of observation in other worlds, but not all. The gas giants are obviously out, but so is Venus. Any instrument placed on the surface of Venus dies from the ambient heat and pressure in under two hours. Landers in the big satellites of the gas giant planets ought to uncover many interesting features, like what’s under Europa’s icy crust, for instance.

  28. KM says:

    Parkland shooting survivor says their dad believes it was a hoax after QAnon ‘consumed his life’

    Can you imagine surviving something like that, only to have your own father years later yell at you for faking it? The damage this nonsense is doing is real and will be felt for generations; families will be destroyed because %^$**^% Trump’s narcissistic ass couldn’t deal with reality and the GQP decided to adopt troll culture.

  29. DrDaveT says:


    Locke claims Joe Biden is “demon possessed.”

    As we said repeatedly about CASE NIGHTMARE ORANGE, the shocking part is not that he’s the way he is, but rather than a whole bunch of people are not only OK with that, they’re all in for it. That has been the horrible revelation of the past decade — that so many people lack any immunity at all to hateful stupid demagoguery, even with the stupid turned up to 11.

  30. CSK says:

    Does this guy think his own son was a party to the hoax?

    Not to excuse Trump, but this kind of bullshit precedes him. The Boston Marathon Bombing (2013) was a false flag operation. Sandy Hook (2012) was a false flag operation.

  31. Gustopher says:

    @liberal capitalist:

    Biden, who has only been president for six months, is now responsible for roughly one third of all American deaths from COVID-19. Since his inauguration on Jan. 20, Americans have been dying from the virus at an astonishing rate of 1,071 per day.

    The virus spreads through socialism.

    (Also, who is responsible for the other two-thirds by this logic?)

    Perhaps coincidentally, Biden was inaugurated exactly 187 days ago, a number that is often used as a slang term for murder.

    Um. Yeah, pretty sure that is a coincidence. And I have never heard about 187, but I might not be as plugged into youth culture and slang as the folks at the Free Beacon.

  32. Teve says:
  33. KM says:

    From the reddit post, yes. The father frequently accuses the son of being a part of the hoax and a crisis actor.

    I’m aware people have denied tragedies before, especially those that involve mass shootings. However, this parent probably was scared shitless on that day for their child only now to having fallen prey to QAnon nuttery (post specifically mention dad was fine till he fell down the Q-hole). This is someone who had family there but bought it hook, line and sinker to the point they turned on their own traumatized child and screams at them drunk how horrible their participation in the hoax is.

    Parkland is a particular hatred on the Right so of course QAnon went off on it. They hate that the kids stood up and said no more and fought back against the meaningless thoughts and prayer nonsense offered up every time. Alt-righties still make David Hogg on a bike jokes about everything so it’s no surprise the father’s descend involved accusing his child of faking probably the scariest thing that will ever happen to them.

  34. CSK says:

    Section 187 of the California Penal Code defines murder. It’s become a slang term.

  35. Kathy says:

    For the past couple of weeks, with the Delta variant ascendant, there has been much griping in travel and aviation blogs against the continuing mask mandate on airplanes.

    It’s cleaning surfaces all over again. Few opposed that, and few opposed dropping masks after being vaccinated. Now, even with Delta around, odds of catching COVID are low if you’ve been vaccinated and don’t wear a mask, and odds of developing serious symptoms, requiring hospitalization, or dying of Delta, are even lower.

    But don’t these people get it that when you say “it’s ok not to wear a mask if you’re vaccinated,” means everyone who feels like it will stop wearing a mask and claim, truthfully or not, to have gotten the vaccine? No one is checking vaccination proofs.

    Besides, if those FDA cards are all the proof there is, they seem easy to replicate with a scanner and printer, which you can find in just about every office these days.

    I’ve also heard in history podcasts and blogs that compared with past pandemics, COVID isn’t that big a deal.

    They have a point. The 1918 flu pandemic was worse by orders of magnitude (and made worse by WWI). And any of the widespread plague epidemics was far, far worse. But, again, they miss the bigger point. Compared with normal life, like we knew it to be until, oh, mid-march 2020, the current pandemic is horrible and very deadly. And the people who’ve died of COVID, are just as dead as those who died of 1918 flu, or Black Death, or Ebola, or AIDS, or 2009 flu, etc.

  36. Mu Yixiao says:

    TenCent suspends new WeChat accounts until early August.

    Those you not familiar with WeChat (Weixin in Chinese) may not appreciate just how massive this is. WeChat is more than the “Chinese Twitter”, as it’s often referred. It has become an almost indispensable tool for business, civic interaction, and daily life.

    It’s not just used for chat. It holds the 2nd largest marketshare in mobile payments (behind AliPay), and is by far the most ubiquitous. Even beggars have QR codes so you can give them money from your phone. I’ve had employers ask if I wanted to be paid via WeChat.

    In my last couple years in China, I used it to pay my rent, my phone bill, and my utilities. It includes ride-sharing, food delivery, rail and air tickets, and even charitable donations.

    Shutting down new accounts for a couple weeks? That’s huge.

    The excuse is “aligning with appropriate data privacy laws”–which means, I’m sure, “setting up our servers to more cleanly provide personal information and the content of your communications with the CCP”.

    Between little things like this, the new stance on Hong Kong, and the sabre-rattling over Taiwan, there’s a showdown coming–both internally and with their neighbors (not to mention with the US, UK, and EU).

    This is not going to be pretty.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Just in case you hadn’t heard: NASA Selects 2 Missions to Study ‘Lost Habitable’ World of Venus

    DAVINCI+ (Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging)

    DAVINCI+ will measure the composition of Venus’ atmosphere to understand how it formed and evolved, as well as determine whether the planet ever had an ocean. The mission consists of a descent sphere that will plunge through the planet’s thick atmosphere, making precise measurements of noble gases and other elements to understand why Venus’ atmosphere is a runaway hothouse compared the Earth’s.

    In addition, DAVINCI+ will return the first high resolution pictures of the unique geological features on Venus known as “tesserae,” which may be comparable to Earth’s continents, suggesting that Venus has plate tectonics. This would be the first U.S.-led mission to Venus’ atmosphere since 1978, and the results from DAVINCI+ could reshape our understanding of terrestrial planet formation in our solar system and beyond. James Garvin of Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the principal investigator. Goddard provides project management.

    VERITAS (Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy)

    VERITAS will map Venus’ surface to determine the planet’s geologic history and understand why it developed so differently than Earth. Orbiting Venus with a synthetic aperture radar, VERITAS will chart surface elevations over nearly the entire planet to create 3D reconstructions of topography and confirm whether processes such as plate tectonics and volcanism are still active on Venus.

    VERITAS also will map infrared emissions from Venus’ surface to map its rock type, which is largely unknown, and determine whether active volcanoes are releasing water vapor into the atmosphere. Suzanne Smrekar of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, is the principal investigator. JPL provides project management. The German Aerospace Center will provide the infrared mapper with the Italian Space Agency and France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales contributing to the radar and other parts of the mission.

    So, more cool missions coming up.

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Does this guy think his own son was a party to the hoax?


  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: The sad part to me is the mother is too cowed by the asshole and won’t protect her son. So now he leaves them behind.

  40. Neil J Hudelson says:
  41. Kylopod says:


    Not to excuse Trump, but this kind of bullshit precedes him.

    It should be clear by now that the whole debate over whether Trump is the cause or the symptom is too simplistic a framing. He is both. Everything terrible about him has precursors on the right (yes, even questioning elections–how quickly we’ve forgotten that even the “honorable” John McCain was yammering about ACORN during the 2008 debates), but he worsened the situation by being so extreme about it and pushing so many people in that direction. Trump is the Edison of right-wing looniness–he may not have invented all of it himself, but he put his indelible stamp on it.

  42. CSK says:

    You’ll get no argument from me. As I’ve often pointed out, Trump was preceded by Sarah Palin, who was preceded by Pat Buchanan.

    Conspiracists have been around…forever. But social media enables them to flourish as they never did before.

  43. Kathy says:


    There should be some kind of Noble prize* for the people who come up with the acronyms for these missions 🙂

    Venus is the oddball rocky planet that’s too hard to investigate properly. true, no one has landed on Mercury yet, but that wouldn’t be that hard given the lack of atmosphere.

    I wonder if a sample return mission to Venus would be possible. I mean rock and dirt samples. Probably not, because of the atmosphere and gravity. the surface gravity of Venus is about 0.9 that of Earth. Meaning you’d need a booster much like those we use on Earth (Mars’ is around 0.37, and the Moon only 0.16; boosting off into orbit from there is far easier). Plus the atmosphere provides air resistance and drag, and it’s far denser than Earth’s. So even if the fuel didn’t blow up under temperatures that melt lead, and the thing could withstand the atmosphere, well, imagine the cost of launching a Falcon 1 to Venus.

    Maybe when we develop fission or fusion rocket engines…

    It’s worth keeping in mind that Venus, not Mars, is the known planet most like Earth. She’s almost the same size, has similar surface gravity, a thick atmosphere, and apparently plate tectonics.

    On the other hand, atmosphere aside, there are major differences, like the looooong Venusian day and retrograde rotation.

    * Not a Nobel Prize, that would be silly.

  44. Mu Yixiao says:


    A couple things about Venus:

    1) With balloon assist, a return rocket wouldn’t need to launch from the ground. That thick atmo could get a balloon very high up.

    2) There’s a wonderful science cartoon on YouTube about “easily” terraforming Venus (hint, it’s possible but not easy). It’s worth looking up.

    And regarding Europa: There was just an article in Ars Technica about searching for uncontaminated samples. It’ll take a drill about a meter long to get past the radiation.

  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    the two brave robots


  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Wait… that would mean that Louis Farrakhan is less radical than contemporary Republicans? WA! That’s seriously warped.

  47. dazedandconfused says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    The radiation is so great Europa glows in the dark. Saw some data that says the average daily dose is 540 rem, about 1,800 times what the average surface dweller on earth gets in an entire year.

    Jupiter is just plain nasty.

  48. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    A balloon runs into the hot, dense atmosphere. Pressures at ground level are like being hundreds of meters underwater on Earth. Temperatures are in the hundreds of degrees Celsius. There’s very little time before any machine you put down there succumbs to these conditions. So you inflate the balloon while the lander/launcher is collecting rocks, but then you still need to go up, and that takes time.

    It’s fun to think about, though.

  49. Mu Yixiao says:


    Pffft. That’s for the engineers to figure out. 🙂

  50. Mu Yixiao says:
  51. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I suppose the problem is a tad less difficult than fusion.

    BTW, I think in Venus, a balloon filled with oxygen should float.

  52. Gustopher says:

    @Neil J Hudelson: the fine folks at Free Beacon do, in fact, have a better understanding of slang and youth culture than I do. Go figure.

    Here I thought that they were square.

    (Do people still say that?)

  53. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Why would you launch the balloon from the surface? Balloon package should pop off during the lander’s descent and live a life in the clouds.

  54. Mu Yixiao says:


    I was referring to using a balloon to lift the lander from the surface to high altitude and then having the lander launch into space from there (sort of like Branson’s recent space jaunt, only with a balloon instead of a plane).

  55. CSK says:

    Donald Trump thinks a Nobel Prize is a Noble Prize.

  56. Kathy says:


    We’re talking about a balloon to lift a rocket high into Venus’ atmosphere so it can launch the sample return mission back to Earth. that’s hard to do from high up on the atmosphere.

    I think one could attempt a landing on a mountaintop, which helps with the pressure and maybe with the fuel needed to reach orbit. Mountaintops, though, are chancy landing spots.

  57. CSK says:

    Well, this is amusing. Matt Gaetz’s fiancee’s sister thinks Matt is “weird and creepy.”


    She’s not alone in thinking that.

  58. Teve says:

    The entire University of California system says your ass is gonna be vaxxed by Sept 1 or you can hit the bricks, pal.

    (With the sensible exceptions, obvi)

  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Hey, I didn’t write it.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: that would mean that Louis Farrakhan is less radical than contemporary Republicans?

    Well, he is less radical. Which just goes to show that with Republicans, it’s always projection.

  60. Teve says:

    Dr. J F Curry
    Follow @Coo_ray

    I’m an Arkansas ER physician. We are at the point warned about a year ago. There are no ICU beds in the state. 4 days ago we called 5 surrounding states looking for ICU beds and we were unsuccessful. (Thread)
    In simple terms, because the critical care beds are full of ill Covid patients (who tend to have a slow recovery), there are no beds for the heart attacks, the major traumas, the septic patients…I could go all day.
    A few facts:
    1) The average delta variant positive person infects 6 people (compared to less than 3 with the original variant)
    2) Almost all of the ill pneumonia patients we are seeing are unvaccinated (yes vaccinated people can get it but mostly with milder symptoms)
    3) We are seeing a trend of severe disease in younger people

    A few requests:
    1) Wear a mask! It’s how most of us who spend all day with Covid patients coughing in our faces don’t get it. It’s worked for more than a year. It also keeps you from spreading it.
    2) We are in a major surge! Stay away from large unmasked gatherings.
    3) The ERs are loaded, there is a wait. Maybe call your doctor first.
    4) Get vaccinated! I obsessively love my family and I grabbed each of them by the ear to get their shot as soon as they were eligible. I would never hurt them.
    A little snark:
    1) If you won’t wear a mask for 20 minutes in Walmart to protect kids who can’t get the vaccine, you would not have hid Anne Frank. Stop saying that! This is your real history hero moment. Step up.
    2) Your friend from high school “who has done all the research and knows the truth about vaccines”, hasn’t and doesn’t.
    I have 2 degrees and 30 years of experience in medicine and I usually have to read these articles several times to make sure I understand them.

  61. Jen says:

    @Teve: Amen to all of that.

    This comment:

    I have 2 degrees and 30 years of experience in medicine and I usually have to read these articles several times to make sure I understand them.

    Reminds me of an interaction I had with an acquaintance through Facebook years ago. This was a woman I’d met through a friend and we were in a book club together. She posted some nonsense about Pepsi using fetal tissue and said that no one who was opposed to abortion should drink Pepsi. This was weird enough of a claim that I decided to look it up, and it was a very weird and convoluted train of thought based on some layperson’s reading of a patent relating to taste cells.

    Laypeople reading complex documents–including laws–are the basis for a lot of misinformation because people DON’T genuinely understand what they are reading

    I posted basically that statement and linked to the medical paper. I was quickly unfriended, so mission accomplished. 😀

  62. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: Unfortunately, reporters are themselves laypeople, and this leads to a lot of misreporting of scientific conclusions in the media.

  63. Kathy says:

    It’s official: put your masks back on

    Yes, I noticed the caveat about regions with high spread. Do you know the spread in your area? In every place you go to? In every area you traverse or visit?

    Delta seems good at asymptomatic breakthrough infections, too. While you may not notice you caught COVID in that case, and may not get tested to find out, you’re still as capable of spreading it.

    Yes, most of the spread happens because of unvaccinated people, but this doesn’t get you off the hook.

  64. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: As a fully vaxxed New Yorker, I already starting putting mask back on a few days ago–in fact getting out my N95s which I haven’t used in a while. Unlike most of last year, though, I’m not avoiding going places (apart from the fact that I’m still being assigned to work remotely and haven’t been called back into the office yet, and also that I’m continuing to use Instacart for regular groceries because I already paid for a subscription until January).

  65. Teve says:

    Actual Lucianne.com headline: Jim Jordan Has Nancy Pelosi Shaking in Her High-Fashion Boots.

    I didn’t read the article because thousands of shots of vodka have stolen enough brain cells, I don’t have any more disposable ones.

  66. Stormy Dragon says:


    High Transmission is a specific CDC rating:


  67. Teve says:
  68. CSK says:

    Did you notice that i’s from some crackpot blog called “Association of Mature American Citizens”?

  69. Kathy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    That’s good, but I will repeat, what’s the transmission rate in every place you visit? Even a county with high vaccination rates and low overall contagion, may harbor pockets of unvaxxed covidiots going around without masks.

  70. Kylopod says:

    Gateway Pundit headline: “CDC Director Walensky: ‘We Continue to Follow the Science Closely, and Update the Guidance Should the Science Shift Again.'”

    The article begins: “CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday admitted the science shifts with the political winds.”

  71. Teve says:


    As in much of the U.S., @natashakorecki reports that in Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks region, “to be unvaxxed is a source of identity and…pride” for many & there’s widespread “opposition to the vaccine campaign…so intense it bordered on belligerence.”

  72. Teve says:

    @Kylopod: I saw Hoft tell a lie a few hours ago that “Kamala Harris previously said she’d never take the vaccine…”

  73. CSK says:

    All Hoft does is lie.

  74. EddieInCA says:

    When I, and a few others, say that Progressives are their own worst enemies, this is what I’m talking about.

    Susan Sarandon Protests Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Outside Her Office: ‘We’re Losing Hope Here You Represent Us’


    This is just f**king ridiculous! With all that’s going on, Susan Sarandon and her band of merry progressives are saying AOC isn’t doing enough? Seriously? WTF? What is wrong with these people? AOC has this much power? Who knew?

    Go away, Susan. Just go away.

  75. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: Sarandon’s been a nitwit as long as I can remember. Every large group has some.


  76. Teve says:

    It’s wise to expect this won’t pan out. But if it does, grid storage for solar and wind would be accomplished. For probly less than half the cost of nuclear per kWh.


  77. Gustopher says:

    @EddieInCA: does Susan Sarandon live in AOC’s district?

  78. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Is it okay if I didn’t take my mask off to begin with? (Not saying that I was 100% consistent or anything.)

  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: I’ll have you know that the Association of Mature American Citizens isn’t JUST a crackpot blog; it’s the official RWNJ response to the AARP going all socialist. Much more than a crackpot blog; it’s a whole crackpot organization.

  80. Teve says:

    @CSK: LOL no I didn’t but now that i go to their homepage i see all the hits: Freedom, Constitution, Fake News, Hunter Biden, Critical Race Theory, Wokeness, Liberty, etc.

  81. Wr says:

    @EddieInCA: Susan Sarandon is an idiot and has been for years. Claiming she’s representative of progressives (especially when she’s attacking a real progressive) is just nitpicking.

  82. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’ve never stopped wearing mine either.

  83. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kylopod: Oh, it leads to alot of misreporting outside of medical subjects as well…even when the writer makes a good faith effort.

    This is why I stress that its hubris to consider oneself educated on a subject if they’ve only read reports on said subject. You’re kinda educated… but not to the level of people that pay their mortgage DOING it.

  84. EddieInCA says:


    She actually does. Surprisingly.

  85. wr says:

    @Wr: Ugh, not nitpicking, nutpicking. That’s what I get for writing on my iPad…