Tuesday’s Forum

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


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

    Ryan Struyk

    Reported US coronavirus deaths on date:

    Feb. 27: 0 deaths
    Mar. 27: 1,588 deaths
    Apr. 27: 56,255 deaths

  2. Teve says:

    Scott Galloway’s book The Four is a business and social examination of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. What they do, and how they got where they are. Highly recommend. I got an electronic loan via Libby onto my Kindle app, and I highly recommend electronic library loans too. You don’t have to go out and get the Rona, 10 seconds later Bam it’s on your iPad.

  3. Teve says:
  4. Teve says:

    The geek in me loves learning about complex systems, so even though I’ll never get an MBA or work in corporate finance, I like learning how those things work, but it’s very hard to find good business books. Very many of them could be titled “look at these psychopathic things I did, aren’t I great?¹” Business books that honestly examine a topic without being servile or taking the point of view that business counts more than humans, is a good thing. The Ashley Vance book about Elon Musk was also properly skeptical.

    (¹: “Look at all these psychopathic things, I did, aren’t I great?” © Jack Welch)

  5. Bill says:

    The ‘who gives a space’ headline of the Day-

    It’s wrong to use two spaces between sentences, Microsoft Word says

    Very early on in my epublishing days I learned something important. I misplaced space at the end of a paragraph puts off the formatting in my stories for even just one paragraph. So before submitting, I scrupulously check my stories before and after publication. If I find errors right after publishing, I submit a new story file to Amazon.

    Out of 26 ebooks, I have only had one major Hiccup. Self publishing is a trial and error process.

  6. Scott says:

    Abbott eases rule on masks — and S.A. officials plead with public to keep wearing them

    The plan that Gov Abbott put out was comprehensive and pretty gradual if you read beyond the headlines. However, too much depends on the public responsibility and duty of everyday citizens to behave in such a manner so as to continue the downhill trendlines.

    I’m sorry but there are too many self-centered jerks out there who believe that it is your problem if you don’t like how they conduct themselves. It really is not too hard to ask people to keep their distance and wear a mask. It is not an infringement on their liberty and freedom just like the requirement to wear pants is not.

    I really don’t want to be in the position of turning around and telling somebody to back off. I have no confidence that stores will take any action to ensure a higher standard of behavior. They don’t want to be put in this position either.

    So much of society depends on norms of good behavior that we take for granted (standing in line, waiting your turn, not blasting music, etc). We can hope for the best but plan for the worst in people.

    BTW, if a stranger is invading my space and I feel threatened that my life could be in danger, can justifiable use of deadly force be allowed? Just asking.

  7. Scott says:

    @Bill: Too late. After 50 years of typing/keyboarding, the double space is hardwired into my being. Doubt I’m going to change now.

  8. Scott says:

    I don’t know how many people here are like me and were sent home to telework while we work the pandemic through. As things ease up, there is talk about going back to the office. Besides getting use to teleworking, I don’t want to go back to the office as it is operated today. I work as a contractor on an AF base. As office space, it is not comparable to your modern cubicle farm corporate offices. I work in a converted barracks. The roof leaks, the carpets get cleaned about every 18 months, the trash gets picked up and bathrooms cleaned once a week. In other words it is substandard and since most of us have worked like that our entire working lives, it is accepted practice. Heck, in some of my higher security jobs, we had to take our own trash out since the custodians were not cleared.

    Now with pandemic, those practices to me are not going to cut it. I don’t want to go back to that and also wear a mask all day.

    It’s going to be interesting to see this sorts itself out.

  9. Kathy says:


    So why doesn’t MS just configure Word like most mobile chat apps, and turn any double space into a period and a space? Users can always opt out.

  10. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: I’m becoming a worse speller every day, and at least part of that is attributable to things like neglecting to capitalize “I” because I’m used to iOS correcting that for me, while something typed on the Mac does not. On the other hand, the random capitalization when making a correction in iOS drives me nuts. Actually, the ability to edit text in iOS continues to be very frustrating, now coupled with the ease of accidentally popping into split screen mode on the iPad.

    [Venting complete]

  11. KM says:

    We just got the WFH order from the corporate overlords extended to June 1st, barring location-specific permission. I really want to ask someone to open the building real quick to clean out my desk as I have the sneaking suspicion it’s gotten very gross in the last 50+ days as has the whole office. We had problems with people keeping their spaces clean *before* this all started; there were signs like “Leave dishes in the sink for more then 3 days and they’re trash”. The fridges will be a nightmare. I can no longer remember if there was coffee in my mug (prob not, I’d have drunk it dry) but there were snacks and cereal in my desk that I’d like to go get. Been hearing stories of the local wildlife reclaiming empty office space and it’s making me paranoid. Nobody wants to finally make it back to the office and have to fight off some vermin to reclaim your space.

  12. Jen says:

    I agree with the MS change for one space after a period…that said, it drives me absolutely crazy the number of times the grammar check tries to “correct” its vs. it’s. It almost always offers the incorrect form.

    I read a piece in Vanity Fair about a week ago that used the incorrect form of “its” twice. I’m now wondering if it was a MS Word “suggestion” issue (but honestly a professional writer should know the difference).

  13. liberal capitalist says:


    Kathy – it does that.

    By default, it now points it out as an error. (Second space underlined red, just like a spelling error).

    You have options:
    1) you can have it autocorrect
    2) you can choose to ignore the error (turn off underline).

    I first encountered this type of unimportant stuff when working at GM. They decided to spell employee with only 2 e’s (employe), based on the study that it would save paper, ink, time, etc.

    The reality is: none of this matters not a whit. Even spelling, as the brain autocorrects. An example:

    I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whoutit a pboerlm. Tihs is bucseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey ltteer by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Aaznmig, huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghhuot slelinpg was ipmorantt! See if yuor fdreins can raed tihs too.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:


    BTW, if a stranger is invading my space and I feel threatened that my life could be in danger, can justifiable use of deadly force be allowed? Just asking.

    If you live in a “Stand Your Ground” state, you can make that argument. Not sure it will hold up tho. Especially if the person you shoot is white.

  15. Kit says:


    If you live in a “Stand Your Ground” state, you can make that argument. Not sure it will hold up tho. Especially if the person you shoot is white.

    Good point: the spirit of the law is what’s important.

  16. Christopher Osborne says:

    @Scott: I recommend trying the following: when someone is walking toward you intent upon virtue signaling his “freedom” to walk where he wants, have a sudden and violent coughing fit. I’ve found that even the most hardened Libertarian will cede you six feet of space….

  17. Teve says:
  18. EddieInCA says:

    One of my last remaining aunts passed last night from Covid-19 in the Tampa area of Florida.


  19. CSK says:

    My deepest sympathies, Eddie.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @EddieInCA: You have my sympathies.

  21. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: I’m so sorry, Eddie. Sending good thoughts to you and your family

  22. Monala says:

    @Jen: There’s also the tricky phenomenon of autocorrect changing something back after you think you’ve corrected it. If you’ve moved on because you think you’ve fixed it, you might not catch it. That could have happened in the Vanity Fair piece.

  23. Jen says:

    @EddieInCA: My condolences to you and your family.

  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Sincerest condolences.
    I suspect Florida is yet to see how bad it’s going to get there.

  25. Michael Cain says:

    The other day after reading a one-space vs two-space argument, I realized just how old I was, and how long I’d been writing using a computer. Shortly before reading that I needed to write several paragraphs (destined ultimately for a web page). So I had jumped over to an iTerm window, fired up the vi-variant text editor I currently use, and started. Paragraphs marked with <p>. Every sentence started on a new line — the correct white space after a period is the newline character :^) For simple things, and particularly for straight text, I find it easier and more productive to put off formatting completely.

    Many years ago Bell Labs ran an internal study to measure the productivity of people writing technical manuals using a mark-up language vs a WYSIWYG word processor. Both groups were similarly trained-up on the tool they were using. The people using the mark-up language were consistently 25% more productive than those using WYSIWYG. The mark-up language version also had far fewer style issues than WYSIWYG. The eventual conclusion was that WYSIWYG encouraged futzing with the appearance of the text on the page. Most of that effort was wasted, because rewriting was going to make substantial changes. Some was even counter-productive, as people would introduce formatting changes that violated the documentation guidelines. The observation that surprised the most people was that a text editor plus mark-up meant that the writers almost never took their fingers off the home row on the keyboard, and that the small amounts of time spent reaching for the mouse or hunting for an arrow key added up to something significant.

    Follow-on note: It’s worth saying that tools that are nominally WYSISYG for the web aren’t, really. Chances are excellent that when this comment is displayed on an Outside the Beltway page it will look only approximately like it does in the edit box. The font may be different. The block of space into which it is placed will probably be wider or narrower. The two-spaces after the period that my fingers automatically type will be compressed to a single space.

  26. Michael Cain says:

    @EddieInCA: Sorry to hear about your aunt. I worry about my 93-year-old mother. She lives in a well-run old-folks home in Nebraska, and they haven’t had any cases yet, but if the virus does get into the building it’s likely to run through the population quickly.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    Remember the outrage a few weeks ago about putting Trumpsky’s name on the $1200 stimulus checks? But it was only the paper checks and while they put his name on the memo line he couldn’t sign them.

    We got ours direct deposited a week or two ago. Yesterday I got a letter with an IRS return address. Having gotten past the “oh fwck, this can’t be good’ I opened it and found a letter from “THE WHITE HOUSE” saying my money was coming, doing its best to say Trump was personally responsible, and signed in an illegible scrawl above a signature line “President Donald J. Trump”. On the back it’s printed with the same letter in Spanish. Appropriately the signature line reads “Presidente”. This is banana republic stuff.

    I suppose they have an opinion from Barr (cough) that this doesn’t violate the Hatch act, but even W Bush didn’t skate this close.

  28. Kylopod says:

    Yesterday, here in NYC, for the first time since this whole thing started I got an Instacart order delivered to my apartment the same day on which I submitted the order–within hours in fact. Previously I considered myself lucky if an order came 2-3 days after submitting it.

    Is this a sign of anything? A decrease in demand? More people going out to buy stuff? An increase in Instacart workers? A coincidence? I have no idea.

  29. Jon says:

    @Michael Cain:

    fired up the vi-variant text editor I currently use

    Thank you for not saying ’emacs’ 😉

  30. Michael Cain says:

    @Jon: Over the years, I have found it fascinating how many online places there are where computers and software are barely or never mentioned, yet it’s still possible to start a vi-versus-emacs flame war :^)

  31. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jon: See, now my reaction to that was, well, to shudder. I started using emacs in 1979, and continued using it for maybe 30 years. Early on, it was super fun to use emacs on a terminal like a vt100 with a modem, because it had code built in that would optimize the (very slow) screen redraw and move pieces of text around the screen to fit in their new place.

    I learned vi, but man, the existence of “insert mode” has caused me problems, and so I avoid it.

    These days, though, I use atom.

  32. Bill says:

    First of all condolences to Eddie

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    I suspect Florida is yet to see how bad it’s going to get there.

    You’re probably right. Over 1,000 people live in the retirement community where I also reside. I haven’t heard of anyone dying here (or even a Covid19 case in my building. I talked to a board member this morning. He said there are none) but I suspect it will happen sooner or later.

  33. Jon says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Indeed, sometimes it can be fun to shoehorn it in to places where you don’t expect it.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I started using emacs in 1979, and continued using it for maybe 30 years.

    And that’s why you’re going to hell 😉

    Atom is pretty nice, though.

  34. Moosebreath says:


    Sorry to hear that, Eddie.

  35. Michael Cain says:

    @Teve: I’ve lived in the West — the Mountain West in particular — for a long time now. The thought that AK, ID, UT, and WY could be the only four western states with Republican Senators just seems really, really strange. Not entirely unexpected — the West has trended Democratic just as the Midwest has trended Republican. Combined, those four states have more US Senators than US Representatives :^)

  36. Teve says:
  37. CSK says:

    I’ll believe that when that nine-pound bag of suet under his chin vanishes. And he can lumber more than ten feet without having to rest.

  38. Michael Cain says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Without being for or against either vi or emacs — I’ve used both at different times — I am interested in where you were when you learned emacs. Long ago, when they were still distinctions that mattered, I thought of them as West Coast vs East Coast (given where Joy and Stallman were, and somewhat the different mindsets I thought each had), and little-machine vs big-machine (based on the size of the implementations).

    My fingers are currently used to vile, the worst of all worlds: all the modal things that people complain about in vi; lots of the ctrl-x and ctrl-a commands from emacs; and a colon escape into a near-ex mode.

  39. Teve says:

    @CSK: I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he takes a golf cart from the East wing to the West wing.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    (but honestly a professional writer should know the difference).

    You might be surprised (but probably not) to know how many people set their word processing programs to “auto correct” and just assume the best. I find no reason to think that professional writers are any less apt to do so–especially after hearing one of our leaders at a writing pedagogy workshop I attended over several weeks in grad school extoll the virtues of auto correct in 1995 on the day after we all had finished a group research project on common auto correct errors. (oopsie 😉 )

    ETA: I suppose, in fairness, that I should note that this person also noted that she never worried about grammar in her articles for journals as correcting problems was what editors were for. Ironically enough, she was a middle school teacher–Language Arts, IIRC.

  41. CSK says:

    Oh, he probably does.

  42. CSK says:

    Trump is ordering the meat processing plants to stay open, via the Defense Production Act. He will be signing a 5-page executive order.

    God forbid he should be deprived of his daily ration of hamberders.

  43. Jen says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Good point.

    And, I should be a bit more generous right now. Everyone is a bit stressed, and it’s easy to make mistakes. A writer who is accustomed to having pieces proofed before publication might not be quite as fussy about things as I am. As a freelance writer, my goal is to provide pieces that are as error-free as possible, for several reasons (mostly it’s easier on the client, which means they come back with more work).

  44. Bill says:
  45. Sleeping Dog says:


    Sorry to hear that Eddie, may she rest in peace.

  46. Sleeping Dog says:


    The cat came back…


    But he can’t make the workers show up.

  47. Teve says:

    @CSK: The government is ordering businesses to produce? I’m sure the Libertarians are going to go crazy on those Republicans!

  48. BIll says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    The cat came back…


    When the cat got back, I heard it had its favorite dessert. Chocolate Moose.

    I wrote a silly short story that had a scene where Swedish Chef teaches that recipe to Martha Stewart.

  49. Kathy says:


    There is rational justification to keep meat processing plants open, so long as the order includes mandatory effective protection for the workers inside. Even if this means processing far less meat, because social distancing cannot accommodate full production lines.

    Hazard pay would be appropriate, too.

    If the order doe snot include protections, or if the employers don’t implement them, then the workers should strike.

  50. Liberal Capitalist says:


    When the cat got back, I heard it had its favorite dessert. Chocolate Moose.

    A møøse once bit my sister.

    No realli! She was Karving her initials on the moose with the sharpened end of an interspace toothbrush given her by Svenge – her brother-in-law – an Oslo dentist and star of many Norwegian movies such as: “The Hot Hands of an Oslo Dentist”, “Fillings of Passion”, “The Huge Molars of Horst Nordfink”…

    It probably wasn’t chocolate, though.

  51. Liberal Capitalist says:


    If the order doe snot include protections, or if the employers don’t implement them, then the workers should strike.

    They are already striking.

    However, the powers of unions are weak, so expect little real results.

  52. Michael Cain says:


    If the order doe snot include protections, or if the employers don’t implement them, then the workers should strike.

    In most of the plants, that’s like an invitation for ICE to run a sweep. Every time they do that they find a certain number of people who can’t show legal residency. So people get put in detention, families get broken up, etc. Almost 700 families messed up in Mississippi last August.

  53. Teve says:

    You really don’t want to be famous. Read the biography of any famous person.

    -Kevin Kelly

  54. EddieInCA says:

    Thanks to all for the words of condolences. I was doing okay until I spoke to my young cousin (age 6), who wanted to know when her Grandma is coming back from the hospital.


  55. @EddieInCA: That really does suck. My condolences.