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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Our top search term is nuclear’: US bunker sales soar as anxiety over Russia rises

    Gary Lynch is the CEO of Rising S Company in Texas. When I first visited his warehouse in 2018, I watched his crew assemble, deliver, and bury a handful of bunkers in people’s backyards every month. The bunkers are thick plate steel boxes that are welded together like a giant Lego set – the size of the bunker limited only by a client’s resources.

    Sales, he says, have spiked 1,000% since that time as anxieties around the pandemic, civil unrest, climate change and war have driven more buyers to his company.

    “In the past month, I would have normally fielded less than 100 inquiries – I’ve fielded over 3,000,” Lynch tells me over the phone. He sold five bunkers on a single day in February, at prices ranging from $70,000 to $240,000.
    Lynch says some customers are panic-purchasing. “There are definitely a few ‘I told you we needed one of these’ conversations going on in households around the world right now,” he says. “But we have also previously shipped shelters into Ukraine and I’m certain they are currently being used.”

    Hoo boy, a lot of wishful thinking out there, not the least of which is by the author of that leap into never never land.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Woof woof: Robot dog called in to help manage Pompeii

    A four-legged robot called Spot has been deployed to wander around the ruins of ancient Pompeii, identifying structural and safety issues while delving underground to inspect tunnels dug by relic thieves.

    The dog-like robot is the latest in a series of technologies used as part of a broader project to better manage the archaeological park since 2013, when Unesco threatened to add Pompeii to a list of world heritage sites in peril unless Italian authorities improved its preservation.

    Spot, made by the US-based Boston Dynamics, is capable of inspecting even the smallest of spaces while “gathering and recording data useful for the study and planning of interventions”, park authorities said.

    I’ve heard his bark is worse than his bite.

  3. Kathy says:


    Shouldn’t that be “his byte”?

  4. Joe says:

    @Kathy: You win the Internets this morning.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Ouch. You’re gonna pay for that. In the next life if not this one.

  6. Sleeping Dog says:

    American data security experts for years have been predicting a digital armageddon perpetrated by Russia against the soft underbelly of poorly secured, corporate data systems in the US, pointing to the ransomware attacks by groups adjacent to Russian military/intelligence agencies. While there have been attacks on Ukraine’s data infrastructure, those seem to have been parried, but to the moment, nothing against NATO members.

    Makes one wonder that perhaps western and US intelligence effectiveness against Russia, to the point that it seems like Biden is reading Putin’s email, has spooked the Ruskies about the ability of the West to take down its infrastructure.

  7. Mu Yixiao says:

    Shanghai in lockdown.

    Starting March 28, Shanghai residents on the east side of Huangpu River entered a four-day home lockdown and mass testing campaign. From April 1 to 5, people on the west side will take their turn locking down and testing. Officials are aiming to test the entire population during the sequential lockdowns, sending health workers in white hazmat suits to residents’ front doors.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I was never ideologically opposed to smartphones. Or, at least, I wasn’t at first. It all began one spring afternoon in 2006, when a group of friends and I were mugged. The assailant demanded our phones and wallets but when I handed him my Nokia 1110, whose keypad was strapped to it with an elastic band, the mugger’s response was categorical: “Nah, mate.”

    It was humiliating. While my friends could bask in universal sympathy – they had, after all, lost their beloved and expensive BlackBerrys – I had to tell the rest of our school and the police that my phone was so crap it had been rejected. Even as a trophy.

    But there was another way of looking at it. My Nokia had been through a lot. Dropped so much its case had smashed (for a while, when I lost the keypad, I even texted using the end of a blunt pencil), it had now survived a robbery. A more glamorous device would have crumbled under the pressure, but my phone was made of sterner, simpler stuff. In some ways, its crapness was its biggest asset.

    When I thought about it like that, I wasn’t ashamed of my phone; I was proud. And when I lost it in my second year of university, I decided I wouldn’t upgrade. It was 2011, my friends were buying iPhones, but I stayed low-tech. For the next 10 years, I didn’t look back. Now it seems more and more people are recognising the virtues of keeping it simple: just last week the BBC was heralding “the return of ‘dumbphones’”.

    A man after my own heart, altho I have always been ideologically opposed to phones that are smarter than I.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    China’s lock down strategy was effective the first time and as method of controlling the spread of the virus, it can be again, but not w/o consequences. It is difficult to imagine that the world’s industries that rely on Chinese production are going put up with ongoing supply chain disruptions caused by lock downs. Whatever marginal cost saving for manufacturers having components/products made in China is eroded if there is no/decreased production.

    But if Xi wants to commit economic suicide, let’s step aside and let him.

  10. Kathy says:


    I have my eye on mid-First Empire Trantor for my next life. See you in about 10,000 years!

  11. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I saw a chart yesterday that compared transmission rates between the various COVID variants. Omicron is at 4x compared to the original
    flavor. Lockdowns may not be enough anymore

  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Maybe the Russians noticed that while they have hackers we have Apple, Microsoft, Intel etc…

  13. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    And on the other side of the planet…

    China and the Solomon Islands are close to signing a security pact that would bring Chinese troops and warships to the Pacific nation, the New York Times reports.

    Le Sigh.

  14. Beth says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @MarkedMan:

    I was just in Miami for Ultra Music Festival. Based on what I saw down there, no one’s locking down again.

  15. Sleeping Dog says:


    They are in Shanghai. Tesla’s battery factory their is such down for 4 days, after being closed for 2, a couple of weeks ago. All on the orders of the Chinese government. Only one household member can go out for supplies but once a week. Kids can be outside an hour a day, but must remain w/in 500 M of their home.

    China has been instituting such downs whenever an covid infection is diagnosed.

  16. Kathy says:

    I just read an odd cooking suggestion: boiling lentils in coconut milk instead of water.

    I don’t know. I’ve done that with rice, adding shredded coconut as well, and it’s very good, especially paired with sweet and sour dishes. Lentils, though, are more like beans. I can’t see bean going well with coconut.

    Then, too, I usually use lentils in soup or stews, not by themselves.

    I am intrigued. I may try it someday if I don’t forget it.

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    I’m sure Vlad doesn’t have anything else to do so he will jump right on this for Comrade Donovich.

    Exclusive: Trump calls on Putin to release info on Hunter Biden’s dealings with oligarchs
    “How is it that the mayor of Moscow, his wife gave the Biden family three and a half million dollars? I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer,” Trump said. “I’m sure he knows.”

  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: If he had such info, it would have been out long before now. Regardless, it’s gonna take a little time to manufacture some evidence that the credulous fools will buy

  19. Beth says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I probably should have been more clear, I meant here in the U.S. The Chinese have a greater ability to bring force to bear on compliance. Here I doubt we could even get people to wear masks regularly. Covid is simply going to echo through the populace and nothing is going to stop it short of us all dying.

  20. dazedandconfused says:
  21. CSK says:

    Well, if Putin wanted Trump in the White House, he certainly would have released this info in time to kill Biden’s chances of being elected in 2020, right?

  22. Kathy says:


    If he wanted Little Benito in the White House, he wouldn’t have released the dirt he has on trump.

    I saw no such release of dirt. Did you?

  23. Slugger says:

    @Mister Bluster: $3.5million? Chump change! For that sum you won’t get anyone to call you smart or tough. You gotta put up real money to get that!