Wednesday’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. MarkedMan says:

    A question for the gang: who benefits from the NordStream sabotage, and how?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Putin claims Russia is under attack by all of the west citing the nordstream sabotage as evidence of it in the hopes that Russians will rally ’round the flag.

    I’m not much of a fan of “false flag” theories but that’s all I can come up with. Considering the high number of oligarchs falling out of windows recently, I don’t think it is all that far fetched either.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Last October, Kate Brown, the governor of Oregon, signed an executive order granting clemency to 73 people who had committed crimes as juveniles, clearing a path for them to apply for parole.

    The move marked the high point in a remarkable arc: as Brown approaches the end of her second term in January, she has granted commutations or pardons to 1,147 people – more than all of Oregon’s governors from the last 50 years combined.

    The story of clemency in Oregon is one of major societal developments colliding: the pressure the Covid-19 pandemic put on the prison system and growing momentum for criminal justice reform.

    It’s also a story of a governor’s personal convictions and how she came to embrace clemency as a tool for criminal justice reform and as an act of grace, exercising the belief that compassionate mercy is not mutually exclusive from ensuring public safety.

    “If you are confident that you can keep people safe, you’ve given victims the opportunity to have their voices heard and made sure their concerns are addressed, and individuals have gone through an extensive amount of rehabilitation and shown accountability, what is the point of continuing to incarcerate someone, other than retribution?” Brown said in a June interview.

    What is the point indeed.

  4. Mu Yixiao says:

    The company I work for does a lot (a lot) of business with Disney. That’s mostly on the sales side, so I never see it.

    Today, a PO came in for a repair. 1 line item: “Check dimmer rack”.

    This is followed by a page and a half of internal notes and approvals, and seven pages of “terms and conditions”.

    Oh… and a copyright notice on the bottom of each page. Yes… they’re making sure we know that they own the copyright to their purchase order.

  5. Michael Cain says:

    People who want Germany to be no-carbon sooner than the politicians are willing to do it. A regime change in Russia is no longer enough to get the Nord Stream back on line. Nord Stream 1 is owned by Nord Stream AG, which is majority-owned by Gazprom, neither of which is in much of a position to finance repairs.

  6. Kathy says:

    If you see the word “transliterator,” does anything come to mind?

    The dictionary definition is useless: one who transliterates.

    The definition of transliterate is better: to represent or spell in the characters of another alphabet.

    So, assume you have two sentient species, Humans and Aquatics. They both have languages, but neither can reproduce the sounds the other makes. So, to be able to communicate, they take Human standard (aka English), and make word equivalents in Aquatic standard sounds the Aquatics can pronounce. And viceversa.

    But then you wouldn’t understand the gibberish that passes for an Aquatic using Human standard in the sounds they can make. So they’d carry a machine that takes the Aquatic sounds of Human standard and converts them to Human standard sounds.

    The device doesn’t translate, it transliterates. If an Aquatic spoke Aquatic, the transliterator would make no sense of it. Unless they set it to transliterate their native tongue to the Aquatic-equivalent sounds humans can understand.

    Does any of this make sense?

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Yeah. Korean written in English alphabet characters is still Korean, and while easier to pronounce than it was before, still means nothing except to the extent the person reading the English characters actually understands Korean.

    In reading studies, we talk some of the difference between “phonation,” the ability to pronounce words, and “reading,” understanding what those words mean.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    Yes, like that, but with a spoken rather than written language.

  9. Mu Yixiao says:


    Transliteration is a word-for-word swap between languages. Translation is conveying the meaning (as closely as possible).

    If I ask a Chinese friend how their weekend was and they respond “Ma ma hu hu”…

    The transliteration is “horse horse, tiger tiger”
    The translation is “just so-so”

  10. Kathy says:

    Kathy’s First law of fiction says: an author must know absolutely everything that takes place in their story, within the limitations of current scientific and historical knowledge.

    Yesterday I finished Dick’s “Time Out Of Joint.” It was odd, but I liked it. What’s really odd is nothing much happens in the first two chapters. They read like the normal, boring, goings on in a small town in the late 50s (1959, to be precise).

    I found that interesting, as a look at everyday life in an era that’s different from ours, but doesn’t seem too primitive.

    Anyway, at around the midpoint you realize something decidedly weird is going on. By the end, two characters explain everything.

    Except one thing.

    I found that frustrating. I pretty much caught on to what really is going on, though I didn’t get the players right (hint: it wasn’t the Soviets). But I couldn’t make out what the significance of the slips of paper Gumm found was, if any. And this is never explained.

    I don’t care enough to tray to rationalize it, but Dick kind of made it a big deal earlier on.

  11. CSK says:

    You’d think an editor would have caught that.

  12. CSK says:

    Total violation of the Chekhov rule.

  13. wr says:

    @Mu Yixiao: “If I ask a Chinese friend how their weekend was and they respond “Ma ma hu hu”… The transliteration is “horse horse, tiger tiger””

    Actually, Ma ma hu hu IS the transliteration, as it is rendering Chinese words into the Roman alphabet. Horse etc is not a transliteration but a literal translation.

  14. Kathy says:


    I concur.

    I did some translation work for a friend years ago. He wanted literal translations in some parts. I told him if he wanted a word for word literal translation then 1) he should use software instead of paying me and 2) the result would be more akin to gibberish (it was with some early translation software I got my hands on).

    I wanted to get across first the meaning, then the style, and last the feel of the original.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    Ah, another day in paradise. Ian’s center is only maybe ten miles offshore, but there’s still a wide path cone nearly from Cape Coral to Sarasota, and we’re right in the middle of it in North Port, north end of Charlotte Bay. We’re in the highlands, 15 ft AMSL, which puts us in evacuation zone E, the last designated zone before don’t worry about it. The kids are in zone A, so we’re hosting them and their pets for a couple days. Looks like the eye will pass around 6:00 and wind will fall off fairly quickly from there.

    Put the storm shutters up Mon. Feels like 10:00 at night all day because the windows are dark. We’re set with food, water, toilet paper, and fuel for the generator. So far we have power and internet. So we’re feeling pretty snug.

  16. Mu Yixiao says:


    Huh. I’ve had it wrong all this time. Learn something new every day.

    I thought changing 马马虎虎 to “ma ma hu hu” was Romanization.

  17. Reformed Republican says:

    @gVOR08: Lakeland is my home town, and much of my family is still there. It’s far from the coast, so no storm surge, but it still looks like they are going to get hit pretty hard.

  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Mu Yixiao: lt is Romanization. But Romanization is a form of transliteration.

    By the way, the Chinese (government, and pretty much everyone else who speaks Mandarin, and probably other major dialects) have officially adopted a form of written Mandarin known as “pinyin”, which uses Roman characters, plus tone markings. I am competent in reading and producing pinyin – it’s pretty simple – but that doesn’t mean I speak Mandarin, I don’t. I know a couple of phrases is all.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: fingers crossed.

  20. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: When I was in Korea and using Google Translate to create Korean translations of course policy translated into Korean, I found that it took about 3 or 4 revisions on the English-language side to get a statement that would translate both ways accurately.

    Then, I would show it to a Korean friend or maybe an advanced student who would look at it and say “well nobody actually SAYS this, but I understand what you mean, yeah.”*

    *A fair amount of the time, the course policy statements that I was translating were things that Koreans don’t say, so asking a Korean student or teacher what to say in Korean would just get you back to “use Google Translate, it’ll be okay.”

  21. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    IIRC, isn’t the increasing use of pinyin primarily a result of the reality that languages lacking an alphabet or syllabary tend to be very difficult to input on keyboards?

  22. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    By the way, the Chinese (government, and pretty much everyone else who speaks Mandarin, and probably other major dialects) have officially adopted a form of written Mandarin known as “pinyin”, which uses Roman characters, plus tone markings.

    I’m quite familiar with pinyin. I spent six years in China. 😀

  23. Kurtz says:


    I was wondering how you were holding up. We are basically on the other side of the eye from you.

  24. JohnSF says:

    Meanwhile, in the UK:

    Here’s the scale of the rout that was close to wiping out pension funds today. At start of year, a 40-year gilt with a 0.5% coupon was worth 85p. This morning it was 25p; after the BoE intervention it’s still only 34p.

  25. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: @Kurtz:
    My sister and brother-in-law, the ones who lost their son last weekend, are in Venice.

  26. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I deal with government acquisition laws and regulations, mostly state and federal, and with the requests for proposals these laws regulate, and the language is odd, stilted, and contains terms not found in the common course of events.

    Translating that would be mostly a matter of knowing the equivalent legal terms in the target language.

  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Which would explain your handle, perhaps.

    Cool, cool. Just trying to respond to what’s in front of me.

  28. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I took one quarter of Mandarin, where I learned this. My teacher (a native speaker) did complain that computers were reducing the ability of educated Chinese to produce proper characters. It’s actually pretty easy to turn on Characters. Then you type in pinyin, which gives you a list of possible characters, and you pick one. So its slow.

  29. Kurtz says:


    Oh, I didn’t know that. Wow. That’s terrible.

  30. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    By the way, the Chinese government…have officially adopted a form of written Mandarin known as “pinyin”,

    They seem to be regretting this. For a few decades they encouraged the learning of English, but now they seem to feel it is causing more problems than benefit. And entering characters on a touch screen, especially a phone, is very easy. Everyone I knew that was younger than 35 used this method unless they were on the computer. Some even used this with their computers touchpad in preference to pinyin

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz: @CSK: We’re fine. Lost power. Painfully slow 5G internet. I’m in the middle of Ben Bernanke’s self serving, very boring, book.

    Venice is 10 or 20 miles further from center, should be less ferocious wind, so should be OK if inland from storm surge. Let me know through James if I can help.

  32. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    My teacher (a native speaker) did complain that computers were reducing the ability of educated Chinese to produce proper characters

    Is this actually a problem, or is it the Chinese equivalent of complaining that the Zoomers can’t write cursive?

  33. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Given how much touch-screens have taken over (especially phones) where writing is a primary source of input, it’s not insignificant.

    Also… (especially older) people from different regions–who speak different dialects–will often “write” difficult to understand words using a finger on the palm of their other hand.

  34. CSK says:


    Thank you.

  35. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I’m no expert on this. It seems to me a real loss in the cultural sense – for both issues. And yet, time does not stand still. We are not frozen in amber.

  36. Joe says:

    @Kathy: A U.S. client once gave me a contract offered to them by a Brazilian company. It’s not that I couldn’t get the gist of the contract, but it was very clearly the work of Google translate or similar program and made almost no sense in English language legalese.

  37. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @gVOR08: Last night on the news, we saw footage from Naples; a hotel where we stayed 5 years ago was right in the path of the storm surge, with cars floating down the street. Hope everyone in the area came through alive.