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. Bill Jempty says:
  2. Bill Jempty says:
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Birds may ‘divorce’ due to promiscuity or long spells apart

    Writing in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers in China and Germany describe how they drew on previously published data regarding divorce rates for 232 species of birds with mortality data and migration distances. The team also gave males and females of each species a separate “promiscuity score” based on published information about the birds’ behaviour.

    They also carried out an analysis based on the evolutionary relationships between species to take into account the effect of common ancestry.

    The results reveal that species with notably high divorce rates tended to be closely related to each other, a finding that also held for species with notably low divorce rates. A similar pattern was seen for male promiscuity.

    “For instance, plovers, swallows, martins, orioles and blackbirds had both high divorce rates and male promiscuity, whereas petrels, albatrosses, geese and swans had low divorce rates and male promiscuity,” the team write.

    While the researchers found higher male promiscuity was associated with higher divorce rates, this was not the case for female promiscuity.

    Hmmmm… Interesting. It would appear that in the avian world males are more forgiving than females.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    After the bizarre and incoherent gag rule on the Biden administration, will the media stop pretending that the Federalist Society is somehow a legitimate enterprise? At its best it was just a way for billionaire hobbyists to buy the ear of every Republican judge in the country, but in the Trump era they were given absolute free reign to pick whatever judges they wanted, and we see the type of Trump Trash they put on the benches. We’ll be dealing with their clowns for decades.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Marginal improvements to agricultural soils around the world would store enough carbon to keep the world within 1.5C of global heating, new research suggests.

    Farming techniques that improve long-term fertility and yields can also help to store more carbon in soils but are often ignored in favour of intensive techniques using large amounts of artificial fertiliser, much of it wasted, that can increase greenhouse gas emissions.

    Using better farming techniques to store 1% more carbon in about half of the world’s agricultural soils would be enough to absorb about 31 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, according to new data. That amount is not far off the 32 gigatonnes gap between current planned emissions reduction globally per year and the amount of carbon that must be cut by 2030 to stay within 1.5C.
    “Outside the farming sector, people do not understand how important soils are to the climate,” said McGlade. “Changing farming could make soils carbon negative, making them absorb carbon, and reducing the cost of farming.”

    She said farmers could face a short-term cost while they changed their methods, away from the overuse of artificial fertiliser, but after a transition period of two to three years their yields would improve and their soils would be much healthier.

    That short term cost would be nothing compared to the long term cost to Monsanto’s bottom line. They and their fellow agricultural industry travelers will do everything they can to maintain the status quo.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    What happens when DEMs are in control:

    On 1 June, in front of a gaggle of press, Kevin Reese signed his voter registration papers – a possibility that felt remote for the more than 14 years he spent locked up inside of Minnesota correctional facilities.

    In prison, Reese thought constantly about what it would mean to leave. He formed a group that met weekly to talk about what it would take “to get out and not only be OK, but to transcend and be able to live our dreams”. The men talked about the responsibilities that awaited outside: children, parole, taxes. In 2013, Reese said, they began to focus on one concern in particular: voting, and restoring the right to vote to other formerly incarcerated Minnesotans.

    Reese, now the executive director of the Minnesota-based organizing group Until We Are All Free, is one of more than 55,000 people who gained the right to vote after Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, signed a bill restoring voting rights to people with felony convictions. The Restore the Vote law, which passed in March, guaranteed that anyone not in prison can vote.

    The Minnesota legislature passed the bill during a historic session that saw a wide range of progressive bills signed into law – including a collection of laws to protect workers, abortion rights legislation, and a raft of voting rights and democracy reform legislation.
    The house speaker, Melissa Hortman, said state Democrats viewed the trifecta as a fleeting window to legislate aggressively.

    “Having Republicans in control of part of state government for the last 10 years and being prevented from doing really anything progressive at all created a lot of pent-up demand to chalk up some progressive victories,” said Hortman.

    What happens when republicans are:

    In Florida, where voters overwhelmingly approved a similar measure in 2018, Republican lawmakers undermined efforts to restore voting rights to people with felonies by passing additional legislation requiring people to pay off any fines associated with their sentence before voting.

    Yeah, we all know this, but it’s good to see the results of DEM majorities.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Whoa, this could be big, really big:

    Toyota says it has made a technological breakthrough that will allow it to halve the weight, size and cost of batteries, in what could herald a major advance for electric vehicles.

    The world’s second largest carmaker was already pursuing a plan to roll out cars with advanced solid-state batteries, which offer benefits compared with liquid-based batteries, by 2025.

    On Tuesday, the Japanese company said it had simplified production of the material used to make them, hailing the discovery as a significant leap forward that could dramatically cut charging times and increase driving range.
    David Bailey, a professor of business economics at the University of Birmingham, said that if Toyota’s claims were founded, it could be a landmark moment for the future of electric cars.

    “Often there are breakthroughs at the prototype stage but then scaling it up is difficult,” he said. “If it is a genuine breakthrough it could be a gamechanger, very much the holy grail of battery vehicles.”

    Kaita said the company had developed ways to make batteries more durable and believed it could now make a solid-state battery with a range of 1,200km (745 miles) that could charge in 10 minutes or less.

    The company expects to be able to manufacture solid-state batteries for use in electric vehicles as soon as 2027, according to the Financial Times, which first reported on Toyota’s claimed breakthrough.

    Solid-state batteries have been widely seen as a potential gamechanger for electric vehicles, promising to reduce charging times, increase capacity and reduce the fire risk associated with lithium-ion batteries, which use a liquid electrolyte.

    However, solid-state batteries have typically been harder and costlier to make, limiting their commercial application.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Taliban order closure of beauty salons in Afghanistan

    Yes, because women with stylish hair and well manicured nails are the real threat to manhood in Afghanistan.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    This is a question for all the film and video production people: is anything at all happening with the Writer’s strike negotiations. I haven’t heard a single thing other than when a celebrity visits a picket line.

  10. CSK says:


    Well, those she-devils have to be controlled somehow.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thar’s gold in them thar whales!

    When a sperm whale washed up dead on a beach in the Canary Island of La Palma no one imagined a valuable treasure was hidden in its entrails.

    Heavy seas and a rising tide made it difficult to carry out a postmortem, but Antonio Fernández Rodríguez, head of the institute of animal health and food security at the University of Las Palmas, was determined to find out why the whale had died.

    Suspecting a digestive problem, he inspected the animal’s colon – and felt something hard stuck to that part of the intestine. “What I took out was a stone about 50-60cm in diameter weighing 9.5kg,” he said. “The waves were washing over the whale. Everyone was watching when I returned to the beach but they didn’t know that what I had in my hands was ambergris.”

    Ambergris is a rare substance, often known as floating gold, that has been the holy grail of perfumers for centuries. The lump Fernández held in his hand was worth about €500,000 (£430,000).

    I have heard/seen the word Ambergris more than a few times, but until now I don’t think I ever knew what it was or what it was used for. I guess should have read Moby Dick.

    In one of his many digressions in Moby-Dick, the novelist Herman Melville dedicates an entire chapter to ambergris, which he describes as “soft, waxy, and so highly fragrant and spicy, that it is largely used in perfumery … Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is!”

  12. MarkedMan says:

    Oh geez, I just clicked on the original article and it leads by quoting Meghan McArdle positively, as she blathers on about Hunter Biden’s laptop. I only lasted a couple of sentences. Fer chrissake, this is the state of conservative thought?

  13. Daryl says:

    Huge if true.

  14. Kathy says:

    On the one hand, the rain early yesterday evening caused so much traffic, it took me over 90 minutes to get home (usually it’s 25-35 minutes). On the other hand, things cooled down enough I was able to sleep through the night, not waking up too early, for the first time in weeks.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Daryl: Always the qualifier “if”, but coming from Toyota, I am hopeful that it will pan out.

  16. CSK says:

    I hope you’ve all eaten and digested breakfast, because the picture accompanying this article should have a warning label attached. It’s indescribably repulsive.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: His ego dwarfs the sun.

  18. CSK says:


    I don’t know why more people don’t just laugh at him. In addition to being an oaf and a boob, he’s a comic spectacle.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:
  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: I can’t stop laughing at him.

  21. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, almost too easy. That was my response when my husband mentioned this story last night.

    It looks like it was found in an area that public tours pass through. Not really much of a story, IMHO.

  22. CSK says:


    What I meant to say was that everyone should laugh at him. All the time. Anywhere. Point their fingers at him and laugh uproariously till they fall down on the ground.

  23. Mikey says:

    Y’all may remember a couple weeks back when I posted about having gallstones, and thought I would need gallbladder removal. Well, I went in for the surgical consult and the surgeon pressed a few places on my abdomen and when I said “ow” he said “that’s nowhere near your gallbladder, best to talk to a gastro doc.” So I did and they said “you need a colonoscopy ASAP” so I sat on pins and needles for a week (thank goodness I could get in that soon). Did it this morning and thankfully no indication of colon cancer. They took a sample to biopsy for microscopic colitis (which, if one is to get colitis, is the “best” one to get).

    But seriously…the relief I felt when the doc said “no cancer” brought tears to my eyes. I was, to put it bluntly, scared shitless.

    Now we still have to figure out what’s causing the discomfort, but at least it’s not deadly.

  24. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    I’m really happy to hear that result. It’s great that you were able to get in that soon. Hoping your insurance covers this one fully.

    As people here know, I’ve been there, done that, got the hat, t-shirt, and souvenir beer cozy. While chemo/surgery combo is a great weight loss plan, overall, I give cancer a one-star review.

  25. CSK says:


    That’s wonderful.

  26. Kathy says:

    Much as I love the cast iron pot, hours in the oven do use up a lot of gas. So I’m giving it a rest for a month or so. I was all set to try a new take on the onion sauce and beef from the partial timballo Genovese recipe. Oh well.

    Instead, I’m going with meatballs in chipotle sauce with kasha and potatoes. On the side I thought up fettuccine with soybean sprouts, bell pepper, onions, and snow peas, tossed in a sauce (of sorts) made with toasted sesame oil and garlic plus some pasta water if needed. Kind of an oriental take on pasta primavera and aglio et olio.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: No, it isn’t, but even I could not pass up the Hunter Biden reference.

    @CSK: What is scary are the thousands that worship the ground he walks on. WTF do they see????

  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Good news indeed.

  29. Gustopher says:

    @Bill Jempty: That headline (and even that article) fails to capture the story.

    Maryland man allegedly steals forklift from Lowe’s, fatally runs woman over at Home Depot

    I’m calling it now — this was part of a plan to get the rivalry of our great home improvement chains to descend into violence. A freakish, post-modern Boogaloo movement, except not about triggering a race war.

    Who stands to benefit from violence between Home Depot and Lowe’s? Ace Hardware.

  30. Gustopher says:


    But seriously…the relief I felt when the doc said “no cancer” brought tears to my eyes. I was, to put it bluntly, scared shitless.

    The shitless was the colonoscopy prep.

    This is great news, and hopefully they can find the cause soon.

    (My gastroenterologist would suggest you eat more fiber, because everyone should eat more fiber. And add a fiber supplement too. And then eat a bit more fiber, as a treat. Dessert fiber.)

  31. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Do we really think Hunter Biden spends time in a library?

    (He might now start checking there for lost cocaine…)

  32. Mikey says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite: Thanks! Hopefully you are doing well after having to deal with all that.

    I have great insurance (it should be for what I pay, ugh) so the procedure was covered 100%. The best part was the propofol nap…I wish I could sleep that well every night.

  33. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher: Definitely need more fiber. I’ve recently added a fiber supplement but it’s always good to get it from a variety of foods.

    While we wait for a diagnosis, the doc put me on Bentyl (dicyclomine) which has been an absolute godsend. No more diarrhea and I don’t have to worry that eating the wrong thing will put me down for a day.

  34. MarkedMan says:

    Looks like Twitter has removed the prohibition from viewing tweets unless you are logged in, at least for now. But I find that I’m done. I’m not going to click on links to tweets any more. I realize it means I will miss out on some things you guys post and that’s a bummer, but all this teenage boy temper tantrums just result in constant problems with the site, and I have enough technical agita without deliberately clicking my way over to more unnecessary crap.

  35. Gustopher says:

    He vetoed individual digits in the budget to change the “2024-2025 school year” to the “2425 school year”.

    Brilliant. Obviously they need to change the veto power to prevent this from ever happening again because it’s such an egregious abuse and thwarts the legislature, but brilliant.

  36. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m still on Twitter, if I find a tweet of interest I’ll just copy/paste the entire thing, and/or whatever item it may link to.

  37. JohnMc says:

    Mikie, Churchill is supposed to have said ‘nothing is more exhilarating than being fired upon to no effect.’

    Wonderful to hear yr good news.

  38. CSK says:


    They see Trump as the greatest president we’ve ever had, a devout Christian, a loving and faithful husband, and an exemplary father who’s being relentlessly persecuted by the minions of the Deep State.

    And Melania is the most beautiful, gracious, elegant, and intelligent First Lady we’ve ever had.

    Check out some time. Be warned: It’ll turn your stomach.

  39. Beth says:


    Wait, are you saying we can get free cocaine if we hang out in libraries? I don’t particularly want cocaine itself, but I could use it to trade for something I do want. A sort of cocaine arbitrage.

  40. CSK says:

    According to NPR, Lin Wood, Trump’s ardent supporter, surrendered his law license today rather than have it revoked.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Repulsive, but not in that “repulsive” way that makes one heave or anything. More hilarious.

  42. Kathy says:

    I wonder if people and politicians can ever be rational about radioactivity.

    Japan intends to dump a lot of water used to cool down the Fukushima reactors.

    This sounds bad, but 1) it’s been reviewed by the IAEA, 2) Japanese officials say the water will be treated before being dumped, 3) it will be done over 3 or 4 decades.

    Depending on how well they can filter out radioactive materials, it seems like no big deal.

    To be sure, there’s a matter of tritium. This is a hydrogen isotope that can react with oxygen, including oxygen dissolved in water, to form water molecules. It has the exact same chemical properties as hydrogen. Mind, a water molecule can wind up with one tritium and one hydrogen, or with two tritiums.

    While radiation from tritium is so weak you can stop it with a sheet of paper (I swear), it’s a different matter when ingested or inhaled. More so since all cells in the human body are mostly water. It can cause problems short and long term. Treatment consists of speeding up water cycling through the body. that is: drink a lot of water and eliminate a lot of water quickly, for several days.

    On the other plus side, tritium has a half life of 12.5 years. that means after this time, half of the tritium has decayed. Over 4 decades, you’d go through 3.2 such cycles, meaning that you’d get half of half of half of the original amount, minus a little less, by the end of that time, or under 12.5% of what there was to begin with.

    Tritium is very rare and very expensive, and has several uses. If there was a way to sift it out, I’m sure it would get sifted out and sold, unless there was too little of it to bother. how little depends on 1) the price on the market, and 2) the cost of sifting it out.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Yes. Good news. Congratulations!

  44. Beth says:


    Saw that and figured that if that was the plan it was probably thought through. What I don’t get, from a simple cave woman lawyer perspective, is why don’t they just find a deep spot in the ocean, run a long hose down to it and pump it out down there. By the time the currents it I would imagine it would be quite disbursed.

  45. MarkedMan says:


    cave woman lawyer

    Now that’s a hit TV series!

  46. Kathy says:


    I don’t know where and how the release is planned. Likely a distance from shore, but not a great distance. A pipeline to a deeps spot would be very long, and that would cost a lot to build and maintain. for 40 years.

    I wondered whether they could simply let it evaporate. Yes, it would take years, and would need to be protected from rain or you wind up with more water. The tritium forming water would evaporate as well, so there’s no helping that. Other contaminants, though, would remain behind.

    That last might prove dangerous. An amount of radioactive element X diluted in a large amount of water might not pose much of a problem other than it inherent radiation. But if it’s concentrated as it precipitates off the evaporating water, it might form a critical mass and make things worse.

    Or maybe evaporating all that water would take much longer than 4 decades.

  47. wr says:

    @MarkedMan: “This is a question for all the film and video production people: is anything at all happening with the Writer’s strike negotiations. ”

    Literally nothing at all. The producers are currently negotiating with SAG-AFTRA, which delayed their July 1 strike deadline to July 12, and insist they can only negotiate with one union at a time. (Before the SAG talks, they were busy talking to the DGA, who as always caved immediately.)