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. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Chinese chess champion stripped of title after making a movement in “extremely bad character.”

    He is also facing online accusations of cheating via anal beads:

    Yan allegedly clenched and unclenched rhythmically to communicate information about the chess board via code to a computer, which then sent back instructions on what moves to make in the form of vibrations, according to reports circulating on the Chinese social site Weibo.

    I don’t know about y’all, but I think it stinks..

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The soap opera continues:

    The court clerk who helped steer the murder trial of South Carolina’s Alex Murdaugh and has since been hit with accusations of jury-tampering – potentially leading to a retrial – is now embroiled in a plagiarism controversy.

    Soon after the trial, in which Murdaugh was convicted of killing his wife and son near a dog kennel at their Low Country home, Becky Hill published a book named Behind the Doors of Justice: the Murdaugh Murders.

    But her co-author Neil Gordon said on Tuesday that the book had been unpublished and sales suspended after revelations that Hill may have plagiarized passages from a BBC article about the case.

    Gordon told South Carolina’s WCIV he discovered the plagiarism while reviewing thousands of Hill’s emails that were released through the federal Freedom of Information Act and compared them to a 12-page portion of the book’s preface.

    “When I confronted Becky about this, she admitted she plagiarized the passage due to deadline pressures,” Gordon said in a statement.
    Hill has also been caught up in a separate scandal after state investigators found evidence linking her to a public corruption case involving wire-tapping charges against her son and former Colleton county employee Jeff Hill, 34, who is accused of abusing his position to illegally intercept and listen to a phone conversation in July. A state police investigation uncovered evidence of a plot to listen in on internal county discussions about the formal ethics complaint against his mother for potentially abusing her role as clerk of court for financial gain, according to the local news station WYFF.

    Earlier this month, South Carolina’s attorney general, Alan Wilson, announced his office would assume jurisdiction of the investigation into Jeff Hill as part of a broader corruption inquiry. The investigation into Hill’s actions took another turn when his employment termination letter also cites “sexual and other forms of illegal harassment”.

    Whad’ya expect? It’s South Crimelina.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Scrap cooking: how to turn your leftovers into a delectable delight

    From carrot tops to potato peels, chefs share how to help reduce landfill by diverting scraps from the trash to your plate

    I like turning my scraps into eggs, thighs, breasts…

  4. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I suppose Mr Mackie’s (South Park) rules of Dookey’ will need to be updated to include both the urinal and the tub.

  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Yeah. No thanx.

    Hanif Kureishi has spoken candidly of how his sense of self and privacy have been “completely eradicated” after a fall on Boxing Day last year left him unable to use his hands, arms or legs.
    Kureishi said that since the accident he felt like an “exhibit” being surrounded by doctors, adding: “It is humiliating at the start and then you begin to realise that it doesn’t really matter.

    “You realise quite quickly that your body doesn’t belong to you any more … that you are changed, washed, poked and prodded by nurses and doctors, random people all the time.

    “You give up any sense of privacy: of your body, of your mind, of your soul, of anything about you … it’s completely eradicated.”
    “I have to adjust to becoming another person, with different relationships, with different people,” he said. “I have to find a way of living like that. It’s horrifying, I don’t want to do it, but I have to do things every day that I really don’t want to do.”

    More at the link. It’s not a long read.

  6. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “The court clerk who helped steer the murder trial of South Carolina’s Alex Murdaugh and has since been hit with accusations of jury-tampering – potentially leading to a retrial ”

    How long before Trump says this proves all the terrible things he’s been saying about the court clerk in his case?

  7. charontwo says:


    Followed this link:

    Seems pretty complex game for the cheating method described.

  8. Kathy says:

    As usual, Week 5 of Hell Week dawned with a promise of a bit less work, then things went sideways.

    There’s this contract we don’t want, but that the customer asked us to try to get. On paper it looks fine, until you realize there are 60+ delivery locations, and most of them are small and far from other of our customers. Meaning you may need to deliver a dozen eggs to a remote location. The logistics suck, and eat up a lot of what we get paid.

    That’s bad enough. Worse yet, they want samples of over 125 products by Jan 2nd. Sure, they publish Tuesday, and we’ll get all those samples together by Friday on a holiday week? For delivery after a holiday weekend? We might do it if we had most of it in stock, but we don’t. This customer asks for a lot of unusual products, like flavored amaranth flour (I kid you not).

    Meantime we have to finish two other big projects we do want, with higher volumes and fewer delivery locations, and this massive project we don’t want is getting in the way.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @charontwo: Yeah, I’m not buying anything the Chinese version of Q says either.

    eta brain fart brain fart

  10. Kathy says:


    I think any cheating method that’s bizarre or outrageous, gets believed by a lot of people who know little of the game or sport in question.

    There was an attempt in the 70s to cheat at roulette by using computers to predict the likely section where the ball would fall. It didn’t work, largely due to the limitations of tech at the time. The idea is to measure the speed of the wheel and ball, and the software (ie magic) gets you a prediction. it won’t be right every time, but given the payout, you’ll win more often than you lose if you bet all the numbers in the predicted section every time.

    Today the thing could be done by a smart phone easily, or using tiny cameras worn somewhere convenient. But casinos don’t allow such things. In fact, in Vegas it’s a felony to use electronic devices for cheating.

  11. Jax says:

    Cruising through my Facebook this morning, I happened across a photo of a sick child with her mother complaining about how she’s got chicken pox and how miserable she is. I had to stop and think for a minute….isn’t there a chickenpox vaccine for children these days? Cuz it’s been FOREVER since I heard of anyone getting chicken pox.

    And then I was like “Ah ha! An anti-vaxxer, in the wild!” I really, really want to ask her if she’s changed her mind about vaccines, I mean, she could’ve chosen to prevent her kid being so miserable, but I don’t want to get in a big Facebook fight, either.

    Let’s just hope they don’t run into measles, or any other diseases we routinely vaccinate children against because they’re HORRIBLE.

  12. KM says:

    She won’t have changed her mind, she’s just mad she’s inconvenienced by having to care for a sick child.

    The thing about anti-vaxxers is they downplay how much being sick sucks and what’s needed to take care of it because the reality is NOBODY wants to be sick if they can help it. Their entire “logic” set revolves around arguing that something we spend good time and money on trying to correct is natural and shouldn’t be prevented with science. Being unwell as an adult is horrible but as a kid it means you need more for your caretaker – pay attention to fever/cough/snot, make sure they’re hydrated, make sure they’re not puking everywhere, increased bathroom urgency, etc.

    A kid with a disease that we have a vax for also has one that sucks extra – chicken pox and measles are a hell of a lot more dangerous and irritating then the common cold. When you add in the fact that the parent might very well have never had the disease personally because they were vaxed as a child and you get a parent extremely ill-equipped to handle the peculiarities involved in that disease. Oh, you got oats to put in the bath to soothe the itching? No? Sensitive skin lotion with no chemicals? How about mittens they can’t get off if the kid can’t stop scratching so they don’t scar themselves? Got a nice dark room with no electronics if your kid catches measles so they don’t go blind? Like, blackout curtains dark for days? This is traditional knowledge that’s been lost since vaccines meant it was no longer needed. Now idiot parents are finding out for themselves it’s “not like a cold” and childhood diseases are massive, massive pains in the ass. ….. Oh yeah, and it can infect the adults too so THEY might get a round of it or increase the chance of shingles (yes, even the vaxxed have their risk go up).

  13. Jax says:

    @KM: I’m really glad my kids are much older than hers, and I don’t have to worry about them being around Patient Zero of whatever the most recent preventable disease outbreak is.

  14. Sleeping Dog says:

    The Times Sues Open AI and Microsoft over use of Copyrighted work.

    About time that someone did. This will be an interesting case to follow. Reviewing the comments the Times is being cheered on by creatives, who are too small to undertake the crusade. It wouldn’t surprise me that others try to join the suit and make it a class-action.

  15. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I think some lawsuits on the same theme were filed already.


    Well, there are side effects to vaccines, you know. like fewer sick children (far fewer), and fewer sick adults, and people who recover faster if they do get sick, and some who, if you can believe this, recover instead of dying.

    More seriously, I think of every million measles vaccines (given as the MMR vaccine), about ten children will develop complications that require medical care, but no deaths and no permanent harm.

    I worry a lot about children and adults who can’t take the vaccines due to real issues, like allergies to some of the ingredients, or who don’t benefit as much from them, due to immune or autoimmune disorders (or people with transplants on immune suppressants). They are at high risk of getting measles, as herd immunity wanes.

  16. Pete S says:


    Is it possible the kid was vaccinated? My daughter had all of her vaccines and wound up catching chicken pox anyway when she was about 6. Fortunately the vaccine kept it very mild, she had about 8 spots and a very mild fever but the doctor confirmed it was indeed chicken pox. Nothing like what I suffered through when I caught it in my kindergarten days…

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    Tommy Smothers 86

  18. Mister Bluster says:
  19. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: The university I went to had the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, which was built for three times the capacity as necessary for the non-hearing population at the time of construction. This was because of the Rubella Bump, the increase in the rate of babies born deaf due to the rubella outbreak around 1960. When pregnant women contracted it they were much more likely to deliver babies with birth defects, with deafness being the most common. This still happens in the few countries that don’t have widespread vaccination against measles. So, as you say, it’s not just the inconvenience and misery of sick kids at stake.

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mister Bluster: Damn.

  21. Tony W says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I always wondered what device would succeed the computer mouse.

    Now we know.

  22. KM says:


    adults who can’t take the vaccines due to real issues or who don’t benefit as much from them,

    That’d be me 🙂

    I’ve had the MMR vax at least 5 times that I’m aware of in my life, maybe more – 3 before they’d let me go to college. Long story short, my pediatricians’ practice burned down and we had no medical records the college would accept so I needed to have a titer drawn to prove I had immunity. Failed on measles so they gave me the shot and tested me again. Failed. Got the shot AGAIN in front of college officials and a damn notary and then a a titer drawn to prove the point. No immunity. Officially one of the statistical fails (2 – 7%) and wasn’t that a fun convo with the admin; as this was before anti-vaxxers became well-known, the idea was that vaccines were bulletproof protection everyone just had unless there was a medical reason they couldn’t. That they could just not work on you and you’d never know unless tested freaked them out.

    We just assume the shot is effective and most adult do not question their protected status. We don’t check immunity status unless actively looking for something. I’d bet some good money I don’t have that if we tested a random selection of adults they’d be shocked to find they’ve been one of the unlucky ones their whole lives and might never know till you’ve already been infected. Nightmare fuel….

  23. Kathy says:


    This is precisely the reason why herd immunity is essential. If the bug has a hard time spreading, odds are even most of those unprotected won’t catch it.

    I wonder whether efficacy figures mean some people get little or no protection for a given disease. No vaccine, so far as I know, is 100% effective.

    About me in particular, not that you asked, I had very few of the common childhood diseases one gets vaccinated against. I never had measles, rubella, mumps, whooping cough, etc. I did get sick sometimes, but not very often. So I assume most vaccines have worked well on me.

    Measles in particular was rather common when I attended elementary school. I recall many classmates staying home for a week or more due to measles.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    @Tony W: I now have visions of an office full of people squirming in their seats….

  25. charontwo says:

    Earlier this year, Amazon announced plans to start incorporating ads into movies and TV shows streamed from its Prime Video service, and now the company has revealed a specific date when you’ll start seeing them: it’s January 29th. “This will allow us to continue investing in compelling content and keep increasing that investment over a long period of time,” the company said in an email to customers about the pending shift to “limited advertisements.”

    “We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV and other streaming TV providers. No action is required from you, and there is no change to the current price of your Prime membership,” the company wrote. Customers have the option of paying an additional $2.99 per month to keep avoiding advertisements.

    The rest of the email summarizes the many benefits of a Prime subscription — no doubt an attempt to keep customers from canceling over this decision. Verge readers were none too pleased about the initial news back in September:

  26. Gustopher says:

    @charontwo: The board is 9×10, has a known starting position, and players take turns moving one piece at a time.

    You would need to communicate the opponents’ move to the computer via butt clenches, and get the response back by vibration.

    So, the piece moved, plus new location. Two sets of coordinates, just to have a consistent encoding.

    So, let’s sketch out the protocol. I’m assuming errors sending are more common than errors receiving.

    I’m thinking something akin to Morse code, with dashes and dots (long and short squeezes), optimized for numbers 0-9. If it’s just binary, you have 4 bits per coordinate, 16 bits to describe a move. (You can get it more compact, but at a cost of having to do a lot of math in your head)

    I don’t know the error rate of transfer, but let’s say it’s high enough that you add a confirmation step.

    I would add a very long squeeze as a “I need to resend” message.

    Coordinates are XY

    1. Squeeze out the first opponent start X.
    2. Receive vibrations repeating it.
    3. If wrong long squeeze, then go to 1.

    Repeat for the start Y, moved to X, moved to Y.

    Receive response back. 4 coordinates, probably each repeated once with a short squeeze ok, or a long squeeze for resend.

    This works great until you get something wrong, and the computers view of the board is different from reality.

    If caught early, there will be only one or two errors, so I think you could send the board as binary “space occupied or not”, and either find the piece in the wrong spot, or guess while putting pieces in their right spot.

    I would use down time in each turn to have the computer send the state of one row, which you confirm, or send the real state of that row — just 9 squeezes, short and long, for occupied or not.

    Exercising your asshole for endurance may be an issue. I have no idea whether assholes get tired from clenching. Maybe they are really good at it, and this is good.

    Alternately, a toe ring might work better. Vibrations, and can tell if the toe is squeezed down. Wear shoes with a large toe box. You would need to experiment with the input device.

    Seems totally doable, and now I have the worst interview question ever for tech interviews. Both designing a protocol, and designing the system that receives these events and maintains a board (definitely need a state machine for input, validation of legal moves to verify input, etc)

    ETA: Perhaps it’s time for me to get a job. Not sure there’s a specific opening for butt plug communication protocols, but such skills can be used in other problem spaces.

  27. Kathy says:


    Gambling is rife with cheating methods. Some work, but are illegal. The one that works and isn’t illegal is card counting in blackjack. However, the casino may expel you and bar you from ever again entering it if they even think you’re counting. I saw this happen to an acquaintance once (he was counting).

    If you persist in coming back, and are recognized, you can be charged with trespassing.

    The best cheating methods are not illegal and don’t work. Instead people think they work, and pay you to teach it to them, or buy your books to learn it. This is the case for dice control (spoiler alert: you can’t control the dice). One casino even hosts, or hosted, dice control training sessions, that’s how much it doesn’t work. A lot of people, even old gaming pros who do understand odds, think it can work.

    I’ve seen people try it all over Vegas, too. So long as the dice hit the back wall, as per the rules, most of the time, no one says anything. Many dealers will even set the dice they way they think you want them.

    None involve anal exercises, as far as I know.

    There’s advantage play, but that’s a different matter altogether.

  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    “We aim to have meaningfully fewer ads than linear TV

    That shouldn’t be a high bar to jump. When I’m at the gym–the only place I watch commercial TV–the ad breaks average ~5 minutes each (I can time them as I’m on the treadmill).

    I’m not as sure about streaming though. Ad breaks on Tubi and Roku are a short as 30 seconds. (But I DO wonder why 7 customers are buying ads for the breaks when I’m watching O Henry Theater from 1954 and Amisted Maupin’s Tales of the City. What are the demographics showing them?)

  29. Kathy says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    My concern is when ads will play. On Youtube, ads often interrupt what I’m watching. But Youtube videos don’t have ad breaks, except for those done by the creators themselves.

    TV does have ad breaks, and scene breaks for that matter. But it’s far easier to just program a number of ads at certain points, than to tailor them to each show or movie.

    I’ll find out, as I’m not paying Amazon* any more than I absolutely have to. And I will likely get Netflix with ads next month (it’s cheaper).

    *And that’ll have to wait until the whole second season of Invincible is up.

  30. MarkedMan says:


    But Youtube videos don’t have ad breaks

    Coming to Mexico no doubt. Already here in the States

  31. Kathy says:


    Oh, there are ads on Youtbe here.

    I meant the videos as produced don’t usually have spots where there’s a pause where an ad can break in without disturbing the narrative flow too much.

  32. Kathy says:


    TL;DR The big error is Der Kleine Fhürer hasn’t been disqualified nationwide.

  33. steve says:

    Gustopher- So how would farting affect your protocol?


  34. just nutha says:

    @Kathy: Longer pieces have disruptive ad breaks on YouTube.

  35. charontwo says:


    Wow! You have given that some thought.

    Seems time consuming and a lot to think about. In western style chess there is a time clock, I forget exactly but maybe 2 hours for 40 moves or some such?


    I pay more to get my streamers sans ads – probably not worth it for a streamer you watch only occasionally. (You always get ads with free streamers like Tubi).


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