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. Teve says:


    I don’t get why so-called “emergency relief” packages for #COVID19 don’t include direct assistance to working families. Working people waiting in food lines & unable to make rent is not an emergency?


    You do know who Mitch McConnell is.

  2. Teve says:


    “An astonishing pattern has emerged in Florida’s COVID death tally — one that suggests the state manipulated a backlog of unrecorded fatalities, presenting more favorable death counts in the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election.”

    DeSantis fabricated lower numbers before the election

  3. MarkedMan says:

    For several years I’ve used Kansas as an example of the disaster that would ensue if Libertarians actually had power. I haven’t yet read the book, “A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear” but based on this one quote from the author, I think I’ll have to consider switching examples. Libertarians took over a town of a thousand people in NH and proceeded to trash it. Literally.

    It turns out that if you have a bunch of people living in the woods in nontraditional living situations, each of which is managing food in their own way and their waste streams in their own way, then you’re essentially teaching the bears in the region that every human habitation is like a puzzle that has to be solved in order to unlock its caloric payload. And so the bears in the area started to take notice of the fact that there were calories available in houses.
    One thing that the Free Towners did that encouraged the bears was unintentional, in that they just threw their waste out how they wanted. They didn’t want the government to tell them how to manage their potential bear attractants. The other way was intentional, in that some people just started feeding the bears just for the joy and pleasure of watching them eat.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: The link is subscription only. Can you give a summary?

  5. Scott says:

    Right wing political correctness. Your Trump administration at work:

    On 22 Sep 2020, Trump signed EO 13950. As a result of that the federal Office of Personnel Mgt issued guidance on civilian personnel training but with also applies to military training. We received the following letter.

    This guidance focuses on ensuring compliance with the Executive Order issued on this same topic. OPM has approval authority regarding D&I training materials for use with our civilian employees. The concepts and prohibitions provided within their guidance apply to military training materials as well. This guidance is meant to ensure compliance with the Executive Order and addresses certain phrases and approaches that can’t be used currently. While it isn’t practical to provide an all-encompassing list of words or phrases which on their own conclusively demonstrate compliance or noncompliance with the Executive Order, OPM has assembled a collection of phrases whose use may indicate noncompliance. These include the following phrases/concepts:

    – “critical race theory”

    – “white privilege”

    – “intersectionality”

    – “systemic racism” (including variations such as institutional racism/sexism)

    – “positionality”

    – “racial humility”

    – “unconscious bias” (including implicit bias)

    – “New Inclusivity Quotient” (including “New IQ”)

    – “Inclusive Culture Quotient” (ICQ)

    – “Diversity Gap”

    – “Anti-racism/Anti-racist”

    – “Empowerment”

    – “Marginalized”

    – “Micro aggression”

    – “Toxic Masculinity”

    – “Patriarchy”

    – “Oppression/oppressive”

    – “White fragility”

    Please remove any references utilizing the above terms from Sensing Sessions repositories (e.g., SharePoint briefs, videos, articles). While this tracks with previous guidance on terms such as “critical race theory” and “white privilege,” this is new guidance when it comes to terms such as “unconscious bias” and “micro aggression.” Both of these concepts have been acceptable focus areas in the past; however, are now viewed as questionable.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: If the excerpt I read is any guide, the book is well worth the price.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Well, you know how fragile white male snowflake feelings are. We wouldn’t want them triggered, would we now?

  8. An Interested Party says:

    Here’s a great way to unite the country…

  9. MarkedMan says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I left out the “punchline” above: NH had not seen a killing by a black bear in over 100 years. Since the Libertarians built their “utopia” there have been three. But, you know, Freedom!

  10. sam says:
  11. Jen says:

    @MarkedMan: I believe that those are all bear attacks, not killings, but yeah.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MarkedMan: Years ago I read an article about “stupid ways to be killed by an animal.”

    Things like, “having a box turtle dropped on you head by a raptor from 100′ up” or, “kicking a sleeping bison so one can get a better picture” or, “honking at a giraffe blocking the road whereupon it put it’s foot thru the windshield and the rude driver’s chest.”

    One was of a timber camp cook who came out of the kitchen to dump a pan full of grease and what nots and found a black bear engrossed in raiding the trash. “Hey! Get out of there!” he said as he hit the bear over the head with the frying pan.

  13. Jen says:

    Nothing says “welcome to the neighborhood” like a demand letter stating that you’ve lost your legal right to live in the house you converted into a club:

    Mar-a-Lago neighbors to Trump: Spend your post-presidency elsewhere

    Next-door neighbors of Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., that he has called his Winter White House, have a message for the outgoing commander in chief: We don’t want you to be our neighbor.

    That message was formally delivered Tuesday morning in a demand letter delivered to the town of Palm Beach and also addressed to the U.S. Secret Service asserting that Trump lost his legal right to live at Mar-a-Lago because of an agreement he signed in the early 1990s when he converted the storied estate from his private residence to a private club. The legal maneuver could, at long last, force Palm Beach to publicly address whether Trump can make Mar-a-Lago his legal residence and home, as he has been expected to do, when he becomes an ex-president after the swearing-in of Joe Biden on Jan. 20.


  14. Scott says:

    The stupid runs deep in this country.

    No, the Chinese are not on the border of Maine — and the dangers of misinformation

    Recent posts from a QAnon-backing Twitter handle with nearly 50,000 followers claimed that tens of thousands of Chinese troops had amassed along Maine’s border with Canada and that an F-16 fighter that crashed last week in Michigan was actually shot down — presumably by the Chinese.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Jen: I stand corrected. And as a side note, I’m even more astonished by the difference in black bear aggression vs brown bear. My sister, a life long Midwesterner, was horrified that I let my kids outside to play when I lived in upstate NY. Ditto for my brother in PA. There were bears out there! And indeed there were, as my all too frequently overturned trash cans proved. I used to reassure her that despite all the bears no one had been killed in decades or more. But NH has to have a higher black bear to person ratio than just about anywhere in the country, and for them to go 10p years without even an attack is pretty amazing.

  16. CSK says:

    I’ve read that Trump is having his private apartment at Ma-a-Lago redone to suit his post-presidential living requirements.

    Even though Trump signed an agreement not to use Mar-a-Lago as a permanent residence, why would that stop him from so doing? When has any legality ever stopped him from doing anything?

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:
  18. CSK says:

    Why does it remind me of Trump?

  19. Scott says:



    I don’t get why so-called “emergency relief” packages for #COVID19 don’t include direct assistance to working families. Working people waiting in food lines & unable to make rent is not an emergency?

    Notice the rote language which doesn’t make sense. If the people are working, then they don’t need assistance (despite that they probably earn too little).

    The only thing that makes sense is unemployment assistance. While I will gladly pocket any direct payments, I certainly don’t need the added assistance.

  20. Paine says:

    Profile in Courage Rep. Paul Mitchell tweeted the following in response to some salty language used by one of Biden’s campaign team:

    I was hoping ⁦⁦⁦⁦ @JoeBiden your new administration would understand that starting any Interaction with name calling and aspersions does not encourage conversation and problem solving. Maybe a little chat with your deputy chief?

    Guy says eff all as DJT shits all over half the country for four years but as soon as someone on Biden’s team uses some harsh language h’s a strong advocate for constructive dialog and decency. I’m liking this guy less and less.

  21. Mikey says:


    The stupid runs deep in this country.

    An old friend just asserted Biden won CALIFORNIA because of massive fraud.

    I mean…there’s a 100% greater chance of Scarlett Johansson showing up at my door wearing nothing but an overcoat and my wife saying “yeah, dude, go for it” than of any Republican winning California in 2020, let alone Donald Trump.

    But this is where this nonsense leads–from the ludicrous to the insane.

  22. Mikey says:


    When has any legality ever stopped him from doing anything?

    “I don’t give a fuck about the law. I want my money.” Trump to Chris Christie and Steve Bannon, late 2016, regarding the legal requirement to set up a transition team. He was angry that money raised to fund the transition wasn’t going straight into his pocket.

  23. Teve says:

    @MarkedMan: The Sun-Sentinel is the only source right now. Hopefully it’ll go bigger soon:


    SPECIAL REPORT: An astonishing pattern emerged in Florida’s #COVID19 death tally — one that suggests the state manipulated a backlog of unrecorded fatalities, presenting more favorable death counts in the days leading up to the presidential election.

  24. Kathy says:


    After some hard work in semantics and linguistics, I’ve determined that “electoral fraud” or “voter fraud” in trumpish means, in English, “Allowing Democrats to vote, or counting votes cast for Democratic candidates, or counting such votes as equal in value to a vote for a Republican candidate, or merely not voting for Trump even if one is not elegible to vote.”

    Do you know how many US citizens under 18, not to mention undocumented and documented alien residents, did not vote for Trump? FRAUD!! FRAUD Most Fowl(sic)!!

  25. Sleeping Dog says:

    McKenzie Scott gives away $4.2B in 4 months.

    Now if Bezos and 400 or so other billionaires would join her in philanthropy, life would improve for many.

  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    US soldier reunites with Italian children he almost shot during second world war

    Martin Adler fought along the Gothic Line, and in October 1944 was among the US troops liberating the area surrounding Monterenzio, a village in the Apennines mountains close to Bologna.

    He entered a cottage in Monterenzio with a fellow soldier called John Bronsky, thinking it was empty. When they heard a noise coming from a large wicker basket, they thought German soldiers might be hiding inside and so prepared to shoot. At that moment, a panicked mother entered the room shouting: “Don’t shoot … children, children!” Three siblings, aged between three and six, then jumped out of the basket.

    Relieved, Adler asked if he could have a photo taken with the children – Bruno, Mafalda and Giuliana – using a camera he had with him. Their mother agreed, but on condition she could dress them in their best clothes.

    Seventy-six years later, and now living in Florida, Adler asked his daughter, Rachelle, to try to track down the siblings to see if any were still alive. On 12 December, she posted a message alongside the original photo on a Facebook page for veteran soldiers from the US and Canada who had been stationed in Italy.


    As the story was being shared in Italy, Rachelle wrote on her Facebook page: “My dad Martin Adler is being featured in an article in Italy. We are hoping for a holiday miracle to reunite him with these three children he could have mistakenly killed. Thank God he and Bronsky kept their cool.”

    On 13 December – the day many Italians mark the feast day of Santa Lucia, or “the festival of light” – Incerti received a message from the care worker of a friend of Bruno.

    The care worker said she had met Bruno in a park and he had told her he recognised himself from the photo in the newspaper and wanted to contact the journalist but did not know how to. “Straightaway she found me on Facebook and wrote me a message,” Incerti said.

    Mafalda also recognised herself in the photo.

    Incerti swiftly set up a video call between Adler and the three siblings, now aged between 79 and 83, which took place on Monday.

  27. CSK says:
  28. Teve says:

    Why Republicans are Destined to Get Worse

    A look at the political forces that portend a further descent into madness for the Republican Party.

    Dan Pfeiffer

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is not known for his policy chops, his intellectual acumen, public charisma, or his ability to count votes. He has risen to the top ranks of the Republican Party despite being embarrassingly bad at just about every element of politics except one: McCarthy has a phenomenal sense of which way the political winds are shifting. Therefore, I took notice when the wind blown weather vane added his name to the amicus brief supporting a case to overturn a legitimate election by throwing out millions of legally cast and counted votes.

    The decision of a Chamber of Commerce California Republican to support a doomed and demented attempt at election theft is evidence of where the politics in the Republican Party are headed. The conspiracy-fueled authoritarianism of the last month is more than passing lunacy to placate Trump. There are a number of political forces that are coalescing to make Republicans act even more irresponsibly insane in the coming years.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Alleged crusade to stop voter fraud lands former HPD captain in handcuffs

    Mark Anthony Aguirre, 63, was arrested by Houston police Tuesday and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

    “He crossed the line from dirty politics to commission of a violent crime, and we are lucky no one was killed,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said. “His alleged investigation was backward from the start – first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened.”

    According to court documents, Aguirre told police that he was part of a group of private citizens called the “Liberty Center,” who were conducting a civilian investigation into the alleged ballot scheme.

    According to Aguirre, he had been conducting surveillance for four days on a man who was allegedly the mastermind of a giant voter fraud scheme. Aguirre told authorities the man was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in a truck he was driving.

    Instead, the victim turned out to be an innocent air conditioner repairman, court documents said.
    Aguirre allegedly never told police that he had been paid a total of $266,400 by the Houston-based Liberty Center for God and Country, with $211,400 of that amount being deposited into his account the day after the incident.


  30. Sleeping Dog says:

    In this morning’s Times, Evan McMullin suggests starting a new conservative party for disaffected R’s. As was discussed the other day, this ain’t a gonna happen. What these anti-trumpers should do is run in every competitive election to weaken the R candidate.

    They won’t though.

  31. Mikey says:

    @CSK: Michael Lewis’ The Fifth Risk. That’s just Chapter 1. I read (well, listened on Audible) the whole book. It doesn’t get better from there.

    But one does learn a lot about what some federal agencies do, and the incredible civil servants who do amazing things for little (often no) thanks.

  32. Jen says:

    Tom Cruise should be in charge of covid compliance everywhere.

  33. Kathy says:


    I read (well, listened on Audible) the whole book.

    Research indicates the brain does the same kind of work when reading as when listening to an audiobook. Ergo audiobooks and podcasts count as reading.

  34. Kathy says:


    I don’t know. the photo shows him wearing a mask with outflow valves. Those are not a good thing for preventing spread, which is the main advantage of universal mask use.

  35. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: The book is fun, but it’s really a (heavily) expanded magazine article.

  36. Mikey says:


    After some hard work in semantics and linguistics, I’ve determined that “electoral fraud” or “voter fraud” in trumpish means, in English, “Allowing Democrats to vote, or counting votes cast for Democratic candidates, or counting such votes as equal in value to a vote for a Republican candidate, or merely not voting for Trump even if one is not elegible to vote.”

    No doubt at all this is what they mean. It’s at the root of their blathering about “legal votes,” with “legal” meaning “a vote for Trump” and the implied “illegal” being “a vote for anyone else.”

  37. Teve says:

    @Kathy: in many of the photos he has two masks on, the valved one on the outside, for some reason.

    @Kathy: I read years ago that linguists say language is fundamentally aural, not visual, so when you’re reading, some part of your brain is turning the words into sounds internally.

  38. Teve says:

    @Mikey: white guy in Nebraska = legitimate vote. Black guy in Bed-Stuy = illegitimate vote. Not exactly subtle white supremacy.

  39. Kathy says:


    I definitely hear words in my head when I read.

  40. ptfe says:

    @Teve: Nah, black guy in Bed-Stuy = irrelevant. Black guy in Fishtown = illegitimate.

  41. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: One issue regarding audiobooks is who reads them. For me at least, it can have a profound effect on the experience. Typically, especially with fiction, the book is read by a professional actor. Other times it’s read by the author, and that can be a problem, because a lot of authors don’t have particularly good speaking or acting skills.

    This tends to be less of a problem with nonfiction, because nonfiction writers (depending on the discipline) often have significant speaking and/or acting experience. It makes sense, for example, that Al Franken reads his own books. (In one of his audiobooks, though, when there was an excerpt from Rudy at the GOP Convention, it switched to an actual audio clip of the event.) When I listened to Molly Ivins’ Bushwhacked, one of the pleasures of it for me was listening to Ivins tear into Bush with her Texas drawl. But when I listened to another audiobook of hers produced after her death, I was a bit disappointed hearing it read by someone else, a non-Southerner to boot.

    P.S. And just for the record, I consider that when someone listens to an audiobook, they have in fact “read” the book. And I think this debate is just a tad more substantive than “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”

  42. Teve says:

    From Voter Fraud to Vaccine Lies: Misinformation Peddlers Shift Gears

    Election-related falsehoods have subsided, but misleading claims about the coronavirus vaccines are surging — often spread by the same people.

  43. Teve says:

    @Kathy: me too.

  44. DeD says:

    Well, this is . . . a development . . .

  45. DeD says:
  46. DrDaveT says:


    I read years ago that linguists say language is fundamentally aural, not visual

    Well, sort of. All natural languages are primarily spoken — nearly all humans acquire spoken language automatically in infancy. That was the only kind of language there was for tens of thousands of years, possibly hundreds of thousands. Eventually, though, various people figured out ways to represent spoken language visually. That didn’t have much effect on spoken language, though, until widespread literacy, which is an extremely recent innovation.

    That’s not quite the same as saying language is fundamentally aural, though, because deaf children will acquire sign language just as automatically in a signing community as hearing children acquire spoken language in a speaking community.

  47. Teve says:

    I’d guess it’s aural for the 99.7% of people who aren’t deaf, and deaf people have something else going on.

  48. Scott says:

    @Kathy: My wife, when she is reading for comprehension (like textbooks), will read aloud in a whisper. She is an auditory learning. We learned early on that my oldest son is also an auditory learner and let him listen to tapes of the books he was supposed to “read” in school.

    I’m just the opposite, pretty much a visual learner. I remember most of what I see and little of what I hear. My daughter is the same. I believe there must be a genetic or gestational component to that.

  49. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT: In the strictest sense, it’s incorrect to describe a writing system as an attribute of a language at all. If a community of English speakers decided to start transcribing their speech in Cyrillic, it wouldn’t mean they were no longer speaking English. In practice, though, writing has a profound impact on the way languages are commonly perceived and categorized. It’s part of the reason for why Yiddish and German, or Urdu and Hindi, are talked about as separate languages rather than dialects of a single language. And actually, a lot of those “Judeo” languages (Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Greek, etc.) are just general terms for whenever Jews transcribe a language using the Hebrew alphabet, even when there’s very little difference from the standard language in speech.

  50. Joe says:

    I read the entire Harry Potter series aloud to my oldest as each was released (except the parts of the last book he was then old enough to read to me). I conclude that he and I have both read all the books. He very much liked the fact that I did “voices.”

  51. Kylopod says:

    @Joe: One of my childhood best friends always had extreme reading difficulties. Maybe he was dyslexic, or maybe he received poor instruction as a child–I was never sure. In any case, not only did he become a prolific “reader” through audiobooks (it’s one of the reasons for my position that audiobook-listening does count as genuine reading), but I read entire books to him myself.

  52. Scott F. says:

    @DeD: I saw a quote from Schmidt earlier this week where he stated that he saw himself now as a single issue voter for the first time in his life. That single issue is pro-democracy. So, he says he now has more common cause with Representative Ocasio-Cortez than he does with the whole of the Republican Party he’s supported most of his life.

  53. Kathy says:


    I don’t think I’ve read any fiction narrated by the author, but have done so for non fiction, in particular Kara Cooney’s two books on Egypt. A few others as well.

  54. DrDaveT says:


    In the strictest sense, it’s incorrect to describe a writing system as an attribute of a language at all.

    Although, as you note, divergent writing systems are often associated with divergent languages. Urdu and Hindi started out the same. They didn’t diverge just because of writing system — the writing systems were chosen on the basis of the religious affiliation of the speakers — but that separation of literatures affects how people speak Urdu and Hindi today. They make different literary allusions, for one thing.

    Linguists have only recently started to pay any attention to writing at all. After all, the vast majority of languages are spoken only, and writing is at best an imperfect mirror (and more often an outright lie) about how the language is spoken. The artificial languages induced by literacy — e.g. Church Latin, Modern Standard Arabic, Katharevousa Greek — have always been less interesting to linguists than the vernaculars they arose from.

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Research indicates the brain does the same kind of work when reading as when listening to an audiobook.

    Obviously they never studied my brain. Audiobooks are a waste of time for me. My brain disconnects and wanders. Actually reading on the other hand focuses it. It may be my inherent ADD, or it may be my worsening hearing, probably both.

  56. Kylopod says:


    Obviously they never studied my brain. Audiobooks are a waste of time for me. My brain disconnects and wanders. Actually reading on the other hand focuses it.

    I have had the experience of my mind wandering while listening to an audiobook and not genuinely absorbing what I just heard–but then, I’ve had more or less the equivalent experience while reading as well.

  57. MarkedMan says:

    A top Trump appointee repeatedly urged top health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to Covid-19 and allow millions of Americans to be infected by the virus, according to internal emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee and shared with POLITICO.

    “There is no other way, we need to establish herd, and it only comes about allowing the non-high risk groups expose themselves to the virus. PERIOD,” then-science adviser Paul Alexander wrote on July 4 to his boss, Health and Human Services assistant secretary for public affairs Michael Caputo, and six other senior officials.

    “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected…” Alexander added.

    “[I]t may be that it will be best if we open up and flood the zone and let the kids and young folk get infected” in order to get “natural immunity…natural exposure,” Alexander wrote on July 24 to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn, Caputo and eight other senior officials. Caputo subsequently asked Alexander to research the idea, according to emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee’s select subcommittee on coronavirus.

  58. Robert says:

    @MarkedMan: Meh. How exactly did formal large-L Libertarians take power in Kansas? What was the name of the Libertarian Party Governor of Kansas, now?

    The book, “A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear” has been debunked. Among other things, he wasn’t talking to actual Libertarians, nor does anything that was being done in the town relate to actual Libertarian recommendations by the Libertarian International, or libertarian management tools like food safety via 6-sigma.

    He did a good job of blaming an inept far-left regulatory program on Libertarians, though…

    Like most anti-libertarian bigots.

  59. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan: Do you want a million dead? Because that’s how you get a million dead.

    We’ll get halfway there thanks to these death cultists, but there’s no need to push for the rest.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: It took me a long time to realize that I can not take verbal instructions. Literally. The classic example is taking directions to a location. I listen to the words, and then I have to work out the meaning of them and while doing that I can not listen to the next line of directions. Sooner or later I miss something entirely. Of course it’s far worse now with my hearing difficulties. Just give me the location, whether it be an address, Lat/Long, UTM, or PSL. With a compass and a map, I’ll find it.

    I have to wonder how much that had to do with my inability to excel in school. I was adequate, a heavy note taker but basically a B student, A if the subject grabbed me by the balls, barely a C if I didn’t care. Mathematics was the one thing I grasped intuitively (for the most part). I have to think that’s because equations are best described on the board or paper.

  61. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Agreed. I can’t stand audio books, but I love to read.

    And, when I read I vastly prefer actual books over tablets/screen reading.

    I’m far more apt to retain what I’ve read when I read a physical format (book, magazine, article on paper), versus listening to an audio book or reading on a tablet.

  62. Kylopod says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My brother was diagnosed with a learning disability–I think an auditory form of dyslexia or something similar. I, too, suffered from auditory and concentration problems in school, and I was actually diagnosed with a learning disability one time, then someone else who tested me stated definitively that I did not have L.D.

    I happen to think children in school are wildly overdiagnosed with L.D. and other cognitive or developmental impairments. They like to place all children in boxes, and it can be a way of avoiding dealing with them, especially when they’re shuttered into special-ed. Nowadays, I prefer to think of my difficulties simply as weaknesses, and I don’t see any reason for going farther than that. The exact label for those weaknesses matters little to me.

  63. CSK says:

    I’m with you. I’ve never listened to an audiobook (even my own), because I have no interest in it, and I’m positive my attention would wander. I’d far, far rather read–a real book, thank you.

  64. dazedandconfused says:


    Have to include Chinese in this. Whatever its roots the pictographic-basing utterly changes the nature of writing. The spread of languages certainly follows religion…but the founding’s can be different as all get-out. In pictographs we separate sound from information. This carries one advantage: It ages well. Spoken languages inevitably change and phonetically based writing doesn’t change as fast. French is an old language so it is filled with letters which represent sounds that are no longer articulated and, unless revised, it will one day become ridiculously inaccurate. Chinese? Ancient Chinese writing are pretty easy for modern Chinese to read…and nobody has a clue what the dialect of the time it was written sounded like.

  65. Michael Cain says:

    I prefer print (paper or screen) because of the pace. Audiobooks, fiction in particular, just seem to drag. Also for audiobooks I can’t be doing anything else that is mentally challenging. My primary use for them is to avoid getting drowsy when I have to drive long distances across big empty spaces. You need to be alert, but most of the mental part is reflex.

  66. Kylopod says:

    I’ve mentioned it before here, but I actually have an easier time absorbing an audiobook when I’m doing something else simultaneously, such as playing a video game or even working. It sounds paradoxical, but it’s true. Just sitting there listening to an audiobook while doing nothing else is often what gets my mind to wander.

  67. Kathy says:


    Mine too.

    I find it hard to just sit down and read an audiobook or a podcast. It works better if I do something else while I’m reading, like cooking or driving. Something that requires concentration but not comprehension.

    One time at work I had to stick labels on 200 small packets of samples. I went through a whole ep of Mike Duncan’s Revolutions while doing that.

  68. Kylopod says:


    It works better if I do something else while I’m reading, like cooking or driving. Something that requires concentration but not comprehension.

    That is, an activity that people have been known to do while sleepwalking.

  69. Teve says:


    A short thread: Comparing the Trump paintings of Jon McNaughton, with state “art” of North Korea worshipping the Kim Dynasty.


  70. CSK says:

    Well, the weather forecasters are racing around with their hair on fire predicting a LARGE, STUPENDOUS, MAJOR, BIGLY, YUGE snowstorm for my neck of the woods, starting this evening. Luckily I did all my panic buying yesterday.

    Life just hasn’t been the same since the Blizzard of ’78.

  71. Kylopod says:


    I don’t think I’ve read any fiction narrated by the author

    At least one of the Dark Tower books is read by Stephen King himself. And that’s a problem because, as anyone who’s seen his cameos in his film adaptations knows, he can’t act his way out of a pixie coffin. He’s also got a distractingly nasal voice. And he’s tone-deaf, which is a problem because there’s a point where he breaks into the na-na part of “Hey Jude.” (Some years back he and Dave Barry and a few other bestselling authors created a rock band together. They all cheerfully admitted they sucked dog balls, and were just doing it because they could.)

  72. CSK says:

    Ah, yes, the immortal Rock Bottom Remainders (a book joke). Amy Tan was the lead singer.

  73. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod: @Kathy: My wife is just like you guys.

  74. Kathy says:


    Safe enough. I’ve never read a single word King ever wrote. My interest in the horror genre is zero. That said, one of my favorite movies ever is The Shawshank Redemption, which is based on a story by King. I may read that one someday.

  75. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: Fair enough. While I am a horror fan, a significant portion of King’s work isn’t really horror, though almost everything he does has some dark or macabre elements (he has a particular obsession with domestic abuse). Shawshank (which is one of my favorite films too) came from an anthology called Different Seasons, featuring four novellas outside the horror genre, three of which have been brought to screen. One of the others was “The Body” which was adapted into Stand By Me, also an outstanding film, and then there was Apt Pupil, which wasn’t as successful.

  76. Grewgills says:

    There may be some over-diagnosis of LDs in general, there certainly is over-diagnosis of some (ADHD for instance). However, diagnosis of LDs beyond (attention/behavioral issues) generally result in mainline classroom modifications to address the diagnosis (increased time, alternative seating, additional scaffolding, larger print or PDF readers, etc). In my current experience an LD, or even several, don’t remove students from mainline classrooms for more than a small fraction of the day.
    I modify lessons for students with a variety of LDs and provide additional time and tutoring to help students that need it, LD or no. That is true of all of the teachers that I know.
    That, of course, may vary state to state. My guess is though, that most states today are approaching this in a similar way.
    When I was a kid, ages ago, SpEd was for many more or less a warehouse with overworked teachers that didn’t have the time or resources to do much more than babysit and the warehoused kids were socially promoted until the schools could wash their hands of them. There may be and probably are places where that is still the case, but it isn’t the norm anymore, certainly not in more progressive districts.

  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: And some of the speed reading programs that are out there worked at increasing reading pace by training readers to not turn the words into sound internally, but I don’t know how much speed reading is a thing anymore.

  78. flat earth luddite says:

    sounds like a bad parody of “Mission Impossible.” Mr. Phelps, your mission – OH HELL NO WE’RE NOT THAT STUPID!

  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I have a similar thing going on. I suspect that it’s because silence puts me on edge for some reason, so I usually have radio or records or TV or something on to provide background noise.

    I “think out loud” a lot, too. In school it was a problem at first, but I learned adaptations,

  80. Kylopod says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: When I read a little about speed-reading, I was surprised to discover that some of the techniques were stuff I’d been doing for years, and which I had come up with on my own. I’m reminded a little of the Mark Twain quote, “A classic is a book that everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.” I’m actually one of those old-fashioned types who does read for pleasure, though not exclusively. Especially when it comes to nonfiction, there are sections I prefer to gloss over or read quickly or outright skip. And sometimes I’m on a tight schedule to get through something.

  81. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kylopod: I dunno about that. It’s hard to over-diagnose something for which the standard definition given to teachers is on the order of *any condition that impairs learning or serves to hinder students from reaching their full potential.* Seems pretty global to me.

    Now, what happens to students who are so diagnosed is more problematical. On that I will agree, and note that the outcomes may be propelling the belief in over-diagnosis.

  82. EddieInCA says:


    Across the entire Film and TV Industry, people are praising Cruise. He’s batshit crazy in alot of ways, but when it comes to craft and professionalism, you won’t find much better. I’m someone who has gone that ballistic on set before, so I can say in my defense (and for Mr. Cruse) that sometimes, sometimes, the only way to get a point across is to go on that kind of profane rant.

    Also, keep in mind the movie had already been shut down once. It’s not that hard. Follow the rules, and we stay working.

  83. Michael Cain says:


    I’m actually one of those old-fashioned types who does read for pleasure, though not exclusively.

    I’ve preferred reading a book to watching movies or TV since I was six or seven. I was one of those kids who probably irritate reading instructors a great deal. “Oh, that’s how it works? Just give me the books and I’m good from here.” My mother told me that my first grade teacher was smart enough to let me go sit in the library corner of the room and read whatever I wanted, thereby avoiding a great deal of trouble.

  84. Kathy says:


    I do a lot of skipping in fiction, especially when there’s an action scene whose outcome is predictable.

  85. gVOR08 says:

    @flat earth luddite: I still remember a Get Smart bit in which Don Adams as Maxwell Smart drives up in his Sunbeam Tiger and goes into a train station. He opens a locker to find a big reel-to-reel tape deck, opens the locker to the right to find a big speaker, then the locker to the left for another speaker. He hits PLAY. “Mr, Smart, your mission, should you choose to accept it….. This tape will Self destruct in five seconds. Four. Three. Two. One.” Nothing happens. “Would you believe ten seconds?”

  86. Kylopod says:


    “Mr, Smart, your mission, should you choose to accept it….. This tape will Self destruct in five seconds. Four. Three. Two. One.” Nothing happens. “Would you believe ten seconds?”

    That sounds like a variation on the end of Spaceballs–which leads me to think it was written by Mel Brooks (who I know was one of the show’s creators).

  87. Mikey says:


    I find it hard to just sit down and read an audiobook or a podcast. It works better if I do something else while I’m reading, like cooking or driving.

    My drive to work runs 40-60 minutes each way, depending on what the DC-area traffic decides to screw up that day. That’s my audiobook time, too.

    I actually got Audible for my son, whose ADHD makes it a challenge to sit in one spot and read a book. I’ve ended up using it even more than he does.

  88. Kathy says:


    Max often boasts and then backs down with the “would you believe?” line. Like:

    Max: I run ten miles every day.
    Siegfried: I find that hard to believe.
    Max: Would you believe five miles?
    Siegfried: I don’t think so.
    Max: How about ten steps and I’m out of breath?

  89. charon says:


    A lot more details posted at NMMNB:

    TX GOP is of in cloud cuckoo land.

  90. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: I’d like to have a Sunbeam Tiger, but built by Toyota.

  91. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: For a couple of moments I thought you were referring to Max Brooks, Mel’s son, and then it occurred to me that he was probably named after the Get Smart character.

  92. Teve says:

    @Kathy: it’s weird how specific comedy tastes are. I love Get Smart. Can’t stand Abbott and Costello. I love Douglas Adams, can’t stand Terry Pratchett. I love Seth Meyers’s monologues, can’t stand Stephen Colbert’s. It’s baffling to me.

  93. DrDaveT says:


    Mathematics was the one thing I grasped intuitively (for the most part). I have to think that’s because equations are best described on the board or paper.

    My first roommate in grad school used to get intensely frustrated during group study sessions, when people would get into the math without writing anything down. “Dammit, no air math!”

  94. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Back in the late 70s, I became very good friends with a guy of similar age to me (I was born in ’58). M was functionally illiterate. Over his entire life he had read 3 books, 2 of them I had given to him: Huck Finn, and Black Elk Speaks. But he could read a street in 5 secs or less. M was extremely intelligent, but growing up….. I’m not sure what was more detrimental, his dyslexia, his chaotic home life, the STL public schools, his mother’s schizophrenia, his father’s abandonment of him… He told me of many hustles he pulled for money to buy a pizza, and hiding it from his mother so he could share it with his brother.

    He never had a chance. He could have been/done any number of things, given the proper tools and support. I would have done/did do any number of things for him,including one which could have put me in prison for a decade or more.

    Instead, the last I talked to his daughter he has sunk into alcoholic dementia.

  95. DrDaveT says:


    I love Douglas Adams, can’t stand Terry Pratchett.

    On the off-chance that you tried the first couple of Discworld books and thought they sucked, I’ll note that a lot of PTerry’s biggest fans would agree with you. For me, the first book that was actually notably good was Guards! Guards! (the 8th book), and the next one after that was Small Gods (the 13th). Some of the others in there were good light entertainment, but nothing memorable. He was almost 20 books into the series before really hitting a string of his best work, simultaneously funny, thought-provoking, and moving. It’s hard to believe that the same author wrote both The Colour of Magic and Monstrous Regiment.

    If you’ve read books from all through the series and none of them work for you, well, as you say — chacun à son goût, especially when it comes to comedy. If you haven’t, you might give one of the more highly-rated ones a try.

  96. Michael Cain says:


    “Dammit, no air math!”

    Twenty-some years ago when I was doing leading edge research in doing real-time multimedia multi-party communications over internet protocols, one of my targets was office hours for math/science or an in-the-bar conversation at a conference. Paper or white board was a necessity. We are finally, now, starting to see affordable — for institutional values of affordable — i/o devices to make that possible. Having the equivalent of a pad of paper and a fine-tip pen has been a long, slow slog.

  97. Teve says:


    Instead, the last I talked to his daughter he has sunk into alcoholic dementia.

    I was a problem alcoholic for a decade, but one with an abnormal amount of medical/biology knowledge. What is especially sad about your friend’s situation is that Alcoholic Dementia, which is usually Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, is extremely easy to counteract. Alcohol inhibits your ability to absorb vitamin B 1 a.k.a. Thiamine. Thiamine is crucial for brain function. Your body has Way more Thiamine than it needs right now, like more than a year’s worth stored up. But if you are drunk basically around the clock for years, you’re in trouble. If you just come off the binge for a few days every month and eat potatoes, pork, liver, eggs, fish, chicken, or shit probably even just B supplements, no dementia. The good news is you can usually reverse it at least somewhat, by putting the bottle down and eating a bunch of Thiamine.

  98. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: i tried to read the discworld graphic novel, and failed, tried to read Good Omens and couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at the “humor”. I’ve seen the trailer for the Good Omens Amazon show and that looks really good though.

  99. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: give me two of the best of his and I’ll put them on The List and give them a shot.

  100. Kathy says:


    Sometimes I’ll finish an audiobook feeling I can’t remember a thing I’ve read. then someone here brings something up that is illustrative of a point or argument in that book, or I’ll reply something I learned from that book I can’t seem to recall. It’s weird. This happens to me on trivia games. sometimes I’ll answer correctly, and wonder how in hell I knew that.

    What frustrates me no end is math. I understand the theory perfectly. I know, or knew and forgot, what a percentage means, what an integral is, how multiplication and division are opposites, what a square root denotes, etc. But I have the hardest time solving any math problems.

    Even simple ones. if I want to know what percentage of 12 5 is, I need a calculator and a blank surface to trace out “If 12 is 100 percent then 5 times 100 divided by 12 is the percentage I want.” I eventually managed algebra, and some basic aspects of calculus, but I can’t solve such problems easily. Analytic geometry makes me want to cry or kill someone.

    I’m content that i understand probability, so when a game analysis says the house edge is X%, I know whether or not to play that game, or how to set my expectations. For instance, the odds in lotto are so small and the house edge so big, you’re better off not playing and just fantasizing what you’d do with the money if you won.

  101. Teve says:


    Barbara Johns selected to replace Robert E. Lee at U.S. Capitol

    By: Scott Wise
    Posted at 6:50 PM, Dec 16, 2020 and last updated 1 hour ago
    RICHMOND, Va. — A statue of Barbara Rose Johns, who at the age of 16 led a student walkout at Moton High School in Farmville protesting the conditions of her all-Black school compared to a nearby school for white students, was chosen to replace the statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee at the U.S. Capitol. If approved by the General Assembly, Johns would the only teenager represented in the collection that honors Americans from all 50 states.

    “As a teenager[in 1951], Barbara Johns bravely led a protest that defied segregation and challenged the barriers that she and her African American peers faced, ultimately dismantling them,” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said while making the announcement. “I am proud that her statue will represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where her idealism, courage, and conviction will continue to inspire Virginians, and Americans, to confront inequities and fight for meaningful change now and for generations to come.”

  102. Teve says:

    @Kathy: honestly it’s just practice and repetition. I flunked math when I was in high school and the first time I went to college. Eventually in my mid 20s I got an algebra textbook and just did a bajillion problems. Then the same with Trig and Calc. 5 years later I had a physics degree and I’ve tutored math now for 20 years.

    If you do a bajillion problems you can estimate answers multiple ways. Like the what percent of 12 is 5 problem, I’d say okay, 12*8 is 96, close enough to 100, multiply 5*8 to keep it proportional, that’s 40, so 5 is a little over 40% of 12. If someone can force themselves to do 1,000 algebra problems in 3 months or 6 months or whatever, it’ll change their brain.

  103. Teve says:

    Holy fuckballs. Worldometer says 3,486 Covid deaths in the US yesterday.

  104. Jax says:

    @Teve: From what I’ve seen of “Common Core” math so far, that’s pretty much what they’re teaching kids to do from a very young age. It becomes easy for them if it’s from start to finish. Me, I struggle with it, because I always did it the hard way to come up with the same answers, but my 6th grader has been taught that way from kindergarten and she can do it way faster than I can.

  105. Teve says:

    @Jax: i’m a middle-aged math tutor so I definitely didn’t grow up with those techniques, and the first time I saw it I had a learning curve and had to figure out what was going on. But those techniques are better. They inherently teach things like the distributive property. It’s not just rote memorizing an algorithm. Some parents freak out because it’s the “Wrong” way to do it. But it winds up better in the end. How many parents can explain How long division works?

    For example:

    3 x 27

    3 x (20 + 7)

    3 x 20 + 3 x 7

    60 + 21


    That’s much clearer than that carrying bullshit.

  106. Teve says:

    Bloomberg: Fifty Years of Tax Cuts for Rich Didn’t Trickle Down, Study Says

    Well shut my mouth. It’s almost as if it was all a scam to give billionaire donors more of the money.

  107. Teve says:

    Trump is pocketing Georgia Senate runoff donations for his PAC, while the GOP candidates themselves don’t get a dollar, a new report says

    he he he

  108. Kathy says:


    If you do a bajillion problems you can estimate answers multiple ways.

    Ok, the first algebra textbook I used in school had about that many problems, all with neat answers printed on the back. Of course I never peeked (I stared and copied!)

    But I did do a great many problems. I can still do basic algebra, should the need ever arise. It never has. Ok, sometimes I do simple physics calculations to figure out simple stuff like the kinetic energy in a Resistance warship moving at the speed of light (assuming Relativity doesn’t apply). Snoke’s ship should have turned into subatomic dust, killing Kylo, Hux, and Rey in the process 😉 But most days are “another day I didn’t have to use algebra.”

    I passed analytic geometry in high school only barely, and only on the second try, and only because a classmate pretty much did half my homework. I think I had a 7.1, with 7 being the minimum passing grade. I scored about 89 in algebra, but I cheated. The tests were multiple choice, and most problems were equations. So sub the answers for the variables, and one will yield the right result. Polynomial equations merely took time, not brain power.

    Sometimes even arithmetic trips me up. it’s like the joke of the guy who bets on roulette on 47, because he dreamt his dead grandmother told him in a dream “seven times seven blessings on you.” And of course, 7 times seven is 47.

  109. DrDaveT says:


    Holy fuckballs. Worldometer says 3,486 Covid deaths in the US yesterday.

    The worldwide death total moving average has been over 10,000 per day for a couple of weeks now. Apparently the US news doesn’t care about the rest of the world, though. Crickets.

  110. DrDaveT says:


    give me two of the best of his and I’ll put them on The List and give them a shot.

    It’s a tricky call. Different people like different sub-series of the books. Some love the guards books; some love the witches books; some love the tweaks on pop culture. And all of them depend, to some extent, on previous books for context. You and I might not share tastes.

    Try Small Gods and Guards! Guards!. If neither appeals, the hail Mary would be Hogfather. If you didn’t really care for any of those, then I think it’s safe to say that Pratchett isn’t your thing.

  111. Jax says:

    @Teve: There are parents in our school district willing to bear arms over that shit, and, apparently, masks, so I just count myself lucky I see what they’re doing and approve. (ROFL laughing because you make it look so easy)

  112. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: well sadly the local library doesn’t have those. But it does have a copy of Good Omens available. Maybe I’ll give that another shot until i I have enough in the Amazon cart to throw in a used copy of one of them.

  113. Kathy says:


    So, the implication is clear: the tax cuts haven’t been big enough. I mean, how long are we going to tolerate confiscatory rates that steal hundreds from billionaires? Its like taking food out of their mouths!

  114. Teve says:

    The massive Russian hack against multiple US agencies broke several days ago. Has trump said one word about it?

  115. Teve says:


    CNN headline just now:

    “Trump has told some advisers he will refuse to leave White House”

    God doesn’t love me enough for that to happen.

  116. CSK says:

    See today’s open forum.