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. sam says:
  2. MarkedMan says:

    @sam: The best thing about this is that in the background you can see one person watching above, through a window, and then two people just walk by without a pause, either oblivious or just bored with it all.

  3. CSK says:

    I love it. Thanks.

  4. Jen says:

    Congressman-elect Luke Letlow (age 41, no pre-existing conditions) has died from Covid.

  5. Tyrell says:

    How about them Cowboys? It looks like the Dallas football team may very well win their division. Coach McCarthy is getting things together.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH

    So a lot of chatter happening on the slow vaccine roll out. Personally, I’m incredibly frustrated.
    Did we not know that vaccines were coming? Is vaccine administration a surprise?
    Several complex issues so lets break things down a bit. Warning, this is a bit of a rant

    First, we were told in October that we’d have 100 million doses by end of December, 100 million
    Who said that? @SecAzar In The Hill. Like 10 weeks ago.Then, by november, Azar was saying 40 million doses ready to ship out by end of December
    Here’s Azar in @thehill saying 40 million by end of the year. In December, Operation Warp Speed says 20 million doses will be out by end of year, they’ll keep the other 20M in reserve for 2nd dose. Fine
    Now, we’ll miss 20M deadline but might be able to get to 20M by sometime in early January
    But this is really not the worst part. The worst part is no real planning on what happens when vaccines arrive in states. No plan, no money, just hope that states will figure this out
    So who manages state level? Departments of Health mostly. These well-funded agencies (yes, I’m kidding) who manage all the testing, data analysis & reporting, providing advice to businesses, schools, doing public campaigns, etc. Non-stop. For 9 months (now) they get vaccines too
    So DOHs adding vaccines to their plate. Most are super stretched and they are trying to make a plan. They are trying to stand up a vaccination infrastructure. Congress had given them no money. States are out of money.So many are passing it on to hospitals, nursing homes
    Any of this familiar? Like our national testing debacle, being repeated. And now, hospitals and clinics are scrambling to figure out how to implement. This article from @CNN is helpful. There is one line in this piece that drove me crazy
    The line when Mississippi health chief says its not state’s job to ensure vaccines get into people’s arms. What? Whose job is it? Not the Feds. They just get vaccine to states. Not the states. They just get vaccine to hospitals, clinics. So its all on front line providers?
    To be sure, many states are taking real responsibility. LOTS of overburdened public health folks are still making this work. Heroically. But now hospitals trying to figure out where to set up vaccination sites. And folks sorting out who can do vaccinations in care facilities
    So that’s where we are, but here are a few key data points:
    1. We have about 11.5 million doses distributed
    2. About 2.1 million given
    3. I think the real number of given is higher (reporting lag) but its still not that great
    But here’s the part that is so frustrating.
    There appears to be no investment or plan in the last mile. No effort from Feds to help states launch a real vaccination infrastructure. Did the Feds not know vaccines were coming?
    Shouldn’t planning around vaccination sites, etc not have happened in October or November?
    Public health has always been a state/federal partnership. States are stretched. Feds are suppose to help. But same folks who blamed states for testing mess now ready to blame states for vaccine slowdown. They are again setting states up to fail.
    But now, there is hope….
    Congress finally passed $ for vax distribution. States now building infrastructure. Should have been built by Feds months ago. After a slow ramp up, it’ll get better. We’re learning again we can’t fight pandemic with every state on its own. An effective federal govt helps.

    @SpoxHHS are pushing back on this thread. Their point? Over past 9 months, on average, states/territories got $6M each, yes Million, for vaccine readiness.
    True. So not “no money” Just trivial $

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: 2 words: Jerry, and Jones.

  8. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That doctor is a frequent guest on the local Boston PBS news station. He’s very direct, I love it when he’s on because it’s always a no BS look at things.

  9. Sleeping Dog says:


    The other day I needed to call my cardiologist to set an appointment and I asked about the vaccine roll out, the receptionist told me that they have no information as of yet.

    The other day I was (mostly) joking about my concern that NH’s laissez-faire attitude toward social policy would infect the roll out and this drives my paranoia higher. This AM’s Times has an article on how China, with no approved vaccines, has the logistics in place to vaccinate 50M people when a vaccine is approved.

    The US is really becoming a monkeys and footballs nation.

  10. Michael Cain says:

    A rural Colorado man with no travel history is the first confirmed case in the US of the UK’s more-contagious Covid-19 variant. The announcement didn’t indicate exactly where he lived or worked. I-70 runs through part of the county where he lived. If the source is related to that, then it’s likely to be widespread before long.

  11. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Does the page have any info?

  12. Teve says:


    Our economy is vital to future of our state and our country.

    “So while we’ve been cautious and I think both the state and federal level have taken numerous precautions for COVID-19. We’re now at a place if we do not open our economy we’re in real danger.”


  13. Jen says:

    @CSK: They do, but it’s super-generic. No real information.

  14. CSK says:

    As I recall, the page has the schedule through June.

  15. Teve says:

    For 10 hours Trump’s had a Tweet up explaining that Brad Raffensperger’s brother is on China’s payroll.

    Brad Raffensperger does not have a brother.

  16. Kathy says:


    Alisyn Camerota on CNN today commented to an interviewee, “If you’re Trump or a friend of Trump, you get the latest treatments and leave the hospital alive. If not, you’re out of luck.” Or words to that effect.

    The supply of monoclonal antibodies is small as yet, and they don’t seem to help patients with advanced COVID. Rather they should be administered before hospitalization, perhaps even before symptoms turn up.

  17. MarkedMan says:

    If you are a CEO looking at where to locate a new facility I’m sure the Trump states look good because they will do everything in their power to keep unions from forming and let you pollute the air and water at will, but damn, you have to give a second thought just based on massive governmental incompetence. Florida’s distribution scheme for the vaccine is just one step shy of dumping the vials and syringes in a park and saying, “have at it!”

  18. Teve says:


    The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states. Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!

  19. Kathy says:


    Count your blessings. mexico’s manged just over 18,000 vaccinations in one week!

    And I’m reminded of a joke:

    “Pa, can I have $50?”
    “$40, son? Why do you want $30 when you know $20 will do? Take $10 and bring back $5 in change.”

  20. Tyrell says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “When Jerry talks people listen”

  21. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: The Misery HHS gov page says they are still trying to figure out who will be able to give the shots, never mind who should get them first and who will follow or how they are going to coordinate that or….

  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: According to Misery’s page, that is 18,000 more than we have done. Seriously, as best I can tell, from multiple sources, MO has yet to vaccinate anyone.

  23. Tyrell says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Why not use the same procedures, outlets, and logistics used for the flu vaccines? Every pharmacy, Walmart, doctors offices, many churches, and many places of employment (schools, colleges) gives flu vaccines. They’re everywhere, even drive thru.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: “When Jerry talks people listen”

    And then do the exact opposite.

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell: How many of those places can store something at -70 degrees?

  26. Teve says:

    Timeline: Fox News misinformation in 2020

    Somebody spent a month compiling this.

  27. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve actually used -70 freezers, a long time ago when I did some biophysics research on SNARE proteins involving plasmids. Pharmacies, Walmarts, doctors’ offices, and churches do not have these devices. Some universities have a few of them. And not enough to be running thousands of vials through.

  28. Michael Cain says:


    How many of those places can store something at -70 degrees?

    My state accepted relatively little of the Pfizer vaccine because they had figured out they couldn’t make the -70 °C thing work broadly. We are going to depend heavily on the Moderna vaccine, and mostly on the 30-day refrigerator lifetime after thawing.

    OTOH, my (quite large) health care provider is a dispenser put in the same class with CVS and Walgreens. I got e-mail from them the other day telling me I would be notified as soon as I was in an eligible group, and could then go online and make an appointment for time and place.

  29. Kathy says:

    Back to yesterday’s discussion of suborbital flight, I should mention Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

    This starts with the X Prize, awarded to the first private company or person to launch a crewed vehicle into space twice while reusing most of said vehicle. The winner was Spaceship One, a rocket plane designed by Burt Rutan’s former company, Scaled Composites.

    This endeavor was financed by the late Paul Allen, one of Microsoft’s co-founders. He sold the venture to Branson shortly after winning the X Prize. Branson then set up Virgin galactic, with the idea to offer suborbital rides to everyone who could pay for it. To that end, Rutan, with Branson’s backing, began to develop Spaceship Two. This was in 2004.

    Sixteen years alter, there’s no operational Spaceship Two. Rutan retired and sold his company to Northrop Grumman. Virgin Galactic has tested an air launched rocket for orbiting satellites, and is making some noise about developing a Mach 3 business jet.

    So, as a menas for carrying passengers on suborbital flights to nowhere, Virgin Galactic hasn’t achieved much success.

    Spaceship one was carried aloft by a mother ship, a more conventional jet, also designed by Rutan, called White Knight One. At altitude it was released, and then it switched on its hybrid rocket engine. This propelled the craft to supersonic speeds, and allowed it to climb, fast, to around 100 kilometers, which is outside the atmosphere.

    this seems straightforward enough, even with the additional jet to carry the other plane aloft, but it’s far more complicated than that. Long story short, and not going into technical details I don’t understand well, the Rutan design isn’t very stable, very controllable, or very safe.

    Design aside, Suborbital flights to just get into space and experience awesome views and a few minutes of weightlessness, are a dead end. A mere joyride, costing perhaps a quarter million dollars a pop. It might do for a business model, but it doesn’t advance space travel any more than racing go karts advances automotive design.

    At the time Spaceship One was racing to win the X Prize, I thought precisely of using it for high speed, long haul travel. I think it reaches a maximum speed of Mach 5, climbing rather steeply before arching and being pulled back down to Earth by gravity. Take a shallower climb, extend the engine burn time, I thought, and you could do LA to NY in under two hours easily, gliding back half of the way. You also get the awesome view and the chance to float around.

    But there was no plan for that, even after a serial airline founder got involved in the project.

    So, does this mean suborbital flight is not good for travel, ro that Branson is shortsighted in this respect?

  30. DrDaveT says:


    The Misery HHS gov page says they are still trying to figure out who will be able to give the shots, never mind who should get them first and who will follow or how they are going to coordinate that or….

    Andy will be along in a minute to explain how much worse it would be to have the federal government coordinating the vaccine rollout.

  31. Joe says:

    A rural Colorado man with no travel history is the first confirmed case in the US of the UK’s more-contagious Covid-19 variant.

    As I recall, Michael Cain, Colorado ski country had an early outbreak of COVID back in February, eventually attributed to Italian ski tourists.

  32. Teve says:

    Vaccines Are Safe, No Matter What Bobby Kennedy Says

    I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong.

    By Kerry Kennedy Meltzer
    Dr. Meltzer is an internal medicine resident physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

  33. CSK says:

    So far, the Trumpkins are keeping remarkably silent about the fact that Raffensperger does not, in fact, have a brother.

    Trump’s Tweet is still up. Apparently someone has yet to enlighten him.

  34. Jen says:

    @Tyrell: CVS is under consideration in New Hampshire as an eventual administrator for vaccines, but there are a number of challenges. First and foremost the cold storage is an issue–they can’t have product just hanging around, there’s a very small window of opportunity to vaccinate people when they receive vaccines.

    Next, these are 2-dose vaccinations. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses to be completely effective, with 28 and 21-day intervals, respectively. So, if the local CVS vaccinates 25 people on Jan. 1, they will HAVE to be ready with 25 secondary doses on Jan. 28, and that’s assuming that all 25 people show up for the second dose–all while keeping the -70 degree storage in mind.

    Do you have any idea how complex this is?

    Now, multiply that by the number of residents in a state.

    I do work for a couple of clients in the hospital space, and in long-term care. Even in these very closed settings, it’s been incredibly difficult to coordinate administration of vaccines.

  35. Tyrell says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That is a good point and a fascinating problem. For some reason, it reminds me of the movie “Real Genius”.
    “To you, your car making noise is a problem. To an auto mechanic, it is an opportunity”
    Disney could figure it out. They can do almost anything.

  36. Kylopod says:


    I love my uncle. But when it comes to vaccines, he is wrong.

    Translation: We all have crazy uncles. Mine just happens to be famous.

  37. Michael Cain says:


    As I recall, Michael Cain, Colorado ski country had an early outbreak of COVID back in February, eventually attributed to Italian ski tourists.

    Two early outbreaks up in ski country. One a couple from California who had been skiing in Italy and decided at the last minute to stop in Colorado on their way home for a bit more. And a group of 20-somethings from Australia who were here for the skiing (and, I assume, for the legal weed).

    On the UK variant, some of the local news outlets are reporting the man worked at an assisted living facility, and that there’s now a suspected second case. The governor and state public health head have a news conference scheduled in about 45 minutes.

  38. KM says:

    Personally, I think people complaining about the vaccine’s slow roll-out have incredibly unrealistic expectations of reality and are frankly a bit spoiled by the modern age. We all need to stop and have some perspective here about the wonder humanity achieved recently:

    – it’s hasn’t even been a year since the first case was reported in the US, mere days more than a year since the first “official” case. That’s an incredibly short amount of time considering and yet we have a vaccine when we don’t have them for other known diseases. A miracle of science we should all be grateful for – it could have taken DECADES of living like this before it happened, folks.

    – We now have multiple vaccines that were developed in months for a deadly disease ravaging the planet so of course there’s not enough to go around right now. There’s BILLIONS of people and manufacturing can only go so fast. Finite effort is finite – impatience with the laws of physics won’t change them.

    – Special materials and equipment are needed so that’s gonna hamper all parts of the process. You can’t even get the special equipment now because it’s in high demand so vaccine rollout is dependent on equipment shortages. Same logic applies: you can only make so many fridges so fast even with advanced warning. Incompetence only worsens it.

    -Again, BIILIONS of us. Even if we are only talking about the USA, that’s over 400 MILLION. We don’t have the logistics in place to physically reach all these people – we couldn’t even evacuate a single large city effectively in case of disaster with a week’s warning but we want to stab everyone in the arm twice in a month or two? It was always going to be a multi-year’s long beautiful dumpster fire.

    -Anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorist and QAnon have all conspired to make acceptance of this miracle a poison pill for many. Even if we *could* get shots easily and timely to the populace, the refusal rate is going to be very high. Being low on the list of eligible people might not mean waiting too long if there’s a ton of refusals ahead of you. The vax rate is going to be well below what we need to be able to safely venture out because of the same stupid people spreading it in the first place.

    We have got to stop thinking of the vaccine’s as an instant cure to go back to the way things were. Life is gonna be like this for at least another year or two. We got soooooo lucky this pandemic is only going to last a handful of years instead being of a reoccurring plague or long-term world changer like AIDS. Science came through for us; we just need to be patient and count our blessings. These things take time.

  39. Michael Cain says:


    So, does this mean suborbital flight is not good for travel, ro that Branson is shortsighted in this respect?

    For a number of reasons mentioned yesterday, my bet is that suborbital ballistic flight is not good for travel.

  40. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    What about non-ballistic suborbital flight?

    Rutan’s Spaceships are gliders, capable of steering and changing course and landing wherever their initial altitude allows them to.

    The flaw, I know, is that gliders can’t stay aloft for long. So you’d need landing clearance before taking off, and diversions would be difficult.

  41. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    Another problem with treating the vaccine rollout like the flu (besides refrigeration), is that there is no real prioritization of flu shots and no need to direct it to the most at-risk communities like there is with Covid.

  42. dazedandconfused says:


    Maybe 5000 years of trial-and-error lays between the tying of a couple logs together and and the first galleon or junk.

  43. CSK says:

    Some of these facilities may be opting for the Moderna vaccine, since it can be stored at temperatures approximating that of a standard freezer.

  44. Moosebreath says:


    “When Jerry talks people listen”

    And then they laugh.

  45. Michael Cain says:

    @Kathy: I think that the fundamental problem all of them will have to solve to be a commercial service is no one is going to let them launch from or land at convenient locations. If you are going to Washington, DC and you are in a hurry that justifies a suborbital hop, you want to land at Washington National. Not Dulles, not BWI, not 60 miles out to sea. So, on approach: fully powered, fully maneuverable, 200 knots.

  46. Jax says:

    Our county is only receiving the Moderna vaccine for now, obviously nobody around here has the freezers necessary for the Pfizer vaccine. Our public health nurse said if I really wanted to get my teenager in on the Tier 2 due to her severe asthma, I’d have to take her to Casper, Cheyenne or Laramie, they’re the only ones with the Pfizer vaccine, and Moderna isn’t approved for under 18 yet.

  47. CSK says:

    @Jen: @Teve:

    The latest is that Letlow suffered cardiac arrest after undergoing a surgical procedure related to Covid-19.

  48. CSK says:

    Apparently Brad Raffensperger does have a brother. It’s just not the one Trump ism claiming it is.

  49. Monala says:

    @Jen: it’s very sad. He has two young children.

  50. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I’m not sure about that.

    BTW, suborbital is the least outlandish high speed option out there. Would you be interested in hypersonic maglev trains in evacuated and transoceanic floating tunnels?

  51. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Tyrell: A team that’s lost 3 out of every 5 games is on pace to win their division? How ’bout that indeed!

  52. Sleeping Dog says:


    That would be fine, but… My original nightmare post about vaccine distribution was that, this would be the extent of state planning and you’d have hundreds of people lined up at Rite-Aid, Walgreens etc, when the store manager comes out and announces that they’ve used up today’s allotment, comeback tomorrow.

  53. Sleeping Dog says:


    Back when I got my flu shot, I had a discussion with the pharmacist about the covid vaccine and his understanding was that the -70 freezers would be at the distribution point and that the stores would receive daily or every other day deliveries packed in dry ice and then stored in a refrigerator that they have till day of use when the vaccine will need to be allowed to reach normal temps for injections

  54. Sleeping Dog says:


    The roll out was always going to be the hard part, but America hasn’t even tried to get it organized. Go back and read the NYT article China’s plan for a roll out of a vaccine they don’t have yet. If that kind of preparation had been done in the US, we would likely be nearing the vaccination of 1M people per day.

  55. DrDaveT says:


    Trump’s Tweet is still up. Apparently someone has yet to enlighten him.

    In Trumpistan, the fact that liberals are concealing the existence of the brother is proof of the conspiracy.

  56. Teve says:

    @CSK: i got bad info. Brad has a brother, but his brother isn’t Ron Raffensperger.

  57. CSK says:

    Not your fault.

  58. Teve says:

    5% of rockets go Splodey. I can wait 29 hours to get to Melbourne if need be.

  59. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I read somewhere today that you’ll have to make appointments to get the shot, even at the big chain drug stores.

    I’ve been informed that I’ll get an email from my pcp telling me where to go and when.

  60. JohnSF says:

    Space elevators with linear accelerator trains on an orbital ring for the win!

  61. Sleeping Dog says:
  62. CSK says:

    Trump issued a proclamation commemorating the 850th anniversary of the murder of Thomas Becket. I’m assuming he signed something someone stuck in front of him.

    Trump is the guy who helpfully informed us that Lincoln was a Republican, “something not too many people know.” How many people think that Trump ever heard of Becket before today? Show of hands, please.

    Yeah, me neither.

  63. Sleeping Dog says:


    The drug stores will have to do something like that for their own sanity. In the last few months I’ve gotten vaccinations for the flu, tetanus and shingles, each time I walked in and got it at my convenience. But that won’t work for the covid shot.

    My point is that the public health officials in the state should have had a plan in place that was communicated to the public, months ago. From what I can see, Mass is doing a decent job of that.

  64. Kathy says:


    Oh, without a space elevator we’ll never colonize space.

    But it’s at least 36,000 kilometers up, which is already more than halfway around the world, and then the circumference on the (Clarke?) ring would be several times that of the Earth*. You’d have to travel pretty fast indeed. Plus if you go down by Space Elevator, you can only come down on the equator (or within a few degrees of it).

    The views would be awesome, though, and you get to experience varying gravitational pull but not “zero g.”

    *I get 133 thousand kilometers.

  65. Kathy says:


    I wouldn’t rule it out. His incessant whining has a flavor of “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” to it.

  66. JohnSF says:

    Full verbatim statement by Trump:

    Henry II, he’s pretty good guy. A lot of people are saying. Let’s see what happens. This big knight, he comes up to me, really big guy, in chain mail, tears in his eyes, big sword with blood on it, say’s “Sir…

  67. JohnSF says:

    Or a Project Orion pulsed fission ballistic transport:
    “Are you sure that’s a civilian transport, not an incoming ICBM?”
    “To be honest, that’s the least of your worries right now.”

  68. CSK says:

    Well, Trump certainly knows how effective Henry’s technique was. But I’ve no doubt Trump has no idea who Henry was, either.

  69. Paine says:

    Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann of Gilligan’s Island dead of Covid.

  70. CSK says:


  71. Kathy says:


    Or a Project Orion pulsed fission ballistic transport:

    “Pulsed fission” wins understatement of the year!

  72. Michael Cain says:


    I’m not sure about that.

    Fine. 50 years from now, there will not be suborbital ballistic passenger or cargo vehicles launched or landed within a hundred miles of Washington, DC. My standard wager is for a fine craft beer. These days I’m making some futurist bets that I probably won’t live to collect/pay off, so I’m thinking about ways to set it up so that a descendant on one side of the bet or the other can collect. Suggestions for that last part?

  73. Michael Cain says:


    Space elevators with linear accelerator trains on an orbital ring for the win!

    Geostationary orbit is 36,000 km up. At 1600 km/hr (1000 mi/hr) that’s 25 hours up, 25 hours down, plus whatever time is spent on the orbital ring plus whatever time is spent getting to and from the equator where the elevator has to be anchored. I pick a relatively low speed for the elevator car because of the amount of mass involved: the car, enough shielding that the radiation belts don’t kill you, food and water. A DC-3 (320 km/hr) might possibly be faster for point-to-point on the surface.

    A space elevator may (eventually) be a viable choice for getting mass up out of the gravity well. It’s unlikely that it’s going to lift it quickly.

  74. Kathy says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I meant maybe higher landing speeds could work out well.

    But, sure, I’ll take the bet. It will be hard to pay since we lack even precise locations for each other. And I don’t drink beer, so I can’t possibly win 😉

  75. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    his understanding was that the -70 freezers would be at the distribution point and that the stores would receive daily or every other day deliveries packed in dry ice and then stored in a refrigerator that they have till day of use when the vaccine will need to be allowed to reach normal temps for injections

    Yes–that’s what I had read too. Into that, we need to add in variables about weather, people making (and keeping) appointments, etc. I’m not sure how the prioritization system will enter into it, but my guess is that for the first few stages (1 a, 1 b, 1 c) it will be handled by doctors’ offices for the most control to ensure that front line health workers, first responders, and so on really are at the front of the line.

    The bottom line is that this is going to be complex and it will take time, as Tyrell should realize–it’s not as simple as saying “but we do X for flu shots.”

  76. dazedandconfused says:


    “Will no one rid me of these troublesome electors?”

    If I were Pence I’d be nervous.

  77. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Cain:
    Ah, but does the transit ring have to be at geostationary orbit altitude?
    What about an LEO ring?
    Of course, you have the problem (assuming it’s moving at orbital speed) of coupling to and/or dodging the elevator towers, and related passenger transfer issues. 🙂
    Details, details, petty little details…

  78. CSK says:

    Indeed. All the assiduous toadying he’s done is going to be for naught when he refuses to bend to Gohmert’s will.

  79. Kathy says:


    coming back to the issues of reliability, in Clarke’s space elevator novel, “The Fountains of Paradise,” the projected elevator for Mars will crash with Phobos every day, maybe three times per day, unless trafic is managed in such a way to make the elevator vibrate out of the way in time.

    Three times a day. Every day.

    If it goes down seven hours and 40 minutes or so, it’s toast.

    And vibrating large structures can pose problems, too.

  80. Sleeping Dog says:


    My money is on; it will be a cluster…

    BTW, did you see that Sununu cancelled his inauguration ceremony? Appears that he has become an enemy of the people.

  81. JohnSF says:

    I suspect if you’re thinking on that scale you’d just get rid of Phobos, one way or another.

  82. JohnSF says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    Good news.
    Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is now approved in the UK.
    That only requires 2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius storage.

    Of course, it also entails a wholly different production mode; but I’d imagine that also would be easier than the mRNA types.

  83. CSK says:

    Jen and Sleeping Dog

    Your governor has canceled his outdoor inauguration ceremony next month out of concern for public safety. Armed people have been showing up outside his house to protest the mask mandate he issued.

  84. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    I just posted that, presumably while you were beating me to it. Good God.

  85. Kathy says:


    Someone proposes this, which seems like the sensible thing to do. the engineer who would built the elevator, Morgan, says that’s impossible.

  86. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: i read this earlier:

    CONCORD — Citing the risk of “armed protesters,” Gov. Chris Sununu canceled next Thursday’s ceremony outside the State House at which he was to be sworn in to a third term.

    Instead, Sununu said, he will take the oath in a small ceremony in the State House that day and give a live speech at 7 p.m. The ceremony may be viewed online, Sununu said.

    “My first responsibility is ensuring the safety of my family and our citizens,” Sununu said.

    “For weeks, armed protesters have increasingly become more aggressive, targeting my family, protesting outside my private residence and trespassing on my property — an outdoor public ceremony simply brings too much risk. We do not make this decision lightly but it is the right thing to do.”

    The announcement came two days after one person was arrested and nine others were fined $100 following a protest outside Sununu’s home in Newfields. For weeks, picketers have assembled outside the governor’s home, protesting that he violated the Constitution by declaring a “perpetual emergency” for the pandemic.

    Leaders of the group Absolute Defiance said Monday night’s event began as a “vigil” but became a protest when a large number of police officers arrived and ordered protesters to disperse.

    Brennan Christen of Alton, one of the organizers, accused Sununu of deliberately misleading the public with his statement about “armed protesters.” Christen said none of the protesters has ever “open-carried” a weapon outside the governor’s home.

    Skylar Bennett of Concord, the person arrested Monday night, was legally carrying a concealed handgun but never publicly displayed it, Christen said.

    “I carry a handgun for protection all the time. When you do political activism you have to make sure to protect yourself,” Bennett said. “This isn’t an anti-police thing or a threat to the governor. We have rights as New Hampshire citizens and we will do it peacefully.”

    And I got a kick out of how the same people who insist that wearing a mask is Living in Fear, are the same people who have to get strapped to go get a gallon of milk at the Hannaford.

  87. Kathy says:


    The more I read about the Oxford vaccine, the more confused I get. The info seems amorphous or in flux. Now the piece linked implies one dose is 70% effective but two doses only 62%. If so, why give a second dose?

    Also the interval between doses is “between 4 and 12 weeks.” That just seems too convenient, given it may be that long before a second dose is available, if the decision is to expend all doses on hand on as many un-vaccinated people as possible as fast as possible.

    And then there’s the full first dose vs half first dose kerfuffle.

    I’m sure it works and I’m sure it’s safe. I just can’t tell how efficacious it is.

    part of it is the common bad science reporting in the popular media, with the need to simplify complex subjects. Another part may be the necessarily abbreviated testing period. Regardless of how fast a vaccine is developed, they usually test phase 3 for far longer.

    On the plus side, it’s less than 48 hours for this wretched year to finally come to an end. It won’t be missed, even if it was the year that Trump lost. 2021, the year Trump leaves, will hopefully be a better year.

  88. JohnSF says:

    Last I heard outside media confusion was before Christmas; it appears that two full doses give only 62% but an initial dose primes the immune system (gets beyond my amateur understanding at this point, both in terms of immunology and trials stats) and with a follow up dose then yields 90%.
    There is debate on whether the 62/90 was necessarily related to dose level or to timing (longer lag=better second response ?).
    Trouble is we are running out of time for analysis.

    UK problem is the exponential spread, plus limited vaccine supply, means govt is now planning on initial full dose and delayed second dose.
    Essentially: “Let the research results come as they may. Hit it! Hit it NOW!”
    IIRC current vaccination with Pfizer has been around 800,000 doses.
    Ox/AZ should permit scaling to 1million+ per week quite quickly; the NHS is well set up to handle mass vaccination with “fridge range” storage temperatures.
    Sometimes, speed is life. Sometimes, it’s error. Hoping it’s door 1 this time.

  89. Kathy says:


    My main concerns is Mexico’s advance orders include 77 million Oxford vaccines, with around 35 million each of Pfizer and CanSino. So Oxford’s is the one I’m more likely to get (and it feels stupid to talk of millions when a mere handful of thousands has even made it here).

    I’ll come right out and say if this were a traditional dead/weakened virus vaccine, I’d have serious doubts about taking it. Fortunately it’s a virus vector vaccine (the RNA for the spike protein is inside an altered simian common cold virus), so at worst it will be harmless.

    A 12 week delay between shots, if that’s the actual case, is a major concern. that’s 3 months. I don’t mind keeping up masking, distancing, etc., but I’m sure millions won’t get it. If I’m right, and I hope I’m not, we’ll see major spikes shortly after mass vaccinations get going, much like we’re seeing now due to increased contact and for the same reason.

    Sometimes I feel like what I really need is to wake up in November 9th, 2016, and find that Hillary won, and the past four years, especially the past year, were a very elaborate, unusually detailed nightmare.

    “But what are the chances of that happening?”

  90. JohnSF says:

    It will be vital to maintain masking/distancing etc in the roll-out period.
    I’m just hoping that this time round the UK govt. can actually deal with the public as adults, and be straightforward, rather than treating the virus as if it were a political opponent to be attacked via a PR campaign.

    Trouble is, Johnson is a fundamentally unserious person.
    He can be made to do the sensible thing if all the adults gang up, sit on his head and refuse to let him up till he promises to behave.
    But given any support by contrarians or “political messaging” types etc he’s liable to go wandering down easy street again.

    How the US can cope, when masking/distancing has become a partisan issue for a large part of the Republicans. heaven knows.

  91. JohnSF says:


    Sometimes I feel like what I really need is to wake up in November 9th, 2016, and find that Hillary won, and the past four years, especially the past year, were a very elaborate, unusually detailed nightmare.

    Sometime I have that feeling for the entire damn 21st century.
    I really liked the 1990s. 🙁

  92. Jen says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Yep, I saw this and just told my husband about this, around 30 minutes ago. (Great minds…zero in at the same time?)

    It’s unreal. My disclosure of this was in response to my husband’s observation that Sununu hasn’t really done squat regarding the pandemic. We still have much looser restrictions than Maine, Vermont, or Mass.

    There’s a great deal of stupid out there.

  93. Kathy says:


    How the US can cope, when masking/distancing has become a partisan issue for a large part of the Republicans. heaven knows.

    I think it’s worse than that. Polls indicate relatively few people will take the vaccine. America is literally dying of stupidity.

    So, they won’t mask, keep distance, lock down, or vaccinate. What’s left? Prayer? Magic?

    Oh, well, I’m getting depressed (non-clinically) again.

    So, on other things, I scored two kilos of corn chips on the latest round of left over samples. these are rather odd. See, usually they are fried or baked. The fried kind tends to be somewhat greasy, naturally, while the baked kind tends to become very soft when mixed with salsa. These are very hard and not greasy at all.

    So I’m making chilaquiles again, but at least this time I will cook the chicken.

    And taking advantage of that, I’ll use the broth for pasta soup.

    I also came across some days old bread rolls which are going hard. I’ll try to make them into garlic and herb croutons. I figure cut them into small pieces, sprinkle a little olive oil, then a mix of garlic powder, fine herbs, and a little paprika. then a few minutes in the oven.

    Now, I wish I had tomato soup for the croutons, but that is too much work.

  94. Teve says:

    @Kathy: I’m 44, fairly healthy, no preexisting conditions, no high-risk job. If half the US won’t take it, the silver lining is that maybe I’ll get it by February instead of June.

  95. Monala says:

    Vaccine humor! I laughed out loud. The comments that follow are great, too!

  96. CSK says:

    You probably know that New Hampshirites have the second-highest I.Q in the country after residents of Mass.

    Oh, that’s a cock-and-bull story.

  97. CSK says:

    Quickie chunky tomato soup:
    4 cups chicken stock
    8 oz. tomato sauce
    2 cups petite-diced tomatoes
    Salt and pepper to taste.
    Thicken with more tomato sauce if desired.
    Heat. Eat.

  98. Teve says:

    I saw this on Twitter and I’m giggling.

    “We’re Pfizer. We use our experience, education, and scientific research and tell you that there’s a pandemic, and you call us frauds.

    We use that same experience, education, and research to make a pill that makes your dick hard, and you take that shit before we can even list the side effects.”

  99. Monala says:

    @Teve: Beat ya to it! 😉

  100. Monala says:

    @Monala: @Teve: I swear this is a common occurrence. I’ll see something on Twitter, and you’ll post about it right afterward. I guess we follow the same people!

  101. JohnSF says:

    Very quickie tomato soup: one can Heinz tomato soup. 🙂

    Seriously, don’t know if it’s different in the US, or maybe it’s just me, but I can hardly tell between home grown, home made tomato soup and a good canned one.

  102. CSK says:

    I don’t think they sell Heinz soup here anymore. Not in New England, anyway. I haven’t seen it in decades. But it was quite popular in Scotland.

  103. Teve says:

    @Monala: I’m a Twitter junkie. I’ve seen like 5 versions of that Pfizer thing. 😀

  104. Teve says:

    @Monala: One of the great things about Twitter is that I don’t have to specifically go looking at Vox, Slate, the Atlantic, etc., if there is a really good article the smart liberal journalists on Twitter will be talking about it. It’s a useful way to filter the tsunami of info.

  105. JohnSF says:

    It’s just the thing for a cauld, dreich day.
    That, and whisky. 🙂

  106. JohnSF says:

    Is this true?
    Or a phalluscy?

  107. Kathy says:


    the canned Campbell’s tomato soup is ok.

    I’m very particular about mine. it’s so much work, though, I do it seldom:

    I have it written down somewhere. The bulk of the work is peeling, seeding, and coring several tomatoes, collecting the juice that spills off from the seed clusters. I put the seeds on a colander with a bowl below it.

    Then I cook the tomatoes with a little chopped onion, garlic, and pepper, for a looooong time until they’re almost liquefied. then I add chicken stock, milk, and after it boils, I place everything in the blender with some cottage cheese.

    I eat it with half a lime, some plain white rice, and croutons or crackers.

    I love it. But I can’t bring myself to use canned tomatoes.

  108. CSK says:

    Especially when there’s nae haggis the noo.

  109. Teve says:

    A friend of mine lives in Atlanta. She said she’s getting 5 to 7 technicolor mailers from the Republicans every day. She posted one explaining how Biden is going to BAN MEAT. Because, if course, he’s a RADICAL LEFTIST.

  110. JohnSF says:

    Maybe not canned soup, but I’ve chatted with pro chefs who think premium Italian canned tomatoes (eg Napolina, Cirio, San Marazano) are easily on a par with home grown.

    And we always used to have lots of greenhouse grown toms for various uses.

    Mind you, for fresh tomatoes nothing I’ve ever had, including Dad’s, beats the ones I got from a market stall in Montespertoli *swoon*
    I wonder what sorta soup you could make with them. Yum!

  111. JohnSF says:

    Well haggis isn’t bad; but give me faggots! And black pudding!

  112. CSK says:

    Would you care for some mushy peas with that?

    There’s always spotted dick and cock-a-leekie soup. As I had a character in one of my books say: “Sounds like a venereal disease.”

  113. Kathy says:


    I’m a bit averse to most canned vegetables, except beans, chickpeas, and sweet corn (I think that’s exhaustive). Otherwise, I don’t mind canned, bottled, boxed, etc. stuff at all. I also use a lot, and mean a LOT, of tomato pure, and some tomato paste, but that’s processed so as to be unrecognizable.

    I don’t grow my own tomatoes, BTW. I buy them at the supermarket. They’re ok.

  114. JohnSF says:

    Heh. Never could quite get the taste for mushy peas.
    Aussie seem to love ’em though: hence the meat pie floater.
    “Floats like a meaty pie,
    stings like a pea!”

    As for cock-a-leekie, if the French can get a way with coq au vin…

  115. Gustopher says:


    I suspect if you’re thinking on that scale you’d just get rid of Phobos, one way or another.

    Will no one rid me of this troublesome moon?

  116. Gustopher says:

    @Tyrell: Here’s another reason we need good, strong, central planning for the vaccination campaigns: What happens when you mix and match the vaccines between the first and second shots?

    I don’t know. Probably not people giving birth to mutant piglets with cloven hooves, but we haven’t tested any of those scenarios.

    Are the piglets delicious? Kosher? Cannibalism?

  117. Flat Earth Luddite says:


    65+, stage IV cancer survivor, working in retail. I’m joining you in line for my shots. In the meantime, going to get redosed for shingles & pneumococcal on my oncologist’s instructions.

  118. JohnSF says:

    St Phobos a’Becket. 🙂

  119. Teve says:

    Sen Cornyn posted a picture of his nice tenderloin dinner on Twitter tonight.

    People are replying with photos of mile-long lines of cars at Texas food banks.

  120. Teve says:

    Fuckin hell


    A couple of more questions for Chief Justice John Roberts:

    (1) You are recorded discussing Justice Scalia’s successor before date of his sudden death. How did you know Scalia was going to die?

    (2) Are you a member of any club or cabal requiring minor children as initiation fee?

  121. Teve says:


    Every zombie story is now obsolete. There won’t be hordes of scavengers fighting neck and neck for dwindling resources. There will, instead, be a small group of people saying, “Don’t go near the zombies” while everyone else says “You can’t tell me what to do” as they’re eaten.

  122. Kylopod says:

    @Teve: I’ve been watching the new version of The Stand, and even though I know it’s been in production for years, it’s clear they stuck in references to the current situation. The rock-star character Larry Underwood gets on stage and congratulates his (sparse) audience as “the ones who wouldn’t let a couple of sniffles stop you from coming.”

    Of course, it doesn’t change the novel’s underlying premise of a virus that’s deadly to all but a few who are immune–so there’s really no way to work into the story the idea that people’s behavior and choices can combat it. But they tried….