Wednesday’s Forum

Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A possible Saturn-sized planet identified in the distant Whirlpool Galaxy could be the first exoplanet to be detected outside the Milky Way. The exoplanet candidate appears to be orbiting an X-ray binary – made up of a normal star and a collapsed star or black hole – with its distance from this binary roughly equivalent to the distance of Uranus from the sun.

    The discovery opens up a new window to search for exoplanets – planets orbiting stars beyond our Sun – at greater distances than ever before. Although nearly 5,000 exoplanets have been detected so far, all of them are in the Milky Way galaxy – with few further than about 3,000 light years from Earth. An exoplanet in the spiral Messier 51 (M51) galaxy – also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive shape – would be about 28m light years away.
    The signal they detected lasted for about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero. Based on this and other information, Di Stefano and colleagues estimate that exoplanet candidate would be roughly the size of Saturn, and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun – roughly equivalent to Uranus’ orbit. The research was published in Nature Astronomy.

    Exciting as this discovery is, more data is needed to confirm that the object is indeed an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the object’s large orbit means it will not cross in front of the X-ray binary again for about 70 years.

    “Unfortunately to confirm that we’re seeing a planet we would probably have to wait decades to see another transit,” said co-author Nia Imara of the University of California at Santa Cruz. “And because of the uncertainties about how long it takes to orbit, we wouldn’t know exactly when to look.”

  2. de stijl says:

    In regards to yesterday’s discussion of the Rolling Stone article linking sitting pols to 1/6.

    I, myself, draw a strong and hard distinction between the rally and the breach.

    Saying that the rally caused the Capitol breach is reductive. And can easily be turned around. It is an an easy reach and seductive, but please consider and reject that.

    It would open a Pandora’s box of blaming legitimate George Floyd protesters on the same level as the folks who used a peaceful protest as a pretense to loot and destroy.

    I am not saying to not investigate the trail. Especially of threats of violence carried through. I am saying to not equate the rally with the breach.

    The rally was fully protected speech. That needs to be acknowledged. It was brain dead idiotic speech and extremely childish, but it is protected speech.

    If we criminalize rally supporters we are on a bad path because that would mean that leaders of a peaceful protest are on the hook if some jackholes decide to bust some windows or loot stores. It is a bad path.

    Judge on action. If you invade the capitol complex you are a criminal. If you incite violence you are a criminal.

    If you rally and protest – even in a lame and stupid and false protest – you are not a criminal.

    If you break shit or steal stuff you are a parasite and a criminal. Do your time, asshole.

    Criminalizing support for the 1/6 rally could very easily backfire.

    J initiated the demonstration. Looters descended. Ergo J is responsible for the looting is bad logic. You have to demonstrate a clear link with evidence that J desired and worked for that outcome before you can charge J.

    Imagine J as a different political slant than yours.

    Politicize the fuck out of 1/6 pre-rally contacts. I encourage you to do so. It was a dire stain on our history and standing. It needs to be determined. I wanted to vomit.

    Do not get so caught up in partisanship as to ignore justice. Really bad idea. The rally was not illegal. (Unless it incited illegality.)

  3. Kathy says:


    I think it entirely plausible many extragalactic exoplanets will be discovered in the decades of waiting to make confirmatory observations.

  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl: I’m one of those, so let me respond.

    I think there is a distinction between the rally and the breach. And the planning meetings, and what went on with them addressed the rally. Did they address the breach? Well, it seems likely that said politicians said, “the election was stolen” and suggested that democracy was over unless “someone does something”. (This is not a stretch, I’m pretty sure Trump said that in the media). And if there’s talk of blanket pardons, that’s an invitation to breach. All of the statements address the breach.

    And I’m speaking here morally and politically. I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t hold much hope of legal consequences for these clowns.

    Richard II was not guilty of the same crime as his knight Reginald FitzUrse. But he was guilty of a crime.

  5. Kathy says:

    I’m doing initial research on flights to the US for early January (for purposes of a booster shot). I started with Tijuana, as the Cross Border Express bridge at the airport is easily accessible. Fares on Volaris were very reasonable, but I was a bit shocked to see there’s a seat selection charge for every damned seat. You want the middle seat in the back row for some reason, it’s $2.50.

    Aeromexico doesn’t let you choose a seat under some fares, and charges for extra legroom or seats further to the front, which is bad enough, but not for the regular seats past the wing.

    It’s not too big a deal, but this fees for everything has gone too far.

  6. de stijl says:

    @Jay L Gischer:


    I think it depends upon intent. The legal definition of incitement.

    I just wanted to caution against the tendency to treat the noon 1/6 Save The Steal rally as de facto illegal. It was expressly a totally legal American expression of political frustration. A really stupid and lame one example, but obviously legitimate 1A speech.

    Protests you disagree with are still legitimate protests and are fully protected speech (within constraints).

    Breaching the capital police line and invading the complex was a fucking felony and no backsies. Pay the piper. Y’all done fucked up when you did that. You go to jail now.

    Legally, the rally was fully protected speech. We might hate that is true, but it is true. No illegality*. Dumb ass speech is still protected.

    The breach was thousands of felonies. Entirely different story.

    Two entirely distinct things unless you can prove incitement at the rally. (Be careful following that – a double edged sword).

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    i bless the rains down in castamere

    in 2008, Vermont prison inmates were being used as labor to make decals for cop cars. They edited the design to hide a pig in the image. 30 cop cars drove around Vermont with the hidden pig for four years before it was discovered.

    As David Simon said, “You get what you pay for.”

  8. dazedandconfused says:


    Most city cops have internally conditioned that insult to “Pride, Integrity, Guts and Service”, so they might well have known but let it go. Anyway, if you want to insult a cop (and/or are curious as to what having a concussion and a resisting arrest charge feels like) repeat that and add “…not in your case”.

  9. Jay L Gischer says:

    @de stijl: Of course the rally was legal. It was immoral and disloyal, but it was legal. It was quite a bit more than “dumb”. I think there were lots of people relying on advice of counsel as to exactly how to phrase things so as to cover their asses.

    So yeah, it might well be legal. I’m not talking legal. This is just wrong as wrong can be.

  10. Kathy says:

    The problem with learning some biology casually is that it isn’t hard to understand, but it’s incredibly complex. Memory tends to fail at the hordes of enzymes, proteins, receptors, and assorted other molecules and/or types of proteins involved, not to mention what proteins are held in reserve and which aren’t, or what turns off something and turns on something else at the same time.

    On one hand I’m overwhelmed. On the other I’m curious as to the mechanism a virus uses to reproduce inside a cell. I mean what specific enzymes, proteins, etc. it makes use of.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The open forum is at 10 comments. The Rittenhouse post is at 98. On the one hand I’m curious (not about the what, pretty sure JJ is getting hammered, but I do wonder what kind of “support” he is getting), on the other hand I’ve already said all I feel the need to and really have nothing else to say.

  12. CSK says:

    New Mexico authorities revealed today that they removed a lead projectile–i.e. a real bullet–from
    Halyna Hutchins.

    This has to be the shortest open forum since OTB started having open forums.

  13. CSK says:

    At a right-wing loon convention in Idaho today, an unidentified man asked Charlie Kirk: “When do we get to use our guns?”

  14. Jax says:

    @CSK: I’ve noticed decidedly less commenting on the Open Forum’s without our dear departed Teve. Didn’t realize I could miss hearing from someone I’d never met in person before, but his voice here is sorely missed. Doug, too, but we’ve kinda had some time to get used to that.

  15. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..New Mexico authorities revealed today that they removed a lead projectile–i.e. a real bullet–from Halyna Hutchins.

    “The facts are clear: a weapon was handed to Mr. Baldwin. The weapon is functional and fired a live round, killing Ms. Hutchins and injuring Mr. Souza,” Sheriff Adan Mendoza said at a joint news conference between the Sante Fe County Sheriff’s Office and district attorney’s office.
    Approximately 500 rounds of ammunition — a combination of blanks, dummy and live rounds — have been seized from the set in New Mexico, Mendoza said. He said they believe the lead projectile that was fired from the gun was recovered from Souza’s shoulder.

  16. de stijl says:

    Since this is the least popular Open Thread ever, I propose an experiment.

    Share a musical thing that moves you and explain why it appeals to you.

    Go obscure or mainstream. No judgement. Get weird. No one is watching. Your guilty pleasure. Your personal lodestone. Whatever. But you need to explain why it matters to you.

    The Best Of You by the Foo Fighters. I got the dichotomy first listen. Is some owning in a way / are you giving the best of yourself into a meaningful relationship to you? Is someone getting the best of you? Both flick through my mind. Are you being abused? Are you the abuser?

    Plus it is just a flat-out rock banger.

    Deadbeat Club by the B52s. It just reminds of care-free youth and goofing around and having fun with people who you get and they get you. Super poppy. Just being stupid and open and just being you and no one judges harshly. A time in my life when I felt truly free. I miss it.

    Great Ape’s Edge Of The Western World. It makes me ache. Melancholic joy and awe. Told from the perspective of a SF cab driver who wants more. “I choose” hits me in the gut very hard.


  17. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    Share a musical thing that moves you and explain why it appeals to you.

    Stan Rogers, the late Canadian folk singer. Song: “The Mary Ellen Carter“.

    I cannot sing this song, cannot even listen to this song, without breaking down into uncontrollable sobbing tears. So, yes, it moves me. Why? That’s a harder question.

    I think it’s the combination of the chord progressions and harmonies (which I assert without proof have power to provoke emotional reactions regardless of the lyrics) and a really personally triggering story, and Stan’s amazing voice. I invite you all to listen to it and decide whether it moves you or not.

  18. de stijl says:

    One night I came home just after closing time and by buddy C was utterly passed out in elevator. Dead to world. He was a long lanky tall dude so his legs prevented the door from closing. Tried to get him to wake up. No go.

    I called Chief who lived on 23. Man, C is passed out in the elevator. Can you help? If a normie shows up they are just going to call 911. Of course he could help – Chief is a fucking boss. The world needs more people like him.

    I just wanted to get him into his own bed. Sleep it off.

    We got to his floor. We wedged him out the elevator. His lanky damn ass was a goddamn pain to resituate him. Floppy motherfucker.

    C was a good dude and also a very bad dude. He was smart and funny and insightful and really charismatic when he was semi-sober. He was also on a Bukowski / Leaving Las Vegas drink myself to death downward spiral. I’ve been to rehab x times and it never took with me so fuck it I am going to drink myself to death and have as much fun as I can on the way out. Semi-sober C was really cool. Drunk C was a fucking asshole who pushed boundaries hard. I’m not gay. We are never going to hook up, dude. Please stop.

    Then he would be contrite and charm his way out of it. Try to, anyway. He was clearly a charming and charismatic person. He was my practice dummy on how to set boundaries successfully. Thanks for the practice, lad.

    His idiot lanky ass was still passed out on the floor. We shuffled him to his door and it dawned on me we needed a key to get inside. Thankfully his keys were in his front right pocket.

    We got him into his own bed. Chief is a goddamn rockstar dude helping me out.

    Leave Me Alone by Joy Division / New Order comes to mind. Self loathing and a desire for oblivion. Sometimes I am next door to that.

    When I moved out C was still in that downward spiral. Maybe he got better after. I don’t know what happened after. Not my business. Ambiguity is okay.

  19. de stijl says:


    Have you heard Thousands Are Sailing by The Pogues? Very similar sound and vibe. Plus Shane. Celtic punk.

    Highly recommended.

  20. de stijl says:

    Damaged Goods by Gang Of Four.

    One night I was dancing to this at a party and realized I was too angry too often. I was semi-drunk and was super peaking on psilocybin.

    What good does anger do me? Why not let it go?

    I had a cathartic experience in a shitty basement dancing to Damaged Goods surrounded by people I knew and trusted and was very very high on shrooms and decided I was too angry too often and I needed to let go.

    I let go and I danced.

  21. de stijl says:

    One Sunday afternoon I glanced over at my gf / friend plus and realized we needed to break up now.

    She was super into me and I liked her quite fondly. There was a mismatch in the level of attraction and thinking about a possible romantic match my brain was not really all that excited about the prospect. I was kinda meh.

    By appearances she was pretty hard into me. I liked her a bit.

    I needed to end this now. I know I suck at this confrontational stuff but you absolutely need to do this now. You owe it to her to break up now. It will be painful. It will suck. You will have to be direct. You will cause pain. You will feel pain. You need to do it now.

    I was listening to Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants. (John + John rock.)

    I did it. It sucked. It was the right thing to do. It was extremely uncomfortable.

    I lived. She lived. We moved on. It was not as dreadful as I imagined. Being a grownup is hard but saying a true thing is the best way forward. Even when it is hard. Especially when it is hard.