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. Jim Brown 32 says:

    They finally have Hannity by the short curlies. If Democrats dont yank with the same adrenaline strength Trumpdians used to pull down barricades then you’ll know they are not fit for this moment in history.

    That guy is an irreplaceable asset. He must be utterly discredited and undermined.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: That was a gut punch you left on the open forum last night.

  3. Scott says:

    Texas National Guard increasingly becoming a political football:

    He Is Not Your Commander-in-Chief:’ Texas Governor Promises Guardsmen He’ll Fight Biden Over Vaccine Mandate

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is digging in against COVID-19 vaccinations and related mandates, telling National Guardsmen in his state they can ignore Pentagon inoculation rules and will not face any retribution for not getting coronavirus vaccines.

    “Unless President Biden federalizes the Texas National Guard in accordance with Title 10 of the U.S. Code, he is not your commander-in-chief under our federal or state Constitutions,” Abbott said in a letter for Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the adjutant general of the Texas National Guard. “And as long as I am your commander-in-chief, I will not tolerate efforts to compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine.”

    Allen West blasts Gov. Greg Abbott over suicides, pay problems among National Guardsmen at the border

    Allen West, a conservative firebrand running for governor, called for an investigation into Operation Lone Star and the resignation of the leader of the Texas Army National Guard following reports of problems with pay and working conditions during Gov. Greg Abbott’s highly touted mission to curb border crossings.

    West also cited a December report by the Army Times that detailed four suicides by soldiers tied to the mission since November.

    “This falls squarely on the shoulders of the person that ordered the commencement of Operation Lone Star and that’s you, Gov. Abbott,” West said. A spokesperson for the Texas Military Department told the Army Times that the deaths were part of an open investigation, pending final cause of death.

    On Tuesday afternoon, the Army Times reported two more incidents where soldiers tied to the mission harmed themselves. In the first incident, which happened the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, a soldier in McAllen attempted suicide but survived and is recovering.

    In the second incident, an off-duty soldier from the same unit accidentally shot himself in the head with his personal weapon early Saturday at a friend’s home. That soldier’s death is being investigated as an alcohol-related incident, according to the Army Times.

    Then Beto O’Roarke weighed in:

    Beto O’Rourke, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, also criticized the conditions for soldiers under Operation Lone Star.

    “Gov. Abbott is the commander-in-chief of the Texas National Guard. If he chooses to deploy those under his command, it is his duty to pay them, deliver the benefits he promised them, and ensure they receive proper mental health support in order to prevent the kind of tragedy we’ve seen in recent months,” O’Rourke said in a statement. “And if he can’t justify their deployment, he owes it to them and their families to send them home.”

    Maybe Biden should just federalize them and really set things off.

  4. CSK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    Hannity’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, is, I believe, also Trump’s lawyer–the only one who hasn’t quit or been fired by Trump.

  5. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I had to stop checking in on the Herman Cain Awards as often. The predictable futility of it….memes comparing the vax mandate to Nazi’s, losing freedumbs, the positive Covid test, the first post about how Covid ain’t no joke, the eventual takeover of updates by a family member (who 9 out of 10 times is pissed at the hospital for not giving their loved one Ivermectin), the Gofundme, then the death announcement and the family wondering how they’re going to live without them. It’s depressing as hell. Misinformation has killed so many. 😐

    I honestly don’t know how our healthcare workers can continue working in those kinds of conditions. Hat tip to all of our people here at OTB who work in healthcare, you are stronger than I. I wouldn’t have made it past the first wave without the constant death burning me out.

  6. grumpy realist says:

    @Jax: I wonder if we’re ever going to see hospitals at some point say they’re not going to treat the unvaccinated any more.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    As suspected, Kelly Ernby was not vaccinated.

    I have no sympathy for her. Sympathy for her husband, who supposedly tried to convince her to get vaccinated, but no sympathy for an idiot who didn’t take the simplest of precautions to protect herself against COVID-19. IDIOT!!!

  8. Jen says:

    Dogs are such wonderful creatures.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    There is a lot of rumors and talk about Apple releasing a mixed reality headset by the end of the year. (Mixed reality means it can be used for both augmented reality – where information and graphics are overlaid across the world around you, and virtual reality – where you are completely immersed in a computer rendered world and can’t see anything else.) There are a fair number of products out there that do either one of these from all kinds of companies, and have been for a while. So setting Apple aside, what is the “killer app” for either VR or AR? I’ve been following this since 1991 and in 30 years no such app has emerged. What is the thing that is going to change that?

    A lot of people thought it was gaming, but to do either AR or VR games you need to clear out space, set up a safe area, don the headset, etc. It’s turned into a niche. I don’t game myself but know plenty who do and, aside form an initial curiosity when the orignal Oculus Rift was released, I haven’t heard much talk about VR or AR gaming in their everyday conversation. On the AR front, Pokemon Go is a huge success, a phenomenon, but everyone seems very content to just do it on their phone. I haven’t heard anyone talking about using it with the AR glasses that are available.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Via commentor Germy over at Balloon Juice comes these gems:


    All labor is skilled labor @NYCMayor

    Check out all 12 short videos, some have sound, some have been put to music. All are amazing.

  11. CSK says:

    I read this story yesterday, and I couldn’t agree more. Dogs are wonderful.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    @Jax: The piece you posted last night was heartrending. This is exactly why I’m so furious about the unvaccinated. Because of their decisions, they are putting our health care people through this, over and over and over and over again. I’m not surprised that doctors and nurses are retiring in droves. They’re burnt out. They’ve been taken for granted. They’re expected to provide miracles of recovery to people who don’t have the maturity or the sense of responsibility to carry out one of the simplest levels of self-care: to get yourself vaccinated during a pandemic.

  13. Scott says:

    @grumpy realist: And no one wants to talk about the financial cost or who is paying for their negligence. All want their freedom, to assume the risk, but not pay the consequences.

  14. Mimai says:


    Over the past few years, there have been advances in transcranial stimulation + VR.

    Still work to be done on linking this to all manner of kinesthetic input/output, but we’re getting better all the time.

    Now add a social component to that. Connect it all at the intra- and inter-personal level. And I think that changes the ballgame.

    Also, it’s like a tool/toy box. You don’t have to play with all the things all the time. Depending on mood, context, etc you can pull out whatever hardware you (and your partners) want at the moment. Link them up and off you go.

    Not sure if this is a “killer app” but it’s something that gets us closer to a virtual reality. Which is not to say that I’m an advocate for that.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: Well, freedom isn’t free, doncha know. Somebody’s got to pay for it and as long as it isn’t them…

  16. CSK says:

    Last night the Mayo Clinic fired 700 of its workers for vaccine non-compliance. That’s a little less than one percent of their employees. Still…can we afford to lose any?

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: In the same vein: ‘A real miracle’: dog saves injured hiker stranded in Croatian mountains

    A dog saved a hiker injured in the Croatian mountains by lying on top of him for 13 hours until they were rescued, according to local media.

    The dog, called North, kept Grga Brkic warm after he fell while out hiking and was unable to move. The other two hikers with him were unable to reach them, so they raised the alarm. First responders credited the eight-month-old Alaskan Malamute with having helped keep Brkic safe. The incident happened when the group went for a weekend hike in the Velebit mountain range along the country’s Adriatic coastline.

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: Oh, the technology is cool and all that, but there is a question I always asked the medical device startups I was advising: “What specific thing will the doctor or patient be doing or not doing after they get your device, other than using your device?” If they couldn’t express it in concrete terms they didn’t have a product concept yet, only an idea about technology and therefore not ready for product development. And if they did have a concrete answer, my follow up would be, “Is that worth the cost in money/inconvenience/time?”* So in the case of AR/VR via headset I see certain very specific but limited uses, but nothing that would justify Apple investing billions of dollars (and its reputation) in.

    *You might be surprised at how often a product fails these questions. I’m thinking of a specific device that dozens of people had worked thousands of hours on in a research university setting. It diagnosed a potential condition significantly better than a visual examination. But then I asked if it was as good as or better than the standard for diagnosis, a lab test. It turned out that visual exam was about 50% and the device was around 80-85%, but the lab test was 99%. So – would using this device make a physician more or less likely to write a scrip for a lab test than a visual exam (the concrete action)? And the answer was no. If the physician had any visual indication sufficient to pull out the device, they would have ordered the lab test. It wasn’t a wait-and-see kind of condition. And no physician would be comfortable forgoing the lab test with only an 80% likelihood and so would order it anyway.

  19. MarkedMan says:

    @CSK: These are people that are potential disease vectors who, even if not on the front lines are going to be eating in the same cafeteria, passing in the halls, sharing restrooms as the rest of the staff. So – can we afford to keep them?

  20. Mu Yixiao says:


    The dog, called North, kept Grga Brkic warm after he fell while out hiking and was unable to move.

    And apparently, the dog survived by eating the hikers vowels. 😀

  21. CSK says:

    No. Rock and a hard place.
    @Mu Yixiao:
    That’s funny. 😀

  22. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: I had to deal with a complicated piece of equipment from Germany which was really only at the beta-level prototype stage. One of those wonderful devices that did really cool measurements but took ages to get calibrated….and we had to recalibrate for each sample. We kept grumping at the company engineers that they would never be able to really crack the possible market until they figured out how to do a “plug-n-play” version. Requiring a lot of calibration time was ok when dealing with a university and a passel of grad students, since (grad students) == (cheap labour), but no company worth its salt was going to tie up an expensive engineer for the hours the calibration demanded.

    They never did listen to us.

  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: That got a nice long chuckle out of me.

  24. Mimai says:


    You seemed to have shifted the discussion from “what is the killer app” (specifically for gaming) to “what are the clinical uses of VR/AR”. An observation, not a critique. Also, I like the shift, as I am not a gamer but I do live/work in the clinical science arena, and some of this involves the very technology under discussion.

    “What specific thing will the doctor or patient be doing or not doing after they get your device, other than using your device?”

    Yes, this is an essential question. I’ve asked and been asked this question many times, though not as a developer per se.

    “Is that worth the cost in money/inconvenience/time?”

    Also an essential question. In my experience, what often goes unaddressed in these discussions is the money/inconvenience/time of the status quo. Your lab test example is a good one. All things equal, of course the physician would choose the assay that is most sensitive/specific.

    But all things are not equal. What if the new device could be used right then and there? The lab test requires another appointment, often several days/weeks in the future. And also perhaps a blood draw among other things.

    These additional frictions are very real, if unseen in the moment. So now we have a much more complicated decision calculus than sensitivity/specificity.

    I say all of this not to advocate for the new VR/AR/$%&* device, but rather to advocate for a full(er/ish) account of the context.

    So in the case of AR/VR via headset I see certain very specific but limited uses, but nothing that would justify Apple investing billions of dollars (and its reputation) in.

    I have a different perspective. I put an enormous amount of weight on the perspective of people who have skin in the game. Especially when this involves money and reputation. Clearly, they see something to justify this. Of course they could be wrong. But…

  25. Kathy says:

    I’ve been thinking about the next pandemic, and I think we’ll fare as badly as we’re doing now.

    First, we need a coordinated global response. In the US you can’t even get a national response, sometimes not even a state response. Get the whole world on the same page? Ha!

    Second, we know people will not only resist prevention and mitigation measures, but that will violently resist them.

    And that’s too bad, because other things have become rather clear. For example, lockdown, while effective, is too hard to take and it disrupts society too much. It would be better to begin with masks (yeah, I know), capacity restrictions, and social distancing. Maybe close down theaters, bars, churches and temples, and indoor restaurants. For work and schools, IMO a mix of remote and in person working/learning would work better. Lockdowns could be used as circuit-breakers if cases rise too high.

    The essential thing is that everyone masks up, preferably with KN-95/KF-94/N-95, but with pleated masks at least. And we know how that will go if it happens five or ten years from now.

    If the pathogen turns out to be less contagious, restrictions can be eased. Ditto if it turns out to be less virulent. It’s easier to ease restrictions than to increase them.

    So, we’re doomed to repeat the past two years.

  26. gVOR08 says:


    These are people that are potential disease vectors who, even if not on the front lines are going to be eating in the same cafeteria, passing in the halls, sharing restrooms as the rest of the staff. So – can we afford to keep them?

    That. A thousand times that. If not terminated, the 1% who won’t vax could infect a much larger number of even vaccinated staff, and patients. Isn’t there something about “do no harm”? Remember the Theodore Roosevelt!

  27. MarkedMan says:

    @Mimai: Thanks for that thoughtful answer.

    You seemed to have shifted the discussion from “what is the killer app” (specifically for gaming) to “what are the clinical uses of VR/AR”.

    That was unintentional, just due to my example being a medical device. The question remains, “what does this device cause someone to do or not do, aside from using your device?”

    But all things are not equal. What if the new device could be used right then and there?

    Agreed. In my example the key was the inventors could not come up with a sufficient rationale. Use of the device would not significantly change what they did next. It would have had to be significantly more accurate.

    I put an enormous amount of weight on the perspective of people who have skin in the game.

    So do I, which is why I am curious about what they are seeing that I am not. I don’t take it as a given though. There are a lot of examples of even really smart people getting over enthusiastic about a technology without giving enough weight to the drawbacks, and investing billions in a flop. The Segway comes to mind.

  28. Kathy says:

    On lighter, more pleasant topics, I’m set to make bean soup this weekend (maybe bean stew would be a better term). It will have beans, lentils, barley, celery, bell pepper, onions, garlic, turkey bacon, sausages, serrano chiles, and pasta.

    While a soup, it’s more like an entree. So I’ll make plain chilaquiles on the side.

  29. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I love my Oculus Quest 2. For me it’s the workout games like VR Fit and especially Beatsaber that drive my usage. I hate going to the gym (time required, public embarrassment at my general lack of fitness) so I rarely would and thus wasted the money. Throwing the Quest 2 on for 30-60 minutes a day has made a huge difference to me.

    I have played some other games (most Star Wars related, and Fruit Ninja) on the device, but really its the way I can get out of my chair and get decent exercise doing relatively fun stuff in my own home that makes it worth it. Won’t even take a year of not paying gym memberships to make the ROI better as well.

    As to whether Apple has identified a killer app to make the VR/AR thing worth the investment…I don’t know. Augmented Reality is one of those things that always seems 5 years away. And will be until they get the form factor down to a pair of non-dorky giant glasses.

  30. Mu Yixiao says:

    New Year’s Day was my 24th annual Chili Feast.

    Here’s some of what y’all missed.

    The spread.

    Meats and dipping sauces.

    Add to that 4 gallons of Milwaukee-style chili, wine, beer, and sodas.

    Unfortunately, bad weather (at one funeral) kept a lot of people at home. But… still a good time was had by all who attended.

  31. Mu Yixiao says:

    My small triumph:

    I believed I mentioned before that my lodger is* not vaccinated. He’s not opposed to it, he just “never got around to it” even though he knows it’s the right thing to do.

    I pointed out that if he gets sick–even if it’s just a mild case–I’m out of work for 2 weeks for quarantine. Then I made him an offer: Show me a full vax card, and I’ll knock a significant amount off that month’s rent (I can afford it).

    He got his first jab yesterday.

    Small victory, but still a victory.

    *Now past-tense.

  32. MarkedMan says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    As to whether Apple has identified a killer app to make the VR/AR thing worth the investment

    This is the crux of it. When Apple has succeeded it’s not because they invented new technology, it’s been because they recognized that a) the technology was ready but the user interface was inadequate or poorly designed, and b) that there was a real need that would cause people to use their version of the technology day in and day out. And they have been adamant about not releasing a product until the average non-hobbyist user could just pick it up and accomplish things with it (things other than just using the device because of the cool factor). The iPad is perhaps the best example of that – it was literally 20 years in the lab before you could buy one.

  33. MarkedMan says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Amazing

  34. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kathy: Have you thought about adding Kale? I’m not a huge fan normally, but it’s a nice addition to bean and sausage soup.

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: I guess my invite got lost in the mail. “Damn you Louis DeJoy!”

    @Mu Yixiao: Well done.

  36. CSK says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    Chopped spinach is great in this soup if you don’t like kale.

  37. JohnSF says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    Bravo, sir, bravo!
    *chef’s kiss*

  38. Mister Bluster says:

    @Mike in Arlington:..Have you thought about adding Kale?

    I’m a huge fan of J.J. Cale.

  39. Mu Yixiao says:


    I guess my invite got lost in the mail. “Damn you Louis DeJoy!”

    Hey. I did post an invite to everyone in the forums.

    Mark the date for next year. 25th annual Chili Feast.

  40. steve says:

    “Last night the Mayo Clinic fired 700 of its workers for vaccine non-compliance. That’s a little less than one percent of their employees. Still…can we afford to lose any?”

    At most places it has been the non-clinical people who were more likely to not vaccinate. May not be such a big loss. I would guess that the losses from burnout and dealing with hostile pts has been worse.


  41. CSK says:

    Yes; that’s what I was thinking. It’s good to have confirmation from a source such as you.

  42. MarkedMan says:

    @steve: And, speaking as someone in management, having a sprinkling of anti vaxers mixed in with everyone else causes a lot of tension and complaints to ER. You know, yet more idiotic BS a company has to deal with instead of manufacturing and shipping products.

  43. EddieInCA says:

    @Just Another Ex-Republican:

    My wife and I LOVE our Oculus Quest. Freaking love it. My wife plays it at least twice a day for an hour at least each time:

    Star Wars Pinball
    I Expect You To Die
    I Expect You To Die 2
    Beat Saber

    I use it less than she does because I actually like going to the gym, plus I have a great gym at Warner Bros, but I enjoy the Meditation Apps, and, especially the Escape Rooms.

  44. Kathy says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    I’m not really sure what that is.

  45. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kathy: Kale is a green, leafy vegetable related to cabbage. Given I only know what spanish Google tells me, but it might be called “la col rizada” in spanish. Raw, I find it bland, fibrous and bitter. But cooked, it can taste good (depending on the person), at least a bit less bitter.

  46. Kathy says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    I thought it was some sort of overpriced lettuce.

    I like cabbage, and use it in many recipes (it’s really hard to make cabbage soup without it). It doesn’t sound like something I’d add to bean soup.

  47. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Kathy: I think it’s more common in Italian recipes for white bean soup (although I’ve also seen spinach).

  48. CSK says:

    Raw kale and beet salads have become very trendy in the U.S. Raw kale is awful. It’s like eating razor blades.

  49. Kathy says:


    Hm. I don’t dislike beets, but I’ve never used them in my cooking. They look like too much work to prep for anything.

  50. Jay L Gischer says:

    For what its worth, my wife’s brain tumor was removed surgically using basically AR (augmented reality). This is because tumorous brain tissue doesn’t look any different than healthy tissue. So they did the MRI with markers on her head to map the tumor, and then the surgeon had a live setup (but it wasn’t a headset, just a monitor with multiple angles), to see when his probe was in the cancerous tissue. When it was, he pulled the trigger and ZAP, killed some tissue.

    Yeah, an AR headset would help with this a lot, I would think.

    And by the way, she’s doing well 7 years later. We were very lucky to spot it pretty early, and it was in an easy place to operate on.

  51. Kathy says:

    About the recent comments of asking every republican who won the 2020 Presidential Election, Huff Post asked 147 of them (those who objected to certifying the votes in some states).

    It seems they Know-Nothing.

  52. Jen says:

    Properly prepared, kale is delicious. Even raw, but then I like it in salads that have been allowed to set for a while–it’s one of the few greens that can benefit from being dressed ahead of time. I’ll concur that it’s wonderful bean and sausage soup. I also like beets, but am not a fan of the prep work that goes into them. I try to only buy them when I know I’ll have a full day of cooking ahead of me to get all kinds of things prepped for the week ahead.

  53. MarkedMan says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Glad to hear your wife is well. FWIW, this is the type of thing I meant when I said there are specific and small markets where AR is valuable. I believe it is also used for some training on servicing jets, and in the military for much the same.

  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:


    I thought it was some sort of overpriced lettuce.

    You might be closer than you realized. In my little corner of the world a bunch of kale usually costs 2 or 3 times what a head of leaf lettuce might and several times what iceberg would go for.

    While I don’t particularly like kale (but mostly don’t eat it because it can really drastically change how Warfarin works–or more accurately doesn’t–almost as much as spinach) I’ve had bean soup with kale in it, and the kale added significantly to the overall effect.

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Kale chips (baked with a spritz of olive oil and seasonings) is pretty damned addictive.

  56. EddieInCA says:

    Covid Update:

    My show has tested 134 people.

    56 have tested positive.

    56 out of 134. 9 of our unvaxxed peeps are in the hospital. One is on a ventilator. Not expected to make it. Unvaxxed.

    NCIS is shutting down for a month due to over 80 positives.

  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: That sounds like Gamma Knife surgery, which my little Sis had on her brain tumor recently. Her first surgery 30 years ago was the old fashioned drill, scalpel, and scoop method, after which the surgeon said, “I stopped because I felt like I was leaving to much of a void in her brain.”

    GK was much less invasive. FTR, she is doing well too.

  58. JohnSF says:

    In France, President Macron states (in translation):

    Those who refuse vaccination will find that it costs them, they will face restrictions…

    Am I going to force people to get vaccinated? Imprison them and then vaccinate them?…
    We won’t do that. Fine them? If poor people are unvaccinated, am I going to fine them 1,000 euros, 2,000 euros? (No. implied)…

    In a democracy, the worst enemy are lies and stupidity.
    We will put pressure on the unvaccinated by limiting their access to social activities as much as possible. In fact, almost all people, more than 90%, have adhered to it. It is a very small minority that is resistant. How do we reduce this minority?
    We reduce them, I’m sorry to say, by annoying them even more. I’m not in favor of annoying the French. I complain about the extant administration when it blocks them.
    But, now, the unvaccinated?
    I really want to piss them off.

    And so, we’re going to continue to do it, until the end. That’s the strategy.
    I’m not going to put them in jail, I’m not going to vaccinate them by force.
    And so, we have to tell them: as of January 15, you can no longer go to the restaurant, you can no longer have a drink, you can no longer go for a coffee, you can no longer go to the theater, you can no longer go to the movies…

    When ones liberty threatens that of others, one becomes irresponsible. An irresponsible person is no longer a citizen.

    There has been a lot of criticism of Macron from the right on this.
    But as Hugh Schofield points out, it is a useful, and considered, position against the Right.
    The Republicans are forced to choose: bash Macron and alienate the vast majority of French who are vaccinated and irritated with the unvaccinated and the anti-vaxxers.
    Or Pecresse can hold fire, but at the cost of the more “enthusiastic” right activist types aligning with Le Pen, and perhaps benefiting Le Pen in the first round of the Presidential election in April

    Macron would IMO rather face Le Pen and crush her in the second round, than face Pecresse, who might be somewhat more of a challenge.
    Pretty certainly still win vs Pecresse, but the bigger the victory the more the perception of authority, perhaps.
    And possibly more “coat-tails” in the June National Assembly election.

    (Paging HarvardLaw92 for his likely more informed opinion)

  59. gVOR08 says:

    Kevin Drum notes, with pie chart, that 98% of the military is vaxxed. I assume that’s one shot, but it’s still pretty damn good, and evidence for what can be done with mandates.

    Governor Abbott, whatever the name of the guy in OK, Judge O’Connor, and other idiots have done their damnedest to interfere, but Biden and DOD have done good.

  60. Michael Reynolds says:

    This is potentially very interesting:

    MOSCOW — In an unprecedented challenge to Kazakhstan’s authoritarian regime, protesters angry over rising fuel prices Wednesday stormed the country’s main airport, seized several government buildings — setting some ablaze — and demanded that the “father of the nation” step aside.

    President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, referring to protesters as “terrorists,” appealed for military support to Russia and several other former Soviet states in putting down the unrest as part of a defense alliance. It was unclear whether Moscow will deploy troops to Kazakhstan, but Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, wrote on Facebook that the alliance would send peacekeepers. He did not give a timetable or further details.

    The demonstrations — very rare for the Central Asian country of about 19 million people — are considered the greatest outpouring against Nursultan Nazarbayev’s three-decade rule since the fall of the Soviet Union. The 81-year-old former president stepped down in 2019 but has continued to hold major sway behind the scenes under the official “father of the nation” title.

    How’s that invasion of Ukraine looking, Vlad?

  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Ron DeSantis, does not sound well. Looks to me like he is having breathing problems. I’m not leaping to any conclusions but something ain’t quite right here.

  62. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Unfortunately, doubt it will in itself knock over Putin’s plans.

    Unless the Kazakh military turn on the government, it won’t need the heavy metal boys to put this down.
    Conscripts, security police, and contributions from the other CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization the alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) should serve.
    And China will be onside, given their interests in the Kazakhstan pipelines connections.

    Different ballgame to facing the Ukrainians, who are a serious military force (their main weakness being lack of air power and SAM systems)

  63. Kathy says:


    Well, COVID seems to like Republicans better.

    Oxygen, as far as I’ve been able to determine, remains apolitical.

    No word on whether Jesus is a Democrat, but their policies would seem to align more with his teachings.

  64. JohnSF says:

    Update on Kazakhstan:

    Russia puts regiment at Orenburg (Russian oblast bordering Kazakhstan) on combat alert for deployment.

    CSTO peacekeeping forces will be able to stay in Kazakhstan until the situation stabilizes – head of the Russian State Duma committee Kalashnikov

    2 military transport Il-76 of the Russian Aerospace Forces, one from Orenburg, landed at the Chkalovsky airfield near Moscow for loading.

    Looks like it’s on.

  65. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Your Cowlitz County (WA) Covid-19 substitute teaching report: In the past half hour, I’ve received two requests for teaching assignments lasting 7 days; both originating from the same middle school. Yesterday, I received two requests for 3-day assignments on my phone and declined 2 or 3 more from the district website to preempt phone calls. The total group represents 5 or maybe 6 total schools–one high school, 2 middle schools and 3 or more elementaries.

    Over the years that I taught–say 25 or so–and where I mostly worked as an adjunct college instructor, and so frequently substitute taught to supplement my income, I would estimate that I received fewer than 5 or 6 requests (total) for jobs lasting more than 2 days.

    On the vaccination report I just looked up, Cowlitz county reports ~59,000 out of 110,000 total population completely vaccinated and total of ~167,000 total shots administered. Making roughly every other person in the county a person who has had either zero or one shot. (A fact which I frequently remind my students of–especially when I see them wearing masks that cover 50% or fewer of the places air goes in and out of their lungs from.)

    This concludes this report. Draw whatever conclusions you wish. I’ve heard them all already from my fellow county citizens.

  66. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: Yikes! We’re just warming up here by comparison. 🙁

  67. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Yeah, he certainly seems to be struggling, all right. I wonder what that cough in the middle was about? [pensive emoji]

  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I forgot another substitute job that I turned down today–8 consecutive days, but carefully broken down into individual one-day jobs.

  69. MarkedMan says:

    @EddieInCA: Sorry to hear about the difficulties. We have about 10-15% under quarantine and that’s bad enough. I can’t imagine what you are having to do to keep it going.

    One question: I thought you had a mandatory vax policy, but you mention your unvaccinated people?

  70. Erik says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Note: this is a bit of a pedantic response, so feel free to skip it, but given the audience here I thought some might be interested

    Gamma knife actually doesn’t involve an incision. It is basically dozens of crossing radiation beams that are too low intensity to significantly damage tissue on their own, but where they cross are intense enough to damage the tumor. To get that precise focus requires that your head be placed in a frame that is attached to the table so it can’t move.

    A variety of surgeries are using augmented reality now, but neurosurgery is one of the coolest. By using instruments that have markers to locate them in 3D, and registering the tip of the instrument on a known location on the patient that is also present on a scan, the instrument tip location can be projected on the scan. This allows the surgeons to ensure that they are using the instrument on the tumor and not healthy tissue without needing to either be able to visually distinguish the tumor from healthy tissue, or even open a big enough tract to the tumor that they can clearly see it. They can minimally disrupt the healthy tissue when dissecting down to the tumor.

  71. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: I’d forgotten you were on NCIS. Are Frank and George still there?

  72. wr says:

    @Erik: ” It is basically dozens of crossing radiation beams that are too low intensity to significantly damage tissue on their own, but where they cross are intense enough to damage the tumor.”

    No wonder Dan Akroyd kept saying not to cross the beams!