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. BugManDan says:
  2. Jen says:

    Remember that job posting for a chemistry PhD to teach at UCLA for free? The NYT has a piece about that up today:

    Help Wanted: Adjunct Professor, Must Have Doctorate. Salary: $0.

    After protests, U.C.L.A. took down a job posting that offered no pay. But it turns out colleges often expect Ph.D.s to work for free.

    …In the California system, the trend seemed to have begun with the financial crisis of 2008, Dr. McIver said. By 2010, she said, “We became aware of people who had been laid off and who were teaching for free in the hopes, without any commitment from the university, that if the work came back they would be hired back to teach for pay.”

    I had wondered if state budgets had a hand in this. Looks like that’s a yes.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jen: In other slave labor, I mean indentured servitude news:

    Amazon reportedly discussed plans to block the word “union” and other related keywords from an internal messaging app the company is developing for workers, according to company documents seen by the Intercept.

    The list of banned words includes “union”, “fire”, “compensation”, “plantation”, “slave labor”, “diversity”, “robots”, “grievance” and “injustice”, among others, the Intercept reported. The news came days after Amazon workers in New York made history by voting to form a union, the first successful US organizing effort in the company’s history.

    It’s all in the interests of “increasing happiness among workers in order to reduce attrition” by making it possible for “workers to praise their colleagues’ performance.”

    Amazon now says,

    “Our teams are always thinking about new ways to help employees engage with each other. This particular program has not been approved yet and may change significantly or even never launch at all,”

  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A key member of Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party has quit the Israeli coalition government after a row about unleavened bread during Passover, in a surprise move that leaves the prime minister without a parliamentary majority. Idit Silman’s announcement left Bennett’s coalition, an alliance of parties ranging from the Jewish right and Israeli doves to an Arab Muslim party, with 60 seats – the same as the opposition.

    “I tried the path of unity. I worked a lot for this coalition,” Silman, a religious conservative who served as coalition chairperson, said in a statement. “Sadly, I cannot take part in harming the Jewish identity of Israel.”

    On Monday, Silman lashed out at the health minister, Nitzan Horowitz, after he instructed hospitals to allow leavened bread products into their facilities during the upcoming Passover holiday, in line with a recent supreme court ruling reversing years of prohibition. Jewish tradition bars unleavened bread from the public domain during Passover.

    The overly religious are a plague upon the planet.

  5. CSK says:

    Damn, I can’t get access to the article.

    We had speculated that outside grants might be funding these people. I gather that’s not the case?

  6. Jen says:

    @CSK: It’s not directly mentioned, but likely part of the case. Here’s the fig leaf the uni is attempting to use:

    The union won a settlement with the administration in 2016 requiring compensation for lecturers, who are mostly part-time and make up a majority of contingent faculty, Dr. McIver said. But while lecturers are now unionized, adjuncts are not, allowing the university to have adjunct positions known as “zero percent appointments,” meaning that they are unpaid.

    A spokesman for U.C.L.A., Steve Ritea, said that before the settlement, the people who taught for free were often full-time professionals with other income. He said he could not comment on the number of zero percent appointments without seeing the documents the union was relying on. But he said that a typical example of a zero percent adjunct is a tenured professor at another institution who has a formal affiliation with U.C.L.A. that might include mentoring students or serving on committees. Or someone who has moved to another university but wants to finish out a grant or a project.

    The job posting “regrettably contained errors and a lack of context,” he said, adding, “We always offer compensation for classroom teaching.”


    Even if someone takes a zero percent position willingly, the union sees it as a disincentive for the university to create more secure positions.

    “From my perspective it doesn’t matter whether someone had another job or another position, or is a retired professor who wanted to come back and teach, or a refugee scholar who needed a position, or a postdoc doing research who wanted or needed to teach,” Dr. McIver said, rattling off possible justifications. “Ultimately, all of that doesn’t matter because anyone who teaches at a university or any school, let alone the University of California, should be paid for their labor.”

    The piece then goes on to profile a Wash U grad who did one of these unpaid stints:

    She was told that the job was unpaid because it was a professional development opportunity. She says the experience was valuable. “I did get a lot out of it on my C.V., but also personally, as something that I wanted to help make better about the program,” she said.

    Then last semester, in her third year of teaching the section, she found out by accident that graduate students in other departments were being paid $1,000 for the same work.

    “That was for me a bright line,” she said. “It just seemed sort of straightforwardly unfair once I figured that out.”

    She wonders if she was lulled into working for free by the culture of academia, which drills into everyone that they are lucky to be there. “It is a privilege,” she said.

    A spokeswoman for Washington University, Joni Westerhouse, said graduate students in Ms. Loza’s department were required to have one “mentored teaching experience,” for which they were paid through their stipend. She said they were not considered contingent faculty.

    Ms. Loza said she continued to teach beyond the requirement, and was not compensated for it, while others were.

    The irony of what comes next is something to behold:

    […] Twitter posts reacting to the U.C.L.A. job posting included one from Caitlin DeAngelis, a historian. In 2018, while being paid to work as a research associate on a project about the historical connections between Harvard and slavery, she said that she voluntarily taught a course, called “Harvard and Slavery,” normally taught by a tenured professor. She did so because she cared so deeply about the subject.

    “The course was an extra responsibility added on (as a lectureship in the history department) that did not come with additional pay,” she said in a text message.

    On Twitter, she expressed some regrets about agreeing to teach without salary. “In retrospect,” she wrote, “I shouldn’t have done it for $0.00, but I wanted to get the info out to students.”

  7. wr says:

    @Jen: The university where I used to teach — my position eliminated because they wanted to hire cheaper adjuncts — now has their own version of this. They hire adjuncts to teach classes, and then they simply never get around to paying them. And since they’ve cleverly reduced the HR department for the entire campus down to one person, they simply claim the paperwork hasn’t gone through yet.

  8. CSK says:

    Thank you.

    I recall reading somewhere that back in the late 19th and early 20th century college professors were paid so inadequately that teaching on the university level was generally reserved for those who had a lot of family money behind them. We may be regressing to those days.

  9. CSK says:

    Well, I suppose not paying part-timers at all was the logical progression from hiring underpaid adjuncts.

  10. CSK says:

    The Atlantic, the magazine that Donald Trump claimed was “failing,” has won an ASME award for General Excellence.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:


    “In retrospect,” she wrote, “I shouldn’t have done it for $0.00, but I wanted to get the info out to students.”


  12. CSK says:

    I was too young to be a fan in his heyday, but Bobby Rydell has died.

  13. Kathy says:


    It seemed preposterous when I read them, but we’re on the way to corporate states as in Heinlein’s “Friday,” or Pohl’s “The Space Merchants.”

    I don’t care if I sound like a Marxian Socialist, it’s time to tax the hell out of capital accumulation.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:
  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Say hello to the $6 million boy:

    Given the day’s importance and the many long months he and his family had dreamed of it, Jorge would probably have preferred a special guest appearance by Tony Stark, Dr Bruce Banner or Marshall the fire pup from Paw Patrol. Or, better still, all three.

    But in the end he had to make do with a surprise visit from Pedro Sánchez. At 12.45pm on Tuesday, surrounded by friends and teachers – and Spain’s prime minister – Jorge fulfilled the biggest ambition of his 12 years by standing up, walking over to his classmates, and playing with them.

    To do so, Jorge, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was placed into the state-of-the-art exoskeleton that has changed his life over the past two years, and which could offer millions of children a previously unthinkable degree of movement.

    Jorge’s mother, Eva Muñoz-Torrero, said she would never forget the first time he put on the exoskeleton: “He said, ‘You can keep the wheelchair. I’m having this now and I’m taking it home’.” Ever since then, he had begged to be able to take the equipment out of the therapy room he visits twice a week and into his school just outside Madrid.

    On his 12th birthday, Jorge got his wish. As he walked into the room where his friends were waiting, he was met with cheers, applause, and the tears that glossed the eyes of a stocky, bullet-headed member of the prime minister’s security detail.

  16. OzarkHillbilly says:

    A decade’s worth of telescope observations of the sun have revealed a startling mystery: Gamma rays, the highest frequency waves of light, radiate from our nearest star seven times more abundantly than expected. Stranger still, despite this extreme excess of gamma rays overall, a narrow bandwidth of frequencies is curiously absent.

    The surplus light, the gap in the spectrum, and other surprises about the solar gamma-ray signal potentially point to unknown features of the sun’s magnetic field, or more exotic physics.

    “It’s amazing that we were so spectacularly wrong about something we should understand really well: the sun,” said Brian Fields, a particle astrophysicist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

    The unexpected signal has emerged in data from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, a NASA observatory that scans the sky from its outpost in low-Earth orbit. As more Fermi data have accrued, revealing the spectrum of gamma rays coming from the sun in ever-greater detail, the puzzles have only proliferated.

    “We just kept finding surprising things,” said Annika Peter of Ohio State University, a co-author of a recent white paper summarizing several years of findings about the solar gamma-ray signal. “It’s definitely the most surprising thing I’ve ever worked on.”

    Not only is the gamma-ray signal far stronger than a decades-old theory predicts; it also extends to much higher frequencies than predicted, and it inexplicably varies across the face of the sun and throughout the 11-year solar cycle. Then there’s the gap, which researchers call a “dip” — a lack of gamma rays with frequencies around 10 trillion trillion hertz. “The dip just defies all logic,” said Tim Linden, a particle astrophysicist at Ohio State who helped analyze the signal.

    Fields, who wasn’t involved in the work, said, “They’ve done a great job with the data, and the story it tells is really kind of amazing.”

  17. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..Bobby Rydell

    Go Away Little Girl
    Junior High School

  18. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Thanks. That was very nice. I always thought that was Steve Lawrence’s signature song.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I am frequently reminded of a story I read years ago. The writer was visiting an Astrophysics department who were the primary backers of some particular theory and the day before data had emerged that pretty much destroyed their theory. He thought he’d find everybody glum and depressed. Instead he described them as just short of skipping down the hallways going. “Oh boy, we got new data. Oh boy, we got new data.” It’s hard to explain to a lot of people that the success of science is due to its ability, unlike religion, to be wrong. Falsifiability is a wonderful thing. We should practice it in politics. Economics and sociology and poly sci are still “soft” sciences, but they beat hell out of nothing. But there’s always the risk the data won’t say what the rich and powerful wish it to say.

  20. MarkedMan says:


    On Monday, Silman lashed out at the health minister, Nitzan Horowitz, after he instructed hospitals to allow leavened bread products into their facilities during the upcoming Passover holida

    A perfect example for why governments formed with minority parties can be disastrous. To this teligious extremist Israel has so few problems that it’s worth pulling down the entire government because sick people (and non-orthodox at that!) are eating toast rather than crackers.

  21. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Supreme Court just ruled 5-4 siding with red states against the Clean Water Act.
    As is often the case with the so-called Shadow Docket – the activist majority didn’t even bother to give an explanation of their ruling.

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    That many gamma rays are going to cause a plague of Hulks.

  23. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @wr: Oh, that IS cute. 🙁 One thing I will note in passing is that variations in contract conditions can be resolved by various sorts of Memoranda of Understanding. Case in point, a contract I worked under prohibited reducing the hours of permanent employees–both full- and part-time. And every year, I signed a waiver of that agreement based on the goal of retaining all our personnel at a time when some would otherwise be laid off with no guarantee of rehire. The waiver noted that we were agreeing to at least one one-week furlough at no pay and to a reduction in guaranteed hours during the weeks we did work (this part was almost never an issue because we were perpetually understaffed anyway). We all always signed on because the alternative was that some guys would lose their jobs, and we were highly paid anyway so the economic impact was low.

    If an institution has people who will, for whatever reason, teach classes at zero %, it can find ways to do acquire the necessary buy in from the stakeholders if it is willing to protect the rights of said stakeholders. Sadly, each departure requires a separate buy in, but that’s called transparency. My past experience has been that administrators of all sorts prefer opacity.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’ve been mildly obsessed with Scott Ritter’s twitter account during this Ukraine war. Scott, if you aren’t aware, was a UN Weapons Inspector who made waves in the run up to the Iraq War by claiming there was no evidence Saddam was hiding weapons, and Powel’s speech to the UN was a farce.

    But he also made headlines a few years after that, getting caught soliciting undercover cops posing as 15 year old girls.

    At the start of the Ukraine War he came out as fairly confident in Russia’s ability to win (as did most, tbf), but as the war went along his analyses were increasingly of the “don’t believe your lying eyes” variety. To the point people were asking if his stint at RT was due to the Kremlin having more dirt on his sexual activities.

    Yesterday he called for genocide against Ukrainians, and today he’s suspended from twitter.

    Another propagandist bites the dust.

  25. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Eric Boehlert has died in a bicycle accident. 57 y.o.
    Media Critic at Media Matters, Salon, Rolling Stone, and Billboard.

  26. Mu Yixiao says:

    I know that many of old old codgers like to complain about “kids these days”, but I ran across something this morning that astounded me.

    In our Tech Support inbox, was an e-mail requesting help with one of our systems. It was written by a high school senior.

    It listed the site name, the installers name.
    The system (including each of the three main sections)
    The issue experienced.
    The troubleshooting that had been done.
    The obstacles to better troubleshooting (e.g., it’s a shared space so time is limited).

    And it was all done is clear concise bullet points.

    That girl is going places!

  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    She has an ability to communicate precisely and effectively in a way that eludes some people for their entire lives. Going places indeed.

  28. JohnSF says:

    Welcome to the Distributist cause!
    Represented in the UK 1942-1993(!) by the Common Wealth Party.
    My father told me he voted for them in 1944, because he thought the Labour Party were too statist.
    Caused some arguments with Mum, who was a Labour activist back then, LOL.

  29. CSK says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    A few days ago Ritter stated that forensic evidence was necessary to verify claims of carnage in Bucha, since the videos came from a source known for its “wild propagandistic claims.”

    He was quoted approvingly by Tass.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russians had something on him.

  30. Mike in Arlington says:

    @CSK: or he was just trying to grab a little of that hot, hot spotlight action again. I guess he may think he has nothing to lose at this point maybe?

    I saw that Japan is starting to rattle the cage by bringing up the islands that the USSR seized at the end of WWII. I’m surprised other countries aren’t making other, similar moves. The only thing that will change Russia’s/Putin’s current moves is if other countries started putting territorial pressure in such a way that Russia would have to defend multiple spots all at the same time.

    Yeah, I know, nukes, and Putin doesn’t seem to have much in the way of reluctance (or perceived reluctance) when it comes to using them. The only counter here is that Russia is in enough trouble as it is, nuking their way out of this would seem to be a massively bad move, but it doesn’t seem like Putin has much reluctance to making really bad decisions either.

  31. JohnSF says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    Another element is Xi may be calling him up periodically:
    “Hi Vova. How’s it goin’? That bad eh? By the way, nuclear war? Like, no, babes, OK? Now, about the new price for oil shipments we’re suggesting…”

  32. CSK says:

    @Mike in Arlington:
    Those other countries may begin to make similar moves. And the U.S. has just sanctioned Putin’s daughters.

  33. Kathy says:


    Well, there goes the funding for DNA replacement technology…

  34. Mister Bluster says:

    @CSK:..Steve Lawrence’s signature song.

    As with so many tunes Go Away Little Girl written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and first released by Bobby Vee in 1962 was covered by several artists. The Bobby Rydell version that I remember from listening to WLS almost 60 years ago is not even mentioned in the WikiP item.

    Just for fun.
    I can’t believe the woman is 80 years old.
    She’s only 6 years older than me.

  35. CSK says:

    @Mister Bluster:
    Carole King is 80????? My God.

  36. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: It’s hard to explain to a lot of people that the success of science is due to its ability, unlike religion, to be wrong.

    Amen brother, amen.

    Science is self correcting, always. Religion…. Is the unadulterated word of God and as such can never be wrong. Somehow or other they never ask themselves, who wrote down this word of god? Maybe they got it wrong? How could they, a mere human, actually comprehend the word of God? Talk about hubris…

    I’m an atheist, dyed in the wool, had the religion beaten out of me by nuns atheist. But I like to think that God’s laws are in fact written. They are the laws of nature. We will never understand them in their completeness. Every step we take that answers one question, raises 3 more. And that is the beauty of it.

    We can never really know the “mind” of god, but s/he lets us see the beauty and wonderment of it all. One little piece at a time.

    I live in a dark sky place. There are a couple of towns on the horizons that spoil it, but more often than not I can see the Milky Way and more stars than I can possibly count. It gives me great comfort that they will still be there long after I am gone.

  37. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Me: “WTF!!!! ON/OFF! WHAT’S SO F’N HARD ABOUT THAT???” Good for her.

  38. DrDaveT says:


    The university where I used to teach — my position eliminated because they wanted to hire cheaper adjuncts — now has their own version of this. They hire adjuncts to teach classes, and then they simply never get around to paying them.

    Let me guess — tuition hasn’t actually gone down as a result? In fact, it has gone up substantially?

    Thought so.

  39. wr says:

    @DrDaveT: “Let me guess — tuition hasn’t actually gone down as a result? In fact, it has gone up substantially?”

    I don’t know that they have raised tuition, but I do know they find it personally insulting that they are expected to use some of that tuition to pay for the services the students expect. They will approve big new programs — and then refuse to allocate a single dollar for the necessary equipment… or even classrooms.