Wednesday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. CSK says:

    J. D. Vance and the other 21 candidates backed by Trump in Ohio have won their primaries. Shit. Who will rid us of this turbulent jackass?

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: Time.

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Adam Winkler

    Altio’s draft opinion is policy masquerading as constitutional law. At critical points in the argument, Alito abandons legal analysis for pure policy preference. At other points, his argument relies on weak evidence. 1/thread

    The most obvious resort to policy over constitutional analysis in Alito’s opinion is where he tries to assure that overturning Roe will not impact other privacy rights, like interracial marriage. 2

    Alito says abortion is different than other privacy rights because there is a fetal life involved. But that isn’t a constitutional basis for distinguishing those other rights. It is not based on history & tradition or the nature of constitutional rights. 3

    Many rights have negative consequences on third parties, including most obviously…

    Whoa whoa whoa, wait a minute. What was that? “Fetal life”? That’s not in the Constitution. (just ftr, it’s not in the Bible either). But I guess IOKIYAR.

  4. drj says:

    So, yesterday’s discussion on Roe got me thinking about conservative judicial philosophy.

    Specifically this remark:

    Roe rested on an equally flimsy 1965 decision, Griswold v Connecticut, that invented a right of privacy out of whole cloth.

    Later amended to:

    There had not prior to 1965 been an inherent right to contraception nor prior to 1973 to abortion; they were made up, essentially out of whole cloth, by SCOTUS.

    This really suggest that rights are not seen as inherent to the person, but given (or not given) by the government. Despite the rather clear wording of the 9th Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    Basically, all the “sex” cases (Loving, Griswold, Roe, Lawrence, Obergefell) are based on privacy/due process, i.e., the government must demonstrate a compelling public interest in regulating the private lives of its citizens. Otherwise, it’s none of its business.

    In recent years, we have have come increasingly to the conclusion that the government has no business regulating sex and marriage between two consenting adults – which means that the government gets smaller and “new” rights get recognized. (Although I would argue these aren’t new at all.)

    But instead of being happy (“Yay, smaller government!”), conservatives get pissed.

    It seems that conservatives only care about small government when the government tries to regulate public rather than private matters, for instance when it comes to environmental regulation – meaning situations in which other people get fucked if there aren’t any proper rules.

    All this seems to suggest that “small government” isn’t about freedom from government interference at all. But rather about imposing consequences on others.

    In other words, conservative “small government” is about exercising power rather than about experiencing liberty.

    And that’s pretty ugly, I would say.

  5. Kylopod says:

    Where did the subscription button for being emailed new comments in a thread go? I haven’t seen it since yesterday, and I’ve used multiple computers and browsers (though one IP).

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Russia has accused Israel of supporting the “neo-Nazi regime” in Kyiv as it escalates a diplomatic row with one of the few close US allies that decided not to join in sanctions against the Kremlin or send lethal military aid to Ukraine.

    The dispute over remarks by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who said in an interview that Adolf Hitler “had Jewish blood” and that the “most rabid antisemites tend to be Jews”, has threatened to unsettle Israel’s careful position over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

    Apparently Russian foreign policy is now run be the dictum of “Who haven’t we pissed on yet?”

    On Tuesday, Russia’s foreign ministry doubled down on Lavrov’s words, accusing Lapid of making “antihistorical” remarks about the Holocaust that “largely explain the course of the current Israeli government in supporting the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.

    “Unfortunately, history knows tragic examples of Jewish cooperation with the Nazis,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

    Let’s pour some gasoline on the fire.

    Analysts said Lavrov’s inflammatory remarks, which threatened to antagonise one of the few western countries still willing to engage with Russia, were indicative of the “radicalisation” of much of the Russian government and the lack of coherency to its goals in Ukraine.

    “Diplomacy as a skill, as an art collapsed with everything else on February 24th,” said Alexander Baunov, a Russian political analyst who previously served as a diplomat. There are “no rules, no skills, no rationality … nothing is as usual. They are all disoriented in this new world, including people like Lavrov, Putin himself, they don’t know how to speak, what is allowed and what is not.

    “They are concentrated on one task which is to justify the thing they have done which is not going as is expected,” he said, referring to the invasion of Ukraine. “And they still have to justify it.”

    I think Putin has truly lost his mind and nobody is capable of doing anything about it.

  7. Kylopod says:


    I think Putin has truly lost his mind

    Or he’s just a rabid anti-Semite who like the scorpion can’t help himself.

  8. Scott says:

    @drj: I was pondering on my morning dog walk (about the only time I can quietly think), I concluded that the Democrats national theme should be built on three pillars:

    Minority Rule

    Privacy of the individual, Freedom from government intrusion, and the minority rule that prevents it.

    Privacy: Promote constitutional privacy amendment (not likely but that is irrelevant to campaigning), promote privacy of marriage (who you can marry and what goes on in the bedroom), family planning (contraception, etc), and privacy from tech giants.

    Freedom: Echo Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms for the 21st century (medical care, poverty, etc). Emphasize freedom from want encourages economic investment and risk taking.

    Minority Rule: Repeatedly point out how the minority is preventing the first two.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    John Fugelsang@JohnFugelsang

    Those poor rightwing justices. Their opinion was leaked and they had no – what’s the word? – choice. Why, it’s almost like their autonomy & right to privacy were suddenly stripped away.

  10. CSK says:

    It could well be both.

  11. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Can I just point out that Lavrov is one of the first diplomats Trump invited into the White House, joked around with, and revealed classified information to?

    I’m sure it is not related at all.

  12. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: I remember the pic.

  13. CSK says:

    That was classified information about his great friend Israel, was it not?

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    ‘Pure propaganda’: inside Starbucks’ anti-union tactics

    Enyeart, the Bucknell historian, drew a connection between the mine wars of the past and the struggles of Starbucks baristas today. “[Starbucks workers] are being intimidated and their livelihoods are being destroyed,” he said. Back then, Rockefeller knew he was never going to jail for violating labor laws that were on the books. The Starbucks people are doing the same thing. They know that, worst-case scenario, they have to pay some fines.”

    What was it Frank Wilhoit said? Oh yeah, “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition …There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.” That basically sums up this article.

    It’s pretty long and fairly disgusting, but this part always sticks in my craw:

    Corporations want you to think of the workplace as your family. For decades, American companies have often talked about their workplace in friendly terms. Workers are encouraged to trust their employer, to meld personal identity and professional occupation. Starbucks’ is part of this lineage. A press release on the company website from 2016 begins: “Colleagues at work can sometimes feel like family.”

    In all my years as a carpenter I was only faced with this corporate hypocrisy once. I told the guy, “Really? I already have a family and you aren’t in it.”

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Fred Schultz

    I can’t stop watching this…

    I can’t either.

  16. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Time works far too slowly in this instance.

  17. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’d offer to boycott Starbucks, but the last time I patronized them was the last time I flew, years ago now. And then only because I could walk up and be served while the line at the Dunkin’s 100′ up the terminal was 20 people long. Never do lines, even cocaine.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    Via LGM a history of leaks from the Supremes. There used to be a lot of it. I don’t mean to imply that leaking was good, it wasn’t. But the institution did not fall. And our centrist elites used to prefer handing off major issues to be settled by the Court rather than wrestle with them openly in the political process.

  19. JohnSF says:

    Putin’s campaign to win friends and influence people continue to gather pace in Europe:
    EU Commission President von der Leyen:

    “We now propose a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined.
    …we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year.

    We want Ukraine to win this war.

    Slava Ukraini and long live Europe.”

    Other proposals in the draft, which almost certainly has prior approval of the states.
    (Possibly excepting Hungary?)
    – Listing high-ranking officers and other persons responsible for war crimes in Bucha and Mariupol.
    – Sberbank and two others to be added to those removed from SWIFT payment system
    – Ban on Russian use of European lawyer, accountants, consultants, PR firms etc.
    – Ban on any Russian purchase of real estate.

    The details of the draft appear tightly worded.
    Not just an import ban, but also a total ban on any vessels owned, chartered, operated or otherwise controlled, by EU nationals or companies, whether or not EU flagged, transporting any Russian oil whatsoever anywhere, including between third parties.
    All related shipping services, including insurance, to be banned.

    And meanwhile, in Moldava another EU President 🙂
    Charles Michel, President of the European Council.

    “We will help Moldova strengthen its resilience and cope with the consequences of the spill-over from Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
    By providing additional military equipment to Moldova.
    And by helping to counter disinformation and withstand cyber-attacks.

    It’s our European duty to help and increase our support to your stability, security, territorial integrity, and sovereignty”

    V. Putin: “I remain the world’s greatest strategic genius! Derp.”

  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey: Yes, but in my case far too quickly.

    @Sleeping Dog: the last time I patronized them was the last time I flew

    HA! The only time I patronized them was at the Albuquerque Airport and that was because it was the only option available on that terminal. I read the menu options and had to ask, “Do you serve just regular old coffee?” The gal said yes, but after one sip I knew she lied.

  21. Scott says:

    @JohnSF: There are Russian troops in Transnistria. They must seem very vulnerable. Is there any military, diplomatic or other reason not to just roll them up at this point?

  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Just a note to let you know I have not died. . . unless I drop dead in a few minutes in which case this will be funny. Anyway, we are flying the fuck outta here today, finally, LAX to LHR, a jet-lag pause, then Nice, Istanbul, back to London, Paris, Santorini, Florence, Valencia/Barcelona, Lisbon and home at the end of June.

    I’m hoping to avoid thinking about politics. Not at all sure that’s possible, but who knows, maybe.

  23. sam says:
  24. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    I will offer to continue to boycott starbucks.

    Sometime last year I was unable to add credit to my app’s account, then unable to log in at all. The benefit was the rewards program, which got me a free latte about every month or so. Later the in-app order, so I’d just walk in the store and pick up my coffee. But without the app, none of this works.

    Since I’m reduced to paying cash, I get coffee at the supermarket. It’s about the same quality, and a little bit cheaper. I figure this balances out the “free” coffee per month.

  25. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Bon voyage. Have a great time. Eat lots of terrific food.

  26. Scott says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Have a great time. Stay off line. Unless you see a mushroom cloud, know that much will not have changed when you get back.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: finally, LAX to LHR, a jet-lag pause, then Nice, Istanbul, back to London, Paris, Santorini, Florence, Valencia/Barcelona, Lisbon and…

    You suck.

    Also, enjoy yourself.

  28. Kurtz says:


    Corporations want you to think of the workplace as your family. For decades, American companies have often talked about their workplace in friendly terms. Workers are encouraged to trust their employer, to meld personal identity and professional occupation. Starbucks’ is part of this lineage. A press release on the company website from 2016 begins: “Colleagues at work can sometimes feel like family.”

    My favorite related thing when I waited tables was, “Leave all your personal issues at the door.”

    Right, so this at-will gig is supposed to take priority over problems that exist with my family or my health or whatever.

  29. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Have fun! Be safe! But don’t let the latter interfere with the former.

    I fully expect a new thriller written for adults to take shape during your vacation.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kurtz: I was always, “But what if my personal issue is you?”

  31. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “I’m hoping to avoid thinking about politics. Not at all sure that’s possible, but who knows, maybe.”

    From my experience, once I’m in a foreign country on business or pleasure, almost all thoughts about domestic politics just go away. I hope the same for you!

  32. Beth says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Enjoy your trip. I’m jealous, it sounds nice and warm. Unlike 3rd winter here.

  33. Scott says:

    I was never a big fan of work-life balance. I believed in work-life separation.

  34. JohnSF says:

    Moldova doesn’t have the force superiority to do so without a nasty fight, if at all.
    Ukraine is otherwise occupied.
    Romania could do it easily (the Moldovans are majority ethnic Romanian) but they are NATO; and a NATO-Russian fight is best avoided. To put it mildly.

    Thing is, indications are the ruling elite in Tiraspol wants nothing to do with Russian craziness; they just want to keep making money off graft and smuggling.
    A lot of them are thought to have Romanian passports, LOL.
    The actual Russian troops are only a couple of thousand, and I doubt their officers thirst for death.
    Let them stew is probably the best policy.
    While building up Moldovan capacity to contain any Russian idiocy that may occur.
    Can be tidied up once the main event is done.

  35. Matt Bernius says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    Safe travels Michael and good luck with the “not thinking about politics.”

  36. Scott says:

    @JohnSF: Good. As long as they are not a threat from behind they can live in a comfortable cage. I assume they are being closely watched and infiltrated.

  37. KM says:

    We just did an internal survey and the question that’s pissing HR off is “Do you feel you belong here at X?”. The only question to have a negative rating – gee I wonder why? Of course we don’t belong here. It’s work! I belong many places but the one I show up to get paid isn’t one of them; not a slight against my job but feeling like being a part of something and belonging are two different things.. I get they were trying to see who’s thinking of leaving and if it is because they feel isolated /alienated at work but workshop the phrase first, hmmm?

    Management is going nuts and sending out all these emails and link with various groups to try and “stem the damage”. I keep responding back there is no damage but rather a poorly phrased question and people who firmly understand work =/= house and home.

  38. Kathy says:


    V. Putin: “I remain the world’s greatest strategic genius! Derp.”

    All he has left to do is market a meat grinder as a penile enlarger.

  39. Jen says:

    @Michael Reynolds: That sounds delightful–bon voyage, and have a wonderful, restful trip.

  40. Kathy says:

    Currently I’m reading The Third Chimpanzee, by Jared Diamond.

    Now, let me preface by saying I regard Diamond as intellectual candy, much like Pinker or Harari. That is, not sufficiently rigorous when arguing, proving, or even testing their own ideas. But they do come up with several interesting ideas, which get me thinking as well.

    Here’s one question I came up with: can a civilization exist without agriculture?

    On the one hand, an area of land (or sea??) could be do fertile and bountiful, or the digestive systems of some beings so versatile, that food is just sitting there for the taking at any time. This would allow a group of people to settle, build cities, and develop science and technology in due time.

    On the other hand, they’re limited in space to one area, and they can’t expand their population by increasing their food supply without agriculture.

  41. CSK says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    You know full well that you won’t be able to resist stopping by at OTB before the end of June.

  42. Kurtz says:


    That’s a good book. But I agree with your assessment of those four public intellectuals. Good ideas. Exercise caution in application.

  43. Neil Hudelson says:


    Here’s one question I came up with: can a civilization exist without agriculture?

    On the one hand, an area of land (or sea??) could be do fertile and bountiful, or the digestive systems of some beings so versatile, that food is just sitting there for the taking at any time. This would allow a group of people to settle, build cities, and develop science and technology in due time.

    Evidence indicates this was the case in many places in North and South America pre-Columbus (in some cases, very pre-, lest it sound like I’m blaming Columbus for the downfall of every ‘new world’ civ).

    I’m going by memory here, so some of this is just factual-ish.
    -The indigenous mega city of Cahokia in modern day Missouri, archaeological evidence indicates that it was possibly formed pre-agriculture, and that the population that resided there permanently was fairly small, yet could swell to hundreds of thousands of people during “Hunt Con,” or whatever they called their gatherings.
    -There’s strong evidence that much of what is now the mid-atlantic states were one giant managed forest. Annual managed fires were so large, and hence CO2 output so prodigious, that when the European diseases began wiping out NA populations and their fires went away, the globe experienced a 2 degree drop in annual temperature, also known as The Little Ice Age.
    -The coolest example though is pre-Colombian Amazon Basin. When European explorers finally reached the heart of the Amazon, they discovered abandoned roads in the rainforest. The width of a road indicates how much traffic was on it, and the size of the main road, the one all other roads fed into, was the equivalent of a european road that could comfortably fit 6 horses passing by on each side. That is, it was a highway for a MASSIVE civilization. A civilization that seemed to have disappeared, and who sustained themselves by turning the Amazon basin into a giant managed reserve. Where the Amazon soil proved too poor to sustain indigenous food-producing plants, the Amazonians created a new form of super-charged soil–Terra Preta. Terra Preta is almost ubiquitous in the Amazon, yet evidence indicates it’s entirely man made; the amount they created and distributed makes it one of the largest scale projects in human history. Just to repeat: evidence indicates the Amazonians systematically turned a half-continent wide rainforest into a civilization-wide kitchen.

  44. JohnSF says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If you’re not familiar with Tuscany, I recommend trying to fit in a visit to San Gimignano.
    Wonderful place.
    Also, if of a carnivorous persuasion, try to fit in a bistecca alla Fiorentina at a good restaurant.
    Needs at least two people to tackle one.
    Contender for the worlds best steak IMO.

    Enjoy yourself!

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @Kathy: @Neil Hudelson: IIRC that was sort of an unstated theme of The Dawn of Everything. They say many early societies, hunter-gatherer tribes and fairly large cities, were pretty egalitarian and non-tyrannical because individuals could just wander off if they didn’t like it. Which implies that they could easily feed themselves on their own.

  46. Jen says:


    Here’s one question I came up with: can a civilization exist without agriculture?

    I recently read something (an article, maybe? I’ll try to find it) that civilization needed more than just agriculture, it needed to cultivate grains. That’s because grains can be stored for longer periods, allowing for permanence beyond a season. Communities of people that cultivated tubers (yams and cassava) didn’t grow beyond a certain limit because these don’t store like grains do, so you couldn’t extend food beyond the point where these would rot, nor could you successfully trade with other groups for what you needed.

  47. Jen says:

    This is a nice and unexpected surprise.

    But Democratic data analyst Tom Bonier points out that even a candidate as abysmal as Regan shouldn’t “produce a swing of this magnitude,” given that Trump carried the district by double-digit margins twice.

    “Republicans have held the 74th House District in Michigan for the past 30 years,” Bonier told me. “Over the past decade, statewide Democrats have averaged just 38% of the vote there.”

    This swing, Bonier suggested, “may be an early indicator of the electorate reaching a breaking point with Republican extremism.”

    Via WaPo Opinion – An upset win over the ‘enjoy rape’ MAGA candidate speaks volumes

  48. MarkedMan says:

    @Kathy: What’s the premise of the book? I know it’s popular to hate on Diamond but his first two books really got me thinkin’

  49. Kylopod says:

    @Jen: I can’t read the full article, but it occurred to me that there seems to be a consistent history of right-wing candidates losing winnable races after making terrible remarks about rape. Not only is there the “legitimate rape” incident from 2012, there’s also Clayton Williams, the 1990 Texas gubernatorial candidate, who (and as far back in the past as this is, I’m surprised how little it’s been brought up now) used essentially the same line as Regan.

    During the campaign, Williams publicly made a comment, which he later said was a joke, that likened the crime of rape to bad weather, having stated: “If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it”.

    Regan also laid heavily into explicit anti-Semitism, sharing social media posts that said stuff like calling feminism “a Jewish program to degrade white men.” This is only a hop and a skip away from the stuff Marjorie Taylor Greene shared, except it went straight to calling the targets Jews rather than any of the usual code words (Rothschilds, Zionists, etc.).

    I don’t find any of this especially encouraging, because Regan here basically just functions as a walking straw-man–the kind the right can reject just so they can say they’re against right-wing extremism, while allowing just about everything else.

  50. Sleeping Dog says:


    I’ve been ranting that Dems need to show up and compete everywhere and this is a good example why. Glanville may end up being defeated in the fall, but got voters to pull the Dem lever, who had never done that before. Her story also dovetails nicely with the state senator from ME who has been successful in an overwhelmingly R district that wrote an Op Ed for the Times.

  51. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Enjoy your trip. We’ll defund the police or something while you’re away.

  52. Jen says:


    I don’t find any of this especially encouraging, because Regan here basically just functions as a walking straw-man–

    If it were not such a lopsided district, I’d agree with you. But this is a district that is rock-solid Republican. He’s a loon, and he should have lost, but given the district’s numbers the loss should have been closer.

    She will likely lose the seat in the fall, as @Sleeping Dog: notes. The point to zero in on here is Democratic vote motivation–this is a much healthier win than should have been anticipated.

    I worked on a bunch of special elections, and it’s terribly hard to motivate the non-dominant party in a district such as this. They’re used to losing. This isn’t the Holy Grail, and one race in MI does not an election cycle make, but this is good.

  53. CSK says:

    There was some horse’s ass from, I believe, Georgia, who maintained that the tragedy of rape shouldn’t be compounded by allowing the rape victim to abort her rapist’s child.

  54. Kathy says:


    That’s a good question.

    Pretty much the animal origins of human behavior. It dates from 1991, meaning there’s a lot of data out of date and much missing.

  55. Kurtz says:


    I’m guessing that much of the unique derives from the specific cattle used?

  56. Kurtz says:


    Bah! No edit function. Should read “unique flavor of that dish…”

  57. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Gee, it is almost as if the Democratic Party is paying the price today for abandoning Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy after 2004.

  58. Gustopher says:

    @CSK: If you believe a fetus is a person, then that makes perfect sense though.

    Exceptions for rape and incest make no logical sense in abortion bans. It’s just something some on the right are willing to compromise on for now to make banning the vast majority of abortions seem more palatable to the normies.

  59. Gustopher says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: You have your years wrong, but yes. Dean ran for President in 2004, and was at the DNC after that, so probably abandoned in 2009?

    The 50 state strategy could reliably pick up 5 house seats each election cycle because of Republican idiocy — and often lose them on the next, but you get 5 more elsewhere. It was expensive, but worth it.

  60. CSK says:

    Actually, what they want to do is prevent white women from having abortions.

  61. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    As @Gustopher: mentions, Dean’s term at the head of the DNC was 2005-2009. Prior to Dean the party had been neglecting and then abandoning rural and conservative districts for years, but it was ad hoc. Whoever ran the DNC during Obama’s turn went all in on data driven campaigning. That worked well at the presidential and senatorial levels, but it was a disaster in local campaigns. Then mix in identity politics and the dominance of GOTV efforts…

    Data driven campaigning certainly contributed to Hillary’s loss. She didn’t listen to campaign workers on the ground in Michigan and Wisconsin, cause the numbers. Then went off chasing talismans in places like AZ, because the numbers.

  62. Kurtz says:

    @gVOR08: @Neil Hudelson: @Kathy:

    Interesting Kathy asked this question today. Neil and gVOR08 raise an issue related to an article on Aeon that I read just last night.

    Primitive Communism


    Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong

    Bonus essay, as yet unread in my queue:

    Energized Crowding

    On early cities. Mentions The Dawn of Everything.

  63. JohnSF says:

    Apparently they are a specific breed.
    It’s basically a porterhouse = sort of a v. large T bone.
    Brush with olive oil and rosemary sprigs before cooking.
    Done on a barbecue type grill at a fearsome heat.

    Serve with cannelini beans and/or green salad.
    And the best Tuscan wine you can spring for.

    (I had one at a small restaurant near Montespertoli that specialised; only did bistecca, Florentine fried chicken in batter, and something else I forget.
    Plus a couple of pasta dishes.
    But everyone came for the bistecca😉

    Little place in village row of shops, courtyard out back.
    Not pricey at all
    Only thing that gave away its rep were the Maseratis and Bentleys in the car park; people came from Florence to eat there.
    Love to visit Tuscany again; and that restaurant in particular (damn, can’t remember the name now!)

  64. Sleeping Dog says:


    …that restaurant in particular (damn, can’t remember the name now!)

    You’ll go back and it will be a McDonald’s or Starbucks

  65. JohnSF says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Yes, look at NW Native American salmon and other seafood based cultures; non-agricultural, but decidedly stratified.

    Likely three big factor in not falling out with the local chiefs or whatever:
    – People don’t like losing their kin/friendship networks, especially in relatively marginal survival situations.
    – A more settled society rapidly develops craft specialisms you may not want to do without.
    – Other groups of humans may not take kindly to your arrival in their economic territory.

    The big break point seems to come with cities and intensive agriculture though; the potential surplus invites and empowers an extractive elite. A band of thugs a leader can feed enables him to avoid the “club in the snoot” situation a village chief might face if he got too greedy. And individuals, or even nuclear families, might not walk out on an asshole chief, but kin groups might, if pushed.

    Have to read The Dawn of Everything but I doubt many people could actually walk away in practice once you get to the “city” level of social organisation. Too may constraints, especially in more arid areas.
    A pack of well-rewarded followers averts the dangers of one-on-one fight; and the average grain-growing peasant cannot just up sticks and wander off.

    I recall coming across speculation, somewhere, that one possible reason “kings” in early European cultivator societies were less powerful than, say, Mesopotamian or Egyptian equivalents, was that in extremis it was possible to scarper into the forest, but not into the desert.

  66. sam says:

    @Michael Reynolds:


    When you’re in Florence, stop by Pino’s Sandwichs on Via Verde, a few blocks up from Santa Croce. Best panini on the planet. You won’t be disappointed.

  67. Neil Hudelson says:


    I had typed out a sad comment about how I was still on a 2-month wait list for “Dawn of Everything” when my library app beeped a notice that it was ready for pickup. Clearly your comment was responsible–thank you!

  68. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The coolest example though is pre-Colombian Amazon Basin.

    It does sound awesome.

    Do you recall whether these places were abandoned before or after the European epidemics wiped out native populations. A lot of Maya sites were deserted long before, for instance.


    Grains tend to be what gets cultivated. Overall there are three that dominated since ancient times: rice, wheat, and corn. I’d no idea human groupings even practiced cultivation without grains.


    There’s evidence from skeletons that hunter-gatherers were taller than early sedentary agricultural peoples, and had fewer injuries and overall better health. this tends to be played up by those intent on portraying agriculture as the worst mistake in human history.

    What they often leave out is there were also far fewer humans in pre-agricultural times than later on. Diamond does note this, though he seems to side with the agriculture as a mistake camp.

    There’s also much talk of leisure time, meaning time not spent hunting, gathering, or cultivating food. Less so of divisions of labor. It’s not leisure that enabled Socrates to spend time thinking, but the fact that he didn’t have to produce his own food (or clothes, shelter, etc.)

  69. Neil Hudelson says:


    (I’ve lost block/italics/bold functions, so excuse the messy formatting.)

    “but I doubt many people could actually walk away in practice once you get to the “city” level of social organisation. Too may constraints, especially in more arid areas.”

    I wonder if it’s more culture than constraints that prevented people from moving on. One of the more interesting things about Gobekli Tepe (besides EVERYTHING) is that it appears (maybe) that the city was only used periodically–throughout the year, every few years, whatever. Hunter-gatherers (at least we assume, since the city was created supposedly millenia before grain cultivation) would gather, build buildings aligned to cardinal directions, carve relief carvings into giant megalithic statues, carvings that appear to be proto/alternative astrological signs, sing, dance, exchange food, etc.,

    And then leave.

    Evidence indicates the same thing is true for the Mound societies in the Midwest–indeed, some of the mounds may have been built just as giant, giant sign posts to let the nomads know where to gather.

    But eventually the culture changed. My guess? The discovery of fermentation. Now you don’t want to leave.

  70. Neil Hudelson says:


    I don’t recall. This info I regurgitated is from 1491, btw. However, my understanding is the Amazon swallows what you leave behind pretty quickly. That they were able to tell that the roads were roads would indicate to me that the population was lost due to the plagues that preceded the European explorers arriving there in person.

  71. JohnSF says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    The discovery of fermentation. Now you don’t want to leave.

    Or at least can’t walk off in the right direction for long.
    Then you just think, I’ll just rest here for a bit.
    And next morning you don’t want to do anything much at all.

  72. JohnSF says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I have another vague recall that ME sites may have started out as ritual centres, then attracted a more-or-less permanent population during the wetter periods, using wild grains and fairly abundant game, some-semi tamed, and had enough surplus to start storing and specialising.
    Then when the climate turned more arid, they were no longer able to wander off into the hinterlands, too numerous to subsist by just hunting/gathering, and driven further into proto-agriculture to survive.
    Also, that being places of refuge in a less hospitable, more competitive and constrained ecology, made them more likely to require defensive measures (fortifications etc) and more in need of determination of property disputes and surplus control for emergencies.
    And once a farming culture had emerged, and especially began to exploit irrigation, it was able to expand quite rapidly due to differential population levels.
    But at this point expanded by “budding off” groups, not “political” expansion.

  73. Jen says:

    @Kathy: Tubers were indeed cultivated.

    Found the article:

  74. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Thanks. I’ll look it up.


    There’s a misconception that hunter-gatherers* foraged for the day, then slept, then moved on to somewhere else, more as if they were traveling somewhere.

    My understanding is they camped for varying periods, days, weeks, or even months, while they foraged and did whatever else passed for living back then. Then they moved elsewhere, travelling varying periods as well, where they camped again.

    They may have noticed some plants grew where they had discarded seeds in previous times, and then encouraged such things by planting seeds. It’s also possible our ancestors began agriculture by first domesticating animals rather than plants. Say by driving off predators from a site where sheep lived, and the next time they went there they’d find more sheep.

    So it might have been a gradual process.

  75. Kurtz says:


    So it might have been a gradual process.

    As fascinating as it is to read about and speculate on the timeline of technological developments like agriculture, the significant gaps in knowledge and the fact that it’s hard to find much other than x finding suggests y creates an almost unavodibaly temptation to fill in those gaps via preference.

    But gradual discovery, adoption, spread seems pretty intuitive.

  76. Kathy says:


    Much of what I dislike about archaeology is that we hear the caveat “attitudes/sleep patterns/social order/sexual preferences/etc/etc do not fossilize, therefore we know little or nothing about them.” Fair enough, but then it’s followed by “but here’s what must have happened.” And then another caveat that we can’t be sure.

    I prefer, “we don’t know and very likely cannot ever know, but here are some possibilities:”

  77. Mister Bluster says:
  78. Kurtz says:


    Yes. Unfortunately, all of the big enlightenment ideas are based on similar reasoning about history and human nature.

    To me, the latter can be summed with one word: variable. Perhaps followed by, “next (relevant, answerable) question.”

  79. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ve been ranting that Dems need to show up and compete everywhere and this is a good example why.

    OK, here’s my other objection to this point:

    How does one go about recruiting a candidate to run for a race they will have to spend a minimum of 6 months (state rep/sen) to a year or more (US congressional rep) or 2 years (US sen) calling people day after day for money (because the DEM committee ain’t putting any into the black hole of a lost race) and running day after night to gatherings of people who hate you or couldn’t care less about you but are only there for the buffet, all while sacrificing anything more than an incidental family life (5 mins a day), short changing one’s day job, and totally pissing off one’s spouse with thoughtless act after thoughtless act (think The Wire, season 4), for a race nobody thinks you can possibly win and only your friends are willing to invest in… Up to a point. (Sooner or later, they stop answering your calls) All for a race you don’t have a 1 in 10 chance of winning.



    C’mon, who can pass up a deal like that?

    Yeah, damned near everybody.

    It’s easy to say. Not so easy to do.

    I mentioned the other day that at Crawford Co DEM meetings they had people come in running for state rep or county commissioner or state sen, good people, nice people, people who cared, people on a quixotic quests and lambs to the slaughter.

    Sorry, most folks have better things to do than being just another sacrificial offering.

  80. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The Hoarse Whisperer

    We can all use a smile today.

    This kid’s face…

    · 22h
    This Blue Jays fan caught Aaron Judge’s HR ball and gifted it to a young Yankees fan

  81. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Awww, that made me tear up! What a nice guy!

    I bet the dating profile of the guy who caught it and gave it to him is blowing up right now. 😛

  82. gVOR08 says:

    @Kurtz: @Kathy: Don’t know if you’ve read The Dawn of Everything but it opens with a discussion of the diametrically opposed Enlightenment views of the origins of society expressed in Hobbes, “Bellum omnium contra omnes” and Rousseau’s noble savage. Interestingly, they make a case that Rousseau was heavily influenced by discussion with an American Indian who had traveled to Paris. However, as you guys note, they were both just making it up.

    By coincidence I’ve been reading Karl Popper, who calls this sort of thing “historicity”, the effort to find some inevitable trend in history and argue we must conform. A current example is Putin’s idea that Russia must rule some sort of Euro-Asian empire. Popper thinks much evil flows from this sort of thing.

  83. Kathy says:


    It’s on my list, but first I want to finish Diamond’s book, and then Kara Cooney’s latest, The Good Kings.

  84. Kurtz says:


    I just think about how often we are in barely lit corridors with current events. Events now are more often recorded than they ever have been, and yet, so much of what we see and hear is still piecemeal, or biased, or otherwise debatable. Rewind past a few decades, and even more so, before recording technology existed, yet people are willing to build their worldview based on that rather sandy foundation.

    Of course, it seems to me that most people, including respectable philosophers, historians, etc. often work backwards from their preferences.

  85. Grommit Gunn says:

    Thanks for the correction.

  86. Jen says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: This point is extremely well taken by me. Having worked in Republican politics, there were usually people who would run in the deepest blue districts, and would call the state party HQ damn near every day, talking about how wrong we were to write off the race, how they could win, etc., etc., etc. Most of them were a bit “off” to say the least.

    The most successful strategy is to look at the seats that are competitive and compete there. Every time, with strong candidates. Even if they don’t win the first time, they can build their donor and volunteer lists. You never know when an opportunity might open up, and by then they have name ID. Sometimes it’s moving down a rung or two–example, after running for Congress multiple times and losing, the state senate seat opens up–run there. You’ve got the name ID, the workers, and the donor base.

    Right candidate for the right district at the right moment takes TIME.