How to Use the Feynman Technique to Identify Pseudoscience

Simon Oxenham quotes physicist Richard Feynman: “I finally figured out a way to test whether you have taught an idea or you have only taught a definition. Test it this way: You say, ‘Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language. Without using the word “energy,” tell me what you know now about the dog’s motion.’ You cannot.…

Ukraine’s Three-to-One Advantage

The author notes that he can’t confirm what this ex-marine tells him about his service with the forces defending Ukraine. I’m also very conscious that I’m sharing it because it’s comforting to believe the defense forces have a chance of succeeding. Russian doctrine relies on centralized command and control, while mission-style command and control—as the name suggests—relies on the individual initiative of every soldier, from the private to the general,…

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Firstborn (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 21) Worf prepares his reluctant son for a rite of passage

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf awkwardly rehearses a speech to prepare Alexander for a rite of passage. Doused by a water balloon intended for Alexander, Worf bungles the speech. He’s even more rattled when Alexander admits he doesn’t want to become a warrior. Picard suggests Worf visit a nearby Klingon outpost for an upcoming festival. Wide-eyed Alexander is enchanted by a participatory street theater bat’leth opera, and runs off to see the…

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Journey’s End (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 20) Picard must relocate a North American Indian colony; Wesley faces another loyalty test

Rewatching ST:TNG An obviously troubled Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise. Picard lays out muchies to prepare for an in-person visit from Admiral Necheyev, in an effort to make their relationship less confrontational. She notices and appreciates his efforts, but still gives him very difficult orders to relocate a colony founded by Native North Americans.  Necheyev (having herself already voiced all the objections Picard brings up) feels this is a reasonable…

How Russia’s Disinformation Apparatus Ran Aground in Ukraine

Skillful propagandists always leverage people’s pre-conceived notions to steer the conversation away from what is prejudicial to their side’s interests. The tactic works because it often deflects attention towards other injustices that are also real, making it easy to elicit a strong emotional response that blinds the audience to the underlying cynicism. Redfish, for example, was able to exploit genuine resentments over the real mistreatment of black people during the…

How Not to Hate Shakespeare

The problem isn’t Shakespeare—it’s how he’s been taught. […] Since Shakespeare’s work is “not of an age but for all time,” as Ben Jonson famously put it, I suggest that you get over your Bardophobia and embrace your inner Bardolator. Trust me, it’s worth it. First, you need to relax. You’re not stupid. You’re not a philistine. Shakespeare didn’t write in “olde English” (a common misconception), but his “early modern…

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (workshop premiere of a new musical by Greg Kerestan)

I really enjoyed seeing the first workshop performance of SHU alum Greg Kerestan’s original horror-comedy musical, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari,” based on the classic 1920 German expressionist silent film. The music is powerful, and the cast is hilarious and creepy, in all the right proportions.   The daughter plays a ballet mistress socialite (and is also the choreography & assistant director).   You have one more chance to see…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just…

It’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” 111th birthday

Interesting introduction to the history of musical annotation and copyright. The journey to that sheet music copyright began with Greek and Roman grammarians; they had developed signs to guide declamation (high voice, low voice and falling voice). Musicians adapted those signs to “[indicate] the contour of a melody.” This provided “a memory aid to singers who knew words and melody by heart.” In the mid-1000s, medieval music scholar and teacher Guido of Arezzo decided there needed to be a…

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Masks (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 17) Ritual symbols start appearing on the ship and mythological figures inhabit Data’s personality

Rewatching ST:TNG Masks (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 17) Ritual symbols start appearing on the ship and mythological figures inhabit Data’s personality. This script is a mess. The comic opening is good. During an art class in the children’s center, Troi encourages Data to explore his imagination, but his sculptures are comically literal. The ship encounters an uncharted rogue comet, which causes a scanner glitch that will take some…

Hoarding disorders have increased during the pandemic. Here’s how to help a loved one who hoards.

Hoarding disorder — a mental health condition in which people have trouble getting rid of possessions because of a perceived need to save them — affects about 2.6 percent of people worldwide, according to the American Psychiatric Association. There are higher rates in those over 60 and people who have other psychiatric problems, such as anxiety or depression, but its frequency doesn’t seem to be affected by country or culture. Despite…

The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

The story notes that when police departments mention they are paying a cash settlement to a plaintiff who has made accusations of police misconduct, the departments typically don’t mention the name of officers involved. On the one hand, this makes sense, since the settlements are often made with no admission of misconduct, so the officers aren’t proven guilty. On the other hand, the missing names means it’s hard for the…

What Was the TED Talk?

The title borders on clickbait, but the self-aware irony of the catch-phrase “Thank you for attending my TED talk” does suggest the concept has long ago escaped the lab. “We live in an era where the best way to make a dent on the world… may be simply to stand up and say something.” And yet, TED’s archive is a graveyard of ideas. It is a seemingly endless index of stories…

Jerry Lewis’s Costars Speak Out: “He Grabbed Me. He Began to Fondle Me. I Was Dumbstruck”

As a kid I watched Jerry Lewis movies when they turned up on the local independent TV channels, and typically when I was home from school on  Labor Day, I would watch at least part of his muscular dystrophy telethons. I’m saddened to read allegations about yet another established male professional using his position of power to manipulate a younger female artist by demanding sexual favors. Demanding? Requesting? Suggesting? Semantics.…

Brain activity of a dying man suggests we do recall memories at death

The 87-year-old man developed epilepsy and was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital in British Columbia, Canada, before dying of a cardiac arrest. […] “As a neurosurgeon, I deal with loss at times. It is indescribably difficult to deliver the news of death to distraught family members,” [Dr. Amal Zemmar] said. “Something we may learn from this research is: although our loved ones have their eyes closed and are ready to…