Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

It’s exam week, and at the moment I have exactly one unmarked assignment (for a paper due Friday)

It’s exam week, and at the moment I have exactly one unmarked assignment (for a paper due Friday). I didn’t lower my standards or assign less work; I did spend instructional time more strategically, with more in-class journaling, peer workshops, and conferences. I still have work on its way in and deadlines to meet, but at the moment I have a breather.

The Nagus (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 11) Quark is named the financial leader of all Ferengi

Rewatching ST:DS9 In an episode focusing on father-son dynamics, Jake declines the chance to spend time on Bajor with Sisko, Nog bears the brunt of punishments heaped onto his father Rom, and the visiting Ferengi leader Zek expresses dissatisfaction with his son Krax. I give credit to actor Wallace Shawn and the make-up team and everyone else involved in creating such a repulsive caricature; but the truth is I just didn’t like spending time with the cackling, wheezing, decrepit Grand Nagus. For a race that is famous for being greedy, I think the depiction of Ferengi is a bit inconsistent,…

A Man Alone (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 4) Crime scene clues implicate Constable Odo; Keiko tries to start a school

Rewatching ST:DS9 After threatening a man who later turns up dead, Constable Odo becomes the prime suspect. The episode takes its time getting started, with character-driven bits developing Bashir’s one-sided interest in Dax, Sisko’s adjustment to his former mentor Curzon Dax’s new identity as Jadzia Dax, Sisko’s insistence that the Javert-like Odo play within the rules, Quark and Odo’s grumbly familiarity, the beginnings of a friendship between Jake and Nog, and tension between O’Brien and his wife Keiko. We also meet Rom (Nog’s father and Quark’s brother), but the writers obviously haven’t determined Rom’s personality yet — he seems brutish…

NASA astronaut: Russians were ‘blindsided’ by reaction to yellow suits

I posted a while back about the yellow and blue color scheme of the suits worn by Russian cosmonauts who had then just arrived at the International Space Station. This story says all three Russian had gone to a school whose colors are yellow and blue, and that they did not intend the colors to have any political significance. Those suits were likely designed months or even years in advance. So, because I posted something that suggested the opposite, it’s only fair I post this interpretation. In his first public comments since returning to Earth aboard a Russia space craft,…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In April, 2002, I was blogging about an autistic person’s guide to asking a girl on a date; The Inform 6 Beginner’s Guide; broken links;

In April, 2002, I was blogging about Instructions for “Asking a Girl on a Date” (autistics.org) The Inform Beginner’s Guide (I edited this book on programming text adventure games in Inform 6) Broken Links: Just How Rapidly do Science Education Hyperlinks Go Extinct? (yes, the link was broken but I linked to the backup on the Internet Archive) Faking It: Sex, Lies and Women’s Magazines “Prenatal memory and learning” (language acquisition begins before birth) “Did I Miss Anything?” (poet’s creative response to a “question frequently asked by students after missing a class”) A Salon article mocking the New York Times…

Ungrading after 11 weeks

Mathematics professor Robert Talbot reports on his ongoing experiment with ungrading — giving feedback and emphasizing the students’ metacognition, rather than encouraging them to fixate on “marks.” (Students who are less equipped to self-evaluate might actually benefit from the clear signposting provided by grades, so in his experience, removing grading from education does not magically remove inequities in the classroom.) I think it’s possible to have a hybrid setup in a lower-level course (like I’m teaching this summer) where the work that addresses the lower reaches of Bloom’s Taxonomy is graded using specifications with marks, while the upper levels of…

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. So you learned nothing about science. That may be all right. You may not want to learn something about science right away. You have to learn definitions. But for 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 English” still causes problems for audiences. Shakespeare’s language is about 90 percent the same as the English we speak today, but that ten percent can be irritating. For instance, certain…

Journalists prefer in-person interviews. Emailing questions to strangers and expecting them to write out their answers is not journalism.

An interview means a real-time give-and take, not a list of questions you email. Most people worth interviewing are too busy to write out their answers to help you meet your deadline. If you can’t meet in person, ask if your source will do a videoconference, or even (if they’re the right generation) an old-fashioned phone call. (Gasp!)

2

Lower Decks (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 15) Junior officers star in a coming of age drama

Rewatching ST:TNG As Riker and Troi discuss crew evaluation reports in Ten Forward, we spend time with four junior officers who would normally get a few lines each. We already know Nurse Ogawa and Ensign Sito (one of the cadets who obstructed an investigation in s5e13 “The First Duty“). Lavelle is a square-jawed Dudley Do-Right and Taurik is a Vulcan with a dry wit. With their friend Ben (a gossipy civilian waiter) they look on as the series regulars sometimes encourage, and sometimes check their ambitions.  After a drill session on the bridge, where RIker offers a tip to the…

Selected Negative Teaching Evaluations of Jesus Christ

“Not what I expected. They say his area of specialty is carpentry, but we never built anything.” “Kind of absent-minded. My name’s Simon, and he’s called me ‘Peter’ for the entire semester.” “I wanted to like this class, but on the first day, he submerged us in a river instead of going over the syllabus, and that was kind of a lot.” […] “I asked him to sign my accommodations form from the Disability Services Office, and he spit on the ground and rubbed the dirt in my eyes. I can see now, but it was still rude.” —McSweeney’s

2

Dr. Bobby Teaches Ferris Bueller as Rhetor

My former student, Bobby Kuechenmeister, uses Ferris Bueller’s lesson on faking out his parents as an example to teach ethos, logos, and paths.  The last time I checked, most of my undergrads said they would probably recognize a Ferris Beuller reference, but in a class today of 9 only 3 raised their hands when I asked if they knew “The Karate Kid.”

Grappling with Genocide: Fostering Empathy and Engagement through Text and Image (NEH funded education summit, Seton Hill University, July 11-22 2022)

Some of my amazing colleagues have collaborated on an amazing NEH-funded summer institute that provides teachers in grades 6-12 with resources for teaching about genocide. The event, scheduled for summer 2022, includes units on the erasure of Native Americans, an empathy-building Narrative 4 storytelling workshop, and more. There’s a stipend for participating in this event, and on-campus housing is available at a very modest cost — about 10% of the stipend. See the details on the Grappling with Genocide website. Here is how John Spurlock describes the event on his blog: During the two weeks of the institute, students will…

1

True Q (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 6) Visiting Intern Exhibits Q-like Powers

Rewatching ST:TNG On its way to help an ecologically devastated planet, the Enterprise-D picks up a clever young intern, who reveals for us her secret power of making puppies appear from nowhere. Amanda (played with an impressive mixture of maturity and teenaged vulnerability by Olivia D’Abo) chats with Dr. Crusher about family, and we learn she was adopted as a baby. Right before a cargo container falls on Riker, she deflects it with a gesture. Later, in engineering, the warp core suddenly acts up and explodes, but she manages to reverse the explosion and restore the ship. Q suddenly appears,…

Letter to the editor: Why our English department deserves more respect

I came very close to accepting an offer to Purdue’s Ph.D. program, so it’s heartbreaking to read about the recently announced cuts to the famous and influential writing program. (What English teacher or writing student hasn’t relied on resources from the Purdue OWL?) [A] university that is only good at STEM education is nothing more than a trade school. I came to Purdue to work in a university, and not in a trade school. The horror stories coming out of our English department — how else would you describe the stories when the department head feels compelled to use phrases…