i trained an ai chatbot on my childhood journal entries – so that i could engage in real-time dialogue with my “inner child”

I kept a journal from Feb 3 1983 (the day my freshman high school English teacher assigned a journal entry as homework) through about 1992 (when I was busy in grad school, though I did write long emails to my fiancee). As I was wrapping up my dissertation, I started blogging in 1999. At no point in my life did I write the kind of free-flowing personal musings that I imagine would help an AI bot let you converse with your younger self. This is a fascinating experiment in time travel. i kept diaries for about 10+ years of my…

Combating Shakespearean shrinkage – Shakespeare & Beyond

The worst reaction to Shakespeare’s complicated language, it seems to me, is thinking that it should be hard for an audience to understand. This will only cause Shakespeare shrinkage to expand, creating entire productions that are difficult to understand, not just occasional moments, and alienating audiences who have been disappointed too many times. Shakespeare should never be a chore: It’s some of the greatest music ever written serving some of the greatest characters ever created, and we should ensure that every syllable crackles with intensity and specificity. Otherwise, they’re just “words, words, words,” …with little meaning and few compelling reasons to watch. —CombatingAustin Tichenor

Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens

I used to spend a lot of time on Twitter. I’ve deleted the app from my phone, and check it a couple times a day from my laptop. I’ve been reading more news and fewer tweets. I followed a Twitter bot that reminds me to go do something else that’s not scrolling slack-jawed through tweets. Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue…

Destiny (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 15) An ancient prophecy tests Kira’s faith and Sisko’s patience

Rewatching ST:DS9 The station prepares to welcome Cardassian scientists who will open a communications link to the Gamma Quadrant. While Sisko and Quark are hopeful, Downer Dax raises doubts about the technobabble, and points out Quark’s bottles of Cardassian booze have spoiled.  The vedek Yarka warns Sisko that letting the Cardassians establish a relay link through the wormhole will fulfill an ancient prophecy that foretells doom. Kira seems to find his interpretation credible enough to consider, even though the prophecy mentions “three vipers” but there are only two Cardassian scientists. Sisko is respectful but remains committed to the project. Yarka…

Heart of Stone (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 14) Odo tries to keep Kira’s spirits up as she is slowly consumed by a crystal; Nog seeks Sisko’s help to join Starfleet

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a runabout, Kira bickers with a grumpy Odo.  Kira: You’re right. Next time we are invited out for dinner, I’ll make sure you are the one to say no. Odo: I’d appreciate that. There’s warmth under the snark on both sides, though as usual Kira isn’t aware of how much she means to Odo. A distress call leads them to chase a Maquis raider into a plot contrivance particle field, and thanks to a commercial break and dialogue, the director didn’t have to show us the raider crashing and Kira and Odo pursuing the pilot into a…

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Life Support (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 13) Bashir keeps the gravely injured Bareil alive to help Kai Winn secure a treaty with the Cardassians

Rewatching ST:DS9 An accident aboard a transport arriving at the station rattles Kai Winn and seriously injures Vedek Bareil. Winn suspects the accident may have been sabotage, infodumping to Sisko that Bareil is crucial to the success of secret peace talks with Cardassia. Winn admits that since she won the election as Kai, her former rival has proved himself a loyal aide, and she not only credits him but admits she doubts she would have been as forgiving. Bareil does not fare well, despite Bashir’s best efforts. Bashir tells Kira he is on life support, and never regained consciousness. But…

I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say. – The Boston Globe

What a storyteller. Boston Globe journalist Jack Thomas, who wrote about his impending death a few months ago, made me laugh out loud several times in this touching essay. Very powerful. He was 83. I’ve had the privilege of having spent more than 60 years working for newspapers. There was not a day when it wasn’t a pleasure to go to work. Any doubts I had about newspapering as a career were dissolved on my paper route one Friday night in March 1953. I picked up my bundle of 45 copies of the Record that were tossed from a truck…

Behind the art: The Westmoreland’s ‘Death of Elaine’ beloved of staff and visitors

I always slow down and spend some time with this painting when I visit my local art museum. This scene from the Arthurian legends has been out of exhibition for a while and will be back with a new frame Oct 16. A scene of mourning at Camelot, the castle of the legendary King Arthur, is depicted in Thomas Hovenden’s 1882 oil painting, “Death of Elaine.” The king and his queen, Guinevere, along with knights, ladies-in-waiting and servants, are gathered around a bed holding the body of the young noblewoman, Elaine. —Shirley McMarlin, Tribune-Review

Engrossing but difficult to watch: “Man in Cave” documentary on caver Floyd Collins

I’m conflicted. This is a very well done animated documentary, creating visuals that were not part of the original press coverage of Floyd Collins, the caver trapped in Sand Cave in 1925, and the subject of the first media circus, fed by the emerging new medium of radio journalism. The animation adds sight gags and sometimes crude humor, which is juvenile and not particularly funny. This story happened to real people, and I’m uncomfortable their suffering has been turned into entertainment. Yet here I am, watching. (That’s part of the discomfort I feel.) Even though I know how this story…

Past Tense, Part 2 (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 12) Sisko must channel social unrest on Earth in 2024

Rewatching ST:DS9 After the recap of Part 1, Sisko, in the persona of Gabriel Bell, reminds loose cannon BC (from the “ghost” gang) that they have to keep the hostages safe as their bargaining chips. Just when BC starts showing Sisko some respect, the veteran cop Vin tries to be a hero, and Sisko has to save his life. The “gimme” organizer Webb shows up, and agrees to Sisko’s request that he recruit more people like him — ordinary people who fell on hard times — to help guard the hostages.  BC is thrilled by the attention the newscasts are…

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Past Tense, Part 1 (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 11) Plot contrivance particles strand Sisko, Dax & Bashir on Earth in 2024

Rewatching ST:DS9 The Defiant is ferrying Sisko, Dax and Bashir to Earth for a Starfleet symposium.  After a nice bit about how “There’s no place like home, no matter what color the water is,” and some social comedy about tonight’s formal dinner with an admiral, we get a video call from Quark that fills out the teaser but has little to do with the rest of the plot — except perhaps helping to establish the social pecking order — the Federation is calling the shots, Bajoran militia members Kira and Odo are along for the ride, and Quark is back…

Defiant (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 9) Riker visits DS9, and it’s he who’s titularly “defiant”

Rewatching ST:DS9 After an overworked Kira snaps at Bashir, the good doctor’s prescription is an evening at Quark’s, which includes a chance meeting with Commander Riker, on leave from the Enterprise-D. The next morning when Dax pries her for details, Kira insists they just talked.  That evening, Riker bumps into her on the promenade and she invites him on a tour of the station. He requests a visit to the Defiant. O’Brien is surprised and happy to see his former commander, but Riker turns cold: “I have nothing to say to you, O’Brien.” Riker seems to perk up again on…

Meridian (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 8) Dax falls for a man from a Bridgadoon planet

Rewatching ST:DS9 Kira tells Odo about the pleasure of drinking too-hot coffee and, in order to escape the attentions of the smarmy merchant Tiron, role-plays that she and Odo are lovers. (She doesn’t notice how Odo reacts when she takes his hand.) On the Defiant, a “commander’s log” lampshades the fact that this episode features a random exploratory jaunt in the Gamma Quadrant, despite the recent episodes carefully setting up the Dominion War story arc. When the Defiant stops to study the plot contrivance particles from a Space Thing, a planet suddenly appears out of nowhere. The cheerful leader Seltin…

Let’s Make the Academic Job Market More Humane

It’s been decades since I’ve had the “I’m in school again and I forgot to study for the test” nightmare, but it hasn’t been so long since I’ve had nightmares about the faculty job search. I did have one nightmare campus visit, where I was told I was one of six candidates brought to campus to interview for two positions, and that one of the other candidates was “unbeatable.” For my job talk I chose a topic related to the technical writing / media position I was applying for, and after it was over I saw the crowded room full…

Thinking a lot lately about masking and empathy, and my role as educator.

Thinking a lot lately about masking and empathy, and my role as educator. Finding the right balance between making people uncomfortable by avoiding eye contact and making people uncomfortable by staring is one of the many unwritten rules I’ve seen autistic people struggle to master. I still mention “eye contact” in my rubric for student video projects, but it’s now just one of many several different ways to be “engaging,” rather than a stand-alone category, and students don’t have to make videos at all — they could do an audio-only project, or a hypertext. Group work can also be a…

The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books

I didn’t realize how involved the children of divorced dads Packard and Montgomery were in the creation of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” gamebooks. (The children of divorced dad Will Crowther were one motivation for, and were early playtesters for, Crowther’s original Colossal Cave Adventure; the history of parser text adventure games and branching path gamebooks overlap in time and theme.) You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and…

Civil Defense (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 7) O’Brien accidentally triggers dormant Cardassian security protocols

Rewatching ST:DS9 Although some time ago Jake told his father he didn’t want to join Starfleet, the plot of this episode requires O’Brien to still be mentoring Jake as they putter about an unused ore processing room, so that when O’Brien enters the wrong passcode they can get locked in together with Sisko. A recorded image of Gul Dukat addresses the Bajoran workers who have presumably started to revolt, giving them a TV-friendly 8-minute deadline to turn themselves in. I was a little distracted during this episode because my Paramount+ account suddenly stopped playing nice with one of the of…

The Abandoned (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 6) A genetically engineered baby and Sisko’s son both grow up quickly

Rewatching ST:DS9 Quark scowls as a lucky customer cleans up at a dabo table. Jake blows a kiss at the attendant, who must be Mardah, his girlfriend (of whom we have heard but never seen). Mardah encourages the customer to play one more round, which he loses. He aims to console himself with Marda’s attention, but she blows him off and sits with Jake. She says Sisko asked her to dinner tomorrow. This is news to Jake. An alien offers to sell Quark some salvage; he’s more interested in her company, but she talks him into the purchase. When Quark…