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…

Reading fiction early in life is associated with a more complex worldview, study finds

This study relied in part on the repondents’ self-reporting of what they read as children, but it was a complex study that approached the core issue from multiple angles. The researchers note that an “association” is not a “cause” — yet the correlation is still worth reflecting on: Those people who did not read fiction in early life have a fundamentally different worldview than those who did. Research has demonstrated that people who read more fiction tend to have better perspective-taking abilities. Now, new research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin has found that reading more fiction early in life is…

Bryan A. Louiselle, 1966-2022 (musician, composer, orchestrator, musical director)

I was Mayor Shinn to Bryan’s Harold Hill in the only high school musical we did together. Yes he was an incredible musician and performer, but I was not musical and could barely sing on key, so I really wasn’t equipped, at the time, to realize just how talented he was. Once during a snowstorm when I had nowhere to go between the end of school and call time, he took to me his house. Even though my house was way out of his way, he sometimes drove me home after rehearsals, saying that before he got his license, he…

Photo of peeled banana on yellow plate and background.
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I’d like to speak to the manager. Yes, I’ll wait right here.

The manager is of course somewhere else in the store, presumably managing, so it takes a while for her to come to the front desk. She has her game face on. The young employee who paged her for me looks on. “Maybe this is a dumb thing, and if so I apologize for calling you away from your work,” I say. “But in the produce section… the arrangement of bananas is just delightful.” Neatly stacked, with the yellow bunches that they’ll want to sell today or tomorrow at eye level, and the green bunches less prominent. In between the bunches…

The Wedding Present

I’m approaching day 900 in my Duolingo adventure in German. (I have no practical reason for this study. It was a routine I could keep up during the COVID-19 lockdown.) Latin is seductive—the consummate logic of its syntactical cases, the mercurial dance of the ablative absolute. It retains muscle in its ruins (Cicero) and tragic beauty in its posthumous throes (Virgil). The subtleties of the Greek middle voice, neither active nor passive, roam through The Iliad and The Odyssey. And Hebrew, an ancient yet living language newly revivified, has the elastic trinity of its three-letter root, which, when prefixes and suffixes are attached,…

State officials: Bushy Run staff must consult with Native groups before staging reenactments

When my kids were younger, trips to Busy Run (and other local historical sites) were often a big part of starting a new year of home-schooling. If historic Bushy Run Battlefield Park intends to host future reenactments or programs portraying Native Americans, park management first will have to consult with appropriate Native groups. That’s the policy of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which oversees the Penn Township park. The commission says it also must approve of any such activities in writing. Questions about Bushy Run’s reenactments arose when a man who lives in another state and is of Native…

The Collaborator (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 24) Winn tasks Kira with investigating Bareil’s connection to a war crime

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a vision, Vedek Bareil exits the shrine on DS9 and sees a hanging monk and a sporty Kira. According to Kira, the hanging man is Bareil himself. After the opening credits, a shirtless Bareil looks pensively out the window in DS9. He’s in Kira’s quarters, and their relationship has obviously advanced since we last saw them together. The two discuss how they will make time for each other in the likely event he is elected Kai. On the promenade, we see Kai Winn telling smiling Bajoran children, “Honor the prophets, and they will always love you.” With…

Crossover (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 23) Kira and Bashir visit the Mirror Universe

Rewatching ST:DS9 Bashir thinks he’s bonding with Kira in a runabout as he namedrops and mansplains cheerfully about meditation and music, and asks her to call him “Julian.” Most of this happens in a single two-person take, and it’s delightfully cringeworthy to watch. A problem with the engines and an unusually rough return trip through the wormhole lead us to empty space where DS9 should be. A Klingon boarding party beams onto the runabout. Surprisingly, they apologize when they see Kira. We then visit an alternate version of Terak Nor, where Klingons supply the brute force, Garak is second in…

The Wire (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 22) While examining an ill Garak, Bashir discovers a mysterious implant

Rewatching ST:DS9 While sparring with Bashir over literature, Garak gets unusually cranky and headachy, but insists he’s fine.  Bashir pays a house call to Dax’s quarters, where he treats a plant that’s languishing because it’s away from its natural environment (an apt metaphor for Garak’s situation). This bit not only delivers exposition as Bashir talks to Dax about his arms-length friendship with the mysterious Garak, but also neatly establishes something that we take for granted some 30 years later — that Bashir can diagnose and treat an alien plant he’s never seen before, because he has access to a good…

The Alternate (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 12) Odo helps a Bajoran scientist investigate a shape-shifty clue to his own origins

Rewatching ST:DS9 As Odo squelches Quark’s latest scheme, a Bajoran man greets the constable with an air of familiarly, leaving Odo on edge. Dr. Mora is the scientist in charge of investigating the liquid substance that we now understand is the at-rest state of the shape-shifter Odo. In Mora’s presence, Odo acts like a teenager humiliated by an overbearing parent. Mora’s praise for Odo’s accomplishments is laced with surprise; his compliments carry passive-aggressive barbs.  By contrast, Sisko is SuperDad, calmly affirming to Jake of the value of a broad education, including Klingon opera homework. Jake: Just because you suffered through…