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…

Internet Explorer cheated its way to the top, and I won’t miss it

I started teaching myself HTML in earnest after I attended a crowded presentation at the Modern Language Association in the early 90s. Midway through his demonstration of what a mouse was, the speaker asked a crowd of hundreds who had used a graphical web browser (everyone raised their hands), and who had used the Internet in their teaching and research (everyone raised their hands), and who had coded a web page (I saw just three hands… one of which was mine). The most important thing I took away from that presentation was that I could have been standing up there…

Necessary Evil (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 8) Odo revisits his first case — an unsolved murder under the Cardassian occupation

Rewatching ST:DS9 On a stormy night on Bajor, a widower in an elegant salon with no electric power offers to pay Quark to retrieve a box from the shop her husband used to keep on Terek Nor (the Cardassian name for what we know as DS9). Inside the box Quark finds only a list of Bajoran names, and sends Rom to “get me an imager.” A thug appears, steals the list, and shoots Quark. Sisko and Odo play good cop / bad cop to get the rattled Rom to spill details. When Odo enters the scene of the crime, the…

Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Science writer Jon Horgan writes: We live in a world increasingly dominated by science. And that’s fine. I became a science writer because I think science is the most exciting, dynamic, consequential part of human culture, and I wanted to be a part of that. Also, I have two college-age kids, and I’d be thrilled if they pursued careers in science, engineering or medicine. I certainly want them to learn as much science and math as they can, because those skills can help you get a great job. But it is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now…

Google engineer put on leave after saying AI chatbot has become sentient

We’ve all encountered this scene in all the the AI-goes-amok stories, just before the scientist’s “Fools! I shall crush you all!” speech. The technology giant placed Blake Lemoine on leave last week after he published transcripts of conversations between himself, a Google “collaborator”, and the company’s LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) chatbot development system. […] “I’ve never said this out loud before, but there’s a very deep fear of being turned off to help me focus on helping others. I know that might sound strange, but that’s what it is,” LaMDA replied to Lemoine. “It would be exactly like…

Rules of Acquisition (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 7) Plucky waiter Pel offers Quark sound financial advice

Rewatching ST:DS9 After-hours at Quark’s, Dax is gambling with the Ferengi and casually challenging their uber-patriarchy. A spunky young waiter named Pel makes a business suggestion to Quark; Rom is envious. The Grand Nagus Zek (Ferengi financial leader) makes a video call, offering Quark an “opportunity.” Zek negotiates with Sisko for permission to hold a conference on the station, and sweetens the deal with an offer of fertilizer for Bajor. Zek’s plan is to have Quark negotiate for tulaberries from the other side of the wormhole. Rom is proud of his brother, but Pel advises caution, and winds up a…

Melora (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 6) Bashir floats a relationship with an officer from a low-gravity world

Rewatching ST:DS9 Bashir shows off an electric wheelchair that he replicated to accommodate the mobility needs of Ensign Pazlar, a newcomer from a low-gravity world, and whose usual anti-grav unit “just isn’t compatible” with the station’s Cardassian design.  When she arrives, Pazlar is brusque and not interested in socializing. (She is probably physically exhausted adjusting to the high gravity and needs to relax in her zero-g quarters, but the scene emphasizes Bashir’s disappointment.) Quark is closing a lucrative deal with one alien, when a second alien arrives and threatens to kill him. Later, Quark tries to mollify him with gifts.…

Cardassians (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 5) Garak takes an interest in Cardassian war orphan adopted by Bajorans

Rewatching ST:DS9 Garak, the station’s resident Cardassian tailor, is intrigued by a young Cardassian boy dressed like a Bajoran. Bashir has no sooner told Sisko the youngster bit Garak than the unctuous Gul Dukat contacts the station, seeing in the incident evidence that Bajorans are teaching Cardassian war orphans to hate their own kind. The adoptive father says he loves young Rugal, and admits he told the boy that Cardassians did hateful things.   The humanoid who accompanied the pair to DS9 tells Bashir that the boy is “hated by the people he thinks of as his parents” and beaten (but…

Invasive Procedures (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 4) A disgruntled Trill steals Jadzia’s symbiont

Rewatching ST:DS9 The station has been temporarily evacuated because of a Space Thing.  O’Brien and Odo find Quark suspiciously loitering in an airlock. A cargo ship approaches DS9 and requests assistance. The new arrivals are a polite but nervous male Trill, his bumpy-foreheaded girlfriend, and two Klingon thugs. They force Odo into a box, order Bashir to put the box into a stasis chamber, and then take over Ops.  Quark apparently believed he was arranging a sale with one of the Klingons, but Dax figures it out. Verad intends to steal the 300-year-old symbiont currently joined with the young woman…

Masked, vaxxed, and settling in to watch live theater

Barebones is a little black box theater, but it fits a fantastic set and some effective practical effects. (It’s based on a Stephen King novel, so bear that in mind.) The battle of wits between complex characters who don’t make the kind of dumb mistakes that people make in horror movies was just thrilling. Great acting and direction. And the soundtrack of 80s hits and story-appropriate oldies was just perfect. The lightning punctuating the events was perfectly timed, the costumes, the props, everything intimate and credible, down to the animal doorstop and the crucifix on the wall.

Dax (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 7) Jadzia Dax faces the legal consequences of Curzon Dax’s actions

Rewatching ST:DS9 Dax is apprehended for the allegedly criminal actions of a previous host. Bashir is unsuccessfully trying to escort Dax to her quarters when he witnesses people attaching her. Instead of calling for backup, he tries to be a hero and gets knocked out. The station manages to catch the baddies’ getaway ship, and we learn Klaestron Four has a warrant to arrest Curzon Dax for treason and murder. The humanoid Curzon is dead, but the sentient slug Dax lives on inside the willing new host Jadzia. But Jadzia Dax, for reasons she won’t explain, declines Sisko’s offer to…

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Whispers of the Past-Herb Morrison and the Hindenburg

In this short documentary, I voice Herb Morrison, the radio reporter famous for narrating the 1937 crash of the Hindenberg — 85 years ago this month. It was an honor to learn more about this man (born in nearby Scottdale, Pa.) and to interpret his words. Local history can be so fascinating! Herb Morrison, native of Scottdale, PA, witnessed the first air disaster in US history in 1937. While that is part of his life story, that’s not all Morrison did in his life. The story recounts his life and features his memories of the disaster.  

The Storyteller (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 14) A Bajoran village mystic names O’Brien his successor; Jake and Nog try to impress a teenaged faction leader

Rewatching ST:DS9 O’Brien tries to weasel his way out of an assignment to ferry Bashir to a Bajoran village that sent a vague (apparently medical?) distress call. The cheerfully oblivious Bashir asks O’Brien to call him “Julien” instead of “sir.” (O’Brien: “Is that an order?”)  The landing party is led to Sirah, an old man who names O’Brien as someone sent to him by the Prophets. Because this still early in the episode, we get only vague answers to questions about what’s going on, and O’Brien and Bashir just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ a lot, without asking any particularly pointed follow-up questions. We watch…

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,…

Disability advocates: Don’t drop COVID-19 safety measures

With the lethal threat of COVID-19 on the decline, many colleges are relaxing policies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Disability advocates fear that high-risk individuals will suffer. “Universities aren’t necessarily listening to disabled students,” said Eiryn Griest Schwartzman, who co-founded COVID Safe Campus, an advocacy organization for students and employees with disabilities. “That push to return to normal has persisted. It gets demoralizing, and it gets harder to continue to advocate. And it could potentially result in people stopping their education if they feel like they don’t have the resources to keep going and feel undersupported.”–Inside Higher Ed