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…

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…