Axios journalism style delivers traditional news content in scannable format

In addition to the fact that it’s good news that a federal judge is responding rationally to science, logic, and our basic human obligation to care for the most vulnerable members of our society, I’m also interested in the way Axios labels each paragraph of this news story and supplies details with bullet points. It’s an interesting blend of journalism and writing scannable text for busy online readers. Copying and…

I Was Taught From a Young Age to Protect My Dynastic Wealth

One of the heirs to the Disney fortune explains (and critiques) the mindset of the super-rich. If your comfort requires that society be structured so that a decent percentage of your fellow citizens live in a constant state of terror about whether they’ll get health care in an emergency, or whether they can keep a roof over their family’s heads, or whether they will simply have enough to eat, perhaps…

Lies about history in Texas can be traced to the Lone Star State’s own Big Lie: The Alamo

Yet many Texans feel they need the Alamo story. As one of the authors of Forget the Alamo stated, the myth speaks to what many Texans desperately want to believe about their state: that it arose from heroic circumstances, and that there’s a reason Texas is special. This includes the current crop of Republican Texas legislators. Instead of allowing critical thinking and a serious examination of the historical record, Abbott and his allies decided to…

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I, Borg (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 23) Adolescent Borg Bonds with LaForge

Rewatching ST:TNG When a landing party encounters a badly injured Borg drone, Picard is perfectly willing to let “it” die, but Crusher has other ideas. The Borg, a cyborg race that assimilates whole civilizations and builds a hive mind via cybernetic implants, are a terrifying sci-fi enemy; the music, the costumes and the iconic greeble-bedecked Borg ships pound away at our primal fears. On my first watch, I was totally…

Thornton Wilder’s Optimistic Catastrophe: “The Skin of Our Teeth”

From a review of a 2017 production in Brooklyn. “The Skin of Our Teeth” first opened in New Haven, at the Shubert Theatre, in 1942. It was directed by Elia Kazan, and starred Tallulah Bankhead, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, and a very young Montgomery Clift; Variety wrote that the play “bewilders, bemuses, and befuddles, as it amuses.” When it moved to Broadway, to the Plymouth Theatre, it was met with…

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The Perfect Mate (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 21) Picard fails to bore an empath

Rewatching ST:TNG A fussy ambassador on his way to stop a centuries-old war asks Picard to take special care of his fragile, irreplaceable cargo, but by the end of Act 1, a Ferengi has strolled into the unguarded (and apparently unlocked) cargo bay and knocked over a glowing, floating pod, from which a beautiful woman emerges. The ambassador intends to give Kamala as a gift to seal a peace deal.…

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Cost of Living (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 20) Alexander’s Jolly Holodeck Holiday with Lwaxana

Rewatching ST:TNG Who’d love to see another whacky Lwaxana episode? Who can’t get enough of little Alexander? Who wants a Space Thing subplot that has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot? Because a cigar-chomping producer demanded an action sequence in the teaser, there’s tense music, a kinetic camera, and a photon torpedo kaboom in the first 10 seconds… and that’s about all the action for this episode.. The…

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The First Duty (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 19) Cadet Wesley’s Academy Crisis

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise is en route to Earth so that Picard can give the commencement address at Starfleet Academy, when word arrives that Cadet Crusher has survived an accident that killed another student. When we last saw Wesley (s5e6 “The Game“), he was cheerful and well-adjusted; however, Picard and Dr. Crusher are surprised he not only won’t open up to them, but politely asks them to toddle off when…

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Media Bias Chart 8.0 (Liberal / Moderate / Conservative on the X axis; Factual / Opinion / Misinformation on the Y axis)

Don’t reject a news source just because it slants against your own slant, and don’t accept a news source just because it slants the same way you do. If you find a news source where you agree with all the content all the time, that doesn’t mean the source is 100% reliable. It just 100% shares your bias.

Missouri governor vows criminal prosecution of reporter who found flaw in state website • Missouri Independent

I’m shocked… shocked that a reporter published a newsworthy story about a rookie cyber-blunder made by a powerful government agency. A reporter viewed the HTML code (a one-click process on many web browsers) and noticed that the social security numbers of school teachers and administrators were embedded in web pages served up by Missouri’s department of education. The reporter contacted the agency, and held the story until the problem was…

Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view…

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The Outcast (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 17) Genderless civilization oppresses deviance

Rewatching ST:TNG Members of a genderless civilization (portrayed by female actors with bowl haircuts and dour expressions) seek help from the Federation after one of their shuttles disappears in a Space Thing. The fact that Picard’s opening log goes out of its way to identify the J’Naii as “an adrogynous race” is a pretty obvious cue that this episode isn’t about the random space thing, it’s all about gender. After…

Trying to Tame Huck Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of the most frequently banned books in America. I regularly teach it in my American Lit class. I never use “the n-word” in lectures, and I remind my (mostly white) students of the power of the word, but the version of the text I assign doesn’t edit that word out. I also have students listen to an audio interpretation of Pap’s tirade, in order…

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Ethics (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 16) Leaky cargo barrel-1, Worf-0.

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf is paralyzed in a freak cargo bay accident. When visiting neurospecialist Dr. Russell suggests an experimental “genetronic replication” therapy, Dr. Crusher fears the risk is too great. A very composed Worf deals with his injury by asking Riker to assist him in a suicide ritual. Worf’s young son Alexander doesn’t share his father’s Klingon values, and Troi tries to mediate. With help from Picard, Riker must weigh…

I’m not a big fan of Disney’s corporate greed.

I’m not a huge fan of Disney, largely because as a grad student in the 1990s, I chose the 1920-1950 time period for my dissertation based on my expectation that the literary works I studied from that time period would fall out of copyright one by one during my career. I planned to mine my dissertation, using what I learned about the literary works in that time period to create…

How to lie with charts, by the @NYTimes

I tend to defend journalism when showboaters & slogan-quoters attack “the media” in general, but I’m eager to read legitimate critiques of individual news stories. Here’s one that seems to manipulate data out of context to support a fearmongering narrative. (Don’t do this!) 1. Data not normalized2. Not the appropriate visualization3. No differentiation between data and projections4. Not the whole story5. No contextualization of risk And NOT a @nytimes staffer;…

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Conundrum (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 14) You Get Amnesia! And YOU Get Amnesia! EVERYONE Gets Amnesia!!!

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D crew finds itself the victim of an amnesia scenario devised by desperate, shadowy figures known as “TV script writers,” who actually give Riker a line complaining about the feeble infodump that shows up in the denouement. Plot necessity provides this week’s baddies with the power to erase all the personal memories of everyone on the ship (including the android Data), and also the ability to erase…