Shutting the Door on the Hard-Knock Life

In sync with the resurgence of labor activism nationwide, actors, dancers, stage managers, technicians and others have been questioning the nuts and bolts of their contracts — both the documents that detail their jobs and the wider assumptions about what they owe an audience. Can the theater, they ask, find a way to uphold them more holistically as humans, even as they continue to gut themselves every night? Some people will not even agree that it should. The idea that theater is a calling, not a job, and that the two categories are mutually exclusive, is so ingrained in the…

The Jem’Hadar (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 26) Sisko father-son bonding vacation threatened by Ferengi and the Dominion

Rewatching ST:DS9 Sisko is unimpressed by Jake’s botany science project, and offers to take him on a vacation through the wormhole to do a planetary survey, proving he’s learned absolutely nothing from O’Brien’s attempt to take a runabout on a vacation. Space Dad is flummoxed when Space Son announces he’s invited Nog to come along, too, and annoyed when Quark presents himself as Nog’s chaperone. Jake’s friendship with Nog is sincere, but Quark, who hopes that spending quality time with Sisko will help him negotiate using the station monitors to broadcast advertisements, pressures Sisko on the grounds that letting him…

Tribunal (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 25) O’Brien Must Suffer: shore leave interrupted for a Cardassian show trial

Rewatching ST:DS9 O’Brien annoys everyone in Ops with last-minute instructions. On his way to join Keiko on a runabout for their vacation, he runs into a former shipmate from the Rutledge. Boone says he’s left Starfleet and is now settled on the Cardassian side of the demilitarized zone. The two promise to check up with each other later. In private, Boone suspiciously plays back part of a recording he just made of O’Brien’s voice. On the runabout, Keiko is annoyed that O’Brien has left behind the “holocam” he was supposed to bring and instead brought some technical manuals. He softens…

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Two decades of Alzheimer’s research may be based on deliberate fraud that has cost millions of lives

Over the last two decades, Alzheimer’s drugs have been notable mostly for having a 99% failure rate in human trials. It’s not unusual for drugs that are effective in vitro and in animal models to turn out to be less than successful when used in humans, but Alzheimer’s has a record that makes the batting average in other areas look like Hall of Fame material. And now we have a good idea of why. Because it looks like the original paper that established the amyloid plaque model as the foundation of Alzheimer’s research over the last 16 years might not just…

Tales from the Antiquities Theft Task Force

A shot of Kim Kardashian leaning against an Egyptian coffin at the 2018 Met Gala by Landon Nordeman exposes his subject in a flash of light—though perhaps not the subject anyone expected. Out of the thousands upon thousands who saw the shot, one happened to be more interested in the gold coffin than Kim’s (heavenly) body in gold Versace. He had looted the coffin seven years earlier but was never paid for his spoils. And it was now sitting in the Met. Angry and in possession of receipts, he fired off an anonymous email to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to tip…

Scat “boop oop a doop” and variations (Esther Lee Jones, Helen Kane, Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe); hippie “coo coo ca choo”; Beatles “goo goo ga joob”

A few years ago I was working regularly with a director who filled any conversation pause with a descending musical vocalization “doo de-doo de-doo.” While the similar “dum de-dum de-dum” means “I’m just sitting here minding my own business,” the brighter, more cheerful “doo de-doo de-do” was a cross between a satisfied sigh and a scat, and seemed to convey motion, or anticipation. It was so bright that maybe I should render it “doot te-doot te-doot.”   Not “attention!” like the CSI “dun-dun” gavel sound, or impatience, like the “writing down your Final Jeopardy response” theme song.  I remember looking into…

Police Say A Lot Of Things

It’s not all cops who lie. Just the bad apples. Not the good apple cops who regularly, actively, loudly denounce the bad apple cops, turning them in and testifying against them, and stopping them from doing bad apple things out there in the field. No, it’s not those *good* cops that I’m complaining about. Just the other kind. Police lie. They, along with prosecutors, lied that seventh-grader Adam Toledo was holding a gun when he was shot dead by a Chicago police officer last month, until the body camera footage released yesterday showed that Toledo’s hands were empty and he was complying with…

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…

White antiracist hero: “A hired killer fired a bullet right at Cassius’ chest… just as Cassius was unsheathing his bowie knife, which took the hit and saved his life.”

What a story!   Sharing stories like this (that is, white abolitionists who stood up against whites deeply invested in the racist status quo), is probably something that makes racists annoyed.   Like the various assassination attempts Cassius Marcellus Clay survived, or the time a tour group of 60 proud supporters of the status quo casually toured themselves through the barricaded, armored doors of his abolitionist newspaper and percussively redecorated the interior (and in the process reconfiguring his printing press into a special, non-functioning mode).   The stories of white abolitionists are of course only one part of history; but…

In discord with its own rules, the AP refers to an 18yo mass-shooting suspect as a “teenager,” then follows up with a different tweet describing a “a white gunman in military gear.”

The AP’s own rules say an 18yo is an adult, not a teen. In a light-hearted story about a high school event where some are 17 and some are 18, you could get away with calling them all “teenagers,” but in a serious story, it’s crucial to be consistent. This suspect is a white man. Shortly after the “teenager” tweet, the AP released another tweet referring to “a white gunman in military gear.” It’s only fair for me to acknowledge they seem to be responding to their audience. (Nobody’s perfect, of course, but @AP & lots of us on the…

Top Russian News Site Calls Out Putin’s ‘Paranoiac’ War

Journalists at a Kremlin-controlled news website published at least a dozen anti-war articles today — a brave attempt to undermine the propaganda campaign attempting to justify Putin’s unprovoked and immoral acts of violence against the Ukrainian people. The articles were quickly taken down, but you can still read them on the Internet Archive. Internet Archive backup of Lenta.ru for May 9, 2022. One of Russia’s leading news websites, Lenta.ru, briefly posted materials critical of President Vladimir Putin and his government amid a crackdown by the state on independent journalism and media reports slamming Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. About a…

The Passenger (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 9) Dead criminal keeps committing crimes

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a runabout, Kira reluctantly expresses admiration for Bashir’s medical skill. Instead of humbly accepting her praise, Bashir monologues about his own giftedness.  A distress call brings them aboard a burning ship, where the pilot is dead, and a semi-conscious woman warns Bashir not to rescue a prisoner who started the fire. That prisoner regains consciousness long enough to grab Bashir and gasp, “Du musst Caligari werden” — no, sorry, “Make me live.” Bashir pronounces him dead. Kajada is a security operative who has been tracking Vantika for twenty years. When she revives in the infirmary, she stabs…

Los Angeles sheriff appears to back down after signaling he was investigating reporter

Villanueva has repeatedly singled out LA Times reporter Alene Tchekmedyian, who is just doing her job by covering his department. Tchekmedyian has published a series of stories about an incident in which a deputy kneeled on an inmate — including an article on Monday regarding an allegation that Villanueva was implicated in a cover-up. At Tuesday’s press conference, Villanueva displayed and pointed to a photo of Tchekmedyian, plus one of his political rivals and the sheriff’s inspector general. Arrows implied a connection between all three. Villanueva referred to video of the incident that Tchekmedyian had obtained as “stolen property.” And he…

A Man Alone (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 4) Crime scene clues implicate Constable Odo; Keiko tries to start a school

Rewatching ST:DS9 After threatening a man who later turns up dead, Constable Odo becomes the prime suspect. The episode takes its time getting started, with character-driven bits developing Bashir’s one-sided interest in Dax, Sisko’s adjustment to his former mentor Curzon Dax’s new identity as Jadzia Dax, Sisko’s insistence that the Javert-like Odo play within the rules, Quark and Odo’s grumbly familiarity, the beginnings of a friendship between Jake and Nog, and tension between O’Brien and his wife Keiko. We also meet Rom (Nog’s father and Quark’s brother), but the writers obviously haven’t determined Rom’s personality yet — he seems brutish…

The secret police: Cops built a shadowy surveillance machine in Minnesota after George Floyd’s murder

Many of the same people who reject masking and vaccinations on the grounds that they allegedly threaten the free will of the citizenry are perfectly OK with authoritarian police systems that harass and assault citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights to a free press and free speech. If you’re worried that vaccines are part of a deep state plan to surveil and suppress the populace, what until you read about what the Minneapolis police are still doing, long after the end of the protests that erupted over the actions of convicted murderer and former Minneapolis LEO Derek Chauvin.…

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Firstborn (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 21) Worf prepares his reluctant son for a rite of passage

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf awkwardly rehearses a speech to prepare Alexander for a rite of passage. Doused by a water balloon intended for Alexander, Worf bungles the speech. He’s even more rattled when Alexander admits he doesn’t want to become a warrior. Picard suggests Worf visit a nearby Klingon outpost for an upcoming festival. Wide-eyed Alexander is enchanted by a participatory street theater bat’leth opera, and runs off to see the sights with friends (mentioned only in dialog). When three bad guys surround Worf and Alexander, a stranger steps in to help fight them off. K’Mtar says he was sent by…

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Journey’s End (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 20) Picard must relocate a North American Indian colony; Wesley faces another loyalty test

Rewatching ST:TNG An obviously troubled Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise. Picard lays out muchies to prepare for an in-person visit from Admiral Necheyev, in an effort to make their relationship less confrontational. She notices and appreciates his efforts, but still gives him very difficult orders to relocate a colony founded by Native North Americans.  Necheyev (having herself already voiced all the objections Picard brings up) feels this is a reasonable sacrifice in the interests of interstellar peace with the Cardassians. When asked whether she should appoint someone else to command the Enterprise for this mission, Picard says he’ll do it.…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just been arrested, but not formally charged yet, as a “killer.” Having said that, the “past exonerative voice” is a powerfully descriptive name for how the journalists who are trained to…

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Eye of the Beholder (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 18) Troi probes a crewman’s suicide, finds a ghostly love triangle tragedy

Rewatching ST:TNG An agitated engineer is poised to leap inside a warp nacelle’s plasma stream. He tells Riker “they laughed at me,” and jumps. Picard wants to know what happened so he can break the news to Lt. Kwan’s parents. Data tells LaForge he had great difficulties after he initially became sentient, and considered resetting his neural network, essentially killing himself and starting over, but decided against it. (LaForge approves.) Troi and Worf visit Kwan’s quarters, which are orderly. They check his personal log, which reveals him as dedicated and optimistic. His girlfriend Ensign Calloway mentions some tension with his…