The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct

The story notes that when police departments mention they are paying a cash settlement to a plaintiff who has made accusations of police misconduct, the departments typically don’t mention the name of officers involved. On the one hand, this makes sense, since the settlements are often made with no admission of misconduct, so the officers aren’t proven guilty. On the other hand, the missing names means it’s hard for the public to keep track of which officers are single-handedly responsible for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars worth of taxpayer money being handed over to plaintiffs who allege police…

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Homeward (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 13) Worf’s foster brother interferes with a primitive, dying culture

Rewatching ST:TNG The Enterprise-D answers a distress call from Worf’s foster brother, a civilian observing a primitive civilization on a planet with an atmosphere that’s spontaneously dissipating because reasons. The dissipation is also creating a plot contrivance field that periodically jams key systems so that we can watch characters react to dramatic in-person discoveries of details we would otherwise learn through a scanner readout on the bridge. When the planet surface became uninhabitable, brother Nikolai moved a village of Boraalans into a cave (again with the caves!), and set up a technobabble field to protect them from the bad Space…

Minnesota authorities can’t arrest or threaten journalists after judge approves settlement arising from George Floyd protests

A federal judge brokers an agreement in which Minnesota police had to be told specifically that they can’t arrest, threaten, or assault journalists, or confiscate or damage their equipment. Even when protestors are ordered to disperse, journalists are permitted to document what happens next, as per their First Amendment rights. The settlement includes a payment of $825k to the ACLU, and additional training for any officers who might think they have a right to brutalize and intimidate journalists who are performing their constitutionally protected duties.  Note how the headline on FOX news uses “allegedly” and makes the liberal ACLU the…

Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, Now a Rich Man, Receives a Letter from His HOA

Dear Tevye, This letter is to inform you that you are in gross violation of the rules of this Homeowners’ Association (HOA). Please note the following infractions: Your contract allows for a modest structure in the prevailing style of the neighborhood. It does not allow for a big tall house with rooms by the dozen. Your building permit was for the lot at 161 Maple Street. Instead, you built a house right in the middle of the town, a commercial district not zoned for residential use. […] Your yard is filled with chicks and turkeys and geese and ducks. They…

He dedicated years of his life to QAnon. One day made him question it all.

Thoughtful analysis structured around one man’s personal journey away from QAnon. No single online platform is responsible for QAnon’s rapid rise. YouTube hosted the videos that many members credit with their “red pilling,” the favored term for a supposed enlightenment or exposure to conspiracy theories. Facebook allowed for easy conversation, meme sharing and organizing. Twitter, Justin’s favored platform, provided fertile ground for QAnon influencers and their lies. “It was an amplification machine,” said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy Inc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism, referring to Twitter. Jones found QAnon followers (identified by the QAnon identifiers in…

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Aquiel (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 13) LaForge adopts a murder victim’s dog. Is she really a suspect?

Rewatching ST:TNG LaForge gets a little too involved when investigating the disappearance of a lieutenant posted on a remote relay station. On a routine supply mission near the Klingon border, the Enterprise-D finds only a friendly dog and a mystery.  The plot requires the details of the mystery to remain fuzzy so that LaForge has time to sift through the personal logs of Lt. Aquiel Uhnari. The technobabble uncertainties with the evidence examined by Worf and Crusher must be untechnobabbled by a lengthy process. We learn that someone likely died from a powerful weapon, that Uhnari didn’t get along with…

Grappling with Genocide: Fostering Empathy and Engagement through Text and Image (NEH funded education summit, Seton Hill University, July 11-22 2022)

Some of my amazing colleagues have collaborated on an amazing NEH-funded summer institute that provides teachers in grades 6-12 with resources for teaching about genocide. The event, scheduled for summer 2022, includes units on the erasure of Native Americans, an empathy-building Narrative 4 storytelling workshop, and more. There’s a stipend for participating in this event, and on-campus housing is available at a very modest cost — about 10% of the stipend. See the details on the Grappling with Genocide website. Here is how John Spurlock describes the event on his blog: During the two weeks of the institute, students will…

The LA Times deletes tweets that used passive voice, as details emerged about police killing a teenage bystander (while they also killed an assault suspect)

Several journalist-involved tweet deletions occurred in connection with the Los Angeles Times.   Doesn’t that statement sound awkward?   Language like “was shot and killed by police” and “police-involved shooting” downplays the moral choices made by LEOs who aim their weapons at fellow human beings and squeeze the trigger.   If a police report states “a bullet from a police officer’s gun struck a suspect,” good journalists should notice and revise the “copspeak.” Journalists have their own jargon, too, such as using “alleged” to describe crimes that a suspect is accused of committing (because in America we are all “innocent…

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The Quality of Life (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 9) Boxy bots start to skive; Data thinks they’re alive, that’s a-plot twist

Rewatching ST:TNG During a poker game, Crusher tweaks Riker, Worf and LaForge for wearing beards.  The bumpy-headed scientist Farallon is super-dedicated to a “particle fountain” mining project, which the Enterprise-D is assigned to evaluate. Along the way she has also had time to tinker with remote-controlled, AI-driven gadgets she calls “exocomps.” After an exocomp refuses an order in a context that could be interpreted as an act of self-preservation, Data asks Crusher for a definition of “life.” Testy Farallon lashes out at LaForge when he’s trying to offer not only sympathy, but also a second shift of engineering staff to…

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A Fistful of Datas (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 8) Worf Trapped in Western Simulation

Rewatching ST:TNG Silly Gagh-Western finds Worf trapped on the holodeck with gunslinging copies of Data. When the crew gets a few unexpected days of downtime. Picard practices his flute and Crusher casts a play. After running out of excuses, Worf finds himself wearing a sheriff’s badge and moseying into a holo-saloon, at the request of his young son. Alexander is initially annoyed that Worf finishes the story too easily, so he orders the computer to make it harder to win. LaForge, who a couple weeks ago sparked an invasion from hostile subspace aliens when he tweaked the scanners, decides to…

A very shallow story that doesn’t provide any context for who is giving the high praise and why

High praise for a K-9 officer at Dallas Love Field Airport after more than $100,000 was found in a passenger's luggage. https://t.co/lJoDg5lWfh pic.twitter.com/sA1unHSCCB — CBSDFW (@CBSDFW) December 7, 2021 Some cop set up this shot hoping journos would publish feel-good stories unencumbered by context on exactly why it’s legal for cops to seize cash from travelers, and whether that law is ethical as it was written or how it is actually enforced. Because Ballentine is a good dog!! Who is doing the praising, and why? Who did the finding, and why? According to the story, the person with the cash…

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 pasting text from the Axios website is annoying because of the embedded non-standard formatting. (I had to recreate the look on my page.) A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Texas…

Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Simulations are powerful tools for understanding our world. Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death explores the surprising intersection between craft and forensic science. It also tells the story of how a woman co-opted traditionally feminine crafts to advance the male-dominated field of police investigation and to establish herself as one of its leading voices. Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962) crafted her extraordinary “Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death”—exquisitely detailed miniature crime scenes—to train homicide investigators to “convict the guilty, clear the innocent, and find the truth in a nutshell.” These dollhouse-sized dioramas of true…

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 the problem does not rest with those people, but with you and what you think of as necessary, proper, and acceptable. –Abigail Disney Source: I Was Taught From a Young…

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 go the despotic route and unilaterally declare the false mythology is now fact. In a move that critics decry as a pure expression of fascism, the Texas governor requires his “patriotic…

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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. She is not only an empath, but it’s in her nature to change her personality based on the desires she senses from men. With Picard, she becomes straightforward and independent;…

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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 main plot involves Lwaxana’s intention to marry a stranger, and her encouragement of Alexander’s rebellious side.  In full quirky governess mode, she takes him on a trippy holodeck visit to…

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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 his flight leader Locarno shows up for a chat. Before the commercial break, we have learned just enough to suspect that something’s up. Picard seeks out the groundskeeper Boothby, whom…