Gen Z Never Learned to Read Cursive

When I used to teach a “Media and Culture” class, I had students do an oral project, a handwriting project, a typewriter/cut-and-paste project, and a digital project, and we spent quite a bit of time reading and talking about how the ways we read and write affect not only what we read and write about, but also how we conceptualize the world and our place in it. I do remember  a time about 16 years ago when I overheard a student in the hallway, during some good-natured teasing banter, saying to a colleague, “Email is for old people.” That was…

Perspective | Could ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ really be done? We found out.

The three of us approach them in our very obvious costumes and ask if I can hop on their float. Not only do they agree, but they tell us they were looking for a Ferris! Everything is going our way — just like in the movie. I jump aboard, and they cue up the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout.” It’s thrilling and a bit unnerving standing on the float (try twisting and shouting on a moving vehicle), but now I’m fully in character. I hear cries of “Save Ferris!” from parade watchers and apartment windows as we glide down Lincoln Avenue.…

Thinking a lot lately about masking and empathy, and my role as educator.

Thinking a lot lately about masking and empathy, and my role as educator. Finding the right balance between making people uncomfortable by avoiding eye contact and making people uncomfortable by staring is one of the many unwritten rules I’ve seen autistic people struggle to master. I still mention “eye contact” in my rubric for student video projects, but it’s now just one of many several different ways to be “engaging,” rather than a stand-alone category, and students don’t have to make videos at all — they could do an audio-only project, or a hypertext. Group work can also be a…

The Enduring Allure of Choose Your Own Adventure Books

I didn’t realize how involved the children of divorced dads Packard and Montgomery were in the creation of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” gamebooks. (The children of divorced dad Will Crowther were one motivation for, and were early playtesters for, Crowther’s original Colossal Cave Adventure; the history of parser text adventure games and branching path gamebooks overlap in time and theme.) You were a girl who wanted to choose your own adventures. Which is to say, you were a girl who never had adventures. You always followed the rules. But, when you ate an entire sleeve of graham crackers and…

Civil Defense (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 7) O’Brien accidentally triggers dormant Cardassian security protocols

Rewatching ST:DS9 Although some time ago Jake told his father he didn’t want to join Starfleet, the plot of this episode requires O’Brien to still be mentoring Jake as they putter about an unused ore processing room, so that when O’Brien enters the wrong passcode they can get locked in together with Sisko. A recorded image of Gul Dukat addresses the Bajoran workers who have presumably started to revolt, giving them a TV-friendly 8-minute deadline to turn themselves in. I was a little distracted during this episode because my Paramount+ account suddenly stopped playing nice with one of the of…

The Abandoned (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 6) A genetically engineered baby and Sisko’s son both grow up quickly

Rewatching ST:DS9 Quark scowls as a lucky customer cleans up at a dabo table. Jake blows a kiss at the attendant, who must be Mardah, his girlfriend (of whom we have heard but never seen). Mardah encourages the customer to play one more round, which he loses. He aims to console himself with Marda’s attention, but she blows him off and sits with Jake. She says Sisko asked her to dinner tomorrow. This is news to Jake. An alien offers to sell Quark some salvage; he’s more interested in her company, but she talks him into the purchase. When Quark…

A Las Vegas public official is held on open murder charge in connection with the killing of an investigative journalist, sheriff says

An elected county official in Las Vegas is being held on a murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of a veteran journalist who had reported on the official’s purported wrongdoing, a sheriff announced Thursday – a case that raises questions about press freedom in America. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the killing of Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, days after the reporter was found stabbed to death outside his home, officials said in a news conference, echoing earlier reports by the newspaper that cited Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. […] “We are ……

The Miller of the Dee; by James Baldwin; read by Dennis Jerz

I showed up at the recording studio for about two hours over the summer; the creative team had three or four different scripts for me to record. We had a grand time knocking them out, one after the other. But this particular script included the stage direction “he sings.” There were lyrics, but no score. Not that seeing written notes would have helped me much… I’ve been fortunate to be coached by and work alongside many talented artists, in school, as a church cantor, and in local theater; and the only thing I can say I’ve really learned is how…

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…

Second Skin (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 5) Is Kira a Cardassian sleeper agent? Of course not, but it’s a fun story.

Rewatching ST:DS9 Quark notices Dax looking glum because Kira is late for her “anti-grav sailing” appointment in the holosuites. Their outing is interrupted by a Bajoran archivist asking about Kira’s stay in a Cardassian prison — an event Kira doesn’t remember. After consulting with Odo, Kira makes a video call to someone the records say was a fellow prisoner; he claims to remember her. Kira checks in with Sisko, saying she needs a few days to get to the bottom of this. Garak tells Bashir he misses traveling. Bashir asks whether Garak is afraid the Cardassian government would kill him…