Samaritan Snare (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 17)

(Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break.) Picard, who resolved last week’s plot by proving he was not too closed-minded and stubbornly prideful to admit he needs help from Q, sets this week’s plot in motion by demonstrating he is too closed-minded and stubbornly prideful to admit he needs help from his own chief medical officer. While the title refers to the B-plot (helping the sad-puppy Pakleds…

Q Who? (ST: TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 16)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. The unpredictable entity Q introduces the Enterprise to the Borg, a collective of hybrid biological and technological drones. We learn that Q and Guinan have some unspecified backstory that, based on their hand gestures, seems to involve a community theater production of Cats. In this episode, Q is to Picard as The Great Gazoo is to Fred Flintstone. (Popping in and…

Pop song lyrics use more negative words (“hate”, “sorrow”) than 50 years ago

The use of words related to negative emotions has increased by more than one third…. If we assume an average of 300 words per song, every year there are 30,000 words in the lyrics of the [Billboard] top-100 hits. In 1965, around 450 of these words were associated with negative emotions, whereas in 2015 their number was above 700. Meanwhile, words associated with positive emotions decreased in the same time period.

Pen Pals (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 15)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break. A new-to-me “Data Hears a Who” character story, featuring a multi-layered philosophical jam session in Picard’s quarters, a substantial B-plot for Wesley, and some tacked-on science-fictiony frippery for the groundlings. I started watching the show late at night, and lost interest when Wesley was steeling himself in the hallway before addressing the geological survey team he had assembled. When I…

Facebook exec erroneously cites The Lord of the Rings when comparing the social network to the One Ring

A Facebook executive, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, recently defended Facebook’s policies about political advertising, which critics say rewards politicians who spend a lot of money pushing lies to the slogan-chanting, meme-sharing masses (including the ones in red hats and the ones with the blue hats). Bosworth seems to suggest that for Facebook to tamper with its own money-making algorithm in the service of the truth would be like “Galadrial” [sic] claiming…

Why ‘Cats’ the Movie Fails So Flamboyantly

I can’t seem to get into superhero movies. The non-stop CGI onslaught just leaves me cold. As an English professor who teaches classes like Shakespeare in Context and World Drama, I do a lot of reading and see a lot of local theatre. But I’m hardly a media snob. For relaxation, I often put on an audiobook and fiddle with the computer graphics modeling package Blender3D. I also enjoy Skyrim,…