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Birthright, Part 2 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 17) Worf sows disorder in a settlement where Klingons and Romulans live in peace

Rewatching ST:TNG L’Kor tells Worf the Klingons have chosen to remain in what was initially Romulan POW camp, because if were known they were captured alive, that would bring dishonor on their family. The Romulan Tokath gave up his military career to spare their lives and lead their new settlement. The Klingon survivors, their descendants, and at least a handful of Romulans now live together in peace.   Worf bristles when…

Perspective | Whoops of selfish delight

The whoops echoed through airplanes as flight attendants and pilots announced midair that a judge in Florida had tossed out the federal mask mandate that has been in effect since January 2021. On a Southwest flight from Nashville to Charlotte, passengers hooted and hollered and twirled their freshly ditched masks in the air with giddy delight. They reveled in the knowledge that while they might be required to buckle their…

As a plucky grad student, I walked in the door ready to negotiate with a department that needed my labor.

I think enough time has passed that I can tell this story. When I was a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the mid 1990s, the department asked me to sit through a week of undergrad presentations and proctor a final exam for my advisor, who needed to take a brief medical leave. I made a cup of tea for an afternoon of marking, tallied up and posted…

Ungrading after 11 weeks

Mathematics professor Robert Talbot reports on his ongoing experiment with ungrading — giving feedback and emphasizing the students’ metacognition, rather than encouraging them to fixate on “marks.” (Students who are less equipped to self-evaluate might actually benefit from the clear signposting provided by grades, so in his experience, removing grading from education does not magically remove inequities in the classroom.) I think it’s possible to have a hybrid setup in…

Ukraine’s Three-to-One Advantage

The author notes that he can’t confirm what this ex-marine tells him about his service with the forces defending Ukraine. I’m also very conscious that I’m sharing it because it’s comforting to believe the defense forces have a chance of succeeding. Russian doctrine relies on centralized command and control, while mission-style command and control—as the name suggests—relies on the individual initiative of every soldier, from the private to the general,…

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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.)…

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Masks (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 17) Ritual symbols start appearing on the ship and mythological figures inhabit Data’s personality

Rewatching ST:TNG Masks (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 17) Ritual symbols start appearing on the ship and mythological figures inhabit Data’s personality. This script is a mess. The comic opening is good. During an art class in the children’s center, Troi encourages Data to explore his imagination, but his sculptures are comically literal. The ship encounters an uncharted rogue comet, which causes a scanner glitch that will take some…

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Thine Own Self (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 16) Data gets amnesia at a RenFest; Troi preps for promotion to commander

Rewatching ST:TNG In the captain’s chair on a night watch, Dr. Crusher tells Troi why she likes being in command. Troi then tells Riker she’d like to take the bridge command test, too. Data has been collecting radioactive metal from a remote site on an inhabited planet, but something has clearly gone wrong, because he walks, disheveled and confused, into a Renaissance-style town square, where Garvin and his daughter Gia…

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Attached (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 8) Picard and Crusher are telepathically linked and on the run

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard and Crusher are implanted with devices that let them overhear each other’s thoughts. The plot contrivance that makes this possible is ridiculous even by Star Trek standards; however, if you are a Jean Luc / Beverly shipper (as I am), the payoff is delightful. The preachy geopolitical framing story is also totally on brand for Star Trek. Preparing for a mission to evaluate a politically divided planet’s…

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Dark Page (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 7) Lwaxana suffers from a hidden trauma

Rewatching ST:TNG Troi’s mother visits the Enterprise-D with a delegation of nonverbal telepaths. She’s focused and professional, but we see her stumble dizzily. (In TV-land this is as bad as coughing.)  One of the aliens is a widower (with a daughter played by a pre-“Interview with the Vampire” Kirsten Dunst). On my rewatch I was impressed at how stealthily the script slips in an important plot point about Lwaxana, I…

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Phantasms (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 6) Data’s Trippy Dreams; Riker’s Brainstraw and Troi-cake

Rewatching ST:TNG Data is walking through a corridor, which is filmed with the wide-angle lens the series has used recently to represent dreaming. He hears an old-timey telephone ringing, and encounters people dressed like miners, pickaxing their way through a bulkhead. He tells them to stop, and then shrieks electronically at them. They respond by pulling him to pieces. Data wakes up in his quarters, having had a nightmare. Picard…

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Interface (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 3) LaForge, using experimental augmented reality gear, encounters a vision of his mother

Rewatching ST:TNG The cold open features LaForge crawling through a Jeffries Tube without his visor, reaching through flames with his bare hands.  He’s actually in a lab, hooked into a VR interface, controlling a drone that’s inside the Reman, a science vessel that got stuck in the dense atmosphere of a gas giant planet.  Riker asks a few questions that give Crusher the excuse to explain the concept of a…

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Liaisons (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 2) Picard is Marooned with a lovelorn woman; Worf is grumpy; Troi eats desserts

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf grumbles about his dress uniform, saying it looks like a dress. He’s preparing to receive two ambassadors on the Enterprise-D, along with a pilot to shuttle Picard to their homeworld. While Troi cheerfully introduces Loquel to the concept of “dessert,” Worf gripes that Byleth is “demanding, temperamental, and rude.” Data helpfully observes, “You share all those qualities in abundance, perhaps you should try to build on your…

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Descent, Part 1 (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 26) Data experiences disturbing emotions while killing a Borg drone

Rewatching ST:TNG Data plays poker with holodeck simulations of a crabby Isaac Newton, a genial Albert Einstein, and a grinning Stephen Hawking (playing himself). The Enterprise-D follows a distress call to an outpost, where they find a Borg task force. But everything seems off… not only did these Borg seem to be hiding, the drones refer to each other by names, and one swears to avenge another’s death. When choking…

It’s not just you — we are all more forgetful during the pandemic, experts say. Here’s how to fix it

Pandemic living can make it much more difficult to form a memory at all, let alone call it back when we need it, said Yassa, director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine.   “Sometimes we’re a little bit harder on ourselves. We think, ‘Oh, how did I forget this? This is something that should be so natural for me to…

Finland’s Museum of Contemporary Emotions

A history of the beginning of the pandemic, oragnized around emotions. More recently, the Museum of Contemporary Emotions—a project of the Finnish government’s Finland Forward pandemic communications initiative—picked up Ekman’s work as its scaffolding. The Museum, really an interactive website, is a kind of digital archive of experience during the Covid-19 pandemic, styled with the sans-serif aesthetics of a direct-to-consumer startup and the haunting, echoing soundtrack of a post-apocalyptic Catholic Mass.…

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Frame of Mind (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 21) Riker is an asylum inmate who hallucinates he’s a Starfleet officer rehearsing a play about an asylum inmate

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker overprepares for a role in “Beverly’s play,” which distracts him during his briefing for an undercover mission, so that Worf accidentally cuts him while demonstrating a ceremonial knife. The night of the performance, the crowd applauds enthusiastically, but Riker is disturbed when he notices in the crowd a humanoid alien he had bumped in the corridor before. Suddenly the setting shifts, and Riker finds himself in a…