i trained an ai chatbot on my childhood journal entries – so that i could engage in real-time dialogue with my “inner child”

I kept a journal from Feb 3 1983 (the day my freshman high school English teacher assigned a journal entry as homework) through about 1992 (when I was busy in grad school, though I did write long emails to my fiancee). As I was wrapping up my dissertation, I started blogging in 1999. At no point in my life did I write the kind of free-flowing personal musings that I imagine would help an AI bot let you converse with your younger self. This is a fascinating experiment in time travel. i kept diaries for about 10+ years of my…

Critical Ignoring as a Core Competence for Digital Citizens

I used to spend a lot of time on Twitter. I’ve deleted the app from my phone, and check it a couple times a day from my laptop. I’ve been reading more news and fewer tweets. I followed a Twitter bot that reminds me to go do something else that’s not scrolling slack-jawed through tweets. Low-quality and misleading information online can hijack people’s attention, often by evoking curiosity, outrage, or anger. Resisting certain types of information and actors online requires people to adopt new mental habits that help them avoid being tempted by attention-grabbing and potentially harmful content. We argue…

Fascination (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 10) Comic crush after crush; that’s about it.

Rewatching ST:DS9 A character-driven farce, in which most of the major cast and several recurring characters get massive crushes and/or are comically crushed upon. Jake is sullen because his now-former girlfriend Mardah has left for school, but reluctantly agrees to attend the Bajoran Gratitude Festival with his Space Dad. O’Brien is jittery because Keiko and Molly are visiting from Bajor. Misanthropic Odo accepts Kira’s warm invitation to participate in the festivities, and Kira doesn’t notice how disappointed Odo is to learn Bareil will be visiting. Little Molly greets her daddy by puking on him, and Lwaxana enters with, “I should…

Defiant (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 9) Riker visits DS9, and it’s he who’s titularly “defiant”

Rewatching ST:DS9 After an overworked Kira snaps at Bashir, the good doctor’s prescription is an evening at Quark’s, which includes a chance meeting with Commander Riker, on leave from the Enterprise-D. The next morning when Dax pries her for details, Kira insists they just talked.  That evening, Riker bumps into her on the promenade and she invites him on a tour of the station. He requests a visit to the Defiant. O’Brien is surprised and happy to see his former commander, but Riker turns cold: “I have nothing to say to you, O’Brien.” Riker seems to perk up again on…

Meridian (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 8) Dax falls for a man from a Bridgadoon planet

Rewatching ST:DS9 Kira tells Odo about the pleasure of drinking too-hot coffee and, in order to escape the attentions of the smarmy merchant Tiron, role-plays that she and Odo are lovers. (She doesn’t notice how Odo reacts when she takes his hand.) On the Defiant, a “commander’s log” lampshades the fact that this episode features a random exploratory jaunt in the Gamma Quadrant, despite the recent episodes carefully setting up the Dominion War story arc. When the Defiant stops to study the plot contrivance particles from a Space Thing, a planet suddenly appears out of nowhere. The cheerful leader Seltin…

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…

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…

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…

The Alternate (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 12) Odo helps a Bajoran scientist investigate a shape-shifty clue to his own origins

Rewatching ST:DS9 As Odo squelches Quark’s latest scheme, a Bajoran man greets the constable with an air of familiarly, leaving Odo on edge. Dr. Mora is the scientist in charge of investigating the liquid substance that we now understand is the at-rest state of the shape-shifter Odo. In Mora’s presence, Odo acts like a teenager humiliated by an overbearing parent. Mora’s praise for Odo’s accomplishments is laced with surprise; his compliments carry passive-aggressive barbs.  By contrast, Sisko is SuperDad, calmly affirming to Jake of the value of a broad education, including Klingon opera homework. Jake: Just because you suffered through…

Sarah Polley: ‘It took me years to see how responsible Terry Gilliam was for my terror’

The little girl from Adventures of Baron Munchausen grew up thinking the explosions and fire on set were much more dangerous than director Terry Gilliam remembers them. This was painful to read. I couldn’t breathe. It didn’t seem possible that this could have been the plan, that things hadn’t just gone terribly wrong. But they hadn’t. This was the plan. And I had just ruined the take. I was mortified. It took a long time to reset the take and while Terry didn’t show any frustration about the delay, he also didn’t seem to notice how scared I was. I…

Invasive Procedures (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 4) A disgruntled Trill steals Jadzia’s symbiont

Rewatching ST:DS9 The station has been temporarily evacuated because of a Space Thing.  O’Brien and Odo find Quark suspiciously loitering in an airlock. A cargo ship approaches DS9 and requests assistance. The new arrivals are a polite but nervous male Trill, his bumpy-foreheaded girlfriend, and two Klingon thugs. They force Odo into a box, order Bashir to put the box into a stasis chamber, and then take over Ops.  Quark apparently believed he was arranging a sale with one of the Klingons, but Dax figures it out. Verad intends to steal the 300-year-old symbiont currently joined with the young woman…

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The Homecoming (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 1) War hero rescued by Kira has feet of clay

Rewatching ST:DS9 Quark receives a Bajoran earring that gets Kira pumped (for reasons we don’t know just yet). Jake has successfully asked a Bajoran girl out on a date. “I can see you’re not ready to have this conversation yet,” Jake tells his nervous dad. Kira asks Sisko to borrow a runabout, and only reluctantly tells him why. The earring belongs to the legendary resistance leader Li Nalas (that we’ve never heard of before), and she wants to rescue him from a Cardassian prison. In a remote area of the station, O’Brien finds graffiti that Sisko identifies as referencing The…

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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 he sees the Klingon youth Toq using a Klingon weapon as a hoe, and dismayed when Ba’el (the young woman who caught his eye in Part 1) seems so happy…

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 seat belt, turn off their cellphone, put their seat backs in the upright position and refrain from smoking on their grueling one-hour-and-20-minute flight, the one thing they would not have…

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 the final grades, and got some work-study money for my trouble. When I checked in with my advisor by phone, he mentioned he wasn’t going to return for the next…

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 a lower-level course (like I’m teaching this summer) where the work that addresses the lower reaches of Bloom’s Taxonomy is graded using specifications with marks, while the upper levels of…