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…

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, not only to understand the mission but then to use their initiative to adapt to the exigencies of a chaotic and ever-changing battlefield in order to accomplish that mission. Although…

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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.) Troi and Worf visit Kwan’s quarters, which are orderly. They check his personal log, which reveals him as dedicated and optimistic. His girlfriend Ensign Calloway mentions some tension with his…

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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 time to resolve. That’s good news for the plot, because it provides the characters with more downtime, during which they can notice odd things, like a tabletop obelisk appearing in…

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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 just happen to be having an expositional conversation about his status as the village magistrate. Data has no memory of who he is, or where he came from. He can…

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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 request to join the Federation, Picard is distracted during his customary breakfast with Crusher. She questions the policy that planets must have solved their own geopolitical problems before joining the…

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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 suppose because at this point we’re watching to see how Troi handles the awkward flirting from the nice guy barely verbal alien telepath single dad, who tells Troi that when…

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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 laments that he’s been invited once again to attend the annual Admirals Dinner, and fears he may not be able to escape the ordeal. The Enterprise-D is getting ready to…

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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 haptic VR interface, for the benefit of the 1993 audience. Picard has to pass along to LaForge the bad news that another Federation ship, the Hera, has disappeared. The captain…