We’re in Denial About the True Cost of a Twitter Implosion

The public disintegration of a platform that millions of people used every day has been painful to watch. Now that Google’s search results seem almost completely colonized by AI-generated crap, it will be harder for me to listen in on and learn from a wide range of everyday people sharing their opinions and talking to each other. Elon Musk’s platform may be hell, but it’s also where huge amounts of reputational and social wealth are invested. All of that is in peril. […] The jokey mood around Twitter’s failure right now may be a way to temporarily push aside the…

Crime coverage on Fox News halved once US midterms were over

In the weeks leading up to the US midterm elections, the message from Fox News was clear: violent crime is surging, cities are dangerous hellscapes and Democrats are responsible. With the vote over, however, the rightwing news channel appeared to decide things weren’t that bad after all, and decreased its coverage of violent crime by 50% compared with the pre-election average. —Guardian

Destiny (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 15) An ancient prophecy tests Kira’s faith and Sisko’s patience

Rewatching ST:DS9 The station prepares to welcome Cardassian scientists who will open a communications link to the Gamma Quadrant. While Sisko and Quark are hopeful, Downer Dax raises doubts about the technobabble, and points out Quark’s bottles of Cardassian booze have spoiled.  The vedek Yarka warns Sisko that letting the Cardassians establish a relay link through the wormhole will fulfill an ancient prophecy that foretells doom. Kira seems to find his interpretation credible enough to consider, even though the prophecy mentions “three vipers” but there are only two Cardassian scientists. Sisko is respectful but remains committed to the project. Yarka…

AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about (opinion)

After reviewing 22 AI essays I asked my students to create, I can tell you confidently that AI-generated essays are nothing to worry about. The technology just isn’t there, and I doubt it will be anytime soon. […] The students in this class were mostly juniors and seniors, and many were majors in rhetoric and writing. They did great work, putting in a lot of effort. But, in the end, the essays they turned in were not good. If I had believed these were genuine student essays, the very best would have earned somewhere around a C or C-minus. They…

Heart of Stone (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 14) Odo tries to keep Kira’s spirits up as she is slowly consumed by a crystal; Nog seeks Sisko’s help to join Starfleet

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a runabout, Kira bickers with a grumpy Odo.  Kira: You’re right. Next time we are invited out for dinner, I’ll make sure you are the one to say no. Odo: I’d appreciate that. There’s warmth under the snark on both sides, though as usual Kira isn’t aware of how much she means to Odo. A distress call leads them to chase a Maquis raider into a plot contrivance particle field, and thanks to a commercial break and dialogue, the director didn’t have to show us the raider crashing and Kira and Odo pursuing the pilot into a…

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Life Support (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 3, Episode 13) Bashir keeps the gravely injured Bareil alive to help Kai Winn secure a treaty with the Cardassians

Rewatching ST:DS9 An accident aboard a transport arriving at the station rattles Kai Winn and seriously injures Vedek Bareil. Winn suspects the accident may have been sabotage, infodumping to Sisko that Bareil is crucial to the success of secret peace talks with Cardassia. Winn admits that since she won the election as Kai, her former rival has proved himself a loyal aide, and she not only credits him but admits she doubts she would have been as forgiving. Bareil does not fare well, despite Bashir’s best efforts. Bashir tells Kira he is on life support, and never regained consciousness. But…

Engrossing but difficult to watch: “Man in Cave” documentary on caver Floyd Collins

I’m conflicted. This is a very well done animated documentary, creating visuals that were not part of the original press coverage of Floyd Collins, the caver trapped in Sand Cave in 1925, and the subject of the first media circus, fed by the emerging new medium of radio journalism. The animation adds sight gags and sometimes crude humor, which is juvenile and not particularly funny. This story happened to real people, and I’m uncomfortable their suffering has been turned into entertainment. Yet here I am, watching. (That’s part of the discomfort I feel.) Even though I know how this story…

No, this pie chart does not mean that anyone at CNBC believes the typical 25 year old earns a salary of $100k/y and spends $825/mo on rent

Tell me you didn’t click the link without telling me you didn’t click the link. I don’t watch any TV news and CNBC plays no role in my life, but come on. This post has gotten thousands of likes and generated hundreds of comments, many of them suggesting that CNBC is out of touch for reporting these figures as “typical.” It’s easy to attack the messenger, but it’s really not hard to Google “cnbc budget breakdown of a 25 year old” and click the first link.  This chart, from a profile of a specific person who “brings in $100,000 a…

Let’s Make the Academic Job Market More Humane

It’s been decades since I’ve had the “I’m in school again and I forgot to study for the test” nightmare, but it hasn’t been so long since I’ve had nightmares about the faculty job search. I did have one nightmare campus visit, where I was told I was one of six candidates brought to campus to interview for two positions, and that one of the other candidates was “unbeatable.” For my job talk I chose a topic related to the technical writing / media position I was applying for, and after it was over I saw the crowded room full…

Screenshot of Drudge Report headline, "TRUMP CAUGHT HOARDING NATION'S SECRETS"

The Drudge Report is pulling no punches as it covers the Trump document saga

The Drudge Report is pulling no punches as it covers the Trump document saga. Backstory: In 1998, Drudge went public with word that Newsweek was sitting on a story about an intimate relationship between President Clinton and 24-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Hilary Clinton’s defense of her husband, as she appeared at his side and blamed the charges on a “vast right wing conspiracy”; Pres. Clinton’s evasive responses (quibbling over the definition of the word “is” and whether receiving oral sex counts as having sexual relations), his later admission that he lied, his impeachment for perjury, and Lewinsky’s status…

The Jem’Hadar (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 26) Sisko father-son bonding vacation threatened by Ferengi and the Dominion

Rewatching ST:DS9 Sisko is unimpressed by Jake’s botany science project, and offers to take him on a vacation through the wormhole to do a planetary survey, proving he’s learned absolutely nothing from O’Brien’s attempt to take a runabout on a vacation. Space Dad is flummoxed when Space Son announces he’s invited Nog to come along, too, and annoyed when Quark presents himself as Nog’s chaperone. Jake’s friendship with Nog is sincere, but Quark, who hopes that spending quality time with Sisko will help him negotiate using the station monitors to broadcast advertisements, pressures Sisko on the grounds that letting him…

Tribunal (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 25) O’Brien Must Suffer: shore leave interrupted for a Cardassian show trial

Rewatching ST:DS9 O’Brien annoys everyone in Ops with last-minute instructions. On his way to join Keiko on a runabout for their vacation, he runs into a former shipmate from the Rutledge. Boone says he’s left Starfleet and is now settled on the Cardassian side of the demilitarized zone. The two promise to check up with each other later. In private, Boone suspiciously plays back part of a recording he just made of O’Brien’s voice. On the runabout, Keiko is annoyed that O’Brien has left behind the “holocam” he was supposed to bring and instead brought some technical manuals. He softens…

The Collaborator (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 24) Winn tasks Kira with investigating Bareil’s connection to a war crime

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a vision, Vedek Bareil exits the shrine on DS9 and sees a hanging monk and a sporty Kira. According to Kira, the hanging man is Bareil himself. After the opening credits, a shirtless Bareil looks pensively out the window in DS9. He’s in Kira’s quarters, and their relationship has obviously advanced since we last saw them together. The two discuss how they will make time for each other in the likely event he is elected Kai. On the promenade, we see Kai Winn telling smiling Bajoran children, “Honor the prophets, and they will always love you.” With…

The Maquis, Part 2 (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 21) Sisko must stop the dissident Maquis from reigniting a war with Cardassia

Rewatching ST:DS9 Hudson and Sisko have at it with the rhetoric on a casual stroll across a cheesy-looking jungle soundstage. Hudson admits he can’t prove the Cardassian government is arming its settlers, but he’s not interested in working with Sisko to find that proof. Instead, he phaser-stuns Sisko and escapes. Back on DS9, Sisko gives orders to continue the search for the kidnapped Dukat, and does not mention Hudson’s defection  during a 2-minute meeting with Admiral Necheyev (that could have been an e-mail). Sisko tells Kira that Earth is the cause of the problem — the Federation leaders who wrote…

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Paradise (#StarTrek #DS9 Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 15) Anti-technology colony welcomes Sisko and O’Brien a bit too enthusiastically

Rewatching ST:DS9 In a runabout on a survey of star systems near the wormhole, Sisko asks O’Brien to take Jake on as an apprentice.  They find a planet giving off low-level plot contrivance particles. When they beam down, none of their technology works. They also find a thriving agrarian human colony, built around the empty hull of their non-functioning spaceship, which landed here 10 years ago en route to a different destination. The colonists ask questions about Starfleet, sports, and fashion. The leader Alixus gives a speech about how proud they are of what they’ve accomplished on their own, without…

Why Study Humanities? What I Tell Engineering Freshmen

Science writer Jon Horgan writes: We live in a world increasingly dominated by science. And that’s fine. I became a science writer because I think science is the most exciting, dynamic, consequential part of human culture, and I wanted to be a part of that. Also, I have two college-age kids, and I’d be thrilled if they pursued careers in science, engineering or medicine. I certainly want them to learn as much science and math as they can, because those skills can help you get a great job. But it is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now…