War via TikTok: Russia’s new tool for propaganda machine

“This is the way they go to war; it’s a central part of Russian doctrine,” said Jim Ludes, a former U.S. defense analyst who now directs the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University. Ludes said Russian disinformation campaigns are intended to galvanize Russian support while confusing and dividing the country’s opponents. Russia tailors its propaganda message for specific audiences. For Russians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, the message is that Russia is trying to defend its own people against Western-fueled aggression and persecution in Ukraine. Similar tactics have been used, including by Nazi Germany…

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Force of Nature (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 9) A Space Thing leads to an environmental mystery that implicates warp drive technology

Rewatching ST:TNG In which a comic teaser features LaForge’s misadventures with Data’s cat; we join the search for a missing medical transport; and we meet environmentalists with dire warnings about a ubiquitous Federation technology. LaForge is tinkering with the engines, trying to beat the performance stats of an academy frenemy. He and his nerd buddy Data have a meandering scene fiddling casually with the sensors, which have been affected by this week’s Plot Contrivance Particle Field. A disabled Ferengi ship reports being technobabbled by what appeared to be a Federation buoy. Reasoning that the missing medical transport may have been…

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Rightful Heir (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 23) Worf’s quest for the return of a fabled Klingon threatens the Klingon Empire’s status quo

Rewatching ST:TNG Worf is uncharacteristically late for a shift because he was distracted by a ritual to invoke the fabled warrior Kahless. He tells Picard that since meeting the young Klingons who grew up with no knowledge of their heritage (s6e16&17 “Birthright“), he has felt “empty,” and feels the need to test his faith. Picard is simultaneously strict and empathetic, calling Worf’s actions “Inexcusable… and understandable.” He grants him a leave and tells him not to come back until he’s ready to perform his duties properly. In a shrine on the holy planet Boreth, Worf joins a group of Klingons…

In one small prairie town, two warring visions of America

Great writing and great photography in this story about a small Minnesota town where conservative Lutheran pastor Jason Wolter denies that COVID-19 vaccines work. “You’re lying to people,” he says, “You flat-out lie about things.” Wolter is speaking of Reed Anfinson, his next-door neighbor, who is the editor of the Swift County Monitor-News, “[a] contemplative man who casually quotes Voltaire, he loves newspapers deeply, and mourns the hundreds of small-town papers that have gone under in recent years.” “The easy part is speaking truth to power. The hard part is speaking truth to your community,” said Anfinson, whose wife is a…

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The Chase (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 20) Planet-hopping archaeological DNA mystery

Rewatching ST:TNG A well-done mystery that could have, *should* have, redefined our understanding of intelligent life in the Star Trek storytelling universe, but did not. Picard’s beloved archeology professor shows up after 30 years with an invitation to join a mysterious expedition.  I respect that the writers don’t ask us to believe that Picard is seriously tempted by the offer; instead, Picard is worried about having to say no to his mentor (once again). Not too long after he leaves the ship in a huff, Galen sends a distress signal. He’s rescued just in time to utter a last dramatic…

Dr. Bobby Teaches Ferris Bueller as Rhetor

My former student, Bobby Kuechenmeister, uses Ferris Bueller’s lesson on faking out his parents as an example to teach ethos, logos, and paths.  The last time I checked, most of my undergrads said they would probably recognize a Ferris Beuller reference, but in a class today of 9 only 3 raised their hands when I asked if they knew “The Karate Kid.”

He dedicated years of his life to QAnon. One day made him question it all.

Thoughtful analysis structured around one man’s personal journey away from QAnon. No single online platform is responsible for QAnon’s rapid rise. YouTube hosted the videos that many members credit with their “red pilling,” the favored term for a supposed enlightenment or exposure to conspiracy theories. Facebook allowed for easy conversation, meme sharing and organizing. Twitter, Justin’s favored platform, provided fertile ground for QAnon influencers and their lies. “It was an amplification machine,” said Daniel J. Jones, president of Advance Democracy Inc., a global research organization that studies disinformation and extremism, referring to Twitter. Jones found QAnon followers (identified by the QAnon identifiers in…

Perspective | How NPR’s Steve Inskeep cracked the code for interviewing Trump

The role of mainstream journalists is significant, and, overall, their record has been far less than stellar. Too many, whether in a one-on-one interview or at larger sessions with a number of reporters, have failed to push back in a way that matters. Trump is such a facile talker — one who specializes in dazzling displays of distraction, ad hominem attacks and repetition — that challenging him effectively in real time can be almost impossible. Those journalistic failures have not served the public. As George Lakoff, a linguist and a proponent of the “truth sandwich,” told me in 2018: “Trump needs the…

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Face of The Enemy (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 14) Troi role-plays as a feared Romulan intelligence officer

Rewatching ST:TNG Troi wakes up, looking like a Romulan. When Subcommander N’Vek tells her she’s impersonating the imperial intelligence officer Major Rakal, and that she’ll be killed if she doesn’t play along, he invites her to use her empathic powers to see whether he’s lying. He’s not. He’s using the assumed authority of “Rakal” to prevent his commander from opening some mysterious cargo containers. Back on the Enterprise, a former Federation officer who defected to the Romulans has re-fected to the Federation, knowing he’ll be court-martialed. (The guy’s name is “DeSeve”… oh, what a tangled web we weave!) He bears…

Grappling with Genocide: Fostering Empathy and Engagement through Text and Image (NEH funded education summit, Seton Hill University, July 11-22 2022)

Some of my amazing colleagues have collaborated on an amazing NEH-funded summer institute that provides teachers in grades 6-12 with resources for teaching about genocide. The event, scheduled for summer 2022, includes units on the erasure of Native Americans, an empathy-building Narrative 4 storytelling workshop, and more. There’s a stipend for participating in this event, and on-campus housing is available at a very modest cost — about 10% of the stipend. See the details on the Grappling with Genocide website. Here is how John Spurlock describes the event on his blog: During the two weeks of the institute, students will…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In December 2001 I was blogging about

In December 2001, I was blogging about Changes in Online Culture The End of Free (chronicles services that used to be free but that now cost money) Is the [Technology] Revolution Over? Imagine Silicon Valley Buried Like Pompeii Wil Wheaton While the character of teen wonder Wesley Crusher was annoying because weak scripts had him saving the ship too many times, I wrote this blog page that traced early references to Wesley on rec.arts.startrek, a Usenet fan site that predated the World Wide Web. The young actor who portrayed Wesley was sadly the target of some online abuse, but over…

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True Q (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 6) Visiting Intern Exhibits Q-like Powers

Rewatching ST:TNG On its way to help an ecologically devastated planet, the Enterprise-D picks up a clever young intern, who reveals for us her secret power of making puppies appear from nowhere. Amanda (played with an impressive mixture of maturity and teenaged vulnerability by Olivia D’Abo) chats with Dr. Crusher about family, and we learn she was adopted as a baby. Right before a cargo container falls on Riker, she deflects it with a gesture. Later, in engineering, the warp core suddenly acts up and explodes, but she manages to reverse the explosion and restore the ship. Q suddenly appears,…

Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In November 2001 I was blogging about

In November 2001, I was blogging about Florida recounts would have favored Bush (contentions election famous for a Florida ballot that many voters found confusing) Is this a burger which I see before me, / The soft bun in my hand? Come, et me clutch thee. / I eat thee not, and yet I want thee still. (McDonald’s Soliloquy)’ The Tyranny of Nicespeak Treating users with disabilities as people What if David Mamet rewrote 2001: A Space Odyssey?  

A very shallow story that doesn’t provide any context for who is giving the high praise and why

High praise for a K-9 officer at Dallas Love Field Airport after more than $100,000 was found in a passenger's luggage. https://t.co/lJoDg5lWfh pic.twitter.com/sA1unHSCCB — CBSDFW (@CBSDFW) December 7, 2021 Some cop set up this shot hoping journos would publish feel-good stories unencumbered by context on exactly why it’s legal for cops to seize cash from travelers, and whether that law is ethical as it was written or how it is actually enforced. Because Ballentine is a good dog!! Who is doing the praising, and why? Who did the finding, and why? According to the story, the person with the cash…

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Man of the People (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 3) When a tranquil envoy makes a b*tch out of Troi, that’s a-plot twist

Rewatching ST:TNG Called to the aid of a transport ship on its way to an important peace summit, the Enterprise-D scatters raiders and beams aboard an ambassador and his elderly mother Maylor, who dramatically warns Troi not to pursue him.   Wishing to be transferred to another civilian transport, Alkar stands his ground against Picard and an admiral, but when his request is denied, he calmly accepts a ride on the Enterprise-D. After an exercise class, Troi and Alkar chat about her empathy and his tranquility. Their mutual admiration society is interrupted by more hostility from Maylor. When Riker joins Troi…

A Note to My Remaining Students at the Close of the 2021 Fall Semester

Of course, the power outage meant that we missed three weeks of class, but when I was able to finally meet up again with the few of you who returned, I really felt we got a lot done. Until the fires. Who knew that plugging all of our electrical infrastructure into the same outlet would turn the entire west side into a giant ball of flame? Not me. But I enjoyed the essays that you turned in before we had to evacuate again. Really. I mean, if I had to offer criticism, I guess they could have been more cheerful.…