Hear That? It’s Your Voice Being Taken for Profit.

Why do tech companies give us these cool free digital voice assistants? (Hint: If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold.) Because of recent major advances in natural language processing and machine learning, individuals will soon be able to speak conversationally not just to their phone assistant or smart speaker but to their dedicated bank assistant, kitchen equipment, restaurant menu, hotel room console, homework assignment, or car.…

In-person classes heighten age-related hearing problems (opinion)

My family tells me I’m starting to speak louder than I need to around the house. On my campus, all students are required to be vaccinated or masked. I can hear my students much better than last term, when everyone was masked and practicing social distance. Today I got several emails alerting me that students are in quarantine or isolation, and that they should contact me about how to make…

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The Masterpiece Society (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 13) Space Thing Threatens Genetically Perfect Colony

Rewatching ST:TNG When a Space Thing threatens a genetically perfect colony, the wary inhabitants resist Picard’s offer to evacuate. Humans on Moab IV have for two centuries enjoyed a carefully designed society. The charismatic leader Conor speaks glowingly of fulfilling the role he was genetically engineered to hold, while the rigid traditionalist Martin undiplomatically scoffs at LaForge’s blindness. Conor is taken with Troi, who seems charmed by his attention. LaForge…

Sights, Sounds, and Smells of Elizabethan Theater

Somewhere during my education I picked upon the meme that “Shakespeare’s contemporaries referred to ‘hearing’ a play, not ‘seeing’ a play,” and I regularly trot it out to emphasize how growing up in an auditory culture meant that the average Elizabethan probably got a lot more out of casually attending a Shakespeare play than the average student gets from studying an annotated script. Practically speaking, I encourage students to listen…

In major step, UCSF scientists translate unspoken words of paralyzed man into writing

The “neuroprosthetic” technology involved installing a credit-card-sized electrode panel on the surface of a volunteer’s brain, then collecting electrical signals as the person — a man completely paralyzed by a brain-stem stroke 15 years ago — tried to form words. Over a period of several months, scientists worked with the man to develop a catalog of 50 words that could be translated from his thoughts into hundreds of phrases and…

Veteran’s microphone cut off when he discusses Black people’s role in establishing Memorial Day

Who is this nobody Memorial Day keynote speaker who dared to make white patriots feel discomfort by bringing up facts that trigger their racism?  It’s not history unless it affirms my world view, right? Where does the lying America-hating fake news media come up with these stories? There so bias!! A ceremony organizer turned off a microphone when a retired Army lieutenant colonel began sharing a story about freed Black…

‘Belonging Is Stronger Than Facts’: The Age of Misinformation

As much as we like to think of ourselves as rational beings who put truth-seeking above all else, we are social animals wired for survival. In times of perceived conflict or social change, we seek security in groups. And that makes us eager to consume information, true or not, that lets us see the world as a conflict putting our righteous ingroup against a nefarious outgroup. […] Framing everything as…

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

For the record, if I should happen to be murdered by someone with a gun…

For the record, if I should happen to be murdered by someone with a gun, I grant all supporters of sensible gun control legislation full permission to politicize my death — as quickly as they like.   I reject any notion that the months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes after a violent firearm incident are “not the time for political debate.”   It’s everyone’s First Amendment right to criticize the…

Bottled Authors: the predigital dream of the audiobook

There was no way to preserve sounds before the nineteenth century. Speeches, songs, and soliloquies all vanished moments after leaving the lips. That situation changed in 1877, when Thomas Edison began working on a machine that could mechanically reproduce the human voice. Edison’s team successfully assembled a device on which Edison recorded “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a nursery rhyme that would become the first words ever spoken by the phonograph.2 Depending on how you define the term, Edison’s inaugural recording of verse might be considered the world’s first audiobook.. –Matthew Rubery, Cabinet Magazine

Texas lawyer trapped by cat filter on Zoom call, informs judge he is not a cat

A Texas lawyer accidentally left a kitten filter on during a video conference call with a judge and was unable to change it, eventually responding to a judge’s query about why he was being addressed by a digital feline by saying: “I’m here live. I am not a cat.” Later, the judge wrote: “These fun moments are a byproduct of the legal profession’s dedication to ensuring that the justice system…

I’m just getting around to watching this speech from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Impressive!

I really never paid much attention to Schwarzenegger’s time as governor of California, but because I was in living in Wisconsin during part of former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura’s time as governor of Minnesota, I guess I expected bluster and bravado. Yes, waving the Conan sword certainly provided manly spectacle for the groundlings, but the sword was an opportunity to introduce a metaphor — he put it down with a…

McCain’s 2008 Concession Speech: Republicans interrupt their candidate’s concession speech to cheer about what the election of his opponent says about the USA

That moment during McCain’s concession speech in 2008, when he mentions Obama, and a ripple of boos begin. McCain, his face showing disapproval, holds up his hands palms down — a controlling gesture, but a calming one. He says the simple word, “Please,” and patiently waits until his audience settles down. He says he just called Obama “to congratulate him on being elected president of the country we both love.”…

Video Tips for Students: Don’t do what I’m doing!  You can’t see my eyes, the background is distracting, you’re looking up my nose and the lighting is awful.

You might have been asked to submit a short video assignment. Don’t do what I’m doing! You can’t see my eyes, the background is distracting, you’re looking up my nose and the lighting is awful.  This short video demonstrates some quick tips that will greatly improve a video submission assignment. Your instructor and your classmates won’t really care if your phone beeps or you lose your place in your notes…

No, Trump’s tweet about “Heritage, History, and Greatness” is not a quote from a speech Hitler gave in 1939

Trump really did tweet “This is a battle to save the Heritage, History, and Greatness of our Country!” Plugging those words into Google Translate yields “Dies ist ein Kampf um die Rettung des Erbes, der Geschichte und der Größe unseres Landes!” I could be wrong, but I think Größe in German just means “physical size,” or “dimensions” rather than “greatness” in the sense of “having achieved many great things.” Hitler…

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Ménage à Troi (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 24) Lwaxana, Ferengi, Chess, and Poetry

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. The teaser features Picard fibbing awkwardly to evade Troi’s mother Lwaxana, nicely setting up a later scene when he woos her with snatches of Shakespeare and Tennyson — first clumsily, then enthusiastically, as part of a ruse designed to… oh, nevermind why. Seeing Picard save the day with love poetry is well worth the cringeworthy setup. (And the scene also provides the visual for the…