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…

Why Marlon Brando’s Streetcar Co-Stars Couldn’t Stand Him

Williams’ last play, The Glass Menagerie, had been a hit, but Streetcar was still a risk. A name star would make the show a surer thing. Besides, wasn’t this kid too young for the part? Kazan persisted. Selznick agreed to cast Brando, but only if they could get him to audition for Williams at the playwright’s house in Provincetown. Brando told Kazan he had no money to make the trip. Kazan gave the young actor bus fare and told Williams to expect him. Brando was always irresponsible, but his irresponsibility reached spectacular heights when he was ambivalent and conflicted, as he was about…

I just had some fun spotting a possible source of the word “dongle” (the plug-in security device)

The word “dongle” has long existed as a representation of the sound of a bell, and it seems in the very early 80s it acquired the meaning of “a plug-in computer security device,” but in a 1970s magazine devoted to recreational model building, “dingle” and “dongle” were terms denoting components that needed to be connected. When someone needed a word for “a small plug-in device that would make software run,” perhaps they were thinking of this existing usage. Found this 1970 "American Modeler" magazine article, that gives "dingle" and "dongle" as placeholders for components to be connected, but I can't…

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

In January, 2002 I was blogging about…

A 20-something former CEO takes a fast food job The death of Astrid Lindgren (creator of Pippi Longstocking) at 94 Isadore, patron saint of web surfing (who remembers when “surfing the web” was the dominant metaphor?) Teenager created a glove to translate ASL finger positions to speech On the implausibility of the Death Star’s trash compactor The death of Hemingway’s “Old Man” at 104 Bernard Shifman, the moron spammer 11 September 2001, the Response of Poetry A former student’s 9/11 poetry project (created for a technical writing assignment) Arts & Letters Daily (long-running blog that’s still going) More reasons not…

I Cannot Begin to Tell You How Proficient I Am in Microsoft Word

Is this satire? It doesn’t matter. It gave me feels. For me, though, it was Word Perfect and Broderbund Print Shop that were there for me as a teenager finding my voice. Bold and italics are the oils that grace my palette. Cut and paste the strings upon my lyre. Fonts, bullets, columns, indentations—these stubborn materials are no match for the alchemy with which I extract meaning and impose order. For I am proficient in Microsoft Word. Many are the candidates who come touting their areas of expertise—beginner Spanish, ability to work well under pressure—but none compare to the fluency…

Academics want to preserve video games. The game industry is fighting them in court.

For decades, champions of the video game industry have touted gaming’s cultural impact as the equal of literature, film and music. Traditionally, the classic works from those mediums have been preserved for study by future generations, and amid gaming’s global rise in relevance, a group of video game scholars and advocates is pushing to preserve the game industry’s historic titles and legacy in a similar fashion. In the process, though, the would-be preservationists have found a number of challenges that include, ironically, legal opposition from video game companies and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade organization that lobbies on…

Starship Mine (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 18) Picard out-thinks thieves raiding an evacuated Enterprise-D

Rewatching ST:TNG Picard plays cat-and-mouse with thugs when the Enterprise is evacuated for routine maintenance. During a long tracking shot, Picard bumps into senior staff members who just happen to be standing in the corridor with administrative problems for him to solve. In the turbolift, Data tries out his new “small talk during awkward moments” subroutine, and Picard recommends he meet Commander Hutchinson at this afternoon’s reception on Arkaria Base. On his way off the ship, Picard pauses to take in the empty bridge, as the local work crew arrives to set up equipment.  At the reception, Data observes the…

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Ship in a Bottle (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 12) Barclay’s holodeck hack brings a mastermind back, that’s a-foul play

Rewatching ST:TNG Data and LaForge are enjoying a Sherlock Holmes holoprogram when LaForge notices an NPC glitch. Because they have more important things to do, they call Barclay, who inadvertently activates the sentient Moriarty simulation (from s2e3, “Elementary, Dear Data“). Picard is shocked to learn that Moriarty has experienced consciousness while stored in the computer databank. Moriarty becomes convinced Picard lied to him about asking Starfleet to work on a method to let Moriarty exist off the holodeck. Moriarty shows a stunned Picard, Data and Barclay that he can leave the holodeck and walk out into the corridor without disappearing.…

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The Quality of Life (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 9) Boxy bots start to skive; Data thinks they’re alive, that’s a-plot twist

Rewatching ST:TNG During a poker game, Crusher tweaks Riker, Worf and LaForge for wearing beards.  The bumpy-headed scientist Farallon is super-dedicated to a “particle fountain” mining project, which the Enterprise-D is assigned to evaluate. Along the way she has also had time to tinker with remote-controlled, AI-driven gadgets she calls “exocomps.” After an exocomp refuses an order in a context that could be interpreted as an act of self-preservation, Data asks Crusher for a definition of “life.” Testy Farallon lashes out at LaForge when he’s trying to offer not only sympathy, but also a second shift of engineering staff to…

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Schisms (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 5)

Rewatching ST:TNG Riker is having trouble sleeping, except during Data’s poetry recitation. (“O Spot! The complex levels of behavior you display / Connote a fairly well developed cognitive array.”) As the ship faces a labor-intensive task of charting the Space Thing of the Week, LaForge has made some adjustments to the deflector grid. Riker’s dozing is more than a teaser gag; he reports to sickbay, and snaps at Dr. Crusher when she waves equipment near his head. Meanwhile, Worf flinches at Mr. Mot’s barber scissors. The sensors seem jumpy too — they detect what appears to be “a massive EPS…

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?  

Into the depths of code. Algorithmic archaeologies and cave fantasies in video games

The full article (by Angelo Careriis) in French, but there is an English abstract, and Google Translate is just a few clicks away. By examining a mixed body composed of video games linked to the American hacker culture (Colossal Cave Adventure, Rogue, Dwarf Fortress), and some academic research that examine these objects with an experimental and transdisciplinary approach (speleology, archaeology), this paper deals with the metaphor of cave exploration applied to computer programing. Colossal Cave Adventure, a text-based game that was created by an experienced spelunker after a series of expeditions in the Mammoth Cave system, plays an important role…

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

In October 2001, I was blogging about nothing, apostrophes, the anthrax scare, and Boilerplate

In October 2001, I was blogging about Nothing Matters. (A teaching metaphor that had a big impact on my pedagogy… I’m glad I had the occasion to revisit it. Even when I blogged it 20 years ago there were a lot of broken links on the site, but the main idea is still completely valid) The Apostrophe Protection Society Job Hunting Tips (satire from The Onion) Walking Sports Database Scorns Walking Sci-Fi Database The need for editors on the Web Boilerplate: Mechanical Marvel of the 19th Century (a steampunk robot photoshopped into historical photos creates an alternate history timeline that…

Shatner’s live, extemporaneous post-touchdown monologue on mortality was better than Kirk’s death scene

After returning to Earth in Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin private spacecraft, Shatner is delivering an extemporaneous monologue about viewing Mother Earth and reflecting on death. “I hope I never recover from this,” he says, of the emotions he experienced. Much better than Kirk’s death scene in Star Trek: Generations. Someone (I was listening, not watching… I think it was Bezos) says “Beautiful,” and Shatner thinks he’s commenting about the view from space, but the comment was referring to Shatner’s words. And I have to teach.

Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever

The headline is oddly STEM-specific, but yes, it used to be that if you worked with computers at all, you had to understand your computer’s file directory structure, so all college instructors could expect that their STEM majors had probably learned this concept as part of their earliest computer training. But the “search” function on individual computers (and also the list of recently saved files that almost every software tool puts into its “load” menu) means generation Z usually doesn’t need to internalize the concept that a document exists at a single location on a hard drive. I have recently…