Fact Check: No, an NPR story on the Trump supporters’ attempted coup dated January 6, 2021 9:33 AM ET is not a sign of a conspiracy theory

A conspiracy theory featuring a news story that NPR posted early on Jan 6 2021 and then updated after the pro-Trump demonstration turned into an anti-democracy riot was shared widely last year. My meme explaining the concepts of time-stamps and updating a breaking news story didn’t get shared nearly as much. People who already believe journalists regularly lie to make Trump look bad will share viral memes that confirm that…

I’m really enjoying seeing how my students are responding to Hamlet.

As part of a class assignment, one student took some friends to see the Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Park all-female production of Hamlet. One of her friends is from Vietnam, and my student was very proud that she could answer his questions about what was going on. Many students, even the English majors, confess that in high school they never tried to read Shakespeare’s language, but instead depended totally on…

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reducing print edition to 2 days a week; cites plan to go all digital

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is scaling back its print edition to two days a week as part of the 235-year-old newspaper’s transition to an all-digital news operation, documents show. The plan is to eliminate its Friday print edition beginning Feb. 27, according to a letter from Post-Gazette’s human resources manager provided by the newsroom’s employee union. Without other changes, that would leave only a Thursday and Sunday edition in print. triblive.com/local/post-gazette-reducing-print-edition-to-2-days-a-week-cites-plan-to-go-all-digital/

The disinformation system that Trump unleashed will outlast him. Here’s what reality-based journalists must do about it.

Highlights from a column by Margaret Sullivan (The Washington Post): President Trump didn’t create the media cesspool that he’ll bequeath to a troubled nation. He just made it exponentially worse — not only with his own constant lies but with his ability to spread the ugliness. Just days ago, he tweeted out a debunked conspiracy theory that a company that makes voting machines had deleted millions of Trump votes. And though he…

My mentor interrupted me. “Ignore your students from the neck down,” she said.

Early in my teaching career, I noticed some students silently body-shaming another. I’m sure the target, who had a minor wardrobe malfunction, didn’t even notice. Later that day I asked a more experienced mentor for advice, awkwardly mentioning that the target of the body-shaming was not slim. My mentor interrupted me. “Ignore your students from the neck down,” she said. I did. During the next class I said some general…

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Who Watches the Watchers (ST:TNG Season Three Episode 4) Rationalist, talky mythbusting

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break. After a primitive, rationalist society mistakes Federation technology for supernatural power, Picard must do whatever it takes to undo the resulting cultural contamination. Fortunately for Picard, that involves lots of talking. A grim scene in sickbay memorably demonstrates that humans in the 24th century can sometimes delay but cannot defeat death. A cleverly subversive climax has Picard calmly determined to deliver the Mintakans from…

Shen Yun Chinese dance troupe

One of seven touring groups devoted to sharing China’s traditional culture. The name means “beauty of divine dance.” Much emphasis on acrobatics and fluid motions. A recurring theme was interaction with the divine, and one number set in the present day focused on two brothers, one a police officer and one who falls in love with a woman who practices Falun Gong —  a forbidden faith which, at least as…

Big Calculator: How Texas Instruments Monopolized Math Class

My math education predated the widespread use of graphing calculators. I remember writing my own BASIC programs to graph simple functions, but that was in a summer school programming class during middle school, not part of my high school curriculum. I’m amazed these old calculators cost this much. Bulky and black, with large, colorful push buttons and a low-resolution screen, TI graphing calculators resemble top-of-the-line design from the 1990s and…

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Arsenal of Freedom (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 21)

With an A-plot that comments on the Cold War arms race, a B-plot that tests LaForge’s command skills, and a C-plot that explores the Picard/Crusher dynamic, I wanted to like this episode more than I did. Yar wisely observes that it’s kind of pointless for the landing party to strategize against a system that has already wiped out all the intelligent life on a planet, yet the characters still peek through the bushes at the wobbly floating plastic menace, and leap out of the way of its space-zapper ray gun blasts, because TV.

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The Last Outpost (ST:TNG Rewatch. Season 1, Episode 4) Riker shouts from a cliff while Ferengi use whips, that’s a-facepalm

Rewatching ST:TNG after about a 20-year break. This odd episode introduced the Ferengi, a parody of the capitalist patriarchy. I only remember bits and pieces of this episode, possibly because the pieces really don’t fit together very well. The long opening sequence gives us a good look at how the bridge crew deals with an evolving situation. We open with a chase scene, that quickly becomes a standoff, then morphs…

Trump and Putin shake hands during a joint press conference at the Helsinki summit.

Trump’s reference to “the transcript” of the Helsinki conference… which transcript? There are several.

This is why journalism matters: The Atlantic offers a good overview of the confusing fact that the official transcripts published by the White House and the Russian government don’t match the video. Compare this transcript, of what actually happened, to the White House’s version. Here is the record of what took place, starting with the last part of Putin’s comments before Mason’s questions. Putin is describing his willingness to assist with Robert…

Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together

I tell this old newsroom tale to my students: An angry editor sees a cub reporter coming into work. “I sent you to cover a concert,” says the editor. “Why didn’t you file the story?” The cub reporter says, “The concert hall burned down.” Sometimes the story you set out to cover is not the one you find. This passage from this Politico story explains how a story that was…