*The Shield Penetrators” — some further Star Trek viewing

Not many people know this obscure episode, because it was shot during the third season as an “extra,” to be used in a fourth season that never materialized.  But here is the basic plot line.  Kirk and the Enterprise visit a planet that, by mistake, received errant TV transmissions of “The Beverly Hillbillies” centuries ago.  […]

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*The Trouble with Tribbles*

Yes, another Star Trek episode.  This one was striking for its explicit Malthusianism (!).  The tribbles increase “arithmetically,” to use Malthus’s term — Spock notes that one tribble (bisexually) breeds on average ten tribbles a mere twelve hours later.  And what is it that the tribbles end up doing?  Trying to eat away a fixed […]

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Classic Star Trek and rape (with spoilers)

With so few significant new movie releases to follow, I have taken to some strange pasttimes, including the viewing of old classic Star Trek episodes.  I was struck by two obscure episodes in particular.  One is Who Mourns for Adonais?, and the other is Metamorphosis, both from early in the second (and best) season. In […]

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“Mirror, Mirror” (Star Trek classic, spoilers in this post)

I haven’t seen most Star Trek episodes since I was a young teen, so I tried rewatching this one, you know, with the alternate universe and the evil Spock.  It was good! I took away from it the main lesson that our moral behavior — or lack thereof — is one of the most contingent […]

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My podcast with Darren Lipomi

He is a well-known chemist (and more) at UC San Diego. We started with classic Star Trek and then moved into textiles, chemistry, music vs. sound, nanobots against Covid, how to interview, traveling during a pandemic, art collecting and voodoo flags, the importance of materials science, and much more.  Mostly he interviewed me, though it […]

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*Queen’s Gambit* (no real spoilers in this post)

I’ve now seen a few episodes, and I have a few comments on the chess: 1. No player, including Magnus Carlsen, can become that good that quickly, without a lot of learning and losing along the way. 2. They show the players moving too fast, though for dramatic reasons this is easy enough to understand. […]

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Against digitalized subscription services for the movies

Quality public taste is a public good, and right now we are taxing it: Another response to my whining might be to tell me that I live in a world of cinematic plenty, especially considering my various subscriptions and DVD collection. That is also entirely fair, but do keep in mind the original worry: that […]

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From the comments, comedy vs. drama

I would say that many, if not most, comedies are “conservative” in their underlying messages or themes. Look at romantic comedies: the whole point is for characters to establish a committed relationship and either explicitly or presumably get married. The comedy is in watching characters who are notoriously bad at following tradition and institution find […]

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My Conversation with Annie Duke

Here is the transcript and audio, here is the opening summary: Annie joined Tyler to explore how payoffs aren’t always monetary, the benefits and costs of probabilistic thinking, the “magical thinking” behind why people buy fire insurance but usually don’t get prenups, the psychology behind betting on shark migrations, how her most famous linguistics paper […]

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