A brief musing on Twitter FINALLY permanently suspending Donald Trump’s account after his attempted coup, when they might have saved untold damage to our country and the world by doing it in 2015, before he even formally announced his candidacy, but had already violated their terms of use to the extent that warranted a permanent ban

There are some interesting questions to explore now regarding what exactly Twitter does with the data from suspended accounts, as well as tweets users have deleted. As a user, when you delete something, you want to believe they’re really deleting it from their systems (which I doubt is the case), but I think definitely there can be legal ramifications if a tweet causes a crime to be committed and the user subsequently deletes it. The tweet may be essential evidence in the legal case against them.

Trump’s entire “body of work” on Twitter is, sadly, an important part of the public record and may need to be archived as part of presidential records (though he always used his personal account, not the official POTUS account). And they may be necessary as legal evidence against him in an impeachment trial or post-presidency legal cases.

Remember how when Obama was president, not only was he rarely allowed to post directly on social media, he wasn’t even allowed to have an iPhone? He had to have a specially secured BlackBerry. What the hell happened to that presidential accountability??!!

Originally posted to Facebook, but I want this to actually live somewhere semi-permanent for myself, not just in Mark Zuckerberg’s database.

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #27: Deja Q

Deja Q
Season 3 Episode 13
Original airdate: February 3, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

Much to Capt. Picard’s displeasure, Q reappears on the Enterprise claiming to have been ejected from the Q Continuum and stripped of his powers.

My Brief Review

Ah, a bit of Q-based comic relief after some heavy episodes. Once again I’m forced to think of current events, as “Q” is presently more strongly associated with a ludicrous online conspiracy theory (one that was involved in nearly taking down the federal government this week) than with John de Lancie’s love-to-hate-him omniscient immortal.

I have mixed feelings about Q. The worst Q episodes make me pine for the Ferengi, but this is a pretty good one. Q actually has been stripped of his powers and turned into a mortal being — a human, per his request. And as he discovers the trials of mortality — fatigue, hunger, Guinan stabbing his hand with a fork — he begins to question why he chose to be human. The real reason, of course, was that he knew Picard was one of the few entities he’d encountered in the universe who might actually come to his aid when vengeful species hunted him down to retaliate for his transgressions. But ultimately Q realizes he’s a failure as a human, and in one final act, with a whiff of self-sacrifice, the Continuum welcomes him back, and he uses his restored powers to… uh… bring a mariachi band onto the Enterprise bridge, save a planet from destruction and… oh yeah…

Memorable Moment

Q gives Data the gift of laughter. It’s in moments of emotive expression that I really feel Brent Spiner is best suited for the role of an unfeeling android.

Crew Rando

Ensign Bennett! For the first time in a while, we have an uncredited crew rando who actually has a name! I’m not sure if he’s the curiously old character at the helm in the final scene, or one of the other passing randos earlier. There’s also a crewman guarding the brig who, curiously, just nods faintly in the captain’s direction as Picard enters the room, without even standing up. Shouldn’t a crewman stand at attention in the captain’s presence??

Distance Rating: 4K

IMDb score: 8.6/10

ST:TNG Treadmill Review #26: The High Ground

The High Ground
Season 3 Episode 12
Original airdate: January 27, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

While visiting a planet under civil war, Dr. Crusher is taken hostage by an opposing faction of the planet’s ruling government.

My Brief Review

First, my copy editor instincts are kicking in and I desperately want to rewrite this poorly structured synopsis (which is word-for-word identical to what’s on IMDb). It should read “While visiting a planet under civil war, Dr. Crusher is taken hostage by a faction opposing the planet’s ruling government.”

Second, I’ll just mention that I watched this last night but didn’t have time to write the review until this morning.

OK, with that cleared up… whew. Part of why I’m immersing myself in ST:TNG this winter and writing these blog posts is to distract myself from reality. But strangely it always seems that an episode focused on a virus seems to appear whenever the COVID situation flares up, and now this episode, which I watched just one day after a mob of delusional right-wing revolutionary cosplayers tried to overthrow the US Congress.

So just bear in mind that I’m seeing the episode through this lens.

After the faction takes Picard as well, he perceives Dr. Crusher’s sympathy towards her captors as a case of Stockholm Syndrome, whereas the situation is actually more complex. But the important thing to remember is that the situation in this episode has no analog to what’s happening right now in the U.S. because the insurrectionists here are not being repressed by their government. They’ve been lied to and brainwashed and lured into a fantasy world of ludicrous conspiracy theories in social media echo chambers. They are not in a righteous fight for justice. They’re, at best, pawns of a shrinking minority political party using them to desperately cling to unearned power.

Anyway, where were we? Ah yes…

Maybe this episode is relevant to our times, after all. At the very least, it made it much easier for me to see the appropriateness of calling the Capitol mob “terrorists.”

Speaking of which…

Any time I see something in Star Trek that refers to events in the first half of the 21st century, I wonder, did they really think we wouldn’t still be watching the show when that time came? Or did they hope we would be watching and would have a reaction to moments like this?

The strange thing is, after the peace in Northern Ireland (just a few years after this episode originally aired), and the growth of the E.U. through most of the past couple of decades, I would have looked at this and scoffed. But right now? Well… with Brexit a reality, and the giant unresolved question of the Irish border, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that events could unfold over this decade that would cause Northern Ireland to split from the U.K. and join the Republic of Ireland. (I’m no expert on the finer details of this immensely complicated situation… just acknowledging the fact that the “Irish Unification of 2024” doesn’t sound as nonsensical right now as it would have at any other time in the past quarter century.)

Now where were we? Ah yes, a Star Trek episode. I thought this episode was reasonably good. Kyril Finn, the leader of the faction (played by Richard Cox), with his flowing dark mane and piercing gaze, looked to me like a combination of Adam Driver and Roland Orzabal from Tears for Fears, with just a hint of both Jerry Seinfeld and Welcome Back, Kotter-era John Travolta. His scenes with Dr. Crusher were probably the best parts of the episode, where once again we’re confronted with the moral ambiguities inherent in all social conflicts — a running theme of this season.

There were some interesting technology and science concepts in the episode, centering around a special dimension-shifting device the faction used to travel undetected from place to place. How, exactly, it different from the transporter was not entirely clear. But if I understood it correctly, it actually seemed a lot more plausible than the transporter. Unfortunately it caused severe damage to people’s DNA each time it was used. Wesley Crusher used his big brain to figure out how to detect a signature left behind by the device, allowing the Enterprise crew to track down the power source and rescue Crusher and Picard. And once again, as in the immediately preceding episode, Enterprise leaves the leadership of an unaffiliated planet in a tough spot where they must learn to resolve their internal conflicts before gaining acceptance by the “ideal society” (Dr. Crusher’s words, not mine) of the Federation.

As a final note, I’ll mention that, once again, I am inclined to see parallels between an episode and today’s current events, but clearly in the context of its time this was more of a direct commentary on the Troubles in Northern Ireland, or the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Memorable Moment

Probably Data’s multiple conversations with Picard, which basically served as narrative exposition of the moral dilemmas presented in the episode, in case their significance wasn’t obvious.

Crew Rando

OK, so, she’s so anonymous that she’s not even listed in the uncredited cast list on IMDb, but there’s an ensign sitting at Data’s station on the bridge when he returns to the bridge. She’s staring straight ahead, stone-faced, and then silently gets up and leaves (as she’s supposed to) the minute he shows up. She looks to me a bit like Ensign Gomez, but I would think she’d have been identified. So, who knows… that’s why she’s a rando!

Distance Rating: 5K

IMDb score: 6.8/10

Here’s the deal (sort of)…

OK, so here’s the deal (sort of) with those last couple of ambiguous posts. I’m trying to take advantage of some of the newest features of WordPress (which seem largely intended to keep WordPress relevant in a post-Tumblr world), especially the ability to create different post formats, which, in addition to the “standard” format, include asides, links, galleries, status(es), quotes, and images.

In order to get access to these new features, I’ve switched from my old, built-from-scratch custom theme to the current stock theme, Twenty Eleven, which I am currently modifying for my own nefarious purposes. (If you consider hot pink text in a whimsical retro font nefarious, which you should.) My goal is to get things fairly close to how they looked before the switch, while still gaining access of all of that new WordPress mojo.

Cool. But what I really want to do is to take all of this even a step further, and let this WordPress-based blog become my single hub for posting anything online, except I guess for photos, which I still plan to post through Instagram, because I like how the app works. (Although having those show up in the main blog content stream instead of, or in addition to, in a sidebar widget would also be nice.)

The biggest stumbling block for this grand vision, so far, is that Twitter Tools, the WordPress plugin I use for all of the Twitter integration (a.k.a. “twittergration” in my compulsive Twitter portmanteau, or “twortmanteau”, parlance) on the site, isn’t smart enough to handle these special formats in the way I’d like. It should recognize asides, and especially status(es), as such and just run them as the entirety of the tweet, without the usual “UoP:” prefix and permalink consuming precious characters.

Or, perhaps more rationally, the ability of Twitter Tools to turn tweets into posts should allow you to define the format of those tweet posts (“twosts”), so I could tell it to make all of my twosts into status(es) instead of “standard” posts. Yes, this is definitely a more rational approach, and one that makes me slightly embarrassed to have written the previous paragraph (but not enough to make me delete it). I’m very accustomed to tweeting on-the-go from my iPhone, and I’d prefer to keep using Tweetbot for that, instead of somehow trying to turn the WordPress app into my go-to tool for depositing random brain cruft onto the interwebs.

While I’m wishing for alternative methods of funneling content into WordPress, as I mentioned above it would also be super neato if I could get Instagram photos to automatically show up on the blog as image posts… which might be possible, if I were to take the time to investigate it, but one thing at a time.

The end result of all of this angsting is that my blog is currently not in a state that I intend for it to remain in for very long. It’s a work in progress (as is everything in the world that isn’t just being allowed to decay), and I suppose I can live with it for now. I have more important things to worry about at the moment, unless you’d care to make a generous donation for the ongoing care and feeding of my blog. (4 figures minimum, and that’s U.S. dollars… not pennies, wooden nickels or, um… “Star Bucks”)

Then again, maybe I’ll be able to think about all of this a little more rationally come Monday, when the Minneapolis Public Schools’ winter break is finally over.