Star Trek Fans -Good News!

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Exciting news! Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) is coming back and so is Sir Patrick Stewart. It was announced by Alex Kurtzman, Executive Producer of Star Trek: Discovery, and Stewart at Star Trek Las Vegas (Capt. Picard in New ‘Star Trek’ Series for CBS All Access). In an article earlier this year, also from Variety, I think, Kurtzman had suggested that an animated Star Trek series was in the works and that it would be a continuation, or reboot involving an alternate timeline TNG. I doubt it will be a live action because either all of the actors have aged too much for the roles (Brent Spiner, for example, can not be the age-less Data) or are involved in other projects (although, with Jonathan Frakes directing on DISCO, he could be available for voice roles). One more thing, animated series have worked really well for the Star War franchise so it’s only logical that Star Trek should do the same. 

-A. M. Holmes

“QUIT MAKING IT A CRIME TO BE QUIET IN THE CLASSROOM” from INTROVERT, DEAR

 

I read a posting on INTROVERT, DEAR titled Quit Making It a Crime to Be Quiet in the Classroom that I can relate to. I was a very quiet, awkward child in grade school and there was only one teacher that I remember, a Mrs.Truxell (sic) that ever got me. I still remember the book on dinosaurs she gave me because she understood how fascinated I was (still am) about those creatures. Just because a child seems to be quiet and not so outgoing doesn’t mean there’s something wrong or make them mentally ill. It may simply be that they are blessed with a certain introspectiveness most people can not understand. But in this age of mental health concerns how do you know the child may need help? Simple, get to know the child, find what their interest are, and most of all, never judge nor presume.

-A. M. Holmes

 

Natural Selection versus Genetic Drift in Single nucleotide polymorphisms, SNPs

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Research published from The University of Queensland indicates that natural selection plays a greater role than genetic drift in SNPs dealing with height, waist-to-hip ratio, BMI, and schizophrenia among European, African, and Asian populations (Does evolution make us or are we just drifting that way?). Led by Professor Jian Yang from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute, the team used more than 400,000 genetic samples from African, East Asian and European populations to determine if the SNPs (pronounced as “snips”) showed a tendency towards randomness, implying genetic drift, or not, and thus natural selection.

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The results showed that for SNPs such as height, waist-to-hip, BMI, and schizophrenia, there was a greater frequency for height among Europeans; a greater BMI number for Africans with Europeans having greater than Asians; both Europeans and Africans falling out of the mean for schizophrenia. None of these traits showed the tendency towards a random distribution which indicates that for these SNPs natural selection plays a greater role than genetic drift. In other words, what this study says that rather than in the colloquial debate of Nature versus Nurture it’s more like Selection over Nature and Nurture not having a factor at all. This is important in that it gives hope for the potential to treat certain ailments, such as schizophrenia through treatments such as CRISPR. 

It has left me to wonder how much of natural selection over genetic drift influenced hominin traits? Eyebrows/brow ridges, robust/gracile, even “having a chin” how were these more a product of selectivity among groups than randomness among Neandertals, Denisovans, and modern humans? More intriguing, could this be applied to culture as well? 

-A. M. Holmes

 

 

Wow, and I thought I was a Progressive Thinker.

Three female scientists discussing their research

This morning I got a Twitter notification from All Revolutions (@RevolutionsCen) about an article from The Atlantic by Ed Young (@edyong209 ) where, as he tells it in I Spent Two Years Trying to Fix the Gender Imbalance in My Stories , “I knew that I care about equality, so I deluded myself into thinking that I wasn’t part of the problem”.  He had seen how a lot of his articles reflected a gender bias he never intended to portray. Reading this opened my eyes to the fact that even though I claim to be “gender-blind” I wasn’t doing any better. Here I’m thinking I’m a progressive thinking person now to find out I’m as dirty as our misogynist President (I wasn’t aware of Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer Doudna, and CRISPR). I was fooling myself completely. Now I begin to wonder where else has my supposed “blindness” toward gender, race, or ethnicity has misled me to promote instead the same prejudices I have always felt unjust?  The article is very enlightening. Also, it has good resource information at the end of it.

-A.M. Holmes

Scoobynatural!

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 (Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly and The CW)

 

Tonight on the CW at 8 pm/ 7pm central is the crossover episode I’ve been waiting for since I first there was the possibility it could happen. ‘Scoobynatural’! Yep, that’s right folks. The venerated cartoon classic from the 70’s will be coupled together with the series ‘Supernatural’ in some freakish impossible way that can only happen to the Winchester brothers. Dean (Jenssen Ackles @JensenAckles), Sam (Jared Padalecki @jarpad) and Castiel (Misha Collins @mishacollins) all star in the show along with Scooby, Shaggy, Freddy, Daphne, and Velma. I’m as giddy and excited as a little school girl waiting for her parents to bring home the puppy she saw at the pet store and wanted it so bad. Yeah, like that.

Briefly, because that’s all we have, after Dean purchases a tv for his “Man Cave” at the Men of Letters bunker he, Sam and Castiel are transported into the animated world of ‘Scooby-Doo’. The Winchesters figure that this is a scheme by the Trickster to torment them (if you don’t follow the show just trust me when I say that, yeah, this something he would do) and believe that the only way out is to finish the storyline of the cartoon episode. Dean, the ‘Scooby-Doo’ aficionado takes lead thinking he recognizes the mystery to be solved. So, the three of them meet up with the Scooby Gang (Dean writing off the bucket list by finally meeting his lifelong dream girl, Daphne) and they help along trying to solve the mystery. Except, as if things can’t get any weirder, this is not that Dean, or anyone, remembers and now they are as clueless as the local law enforcer. 

The others starring in the show as voices are Grey (DeLisle) Griffin as Daphne, Kate Micucci as Velma, Frank Welker as Scooby and Freddy, and (drum roll please) Mathew Lillard doing what he has been done very well for years, Shaggy. It is written by ‘Supernatural’ seasoned writers Eric Kripke (creator/producer of the show), James Krieg and Jeremy Adams. It is directed by another ‘Supernatural’ veteran, writer, producer, director Robert Singer.

As of this posting, the show premieres in a little less than two hours. I’m already silencing my phone, getting dinner ready, and making sure, for the fifth time today, that the DVR is set to record so I can see it again. And again, and again. I also warned my friends, children, and ex-wife I’m running in ‘silent mode’ so “no one visits, calls, messaging unless someone is bleeding profusely and at the ER and even then, be near death”.  A little over the top? Well, at least I’m not locking my wife out -she’s a fan.

-A. M. Holmes

Streaming Review: ‘Babylon Berlin’

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The wonderful thing about Netflix is that every once in a while they present a gem of a series you would not have known about if they hadn’t carried it. ‘Babylon Berlin’ is one such jewel. It will draw you in and keep you interested with its engaging characters, intricate plot, and cinematographic style that captures the realism, and surrealism, of the period.

Set in 1929 Weimar Republic Germany it follows Cologne police Inspector Gereon Rath (played by Volker Bruch) as he and his Berlin counterpart, Detective Chief Inspector Bruno Wolter (Peter Kurth) investigate the Berlin vice underbelly of pornography, prostitution, and narcotics looking for a particular piece of politically damaging film. On the way, we run into Charlotte Fries (Liv Lisa Fries) a flapper and “It” girl from the impoverished slums of Wedding who will do most anything to support herself and her family including working as a part-time prostitute at the Moka Efti cabaret. But mostly, she works as a part-time office worker at the Berlin Police office where she dreams of someday becoming a detective herself. As Rath continues with his investigation of Berlin organized crime he eventually comes across Charlotte’s own amateur inquiries into the death of a railroad worker with ties to Russian Communist insurgents. Together they work to solve the mystery of a railroad car full of gold that seems to involve Stalinist secret police agents, organized criminals, corrupt politicians, and fascist thugs. The end will surprise you.

‘Babylon Berlin’ is based on Volker Kutscher’s novels adapted to television by Tom Tykwer (‘Sense8’), Achim von Borries, and Hendrik Handloegton and produced by Stefan Arndt (‘Cloud Atlas’), Uwe Schott, and Michael Polle of X Filme Creative Pool. There are 16 episodes, 45 minutes each and in German with English subtitles.  If you feel intimidated by the fact that it is in German with subtitles get over it -after following the plot and action you’ll be speaking Deutsch in no time.

I gave it a 5 out of 5 after binging it on Netflix and highly recommend it.

-A. M. Holmes     

‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review

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I love the X-Files. I have been a fan of Chris Carter’s show since it first introduced us to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back in the 90’s. So, when Carter decided to do a limited run I was more than enthusiastic about it. Now we’re into the second season of this limited run and I’ve yet to be disappointed. To me, some of best episodes are when the show doesn’t take itself seriously. ‘Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’’, ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus’ and ‘Dreamland’ are my favorites because here is where you see Carter’s scriptwriting and direction of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson at their best. ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review I think will join the ranks of Classic X-File Episode.

I won’t give up too much because it’s best when you don’t expect it. It starts with Mulder returning from a relaxing session of “Sasquatching” to find someone signaling him for a meeting a la Deepthroat. Mulder intrigued as to who would have signaled him this way meets Reggie Something in the FBI’s underground parking lot. Reggie then begins to explain that there is a conspiracy being perpetrated by the sinister “They” to erase objects and him from history. As proof, he asks Mulder about The Twilight Zone “Martian” episode. Reggie then approaches Scully with the same concern and citing a gelatin confection from her childhood as proof. What follows is an exposition involving the Mandela Effect (or is that the “Mengele Effect”?). On the way, we discover the origins of the X-Files, the possible existence of alternate universes (or not), who They are (actually more like ‘is’) and are given the definitive proof of extraterrestrial life (including the answers to everything) done in a way that comments on our society today.

There, I gave very little away. You can see it on Xfinity, YouTube or Hulu. Now, go watch before it disappears and all that remains is this review of what was actually a ‘Fringe’ episode.

-A. M. Holmes