My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

Recent Posts

  1. Star Trek: Discovery is #NotMyStarTrek

    My unexpected optimism for Star Trek: Discovery is fast turning to disappointment.

    No spoilers for this week’s episode, although I do want it on record I’m incredibly disappointed that after going to the effort of casting formidable women of colour, this show seems intent on fridging them. WTF.

    I’ve been reading a lot of behind the scenes things about TOS as I rewatch it. One thing is clear: Star Trek was ahead of its time in almost every way. From its storytelling to its acting to its design and production, it departed from the norms of television in the 1960s. Roddenberry and co. took a risk, and it paid off.

    The more I watch of Discovery, the more I’m convinced of a few things. Firstly, I don’t think Discovery is trash in the way I think the new movies are trash. It is a quality production, with excellent acting and characterization, and it’s trying to tell a compelling story that, magical spore-drives aside, could make for some good science fiction.

    But it’s not Star Trek. At least, it isn’t my Star Trek in the way that the first four live-action TV series (and … OK … yes ……

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  2. Star Trek: Discovery's premiere was its Kobayashi Maru

    (No spoilers for the show, btw.)

    Cater to the diehard fans who have eagerly consumed all the Trek, all the time, for half a century. Rekindle the love of Trek in those fans for whom the latest movies or series were less than stellar. Introduce a whole new generation of viewers, with the expectations of today’s television production styles and storytelling, to the universe and ethos of the franchise.

    There is no way Star Trek: Discovery could have lived up to all the expectations heaped upon it. The premiere of this series is a Kobayashi Maru.

    Believe me, I am incredibly surprised to find myself in the role of Discovery apologist. I have been very sceptical of the show since it was first announced—but most of that has been because of the way CBS has seemed so half-hearted and haphazard in its production, rather than the actual show itself. And maybe some of it is because I am so, so thrilled to see Star Trek returning to TV—and so, so, scared it’s not going to be good.

    Following the premiere (of which I only watched the first episode, because bed times), the question of whether or not this new series…

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  3. Racist op-eds need to stop, kthxbai

    Another day, another racist article in my local newspaper, The Chronicle Journal. This time it isn't an ignorant letter to the editor, though—it's an ignorant op-ed from a retired judge.

    I follow a lot of Indigenous people on Twitter, because I want to hear what they have to say. This article comes hot on the heels of a similarly stultifying piece from Conrad Black a few days ago, and it's one day after the news that another Indigenous teen (Brayden Moonias) has been found dead here in Thunder Bay, with police reporting signs of foul play.

    My city has a racism problem, and it is literally killing Indigenous people. But too many citizens refuse to acknowledge this, and now we're importing racist rants from Winnipeg when we should be standing together against opinions like this.

    So I wrote a letter to the editor responding to this piece. No idea yet if it will be published. Here is the letter in full:

    I wish I could say that I'm shocked that The Chronicle Journal ran Brian Giesbrecht's "System that rewards status Indians is spectacularly unfair" a day after Brayden Moonias was found dead here in Thunder Bay.

    Giesbrecht would

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  4. One key fewer

    Hey, look, it’s been ten years since I graduated high school. Look at that. Time flies.

    This post isn’t really about graduation decennials, though. This is about quitting my longest-held job.

    Eleven years ago I dropped off a resume at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. I was just finishing up Grade 11, and I wanted a summer job that wasn’t going through old files in the creepy storage room beneath the Chapple Building for my dad’s law firm. The Gallery Attendant position being advertised in the Lakehead University job bank seemed like it would work. I got an interview, and for reasons I still don’t fathom, I got the job.

    The full-time, minimum wage job turned into a part-time, minimum wage job during my last year of high school. Then I worked all summer again. This pattern continued for a few years. After about three summers, I took a research job over the summer at the university instead. But I kept coming back during the school year to work at the front desk.

    Last night was my last regular shift as a gallery attendant.

    I’ve left before, of course. I couldn’t very well commute to the gallery when I…

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  5. Code fatigue and an amateur dilemma

    I believe this is what we call an impasse.

    My first forays online were in direct proportion to me learning how to code. I crafted my website in HTML, by hand, on GeoCities, for upwards of three years. Then I learned PHP, and MySQL, and from there the sky was the limit. For a long time, I loved coding for the web.

    This website is currently running a Frankensteined combination of frameworks. this blog is custom-built in Flask, a Python framework. You can learn more about this in a post I wrote back when I switched over to it from the previous software. The rest of the site sits on top of the PHP framework Symphony CMS (not to be confused with Symfony, another framework).

    I really like Symphony CMS. It does so much right, in my amateur’s opinion, as a framework, and it has an active and passionate community of developers. But I have two reasons I want to migrate my site away from it.

    Firstly, my interest in hacking in PHP has dropped to nearly zero over the past several years. The language itself is evolving at a healthy clip, although detractors would point…

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  6. I bought a house

    Those of you who occasionally pay attention to my posts on Twitter and Goodreads might have noticed I’ve been quieter than usual. May has been a busy month, to the point where it has seriously affected my reading (and that is saying something). I’ve only managed 5 books in May (and 7 books in April—what is wrong with me?).

    One of the reasons I’ve been so busy is that I’m buying a house (hence, you know, the title of this post).

    Since moving back from the UK, I’ve generally had a plan to buy a house by the time I’m 30. At the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to advance that timeline (I’m currently 27). I had enough money for a reasonable downpayment and was as certain as anyone can be in this era of my job security. So at the end of March Break, I sought pre-approval for a mortgage. Then I found a realtor and started looking at houses.

    I’ve been very lucky. My dad doesn’t charge me for room or board, so there are no pressures on me to move out. I could quite comfortably keep living here for another decade. But as much…

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  7. Travelling is not my favourite thing

    What a week, or to be more precise, three days!

    Last month my former boss asked my current boss if I could travel to Guelph to present some Office365 training to teachers at a workshop. I don’t like travelling, nor do I think I bring much unique to the table in terms of doing training. But I was flattered that he had requested me, and I want to stay in his good books, so I said yes. The workshop itself was two days, but I committed to coming for the second day only; this week was the last week of the session, and I didn’t want to miss two of the last three days of classes while my students were completing culminating tasks.

    Travelling from Thunder Bay is always an interesting experience. We have an “international” airport because we have direct flights to the States and places like Cuba. But pretty much any other destination involves going through a connection in Winnipeg (west) or Toronto (east). So to get to Guelph, I had to fly to Toronto, then take a shuttle to Guelph. The realities of scheduling—finding a flight in the evening with enough time between the end of the…

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  8. We are not Sheldon Cooper

    “Oh, you’re like Sheldon!”

    Given that it is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week, this seems like a good time to talk about something that has been on my mind for a while. I’ve taken a stab at writing a blog post about this but it never quite came out right. This week, and a recent Twitter exchange have prompted me to give it another try.

    In some superficial ways, I resemble Sheldon Cooper: I am a well-educated and lithe white man with a strong science and technical background, an intense interest in nerd topics, and a dislike of certain social norms. So I get where this comparison comes from, and when I reveal my utter disinterest in romantic or sexual liaisons, the connection seems only to solidify in the minds of friends and acquaintances who, I know, only mean well.

    I’ve discussed previously why I don’t think Sheldon is a good nerd icon. Today I’m more interested in talking about why representation matters, and how Sheldon Cooper is a poor representation of an arospec/asexual character.

    It’s a shame, too, because terrible personality aside, Sheldon Cooper could have been a good representation. Here’s why.

    Arospec people can date!

    The…

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  9. Let's stop policing the language of sex and romance

    Hey hey, it’s Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. I already kind of cheated and started blogging about this last week, but needs must and all. This week, not-so-coincidentally timed to follow Valentine’s Day, is all about reminding the world that not everyone experiences romantic attraction in the same way, or to the same degree. And today I want to do this by picking apart the seams we often imagine between romance and sex.

    I recently read Son of a Trickster, a new novel from Eden Robinson. I highly recommend it; go check it out! There’s a fabulous exchange between the teenage protagonist, Jacob, and Sarah; they are sexual partners but their relationship status is blurry and ill-defined at this point:

    “No, you don’t understand. I’m not regretting it. I’m saying I don’t believe in monogamy, but I don’t fall in the sack with just anyone. And I certainly don’t believe in gender the way you do, and you’ve made it clear that you find my ways ‘pervy.’”

    “What”?

    “I’m normally attracted to people willing to push heteronormative boundaries.”

    Jacob felt his eye twitching. “So you’re gay?”

    “There you go,” Sarah said. “Thinking in Western binaries again.”

    “So you’re

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  10. The value of looking beyond romance

    I still experience a visceral shiver—yes, a shiver in my viscera—when Spock presses his hand up against the transparent barrier separating him from Kirk as he intones, “I have been and always shall be … your friend.”

    (Oops, spoiler alert there for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Spock dies at the end.)

    There’s a reason that Wrath of Khan is often cited as one of the best, if not the best, of the Star Trek movies. It is a grand space opera adventure with action and drama. It is a revenge plot with an amazing villain who can mug against the camera just as much as Kirk can. And it is a story, ultimately it turns out, about the triumph of love over hatred—except in this case, “love” means friendship, not romance.

    Kirk and Spock are not gay for each other (unless you read/write the slashfics, in which case, you do you)—but Spock literally dies to save Kirk and the Enterprise, and in the sequel, Kirk and the rest of the crew risk their careers and their lives and sacrifice the ship for the possibility that they might save Spock’s soul.

    If that’s not love, I…

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About Me

I’m a 27-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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