When your Alexa starts making a throbbing sound there is really no good way to phrase the google search term to find out why.

So I just asked about random noises. Turns out the devices make a lot of random noises. I knew that. The one in my wife’s office turns on classical music around 4 AM. I’m telling you, as a fan of Ottorino Resphigi, I never want to hear that damned bird piece of his again, especially in at 4 AM. So I can’t figure out that, except to have her turn it off every day. But the throbbing was strange.

Eventually I decided it was some quirk that would be solved with a reboot, so I unplugged it.

The throbbing noise continued. It was almost below the level of perception. So I wandered around the room. Trying to locate it. Ah: under the newspaper?

It was my phone. I had, somehow, butt-opened an app I use for generating white noise for sleep, and had selected another option, the “Binaural Beat Machine.” This is the modern world: the movement of your magic information slab in your pants activates an app that plays a maddening sound. I don’t know how anyone could use that for sleep inducement; you’d lie there wide awake imagining robot sheep moving over a fence in an odd boneless liquid motion.

So . . . that was the highlight of the day? No, but it was a notable moment in a day bereft of anything but the usual allotment. And that’s fine! I went to work, I did things - alone in a dark office, because people decided to stay home on account of the rain. (It stopped around eight.) I don’t think people will be in the office on Tuesday, because it’s supposed to be 97 degrees.This is 120 degrees hotter than it was just five months ago, and I've no complaints about it at all. Bring it on. It's not summer around here without a spell in the sauna.

Anyway, it's a column night, so I have to get to it. Minor stuff. But a hint about Thursday's probably-underwhelming piece is our banner today; recognize it?










I said I would watch Strange New Worlds, the Enterprise-before-Kirk series. Saw one ep.

What I like, right away, is that everyone is a grown-up. Discovery is full of whiny kids who stammer and cry. Pike is a solid man. The bridge crew is professional, and Number One is a hard case, as she should be. The navigator is a slightly slangy butch with requisite attitude, and there’s lots of room for that character; we like our navigators to have a certain sass. The doctor has great throaty gravitas, and Nurse Chapel has been rewritten as a sprightly cheerful lass with white hair.

I don’t love the new bridge. It’s the big style with glossy floors and needless lights. I can live with it.

They beam down to a planet that has 1970s institutional buildings, just as the old shows used “futuristic” buildings to indicate another planet. PERFECT.

Pike solves a problem that has bedeviled an entire planet for who knows how long, and does it with a show of force and a speech: PERFECT.

This is old Trek.

I think this could be turn out to the one that gets it right. Okay, they ruined the final scene with a verbal anachronism - Uhuru says “cool,” which makes me doubt the writers from their scalp to the soles of their feet, but it didn’t spoil the moment. I had gooseflesh.

It’s Pike. It’s the fargin’ Enterprise. I think they got it right.And yes,  I am prepared to be irritated by it, if and or when the politics get simplistic. You could make the point that Kirk's speech in "Omega Glory" was naive, because while the Constitution was for the Yangs and the Kohms, the Kohms would use it to gain power and then destroy it entirely.

And by the way, Chris Pike isn't Ike Clanton, either.



It’s 1978, and we’re in the Twin Cities.

All Penneys are rejoicing! The Burnsville Mall has a new tenant!

Burnsville Center was the largest mall in the area at the time, and it was also waaaay out there. For those of us in the city, anyway. Penneys opened a new store in ’78, a year after the mall opened.

Oh yeah, 1978. Very much so.



Cripes, she’s a Shogun warrior


Bring the kids and let them run around and leave sticky prints all over everything!


Absolutely nothing unusual about this in 1978.


I think Giraffina would be in her early 60s now.

Oh, English Leather and British Sterling. Go-to Father's Day gifts. He wore it because you bought it for him.

Yes, those sexy, slick-move Canuck Casanovas:

What the hell is he wearing? A Hussar’s uniform?

To a glorious outcome of the Battle of the Malabar Front!

What a miserable time for ads.

The mall, I should note, suffered the same spasms as most of the rest, and went bankrupt. It’s still open. There are plans to turn some of it into housing and offices and the like. It’ll never be what it once was. And the culture is poorer for it.

Because the malls were good. The malls were fun.



That will do. Quasicomics now, as we confront the imperatives of DREFT.





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