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New Orville, New Trek, Three Books, and a Broken Washer

Last week was an especially eventful one as far as weeks in the life of an old retired guy go. This was mainly because of new TV shows that I found interesting enough to expend a few of my remaining hours watching.

Most of my TV-viewing hours were spent on the eight new episodes of Stranger Things 4 (on Netflix). Like the previous seasons, it’s basically about a bunch of kids saving the world from monsters from a parallel dimension. What I like most about this show is the kids playing D&D, which I can relate to, having played for several years when I was younger and began playing again a couple years ago – but that is beside the point, for now. I found out later that the Dio vest being worn by the kid who plays the DM in this season once belonged to Ronnie James Dio himself, which is also cool because I’ve always been fond of Dio’s music.

I also watched episode 5 of Star Trek Strange New Worlds (on Paramount+). This episode explored identity and empathy and seeing other people’s points of view. It also had a few funny bits. I continue to be impressed by this show especially because of how unimpressed I’ve been with most of the other new Trek Paramount has produced. Although I’ve been something of a Trekker since the original series first aired, I truly hated Discovery. The crew of that ship just did not seem like Starfleet to me. And why did they turn Klingons into orcs? With Strange New Worlds, it’s beginning to look like Paramount is finally getting Trek right.

And then there was the long awaited new episode of The Orville. I’ve enjoyed this show from the beginning, too. It’s always seemed like a homage to the original Star Trek, and Season 3 continues that. It opens shortly after the first Kaylon offensive has been repulsed. This first episode explores guilt, forgiveness, and dealing with trauma as crew members sort out how they feel about Isaac, who, as a Kaylon, bears some responsibility for a great many deaths, but who is also one of the reasons the Kaylon did not succeed. It’s a good start to the new season.

I also read a few books, two fiction and one nonfiction. The two fiction books were uncommonly enjoyable, the nonfiction one, not so much.

Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Within the magical community, there are those who believe that magic users should rule the world because they are “better” than ordinary, non-magical people. Others believe that magic-users should remain separate and largely apart from regular human affairs. The polarization between these two camps erupts into a magical civil war in the 8th book in this highly entertaining series. The characters remain interesting, the plot is intriguing, and the pacing (as always) keeps you turning pages. This is very well written.

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Colonizing planets is a dangerous business, but colony ships never seem to have trouble attracting highly qualified crew… at least not for most positions. Some of these people might be called brave, some foolish, and some are arguably insane, but only the truly desperate apply for the position of Expendable. Mickey is pretty desperate. Staying on the planet of his birth would mean daily torture until he pays off a substantial gambling debt. This seems to him like a fate worse than dying, even worse than the possibility of dying repeatedly, which is an Expendable’s job. So, he applies for a berth on an outgoing colony ship. Expendable is the only slot open, and he’s the only applicant.

This is a fun science fiction story with a likeable protagonist. It has lots of sciency stuff, not unlike The Martian and other books by Andy Weir, and it also ponders the philosophical question of what makes you you. If you die, and a clone is made and loaded with your memories and personality, is it now you? Even if you feel like yourself, how do others see you? Are you really a person in their eyes?

Bullshit Jobs: A Theory by David Graeber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The basic premise of this book, that some jobs are pretty much pointless and that the world wouldn’t skip a beat if they disappeared, is incontestable. But I think the author goes too far on too little evidence. He presents plenty of anecdotal quotes from people who believe their own jobs fall into the bullshit category, but no real assessment of whether or not these job holders are right. Not knowing what the benefit of your work might be doesn’t necessarily mean there is none.

If you’re interested, you can see my full review of this one either on Goodreads on on The Avery Slom Philosophical Laboratory web sites.

Last, and possibly least, there’s the ongoing issue I’m having with Whirlpool and a washing machine that broke down before it was a year old. Today is the 60th day I’ve been without a working washer, but someone is supposed to come next Friday (10 June) to try yet again to fix it. So, to add to the ongoing bullet list….

  • DAY 54 – (May 30th) I send another email to Whirlpool ( with cc to Joseph Carrita, Customer Relations Manager ( asking how many repair attempts are required, what the cost of repair must be, and how long they believe it is acceptable to make a customer wait before they deem one of their appliances “non-repairable.”
  • DAY 56 (June 1) I receive a DM Tweet from Whirlpool asking for my specific address and phone number. I provide them.
  • DAY 57 (June 2nd) Whirlpool’s Twitter people call and leave me on hold while they call the service provider. Eventually, they say the service people are still waiting on two parts but will call as soon as they arrive. I ask again why Whirlpool would spend $2,000 in parts and make a customer wait two months rather than replace an $800 machine. The poor unfortunate customer liaison lady refuses to address cost at all and simply repeats that Whirlpool only repairs things under warranty. It does not replace them.
  • DAY 58 (June 3rd) The service company calls to let me know that all the parts have been processed in, but the next available appointment to repair my washer is seven days away because of the need to dedicate an otherwise empty truck to all the parts needed, one of which is quite large, to ensure it is not damaged in transit. (This adds transportability and packaging to the list of Whirlpool’s logistic design flaws.) I am told this will be a three-hour job.

I sure hope they manage to fix it, this time.

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