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March 9 2017 7:02 AM

Why Was Darth Vader So Much More Powerful in Rogue One?

Answer by Rob Fletcher, Star Wars geek:

Because in Rogue One he benefited from 21st-century special effects and the weight of expectation brought by almost 40 years of being the most iconic villain in movie history, while in Star Wars he was in a cheap sci-fi flick nobody expected to be a hit and trying not to break the flimsy lightsaber prop.

March 7 2017 7:07 AM

How Does the Secret Service Adapt to Different Presidents?

Answer by Jason Wells, former U.S. Secret Service agent:

The Secret Service has learned a lot since they lost President Kennedy. Yes, it was their fault. They were responsible for President Kennedy’s life, and they did not appropriately secure the area that he was visiting. The result was one of the most politically changing moments in our country’s history and the loss of one the United States’ most popular presidents.

March 6 2017 7:04 AM

Are There Any Continuity Errors Between Rogue One and Episode IV?

Answer by Rob Fletcher, Star Wars geek:

Episode IV definitely suggests the Death Star was only just operational and had never been fired in anger before. Rogue One gets around this by having the first two firings use a “single reactor ignition” low-power mode, and the destruction of Jedha the subject of an Imperial coverup so that when Tarkin describes the destruction of Alderaan as an “effective demonstration,” it's because that is the first time the Empire is publicly acknowledging the Death Star’s existence.

March 3 2017 7:06 AM

How Do I Get My Dog to Listen?

Answer by John Buginas, SF/SPCA Academy for Dog Trainers, instructor, 2006–09:

Any animal can be motivated to listen or pay attention by controlling access to resources in its environment.

Find out what your dog really likes. It may be food, play, affection, a toy, a game of tug of war, a walk, getting up on your lap, going outside through a door, going inside through a door, chasing a ball, chewing on a shoe, sniffing a fire hydrant. What it likes may change from one moment to the next. Then, control access to the things your dog likes. Provide access to the things it wants in exchange for the behavior you want—such as paying attention to you, sitting politely, etc.

March 2 2017 7:06 AM

Which New Areas of Virtual Reality Will Use Eye-Tracking?

Answer by Kynan Eng, research group leader, neuroscience of VR and applications to rehabilitation:

I think that most of the first uses of augmented reality and virtual reality eye-tracking will be to improve general AR/VR headset comfort and usability. Why? As a direct input device, eye-tracking is actually fairly frustrating and useless. However, as a general contextual signal indicating possible user intent or attentional focus, it is quite useful. Many use cases for eye tracking will work in the background, and will probably include the following:

March 1 2017 7:07 AM

What Is the Memory of Ants Like?

Answer by Ted Pavlic, research scientist in social-insect lab:

Although olfaction (sense of smell) is certainly important to ants, the memory story involves much more than just chemosensory recall and recognition. Different species of ants have different memory capabilities for smell, vision, and even things like the distance and direction of their home nest based on feedback from their step count.

Feb. 28 2017 7:04 AM

What’s an Example of an Authentic Portrayal of a Trans Character in Film or TV?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge-sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Answer by Jae Alexis Lee, transgender woman:

When I think about transgender characters in media, one of the things that we discuss so often is that the overwhelming majority of trans characters are portrayed negatively, heaped in negative stereotype or sunk deep into transition stories that serve as little more than a lens for the cisgender audience to view a portion of what trans people experience on their journeys. Even then, positive depictions of trans characters are often forced into narrow roles where the whole of their story is about transition or the character is intended to build audience attachment just before killing the character for dramatic effect.

We have a shortage of authentic portrayals of trans characters in media which makes it hard for many of us, as trans people, to find characters we can connect to. But sometimes, you get something special, something that can resonate with the trans audience in a way that the endless parade of stock tropes and stereotypes never will. Something that makes you cry in both happy and sad ways because it’s so genuine.

Nomi Marks in Sense8 made me cry because the character hit so close to home. Because there were so many parts of her experience that I could relate to in a visceral way and it really blew me away because I have never related to a character that strongly before.

Some of the things they did in setting up Nomi’s character were a little blatant and cliché, but they’re also things that happen. Watching her stuck in a hospital where she’s referred to by her dead name (the name a trans person was known by before transitioning) by doctors and staff because her mother refuses to accept her gender identity (and also constantly dead-names her). I think lots of us have family that refuse to accept our identity. That’s part of why this really struck home for me. Seeing her family bar her girlfriend from visiting is another pain that LGB people have known for far too long.

Beyond that, what I love about Nomi is that the fact that she’s a trans woman that is neither erased or made to be a significant plot point. We’re not seeing a coming out story. We’re not seeing a desperately trying to transition story. We’re seeing a trans woman living her life. For lots of us, life after transition doesn’t mean you stop being trans. The fact that you’re trans can show up in odd ways but, just like trans people’s lives are about a lot more than just transitioning, Nomi’s character is fully realized as more than just a cardboard cutout of a trans woman.

There’s this scene that I love when they introduce the character Bug who knew Nomi before she transitioned. When the conversation starts, Bug looks around and says: “Where’s Mike?” to which she responds “It’s me. I’m … Mike.”

I’ve had that moment. Sometimes I run into old students that I haven’t seen since years before I transitioned. When I say hi I get this moment of “Um, who are you?” That sort of thing doesn’t stop happening; it’s just a part of life, and it’s a part of life I can relate to. Later in this conversation (not in the clip), Bug says, “I got a serious hard-on when this showed up,” and Nomi’s response: “I know what you mean” completely throws him off for a moment. I about died laughing because, yes, this happens so much.

What I love most about Nomi though is that, while the fact that she’s trans remains part of the story, it is rarely center stage which lets her get on with being the truly badass hacker and team coordinator that she is. She isn’t a lens for the cisgender audience to look at trans issues through, she’s a trans woman that we, as trans women, can relate to.

The fact that the actress who plays her (Jamie Clayton) is actually trans and that the Wachowskis, who are two of the writers/producers of the show, are also trans lends a lot of legitimacy to how the character is handled. I, for one, love it, and I hope we get to see a lot more of things like this.

Jan. 25 2017 7:04 AM

What Are Some Etiquette Rules for Sushi Chefs?

Answer by Kaz Matsune, founder, business owner, speaker, author, sushi program designer at Breakthrough:

Here are some restaurant etiquette rules in sushi and Japanese kitchens.

Say “good morning” at the beginning of the shift. No matter what time of the day your shift starts, you always greet by saying “ohayo gozai masu,” good morning in Japanese. This is common practice at restaurants in Japan, as well as in the entertainment industry. In the beginning, I felt weird saying “good morning” at 3 p.m., and after a while, I got used to it, and it just became natural. Why and when this rule started is unclear, though, some say the word “ohayo” signifies the beginning.

Jan. 24 2017 7:02 AM

How Do I Have Better Conversations?

Answer by Matthew Manning:

Here is how to become more intelligent and have better conversation:

Do all of the obvious things that people are going to suggest and that you could probably figure out yourself. Chief among these is, of course, is reading more. Read all the time, even when you are waiting in line at the DMV, even when you are in the bathroom.

Nov. 1 2016 7:04 AM

What Don’t Most People Know About Air Force One?

Answer by Ron Wagner, USAF pilot in presidential wing at Andrews Air Force Base:

When I received my special air missions certification as a pilot at Andrews Air Force Base, I got a guided tour of the secret places on base, like the SAM command post, which would soon provide me with mission support, and the SAM warehouse, which would provide me with logistical support. Here are some things I saw that took my by surprise:

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