Remote Sensing, Not Remote Viewing

When I mentioned to friends that I was going to be taking a class in remote sensing this quarter, many were baffled. “Wait… Benny… WHAT?!” they asked. I understood immediately what the confusion was. No, I assured them, I don’t think I’ve become psychic.

Remote viewing is the term used for the belief that people can use clairvoyance to perceive and learn about places, objects, or people that they cannot sense directly. It is a psudoscientific belief and process with absolutely no evidence to support it and flies in the face of all known science. Despite this, research into it was invested in by militaries around the world, including the United States Army. This is NOT what I am studying in college.
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Remote Sensing, Not Remote Viewing
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How Many Harmed While The Courts Work?

Each time the news of a discriminatory law passing, or a terrible school board decision is passed around, someone replies “That won’t stand up in court” or something similar. In my experience this happens both in person and on social media, and often then devolves into a discussion of the legal and constitutional merits of the law or rule. This discussion generally takes place among people who are not lawyers, and more importantly those who are not part of the class being discriminated against.

Sometimes they are wrong. Courts don’t always end up on the right side of a discriminatory issue in the long run. But even when they are right, the legal system takes time, and while that time is passing the discriminatory laws have real impact.
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How Many Harmed While The Courts Work?

Frivolous Friday: How I Cut Myself On Soup

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!

I own a fairly cheap food dehydrator and tend to get excited about using it from time to time. This year I pulled it out of storage when gearing up for camping and hiking trips and have taken to dehydrating everything in our kitchen, to the mild annoyance and amusement of my spouse. It’s a big bulky thing that takes up counter space, but it allows me to make my own lightweight food for work, school, and camp so I enjoy using it.

This year I’m being a little more creative than just dehydrating vegetables (though I’m definitely doing those too) and trying more sauces and liquidy stuff. After a few false starts (used improperly a dehydrator can accidentally become a very stinky incubator) I found a process that works well for me and my cheap system. Salsa dries beautifully, and I made a dish this week with dehydrated salsa, black beans, veggies, and instant rice that came out really good. Spaghetti sauce dehydrates very well and it’s a whole lot lighter and easier for me to carry a baggie of spaghetti sauce rather than a jar of the stuff. Applesauce made into fruit leather is a classic, and I love it as a chewy snack.

I also had a can of Campbell’s tomato soup in the cupboard. Generally things that don’t contain fat dehydrate very well, but canned tomato soup doesn’t have any fat so I figured I’d try it out and dry that. It should be able to reconstitute just fine, and I expect that it will work as a base for a meal or just fine as soup with some dry milk added. I put it on the dehydrator tray for awhile and it did indeed dry easily. However, removing the dehydrated soup from the plastic tray took a little work. It stuck together pretty well, in a harder plastic-like structure than something like applesauce or spaghetti sauce. In fact, as I pried the soup off the tray one end of the soup broke off to a sharp edge and I managed to give myself a good cut on my finger, much like a nasty paper cut. So that is how I cut myself on soup.

Still, the rest of the soup came off the tray just fine, and I bagged it up. It’s a small light package, so now I’ll just have to test it out and see how it tastes! I think it has potential, but only if I can find a way to get it off the tray without injury.

Frivolous Friday: How I Cut Myself On Soup

Nudity and the Desexualization of Bodies

CN: Discussions of sexuality and naked bodies, kink.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately from conservatives who want to restrict trans people’s access to bathrooms and locker rooms, who want to ban breastfeeding in public, and enforce “modest” attire on women and girls. All of these issues involve the connection, in the mind of conservatives, that nudity and bodies are inherently sexual. They see the bare shoulders of a teenage girl, the breast feeding a child, and the process of changing clothes, as somehow being sexually charged and attempt to create rules based on that. On the other hand, actually spending time with naked people demonstrates how quickly bodies can stop feeling so inherently sexual.
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Nudity and the Desexualization of Bodies

Frivolous Friday: Spouse’s Giant Bunny

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!

Last week I introduced my floofy cat, Tegan. This week, at Niki’s request, I want to introduce you to Spouse’s giant bunny, Patrick!

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Patrick is a New Zealand White rabbit, a breed actually created in the USA despite the name. They are extremely commonly used in laboratory testing, which is actually where Patrick came from. He was bread for lab testing, but was too small at 12 weeks to be sold to a lab, so we adopted him. His size caught up fast, and now he’s our sweet big smart bunny.

Patrick gets along well with cats (cat in this video was one Spouse was catsitting) and enjoys chewing on really bad psychology textbooks.

Frivolous Friday: Spouse’s Giant Bunny

Event Websites Need to Have Accessibility Info

I’ve done a few reviews of events now, and I intend to do more in the future. Some have focused specifically on accessibility issues, while others have included them along with other discussions of the events.

On both of the event reviews I have done on The Orbit I noted that the events DID have a harassment policy on those sites, which were easy to find. This is likely because social justice communities have demanded harassment policies for years and many well known people will not speak at events that do not have those polices highly visible on their websites.
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Event Websites Need to Have Accessibility Info

Less Helpless Today

Not so long ago I said that North Carolina’s HB2 law lead to me to feel helpless.

I feel much less so today. After Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the that justice department is suing North Carolina over it’s HB2 law, I’m feeling much better. Not so much because of the lawsuit, but because her speech was a full throated support of transgender Americans like me. If you have not yet watched the speech, I recommend doing so. This video does have captions.

Just as the passing of the law itself left me feeling helpless, this speech brings back my hope. It reminds me that while there are a whole lot of people in my country who don’t think I, and my trans and nonbinary siblings, should exist in public, there are also many who back us. Lynch’s speech does not hold back in support of us, and shows that even people in power believe we have a right to the same things as anyone else.

Less Helpless Today

Review of A Celebration of Star Trek at DePaul University

This weekend my spouse and I had the pleasure to attend A Celebration of Star Trek at DePaul University in Chicago. This was a one day free conference, open to the public, and hosted in the downtown (Loop) campus of DePaul, right in the center of Chicago. Specifically, this conference was hosted by the Media and Cinema Studies program at DePaul. DePaul University is the largest Catholic University in the United States.

The event itself included a full day of speakers and panels, as well as lots of showings of episodes from the various Trek shows. There were also several vendors, a silent auction that benefited ChimpHaven, and a book sale at the Barnes and Noble store within the same building. I attended one Klingon history lecture, two panels, and two show screenings. I would have stayed longer, but I wasn’t feeling well and had to head home early.
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Review of A Celebration of Star Trek at DePaul University

Frivolous Friday: My Floofy Cat

Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!

I have a wonderful floofy loud Maine Coon cat named Tegan. She yells at me all day long, and I love her enormously. We made her radioactive once, but the only superpower she has is incredible cuteness.

So, for this Frivolous Friday you get cat pictures. You’re welcome.

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Frivolous Friday: My Floofy Cat

What My Boss Doesn’t Know

I work in hospitality. I’m the front desk guy you meet when you check in to your independently owned accommodation after midnight. The night owl behind a desk, giving you a key and instructions that you don’t listen to because you’re exhausted. I point you in the direction of the elevator so you can finally sleep.

I love my job. Many individual parts of it kind of suck, and the pay isn’t anything to write home about. But, I really like the property I work for, my co-workers, and my bosses. Seriously – I like my bosses. The assistant and general managers are genuinely nice guys. They keep us in the loop about things that are happening, and listen to suggestions from us. It’s honestly the only job I have ever had in which I felt like my boss thought my ideas could be helpful – and that includes the time I worked in a business of only 3 people.
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What My Boss Doesn’t Know