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Submission + - The death of SLS begins

An anonymous reader writes: At House hearings this week, congressmen listened to several space experts who lambasted NASA's asteroid and Mars mission proposals.

Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and an expert on lunar science, was especially harsh.

"America's civil space program is in disarray, with many aspirations and hopes but few concrete, realizable plans for future missions or strategic direction," he said, adding that NASA lacks what it needs to pull off the mission (and throwing some shade at the agency's strong Twitter game). "We pretend that we are on a '#JourneytoMars' but in fact, possess neither the technology nor the economic resources necessary to undertake a human Mars mission now or within the foreseeable future. What is needed is a logically arranged set of short-term, realizable space goals-a series of objectives and destinations that are not only interesting in and of themselves, but whose attainment build space faring capability in the long term."

The testimony claimed that it could cost anywhere from $500 billion to $1 trillion for NASA to get humans to Mars, numbers that are reasonable based on using NASA's very costly and overpriced SLS/Orion rocket and capsule. The congressmen were of course interested in this, not because they want to get to Mars, but because they see gobs of pork for their districts in these numbers.

However, I expect that when SpaceX begins successfully launching its Falcon Heavy rocket in the next two years while simultaneously putting humans in space with its Dragon capsule, and does both for a tenth the cost of SLS/Orion, those same congressmen will dump SLS/Orion very quickly. Though they want the pork, they also know they don't have $500 billion to $1 trillion to spend on space. The private sector gives them an option that is both affordable and of strong self-interest. The more realistically priced and designed hardware of private companies will give them a more credible opportunity to fund pork in their districts.

Submission + - Thirty Meter Telescope likely never gets built ... in Hawai

An anonymous reader writes: After years of doing everything the state of Hawaii demanded in order to get permission to build the Thirty Meter Telescope, a state judge today ordered that the whole process should start over again.

Since this order was instigated by the protesters, and that it appears the government favors those protesters, it appears that there is no chance TMT will ever get approval to build in Hawaii. Though the university consortium building the telescope says they want to go through the new process to get permission, they are wasting their time. It will never happen. The peasants with the pitchforks and burning torches, terrified of new knowledge while preferring the worship of a mountain, are in control in Hawaii.

Submission + - Financial advisors disrupted by AI (bloomberg.com)

schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant.

Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.

Submission + - UK wants authority to serve warrants in U.S. (usatoday.com)

schwit1 writes: British and U.S. officials have been negotiating a plan that could allow British authorities to directly serve wiretap orders on U.S. communications companies in criminal and national security inquiries, U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.

The talks are aimed at allowing British authorities access to a range of data, from interceptions of live communications to archived emails involving British suspects, according to the officials, who are not authorized to comment publicly.

Under the proposed plan, British authorities would not have access to records of U.S. citizens if they emerged in the British investigations.

Congressional approval would be required of any deal negotiated by the two countries.

Submission + - The average American will spend 43 days of his life on hold (marketwatch.com)

schwit1 writes: Americans will likely waste more than 900 million hours waiting on hold this year, according to an analysis of more than four million phone calls from consumers to businesses released this week by mobile advertising analytics firm Marchex. And a survey by text-message service TalkTo found that more than half of Americans say they spend 10 to 20 minutes every week — or 43 days of their life — on hold.

Submission + - How Corruption Cripples America's Military (zerohedge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. had stopped production of the better planes, the F-22 and the F-15C, which might stand a chance against the Su-35. The U.S. stopped production of those planes in order to replace them with the inferior and far costlier (and more profitable) F-35.

Submission + - Japan orders SDF to shoot down North Korean missile (japantimes.co.jp)

schwit1 writes: Japan on Wednesday condemned Pyongyang's plan to launch a space rocket, calling it a thinly disguised test of a long-distance ballistic missile.

The government ordered Aegis ballistic missile defense warships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and land-based Patriot PAC-3 rocket units to respond should projections show components falling in Japanese territory.

"This will effectively mean the firing of a ballistic missile. It would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a grave, provocative act against the security of our country," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Lower House session Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, North Korea notified the International Maritime Organization that it plans to send a "satellite" into orbit between Feb. 8 and 25. It said the launch will take place on one of those days between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Japan time.

Submission + - Stanford psychologist explains why spacing out and goofing off is good for you (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: We believe that the opposite of focus- daydreaming, goofing off, spacing out- is to be avoided. Worse yet, having problems focusing is seen as an obstacle to overcome and even as pathological. Self- help books and productivity bloggers strive to keep us on task with advice and hacks.

When we fail to come up with the results we were hoping for, we wonder whether we just aren't working or concentrating hard enough. We've come to consider focus and being on as "good," and idleness- especially if it goes on for too long- as "bad" and unproductive. We feel guilty if we spend too much time doing nothing.

But in thinking this way, we make a fundamental mistake.

Truly successful people don't come up with great ideas through focus alone. They are successful because they make time to not concentrate and to engage in a broad array of activities like playing golf. As a consequence, they think inventively and are profoundly creative: they develop innovative solutions to problems and connect dots in brilliant ways.

By naturally tapping into your inner creativity, you reconnect with the joy you had as a child playing. You engage in a positive feedback loop that continues to replenish you with joy and creativity. It makes for an adult life rich with delight and inventiveness.

Submission + - Secret US flight flew over Scottish airspace 'to capture Snowden' (thenational.scot)

schwit1 writes: THE UK GOVERNMENT is facing demands to reveal the details of a secret flight through Scottish airspace which was at the centre of a plot to capture whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The plane, which passed above the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire, was dispatched from the American east coast on June 24 2013, the day after Snowden left Hong Kong for Moscow. The craft was used in controversial US 'rendition' missions.

Reports by Scottish journalist Duncan Campbell claim the aircraft, traveling well above the standard aviation height at 45,000 feet and without a filed flight plan, was part of a mission to capture Snowden following his release of documents revealing mass surveillance by US and UK secret services.

Submission + - Coin toss broke 6 Clinton-Sanders deadlocks in Iowa - and Hillary won each time (marketwatch.com)

schwit1 writes: While it was hard to call a winner between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders last night, it's easy to say who was luckier.

The race between the Democrat presidential hopefuls was so tight in the Iowa caucus Monday that in at least six precincts, the decision on awarding a county delegate came down to a coin toss. And Clinton won all six, media reports said.

Submission + - The end for Safe Harbor? EU-US trade deal fails on data transfer agreement (cbronline.com)

schwit1 writes: Negotiations between the European Union and US have failed to reach an agreement regarding how data is transferred between the regions.

A deadline for the end of January had been set for a revised Safe Harbour agreement back in October, meaning that three months has gone by without the deadlock being broken.

An agreement is seen as necessary to avoid disruption to the transatlantic digital economy and to help ensure the continuity of service for US and EU companies.

The failure to reach an agreement will likely have on-going ramifications for transatlantic business. Phil Lee, data protection partner, at EU law firm Fieldfisher, said: "The disruption to transatlantic business is absolutely enormous. If you're a US supplier trying to sell into Europe, the tone coming from European customers now is very much one of 'Why should we trust you with our data?'

"Only those suppliers that agree to export data under the EU's Standard Contractual Clauses will have any success in closing commercial deals."

Submission + - Hillary Supporters Endorse Karl Marx For VP (infowars.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Media critic Mark Dice told San Diegans that Hillary had picked Karl Marx, her "economic adviser," to become her running mate but that a few more signatures were required to endorse the decision.

Unaware of the fact that Marx, a revolutionary socialist who sought to abolish capitalism, died in 1883, Hillary supporters were happy to oblige.

Submission + - Bill Gates monitored MS employees' work hours by memorizing their license plates (foxnews.com) 1

schwit1 writes: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates used to memorize employees' license plate numbers so that he could keep track of when they were arriving at work and leaving.

"I had to be a little careful not to try and apply my standards to how hard [others at the company] worked. I knew everybody's licence plate so I could look out the parking lot and see, you know, when people come in," he said. "Eventually I had to loosen up as the company got to a reasonable size."

Submission + - US Falls From Sixth Freest Economy in the World to Eleventh Since Obama Took Off (cnsnews.com)

schwit1 writes: Millions of people around the world are emerging from poverty thanks to rising economic freedom. But by sharp contrast, America's economic freedom has been on a declining path over the past decade.

America's declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.

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