The singularity is here. It started a few decades ago, but we are only now noticing it because it is accelerating. Kurzweil forgot to consider variance in the capacity of human minds to adapt to change.
And yes, robot cars are one of the horsemen of the technologocalypse.
While they have restricted access to the paper that describes how they are going to do this, what Tito is going to do has already been revealed. Most of the sentences in the summary are wrong. Yes the mission will include humans. No it will not be bringing anything beyond what is required to keep the astronaut(s) alive. Astronaut training? You could fly this mission yourself tomorrow if you had the dedication and the planets were aligned. Which they aren't, and won't be until 2018. Word is that this will be a single launch of a Falcon Heavy with a Dragon capsule. Hardware cost could be less than $200 million.
The mission will fly by Mars but not orbit or land on it. Round trip will be roughly 500 days. Crew activities will involve posting photos of themselves with Mars in the background to Facebook, eating space food, and playing lots and lots of Angry Birds. It is possible that a flyby of Venus could be in the mission plan as well. If and when they return to Earth they will not be able to walk again without significant physical therapy and they will be known as the biggest bad-asses in the Solar System.
"Should the U.S. go back to its 'Let's put a man on the moon' ideology, or is the federal government fighting an uphill battle against newly emerging private space expeditions?"
Why is that the only choice? Why can't we do something useful in space, like build power plants or prospect for valuable minerals or, most pressingly, deflect asteroids? Those are worthy goals of a new space race. They are achievable with the resources we have.
Oh, right, because none of those involve sending humans to plant American flags on the rocks and planets of space. None of those provide a pretense for NASA to spend billions building a monster rocket that they can't finish and couldn't afford to fly if they did.
What if we just ended it altogether, like so many other civilized countries already have?
Get the ball rolling, sign this petition: http://wh.gov/IFE
2) Teachers penalized for things not under their control - For example, in a large district like Manhattan, if teachers in the high-crime inner-city schools are evaluated in the same pool as the teachers serving students who live on Park Avenue, those teachers will be at a fundamental disadvantage simply because their job is harder.
What makes you think this would be the case? All the test-based evaluation systems I have heard of measure performance above expectations. If you have two fifth grade teachers at the same school, and one's students perform significantly better at the end of the year, year after year, than the other's, that should be reflected in teacher evaluations. Those promoting the status quo seem to have a very difficult time understanding this aspect.
2. Student reports laptop stolen, takes it home
3. School activates security feature, randomly catches student popping pills while doing homework
4. IT sends photo of student to principal to get laptop back
5. Idiot principal gives student "don't do drugs" talk instead
6. Student panics, tells parents the school is spying on everyone
7. Parents sue school
8. Media frenzy!