SonicSpike writes: SpaceX's historic launch from NASA's Launch Complex 39A Sunday (Feb. 19) was a complete success. So it's no surprise that when the time came to discuss the flight, the post-launch press conference was short, sweet and full of smiling faces.
The private spaceflight company's Falcon 9 rocket launched a Dragon spacecraft full of cargo into orbit at 9:39 a.m. EST (1439 GMT), after which the booster's first stage returned to Earth to make had a perfect landing at the company's Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral.
"It's been a super-exciting day — it's really awesome to see 39A roar back to life for the first time since the shuttle era, and it was extremely special that this first launch on 39A was a Dragon mission for NASA to the space station," Jessica Jenson, the Dragon mission manager at SpaceX, said during the briefing. Pad 39A was used for most of the Apollo missions and many shuttle missions, including the first and the last launches; SpaceX modernized the pad under a 20-year lease from NASA.
SonicSpike writes: Even if you aren't a space nerd whose idea of a good time is craning your neck to stare into the vast nothingness of space on a frigid evening, this Friday the heavens will put on a show worth heading outdoors for.
A penumbral lunar eclipse, a full "snow moon" and a comet will be spicing up the night sky February 10 in a rare convergence of such celestial happenings.
We'll start with our nearest neighbor. February brings the full moon known as the "snow moon" because this month in North America tends to see a lot of the white fluffy stuff.
This snow moon will be special though because, well... we'll all get in its way in a sense when the penumbral lunar eclipse takes place Friday. The eclipse will be at least partly visible from most but not all places on Earth (sorry Australia and Japan). The moment of greatest eclipse is at 4:43 p.m. PT and the eclipse will then dissipate until it completes a little over two hours later, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.
SonicSpike writes: Silicon Valley has a sex problem, according to Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor who is an advisor to President-elect Donald Trump.
In a must-read interview with The New York Times' Maureen Dowd, Thiel points out that techies in Silicon Valley are not having very much sex, and that it was part of the reason why so many people in the region criticized Trump's comment from the Billy Bush tape.
Silicon Valley has the highest ratio of single men to single women, while the tech industry as a whole has struggled with gender imbalance for decades. (However, it's worth noting that the San Francisco metropolitan area also has the highest ratio of people who identify as LGBT in the US).
In fact, Dr. Sandra Lindholm, a sex therapist and clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, recently told Forbes that she's now seeing an uptick in young, male clients who complain about a variety of sexual challenges and issues.
"They’re coming to sex therapy because they don’t feel they have time or energy for sex," Lindhold said.
Some of the common issues include low sexual desire, difficulty meeting women, and performance issues. Plus, she points out people in tech generally have a reputation for being introverted. Another particular issue that frequently comes up is what she calls "tech overload": people spend so much time on their gadgets that they "forget about being in the moment."
Although there's no official data on Silicon Valley's sex frequency, a 2012 survey by condom maker Trojan revealed that Bay Area residents had the least amount of sex and the shortest time in bed, in a sample of 10 major US cities including New York, Chicago, Miami, and so on.
SonicSpike writes: Delta Air Lines U.S. domestic flights were grounded on Sunday evening due to automation issues, according to an advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration.
International flights were exempt from the halt.
Passengers stranded in airports took to social media, where a representative on Delta's official Twitter page told users the systems were down and that its IT department was working to rectify the situation.
The airline later put out a statement.
"Delta teams are expeditiously working to fix a systems outage that has resulted in departure delays for flights on the ground," the airline said in the statement. "Flights in the air remain unaffected. Delta apologizes to customers for the inconvenience."
This is the second time in 6 months this has happened, with a power outage at DAL HQ in August grounding all DAL traffic worldwide.
Last week, a computer problem forced United Airlines to ground all domestic flights for about an hour.
SonicSpike writes: After CNN reported that President-elect Donald Trump was presented with information from intelligence chiefs about claims that Russia attempted to compromise him, Buzzfeed released a dossier that the two-page synopsis was based on.
It is reported that the the dossier was put together by an ex-British intelligence agent and was to be used as opposition research against Trump. Apparently, a number of reporters and politicians had seen this document before Buzzfeed published it, with the main issue being the difficulty in verifying the claims.
While it is noted that much of what’s included in this dossier is unverified, and perhaps can never be verified, one of the portions included has already been blowing up online immediately after it went live.
There are unverified allegations that Trump hired Russian prostitutes to perform a “golden showers” party on a bed that the Obamas had slept in, because he hated the President and First Lady.
SonicSpike writes: Tesla’s autopilot might make you drive like a grandma, but that’s a small price to pay since it can also, apparently, see the future. A dashcam video seems to show the autopilot for a Tesla Model X predict that the two cars ahead of it were about to crash, even though the human driver would’ve had no way to see the collision coming.
Electek reports that the crash took place on the Autobahn in the Netherlands. Hans Noordsij, a Dutch electric car enthusiast who first reported the incident, said that nobody in the crash was seriously injured, according to the driver of the Tesla. In the video, you can hear the Tesla’s Forward Collision Warning start pinging for seemingly no reason — then the car ahead of the Tesla slams into the SUV in front of it that had been hidden from view.
The Tesla was able to tell this was going to happen thanks to the September autopilot update, which added radar — a tried-and-true technology that Elon Musk said could cut accident rates in half. The radar aspect of the autopilot allowed the Model X to track two cars ahead of itself. Even though the SUV wasn’t visible, the radar knew where it was — and that it was about to get rear-ended.
SonicSpike writes: A confidential source on the Trump transition team has told The Liberty Conservative that Rep. Thomas Massie, an award-winning, MIT-educated engineer, elected to Congress in 2012, is under consideration for the job of Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, a role commonly known as Science Advisor to the President. Massie currently serves as Chairman for the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation in the House of Representatives and is a libertarian-leaning Republican.
SonicSpike writes: The Internal Revenue Service has filed a “John Doe” summons seeking to require U.S. Bitcoin exchange Coinbase to turn over records about every transaction of every user from 2013 to 2015.
That demand is shocking in sweep, and it includes: “complete user profile, history of changes to user profile from account inception, complete user preferences, complete user security settings and history (including confirmed devices and account activity), complete user payment methods, and any other information related to the funding sources for the account/wallet/vault, regardless of date.” And every single transaction.
The demand is not limited to owners of large amounts of Bitcoin or to those who have transacted in large amounts. Everything about everyone.
Equally shocking is the weak foundation for making this demand. In a declaration submitted to the court, an IRS agent recounts having learned of tax evasion on the part of one Bitcoin user and two companies. On this basis, he and the IRS claim “a reasonable basis for believing” that all U.S. Coinbase users “may fail or may have failed to comply” with the internal revenue laws.
The IRS’s effort to strip away the privacy of all Coinbase users is more broad than the government’s effort in recent cases dealing with cell site location information. In the CSLI cases, the government has sought data about particular suspects, using a standard below the probable cause standard required by the Fourth Amendment (“specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe”).
SonicSpike writes: In September, a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to enjoin the State Department from censoring the American organization Defense Distributed. The Department back in 2013 threatened them with prosecution for hosting computer files that instruct 3D printers to make a plastic pistol, one the company calls "The Liberator." Defense Distributed have since then complied with the department's demand.
Provocateur and author Cody Wilson, who runs the organization and built and fired the first 3D-printed plastic pistol, believes that State Department threats to treat hosting such files as the equivalent of exporting illegal munitions amount to a prior restraint violation of their First and Second Amendment rights. (The Second Amendment Foundation is also a plaintiff in the suit.)
Defense Distributed's legal team, including Alan Gura (who has won two substantial victories for the Second Amendment at the Supreme Court), filed on Friday a petition to the Fifth Circuit for an en banc rehearing (before the entire Court, not just a three-judge panel) of the injunction request.
The new filing's arguments, quoted and summarized:
"Never before has a federal appellate court declined to enjoin a content-based prior restraint on speech while refusing to consider the merits of a First Amendment challenge...The panel majority's novel decision contradicts a long line of established Supreme Court and circuit precedents governing constitutional claims and injunctive relief—including decisions of this and all other regional federal circuit courts of appeal."
SonicSpike writes: Scott Adams, creator of the popular comic, Dilbert, has decided to endorse Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson for President.
He writes at his blog:
"I don’t know how to write this post without unintentionally disrespecting the real victims of abuse in any form. I apologize in advance if it comes off that way. But it’s part of the national conversation now, and unavoidable. The best I can do is focus on how voters perceive the situation. I don’t have an opinion about who did what to whom because I wasn’t in the room any of those times. That said
We fine citizens of the United States find ourselves playing some sort of sex abuse poker in which we have to assign value to various alleged sex crimes to see which alleged rapist/groper/enabler combination we want to inhabit the White House and represent our national brand. Let’s call that situation “not ideal.”
My view is that if either Clinton or Trump can be judged by the weight of the allegations against them, both are 100% unfit for the office. I think Trump supporters think it’s worth the hit to our national brand just to get some specific improvements in the country.
Clinton supporters have been telling me for a few days that any visible support for Trump makes you a supporter of sex abuse. From a persuasion standpoint, that actually makes sense. If people see it that way, that’s the reality you have to deal with. I choose to not be part of that reality so I moved my endorsement to Gary Johnson.
I encourage all Clinton supporters to do the same, and for the same reason. I don’t know if any of the allegations against the Clinton’s are true, but since we are judging each other on associations, you don’t want to be seen as supporting sex abuse by putting an alleged duo of abusers (the perp and the clean-up crew) into office. I think you will agree that it doesn’t matter if any of the allegations are true, because the stink from a mountain of allegations – many that seem credible to observers – is bad for the national brand too. To even consider putting the Clinton’s back in the White House is an insult to women and every survivor of abuse.
To be fair, Gary Johnson is a pot head who didn’t know what Allepo was. I call that relatable. A President Johnson administration might bring with it some operational risks, and policy risks, but at least he won’t slime you by association and turn you into some sort of cheerleader for sex abuse in the way you would if you voted for the Clintons or Trump.
If you take allegations of sex abuse seriously – and you should – vote Johnson. To vote for Clinton or Trump is to be seen by others as an enabler for sexual abuse. I don’t think that’s what anyone had in mind by breaking the glass ceiling. Don’t let it happen to you."
SonicSpike writes: Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity.
Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers—devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars—at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border.
Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.
The investigative tactic concerns privacy and guns-rights advocates, who call it an invasion of privacy. The law-enforcement officials say it is an important and legal tool for pursuing dangerous, hard-to-track illegal activity.
There is no indication the gun-show surveillance led to any arrests or investigative leads, but the officials didn’t rule out that such surveillance may have happened elsewhere. The agency has no written policy on its use of license-plate readers and could engage in similar surveillance in the future, they said.
Jay Stanley, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the gun-show surveillance “highlights the problem with mass collection of data.” He said law enforcement can take two entirely legal activities, like buying guns and crossing the border, “and because those two activities in concert fit somebody’s idea of a crime, a person becomes inherently suspicious.”
John Chigos, CEO of PlateSmart Technologies, Inc., which sells license-plate-reader systems, said the devices help protect the public but he called it “an abuse of the technology’’ to target gun-show shoppers.
SonicSpike writes: WikiLeaks has canceled an unknown announcement it had planned for this week due to security concerns, according to an NBC News reporter.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was scheduled to make an announcement Tuesday from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy. It was expected to be connected to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
However, NBC News reporter Jesse Rodriguez reported that because of security concerns at the embassy, the event has been canceled. WikiLeaks hasn't said whether the announcement will be rescheduled.