geoffrobinson writes: An article in the conservative Weekly Standard raises concerns about the planned $18 billion Space Launch System (SLS). The program is being pushed by a bipartisan group of Senators. NASA claims it will only be used once or twice a year, so each launch will cost over a billion dollars. At the same time, SpaceX and Boeing are claiming they could have crew-capable vehicles sooner than NASA's 2017 estimate if they were adequately funded.
geoffrobinson writes: The City of Philadelphia, suffering from budget problems like many municipalities, has started to charge their $300 "business privilege" tax against bloggers. Yes, in Philadelphia running a business is a privilege.
You have to pay the tax even if your blog takes in less than $300. "According to Andrea Mannino of the Philadelphia Department of Revenue, in fact, simply choosing the option to make money from ads — regardless of how much or little money is actually generated — qualifies a blog as a business."
geoffrobinson writes: "The American Physical Society is reversing its position on global warming. The APS says that there are a sizable number of skeptics among its 50,000 members. They previously described global warming as "incontrovertible." Now they are opening the issue up to debate."
geoffrobinson writes: "Roughly Drafted has obtained internal IBM documents detailing the results of a small pilot program for internal use of Macs. Positive and negative results were detailed. But, overall, most participants were happy with their experience. The pilot will be expanded this year. One advantage cited: they will be less reliant on Windows. So it seems a mix of Macs, PC's, and Linux boxes are in IBM's future.
Given the history between the two companies, this is quite interesting."
Police in China's capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user's browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.
Starting Sept. 1, the cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China's top portals, including Sohu and Sina, and by the end of the year will appear on all Web sites registered with Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said in a statement.
China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. Despite the controls, nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.
geoffrobinson writes: "Reuters is reporting that a scientist from Germany believes Viking probe data shows signs of life. From the article: "But Joop Houtkooper of the University of Giessen, Germany, said on Friday the spacecraft may in fact have found signs of a weird life form based on hydrogen peroxide on the subfreezing, arid Martian surface. His analysis of one of the experiments carried out by the Viking spacecraft suggests that 0.1 percent of the Martian soil could be of biological origin."
We will have to find confirmatory evidence and see what kind of microbes these are and whether they are related to terrestrial microbes. It is a possibility that life has been transported from Earth to Mars or vice versa a long time ago.