Day: November 17, 2016

Bigelow calls on Trump to sharply increase NASA spending

Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, apparently had second thoughts about his first tweet. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

HOUSTON — Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow said Nov. 17 that he believes that the Trump administration should as much as double NASA’s budget in the coming years and make plans for a human return to the moon.

Bigelow, the founder of commercial space habitat developer Bigelow Aerospace, argued in a speech at the Spacecom conference here Nov. 17 that such a dramatic, and arguably long-shot, increase in NASA funding was essential to the future of both the agency’s exploration efforts and business plans of commercial ventures, as well as affordable to the nation.

“I propose that NASA should have, beginning in fiscal year 2019, an annual budget equal to at least one percent of total yearly federal spending,” Bigelow said. The Obama administration, in its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, requested $19 billion for NASA, less than half a percent of the overall request of more than $4 trillion.

Part of the reason for the additional funding, he said, is to deal with inefficiencies with some of NASA’s programs. “It is no surprise that NASA needs a greater allowance just to offset the politics, much less what’s needed to really get going,” he said.

The increase would also be used to support more ambitious space exploration efforts by NASA, such as lunar exploration. “The new White House needs to make a real commitment to this nation’s space future,” he said, specifically citing lunar bases and industrial activity. “The reason I’m focusing on the moon is because the business case for the moon is potentially substantial compared to the business case for Mars, and the financial requirements are of no comparison.”

Bigelow said he believed the nation could afford that jump in NASA’s budget because he expects economic growth in the country overall to increase significantly after Trump takes office, although he did not elaborate on how he reached that conclusion. “With this increase, the United States can easily afford NASA’s one percent, and even more,” he said.

In comments after his talk, he said he hadn’t been in direct discussions with anyone on the Trump transition team about his proposal. He was also optimistic that the next administration could increase NASA’s budget despite dealing with competing priorities, such as infrastructure redevelopment. “If you have a growing economy, it lifts all boats,” he said.

Bigelow’s support of Trump — he called Trump’s election an early Christmas present for the country and for NASA — is not surprising. In January, Bigelow joined the social network Twitter and immediately expressed his support for Trump. “What this country needs is an inspirational space program. I’ll bet @realDonaldTrump could do it,” he tweeted.

Bigelow was not the only person at the conference to support significantly increasing NASA’s budget. “NASA receives a pittance of the federal budget,” said Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas), chairman of the House space subcommittee, in remarks delivered by video at the conference Nov. 15.

Babin, though, was not optimistic about a doubling or any other large increase for the agency. “As much as I would be thrilled to see NASA’s budget …read more

Office Depot techs accused of faking malware infections to meet sales targets

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Seattle’s KIRO TV made undercover visits to Office Depot stores in Washington state and Oregon and asked the technicians working in the store’s “PC Health Check” to evaluate a working, uninfected PC; four out of six times, Office Depot technicians diagnosed nonexistent virus activity and prescribed $200 worth of service to get rid of it.
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Promised auction for popular .blog domain canceled

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After Automattic (makers of WordPress) announced its control of the .blog top-level domain, Chris Chidle paid more than $200 to pre-register chris.blog. He did so under the expectation that, as Automattic had promised, domains with multiple applicants would go to auction. Eventually he was told someone else won the domain—no auction necessary! He got a refund, but wants to know why Automattic took money for an auction that wasn’t going to happen.

My interpretation is this: we yanked your domain and aren’t going to let you have it or bid on it until we find a way to make more money from it. After all, we have to recoup the $19M we spent to buy the TLD. …

A few weeks back, before I had inquired about the auctions, I thought to check get.blog to see if anything had changed. chris.blog was still $30/year, but christopher.blog was $2,000/year! I tried some other common first names and many had annual fees in the thousands, while a few were still pegged at $30/year. My guess is that the cheap ones already had applications, then Automattic panicked and raised the prices on the rest.

At Hacker News, at least two more people report similar stories of their .blog fees being refunded and the domains no longer being available. The implication seems to be that the auctions failed to attract the pre-bid interest Automattic expected, so it began proactively marketing short and trademarky domains to private parties on the sly.

All domains are auctionable, but some are more auctionable than others. This is a huge warning to anyone thinking of registering under a newfangled, privately-operated TLD: what’s to stop your landlord evicting you, or raising the rent?

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Boars, Gore, and Swords podcast covers Westworld episode five, "Contrapasso"

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Now that Boars, Gore, and Swords has switched to full coverage of HBO’s Westworld, they’ve returned to their schedule of posting episodes following that night’s airing. For this week’s “Contrapasso,” Ivan and Red are joined by comedian Allison Mick to discuss ever-expanding fan theories, dude robot full frontal, and Ed Harris’s frontier medicine. They’ve also concluded their Patreon-exclusive coverage of the Great British Bake Off finale, so kick in a buck for some high-class cake talk.

To catch up on previous episodes of Westworld, previous seasons of Game of Thrones, the A Song of Ice And Fire books, and other TV and movies, check out the BGaS archive. You can find them on Twitter @boarsgoreswords, like their Facebook fanpage, and email them. If you want access to extra episodes and content, you can donate to the Patreon.

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Kodachrome, Pt. 1

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This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

Color slides were once the state of the art in family photography — vibrant, immersive, ubiquitous. So ubiquitous, in fact, that millions, maybe billions of them survive. A conversation with midcentury pop culture expert Charles Phoenix: What can we learn from the vast shadow world of abandoned slides about the way we used to live in our homes?

If you like what you hear, please drop by the iTunes Store and leave the show a rating and/or review. And don’t forget to subscribe:

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS

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Man attempts illegal soak in acidic Yellowstone hot pool: reduced to wallet and flip-flops

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Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Yellowstone National Park recently reported the tragic details of an accident last summer, where a 23 year old man dissolved after an illegal attempt to bathe in Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. He had gone 200 yards past the legal tourism area with his sister, who was recording on her cell phone when the incident happened. Luckily, that video has not been released.

Though search and rescue was attempted, Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress remarked, “in a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving” due to the churning, acidic water. The man was reaching down to test the temperature, with the intent to “hot pot,” aka bathe in the steaming water, when he slipped and fell in.

Reports Wyoming’s KURL news:

Search and rescue rangers who arrived later did find the victim’s body in the pool, along with his wallet, and flip flops. But, a lightning storm stopped the recovery efforts. The next day, workers could not find any remains. Veress says the water was churning, and acidic.

He remarked, “In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving”

Veress said the park posts warning signs for important reasons, “… because it is wild and it hasn’t been overly altered by people to make things a whole lot safer, it’s got dangers. And a place like Yellowstone which is set aside because of the incredible geothermal resources that are here, all the more so.”

Yellowstone is meant to be wild and preserved as such, so the park posts warning signs for this very reason. Despite the signs and the accident, a week later, a Chinese tourist also left the visitors boardwalk and illegally tried to collect water from the same spring to use for its “medicinal purposes.” Collecting any of the park’s resources, including water from hot springs, is a federal violation and the man was heavily fined. Walking on the fragile crust of the thermal springs causes irreversible environmental damage.

How the hot springs were formed, from the Yellowstone website:

At Yellowstone each year, the rain and melted snow seeps into the earth. Cold to begin with, the water is quickly warmed by heat radiating from a partially molten magma chamber deep underground, the remnant of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion that occurred 600,000 years ago.

After moving throughout this underwater “plumbing” system, the now hot water rises up through a system of small fissures. Here it also interacts with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising up from the magma chamber. As some of the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the hot water, a weak, carbonic acid solution is formed. In the Mammoth area, the hot, acidic solution dissolves large quantities of limestone on its way up through the rock layers to the hot springs on the surface.

It is not known why the FOIA report was requested, but the incident does provide an option out for those unable to tolerate …read more

Man attempts illegal soak in acidic Yellowstone hot pool: reduced to wallet and flip-flops

mammothhotsprings

Via a Freedom of Information Act request, Yellowstone National Park recently reported the tragic details of an accident last summer, where a 23 year old man dissolved after an illegal attempt to bathe in Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. He had gone 200 yards past the legal tourism area with his sister, who was recording on her cell phone when the incident happened. Luckily, that video has not been released.

Though search and rescue was attempted, Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress remarked, “in a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving” due to the churning, acidic water. The man was reaching down to test the temperature, with the intent to “hot pot,” aka bathe in the steaming water, when he slipped and fell in.

Reports Wyoming’s KURL news:

Search and rescue rangers who arrived later did find the victim’s body in the pool, along with his wallet, and flip flops. But, a lightning storm stopped the recovery efforts. The next day, workers could not find any remains. Veress says the water was churning, and acidic.

He remarked, “In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving”

Veress said the park posts warning signs for important reasons, “… because it is wild and it hasn’t been overly altered by people to make things a whole lot safer, it’s got dangers. And a place like Yellowstone which is set aside because of the incredible geothermal resources that are here, all the more so.”

Yellowstone is meant to be wild and preserved as such, so the park posts warning signs for this very reason. Despite the signs and the accident, a week later, a Chinese tourist also left the visitors boardwalk and illegally tried to collect water from the same spring to use for its “medicinal purposes.” Collecting any of the park’s resources, including water from hot springs, is a federal violation and the man was heavily fined. Walking on the fragile crust of the thermal springs causes irreversible environmental damage.

How the hot springs were formed, from the Yellowstone website:

At Yellowstone each year, the rain and melted snow seeps into the earth. Cold to begin with, the water is quickly warmed by heat radiating from a partially molten magma chamber deep underground, the remnant of a cataclysmic volcanic explosion that occurred 600,000 years ago.

After moving throughout this underwater “plumbing” system, the now hot water rises up through a system of small fissures. Here it also interacts with hot gases charged with carbon dioxide rising up from the magma chamber. As some of the carbon dioxide is dissolved in the hot water, a weak, carbonic acid solution is formed. In the Mammoth area, the hot, acidic solution dissolves large quantities of limestone on its way up through the rock layers to the hot springs on the surface.

It is not known why the FOIA report was requested, but the incident does provide an option out for those unable to tolerate …read more

America's top spy won't stick around to watch Donald Trump wield his doomsday device

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James Clapper, the US Director of National Intelligence, has tendered his resignation. He says he will serve through the handover to the new administration, whereupon Donald Trump will inherit an arsenal of cyberweapons and a $52B/year army of 107,000 secret, unaccountable spies that Clapper has strengthened and emboldened in one of the most sustained and successful exercises in empire-building in US governmental history.
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Adam Savage visits Peter Jackson's startling cabinet of movie prop curiosities

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Boing Boing pal Adam Savage (MythBusters, Tested) tours the incredible prop collection of Peter Jackson, producer of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, and the forthcoming The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun. One of his favorite pieces? An original Hal 9000 faceplate! That is quite the wunderkammer, Mr. Jackson! (Tested)

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Metallica and The Roots play "Enter Sandman" on toy and classroom instruments

On The Tonight Show last night, Metallica, promoting their new album “Hardwired…to Self-Destruct,” played their old ditty “Enter Sandman” in an entirely new way. We’re off to never never land.

James Hetfield – Vocals, Toy clarinet
Jimmy Fallon – Vocals, Bass Drum, Casio Keyboard, Kazoo
Lars Ulrich – Fisher Price Drum, Toy Cymbals
Kirk Hammett – Melodica
Robert Trujillo – Baby Electric Axe
Questlove – Hand Clappers, Kazoo
Kamal Gray – Xylophone
James Poyser – Melodica
Captain Kirk – Ukulele
Tuba Gooding Jr. – Kazoo, Banana Shaker, Apple Shaker
Mark Kelley – Kazoo
Frank Knuckles – Bongos
Black Thought – Tambourine, Brown Hat

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Giveaway Alert: Google Pixel XL Phone

We’re excited to announce our newest giveaway for the highly-anticipated Google Pixel XL phone!

This is Google’s first foray into the smartphone game, and as expected, this device is packed with cool features and Google integrations. It runs Android 7.1, and includes a 5.5 inch screen with unheard-of 1440-2560 resolution. For comparison’s sake, that’s better than a lot of laptops out there.

Plus, even with all this functionality, the Pixel XL still has an impressively long-lasting battery that is also incredibly fast charging.

All you have to do to enter to win is head to this page and answer a few questions. You could be on your way to owning one of the most high tech, next-gen smartphones on the market today. We’re rooting for you!

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Yes, humans are capable of creating a happy and successful liberal society: The Netherlands

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As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here’s a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country — The Netherlands — to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it’s helpful to look at a liberal, politically stable country with a strong and open economy. Also known as Holland, the country does not have the same history and culture that creates the inherent social and economic problems in the U.S., but it is clearly moving in the right direction — forward.

It’s a great destination for liberal ex-patriates looking for a place to live and work — especially in the tech sector — that already has its shit together, in case you really are now considering moving out of the country. Staying or going, it makes sense to see what a liberal society looks like and how it works.

We’ve compiled a list of facts about The Netherlands to show you what humans can do when they’re not fighting en masse on Twitter:

  • The Dutch government plans to ban the sales of petrol and diesel-powered cars in 2025
  • Healthiest country in the world for diet
  • Keeps closing prisons due to a lack of prisoners
  • First to legalize same-sex marriage
  • Highest concentration of museums in the world
  • Highest English-proficiency in the world where it is not first language
  • Highest population density in Europe
  • Home to more bikes than people
  • Cycling in the Netherlands is the safest in the world
  • Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport offers more direct flights than any airport in the world
  • 83 percent of the population live in urban areas but there are few high rises
  • Largely secular country: up to 40 percent of Dutch say they have no religion, 30 percent are Catholic, and 20 percent are Protestant.
  • Most physically active EU population
  • Has liberal stances on issues like drugs, abortion, euthanasia
  • Has few abandoned dogs after aggressive campaign fining breeders
  • 20,000 miles of bike paths
  • World’s first solar-powered bike lanes
  • Charging points for electric cars are located within 50 meters of each other

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As far as opportunity goes, here is the tech business climate, including for foreign workers, as described by Holland High Tech:

The Netherlands’ centuries-old tradition of creativity, pragmatism, entrepreneurship, openness and collaboration make it the perfect place to find solutions to the challenges society is facing today in the areas of health and wellness, security, renewable energy, mobility and the climate. The Dutch high-tech systems and materials sector offers pragmatic solutions for these technological challenges. Solutions that, due to the complexity of the challenges, are primarily found in cross-overs in technology and collaboration. The Netherlands is recognized around the world for its products, knowledge and concepts. Its high-tech systems and materials sector has high-end jobs for foreign knowledge workers, skilled workers and teachers. It is also a centre of excellence for research and development in the area of technology and innovation, and promotes collaboration and technology partnerships. The Netherlands offers excellent business conditions for domestic …read more

Disney’s "Doc McStuffins" renewed after Twitter campaign: female African-American is its rare protagonist

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Disney just announced that Doc McStuffins, an animated show starring an African-American girl who fixes broken toys and wants to be a doctor, is renewed for its fifth season. Described as “Cheers for preschoolers,” its fans took to Twitter this summer wanting to know the show’s fate. The social media campaign was led by W. Kamau Bell, a self-described socio-political comedian and dad who hosts CNN’s United Shades of America. Bell tweeted today, “Doc McStuffins is one of the most important shows in the history of television.” Reports Variety:

Since the series debuted in 2012, it has won much admiration, particularly because it is difficult to find a female African-American protagonist who aspires to be a doctor in many mainstream cartoons. A group of African-American female physicians, inspired by the program, formed the Artemis Medical Society, an organization which has a membership of over 4700 women physicians of color from around the world. First Lady Michelle Obama guest-starred as herself in an episode.

“Doc McStuffins” won a Peabody Award in 2015 and NAACP Image Awards in 2015 and 2016 in the “Outstanding Children’s Program” category. Disney says the series averages 16 million views on the Disney Junior app, VOD and Hulu, and reaches 150 million viewers worldwide each quarter, and in the past year was ordered over 20 million times via set-top-box VOD.

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VIDEO: Tension mounts as man tries to halt progress of pigeon

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tC0C7vxxIxw&feature=youtu.be

We interrupt your growing anxiety at America’s emergent cyberpunk dystopia for a tense missive from this guy’s house. In this video, a pigeon bears down a chimney in Romford or maybe Cheltenham or somewhere like that. The perspective on the video makes it hard to tell (especially when things get hairy) but the pigeon is well-armored and only seconds from putting the defender in serious trouble. Wings flap menacingly; a feather sails past the lens. It is not long before he is quite alarmed at the bird’s progress. What happens next, though, will probably not surprise you. (more…)

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VIDEO: Tension mounts as French forces try to halt progress of suicide truck

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8CNWbqmhDw&feature=youtu.be

We interrupt your growing anxiety at America’s emergent cyberpunk dystopia for a tense missive from the Syrian War. In this video, an explosive-laden suicide truck bears down on a position held (reportedly by French special forces with the SDF) near Raqqa. The perspective on the video makes it hard to tell, but the vehicle is well-armored and only seconds from putting the defenders in serious trouble. Bullets ricochet off; a missile sails past its target. It is not long before everyone is becoming quite alarmed at the driver’s progress. What happens next, though, will probably not surprise you. (more…)

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Barnes & Noble's releasing a $50 Android tablet that does all the things Amazon won't let Kindles do

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Chris Meadows writes, “Barnes & Noble is coming out with a $50 Nook Android tablet, with hardware specs similar to Amazon’s $50 Fire. The kicker is, this new Nook tablet will run plain-vanilla Android 6.0 Marshmallow and include the full suite of Google Play apps–unlike the Fire, which only permits installation of those apps Amazon deems suitable. Will this be enough to rescue the ailing Nook brand?”
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