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The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

schwit1 Another sign NASA is circling the drain ... (160 comments)

NASA headquarters staff votes to unionize.
http://www.ifpte.org/news/deta...

Anyone with the slightest objectivity knows that the working conditions for federal employees in Washington is glorious, with pay about double what everyone else in the country makes and benefits far exceeding even the best private packages. In addition, the hours are great and just slightly longer than what my generation would have called bankers’ hours. Moreover, if I can be blunt, these engineers are mostly paper pushers. They are not the one’s designing and building anything that might fly in space. Their only reason to unionize now is because they see a threat to their cushy jobs with the advent of private space and are organizing to secure their unneeded positions.

about a week ago
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Judge: US Search Warrants Apply To Overseas Computers

schwit1 What if Ireland seized the data? (502 comments)

And told the US courts that it must make its request through them.

about three weeks ago
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Social Security Administration Joins Other Agencies With $300M "IT Boondoggle"

schwit1 Re:dear us govt (144 comments)

Lockheed Martin is not the free market when it comes to government. They are closer to a lamprey.

about a month ago
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Verizon's Accidental Mea Culpa

schwit1 Re:Connect with a VPN (390 comments)

Not thanks to AT&T. The thanks goes to Congress and the President that made the laws permitting forced arbitration.

about a month ago
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New York State Proposes Sweeping Bitcoin Regulations

schwit1 Does New York have the authority to do this? (121 comments)

What could go wrong if 50 states and the feds decide on differing, possibly conflicting regulations. But maybe that's the point - regulate them into obscurity.

about a month ago
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Malaysian Passenger Plane Reportedly Shot Down Over Ukraine

schwit1 Re:Ah. (752 comments)

Do we know it's a MANPAD and not an S-300? The plane was probably at ~40,000ft.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/...
max range=6000m. That's only half the distance to cruising altitude.

about a month ago
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Why the FCC Is Likely To Ignore Net Neutrality Comments and Listen To ISPs

schwit1 FCC doesn't have a mandate to answer to the public (140 comments)

The FCC is supposed to answer to Congress. Congress makes the laws that define the scope of FCC responsibilities. The FCC should only listen to the public as it pertains to regulated entities doing something wrong or the FCC not doing its job.

I do agree that the FCC head should never be a shill for the regulated industries.

about a month ago
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97% of U.S. Banks Allow Clickjacking Fraud. 44% Don't Even Use SSL.

schwit1 What banks or CUs did not fail? (2 comments)

This should be public knowledge so users can vote with their feet.

about a month ago
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FCC Approves Subsidy Plan to Upgrade School and Library Networks

schwit1 How is this the FCC's business? (70 comments)

Federal agencies should regulate.
Congress should subsidize.

about a month ago
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Maldives Denies Russian Claims That Secret Service Kidnapped a Politician's Son

schwit1 What will be the tit for tat response from Russia? (100 comments)

If I were the son of a high ranking US government official or businessman I would not travel to Russia or any nation friendly with Putin.

about a month and a half ago
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Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

schwit1 Reciprocal discovery will make the emails public (497 comments)

In Mann vs Steyn the NR will be able to troll through all of Mann's emails and data.

Mann is in favor of his proceeding with discovery against Steyn - "The fact that Mr. Steyn has not appealed the denial of the motions to dismiss counsels further against a discovery stay. Mr. Steyn, like Dr. Mann, has made clear his desire to have this Court resolve this lawsuit and to move forward with discovery immediately. As such, there is no reason for this Court to delay discovery further."

On the other hand, Mann is totally opposed to Steyn's proceeding with discovery against him - "While Dr. Mann agrees with Mr. Steyn that discovery should move forward on Dr. Mann's claims, discovery cannot move forward on Mr. Steyn's counterclaims."

about a month and a half ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

schwit1 Re:Insurance premiums can be reduced another way.. (353 comments)

#2 - Get rid of the supposed bureaucrats, doctors and pharmacists that try to second-guess real doctors and pharmacists that actually know the patients and their conditions.
#6 - The government should stop forcing people to buy coverage they don't want.

about a month and a half ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

schwit1 Re:real vs pretend (353 comments)

"The government scares me less because they don't want to maximize the money they get from me."

What country do you live in, I want to move where you live because here in the USA the government thinks all money is theirs unless deemed otherwise.

about a month and a half ago
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President of UT Austin declines chancellor's request to resign

schwit1 Powers abused his position to help his cronies (2 comments)

Powers has developed a tense relationship with the system chancellor and regents in recent months. The ultimatum comes as the university plans to undertake an official investigation into possible legislative influence over campus admissions. Allegations of undue influence, including the admission of family and friends of legislators otherwise not qualified, were heavily publicized by UT System Regent Wallace Hall. A House committee is drafting articles of impeachment for Hall based on his massive records requests and alleged bullying of university officials in his quest to unveil wrongdoing at the flagship.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Air Force requests info for new engine

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  yesterday

schwit1 (797399) writes "Corporate welfare: The Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: “What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?” Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies.

In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]

The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing’s Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. For the government to fund this new engine is nothing more than corporate welfare, at a time when the federal government is swimming in debt and is essentially bankrupt."

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A movie of Triton made from Voyager 2s fly-by 25 years ago

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  yesterday

schwit1 (797399) writes "Using restored images taken by Voyager 2 when it flew past Neptune’s moon Triton 25 years ago, scientists have produced a new map and movie of the moon.

More information here. The movie can be viewed here."
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NASA's Space Launch System searches for a mission

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  2 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Managers of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) are searching for a mission that they can propose and convince Congress to fund.

Any honest read of this article will conclude that this very expensive rocket system is an absurd waste of money. It has no mission now, and will never get one considering the cost. Instead, NASA will spend billions to fly two test flights, both unmanned, and then the money will run out."
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Arianespace and ESA sign contract for three launches

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  2 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract on Thursday for the Ariane 5 rocket to launch 12 more of Europe’s Galileo GPS satellites on three launches.

This contract is a perfect example of European pork. Europe’s Galileo system might provide competition to the U.S. GPS and Russian Glonass systems, but I am not sure what additional capabilities it provides that will convince GPS users to switch to it. Instead, building it provides European jobs, while using the Ariane 5 rocket to launch it gives that increasingly uncompetitive rocket some work to do. In fact, this situation really reminds me of the U.S. launch market in the 1990s, when Boeing and Lockheed Martin decided that, rather than compete with Russia and ESA for the launch market, they instead decided to rely entirely on U.S. government contracts, since those contracts didn’t really demand that they reduce their costs significantly to compete.

Europe now appears to be heading down that same road."
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Two additional Russian rocket engines arrive in the U.S.

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  2 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Despite tensions over the Ukraine, a Russian cargo plane on Wednesday delivered two more Russian rocket engines to Alabama for their refurbishment and use in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

This delivery gives ULA some additional breathing room. It the additional deliveries scheduled for later this year and early in 2015 happen, they will have even more breathing room for more Atlas 5 launches. Even so, their dependence on Russian engines is something that limits the company’s competitiveness in the emerging aggressive launch market."
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Scientists baffled by unknown source of CFCs

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  2 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Scientists have found that, despite their complete ban since 2007, ozone-depleting CFCs are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."

Note: CCI4s were previously referred to as CFCs, which is to the public the more familiar abbreviation.

That there seems to be an unknown source of CFCs suggests strongly that the entire theory of CFCs destroying the ozone layer is faulty. If CFCs were being produced naturally in the past then the ozone layer should not exist based on this theory. That it does exist says the CFCs are not harmful to it and were banned unnecessarily."

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Scientists find traces of sea plankton on ISS surface

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  3 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "An experiment of taking samples from illuminators and the ISS surface has brought unique results, as scientists had found traces of sea plankton there, the chief of an orbital mission on Russia’s ISS segment told reporters.

Results of the scope of scientific experiments which had been conducted for a quite long time were summed up in the previous year, confirming that some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation. Several surveys proved that these organisms can even develop.

He noted that it was not quite clear how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station."

Link to Original Source
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Boston PD Tested Facial Recognition SW by Recording All Faces At Music Festivals

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  4 days ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Concertgoers at last year’s annual Boston Calling music festivals weren’t just there to watch the show — they were watched themselves as test subjects for Boston police’ new facial recognition technology, which reportedly analyzed every attendee at the May and September two-day events.

Employees at IBM — the outside contractor involved in deploying the tech alongside Boston Police — planned the test of its Smart Surveillance System and Intelligent Video Analytics to execute “face capture” on “every person” at the concerts in 2013. Targets were reportedly described “as anyone who walks through the door,” according to company memos obtained by Dig Boston.

Using 10 cameras capable of intelligent video analysis, police and IBM captured thousands of faces and scanned individuals for details including skin color, height and clothing to screen for possible forensic identification. The tech also watched traffic and crowd congestion, searched for suspicious objects and monitored social media in real-time.

Attendees and promoters were wholly unaware of the test, which was conducted amid a slew of media and photographers regularly in attendance and during a public event where the expectation of privacy is at a minimum. Sensitive documents detailing the program were found unsecured online, where they’ve reportedly been accessible for more than a year.

The images, video and information obtained by the program will be kept for months and years."

Link to Original Source
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The flight of gifted engineers from NASA

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about a week ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Rather than work in NASA, the best young engineers today are increasingly heading to get jobs at private companies like SpaceX and XCOR.

It is a long article, worth reading in its entirety, but this quote will give the essence:

As a NASA engineering co-op student at Johnson Space Center, Hoffman trained in various divisions of the federal space agency to sign on eventually as a civil servant. She graduated from college this year after receiving a generous offer from NASA, doubly prestigious considering the substantial reductions in force hitting Johnson Space Center in recent months. She did have every intention of joining that force — had actually accepted the offer, in fact — when she received an invitation to visit a friend at his new job with rising commercial launch company SpaceX.

Hoffman took him up on the offer, flying out to Los Angeles in the spring for a private tour. Driving up to the SpaceX headquarters, she was struck by how unassuming it was, how small compared to NASA, how plain on the outside and rather like a warehouse.

As she walked through the complex, she was also surprised to find open work areas where NASA would have had endless hallways, offices and desks. Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. No one sat around talking to friends in the morning, “another level from what you see at NASA,” she said. “They’re very purpose-driven. It looked like every project was getting the attention it deserved.”

Seeing SpaceX in production forced Hoffman to acknowledge NASA might not be the best fit for her. The tour reminded her of the many mentors who had gone into the commercial sector of the space industry in search of better pay and more say in the direction their employers take. She thought back to the attrition she saw firsthand at Johnson Space Center and how understaffed divisions struggled to maintain operations.

At NASA young engineers find that they spend a lot of time with bureaucracy, the pace is slow, their projects often get canceled or delayed, and the creative job satisfaction is poor. At private companies like SpaceX, things are getting built now. With that choice, no wonder the decision to go private is increasingly easy."

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Giant Greek tomb discovered

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about two weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Archeologists have uncovered the largest tomb ever discovered in Greece and think it is linked to the reign of Alexander the Great.

The tomb, dating to around 300 BC, may have held the body of one of Alexander’s generals or a member of his family. It was found beneath a huge burial mound near the ancient site of Amphipolis in northern Greece. Antonis Samaras, Greece’s prime minister, visited the dig on Tuesday and described the discovery as “clearly extremely significant”.

A broad, five-yard wide road led up to the tomb, the entrance of which was flanked by two carved sphinxes. It was encircled by a 500 yard long marble outer wall. Experts believe a 16ft tall lion sculpture previously discovered nearby once stood on top of the tomb.

The excavations began in 2012, and by this month hope to identify who actually was buried there."
Link to Original Source

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New Jersey May Shield Drivers From Other States' Red Light, Speed Cameras

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about two weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "New Jersey may soon prohibit other states from issuing traffic citations to its residents for alleged violations caught on speed or red-light cameras.

Lawmakers in the Garden State have introduced a bill that would stop New Jersey's Motor Vehicles Commission from providing license-plate numbers or other identifying information to another state or an interstate information network for the purpose of doling out a fine.

"I've been getting loads of complaints from people," state senator Nick Sacco told The Star-Ledger , the state's largest newspaper. "They drive to Virginia to visit relatives. They go through Maryland. They come back home and start receiving tickets in the mail. And they swear that they're not speeding; that they're keeping up with the traffic."

The whole process stinks from a lack of due process. You are guilty until you can prove your innocence and your state will suspend your license without a hearing if you fail to pay out of state traffic fines."

Link to Original Source
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China to build a new canal in Central America

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about two weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "The competition heats up: With approval from Nicaragua, China has inched closer to beginning construction of a new canal that would connect the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

A month ago, a Nicaraguan committee approved Chinese billionaire Wang Jing’s project to create The Nicaraguan Canal. With a planned capacity to accommodate ships with loaded displacement of 400,000 tons (notably bigger than The Panama Canal), the proposed 278-kilometer-long canal that will run across the Nicaragua isthmus would probably change the landscape of the world’s maritime trade.

“The project is the largest infrastructure project ever in the history of man in terms of engineering difficulty, investment scale, workload and its global impact,” Wang told reporters, adding that with regard the project’s financing, which is around $50 billion, Wang seems quite confident, “If you can deliver, you will find all the world’s money at your disposal.”

"
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Border Patrol Steals LEGAL Ivory Bagpipes

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about two weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "The U.S. prohibits importing ivory taken after 1976. Even though the boys had certificates showing their ivory is older — Campbell's pipes date to 1936 — U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the pipes in Highgate Springs, Vermont. Well, not all of them: The boys took every other part possible and left the ivory with Border Patrol so nobody else could make a full set out of the parts."
Link to Original Source
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An Amtrak train abandons all of its passengers

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about two weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Government-run transportation: An Amtrak high-speed train left New York City this weekend without its passengers, who were instead waiting to board on a different platform where railroad employees had sent them.

“They literally sent us to the wrong platform, and the conductor took off without any passengers,” Damien Miano, a stranded passenger told The Daily News. “The right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. It’s just so bizarre.”

Amtrak might make believe that it is a private company, but it has been a government entity for decades. Like the post office, it has no real incentive to make a profit and operate efficiently since all losses get covered by the federal government.

Coming soon to a hospital near you!"

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Putin government moves to take control of Energia

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about three weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Vitaly Lopota, the president of Russia’s largest space company Energia, was suspended Friday by the company’s board of directors.

The move appears to be part of an effort by Russia’s government to obtain majority control over Energia, of which it owns a 38-percent share. The directors elected Igor Komarov as its new chairman of the board. Komarov is chief of the Russian United Rocket and Space Corporation (URSC), the government-owned company tasked with consolidating Russia’s sprawling space sector.

The government is also conducting a criminal investigation of Lopota, which might be justified but appears to be a power play designed to both eliminate him from the game as well as make sure everyone else tows the line so that URSC can take complete control."

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Nasa validates 'impossible' space drive

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about three weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that "impossible" microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion.

A working microwave thruster would radically cut the cost of satellites and space stations and extend their working life, drive deep-space missions, and take astronauts to Mars in weeks rather than months. In hindsight, it may turn out to be another great British invention that someone else turned into a success."

Link to Original Source
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Chinese anti-satellite test?

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about three weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "The U.S. State department is claiming that China completed a “non-destructive” anti-satellite test last week.

The State department also demanded that China refrain from further such actions. That 'oughta do it. Thanks very much, Ray.

China in turn said that the test was for a a ballistic missile defense system. According to these Chinese reports, the test was of a land-based missile designed to intercept an incoming rocket, much like Israel’s Iron Dome and the U.S. SDI systems. Such a system, however, is in many ways indistinguishable from an anti-sat system.

In the case of last week’s Chinese test, the interceptor did not apparently impact anything but instead demonstrated its ability to hit a prearranged simulated point in space."

Link to Original Source
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SpaceShipTwo flies again

schwit1 schwit1 writes  |  about three weeks ago

schwit1 (797399) writes "The competition heats up: For the first time in six months SpaceShipTwo completed a test flight today.

The article above is from NBC, which also has a deal with Virgin Galactic to televise the first commercial flight. It is thus in their interest to promote the spacecraft and company. The following two sentences from the article however clearly confirm every rumor we have heard about the ship in the past year, that they needed to replace or completely refit the engine and that the resulting thrust might not be enough to get the ship to 100 kilometers or 62 miles:

In January, SpaceShipTwo blasted off for a powered test and sailed through a follow-up glide flight, but then it went into the shop for rocket refitting. It’s expected to go through a series of glide flights and powered flights that eventually rise beyond the boundary of outer space (50 miles or 100 kilometers in altitude, depending on who’s counting).

Hopefully this test flight indicates that they have installed the new engine and are now beginning flight tests with equipment that will actually get the ship into space."
Link to Original Source

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