The Land Grab In Space

The US has space experts worried about an extra-terrestrial land grab, reports Quartz (and lest you should think that’s a joke, first check out leading property sales firm Knight Frank’s Asteroid Index):

asteroid index

Plans to make money in space are missing one of the fundamental ingredients to any business: property rights.

If you go mine an asteroid, as several companies plan to do, and bring some minerals back to earth, can you sell them? If you build a moonbase, as entrepreneur Robert Bigelow is contemplating, and someone else wants to land a rocket there, what’s to stop them?

Asteroid miners eager to raise funds to raid space rocks—some of which are packed with minerals valued in the trillions of dollars—are faced with a legal code that was never meant to apply to private enterprise in space, since it was written well before it took anything less than the resources of a national government to get to orbit.

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One-Third of American 8th Graders Think Canada is a Dictatorship

There’s clearly some pernicious, ahem, disinformation, being disseminated in US middle schools! CBC (Canada’s government-funded broadcaster, which is I suppose an organ of the state), is reporting in outraged terms that one-third of American 8th graders think Canada is a dictatorship:

The days of politically frustrated Americans declaring “That’s it, I’m moving to Canada!” could soon be coming to an end — at least among teenagers who value freedom and equality.

568px-Canada_flag_map.svg

 

According to the U.S. government’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 33 per cent of American eight graders currently believe that Canada is a dictatorship.

This finding was one of many revealed by the NCES in its 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress report when it was released late last month.

Alternately called “The Nation’s Report Card,” the publication presents the results of standardized tests given to more than 29,000 eighth-grade students across the U.S. last year.

It was here that reporters learned of how many young Americans may actually think Canada has more in common with North Korea, politically, than with our neighbours to the South.

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Next Jobs Automation Will Kill

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

liz west (CC BY 2.0)

Barb Darrow via Forbes:

Most of us watched as automation displaced factory workers and other laborers; but now many “skilled” workers are getting anxious as the robot overlords come for us.

When automated factories started erasing jobs at manufacturing companies, most of us shrugged: Great, better products cheaper, was the general line of thinking

But as automation keeps creeping up the stack, taking over more of what most would call “skilled” positions, well that’s getting some folks—who consider themselves skilled professionals—nervous.

Take airplane pilots for example. That’s now a dead-end job according to Mary “Missy” Cummings, director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab (HAL) at Duke University (and a former Naval fighter pilot.) She said that “in all honesty” she could not recommend that anyone become a commercial airline pilot going forward, given the current state of the art.

“Commercial pilots today touch the stick for three to seven minutes per flight—and that’s on a tough day,” she told an audience at the MIT CIO Symposium on Wednesday.

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The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe

mike krzeszak (CC BY-ND 2.0)

mike krzeszak (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allan Poe
(published 1846)

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that gave utterance to a threat. At length I would be avenged; this was a point definitely, settled –but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation.… Read the rest

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Shenanigans at the Svalbard Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway is probably the world’s best known doomsday repository of seeds to be used post-apocalype. The Guardian reports that it is mired in controversy “over whether this is the best hope of feeding the world after a catastrophe or just an overpriced deep freeze”:

One Tuesday last winter, in the town nearest to the North Pole, Robert Bjerke turned up for work at his regular hour and looked at the computer monitor on his desk to discover, or so it seemed for a few horrible moments, that the future of human civilisation was in jeopardy.

Svalbard seed vault IMG 8894.JPG

Entrance to the Svalbard seed vault. Photo: Bjoertvedt (CC)

 

The morning of 16 December 2014 was relatively mild for winter in Svalbard: -7.6C with moderate winds. The archipelago, which lies in the Arctic ocean, is under Norway’s control, but it is nearly twice as far from Oslo as it is from the North Pole.

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Student Resistance: Targeting Individual Educators and Administrators

student resistance“When I say I hate school it doesn’t mean I hate education and knowledge. It means that I hate the selfish and ignorant people there. It means that I hate stress and high expectations. It means that I hate being treated like shit. It fucking means that I hate feeling like a failure all the time.”

—shortcut-to-wonderland

 

Public Information

Each state has a Department of Education that oversees the schools and handles licensing for educators and administrators. The websites contain information on teachers and administrators who have been disciplined and investigated for unprofessional behavior. A shockingly large number have been written up for inappropriate behavior such as theft, sexual contact with students, and public drunkenness.

Some other information that can be obtained includes the school district budget, which includes teachers’ and administrators’ salaries. Acquiring this information will make the environment that much more unpleasant for those who control you.

Information uncovered about faculty who work at your school should be made public via the aforementioned means of distribution.… Read the rest

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Amy Berg’s Hollywood Sex Abuse Documentary ‘An Open Secret’ Finally Lands Distribution, Goes to Cannes

‘An Open Secret’

Ryan Lattanzio writes at Thompson on Hollywood:

When “An Open Secret” premiered at DOC NYC, audiences and critics worried that no distributor would touch it. But the film has finally been picked up, by Rocky Mountain Pictures, for a 20-city US theatrical release beginning June 5. The film will also play exclusively at the Cannes Market in an invite-only screening on May 19.

The documentary, however, is not exactly in the wheelhouse of Rocky Mountain Pictures, which has so far specialized mainly in fundamentalist Christian and right-wing political films, from “Atlas Shrugged: Part One” (2011) to its highest grosser “2016: Obama’s America” (2012), for the middle American demo. How will the Utah-based distributor channel the film’s message to the right audience? This pickup suggests that “An Open Secret,” shut out of most high-profile festival play, didn’t elicit interest from the level of distributors who’ve handled Berg’s past films (including Lionsgate and Sony Pictures Classics).

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Google Patents ‘Creepy’ Cuddly Toys to Run Your Home

Would you let Ted run your home? Google is thinking you just might and has patented some Internet-connected toys that can do just that, per BBC News:

Google’s R&D team has looked into making internet-connected toys that control smart home appliances.

google toys

The firm has published a patent that describes devices that would turn their heads towards users and listen to what they were saying, before sending commands to remote computer servers.

The three-year old patent was spotted recently by the legal technology firm SmartUp.

It described the proposal as “one of Google’s creepiest patents yet”.

Privacy campaigners have also raised concerns.

A spokeswoman for Google was unable to say whether this was a product the firm might develop and sell.
“We file patent applications on a variety of ideas that our employees come up with,” she said.

“Some of those ideas later mature into real products or services, some don’t.

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This Is The International Flag Of Planet Earth

earth flag

Now that we’re planning missions to colonize other planets, Earth needs a flag, don’t you think? Oskar Pernefeldt, a student at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, has come up with this design for an International Flag of Planet Earth and it seems like it’s catching on if the positive media reaction is anything to go by. His website explains his rationale for the flag’s design:

THE DESIGN

The scientific study of flags is called vexillology, and the practice of designing flags is called vexillography. Both of these are an outcome of heraldry. In these practices there are different unofficial design rules/costums, about colors, placement, proportions, typography, and aestethics in general.

This proposal is accurate according to the regulations regarding flags.

SYMBOLIC EXPLANATION

Centered in the flag, seven rings form a flower – a symbol of the life on Earth. The rings are linked to each other, which represents how everything on our planet, directly or indirectly, are linked. 

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