98′ International Space Station, priced to sell! Minor astronaut residue & micrometeorite damage, sold as ISS!

The new NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is talking with international companies this week about the prospect of selling all or part of the International Space Station off to private companies, Jim claims to have heard a lot of interest in managing the station from these companies. While it is wholly possible that this statement is intended more to create demand than state its existence. I for one hope it does exist.

NASA’s financial involvement in the International Space Station is due to end in 2025, it is by then that commercial management must be in place or the expensive station will simply burn to dust in our atmosphere.

Simply put space needs to be profitable.

We have come to the realization that it is possible from a science and engineering standpoint to have things like moon bases, space stations, missions to mars, etc. But in reality, if we expect NASA to do it all on their own, then it will only ever be one mission at a time. NASA needs to act as a nursery for commercial enterprises to spawn such as with SpaceX & Blue Origin. But the demand needs to be there, the money.

SpaceX has done very well financially in their efforts to standardize launches of satellites and ISS support missions into low earth orbit. If the plans for BFR come to fruition and we ever wind up with a true earth to earth suborbital passenger spaceflight industry, then the costs of space missions mean simply paying for the diverting a commercial flight. Parts would be standardized, Maintenance procedures standardized, The availability of trained personnel would increase. This is the facepalm slappingly obvious way of operating in space.

But where would this leave NASA? Would NASA fade away into obscurity? Would they do missions at all? I hope so. In my mind at least there is plenty of room for NASA to exist and even operate their own missions in this world. NASA’s mission has always been of breaking frontiers and pushing science boundaries. Today those boundaries are further off, which means NASA must follow. That would mean more planetary science and less interest in the Earth/Moon system. It would seem that today at least the NASA leadership gets it. What do you think? How what should NASA be focused on and much commercial involvement is a good thing, Tell me in the comments below.

Microsoft makes developers nauseous worldwide as it acquires Github for $7.5 billy dollars.

If i think back far enough I’m pretty sure there were once anti-trust laws in America. Sorry just lamenting. So another day in the world and another useful service is being gobbled up by an corporate parasite. Yes Microsoft bought Github for $7.5 billion with a B. Github for anyone who doesn’t know is an uber useful code collaboration and revision control platform. Where previously developers would attempt to juggle complex directory structures to keep their revisions documented and available. Today it is all done in the cloud by a brilliant piece of software called Git. Github on the other hand is a very popular website for managing Git repositories. They thankfully are not the same thing, and for anyone who is understandably ready to jump ship as fast as possible know that there are competent competitors to Github such as Gitlab who have seen a 10x increase in new user registration since the news of Github’s sale. and Bitbucket which uses a similar but different piece of software called Mercurial

So why so negative about Microsoft? I will admit there are some possible paths this story may take that may not be all together disastrous. But developer trust in Microsoft has always been far less than the company would like. There have been plenty of efforts in previous years to rebuilt that trust. Microsoft Visual Studio has seen a lot of attention recently, possibly even more than Microsoft Office. They created the Windows 10 IOT editions developed to run on ARM processors such as Raspberry Pi. They have also introduced BASH for Windows, the now defacto Linux shell interface. This may signal an attempt from Microsoft to ditch their previous practice of developing a proprietary interface for every technology regardless of if industry standard technologies are more appropriate or not. For example the constant nagging of Internet Explorer and now Edge to be your default operating system despite being an inferior product nobody wants. This has gotten so bad it now circulates in internet memes as a running joke. “If IE has the courage to ask you to be your default browser every day you should have the courage to ask out that girl you like.”, and similar.

C# & .NET are another example as it VERY closely mimics Java. I know people will disagree on this point but I don’t see any reason Microsoft couldn’t have just adopted Java to take the role of it’s go-to higher level language like it did with C beginning with Windows 3.1. It would seem that again and again Microsoft tries to copy existing and functional tech seemingly just to make its own walled in computer ecosystem where Microsoft owns all. Which in itself is a copied business model from Apple.

So is it really so inappropriate to be nervous of this acquisition? Will Microsoft do the intelligent thing and keep Github as an functionally independent part of the company? Or will Github be the next thing to be constantly begging you to use Edge & Bing..

Microsoft develops app to teach young children the reality of their sad dystopian future.

Microsoft is doing its part to bring mass surveillance to children everywhere, Now children will have not only their locations tracked via smartphone but also will track the apps they use and the amount of time they spend using them. Sound terrible? Well, it’s not the NSA they’re doing it for this time, (as far as we know) it’s parents who they are giving control over this sort of surveillance to. They have developed an app called “Microsoft Launcher” that will allow parents to track their children’s every move via their smartphone. The app is currently in preview, It requires a parent to create a “family group” where all the families devices can be tracked. and on the child side will come with a kid-friendly portal to MSN-Kids, a new Microsoft owned and child sterilized news feed. And also will work in tandem with Microsoft Edge, allowing for parental control over their children’s browsing. Yes, that’s right, They are still doing everything they can think of to force people into using their crappy web browser.

I’m against this. But first I have a lot of questions about how exactly this operates which so far have gone unanswered. Just how much control over the Android operating system are you giving this app? This is just a third party app obviously, and I believe it would take a kernel rewrite to allow Microsoft the kind of controls over the phone’s operating system to allow this system to work in the intended way. If the child cannot access the data he wants in Edge, won’t he do the same thing the rest of us do and simply use Firefox or Chrome? I just can’t see a lot of scenarios where this ‘protection’ can be defeated by a kid with even a basic understanding of computer science.

But beyond that, I can also see a big issue with how much data you are handing over about your family, to Microsoft, and for free. I understand that they super double pinky swore that they wouldn’t abuse our data this time, but come on. How does that saying go? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me consistently since Windows 3.1… How many hacked data dumps and revelations about data abuse do we need to see before we demand some sort of GDPR regulation in America?

And beyond data protection and the actual viability of the idea. Let’s talk for a moment about child psychology. I’m pretty obviously not a child psychologist, but that being said I’m continually surprised by moments where I can tell how to handle situations where a child just wants attention or needs recognition, or similar when the other supposed adults around me are clueless.  So I’d like all of you to do that oh so hard thing in an adults life and try to remember what it was like being 6, or 8, or 12. When you barely have any control over your own life to begin with. When you just wish so badly you could talk to an adult without them seeing you as being a little child. Imagine the kind of impact on a young mind when you realize you are being watched electronically everywhere you go. Not only that but it is not being done by the NSA (again not that we know) who are usually happy to sit back and collect data unseen, this is being done by a parental figure who regularly acts on that information. How would that revelation effect you into your later life? Would it become normal eventually? Would you accept surveillance in all aspects of your life? Is that the whole point of this in the first place? and that is the best case scenario here. You are introducing something potentially traumatic to a child at an age where it could easily become part of their personality. A brick in the foundation of their lives.

Parents are far from perfect. So handing them what to a small child must seem like omnipotent power, is asking for it to be abused. Sometimes very outwardly, those people will eventually go up against child protective services. But also sometimes very subtly, those unfortunate children grow up to be the rest of us. Just traumatized enough to be a self conscious-mess but sane enough to live the life of your average, non-questioning drone in the USA workforce. Again maybe that is the whole point.

In short, I think this is a terrible application of technology. And I’m usually the person who defends children against people who complain about the quantity of screen time they get on tablets and game consoles. A violent video game will never do the kind of damage that a legitimate reason to be paranoid can do to a child.

Russian scientist predicts humanity to be pre-destined for intergalactic tyranny.

The Fermi paradox is the ultimate mystery on this planet. By seemingly every measure we can think of, life on this planet seems to be an unstoppable force of nature. In every crack and crevice of this planet, there is life. Even the most toxic places have seen life adapt to fill them. So knowing this about our own planet we have to ask where the hell all the aliens are. Well Russian physicist Alexander Berezin just published one of the more creative answers to this paradox that I have ever heard

“The only explanation is the invocation of the anthropic principal, we are the first to reach the interstellar phase, and likely, we will be the last to leave”

The essence of what Alexander means is that considering our second generation star is among the first stars with enough heavy elements to support life. If we are the first species to develop interstellar travel. Then the safe assumption is that Humanity will reign supreme over the galaxy, crushing all opposition until the last star burns out, and we inevitably die with it…

Is it a grim view? Optimistic? It certainly seems a-moral. To conquer or subjugate every species that is technologically inferior to you in any way just because you came first. I’m sure my tone is a little more aggressive than Alexanders original paper but that doesn’t change the reality of what we would be doing. Essentially the paper states that Hollywood style alien invasions are just a natural inevitability of life. And true, any examination of human history does nothing to exonerate us of these charges. The animal kingdom is even worse. We are truly red in tooth and claw. I can see why someone would think that on a long enough timeline the stronger power would simply crush its opposition. I honestly don’t know how I feel in this regard. But thankfully I can show the question to be a moot point.

Let’s go back and take a second look at that quote, the one about us reaching the interstellar phase? We haven’t…

Sure we have sent some very successful probes out into deep space, remember our most successful mission into deep space was into our own backyard. The ISS would only fly 3/8ths of an inch off a standard classroom globe were it made to scale. We have not gone to our closest planet let alone the giants in the outer solar system. And while I like to think optimistically there are still some very big questions about the viability of such missions. What I said before about the pervasiveness of life on Earth remember that every other place we know of besides here is a lifeless barren wasteland. Can we overcome those challenges? maybe. But it is far from the only barrier to Alexander’s statements becoming fact.

Lightspeed is usually thought of as being very fast. In the terms of interstellar travel, it isn’t even a crawl. From everything, we know about physics the only way to get from one system to another is the long slow way, longer than human lifetimes that is for sure. Tell me how is an empire supported when any communication between systems requires years for each one-way message. And if the distance between systems seems like a lot the distance between galaxies swamps even that. Supposing you could even travel at light speed remember that the cosmic expansion of the universe is even faster. Some galaxies expand away from each other faster than even light can travel. Right there the possibility of conquering the universe is out the window. Cant conquer systems you can never even reach.

The whole theory requires a heaping pile of hand-wavey technology that our ancestors need to develop to ever come close to happening. But it is fun to think about. I suspect that spawning discussion was really the whole point of his article and in that regard, I can say it was a resounding success.

You can read the original article here.