30 Aug

First relaunch of a used SpaceX 1st stage will happen yet this year

This will be another epic step for the revolution in launch technology that SpaceX has shepherded in:

SES — an international satellite operator based in Luxembourg — will be the first company to launch cargo to space on a reused SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket will carry the company’s SES-10 satellite, meant to provide telecommunications coverage to Latin America, into a very high orbit above Earth. That launch is scheduled for sometime in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will mark the first time SpaceX flies one of the rockets it has landed this past year.

(Via Satellite operator SES will be the first to launch cargo on a used SpaceX rocket | The Verge.)

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11 Aug

Superblocks: Barcelono’s traffic reclamation proposal, is somewhat fascinating

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Take nine square blocks of city. (It doesn’t have to be nine, but that’s the ideal.) Rather than all traffic being permitted on all the streets between and among those blocks, cordon off a perimeter and keep through traffic, freight, and city buses on that.

In the interior, allow only local vehicles, traveling at very low speeds, under 10 mph. And make all the interior streets one-way loops (see the arrows on the green streets below), so none of them serve through streets.

(Via Superblocks: how Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars – Vox.)

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08 Aug

Suicide Squad’s big opening night might be because of women viewers

I noticed this interesting quote in a news story about Suicide Squad:

The biggest surprise in terms of audience makeup was the strong turnout among females, who made up 46 percent of Friday’s audience, according to exit poling service CinemaScore. That’s unusual for a superhero film.

(Via Box Office: ‘Suicide Squad’ Opens to Big $135M But Drops Sharply Saturday | Hollywood Reporter.)

I haven’t see it yet, I’m watching DC movies on iTunes rental because they’ve been somewhat lacking for me. I’ve seen a lot of horrible reviews of Suicide Squad, but I saw a ton of excitement about it from a very wide demographic based on the trailer.

Hey, a movie with a strong female POV implied by previews got women to the theater, and that may have given the movie a 25% boost in earnings, possibly saving it due to an amazing opening night (though it’s had a horrible drop off in earnings because it turns out the trailer and the movie don’t match up?).

And the success of gender flipped Ghostbusters?

The success of Fast and Furious with multicultural varied leads? And women as well?

Maybe there’s something there… despite Squad’s critical fail, maybe women are hungry for movies that seem to not exclude them but include them?

Just a thought.

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30 Jun

First death of someone while using Tesla Autopilot

We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated.

(Via A Tragic Loss | Tesla Motors.)

I mentioned to someone that I thought that this would be the moment that cracks open a lot of angst about autopilots, and could be the inflection moment that either slows down adoption or demonstrates that the polity at large accepts that people will also die in self driving cars with the same equanimity that they do regarding human-driven deaths.

In general, I find humans to be stunningly accepting of driver-controlled car death, my instinct is that it will not cause a setback there. But, there are a lot of people who have been hoping and waiting for just this moment to use against Tesla because they have hated the very idea of an electric, self-driving car.

We are learning that a lot of polarizing political identity is being shaped by tribalism. Even as coal as a technology is dying and going the way of whale oil, there are people right now throwing themselves into the gap for coal because they *identify* as a certain kind of political entity. Support for coal is being against green hippies. So they rig their trucks to blow more pollution (see ‘rolling coal’) and want to dig for coal even though it’s no longer cost effective.

There are similar forces who do not want to see Tesla succeed on general principle. They will be out in force.

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07 Jun

SpaceX plans first launch of a reused first stage rocket in a few months

This is the next big milestone, now that SpaceX is regularly re-landing first stage boosters, that SpaceX relaunch a booster and begin testing how that lifecycle works.

This article I’m linking talks about SpaceX talking to insurers about how the system is working so they can basically certify a used booster for launch in the new few months, and how much that will bring down their cost (to the $40 millions a launch range. Compared to $225 mil for their competition.

Pretty amazing stuff:

lists its starting price for the Falcon 9 rocket at $62 million. The average price of a launch with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. that competes with SpaceX for national security satellite launch contracts, is $225 million.

SpaceX executives say prices could go down even further — potentially by 30% — if the company is able to make good on its plans to offer reusable rockets for launch.

(Via SpaceX and Insurance Underwriters Will Discuss Risks of Reusing Rockets – Business Briefing on CIO Today.)

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04 Jun

Whole villages are abandoned/depopulated in rural Europe at the same time refugees are held at border…

I just said this in an interview off the cuff, but I thought I wanted to snag it and post it here:

Right now I’m reading stories about how whole villages are going up for sale for a few bucks in rural Europe because the countryside is being depopulated as generations move into the city and abandon the country. Meanwhile, at the border, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are being brutalized, starved, whole generations of minds deprived.

We are failing at connecting dots due to horrible narratives. We have to tell better stories.

Allow me to expand. From NPR, In Spain, Entire Villages Are Up For Sale — And They’re Going Cheap

Even villages in the country’s most fertile northwest region, Galicia, are being depopulated. The lush Galician landscape once supported Spain’s highest population density, and half of all Spanish villages — some 3,500 hamlets — are located there.

Now nearly half of these villages are abandoned.

Enter Mark Adkinson, a British-born real estate agent who scours the countryside for abandoned properties, and tries to match them up with foreign buyers.

Meanwhile people are dying while being held at borders.

We’re really fucking bad at being humane.

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12 Mar

Famous artists cause urban growth. Huh

we find a positive correlation between the contemporaneous number of entrepreneurs and the urban growth of the city in which they are located the following decades. More strikingly, the same is also true for artists, with the contemporaneous number or share of artists positively affecting city growth over the next decades.

(Via A brief history of human time | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal.)

Interesting…

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01 Sep

President wants more icebreakers in Arctic

One of the things I noticed while researching Arctic Rising was that the US was not able to do much force-projection or borders patrolling, search and rescue, etc with the current fleet, ranking the US below much, much smaller nations with Arctic borders. Looks like someone is paying attention finally:

President Obama on Tuesday will propose speeding the acquisition and building of new Coast Guard icebreakers that can operate year-round in the nation’s polar regions, part of an effort to close the gap between the United States and other nations, especially Russia, in a global competition to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing Arctic.

(Via Obama to Call for More Icebreakers in Arctic as U.S. Seeks Foothold – The New York Times.)

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28 Aug

Digging on artist Mike Winkelmann’s futuristic illustrations here

What I love about this is the John Berkey sense of scale in these. Berkey’s massive starships almost always guaranteed a purchase from me when I was browsing the used book store.

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Artist Mike Winkelmann has been making an illustration every day for eight years. As his website will tell you, he hasn’t broken routine for 3,039 days—and over that time his illustrations and process have drastically evolved. In his most recent digital illustrations, he imagines dreamlike futuristic landscapes.

A lot of artists and great thinkers throughout history have had rigorous daily routines that keep them productive and creative, all the while honing their specific set of skills. One of the impressive things about Winkelmann’s practice, besides sheer longevity, is that he switches the tools that he uses to create the images each year.

(Via 3 | This Illustrator Has Created A Picture A Day For The Last Eight Years | Co.Design | business + design.)

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