How the Nation of Luxembourg Is Racing to Privatise Space

Arkyd 6 spacecraft
Arkyd 6 spacecraft

Mining asteroids is the new old game, though no longer science fiction. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – which has all the square footage of an asteroid and, with a population up to slightly over half a million – has earmarked €200m to fund NewSpace companies that join its new space sector. In July, the parliament passed its law – the first of its kind in Europe, and the most far-reaching in the world – asserting that if a Luxembourgish company launches a spacecraft that obtains water, silver, gold or any other valuable substance on a celestial body, the extracted materials will be considered the company’s legitimate private property by a legitimate sovereign nation.

Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

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How Casinos & Slot Machines Are Designed to Facilitate Gambling Addiction

Sideroad slot machine, photo by Skip the Filler / CC BY-NC-ND

Gamblers, and more specifically slot machine gamblers, get addicted because they crave to be in the “zone” – the feeling players describe when they’re completely absorbed in a game, claims this podcast’s guest – Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University. They don’t really care about winning; rather they want to escape the world and become subsumed in their game.
Casinos also facilitate this addiction by designing the most optimal gambling experience which keeps gamblers playing…and playing…and playing. This ranges from the perambulant layout of the casinos themselves to the ergonomic design of the slot machine chairs, to the games’ false wins that create an illusion of winning. And casinos are now taking advantage of big data systems which track users’ gambling preferences to incentivize players to stay in their chairs as long as possible.
Natasha Dow Schüll is the author of “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas”.

Adam Ruins Everything

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Financial Sector, Makers and Takers

Why finance has become an excessively powerful in the U.S. and has handicapped the growth and effectiveness of the rest of the economy. What can be done about it? Journalist and author Rana Foroohar of the Financial Times talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book, “Makers and Takers.”

EconTalk

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The Reach of the First Amendment

The First Amendment, though most closely associated with freedom of speech, actually extends to works of visual art, music, poetry and some, but not all, forms of expression. It’s left for courts to draw the line in cases of apparent threat to community’s standarts of propriety. Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet joins us to talk about the freedoms covered and omitted at the top of the Bill of Rights, which he writes about in “Free Speech Beyond Words: The Surprising Reach of the First Amendment”.

KERA’s Think

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Power of Dead People

Our lives are controlled by invisible hands from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the US economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of those living now. Philosopher Barry Lam follows the story of the Hershey fortune to show how a 19th century industrialist constructed the oddest business structure to ensure that his idiosyncratic wishes would be fulfilled hundreds of years after his death. The story raises questions about why we give the dead so much power over our lives, and what this says about how we find meaning in our own lives given foreknowledge of our mortality.

Hi-Phi Nation

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Utopias in History and an Environmental Disaster

Ideas of universal basic income, 15 hour workweek and opening of all boarders apparently have a remarkable history. Writer and thinker Rutger Bregman in his new book Utopia for Realists reasons that the time has come to propose them again. He is our guest in this episode. Meanwhile, BBC radio producer Julian May talks about the aftermath of the Torrey Canyon disaster, when a huge oil tanker ran aground in 1967.

History extra

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Government Secrets Worth Leaking… or Keeping?

So, the C.I.A. has a back door to your phone. At least, according to the Vault 7 data dump from WikiLeaks. The documents say that if your device is connected to the internet, the American government wants in. And has a few tricky tools to do it. But they’ve had some sneaky tools for a while now. Just ask Daniel Rigmaiden.

Photo: Stencil by Banksy – nolifebeforecoffee / Flickr-creativecommons

Note to Self

 

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The Most Mysterious Air Disasters

The most puzzling airplane crashes, plausible explanations, and corners cut by airline companies. All revealed by a crash investigator, journalist and documentary producer Christine Negroni . Christine has more than fifteen years’ experience participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She is the author of “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters”.

Little Atoms

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Resisting Tyranny: Learning From 20th-Century Europe

 

Totalitarian Europe in comparison to contemporary America is the subject of Timothy Snyder’s talk and his new book, “On Tyranny”. He sees America’s political institutions in great danger of slipping into autocracy and possibly fascism. From the examples of the twentieth century, Snyder has distilled twenty essential points that should guide the current struggle. They are as simple as “do not obey in advance” and “beware the one-party state,” and as inspiring as “contribute to good causes” and “learn from peers in other countries.” Questions from the audience follow.

Live at Politics and Prose

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The Hollywood Blacklist and the Classic Western ‘High Noon’

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, as anti-communist sentiment gained ground in the United States, paranoia and persecution swept through Hollywood. The House Un-American Activities (HUAC) began interrogating filmmakers and actors, accusing them of being communists or communist sympathizers. The president, Congress, the courts and the press all played a part.
Many who appeared before the HUAC were put on a blacklist that made it impossible for them to work in show business. Among the blacklisted was screenwriter Carl Foreman, whose 1952 classic western ‘High Noon’ is seen as a parable about the toxic political climate of the time.
Glenn Frankel revisits the film — and Foreman’s experiences testifying on Capitol Hill — in his new book, also called ‘High Noon’. “The blacklist movement stems out of a backlash by people who felt they want to get their country back,” Frankel says. “In those days it was [from] communists, and Jews and liberals. Today you might say it’s Islamic terrorists and undocumented immigrants.”

Fresh Air | 21st February 2017

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