NASA-Certified Space Taxi
It sure seems like that’s what NASA is doing. NASA has to do something in order to maintain its relevance as the space age dawns in the era of commercial space flight. NASA is still running scientific-exploratory missions to Mars and elsewhere in the solar system, but even this role will be soon be overtaken by private enterprises like Planetary Resources.
From Space.com comes news that NASA has launched a private space taxi certification program. The program will consist of a two-stage “process aimed at ensuring commercial passenger spaceships currently under development will meet the agency’s safety standards, schedule and mission requirements.” Yay, NASA’s record of safety, timeliness, and priorities with minimal bureaucratic waste leaves me reassured.
Budget cuts no doubt have something to do with the certification program as well. “NASA expects to award multiple firms a Certification Products Contract (CPC), each of which will run for 15 months and be worth up to $10 million.” Restrict competition, rake in the dough, ensure the continuation of your own jobs, and retain control of the space industry — all in the name of safety, science, human progress, and protecting taxpayer “investments.”
Massachusetts fisherman Carlos Rafael pulled in what should have been a life-changing fish this week, but before he could unload it for a huge payday, his local chapter of ridiculous-rule-enforcers, A.K.A., the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) enforcement division, took him down. (Whew! That was close.) You see, although Rafeal had filed all the appropriate paperwork to catch tuna, the behemoth in question was caught in his boat’s nets and not via rod and reel, as is specified, well, someplace. As a result, the authorities had no choice but to pinch the fish when Rafael’s boat returned to port. The expected $400,000 payday that could come from the sale of fish will very likely go into NOAA’s asset forfeiture fund. Nice racket. (Or, should that be, nice rod and reel?)
H/T: James Nellis
…cross-posted at LRCBlog.
Some more classificationism run amok in the UK:
The EU was ridiculed last night after it took three years to issue a new rule that water cannot be sold as healthy.
In a scarcely believable ruling, a panel of experts threw out a claim that regular water consumption is the best way to rehydrate the body.
The bizarre diktat from Brussels has far-reaching implications for member states, including Britain, as no water sold in the EU can now claim to protect against dehydration.
It reminds me of one of my favorite episodes of Yes, Minister, where British sausage-makers’ rights to produce “British sausage” are under attack.
Federal prosecutors have alleged in their amended complaint against Full Tilt Poker that the gambling interest was a “Ponzi scheme,” apparently in part because of the company’s level of cash reserves.
FTP owed approximately $390 million to players around the world, with $150 million owed to U.S. players. FTP only had $60 million on deposit in its bank accounts, however, meaning over $300 million is owed to players worldwide.
This was the result of FTP’s payment processing channels becoming so disrupted that “the company faced increasing difficulty attempting to collect funds from players in the United States. Rather than disclose this fact, Full Tilt Poker simply credited players’ online gambling accounts with money that had never actually been collected from the players’ bank accounts. Full Tilt Poker allowed players to gamble with — and lose to other players — this phantom money that Full Tilt Poker never actually collected or possessed.”
$390 million in liabilities and only $60 million in the bank? That means that FTP had a little more than 15% in cash reserves. According to Wikipedia,
A depository institution’s reserve requirements vary by the dollar amount of net transaction accounts held at that institution. Effective December 30, 2010, institutions with net transactions accounts:
- Of less than $10.7 million have no minimum reserve requirement;
- Between $10.7 million and $58.8 million must have a liquidity ratio of 3%;
- Exceeding $58.8 million must have a liquidity ratio of 10%
So because FTP had 15% in cash reserves, the whole operation is a Ponzi scheme. If only the proprietors had started a bank of the same size, they would have only needed 10% reserves!