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The real problem with Jeff Bezos and other billionaires going to space

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Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos inspects a booster on the landing pad after a test flight. The billionaire successfully rode one of his New Shepard rockets to space Tuesday.


Blue Origin

On Tuesday, Blue Origin and Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, became the second billionaire to visit the edge of space and do microgravity somersaults, a week and a half after Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic spaceplane soared aloft from New Mexico. The journeys have made for a historic month in spaceflight, inspiring a fair amount of wonder and awe. 

But perhaps an even more common reaction is a hard eye roll accompanied by some comment about obscene wealth or egos, or worse.

After years of watching Bezos, Branson and SpaceX’s Elon Musk expand their empires upward beyond the firm grip of gravity, I think such cynicism might be fair, but it lets the rest of us off the hook. The spectacle of the billionaire space race also illuminates a sad truth about our future in space as a species: We’ve lost control of our own destiny in the cosmos. 


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Advantage: billionaires

Over five years ago, a Las Vegas oddsmaker gave Musk and SpaceX 5-to-1 odds of being the first entity to put humans on Mars. The odds of NASA being first were 80-to-1. At the time I thought this was a bit silly considering that NASA had already put people on the moon and SpaceX had just begun sending cargo to orbit. 

Half a decade later, those odds look more reasonable: SpaceX is already launching and landing prototypes of its Mars rocket while we wait for the long-delayed debut of NASA’s Space Launch System meant for missions to the moon and beyond. 

On top of that, the average person is much more likely to know what Elon Musk and SpaceX, and Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, are up to in space than they are to be aware of NASA’s oft-postponed plans for the moon, Mars or the James Webb Space Telescope

The blame for this disparity in attention falls more squarely on the shoulders of media people like myself than it does on NASA. It doesn’t help that the agency is at the mercy of a political system providing not only its funding but also its leadership, both of which can shift dramatically every few years. 

So it’s no surprise that entrepreneurs like Musk and Bezos have been able to identify the gap left by an aging and inefficient institution like NASA, seize the opportunity to build a better rocket and paint a bolder vision for the future. 

And herein lies the real problem. Musk’s grand ambition of populating Mars, and Bezos’ plan to move industry and perhaps some sweet new luxury condos into orbit, are unprecedented, civilization-level endeavors that were conceived primarily upon the whims of just two men. 

Think about this. The odds now seem fair that when the first member of our species sets foot on another planet, it will be because Musk, aka the “Dogefather” — the world’s biggest fan of 420 and 69 jokes — decided to do it. 

This is to take nothing away from Musk (well, maybe just a little bit).

Neither SpaceX nor Blue Origin immediately responded to a request for comment.

A return to public space

To me, complaining about billionaires wasting money on space when we have so many problems on Earth misses the point. What should be concerning, I think, is how the agenda and the public discourse on space are now largely driven by some of the world’s very richest individuals. 

Maybe the efforts of these men and their companies will lead to profound benefits for humanity, but we could also decide as a society which ventures in space to pursue for their own sake, for our own sake.

Space could be the key to solving some of our greatest problems, whether it’s through space-based solar power, asteroid mining or yes, turning Mars into a backup planet. These are all pretty far-out ideas, to be sure, but there’s very little in the way of resources being dedicated to researching their potential, which is how things start to seem less far out.

And by the way, the history of space innovation suggests it might not be that crazy to expect that learning how to survive on the moon or Mars could also teach us new ways to lessen our own impact on Earth’s environment. 

NASA paved the frontier of space for Musk, Bezos and others to take over production of rockets that look to be more capable, efficient and cheaper than the pioneering, publicly funded spacecraft of previous eras. That’s great. Now it’s time for we the people to decide which frontiers we want to explore next, rather than wait for another rich dude to take the lead.


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‘Ted Lasso’ takes over Apple homepage to celebrate second season launch | AppleInsider

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Hit Apple TV+ series “Ted Lasso” has taken over Apple’s homepage to celebrate the release of the show’s second season on Friday.

The main page at apple.com now features a bright blue background. When you first navigate to it, the season two tagline — “kindness makes a comeback — flashes onscreen before Jason Sudeikis’s Ted Lasso character appears.

Once the animations stops, Apple leads users to the second season on Apple TV+ with a “stream now” button.

“Ted Lasso” season two officially premiered in Los Angeles on Friday, July 16. The second season officially launched with its first episode on Apple TV+ on Friday, July 23. New episodes will debut weekly each Friday.

The series has been one of Apple’s most successful pieces of original content. It has been nominated for a total of 20 Emmy awards in 2021, and Apple has already renewed the show for a third season.

Apple occasionally uses its homepage to promote services or celebrate other occasions. In 2020, for example, Apple Arcade took over the main website. The “Ted Lasso” promotion is unique because it takes up the entire page and doesn’t feature any of the company’s hardware products.

The company has also promoted “Ted Lasso” season two with special Memoji stickers at Apple retail locations and Today at Apple sessions focused on artwork inspired by the show.

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Wanna squad up in Pokémon Unite? Here’s how

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Pokémon Unite is a new 5-v-5 free-to-play MOBA on the Nintendo Switch. In this multiplayer Pokémon game, players choose from one of 20 Pokémon and battle it against one another. And what better way to celebrate a hard-fought victory than with your friends? Playing Pokémon Unite with friends is the best way to play, but playing with friends on the Nintendo Switch isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it is possible. Here’s how to invite your friends to a play in Pokemon Unite.

How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch

Inviting friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch is pretty simple.

  1. First, go ahead and exchange friend codes with the person you want to invite.
  2. Open Pokémon Unite.
  3. At the main menu, select Unite Battle and start a lobby.

    Source: iMore

  4. Select one of the plus signs around your character or press the Y button to open up your friends list.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Select one of the plus signs around your character, or press the Y button to open up your friends list.

    Source: iMore

  5. Choose the person you want to invite, and select Player Info.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Choose the person you want to invite, and select Player Info.

    Source: iMore

  6. Then select Invite Friends.

    How to invite friends to Pokémon Unite on the Nintendo Switch: Then select Invite Friends.

    Source: iMore

All your friend has to do at this point is accept the invitation.

How to invite players using a Lobby ID

If you want to play with someone you’re not friends with, you can still invite them to your game without adding their friend code.

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  1. Start Pokémon Unite.
  2. At the main menu, select Unite Battle and start a lobby.
  3. At the top left of the screen, you’ll see a Lobby ID. Share that ID with whoever you’d like.

    How to invite players using a Lobby ID: At the top left of the screen, you'll see a **Lobby ID**. Share that ID with whoever you'd like.

    Source: iMore

That’s all it takes. The player joining just has to input the Lobby ID into the Lobby Search option of the main menu.

How to invite cross-platform players

Pokemon Unite is available on the Switch but will come to iOS and Android in September. You won’t need their friend code to invite them, but you’ll need to share your Trainer ID.

  1. Start Pokémon Unite.
  2. At the main menu, press L to open your Trainer Info.

    How to invite cross platform players:At the main menu, press L to open your Trainer Info.

    Source: iMore

  3. Share the code at the bottom of the screen to add your cross-platform friend.

We’ll have to put this to the test once the iOS and Android versions release this September.

Unite for the fight

Pokémon Unite is a great multiplayer game, made even better when you’re playing with friends. It also has a surprising amount of depth, so be sure to check out our Pokémon tier list to figure out who is the best Pokémon for your play style. And while you’re at it, check out all of the free gifts available for Pokémon Unite now. Coordinate with friends and claim victory!


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The next MacBook Air: Mid-2022 eyed for mini-LED M2 redesign

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Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he’s worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.


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