Daily Archives: March 7, 2012

Galactic Views (27)


Firestorm of Star Birth in Galaxy Centaurus A
NASA – Resembling looming rain clouds on a stormy day, dark lanes of dust crisscross the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A.

Hubble’s panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust.

The warped shape of Centaurus A’s disk of gas and dust is evidence for a past collision and merger with another galaxy. The resulting shockwaves cause hydrogen gas clouds to compress, triggering a firestorm of new star formation. These are visible in the red patches in this Hubble close-up.

At a distance of just over 11 million light-years, Centaurus A contains the closest active galactic nucleus to Earth. The center is home for a supermassive black hole that ejects jets of high-speed gas into space, but neither the supermassive black hole or the jets are visible in this image.

This image was taken in July 2010 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
Acknowledgment: R. O’Connell (University of Virginia) and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee


Restoring Economic Growth

By Martin Neil Baily – James Carville famously remarked of the 1992 election that “It’s the economy stupid!” and the same will be true of the 2012 election.

When President Obama came into office, he embraced the challenge of turning the economy around. The policies he followed to stabilize the banks and provide stimulus to a tumbling economy were the correct ones and succeeded in stopping the collapse. Unfortunately, Obama and his economic team were overly optimistic about how fast a full recovery could be achieved. An extended period of slow growth was inevitable, given the severity of the crisis and recession.

The economy has been trapped in a vicious cycle where companies’ sales are growing so slowly that hiring is limited. The resulting lousy labor market means slow growth in household income. With incomes growing slowly if at all, household debts still high and the value of houses depressed, consumer spending is weak, perpetuating the cycle of weak demand. The overhang of excess housing and high consumer debt are two anchors weighing down the recovery and making it harder to break the vicious cycle.

The next administration should embrace the trends of rapidly improving technology and increasing competition and avoid setting up roadblocks to change. The Department of Education is already playing an important catalytic role in figuring out what works and what does not. The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness chaired by Jeffrey Immelt, suggested ways to improve the level of technical skills. The next president should go further than they did in trying to get business support for increased training and research into ways to make training more effective. more> http://tinyurl.com/7ujacpr

Cybersecurity and False Hope

By John C. Dvorak – I finally realized this law is something like Sarbanes-Oxley in that it’s a fix for a problem that was never a problem. Sarbanes-Oxley essentially added paperwork overhead to already burdened American companies. It did nothing about the numerous and ridiculous Ponzi schemes that have been uncovered since the housing crisis. Nothing.

(Current) Cybersecurity is all about compliance.

Compliance inspections will be needed. Now, what companies are we talking about? Pretty much any large networked company can fall under the auspices of this law. IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel, Comcast, come to mind, plus thousands more. Once these infrastructure companies are named, they have to write report after report on how they intend to fix their problems. How we determine the problems requires compliance reports based on certain standards that need to be developed by some government agency—over coffee I, suspect… more> http://tinyurl.com/72e3b2r

The Audacity of Power: President Obama Vs. The Catholic Church

By Charles Kadlec – In one of the boldest, most audacious moves ever made by a President of the United States, President Barack Obama is on the brink of successfully rendering moot the very first clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

President Obama chose to pick this fight with the Catholic Church by choosing to release the regulations first, and then, as he explained in last Friday’s statement to the press, spend “the next year (before the new regulations take effect) to find an equitable solution that would protect religious liberty and insure that every woman has access to the care that she needs.” The alternative would have been to find the “equitable solution” before announcing the regulations. In other words, this entire political fire storm is a set-up by the Administration.

The original HHS ruling put the Catholic Church into the position of choosing one of these two options:

  • Option A: The Church complies with the law and violates its own teachings and principles of faith.
  • Option B: The Church as a matter of conscience refuses to obey the law, and stops offering health insurance to its employees.
  • “Option C”: The risk to President Obama was the Church would create “Option C” and engage in a broad political battle.

President Obama’s political skill is demonstrated by his anticipation and preparation for just this outcome. more> http://tinyurl.com/78jr2dg

Verizon: Is This Dow Stock Built to Last?

Verizon Wireless "Rule the Air" Ad C...

Image @Wikipedia

By John Reeves – Verizon is clearly one of the most important players in the telecommunications industry. But Dave doesn’t see it as a dominant company 10 years from now. The video concludes with an analysis of some of the key challenges currently facing the company. [VIDEO] more> http://tinyurl.com/7yu7gw5


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