Daily Archives: February 7, 2012

Views from the Solar System (24)


                                                                                                                                        
SPACE WATCH

Large X-class Flare Erupts on the Sun
NASA – On Jan. 27, 2012, a large X-class flare erupted from an active region near the solar west limb. X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events. Seen here is an image of the flare captured by the X-ray telescope on Hinode. This image shows an emission from plasma heated to greater than eight million degrees during the energy release process of the flare. Image Credit: JAXA/Hinode

Panorama of the East Coast
This Jan. 29 panorama of much of the East Coast, photographed by one of the Expedition 30 crew members aboard the International Space Station, provides a look generally northeastward: Philadelphia-New York City-Boston corridor (bottom-center); western Lake Ontario shoreline with Toronto (left edge); Montreal (near center). An optical illusion in the photo makes the atmospheric limb and light activity from Aurora Borealis appear “intertwined.”

Dione on a Diagonal
Saturn and Dione appear askew in this Cassini spacecraft view, with the north poles rotated to the right, as if they were threaded along on the thin diagonal line of the planet’s rings.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Dione (698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across). North on Dione is up and rotated 20 degrees to the right. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from less than one degree above the ring plane.

The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 12, 2011. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 35,000 miles (57,000 kilometers) from Dione and at a Sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 41 degrees. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The State of American Small Business


[ Testimony before the House Committee on Small Business. ]

By Martin Neil Baily – The recovery in the United States continues to be sluggish because of anchors weighing it down: The continued weakness in the housing market kept residential construction at depression levels. Historically, U.S. recoveries have always featured a lift from housing and it may be another couple of years before all of the foreclosures are worked through.

The housing problems are not spread evenly around the country but rather are concentrated in five states, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Florida and Michigan.

  • Housing starts remain depressed and the foreclosure backlog includes 4 million homes
  • Weak earnings and inflation has resulted in an unprecedented, broad-based real income drop since the end of the recession
  • Very large decline in new businesses in the Great Recession
  • The decline in owner’s real estate equity has made it harder to fund startup companies
  • Banks tightened credit standards during the Recession. Only partial easing since
  • Small business optimism hit all-time low and has only partially recovered
  • Poor sales is the top concern for small businesses, more than taxes or regulation
  • Around 90% of small firms or establishments with 57% employment have under 50 employees

more> http://tinyurl.com/7k2vb23

Culture: the hidden hand in public life


SMS Shortcode

SMS Shortcode (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

By Richard Hill – With the help of new technologies and the social media, our world is changing so fast that we have difficulty in keeping up with it. Instant videos and SMS messaging fuel grassroots movements and challenge the established order. They create novel situations that, as in the Arab world, bring the need for new social constructs in their wake.

Yet, amid all this change, we see the influence of regional and national cultural attitudes that persist.

The fate of European nations in the economic meltdown of the euro echoes a number of cultural characteristics of the countries most seriously hit. These start out with positive traits like family ties, self-reliance at family level (in the absence of the social safety nets provided further north), extended families and, as a symptom of this, adherence to personal and local loyalties (campanilismo) rather than acceptance of the dictates of an impersonal and distant state.

Less positive are the far reaches of this process which lead to cronyism (clientelismo in Italy, enchufe in Spain, rousfeti in Greece, and so on) and incitement to cheat on the system. Northerners may complain about these things, but they are engrained in the institutions and lifestyles of these countries and will be difficult to change. more> http://tinyurl.com/8a4jllp

LEDs Light Up Dodge Dart


By Charles Murray – The Dodge Dart, which will soon be back on the streets after a three-decade hiatus, uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in a way that drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are unlikely to miss.

More than 150 (152, to be exact) LEDs form a ruby red “racetrack” around the Dart’s trunk, tail lights, and rear decklid. The full-width LED-based design is said to be a first in its segment, and it’s the most prominent use of the technology in any compact car to date. more> http://tinyurl.com/85ykrrk

Federal regulators taking a hard look at $3.6 billion Verizon cable deal


Verizon: Paying Politicians to Rule the Air (g...

Verizon: Paying Politicians to Rule the Air (g1a2d0047c1) (Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil)

By Brendan Sasso – Verizon‘s $3.6 billion deal with a coalition of cable companies is raising eyebrows in Washington and could come under intense regulatory scrutiny.

Verizon agreed in December to buy wireless airwave licenses, or spectrum, from a group of cable companies, including Comcast and Time Warner. Under a separate deal announced simultaneously, Verizon and the cable companies agreed to cross-sell each other’s services.

“This issue is going to attract a lot of review,” Harold Feld, legal director for consumer group Public Knowledge, said. He worried that the deal will allow Verizon, which is the largest wireless carrier, to consolidate its control of the airwaves.

“All of the spectrum seems to be running to the biggest provider,” Feld said. more> http://tinyurl.com/8ycv897