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Hubba Hubba Hubble!

September 10, 2009

More about the image above

All of the toil and trouble put into the Hubble has paid off and the telescope has produced a wealth of new eye candy for your viewing pleasure.

More information on the telescope’s upgrade and many more photos are available at HubbleSite. There’s a direct link just to the images here.

You can view some of the photos in this slide show from the Boston Globe.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    September 10, 2009 11:28 am

    Wow. That is bee-oooo-tiful. The others on the page, the Omega Centauri, et al are pretty fantastic too.

    • cometman permalink*
      September 10, 2009 12:10 pm

      I just added a direct link to the photos they released in the main post. This one of a gas jet in the Carina nebula taken from the infrared was pretty cool too.

  2. Stemella permalink*
    September 10, 2009 11:35 am

    I found a toy for the squidlette for future reference though it comes from England

    • cometman permalink*
      September 10, 2009 11:42 am

      That is awesome! Octopus and pirates! I’ll have to start making the list for next year’s birthday…

  3. cometman permalink*
    September 10, 2009 11:39 am

    Couple of interesting articles on memory today from Science Daily.

    First, researchers may have discovered a way to avoid the disintegration of the persistence of memory – by smoking!

    “Our brains normally make these associations between things that support our existence and environmental cues so that we conduct behaviors leading to successful lives. The brain sends a reward signal when we act in a way that contributes to our well being,” said Dr. John A. Dani, professor of neuroscience at BCM and co-author of the study. “However, nicotine commandeers this subconscious learning process in the brain so we begin to behave as though smoking is a positive action.”

    Dani said that environmental events linked with smoking can become cues that prompt the smoking urge. Those cues could include alcohol, a meal with friends, or even the drive home from work. To understand why these associations are so strong, Dani and Dr. Jianrong Tang, instructor of neuroscience at BCM and co-author of the report, decided to record brain activity of mice as they were exposed to nicotine, the addictive component of tobacco.

    The mice were allowed to roam through an apparatus with two separate compartments. In one compartment, they received nicotine. In the other, they got a benign saline solution. Later, the researchers recorded how long the mice spent in each compartment. They also recorded brain activity within the hippocampus, an area of the brain that creates new memories.

    “The brain activity change was just amazing,” Dani said. “Compared to injections of saline, nicotine strengthened neuronal connections – sometimes up to 200 percent. This strengthening of connections underlies new memory formation.”

    Ha! Obviously smoking isn’t for dummies. And I never forget where I left my cigarettes :)

    Next, some other ivory tower denizens have discovered that memories of an event stay in your brain even if you can’t immediately recall the details.

    Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the scientists discovered that a person’s brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can’t be recalled.

    “If the details are still there, hopefully we can find a way to access them,” said Jeff Johnson, postdoctoral researcher at UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory and lead author of the study, appearing Sept. 10 in the journal Neuron.


    In collaboration with scientists at Princeton University, Johnson and colleague Michael Rugg, CNLM director, used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the brain activity of students.

    Inside an fMRI scanner, the students were shown words and asked to perform various tasks: imagine how an artist would draw the object named by the word, think about how the object is used, or pronounce the word backward in their minds. The scanner captured images of their brain activity during these exercises.

    About 20 minutes later, the students viewed the words a second time and were asked to remember any details linked to them. Again, brain activity was recorded.

    Utilizing a mathematical method called pattern analysis, the scientists associated the different tasks with distinct patterns of brain activity. When a student had a strong recollection of a word from a particular task, the pattern was very similar to the one generated during the task. When recollection was weak or nonexistent, the pattern was not as prominent but still recognizable as belonging to that particular task.

    “The pattern analyzer could accurately identify tasks based on the patterns generated, regardless of whether the subject remembered specific details,” Johnson said. “This tells us the brain knew something about what had occurred, even though the subject was not aware of the information.”

    Sort of like a “file not found” error – the info is in there somewhere but not accessible.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 10, 2009 11:49 am

      It really is too bad that nicotine has such terrible side effects. It really is an awesome drug. Best of luck forgetting to buy ciggies! ;) I sure don’t miss that expense.

      Using advanced brain imaging techniques, the scientists discovered that a person’s brain activity while remembering an event is very similar to when it was first experienced, even if specifics can’t be recalled.

      They should have scanned AbuGonzo’s brain while he wasn’t recalling to see what they could see, if anything at all!

      • cometman permalink*
        September 10, 2009 12:00 pm

        Thanks for reminding me of the expense. My memory seems to have slipped on that one. Not giving our screwed up government the tax revenue so they can waste it on stupid shit was supposed to be the impetus for me quitting. I have been doing better – not smoking at home anymore and I’ve gone without for a day or two a few times now, but still haven’t been able to give it up completely.

    • triv33 permalink
      September 10, 2009 1:24 pm

      I had a neurologist tell me they don’t always ask Parkinsons or intractable migrainers to quit. Man, the nurses during my stays at two different hospitals did not care for my smoking pass. Ha!

  4. cometman permalink*
    September 10, 2009 11:51 am

    Here’s a video that is making the rounds in the last couple days. Saw it at Zerohedge and it was listed as the Website of the Day at Counterpunch so I’ll spread it around some more. Already has almost 50,000 views.

    Debtor’s revolt begins!!!!!!

    And yeah, she mixes up Ken Lay with Ken Lewis but all rat fuckers tend to look alike.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 10, 2009 12:56 pm

      The site glitched on me for a few minutes. Must have been the rattusfornicators.

      That woman pretty much says it as it is. I figure that either a debtors revolt or selective boycotts and strikes will be the only things to get the corporotocracies attention. It has to be massive and organized though. They pick off the small fry when they are also small in number.

      Shoes might work too ;)

  5. Stemella permalink*
    September 10, 2009 3:20 pm

    Here’s a green shoot that makes me wanna puke in green

    U.S. heads for record overseas arms sales in 2009

    The United States is close to a new peak in government-to-government arms sales, poised to top last year’s record $36.4 billion, Pentagon figures showed.

    With one month left in fiscal 2009, the value of such deals stood at $35.3 billion, not including any that may be wrapped up by the September 30 close of the fiscal year, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Thursday.

    “Anything could tip the scale on this,” said Charles Taylor, an agency spokesman.

    U.S. arms sales have boomed in the past two years, in part because of regional tensions surrounding nuclear and ballistic missile programs in Iran and North Korea.

    Hip hip happy happy hopey hopey changey. That’s what that is. Gaggulus.

    Death – Our leading industry. Whoopee!

    • cometman permalink*
      September 11, 2009 6:10 am

      Foment regional tensions and then sell them all weapons when things start to get dicey. Disgusting.

  6. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 8:35 am

    Excellent op ed that is very concise and to the point from the Financial Times about what needs to happen to fix our finance system. They also call for a systemic overhaul that goes beyond re-instituting Glass Steagall.

    Banks are allowed to mix plain vanilla deposit-taking and lending with high-risk investment banking. They are allowed to act for clients on both sides of a trade and take a proprietary turn out of the middle. In capital markets transactions they are able to act for those seeking capital and those providing it. Conflict of interest is embedded and this is unfair on other market users. It is “heads we win, tails you lose” as the banks make off like bandits in the good times and become pious onlookers as the taxpayer foots the bill when it all goes wrong.

    Fixing the system requires this business model to be broken up and we would go beyond conventional Glass-Steagall type solutions. Activities such as corporate finance, providing advice for investors and proprietary trading should be separated from each other as well as being split off from deposit-taking. This would create smaller, less profitable institutions and solve a number of problems, many of which have been caused by financial institutions over-trading. The system we advocate would restore the balance of economic power towards industries other than finance. It would stem the flow of capital that goes into bankers’ bonuses (a problem that the proposals coming out of G20 seem unlikely to solve) and would rid the world of financial institutions that were too big to be allowed to fail.

    I see no reason why those reforms can’t happen except for the fact that a powerful few won’t want to give up that power. Is there the political will anywhere to force them to? Right now it doesn’t look like it. Probably have to wait for this next bubble to blow up first and the torches and pitchforks to come out. And at that point it may to late to calmly institute reform.

  7. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 8:52 am

    I’ve posted a couple of links to articles from The Ludwig von Mises Institute lately and yesterday I decided to poke around there to see what these people were all about. Turns out they are a bunch of loony libertarians! I guess the Ron Paul article should have clued me in…. I read a few of the articles there and while these people have some decent ideas, the true believers in libertarian philosophy seem to be incredibly naive. They totally discount the baser parts of human nature and the need for a society to protect itself from those within it who would do others harm. They seem to long for the same sort of philospher-king that Socrates blathered on about 2500 years ago but much like that pig-faced poltroon, they don’t seem to be able to actually locate such a person. This childish philosophy which seems to scream “Mine mine mine!” makes it easy for the less naive opportunists lacking any moral framework to take advantage of it and run roughshod over everyone else in the pursuit of power for its own sake in the absence of any laws or regulations to stop them.

    I did find this book review/libertarian pissing match good for some yuks although I had just indulged in an attitude adjustment before reading it so maybe it isn’t quite as humorous as it was at first read :)

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 11, 2009 9:21 am

      pig faced poltroon …. Niiiice ;)

      You gave a pretty darn good critique of libertarianism there, c-man and it is good to be reminded of why that political/eonomic orientation is unworkable. I’ve run into a lot of the same on zero-hedge, which taints the otherwise excellent analysis there of the crony capitalism that now dominates us.

      • cometman permalink*
        September 11, 2009 9:40 am

        There definitely are some of that type on zerohedge. I’ve been reading the comments there more often myself lately and noticed some of the libertarian types. And the bankster apologist types. And some of the flat out crazy types. I guess that’s just the nature of any forum that starts to attract a lot of attention. People come out of the woodwork to try to discredit what’s being said or, knowing that there are lots of eyes, try to use it as their own soapbox to spout their crazy ideas.

        I like this little corner of the intertubes where I can spout my crazy ideas in relative peace and quiet :)

  8. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 9:29 am

    Last couple of days news about the dipshit republican who mouthed off during Obama’s speech is everywhere and is really pissing me off. Who gives a rat’s ass if he spoke up? – the president is just a guy, not Queen Elizabeth or something. So he made himself look dumb – that’s par for the course with republicans these days.

    It’s this whole issue of decorum which bugs the shit out of me. I’ve long argued that the problem many people had with George W was not with his policies – most in the beltway agreed with them as evidenced by their votes. The problem was that Bush was a bit too brash for the tastes of those who were used to fucking over the rest of us politely with a smile on their faces. Bush and Cheney made their contempt obvious and risked shedding way too much light on what the assholes in DC were really up to. I suspected that the Democrats were looking forward to getting back to the days of doing the bidding of their corporate masters with a wink and a nod and that is exactly what has happened as the Obama administration continues and expands on many of the Bushies’ worst policies. And now many of those who took offense when Bush did these things have fallen silent or come up with lame excuse after lame excuse in defense of Obama.

    I don’t care that one guy made himself look like an idiot calling Obama a liar for something he wasn’t lying about, but I do wonder why nobody in DC had the courage to do the same to Bush as he lied practically every time he opened his piehole.

    Glenn Greenwald has a very good post discussing this issue today. A snippet:

    Eugene Robinson today absurdly calls the GOP’s disrespectful behavior at Obama’s speech “un-American.” Right-wing contempt for Obama is often petty, deeply emotional and ugly — just like right-wing leaders themselves. But the demand that the President be venerated and treated as royalty is far more “un-American” than disruptive transgressions of etiquette. Wilson’s heckling was juvenile and dumb, but that’s all it was. If only a fraction of the media dismay devoted to his two-second breach of “decorum” had been directed to, say, rampant presidential lawbreaking, or the implementation of a torture regime, or the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in our various wars, we would be much better off. The American Right is indeed dominated by crazed extremists who often seem barely in touch with basic reality and who are at war with core American political values, but Joe Wilson’s irreverence is one of the least significant examples of that, if it’s one at all.

    As HTML Mencken insightfully noted in what is one of the best blog posts ever written, our political mores demand vehement repudiation of petty acts of incivility (not all, but most) while tolerating and even approving of extremely consequential acts of indecency as long as they’re advocated with superficial civility. Those who use curse words to oppose torture, wars and lawbreaking are evil and unSerious (The Angry Left); those who politely and soberly advocate morally repugnant, indecent policies are respected and Serious. As long as one adheres to Beltway decorum, one can advocate the most amoral and even murderous policies without any repercussions whatsoever; it is only disruptive and impolite behavior that generates intense upset. Beltway culture hates “incivility” (public use of bad words) but embraces full-scale substantive indecency (torture, lawbreaking, unjustified wars, ownership of government by corporations, etc.)

  9. Stemella permalink*
    September 11, 2009 10:02 am

    Appropriate to this day of nine eleven of 01 and this week of wall st catastrophuck in 08 is this piece from Simon Johnson Lessons learned and soon forgotten

    Here are the three lessons he says we should have learned

    First, our financial system has become dangerous on a massive scale. We knew that the banks were playing games, e.g., with their so-called off-balance sheet activities, but we previously had no idea that these huge corporations were so badly run or so close to potential collapse.

    Second, we also learned the hard way – after many revelations – that pervasive mismanagement in our financial system was not a series of random accidents. Rather it was the result of perverse incentives – bank executives felt competitive pressure to behave as they did and they were well-compensated on the basis of short-term performance. No one in the financial sector worries too much, if at all, about risks they create for society as a whole – despite the fact that these now prove to be enormous (i.e., jobs lost, incomes lowered, and fiscal subsidies provided).

    Third, weak government regulation undoubtedly made financial mismanagement possible. But poorly designed regulations and weak enforcement of even the sensible rules were in turn not a “mistake”. This was the outcome of a political process through which regulators – and their superiors in the legislative and executive branches – were captured intellectually by the financial system. People with power really believed that what was good for Wall Street was great for the country.

    But those lessons go unheeded. Bernanke keeps interest at zero, encouraging the blowing of new bubbles and more insane irresponsible risk taking. Soon there will be CDO’s based on life insurance policies with disasterous consequences as the banksters find new and improved unethical means to reap their rewards at the expense of others.

    Other lessons not yet learned in Afghanistan as monies and lives go to waste after all these years of mismanagement and obscurity. And we are still in Iraq, putting up decorations in the embassy and permabases for the long haul.

    Doomed to repeat history before history even has a chance to evolve.

    Lessons ignored

    • cometman permalink*
      September 11, 2009 10:43 am

      I’ve seen the quote that Johnson pulls out a few times in the last few days now:

      Lou Jiwei, the chairman of China’s large sovereign wealth fund, summed up the view of big international financial players last week, “It will not be too bad this year. Both China and America are addressing bubbles by creating more bubbles and we’re just taking advantage of that. So we can’t lose.”

      As deluded as this person is, at least they are honest about that’s going on with this whole shell game of global finance.

      Chris Floyd has another good piece on Afghanistan.

      If [y]ou don’t believe that our leaders are that venal and stupid, if you think they are doing anything other than scrambling around blindly, heedlessly, trying to find ways to keep their little racket of power and privilege going, then attend to this quote from Englehardt, as he zeroes in on the great statesman-like wisdom of Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s personally appointed “special envoy” to the killing fields in Afghanistan and Pakistan:

      Sometime later this month, the Obama administration will present Congress with “metrics” for… well, since this isn’t the Bush era, we can’t say “victory.” In the style of special envoy to the region Richard Holbrooke, let’s call it “success.” Holbrooke recently offered this definition of that word, evidently based on the standards the Supreme Court used to define pornography: “We’ll know it when we see it.”

      “We’ll know it when we see it.” What are we fighting for? “We’ll know it when we see it.” What is the reason my son or daughter died? “We’ll know it when we see it.” What is the reason that thousands of innocent civilians — children, women, peaceful men, whole families, the sick, the old — have been torn to shreds by bombs and bullets? “We’ll know it when we see it.”

      This cynical, “savvy,” tough-guy phrase is the perfect emblem of our age: blustering, inhuman, cruel and ignorant.

      The stupidity of it all is just mind boggling.

  10. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 10:59 am

    Sometimes I wish ScienceDaily would be a little more careful when screening the articles that are submitted to them. There is another article on memory today and like the two I posted yesterday, this one also references the latest issue of the journal “Neuron” as a source. Kind of looks like a big ad for this magazine when they post so many plugs.

    And then there was this piece of dreck – Monkeys Follow Economic Rules Of Supply And Demand. This has to be the stupidest article since that one about dolphin language being decoded I wrote about months ago which ScienceDaily eventually deleted once they realized the authors were a bunch of charlatans. Here’s a snippet:

    Cécile Fruteau placed food containers with highly-desired pieces of apple in two groups of South African vervet monkeys. For the monkeys there was just one problem: only one in each group could open the food container. This monkey had a low position in the rank order and was therefore scarcely groomed. However, as soon as she acquired the power to hand out apples she was valued more and was groomed a lot by the rest of the group. Yet she could only enjoy that privilege briefly; the researchers placed a second food container that could be opened by another low-ranking female. From that moment onwards the market value of the first monkey was halved, and she was therefore groomed half as often.

    The experiments revealed that the female monkeys that could open the food containers were groomed more than when they exerted no power over the food production. The females concerned also did not have to groom the other monkeys as long. They were therefore paid for their services as food suppliers. Biological market theory predicts that the market value of these female monkeys should vary according to the law of supply and demand. The fact that the grooming time of the first monkey was halved as soon as the second monkey gained the power to distribute apples, confirms this idea; the price of goods – in this case the female monkeys who could open the containers – was instantaneously adjusted to the market.

    Somebody needs to remind this science website that economics is NOT an empirical science and economic “theories” don’t really carry the same weight as those of Newton and Einstein, at least not with people who know their ass from a hole in the ground.. This “law” of supply and demand which they simplistically allude to is not something that is beyond dispute like the heliocentric solar system. This is exactly the kind of “research” that I sincerely hope nobody is actually paying to have done as it is absolutely worthless.

  11. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 12:25 pm

    Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. This really pisses me off – Money Market Guarantee Program Ending In One Week.

    The Treasury’s Money Market Fund guarantee program, which was among the first to be instituted in the wake of Lehman’s collapse, after the Reserve Primary Fund broke the buck (for a great description of what really happened, go here) is set to expire on September 19, after an extension had been granted on March 31 to postpone the initial April 30 expiration.


    As for the guarantee expiration, perhaps this is another effort by the administration to have citizens push their money out of money markets and into the speculative stock market casino, now that this implicit guarantee is removed and ultimately any money would be lost either way.

    I have a 401k which I do not contribute to because one way or another I have to put my cash in the hands of some financial nitwit. But my employer does contribute to it. I recently converted everything in it to a money market fund and some other fund that has a high percentage of its assets in cash precisely because I felt my money was safer there for the time being than in the stock market/casino. Now it looks like it won’t be.

    It would be really great if one of these days somebody could design a retirement investment vehicle that doesn’t require putting your life savings at the mercy of the rat fuckers on Wall Street. Everything is geared against people who try to live within their means and save for a rainy day. Interest on a savings account or CD doesn’t even keep up with inflation these days – it’s almost as if people are being forced to hand their money over to the banksters. Our pockets are being picked.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 11, 2009 3:48 pm

      Thanks for the heads up. I’m in the same situation, squeeking out micro interest on savings in Money market accounts and CD’s.

      I don’t and won’t have confidence or trust in the markets as long as they remain unregulated, unmonitored, and rigged for the vampire squids.

  12. cometman permalink*
    September 11, 2009 12:52 pm

    Joe Bageant made me smile today. In response to someone who was fed up with the health care debate and said:

    I tell ya, I’m glad I’m old and won’t have to watch much more of this nonsense go by. Although, my Ma’s 85 and going strong, still tearing up trees and throwing rocks, I seriously don’t think I can take it. I’ll blow the beans out of my pressure cooker one of these days.

    Bageant replied at the end of his post:

    In closing let me say, by all means go ahead and blow the beans out of your pressure cooker. I did. And I found that it left me with a clearer head (or maybe a less cluttered delusion of my own, who is to say? But either way, now the decor inside the old cranium allows me to sleep better at nights). People will call you nuts, say you’ve gone over the brink. But I find that there is plenty of fine company down here at the bottom of the cliff.

    • Stemella permalink*
      September 11, 2009 3:40 pm

      Joe is great, as usual. I read the whole thing. He sums up the health care fight and politics in general perfectly – the criminal cartel.

      It’s hard to disagree with his assessment of Americans in general. We are collectively weak and fearful things, sheepish. This day in history certainly contributed to that character development. It doesn’t seem that we were always this way. What caused it? Nixon? Reaganomics? Prozac in the water stream? Greed? Teevee?

  13. Stemella permalink*
    September 11, 2009 6:46 pm

    BFF from the FDIC

    #90 Venture Bank, Lacey, WA
    #91 Brickwell Community Bank, Woodbury, MN
    #92 Corus Bank, N.A., Chicago IL

    The last one is a big one

    The eleven branches of Corus Bank will reopen on their next normally scheduled business day as branches of MB Financial Bank. Depositors of Corus Bank will automatically become depositors of MB Financial Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers should continue to use their existing branches until MB Financial Bank can fully integrate the deposit records of Corus Bank.

    This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Corus Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

    As of June 30, 2009, Corus Bank had total assets of $7 billion and total deposits of approximately $7 billion. MB Financial Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.2 percent to assume all of the deposits of Corus Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, MB Financial Bank agreed to purchase approximately $3 billion of the assets, comprised mainly of cash and marketable securities. The FDIC will retain the remaining assets for later disposition. The FDIC plans to sell substantially all of the remaining assets of Corus Bank in the next 30 days in a private placement transaction.

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