Daily Archives: January 16, 2014

Galactic Views (118)


SPACE WATCH

Spitzer’s Orion

NASA – Few cosmic vistas excite the imagination like the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This stunning false-color view spans about 40 light-years across the region, constructed using infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Compared to its visual wavelength appearance, the brightest portion of the nebula is likewise centered on Orion’s young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But the infrared image also detects the nebula’s many protostars, still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. In fact, red spots along the dark dusty filament to the left of the bright cluster include the protostar cataloged as HOPS 68, recently found to have crystals of the silicate mineral olivine within its protostellar envelope.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Garbage In, Garbage Out

BOOK REVIEW

Naked Statistics, Author: Charles Wheelan.

(pyrczak.com)By Charles Wheelan – Selection bias can be introduced in many other ways.

A survey of consumers in an airport is going to be biased by the fact that people who fly are likely to be wealthier than the general public; a survey at a rest stop on Interstate 90 may have the opposite problem.

Both surveys are likely to be biased by the fact that people who are willing to answer a survey in a public place are different from people who would prefer not to be bothered.

If you ask 100 people in a public place to complete a short survey, and 60 are willing to answer your questions, those 60 are likely to be different in significant ways from the 40 who walked by without making eye contact.

Positive findings are more likely to be published than negative findings, which can skew the results that we see. more> http://tinyurl.com/k2j5xyt

Updates from CHICAGO BOOTH

What would happen if the Big Four became the Big Three?
By Francine McKenna – It has been 13 years since energy trading firm Enron imploded in an accounting fraud scandal. That was followed by the collapse of its auditor, Arthur Andersen, which reduced the number of large global audit firms from five to four.

Auditors provide the checks and balances on company financial statements, and are there to reassure investors that an independent and objective eye is looking over a company’s books. Auditors also give an opinion as to whether the company is going to stay in business.

For multinationals, that check usually comes from one of the Big Four, for two reasons. First, multinational organizations are complex, and their accounting requires global and industry-specific expertise that only the Big Four can offer. Second, the US government has mandated demand for the service. Large public companies must be audited by an audit firm registered with the regulator, created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. Most global companies pay one of the Big Four firms to audit them, and can hire the same firms for tax and consulting advice.

This model was scrutinized after Enron. The US Department of Justice accused Arthur Andersen of going easy on Enron because of a long, cozy relationship, in part due to consulting charges that substantially exceeded audit fees. That scrutiny subsided after Sarbanes-Oxley limited the types of consulting services an auditor could provide to its audit clients. But the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has brought no big cases on this issue against the Big Four since 2002, and audit firms have since regrown their consulting practices, serving both audit and nonaudit clients. Consulting revenues for the two largest firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte, grew faster than audit revenues in fiscal 2013. more> http://tinyurl.com/qyu2b8u

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A Clear View from Any Angle

By Paul Livingstone – In the early 2000s, another innovation helped set the stage for the proliferation of LCD displays: Multilayer Optical Film. Invented at 3M Company, Minneapolis, Minn., the film represented a breakthrough in fundamental physics and greatly improved screen visibility and power consumption. Today, the film is an important component in most of the 245 million LCD-based displays sold globally.

Andrew J. Ouderkirk, a corporate scientist for 3M’s Electronics Markets Materials Div., led this research effort, as well as projects that have resulted in 170 patents. Not every product development story is as successful as Multilayer Optical Film, but Ouderkirk’s ability to innovate while anticipating how products will be useful in the commercial space has helped 3M open significant new markets in materials and optical films. more> http://tinyurl.com/m2ooxnd

When patient money is big money

By Felix Salmon – Google went public in 2004 — and they have, since then, been true to their word. They have not been maximizing short-term profits; neither have they been stinting on long-term investments. Today (Jan 14), Google spent $3.2 billion to acquire Nest.  Google is drowning in cash: it has more than $58 billion to spend, so this acquisition barely makes a dent in the company’s war chest.

On the same day, Suntory spent even more money — a whopping $13.6 billion in cash, plus another $2.4 billion in assumed debt — to buy Beam, a coveted whiskey company.

If there’s one big lesson to be drawn from today’s M&A activity, it’s that there’s still serious amounts of strategic cash on the sidelines if the right target comes along. As Charter’s $37.3 billion bid for Time Warner Cable proves. more> http://tinyurl.com/n2ehvvm

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Updates from Senator Bernie Sanders

CONGRESS WATCH

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CONGRESS WATCH Gillibrand, Hanna Announce Expansion of Greek Yogurt Pilot Program in School Lunches to Four More States, US Congress Flawed rule change puts big trucks on the road at bad times (Commentary), U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna, syracuse.com

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CONGRESS WATCH Rogers Supports Bipartisan Plan to Protect Personal Information Bill would require Obamacare website to notify customers of security breaches, US Congress Former Guantanamo detainee implicated in Benghazi attack, Adam Goldman, Washington Post Rogers on O’Reilly to refute the … Continue reading

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CONGRESS WATCH H.R. 3811 Health Exchange Security and Transparency Act of 2014, gop.gov Congresswoman Ellmers Questions the 2014 CMS Changes, YouTube [VIDEO 3:45] A Plan For Jobs & Economic Growth, speaker.gov

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CONGRESS WATCH Congress Defers to President On NSA Reform, Ron Paul Institute