Gongol.com Archives: May 2005
Brian Gongol

We All Need a Little Humor (5.13.2005)
Some People Don't Know When to Stop
Someone takes a spoof website too seriously and lodges a complaint. Then he doesn't realize it as he makes himself a target.

Computers and the Internet (5.13.2005)
Electronic Canvas Lets Viewer Watch "Painting" in Action

The American Way (5.13.2005)
The Failure of Economic Education
Here's how we know that economics just isn't understood by much of the larger population: People are actively trying to build "sustainable communities" with mission statements using language like "within the defined area, no resources are consumed faster than their natural replenishment, and the enclosed system can continue indefinitely without degradation of its internal resource base or the standard of living of the people and the rest of the ecosystem within it, and without contributing to the non-sustainability of ecosystems outside." Quite well-intentioned, by all means, but terribly misguided. We humans are tool-users. Tools are used to improve on the state of nature. If we aren't improving on the state of nature, then we're not really doing anything useful. That improvement naturally causes some pollution to the world around us -- it's the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Whenever we do anything, it's at less than 100% efficiency, thus creating some waste byproduct. The economic lesson is that we should expect that waste byproduct to occur and to try to reduce the amount of total waste by using our resources as efficiently as possible. The best way to do that is by recognizing the law of comparative advantage -- we should each do what we do best if we want to create as little waste as possible. This brings us full-circle: If you're trying too hard to live "sustainably", you're going to expend a lot of energy doing things inefficiently that other people can do much more efficiently than you. An optometrist shouldn't waste time raising chickens, painting his house, or mowing her lawn when there are other people who can do those jobs more efficiently and others need more eye care. The increased waste in an intentional "sustainable" community may not be visible, but it's no less real.

Iowa (5.13.2005)
Iowa Town Planning to Break World's Record for Largest Pizza on June 18th
They're going to use a grain bin oven floor to cook it. If you're on crack, you can use a grain bin for a house, but that's not recommended.

Iowa (5.13.2005)
Sorghum May Be Toxic to Weeds
Produces a chemical that fights back against weeds. Biotechnology could be used to duplicate this power in other plants, since up until now the best we've been able to do is build up plants' resistance to herbicides rather than using the plants themselves to fight off weeds.

Science and Technology (5.13.2005)
Orange Juice May Lower Cholesterol

Iowa (5.13.2005)
Why a Northwest Iowa Town is Full of Castles
Local business owner decided he'd decorate his factory that way, and everyone else started following suit. Not everything that's interesting or good for a community requires government action.

News (5.13.2005)
Pope Benedict Puts Pope John Paul II's Beatification on Fast Track

Broadcasting (5.13.2005)
Dave Chappelle Reportedly Checks into Mental Health Facility

The United States of America (5.13.2005)
Rumsfeld Puts His OK on Base Closure List
The full list reduces military jobs by 10,782 and civilian jobs within DoD by 18,223, while adding 2,818 contractors

The United States of America (5.13.2005)
Commencement Speakers a Big Deal to Some Schools
Most popular speakers: Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Jimmy Carter. Typical speaker's fee: $25,000 to $35,000. Where do I sign up?