Gongol.com Archives: November 2005
Brian Gongol

The American Way (11.20.2005)
November 21, 2005 Carnival of the Capitalists

The United States of America (11.20.2005)
City of San Diego Completely Broke
City is short by $1.4 billion in its pension fund, and is $19 million short this year in its operating fund. So now it's trying to collect $90 million in overdue bills, tickets, and fines, but a newspaper analysis suggests there's little chance that'll fix the problem, since lots of the debts are more than five years old. Half of the money due is from old parking tickets.

Iowa (11.20.2005)
Governor Puts Ft. Madison Penitentiary on General Lockdown
Both escapees have been been captured, but officials aren't sure they've fixed the security problem. A good reminder about how little we've done to figure out the right balance between using prison as a deterrent against crime and as a method of rehabilitating people.

Science and Technology (11.20.2005)
Solution to LED Efficiency Problem Found in Butterfly Wings
Nature gave the African swallowtail butterfly a method for enhancing fluorescent scales on its wings that, as it turns out, is exactly the way to get more light out of an LED

Computers and the Internet (11.20.2005)
UN Conference: Resolutions Call for More Spending on Internet, But No One Promises Cash
The enduring difference between the public and private sectors: Having commercialized the Internet in under two decades, the private sector is likely to chase opportunity. Eventually, that opportunity will be found in delivering Internet access to the world's poor countries. But for the moment, that's largely putting the cart before the horse if those poor countries don't have the tools needed for economic progress. Worrying about delivering Internet access to countries that can't effectively take advantage of trade is like putting a bandage on a wound that's still bleeding -- it's just a superficial "fix".

Weather and Disasters (11.20.2005)
Six Weeks After Big Quake, Still Little Progress in India and Pakistan
More than $5 billion needed for reconstruction. 2.8 million people homeless. Donor exhaustion is part of the problem. So is the pre-existing poverty in the region. Help in these situations is a two-pronged matter: First, relieving immediate suffering. But no less important is the need to fix the systems and environments surrounding the disaster -- like ending long-term poverty.

Computers and the Internet (11.20.2005)
Lawsuit Says Online Dating Services Cheat Customers
Allegations include dates on company payrolls and "date bait" entries

Computers and the Internet (11.20.2005)
Do Search Engine Algorithms Encourage a Rich-Get-Richer Internet?
Since Google and other search engines give bonus points to sites that have lots of incoming links, it seems likely that the more visits a site gets, the more it should attract new visits. But a study suggests that people do enough random clicking that the effect is actually more egalitarian than we might expect.

Business and Finance (11.20.2005)
Online Advertising Boom Smacks Newspapers Hard
It's especially hard for them to make up for lost classified-ad revenue, which is the easiest stuff to migrate to an online model

News (11.20.2005)
French Riots Seem to Be Dissolving
The big questions remain: How does a country keep riots from happening? One suggestion: Stop enforcing policies that tend to increase persistent unemployment -- policies like generous welfare benefits and voluminous regulations.

The United States of America (11.20.2005)
Bush Goes to China
The President's visit offers a good reason to note how the US has opened alliances with a whole ring of states surrounding China -- and how China's been buttering up energy-producing countries like Iran and Venezuela that aren't friendly to US interests. The big question is how long China can keep up its market reforms without changing its political climate, too. China's President Hu (a man about which little is known) said he's going to continue moving the yuan towards a market float (a good thing), but the even bigger issue is whether he's honestly planning to crack down on intellectual-property theft by Chinese manufacturers. It's a huge problem.

News (11.20.2005)
Young Brits More Entrepreneurial, Economically Conservative Than Parents
Ironically, they also have been conditioned to vote against the Conservative Party.

News (11.20.2005)
New, Looser Rules on Drinking Expected to Increase Alcohol Sales 10% in Britain
Pubs in Britain have apparently been forced to close at 11:30 pm until now.