Gongol.com Archives: July 2006
Brian Gongol

July 31, 2006

The United States of America American-style welfare reform as a model for other countries

Humor and Good News Why it's called a "continental breakfast"
Continental as in France, as opposed to the "English breakfast"

Science and Technology Tony Blair and Arnold Schwarzenegger sign agreement on climate change
Puts California in the EU carbon-trading market (which is a reasonably good way to manage pollution), though the states don't really have the Constitutional power to make treaties

Health Iowa to buy antiviral medicine for 25% of population
Planning for an outbreak of pandemic flu according to the advice of Health and Human Services

Iowa Anti-incentives to good justice
Jurors serving in the state of Iowa get $10 a day, plus parking and mileage. While we don't necessarily want professional jurors running around the state, $10 a day is clearly not enough to counter the considerable incentives that most people would have to avoid jury service. Median household income in Iowa is $64,341 for a four-person family. So, assuming a 50-week work year at five days per week, most households will want to bring home about $260 a day. If a potential juror in an average family were the sole wage-earner, then he or she would have $250 worth of incentive to try to avoid every potential day of jury service, or $1,750 a week. Even assuming that most people are good and feel a civic obligation to participate in the judicial process, $1,750 is a lot of money to lose just to fulfill one's social obligations.

Iowa About a third of Des Moines residents are renters
It's about 38% in West Des Moines. Both are higher ratios than the state of Iowa as a whole, which has an above-average level of homeownership.

Water News USDA pours money into Nebraska to buy back water rights

Graphics Ledger Balance

News Does the YMCA really need to re-emphasize the "C"?
Fears about fundamentalism in other religions may shed some renewed light on fundamentalism within Christianity

Business and Finance Retailers and wholesalers say gas prices aren't their fault
They think it's the fault of traders

Weather and Disasters US, Europe alike in suffering through power outages in heat wave
Oddly, the heat caused Germany's wind-power plants to shut down -- which, of course, is precisely the worst time for them to lose a source of power generation

Business and Finance How much is one life worth?
The problem is that for public policy, we have to place a value on human life -- otherwise, courts couldn't award penalties in wrongful-death suits, and we'd never know where it's appropriate to install signal arms for railroad crossings. But the value of "a" life is much lower than anyone's "own" life, because we all value our own lives almost infinitely.

News South Africa's problem with teenagers
Teens are throwing stones at cars on a highway, and people are getting killed. It's just a different version of the Indiana sniper charged last week.

Broadcasting Islamic group in Indonesia ponders ban on watching TV gossip shows
Is tripe like "Jerry Springer" really worthy of religious intervention?

Business and Finance Designer of "New Beetle" moving to Kia
Design and aesthetic appeal certainly do matter to whether people buy things. A well-designed website will get more traffic than a poorly-designed one, given the same basic content. At the same time, though, no amount of design can compensate for bad fundamentals, nor should it be asked to.

Threats and Hazards Iran gets belligerent over use of nuclear facilities
Foreign ministry: "By putting pressure and trying to intimidate Iran, no country will achieve anything. On the contrary, the situation will worsen"