Gongol.com Archives: November 2006
Brian Gongol

November 24, 2006

Socialism Doesn't Work Dear Chicago: Hosting the Olympics isn't worth it
San Francisco thought it might want to host the 2016 Olympics, but it has dropped out of contention after the San Francisco 49ers announced they were hitting the road and moving to Santa Clara. Now Chicago and Los Angeles are the two remaining US cities thinking about hosting the games in 2016. Both should realize it's probably not worth it: London is discovering that the 2012 Olympics are already racking up a ludicrous tab -- and one which can be shown to be draining funds from more worthwhile ventures. Opportunity costs matter, and cities bidding for the Olympics ought to know that. In the meantime, though, it's terribly amusing to hear Richard Daley accusing someone else of fixing a vote.

Health It's OK to criticize people who don't wash their hands
Four separate outbreaks of norovirus in Iowa have all been linked to people getting infected in places where large groups congregate. The likely culprit: People who didn't wash their hands after using the toilet. It's OK to criticize people who don't wash their hands before leaving the bathroom: If just four people would've done it, they might have saved 1,000 people from getting infected.

Agriculture Seven-foot-high soybeans being considered as a wood substitute
It sounds ridiculous (mature soybeans are usually more like knee-high than people-high), but ag researchers are finding varieties that could be bred for high cellulose content, which would make it possible to use soybean stalks as substitutes for wood. That would be extremely good news for farmers who have traditionally used corn and soybeans in a 50/50 crop rotation, since present rising ethanol demand is pushing them towards a less-balanced 60/40 corn/beans rotation. That imbalance is potentially troubling since corn is a water-hogging plant that demands lots of nitrogen from the soil. In a 50/50 rotation, much of that nitrogen is returned to the soil by the soybeans, but in a 60/40 rotation, it means much higher demand for nitrogen fertilizer, which is expensive and ends up running off the land into the waterways, causing damage to drinking-water supplies.

Threats and Hazards Former Russian spy who defected to UK might've been poisoned
He'd been a member of Russia's security service and became a critic of President Putin. High levels of radiation have been found in his urine and in the hotel where he was staying and at a restaurant where he'd eaten, so there's some suspicion that his death was a hit by the spy agency. Russia has been accused of this before.