Gongol.com Archives: November 2006
Brian Gongol

November 29, 2006

Computers and the Internet Google pulls the plug on answer service
It was getting royally trounced by Yahoo Answers, which got ten times more traffic

The American Way The quotable Friedman

The United States of America Can a small-government Republican win the White House?
Among the 2008 Presidential contenders, only a very few have any serious credentials as true free-market, small-government thinkers

Socialism Doesn't Work Iowa's governor-elect doesn't believe in markets for teachers
Practically every private-sector job in the world involves some form of pay for performance...so why are teachers exempt?

Threats and Hazards Reason to fight national ID cards and biometric passports
Computer hacker breaks into UK's new "ultra-secure" digital-friendly passports...with cheap equipment and in a matter of a few hours. This is another example of how politicians have abandoned the logical and rigorous systems approach in favor of misleadingly over-hyped new technologies. If we assume that we're safer just because of biometric data stored on our passports, then we risk letting our guard down because we assume that everyone who passes such a test must be "safe." But that just gives a free ride to anyone who manages to defeat the gatekeeper system. It makes a lot more sense to establish lots of different systems, even if each individually has a higher chance of failure. An over-technological system (like a scan of a biometric passport) might only fail once in a hundred times, but when lots of other systems (each with an individually higher rate of failure, like passenger interviews) are used, they make up for their individual shortcomings by creating more redundancies. It's analogous to a football team: You could put all your effort into developing an offensive line that's better than 95% of other teams, or you can develop offense, defense, and special teams that each are better than 60% of other teams. The team that puts all its eggs in the offensive basket has a much higher overall risk of losing catastrophically.

The American Way Tony Blair jumps on the deregulation train
Wants a 25% cut in red tape across the board in Britain. Margaret Thatcher's legacy endures.

Broadcasting BBC boss quits to move into commercial broadcasting

Graphics Cyclone Broadcloth

Water News Bill to repair Des Moines' sewers: $250 million