Gongol.com Archives: December 2006
Brian Gongol

December 1, 2006

Threats and Hazards How terrorists could topple Mexico
That the opposition candidate for president hasn't conceded but instead is playing an illegitimate shadow-government game makes Mexico at least a little unstable. A determined group could exploit the weakness of the legitimate government through attacks on the country's infrastructure.

Humor and Good News The Margaret Thatcher dance video

Humor and Good News Genetically-modified pizzas
"This type of immoral endeavor has been a hallmark of the company since it first adopted the Noid, a Nietzsche-visioned version of Satan as their mascot."

The American Way How can a great idea go ignored for 1,000 years?
Sometimes ideas are best delivered with shock therapy -- as was probably the case in reforming Poland's economy after the fall of Communism. But in others, the process may have to be more evolutionary -- as seems to be the case in moving China from authoritarianism to liberty. But a millennium is probably too long to wait for most ideas, if they're good.

News Pope and Greek Orthodox Patriarch talk about talking more
The churches split 1,000 years ago, so an immediate reconciliation would be strange. But religion could go through a merger process, too.

Threats and Hazards Hezbollah organizes big anti-government rally in Lebanon
Protesters come right out and say it's all about economics: They haven't recovered from the recent fighting with Israel and now they want the pro-Western government out of office. When the people's chant includes "We want a government that will feed our hunger", it's a pretty clear sign that no matter how much people say they don't understand economics (or don't want to), the people in charge have to. Few things aggravate a population faster than poverty, especially when they're not used to being poor.

Water News Committee OK's the way USDA released wastewater to Ames

The American Way EconDirectory updated for December

The United States of America Most state legislatures would be better off with more legislators
Many if not most states have more than 50,000 residents per lawmaker -- and that's just too many for them to have adequate personal contact with one another. It would be similarly wise to expand Congress so that we had one Representative for every 30,000 to 60,000 residents -- not the present half-million or so each seat represents today. Others have called for a considerably more conservative expansion of Congress, which would certainly be a start. But when 435 people represent 300 million, we're well beyond the point at which individual citizens can expect to have much suasiveness with their lawmakers. That entrenches (and virtually codifies) the influence of lobbyists and big financial donors, which is ordinarily very bad for the economy. Even historians agree: Politicians aren't the real idea people.

Science and Technology A nearly-live view of Earth from space
NASA provides live and replayed images of the planet from Landsat

The United States of America Bill Gates for President?
Not likely. But lots of other people want the job.

The American Way Should one give good advice to bad people?
Naturally, it's worth a cost-benefit analysis, which probably varies considerably from case to case. No amount of advice-giving to a Josef Stalin or a Kim Jong-Il is likely to render any good to the people whom they rule; it would probably be more sensible to devote one's wisdom to the support of opposition groups and political rivals. But even many awful leaders can be talked into doing things for their personal short-term gain that may actually be counter to their long-term interests, and if alleviating some pain today can beget even greater relief in the long run (as, for instance, appears to have been the case with the "Chicago Boys" who advised the Chilean government under Pinochet), then that act is probably morally right.

Aviation News A "personal" jet engine is on the way
Weighs 150 pounds and puts out 600 pounds of thrust -- enough to power an aircraft weighing about the same as a mid-sized car

News Coup? No, a game of rugby first.
Fiji strikes what is possibly the most bizarre political deal in the last 100 years.

Business and Finance Better presentations through simplification
Too many people approach big presentations with too little forethought; a small investment in time on behalf of the person giving the presentation can return exponentially-improved results

Graphics Basket Weave