Gongol.com Archives: January 2007
Brian Gongol

January 2, 2007

Weather and Disasters Insult + injury: Hurricane Katrina killed a lot of people and animals, but it didn't kill termites

Iowa Iowa DOT wants to raise gas tax
The DOT says Iowa will need to put $27.7 billion into road construction over the next 20 years, and the only way they plan to get it is to raise the gas tax. But the gas tax is a dinosaur and really ought to be replaced by a per-mile tax -- to be collected through annual odometer readings, not by GPS. The need to maintain a huge investment in civil infrastructure is one of the problems with Iowa's economy -- our roads and highways were built to sustain thousands of farm-to-market transactions that just don't happen today. We very distinctly need to encourage growth in Iowa's smaller communities in order to afford to keep those roads and other civil-works projects in order.

Threats and Hazards Will arrests today over massacres in 1994 help deter future genocides?
Four Rwandans have been arrested in Britain for backing the 1994 genocide in their home country, either as local mayors who watched things happen or as other conspirators. Part of the extradition agreement says that they won't face the death penalty if convicted. The main question of importance isn't whether the extraditions will represent justice (after all, 800,000 people were killed; it's impossible to get justice for them) -- but whether there's an appropriate way for formal systems of justice to deter future homicidal maniacs. Pol Pot died in 1998 without facing true punishment for killing at least a million people. What's the best means to ensure that Kim Jong-Il is punished for starving two to three million North Koreans? The basic rules of criminal law state that crime is prevented by a combination of surveillance and deterrence: Either the law is enforced with small punishments on easily-detected crimes (speed traps and $75 tickets) or by harsh punishments imposed on difficult ones (death penalties in murder cases). But is there a punishment sufficient to deter homicidal maniacs who allow hundreds of thousands of people to die? The flip side, of course, is that many genocides have been the result of ethnic or religious rivalries, and even if a dictator is executed, the factions (and thus the rivalries) probably outlive them.

The American Way January 1, 2007 Carnival of the Capitalists

Science and Technology Group says Park Service employees are being forced to tolerate Creationism
It's not a science, it's a belief system. And it's not appropriate for government employees to be forced to give it even tacit endorsement.

Iowa Climbing lunatic creates his own ice mountain in Iowa
Assuredly one of the most eccentric products of the University of Northern Iowa is instructor Don Briggs' sport of ice-silo climbing.

The American Way Most-visited economics sites on the Internet
The EconDirectory has been updated using figures from December 2006. Overall, there was a measurable decline in traffic (due to the holidays), but the most-visited sites from November generally stayed on top in December.

News UK now has more unmarried women than married ones

Humor and Good News Liquor-store thief takes more falls than Chris Farley

Computers and the Internet How mobile phones can be hacked by text messages
There are real exploits out in the open -- and some have gone unpatched for six months now. No one should open text messages from outside their trusted circles.

Humor and Good News Hanging of Saddam Hussein ruins weekend for Internet porn
The hanging video is online, and it's a matter of controversy. The simple fact is that nothing is certainly private in a world with video-recording mobile phones. Related: "What do they propose doing with such a person? Strap an electronic tag round his ankle, give him a community service order and send him to counselling?"

Business and Finance "Perhaps we should bomb Detroit to perdition?"
In 1945, America and Japan were at war. In 2007, Toyota may be thinking about buying out Ford...or at least putting together some kind of alliance. Ford is bleeding cash, and it has plant capacity that Toyota needs.

Graphics Alpine Slope

Water News Omaha's new water plant illustrates new water security methods

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