Gongol.com Archives: June 2007
Brian Gongol

June 19, 2007

Business and Finance Employee ownership: Up in some ways, down in others
Intriguing article from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve suggests that employee ownership of firms is up according to some measures, but down according to others. The article goes on to discuss whether the benefits of employee ownership are worth the subsidies that are typically used to make it happen (employee stock ownership plans are typically tax-advantaged). Meanwhile, others are concerned that class envy is heading down a bad path. There's some reason to wonder whether employee ownership helps reduce the sense of envy by making the workers the capitalists.

Agriculture Almost nobody raises oats anymore
As farmers started using tractors instead of horses, they stopped raising oats and planted lots more soybeans. Today's #1 state for oats is North Dakota, where 420,000 acres are devoted to oat production. In 1940, that would've put them in 20th place nationwide. The top five oat-producing states today are North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and Iowa -- which explains why Quaker Oats keeps its plants open in Cedar Rapids (Iowa) and Minneapolis. Iowa used to be #1 in oat production.

Water News Heavy clay soil makes drainage difficult

The United States of America Michael Bloomberg shows up in California and political junkies start speculating
Bloomberg has been discussed as a prospective Presidential candidate, and he's using that clout to (rightly) criticize the announced candidates for ignoring the pending fiscal disaster that is Medicare. Bloomberg and Arnold Schwarzenegger just got great press in Time magazine, which called them "action heroes," though some people suggest that "action" is the wrong thing to applaud. Bloomberg has also been floated as a potential running mate on a Chuck Hagel ticket.

Humor and Good News School: It's not just about rote memorization
(Video) Painful -- no, brutal -- interview with the National Spelling Bee champion. Proof that public education includes a component of socialization that some kids clearly don't get from being home-schooled.

Weather and Disasters Mission-critical hurricane-tracking satellite is on its last legs
And it's causing what appears to be a bitter fight between the head of the National Hurricane Center and his bosses. The satellite in question, called QuikSCAT, covers most of the planet, taking measurements of wind speeds over the oceans, which has obvious utility in measuring major storms. On the lighter side of things, weird temperature conditions can cause motor traffic to show up on weather radar.

Threats and Hazards When dictators unite
Qaddafi and Mugabe, two of Africa's longest-oppressing dictators, seem to think a government of pan-African unity would be a good idea. Not for the people of Africa, of course, but for themselves.

Humor and Good News Useful life instructions: Subway edition
Also: Some useful vacation phrases

Humor and Good News "This isn't nearly as much fun as I'd imagined"

Graphics Graphic of the day: Legitimacy Test
If that graphic isn't weird enough, then this bizarre interpretation of "rejection" ought to do it. An alternative interpretation of "rejection" involving an ejection seat is a lot more fun.

Computers and the Internet Massive online attack compromises 10,000 websites
Most of them are in Italy, but the Internet is international, so that means everyone is potentially at risk. Part of the attack involves adding malicious programs to those compromised websites, which means that people visiting those sites can unintentionally end up downloading keystroke loggers, which is a really good way to become a victim of identity theft. One of the best ways to avoid accidentally downloading keystroke loggers is to do your Internet browsing from a limited-access account. Symantec (the anti-virus maker) recommends keeping anti-virus software up-to-date, but that's just not enough. Antivirus software is necessary but insufficient: Limited-access accounts are essential for safer surfing. Symantec probably doesn't recommend it much because if people followed other techniques for safer Internet usage, they would have less need for antivirus software.

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