Gongol.com Archives: June 2007
Brian Gongol

June 21, 2007

Graphics Graphic of the day: Grosse Platte

Water News Oil, grease, and pH violations cost electric company $157,500

Iowa Google to put $600 million data center in Council Bluffs
While it's great news that a data center will bring new opportunities to the area, the fact that local officials, state legislators, and the governor gave away tax money to lure the project is not. Iowa has a huge budget problem right now, and most economic-development incentives just aren't a good idea. If high tax rates would've kept Google from building in Iowa, then aren't those tax rates probably causing the same problems for lots of other firms that can't afford lobbyists? If Google deserves a break, don't other businesses as well?

Threats and Hazards Free speech: Nothing to take lightly
Tony Blair, as part of his parting gift to Britain, has declared that newspapers ought to face new regulations, like the ones on broadcast media: "As the technology blurs the distinction between papers and television, it becomes increasingly irrational to have different systems of accountability based on technology that no longer can be differentiated in the old way." That's a terrifying statement from the leader of one of the freest nations on Earth. Think of the awful message that sends to people living in Iran, where the government forces ordinary people to register with the government before expressing their opinions online, or China, where the government puts dissidents under house arrest as casually as college campus police hand out citations for public intoxication on a Saturday night. Just because the news media can be terrible (and easily-distracted by idiotic celebrities) doesn't mean they'd be better with regulation. That's patently absurd.

Science and Technology Educationally, the rich get richer
Kids from well-educated households have a big head-start on kids from less-educated homes -- and the differences are significant by the age of 3

News Purdue animation shows how planes brought down the WTC towers
The public comments on the video (hosted at YouTube) reveal exactly why such animations are necessary: There are a bunch of lunatic conspiracy theories floating out there, many of which accuse the US government of conducting the attacks.

Science and Technology Serious threat to the great apes
Hunting, disease, and logging are each blamed for raising the risks to the survival of orangutans and apes, but Richard Leakey also says the pressure to raise more biofuels in order to offset global warming could make the situation even worse, since tropical habitats are sometimes cut down in order to raise fuel crops (which the UN thinks will be a huge part of producing 25% of the world's energy in 20 years). Private donors could probably do more good donating to programs to save the higher primates rather than blowing millions of dollars on weird paintings.

Business and Finance Bill Clinton gets $150,000 for a speech
All of the hubbub about the Clintons' decision to liquidate their blind trust seems to miss that the former President makes almost three times more giving a single speech than the median American household net worth. Half of the problem is that $150,000 is a ridiculous amount of money to pay for a speech. The other half is that Americans just don't save enough -- not by a long shot. Related: What Warren Buffett said (or approximately so) at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in May.

News Woman gets $29,000 over arrest for walking around NYC topless
And now she's changed her name to "Phoenix Feeley"

Business and Finance China's preposterous stock-market bubble
The P/E ratio for the country's stock-market index is at 50. That's way, way, way above the level at which any sane investor should be putting in new money. The consequences of a big correction in the Chinese market could be significant, and no one should under-estimate the direct impact it could have on American investors, many of whom have investments in "emerging-markets" mutual funds that are heavily weighted in China.

Business and Finance Toyota may be scaling down US expansions

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