Gongol.com Archives: October 2007
Brian Gongol

October 11, 2007

Water News EPA hits Massachusetts developers hard for water pollution

The United States of America No shock: Bigger cities have worse traffic
Just another example of something worthwhile to consider when choosing where to live. If you can save ten minutes of commuting time each way every day, that's like getting more than an hour and a half of bonus free time every week. Multiply that out over the course of a year, and you can take a lot of vacations on the time saved thanks to shorter commutes.

Health Canadian party promises $15 limit on prescription drugs
Tellingly, it's a proposal for just one province: Saskatchewan. That's the only way one can tell that it's a moderately serious proposal. Given all of the recent arguments over SCHIP and Hillary Clinton's new health-care proposal, it should be quite evident that no one in the US is really serious about any kind of health-care reform. If they were, they'd start with proposals at the state level and then use the states as the "laboratories of democracy" that they really are in order to figure out what works and what doesn't. When politicians instead come out with sweeping national proposals, they're almost inevitably trying to convince voters that they're going to get something for free. Real reform couldn't possibly work on the Federal level -- with more than 300 million participants/patients/potential victims -- without some experimentation at the state level. If they're not proposing experiments on a manageable level (like the states), then they're certainly not serious about what to do nationally. Related: A movement is afloat in both Alberta and Saskatchewan to separate from Canada, while some British Columbians want a "re-federation."

Science and Technology "These trees were alive when the first pyramids were built"
What is it about some trees that allows them to live for hundreds of years...or even thousands? What are the biological distinctions between their cells and human cells that prevents us from such longevity? We can quite reasonably overcome certain issues of scarcity that keep us from persevering, but it looks like we have some things to learn about resistance to disease from the evolutionary advantages conferred upon certain trees. Related: The National Geographic Society sells 8" pine trees from a 200-million-year-old family.

Computers and the Internet Censorship, copyright, and the costs to us all
"Every time a law is passed that reduces the burden of proof on those who would remove material from the internet, artists' fortunes everywhere are endangered"

Science and Technology Making airport signs make more sense
A huge amount of knowledge is contained in the world around us -- street signs, labels, badges, and everything else that spares us the day-to-day work of remembering lots of details. It does seem to be true, though, that airport signage is especially awful.

Business and Finance Interest rates at zero? What could possibly go wrong with that?
Senator McCain needs a lesson on interest and the costs of capital after saying at the Republican debate, "I'm glad that -- whenever they cut interest rates. I wish interest rates were zero." If interest were at zero, then no one would have any meaningful incentive to save. With no savings, you get no investment. With no investment, you get an economy that sucks itself dry. Related: Too many Americans mistakenly think free trade is bad.