Gongol.com Archives: March 2008
Brian Gongol

March 5, 2008

Threats and Hazards Don't accept any wooden nickels
How embedded processors, available at an affordable cost today, can be used to spy on you when you don't even know it. This is the kind of technology that the next President will need to know about, and yet at least two of the candidates are talking about trying to do away with NAFTA, as though trade were a bad thing. It's time to get with the 21st Century and realize that technology is going to change everything all the time.

Science and Technology Japanese researchers confirm the bullwhip effect that causes inexplicable traffic jams
They had a bunch of cars move around a single-lane track at a specified speed, but minor variations in speeds and car-to-car distances accumulated until a rolling dead stop emerged in the traffic. This apparently had never been re-created in a practical, observable environment before -- even though the principle itself is completely understandable. It's the very same effect as that of a bullwhip: When you crack a whip, a very slight change at one end (near your wrist) becomes magnified many times over until it's enough to break the sound barrier at the other end. This is exactly why emergency evacuations by automobile turn out to be such complete messes. The problem can be overcome, of course -- but if this is only the first time we've ever really observed the problem in a scientific setting, it's no wonder we're still doing it all wrong.

Computers and the Internet Updated version of the Internet-as-Tokyo-subway-map

Water News The Catch-22 to wastewater treatment in rural areas

Aviation News In case you wanted to know what the airliner cabin chimes meant

News Obama Girl has nothing on the Putin Girls
(Video) Vladimir Putin as a sex symbol? It's a pop song and video with remixes. Oy. There's some serious hero-worship going on. Related: Someone needs to tell the Germans they're not allowed to rap to "More Than a Feeling".

Computers and the Internet Should young employees be allowed to use social-networking sites at work?
One observer says that if you cut people off from their social-networking sites (like Facebook at the office, you're cutting them off from "trusted networks," which in turn makes them less-valuable employees. That might be a stretch.

Aviation News Business Week writer says Boeing lost tanker deal fair and square
On a totally different aviation note, it's still not known what caused that British Airways flight to crash in London in January. The official British air-safety investigation couldn't find a clear cause for the engine failure which led to the crash, thought it did identify a problem with the instructions for shutting down the plane in the event of a crash.

Graphics Graphic of the day: Presidential Propaganda

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