Gongol.com Archives: June 2008
Brian Gongol

June 24, 2008

Water News House approves expanded funding for FEMA loans to water and wastewater plants

Weather and Disasters More than half of the US had storms yesterday

Computers and the Internet Internet replaces Mom as the first place to turn for child-care advice

News American religious (and non-religious) beliefs are more diverse than most people probably think
A Pew Forum study on religion in America suggests that most people are anti-dogmatic; that is, they take a healthy live-and-let-live view on faith. That seems to run contrary to some of the headline news out there, like South Carolina's new Christian vanity plates. Possibly one of the most thoughtful observations out there on the matter of faith comes from an atheist who thinks that the biggest problem is when anybody of any stripe -- including his fellow atheists -- takes it all too seriously.

The American Way Life keeps getting better, and robots deserve some of the credit
The relative cost of using a robot to do tasks humans previously did has fallen dramatically over the last 20 years -- in fact, it now costs about a quarter of what it did in 1990. That's outstanding news, because it means we can devote human effort to much more useful tasks. That's the beauty of tools like automated self-checkout lanes at the grocery store: By letting machines do the work of scanning your groceries with minimal human supervision, businesses get lower labor costs (which result in a combination of higher profits for them and lower costs for customers), consumers get faster service (four self-checkout lanes can fit in the same space usually required for two regular lines), and the workers displaced are encouraged to move up the economic food chain, just like the gas-lamp lighters of 100 years ago needed to find something else to do when electric streetlights came along.

Agriculture Farm bill includes $10 million for agriculture programs at the University of the District of Columbia
DC, of course, is not exactly a hotbed for farming. The argument is that urban farming -- greenhouses, gardens, and terrariums -- can help supply food to people in the city without creating a lot of energy waste in the course of transportation. That, for instance, is the dream of those behind the vertical farm project, which supposedly could act as a skyscraper for agriculture in the middle of a city. But for as worthy as urban agriculture may be, it's probably not the kind of thing that demands Federal funding. After all, there are already websites devoted to the notion because, if it makes sense, it's going to be profitable anyway to figure out how to do it. We don't subsidize the Burpee seed company, do we?

Humor and Good News Shipwrecked Englishman decides to try his own Free State Project
Declares independence for a 2.5-acre island in the North Sea, and says it's open to anyone who's tired of government interference. Sounds a lot like the Free State Project to take over New Hampshire with a bunch of libertarians.