Gongol.com Archives: January 2009
Brian Gongol

January 15, 2009

Aviation News Everything happens for the world to see
Today's remarkable plane crash in New York City -- in which no one was killed, among other amazing factors -- was in part captured in a photo from a mobile-phone camera. The pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, is reported to have walked the aisles twice before leaving the plane to make sure everyone had escaped, after putting the aircraft down on the water so well that the fuselage wasn't broken. Everything can be recorded and even transmitted in almost-real-time from virtually anywhere on the planet. It's truly remarkable -- but in our wonderment with the technology, we still need to offer high praise to the humans involved who kept an accident from turning into a tragedy.

Weather and Disasters Researchers think water behind China's Zipingpu dam might've triggered last year's huge Sichuan earthquake
The article is only available behind a pay gateway, but here's what can be established without the paper: The dam is located near the epicenter of the earthquake, and it apparently holds back enough water to flood a city of half a million people. If it holds back 1.112 billion cubic meters of water, as advertised, then that's 1.112 trillion kilograms of water (it's 1,000 kg per cubic meter). For the English-system world, that would be 2.451 trillion pounds. Is 2.451 trillion pounds enough to move a tectonic plate? Maybe. The dam itself sustained serious damage, and the event certainly ought to have drawn attention to what could happen if something destructive ever happens near the Three Gorges Dam. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed in an instant.

Computers and the Internet Obama campaign resumes using its Twitter account
It's out with the first update since November 5th with some items on the inaugural. Whether the campaign keeps using it consistently throughout the President-elect's term in office will be a fascinating piece to watch. Also fascinating to watch: How long will it take for the DTV transition to come true?

News Strange times in the newspaper business get even stranger
The Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post may be talking about sharing news coverage. Meantime, a billionaire former KGB agent is buying the London Evening Standard. For reference, the Evening Standard has a circulation of about 279,000 copies a day. If it were in the United States, that would make it the #25 paper in the nation. What makes the Evening Standard situation especially interesting is how it highlights the questions that should be asked about newspaper ownership. With many American newspapers in financial trouble, they may represent a special bargain-basement buying opportunity for foreign governments (particularly those with big sovereign-wealth funds) looking to improve their public-relations standing in the US. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune just filed for bankruptcy. Don't think strange things couldn't happen. Today's economic situation is already being compared to Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged", and not entirely without reason.

News What's wrong with you people?
(Video) The stunt motorcyclist who jumped up and down 300 feet on New Year's Eve really ought to have his head examined. Thrills ought to come a little easier than that.

Water News Remarkable cold creates water headaches