Gongol.com Archives: September 2009
Brian Gongol

September 3, 2009

Computers and the Internet Facebook fatigue has set in -- at least with some users
An article in the New York Times Magazine, self-appointed arbiter of good taste to America, notes widespread anecdotal evidence of people spending less time on Facebook or abandoning it altogether. Hardly shocking. Facebook can't remain dominant in social networking forever, and anyone who thinks otherwise is simply delusional. If it's dominant in five years, that would be a shock, and if it's still around in its present incarnation in ten would be stunning. For all the overpriced offers to buy the company, anyone who holds on to stock in Facebook hoping to become rich in 20 years is going to be sorely disappointed. Mistakes are extremely easy to make online -- there are probably a lot of television executives who have kicked themselves for letting ESPN and later YouTube get their way with niche video programming and content delivery. Facebook has made mistakes and will continue to make them in the future, and markets for online services are outrageously fickle and quick to change. And since we're living in an era when dinky car companies are piecing out a bankrupt General Motors, it should be self-evident that the mighty can and will fall when they fail to evolve. Only a very few things have endured online for long -- like Tetris. (But that may be because Tetris affects the brain on a physical level.)

News Is it possible to be less popular than the plague?
Ireland's taoiseach (prime minister) is trying, with a 15% approval rating. Japan just threw out the party that had ruled for almost 50 years non-stop and replaced it with a party whose leader is married to a woman who says she eats the Sun and has gone to Venus, so if Japanese voters' dissatisfaction is any signal, Ireland could be headed for a new government soon.

Humor and Good News Futurama is coming back to television
Comedy Central has bought 26 new episodes of the hilarious cartoon set in a dystopian future. It's the dystopian element that makes the show seem so much more real (and so much funnier) than other visions of the future. It's easy to imagine that great things are on the way (and they are), but things are going to break in the future, too. We may end up parking our electric cars in forests of solar panels to recharge, but there will still be drivers who leave their turn signals on for far too long. The future is often portrayed (as in this remake of the intro of the fantastic television show "Beyond 2000") as being mechanical and fast, but in many ways it'll also end up being organic and slow: Organic in the sense that even if we're building vertical farms and genetically modifying food crops, we still need to eat and drink and breathe naturally; slow because there's the distinct but often-overlooked possibility that we may quite likely find extraordinary ways to extend human life far beyond the current standard sub-100-year time horizon. Human life expectancy in the United States has grown from 50 to nearly 80 years in just a century. That's a 50% bonus over how long we used to live. Add another 50% in the next century, and people could be living, routinely, to 120 or more. Supposing that life expectancy reaches something we today consider outlandish (like 200), people may choose to live more slowly, in a sense, than we do today, achieving milestones like graduation from school or marriage later than we do today, and doing things other things (like travel) at slower paces when "slower" is also "safer".

News A post-Rapture pet rescue service run by atheists
If you don't believe that a Biblical "rapture" will occur (say, for instance, if you're an atheist), then it's a perfect business model to offer contract services contingent upon the passing of such an event to those who do believe.

Science and Technology Fascinating-looking jellyfish from the Antarctic waters

News Indian man arrested for marrying six different women
Really? Six different spouses? How could that possibly make any sense? No reasonable person could want six simultaneous spouses.

Humor and Good News Couple has second child delivered by the same paramedic
It's their fourth child overall. Perhaps they need to just plan better about leaving for the hospital in time.

Water News A record corn crop is possible

Humor and Good News 71-year-old former Australian Olympian disables attacker with a kick to the crotch