Gongol.com Archives: October 2009
Brian Gongol

October 1, 2009

News Post office jury-duty wrangle-up
After a bunch of people failed to show up after receiving a summons by mail, a judge sent the bailiffs from a California county court to order anyone they saw to show up for jury duty or be sent to jail. Turns out it's a provision under California state law that he can do so. It's interesting to note how anachronistic the act seems, especially in an era when people assemble flash mobs for random acts like spontaneous-looking street dances.

Humor and Good News Nanny State Beer
For those times when you're tired of being told what to do. It's a real product, and an act of protest by a company in the heavily-regulated alcohol sector. It's good that some Westerners still bristle at government nanny-statism: More than a billion people still live under the authoritarian regime that governs China.

News Can local news be franchised like a restaurant?
An entrepreneur is putting some serious money into an effort to open local-news services (and websites) in 40 cities across the US and Canada. He'll retain ownership of the venture, but each will operate with local reporters and sales representatives. This kind of a campaign looks especially interesting in an era when some people are loudly critical of their hometown newspapers (like the long-declining Des Moines Register), and when others (like the Rocky Mountain News) have already expired.

Weather and Disasters The stories behind strange cloud formations
And in other dispatches from really eye-popping science, someone has put an enormous amount of work into an interactive Periodic Table of the Elements that far outshines any of the dull black-and-white editions found in high-school science textbooks.

Threats and Hazards UAVs are coming to America's domestic airspace
We think of unmanned aerial vehicles as the stuff of combat zones, which they mainly are. But there are surveying and engineering firms, government agencies, and probably even package-delivery companies that would assuredly like to put UAVs in the airspace above the continental United States. There's lots of value to be had there -- crop-dusting via UAV, for instance, would probably be much safer and cheaper than sending up human pilots. But it should be noted that Israel has been under threat of UAV attacks from Hezbollah since 2004, and there are undoubtedly very serious and troubling potential uses for UAVs if they were to fall into the wrong hands. Their undetectability, so valuable to the US armed forces in places like Afghanistan, also makes them a serious threat if used for malicious intent here in the United States. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be used, but it does mean someone ought to be thinking about the ramifications.

Humor and Good News What you really get when you watch NFL games on TV

Water News Tamiflu passing through wastewater treatment plants could end up creating drug-resistant flu strains

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