Gongol.com Archives: December 2009
Brian Gongol

December 27, 2009

News How the Iranian government could be setting itself up to fail
Intriguing analysis suggests that attacks by the Iranian government on religious institutions may very well incite a popular revolt that will overthrow the Supreme Leader and his cohort faster than a reformist movement ever could. If you're an American and you care about the price of oil (and thus the price of gas), or you worry about nuclear war, or you are concerned about the American troops in the Middle East, or you think about visiting Jerusalem someday, or you care about the future of a just and free world, then this situation ought to rank a little higher on your priority list than who's on the next season of "American Idol".

Computers and the Internet Twitter, viewed through rose-colored glasses
Is Twitter a "human seismograph"? Maybe. It's not bad for sampling the zeitgeist, that's for certain. But to say that "the Twitter economy is burgeoning" overstates the case considerably. Twitter serves a moderately useful function today -- but it's far from indispensable (if 18 million people use the service, that means 6,774,000,000 don't), and there's nothing about the service that is sufficiently unique as to form an economic "moat" (a competitive advantage that keeps competitors out). Twitter is plagued by outages and growing pains, and some of its conventions, like the "hashtag", are too confusing for first-time users to understand intuitively. And if something doesn't make intuitive sense without explanation, it faces an uphill battle to gain further adoption. Twitter does some good, and there's no doubt that some form of microblogging will always be around. But to think that Twitter is sufficiently important, significant, or durable as to create its own "economy" is wishful thinking of a very high order.

Business and Finance How much of the US economy has been "phony" for the last quarter-century?
ISU economist Dave Swenson thinks the answer is, "quite a lot of it"

Humor and Good News The campaign to put pants on Ziggy
Stephan Pastis, of "Pearls Before Swine", conducted a cartoon "campaign" to put pants on Ziggy. He involved the artist behind "Ziggy", and got a joke about dry cleaning in the process before getting pants on the pants-less.

Business and Finance Portfolio rebalancing: Why bother?
Even though it's widely recommended that investors "rebalance" their portfolios each year, taking profits by selling some of the winners and pouring those funds into lagging sectors or markets in anticipation that they'll catch up thanks to the law of averages, the whole idea of rebalancing is a poor substitute for careful analysis of the full range of investment opportunities at hand. If one is investing for the long-term, then one really ought to be reluctant to sell anything from one's portfolio, even if it's performed well. Should the Yankees get rid of Mariano Rivera just because he's been pitching extremely well since 1995? That hardly makes sense. Instead, what's wise is to find the best opportunities at a given moment and stock up -- just like a smart shopper might stock up on non-perishable items like paper towels or light bulbs when a good sale rolls around.

Computers and the Internet What people in 1969 thought the Internet would someday look like
(Video) Turns out, they got the gist of it

Health A few suggestions for living more happily in 2010

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