Gongol.com Archives: January 2010
Brian Gongol

January 22, 2010

The United States of America Supreme Court strikes down lots of limits on campaign spending
People will talk at eye-watering length about how they want to take the influence of money out of politics. But the reality is that money chases power, and the only way to truly reduce the influence of money over politics is to reduce the power of politics itself. The less government is engaged in doing, the less cause there is for people to try to influence the government. Do the same people who strongly endorse campaign spending limits also cheer for the Yankees, who have a massive payroll -- but one that only accounts for 15% to 30% of their success? The best way to really take the influence of money out of Congressional politics, at least, would be to expand the size of the House of Representatives ten-fold. We currently have 435 Representatives; we should have 4,350. That would take the average number of people represented per House member to 70,000 or so, instead of the current 700,000. In other words, getting elected to the House would take about the same amount of money that it takes to run for city council in a medium-sized city like West Des Moines or Waterloo, Iowa. Increasing the number of House members would reduce the cost to get elected, increase the prospects for new people to become citizen legislators, and reduce the relative influence of each individual Representative -- while simultaneously improving the quality of representation by smashing the current network of gerrymandered districts and cutting the risk to small states that they will lose huge amounts of representation over small changes in population. (To wit: Iowa is going to lose a seat in the House after the next census, dropping from five Representatives to four. That's a 20% cut. With a larger House, the number of Representatives might more reasonably change from 50 to 45. Changes in apportionment would be far less drastic with a larger House.) What's the real objection? That it would be too difficult to find seating for 4,350 people in Washington? Poppycock: The concert hall at Kennedy Center alone seats 2,442. It's not hard to find a few more chairs and a few more offices.

Business and Finance Anything that can't go on forever will eventually stop
That includes spending like drunken sailors and failing to pay the tab

Computers and the Internet How a web design goes from quality to disaster
The evolution of design means that people learn how to do things better as time marches along. That's why artists now know how to portray motion better than painters did in the past, and how we learn to construct bridges that won't fall down. Oddly, though, lots of people who know nothing about design and layout think that being a website user qualifies them to be website designers, as though watching a basketball game qualifies one to coach a basketball game. It's not true. And, unfortunately, that's why there are so many catastrophically ugly websites on the Internet.

Computers and the Internet Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6
They claim it'll work 20% faster than the previous version of the browser

Iowa Caucus season returns to Iowa

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