Gongol.com Archives: February 2010
Brian Gongol

February 5, 2010

Science and Technology Celebrating the 130th anniversary of the first electric streetlights
It started in Wabash, Indiana, and it would likely be difficult to overstate just how significant a development electric streetlights really were. Today, we take streetlights utterly for granted. Yet they really were a revolution. We should acknowledge just how exciting are many of the developments we're witnessing today: Terrible diseases are being cured, human lifespans are growing significantly, we're producing more food with fewer inputs than ever, new tools for energy production are being developed at a rapid clip, and we're aggregating the world's knowledge via the Internet. This is the most exciting time in all of human history, and it contains the greatest amount of potential for good. Pessimists be damned; these are awesome times. Problems abound, but so do the tools to fix them.

Business and Finance Higher debt means lower growth
Some prominent economists are starting to speak up about the really awful degree to which the United States, in the public, private, and household sectors alike, has been racking up a debt burden that is difficult to sustain. Whether there's really a "tipping point" at a certain ratio of debt to national income may be in debate (some say we're approaching just such a tipping point, where the national government's debts are equal to 90% of gross domestic product), but there's no question that borrowing on the scale we've seen (again, across all three sectors) has to be slowed and at least partially reversed. Some people think that we're in the middle of a circular firing squad of debt bombs that are ready to start a cascading trigger effect. That's probably a little too pessimistic; after all, if the debtors go into a rage of self-destruction, the lenders go into crisis as well...and we're all sharing the same global economy. But practical individuals today ought to be looking to deleverage themselves from debt, and probably ought to be seeking investments that are similarly independent of debt. The highly-leveraged are going to be in a world of trouble sooner or later. Probably sooner.

Humor and Good News People respond to incentives
(Video) It's one of Greg Mankiw's ten principles of economics, and it's illustrated with hilarious results in a Bud Light viral commercial in which an office clothing drive incentivizes giving through the reward of beer

Aviation News The Strategic Air Command may be back from the dead
At least, in a sense. The Air Force folded SAC into the Air Combat Command at the end of the Cold War, which SAC has been credited with having ended. Now, the Air Force is creating the Global Strike Command to basically do what the Strategic Air Command used to do. It's certainly captured the attention of the people inside the Air Force.

News Help desk: How to get cell phone service overseas

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