Gongol.com Archives: February 2010
Brian Gongol

February 22, 2010

Science and Technology Given a magic wand, Bill Gates would pick cheap energy
Clean, cheap energy would probably do the most good of any possible economic input to the enhancement of human well-being. We need vast amounts of energy to transport ourselves and our goods (transportation which carries ideas and technology and education, as well as more mundane stuff). We need vast amounts of energy to create fertilizer (through the Haber-Bosch process, for instance) and to effectively store food as an insurance policy against disaster. And, in an ideal world, we could use unlimited energy to get machines to do our mundane tasks for us at an affordable price -- freeing humans to do the thinking and creating and innovating that will make the human race better off. And, of course, those ideas could use the electricity to run the computers to run simulations and test new ideas before we apply them to the real world, too.

Computers and the Internet The Internet may hurt struggles for democracy as much as it helps
It's easy to see the ways in which it can help -- fostering communication and discussion and aiding the spread of ideas. But its negative effects, though perhaps counterintuitive, may be just as significant: Creating internal strife among reformers where none would have otherwise existed, fostering disinformation, and encouraging reactionaries to organize just as well as reformers. In the end, ideas are what matter most. The tools those ideas use to spread may be far less significant.

Aviation News Views of the great US Air Force boneyard
Where lots of old planes go to be mothballed.

News Argentina wants to pick another fight with the UK over the Falkland Islands

The United States of America The end of the "grasshopper generation"?
Having rested on the proverbial laurels of our past productivity, the United States has a growing problem of government promises that have been financed at the expense of our future prosperity. And those problems have been worsened by the practice of directing many capable minds into unproductive activity treating business like a casino. Fortunately, though, great ideas still matter and there's no practical reason why we can't apply a little bit of willpower to the act of getting things back on track.

Water News Tougher stormwater standards could arrive in two years

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