Gongol.com Archives: March 2010
Brian Gongol

March 18, 2010

Health Do yourself a favor: Take two minutes for a self-exam today
Take a minute or two and conduct some basic self-screenings for cancer. Early detection saves lives. There's lots of misinformation about cancer that finds its way around the Internet, largely because we've been trained to wait expectantly for some sort of magic-bullet solution to cancer. But cancer risks can be significantly reduced through a balanced diet, exercise, and early detection and treatment. Meanwhile, science is making great progress towards improving genetic detection, which holds great promise for some types of cancer. Instead of forwarding hoax-ridden e-mails about "cancer cures" and false threats, people should instead remind their friends and family to assess their health once a month.

Humor and Good News Every time you make a PowerPoint, Edward Tufte kills a kitten
Tufte is an information designer who has a lot of valuable things to say about data and how we comprehend it, and he is renowned for his criticisms of PowerPoint abuse. Like all technologies, PowerPoint itself is neutral. But it's often used badly, and it's that use that causes harm.

Broadcasting Lady Gaga's epic music video: Just one big product-placement event
It's a really long music video -- about ten minutes, or getting close to the length of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". She's an intriguing artist -- seemingly well-aware of the absurdity of modern pop stardom, and willing to play the publicity like a well-tuned fiddle. It doesn't hurt that the hooks in her music (like the one in "Poker Face") are powerful earworms. Assuming she doesn't do anything colossally stupid and manages to keep generating new tunes, she'll probably be one of the artists we still recognize in 2030.

Computers and the Internet The singing man on ChatRoulette
(Video) ChatRoulette is a service that randomly connects a person's computer (including the webcam) to some other user at random. It's a novel idea, but it's also so easily abused or turned into something tawdry (it's not hard to imagine how many perverts and weirdos would like to use a service like that) that it should be considered the Internet equivalent of a seedy bar in the worst part of town. There may very well be good people hanging out, but you shouldn't send your daughter there.

Science and Technology Putting population density into perspective
At the population density of Brooklyn, the entire United States could fit inside the state of New Hampshire. On the other hand, at the much sparser population density of Nebraska (22.3 people per square mile, making it one of our less-densely populated states, though not the least-densely-populated by far), the population of the United States (308,898,000) would cover 13.8 million square miles. The entire planet has an estimated 148.94 million square kilometers, or about 57.5 million square miles. So, if we were to spread out at the rate we presently populate Nebraska, we'd take up about 24% of the available land area on the planet. One rate of population density isn't necessarily better than another -- it all depends upon how it's used.

News Truck driver appears unaware he's pushing a car sideways down the highway
Someone needs to find out what kind of tires were on the car being pushed. They appear to survive highway speeds while going sideways.

Water News Saylorville Dam might not be overtopped this coming week, but it remains a possibility.

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