Gongol.com Archives: March 2010
Brian Gongol

March 26, 2010

Computers and the Internet Prepaid cards now available to buy credits for Facebook games
Perhaps the entrepreneurs creating the game should be applauded for finding a way to make money out of nothing. Perhaps they should be criticized for building time-sink applications that hoover brainpower and creativity away from more useful pursuits. Either way, no one's ever going to die wishing they'd spent more time on Farmville. We need games, to be sure -- leisure is one of the great gains of human progress. But there's something a little nefarious about games designed only to be addictive time-wasters that create residual revenues for the users. Games can do some remarkable things, though: Researchers found that playing Tetris within 6 hours of a traumatic event can dampen the impact of those disturbing memories. Apparently, the game uses the same portion of the brain that stores those visual and emotional memories and thus erects a barrier to their full impact. This raises some serious ethical questions about how far we should be willing to go to lessen the impact of the unpleasant: It's one thing to offset PTSD, but to what degree will we be interested in "erasing" memories (insofar as we will become able to do so) in the future? To what extent are good and bad memories alike responsible for forming our self-identities?

Business and Finance Ten pieces of good investing advice learned from Warren Buffett
What the article lists as rule #5 should really be the first rule: If you don't have lots of time to invest in learning (first, in developing mental models that form your approach to investing, then second to stalking and researching specific stocks), you should stick to index funds. Anyone who lacks the patience to review "What I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me About Investing When I Was 22" shouldn't be dipping a toe into the stock market.

News Times of London to start charging for content online
They're going to charge a British pound for a day's access -- about $1.50. Not likely that many people will be willing to pay that much, even for content from one of the world's best newspapers. Ironically, it's also the sale price for which a Russian businessman (and former KGB agent) just bought The Independent, another national paper in the UK. With so many newspapers in such great financial distress, it won't be surprising to find that many of them end up being snapped up at fire-sale prices by individuals with fat wallets and a personal interest in the social prestige that has always been associated with owning a newspaper. Whether those individuals try to apply their influence in good ways or bad will be a matter requiring close scrutiny in the future.

Graphics Graphic of the day: Furlong and Brennan

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