Gongol.com Archives: April 2010
Brian Gongol

April 27, 2010

Computers and the Internet How PowerPoint dependency leads to bad military policy
Too many meetings and too many decisions use PowerPoint templates to guide decision-making. More often than not, a meeting is a poor substitute for a short written report. Written reports insist upon accountability; meetings are a great way for people to defer decision-making.

Business and Finance But what are you really doing with your mind?
The Goldman Sachs hearings are turning into a classic display of grandstanding versus defensiveness. It's entirely possible that some people inside the banking industry did things that were contrary to the best interests of their customers. Australia, in reaction to that sort of problem, has probably gone a little too far with a new law which prohibits financial advisors from earning commissions on the financial products they sell. Yet it's also quite likely that many of the politicians grandstanding on the matter neither know enough about economics to serve any real purpose in "investigating" the subject, nor have a leg to stand on when it comes to the responsible fiduciary care of other people's money. After all, Congress has been actively responsible for creating a $13 trillion Federal debt, and has done everything possible to avoid dealing with the fiscal calamities in Medicare and Social Security -- both of which are turning into investment disasters of a magnitude much greater than just about anything anyone can do in the private sector. Perhaps the real tragedy in all this is that so many people with real intelligence and the capacity to produce great ideas of real practical use have been burning their precious days on this planet trying to figure out new ways to scheme a living out of the complexities of the financial markets -- rather than producing the good practical ideas we as a species need in order to thrive. We need fewer options traders and more engineers. Bill Gates, for instance, needs real help eradicating polio.

Humor and Good News Wife-in-a-box
An artist imagines what future android women might look like. Odd and weirdly amusing at the same time. But it doesn't take a lot of artistic license to see that robotics could be making life a lot easier in a lot of different ways, using existing technology.

Aviation News China's out to screw American Airlines
The airline was planning to launch direct service from Chicago to Beijing -- but Chinese authorities gave the airline some pretty ludicrous middle-of-the-night landing and departure times. It sounds sneaky and underhanded.

Computers and the Internet If it's anywhere on the Internet, someone will eventually find it
A programmer at Google found a way to get access to information on Facebook that people thought they were sharing only with their friends. It's no surprise, of course: These kinds of discoveries are almost routine by now. But what they tell us is that nobody should assume that anything they put on the Internet -- even behind passwords and privacy protections -- is entirely safe. That doesn't mean we shouldn't use tools like online banking -- those services have a self-policing responsibility to keep that private information as safe as possible. But as for everything else, like Facebook and Twitter and password-protected message boards, the lesson is that it only takes one mistake on the part of the website manager to turn what you thought was a private comment into something available to the entire Internet. Don't trust them; don't put anything up that you wouldn't want to see on a digital billboard somewhere in a large city. Once something is on the Internet anywhere, it should be assumed that it's on the Internet everywhere.

Humor and Good News Snake -- on an apartment-building scale
(Video) On a scale of 1 to awesome, it's at least an 8.

Water News Iowa DNR says the state of the water environment is poor but getting better

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