Gongol.com Archives: May 2010
Brian Gongol

May 13, 2010

Business and Finance Vending machines for gold
They're being installed from Germany to Abu Dhabi. To even begin to comment on the ridiculousness of a machine like this would take forever. As a novelty, perhaps gold has some utility. But gold is a terrible investment. If someone were selling boxes of staplers as a "hedge against inflation", most reasonable people would laugh them off. After all, a stapler is just a piece of metal that sits around most of the time, doing nothing. Yet that's all gold is, too. Gold has very limited intrinsic usefulness -- people get porcelain fillings in their teeth, and we don't need it that much for anything industrial. It's pretty, but so is crystal. And as an inflation hedge, it's quite silly: Most people don't have enough money to make saving 10% of it in the form of gold to leave them with much of anything (if you only have $50,000 to your name, what use would $5,000 in gold be after some kind of apocalypse?). And anyone for whom 10% of their wealth can be stored away in something that just sits around doing nothing already has very little to worry about. People shouldn't be scared by gold merchants into buying a relatively useless metal because of their fears of inflation. If you're really worried about the value of your money, it's best to get that money into productive assets -- like shares in companies that can raise their prices along with inflation. And if it's the end-of-the-world, collapse-of-all-economies scenario that one is worried about, a few hundred dollars invested in taking some trade classes at a community college would go a whole lot farther towards ensuring one could survive some nightmarish economic depression (or worse) than a big pile of gold coins. No sensible person in a nightmarish collapse-of-civilization scenario would accept gold as a medium of exchange: Who knows how to tell the difference between real gold and fool's gold? But if the economy really were to collapse, people would turn to trade and barter. Useful skills and productive assets make vastly more sense than speculation in odd metals.

The United States of America Policy on avoiding civilian deaths in Afghanistan is a big departure from historical precedent
The US military policy in Afghanistan today emphasizes using firepower under much more limited circumstances than in the past; the idea is to limit civilian casualties and thus win over the support of local non-combatants. It marks a pretty dramatic departure from the mentality of the Vietnam War-era marching song "Napalm Sticks to Kids". Whether it will actually lead to a better outcome for US forces and for the world at large remains to be seen.

The American Way Why ingenuity will ensure we have a better future
...even if a lot more people are sharing the world's resources

Health Chemical solution can keep organs alive for 10 days outside the body
Outstanding news: It extends the viability of harvested organs from hours to days, making more and better transplant options possible. Now we just need to find better ways of producing synthetic or bio-engineered organs so that we don't have to wait for donors

Humor and Good News Wedding photos that will make you question the future of civilization
If these are the people getting married and having children, then we might be doomed

Broadcasting Radio on-demand: Who's being overpaid in the world today?

Water News Flash flooding out east

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