Gongol.com Archives: June 2010
Brian Gongol

June 28, 2010

Threats and Hazards Even cops get busted by red-light and speed-control cameras
The city of Cedar Rapids has installed a bunch of creepy surveillance cameras to monitor traffic and issue tickets. And among those being hit with violations are the local police.

Business and Finance A depression, really?
Paul Krugman argues that the world economy is in the starting stages of a great depression, and in turn suggests that massive government spending is necessary. That's a classic Keynesian response. But it ignores the fact that investors worldwide are quite well-aware that many governments are deeply indebted and quite seriously need to reduce spending in order to remain credible about their plans to actually repay any of that debt. It's entirely possible that a double-dip recession, but the real question is whether that kind of outcome is best averted by governments continuing to spend at non-credible rates, or by taking intelligent steps to secure private-sector growth. The bottom line is that it simply is not credible for governments to run up debts that rival and exceed total annual incomes -- certainly not when those debts are built on structural deficits (like America's, thanks to our promises to pay lots of entitlements to retirees without setting aside the money to pay for those entitlements while the entitlees are working). If this were all about building roads and dams, the debts could be justified. But they're not. That makes them fundamentally unsustainable. And incredibly stupid decisions, like Britain's plan to limit the in-migration of skilled workers, just make the problems worse. The world is trying to export its brainpower to Britain, and the UK turning that brainpower away. How fundamentally absurd. It would look even more absurd by comparison, were the United States not similarly hostile to letting in all the smart people who want to move here.

Business and Finance Is the White House really committed to a "strong and stable" BP?
The President met with British Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the problems with the company and its management of the oil spill, but Downing Street claims they agreed that they want the company to be "strong and stable". If the President really expects to get $20 billion out of the company for fixing the damage caused by the spill, then he certainly does want the company to remain afloat. But the language used to address the spill and its cleanup has been more of retribution and anger than problem-solving. That's too bad, because it needlessly damages the company without resulting in any real correction to the problem.

Broadcasting The voice of your GPS
A New York Times columnist, opining on the value of a good female voice in his automotive GPS, confers with a Stanford communications professor who makes a very odd claim: "[F]inding a female voice that is pleasing to almost everyone is infinitely easier than finding a male voice." Really? That runs contrary to just about every other observation in history. Women's voices are nitpicked vastly more than men's voices (consider how often words like "shrill" are applied to famous women like Hillary Clinton when the same is almost never done to men). Consider further how male voices are vastly more likely to be used than female voices throughout radio and television. The truth is that we seem to like certain female voices quite a lot, but hate many more. It's much easier to come up with a long list of great male voices than great female voices -- at least for speaking voices -- and the professor's claim to the contrary is one of the oddest assertions ever.

Health Hormone test can accurately predict when a woman's biological clock will run out of time
It's just a blood test, but it can help predict the arrival of menopause with considerable accuracy

Science and Technology The risks of high-speed rail
High-speed trains are treated like a holy grail, but the fact is that we probably haven't done nearly enough to make them sufficiently safe to use in the United States.

Business and Finance The US Mint's collection of old coin designs

Water News How to select a well pump

Feedback link