Gongol.com Archives: July 2010
Brian Gongol

July 6, 2010

Business and Finance Are investment banks caught in a permanent feedback loop of volatility?
It's an interesting perspective: Michael Lewis suggests that the investment banks are structurally trapped in a wild oscillation back and forth between obscene profits and the imminent danger of collapse. That condition, it should be noted, makes the "investment" part of "investment bank" an oxymoron: Nothing which is perpetually at risk of total failure is even remotely similar to being what we should classically refer to as an "investment." Investments should, by definition, be stable and long-term oriented -- like an oak tree. What "investment" banks do that leads to the wild oscillations is much more like gambling.

The United States of America US Postal Service faces a $7 billion loss in 2010
So they're looking for a 2-cent increase in the price of first-class postage

Computers and the Internet One enormously (and unintentionally) dangerous smartphone application
A free application called "Grindr" uses GPS features in cell phones to allow people to post their photos and profiles and indicate that they're looking for sex. Moral considerations aside, it could be a very dangerous application. At first, of course, it will be used for its intended purpose. But it's impossible to imagine it not attracting sexual predators, criminals, and stalkers. And since the application is targeted at the gay community (with the intention of opening to straight participants by the end of 2010), it's almost certain that a violent homophobe is going to use it to pick targets, just like the Craigslist killer allegedly did. There's such a thing as sharing far too much information, and broadcasting anonymously your precise location and interest in casual sex is one of those things. People are already sharing far too much information about their private lives via Facebook and Twitter. The addition of geolocation (the use of GPS to tell other people where you are in real time) opens up a whole basket of risks that we really need to consider carefully before using freely. That was the point of PleaseRobMe.com. And if some predictions come true and this blend of geolocation and social networking becomes literally a thing we wear, we're going to need to scrutinize it closely before adopting it enthusiastically.

Broadcasting Canadian police radios are being jammed by criminals
The police say they're having radio transmissions and cell-phone calls jammed by $80 electronics that crooks are using to disrupt communications

Humor and Good News The annotated "Touch of Grey"
It's a catchy tune, to be sure. Probably the best Grateful Dead song for non-Deadheads.

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