Gongol.com Archives: July 2010
Brian Gongol

July 12, 2010

Computers and the Internet How much does the NSA know about what's on the Internet?
A Wall Street Journal report on a project (rather ominously) called "Perfect Citizen" suggests that the government agency is setting up a huge network to monitor Internet activity to detect electronic terrorism. There's no doubt we need to monitor that technology because it most certainly is under threat now more than ever. But it's also imperative that someone supervise the agencies doing the work, just as the military is supervised by civilian officials.

Business and Finance Credit scores are spreading out
More people are getting high scores, and more people getting low scores. The normal distribution curve is being challenged. But it's clear that banks are finally getting to the point where they have to start lending out some money again; people with high scores are getting calls and mailings again offering them large personal loans -- even when the consumer isn't looking for one.

News Iranian village built into cone-shaped formations of volcanic ash
Photographs are circulating on the Internet portraying the photos as a depiction of life in Afghanistan. The truth is more interesting.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft kills off its "Kin" smartphone
It was only on the market for a few weeks. Perhaps it's a sign that Microsoft is having trouble coming up with a competitive idea in the fastest-growing area of new consumer technology right now. Or maybe it's just a sign that they were willing to conduct an experiment and are smart enough to pull the plug quickly when it looks like a flop. Microsoft and Google alike are facing a bunch of unusual problems right now -- Google has just had its license renewed to operate in China. The potential gains and losses these companies face from market forces as fickle as the whims of China's Communist Party are pretty staggering.

Broadcasting 70th anniversary of a wartime broadcast
Charles de Gaulle's broadcast via the BBC to occupied France is an example of the power of international public diplomacy. The BBC was an excellent tool of empire for Britain while it was such a power, and it remains a hugely influential tool of public affairs for the country today.

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