Gongol.com Archives: August 2010
Brian Gongol

August 3, 2010

Weather and Disasters 1,500 killed and 2.5 million affected by flooding in Pakistan
Too many people would react much differently if "Pakistan" were replaced with "California". But all lives ought to be valued, and a catastrophe of this magnitude should not go unremarked. We received remarkable volumes of rain in Iowa this summer, but although we suffered some flooding, we escaped without a terrible death toll. The lessons learned in one part of the world ought to be applied everywhere, as much as practicable. Related: Part of the reason Iowa didn't experience a repeat of the 1993 floods (despite getting a record amount of total precipitation) was that higher average temperatures caused an estimated 20% extra evaporation. Interesting.

Threats and Hazards Value of an expired US passport on eBay: $15.50
The appearance of expired passports on eBay raises some interesting quetsions, like why anyone would allow an expired document of that much importance to slip away. Identity theft is easy enough without letting your official identification get scanned and sold on eBay.

Humor and Good News The Oregon Trailer
(Video) A movie-style trailer for the classic Oregon Trail video game

Science and Technology If the traffic is too busy, build another layer
People in crowded parts of America and Japan (and probably many other places) are familiar with the use of multi-decker expressways to alleviate traffic congestion without having to encroach upon entirely new rights-of-way for roads. But in China, it's being suggested that buses built tall enough could create their own second layers of traffic right over the top of other vehicles. God help them, of course, the first time a vehicle underneath has a catastrophic tire blowout or somehow else wrecks the bus-on-stilts above, but it's fun to look at even if it seems pretty badly unpractical.

Humor and Good News The primate rescue crew
A photo that appears to be a monkey carrying a puppy is circulating with the caption that the monkey is actually rescuing the puppy from a pipeline explosion in China. True or not, it's nice to find that people still think other animals are capable of making judgments about "good" and "evil". It supports the argument that we as humans are good by our nature, and that we're not alone in that regard. If a monkey is capable of doing good without having been told to do so, and we're better judges of moral behavior than monkeys, then that would seem to cement the case. And even if it doesn't portray a heroic rescue, it's a pretty funny picture. Related: On the subject of choice, an intriguing TED Talk suggests that we do not understand very well how we make choices.

Water News From extraordinary drought straight into record levels of rain

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