Gongol.com Archives: August 2010
Brian Gongol

August 5, 2010

Business and Finance Canadian firm keeps pushing offer to take over Casey's
Americans and other heavily-indebted Westerners had better come to terms quickly with whether they're comfortable with companies being sold into foreign hands. China's sovereign-wealth fund is taking about buying a huge chunk of real estate from Harvard University's endowment, and Britain's Liverpool soccer team. They're planning to buy billions of dollars in additional assets. And many Westerners have to sell, because we simply have too much debt and can't make the payments -- on the household, corporate, and government levels alike. In the case of the Casey's offer, neither debt nor non-Western ownership is involved -- yet it's still upsetting shareholders and management who don't like the idea of "outsider" ownership. Imagine how much fiercer the resistance would be if the buyers were from China. People get uptight when their institutions change or falter -- there's a lot of disappointment in Des Moines today over the closing of a 58-year-old pizza restaurant which patrons loved for niche offerings like orange onion rings. But when we cruise along without long-term business plans and just hope that everything will turn out like a Hollywood script in the end, who are we really kidding? Debt greatly enhances risk and raises the probability of failure.

Computers and the Internet (Google) Wave goodbye
Google is giving the axe to its Wave experiment, concluding that people just haven't adopted it like they hoped, making it more of an albatross than an asset. Once again, the fickleness of the Internet consumer is such that it just seems impossible to believe that any "Internet services" business should expect sustained success for any meaningful length of time. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and all of the others really should look at non-Internet lines of business where smart people and massive computing power could still turn a profit.

The United States of America Birthright citizenship is no "mistake"
Despite what some Senate leaders are trying to say to the contrary, the notion of birthright citizenship in the United States is no mistake -- it's the Fourteenth Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

The United States of America More evidence supporting the need for a larger Congress
Almost 310 million people live in the United States. 62 million live in the UK. But the British Parliament has 650 seats in its lower house, while the US has just 435. We should have far more people in Congress -- not because we need more politicians, per se, but because a larger House would mean smaller districts, and it's easier for challengers to unseat incumbents in smaller districts. Smaller districts means more direct contact with one's elected officials and smaller campaign budgets. A larger House would mean that redistricting wouldn't take Iowa's House delegation from 5 to 4 in 2012, but from something like 50 to 45. A larger Congress would be better for America.

Computers and the Internet The Big Bang at the International Video Game Hall of Fame
Putting Ottumwa, Iowa, on the video gamer's map

Weather and Disasters NOAA says there's still lots of time left for the Atlantic tropical-weather season to get ugly
Despite what's seemed to the novice observer as a relatively quiet hurricane season, they say "There remains a high likelihood that the season could be very active, with the potential of being one of the more active on record."

Water News The trouble with sandbags: Sometimes they become health hazards

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