Gongol.com Archives: October 2010
Brian Gongol

October 22, 2010

Socialism Doesn't Work Don't "friend" the Communist Party on Facebook
In Vietnam, the government is using social-networking tools to spy on its people -- which highlights the risk to Americans and others that "friending" anyone on Facebook (or any other site) may reveal more information to the other party than one might intend to. Everyone needs a litmus test by which to decide whom to "friend" and whom not -- whether that's "people I know from school" or "people I've been drinking with" or "people whom I'd trust with my wallet", and then that litmus test needs to be applied consistently. Lots of groups and organizations use the back-door method of creating individual profiles on Facebook instead of creating group profiles, and that method means that their "friends" aren't even protected by Facebook's rather weak privacy protections against abuse by groups, since the same protections don't apply to individual user accounts. God help anyone who would "friend" the Communist Party anywhere -- or one's own government. Your government is never your friend; it is only a tool to be used for your own protection against anarchy and oppression.

Humor and Good News Sometimes, the engineers are the real heroes
An engineer from Boeing noticed another driver swerving erratically and realized the driver had passed out at the wheel -- so he pulled a stunt move to bring the other car to a halt before it crashed through an intersection and killed somebody. This is the kind of story teachers ought to use in physics classes to show that acceleration isn't just an academic subject. On a related popular-science note, some researchers have figured out how quickly a dog of a given size must shake to get rid of the maximum amount of water on its fur. The video is absolutely worth viewing, if only for the point at which a graph appears on screen comparing the rotational speed of a golden retriever to a salad spinner.

The United States of America Why Nebraskans were long prohibited from buying stuff sold on TV
Because the Strategic Air Command was located in Omaha, the state was served by a lot more phone lines than it ordinarily needed during the Cold War. Between a surplus of phone lines and a lack of a regional accent, the state was ideal for handling the call centers needed to serve the (800) lines people would call to place those orders. But the peculiarities of the Bell System during that era meant that people living in Nebraska couldn't call the same (800) number as the rest of the country, so to prevent confusion, the ads just said they couldn't call at all. Nebraska remains a major call-center state, even though the Cold War has been over for 20 years, which only goes to show that we continue doing a lot of things well after the initial reason for having done so has gone away.

Broadcasting Tribune Company dumps Randy Michaels
Just because a person is CEO doesn't mean they no longer have to behave like an adult