Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Health Rattan wood can be made into a bone substitute
(Video) All potential jokes about peg-legged pirates notwithstanding, it's excellent news. The transformation takes about ten days and results in a bone substitute with a lot of properties quite favorable for long-term repair.

News Is the New York Times a "freeloader"?
Writer and consultant Virginia Postrel says the paper is freeloading on content produced by well-regarded freelance writers

Humor and Good News "Tainted Love" with a 1930s feel
(Video) It's pretty funny to hear a 1930s-style remake of a song from the 1980s which itself was a remake of a song from 1964

Broadcasting Notes from the Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 3, 2010

Threats and Hazards Irish atheists challenge anti-blasphemy laws
They've published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes in a direct challenge to a new law that prohibits statements "insulting" to any religion. Aside from the absurd way in which it violates the principles of individual freedom of thought and expression, it's also an utterly impractical rule: Even the most religious person is an atheist about all gods except his or her own. Any statement of faith that excludes other faiths is, in fact, blasphemous to those other faiths. And, lest anyone believe that this is a problem exclusive to a place like Ireland, there are quite a few Americans who would enthusiastically endorse an anti-blasphemy statute.

Business and Finance A logo is not a brand
Anyone who thinks that all they need to build a mighty company is to apply a magnificent logo is sorely mistaken. Eastern Air Lines had not one, but two excellent logos, but it went into bankruptcy. Berkshire Hathaway, on the other hand, has no real logo, but is one of the world's 25 largest companies.

Threats and Hazards Automakers think that intellectual property laws cover how to fix a car
Absurd? Most likely. But Congress has been stupid enough to pass the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which pretty much ensures that copyright terms last well beyond any reasonable "sell-by" date, which has a terrible chilling effect on the spread of knowledge.

Humor and Good News Ranking the decades

Humor and Good News Save the environment: Drive a car that runs on self-righteousness

Water News Valley Junction may have narrowly escaped a catastrophic fire

Science and Technology The Burj Not-Dubai-Anymore opens
The world's tallest freestanding building is now open for business, but no longer under the name "Burj Dubai." It was renamed the Burj Khalifa in honor of the ruler of neighboring Abu Dhabi, who has been bailing out Dubai as its economic bubble bursts. Meanwhile, the Chicago Spire is still just a hole in the ground and lacks a similarly cash-rich neighbor to help bail it out. The official height of the tower is 2,716 feet -- more than half a mile high -- and the grand opening involved fireworks up and down that massive height. Undoubtedly, other massive skyscrapers will be built -- but it's really hard to figure out why, since they usually just stand as monuments to excess just before a bust. Someday, the Burj Khalifa will outlive its usefulness and have to be dismantled. Just try pondering how that'll happen. We don't rarely even take reasonable steps like requiring demolition bonds to set aside funds for the dismantling of much smaller buildings here in the US. In a not-altogether-unrelated vein, Emirates Air has done some crazy things to deck out the absurdly oversized Airbus A380.

Science and Technology The Pentagon is looking for a high-efficiency flying car
Not only do they want a vehicle that can off-road and fly like a helicopter, they want it to get a full mission done on a single tank of gas.

Computers and the Internet An early review of Google's new Nexus phone
"[A]n Android clone of the iPhone" is now on the market. As predicted some time ago, the iPhone has attracted a lot of competitors, and that's outstanding news for consumers.

Broadcasting Walter Cronkite's voice is retired from CBS
Almost half a year after his death, Cronkite will no longer introduce Katie Couric's evening newscast

News Some questions that linger about the attempted Detroit airliner bombing
Like, why was Detroit targeted? Jokes about the condition of the city notwithstanding, it doesn't seem to be a likely kind of target. More important, though, is this question: Why are we still suffering communications failures within the intelligence community more than eight years after the 9/11 attacks? It ought to be devastatingly clear that the government is not capable of "protecting" the public as well as politicians might want us to believe. So the next time they demand greater power and control, the voters ought to ask what reason we have to be confident that we'll gain any greater security out of the exchange.

Business and Finance Waterford Crystal is now gone from Ireland forever

Business and Finance Ram truck line to be split off from Dodge
The spin doesn't make a lot of sense: The truck is known as the "Dodge Ram" -- two syllables, which is just right. Who calls it just a "Ram"? The benefits of the Ram truck line boosted the value of the Dodge brand, so why make the split? Should Nissan have split off a separate brand for the Z?

News What got resolved in Copenhagen?

Water News Highway sound barriers might also be serving as pollution barriers

Science and Technology New space telescope finds five more new planets
It's estimated that we Earthlings have found 422 planets outside the Solar System so far. 422! The really mind-boggling part is that we only found the first solid evidence of exoplanets in 1989.

Broadcasting On-demand radio: How much of the last decade's economic growth has been phony?

Broadcasting On-demand radio: The Mac-vs-PC debate

Humor and Good News The best episode yet of "Better Off Ted"
(Video) It's almost as funny as a music video starring a bunch of chimps and monkeys

The American Way January 2010 edition of the EconDirectory
Hundreds of sites where links, commentary, and analysis about business and economics are updated regularly. Others call it the "econoblogosphere", but that's a painfully clunky and jargon-drenched phrase. But if there's a definitive directory to this medium, it's here.

Water News Why knock-off products are bad for consumers

Computers and the Internet Google's new smartphone: An attempt to stay dominant in search
One prediction would have one billion people using mobile broadband by 2012. That's a true technological revolution, considering Americans barely had the capacity to send text messages (SMS) by mobile phone in the year 2000. But mobile Internet access is so enriching that it's impossible to see this trend reversing course. So if Google wants to be competitive in the world of making money from those mobile broadband users, then one choice was obviously to start making and selling an Internet-enabled phone. But it also helps to illustrate why nobody should expect Google to be dominant in Internet search in 2020. The market is too dynamic for dominance to be held for a long time. Unlike the market for disposable razors, where innovation means adding another blade, the markets for Internet access, online advertising, and smartphone service will all be entirely different in 2020 than they are today. Staying on top of any of those markets will be a profound and expensive challenge for Google.

The United States of America Why does anyone think the United States is done growing?
The European Union continues to expand, with the accession of Turkey just one among many scenarios under consideration. The Association of South East Asian Nations is building a free-trade bloc and is aiming for a regional union modeled, in part, on the EU. And stories of both pan-Arabian union and pan-African union have been promoted for some time, even up to the present day. Why, then, wouldn't anyone expect the United States to continue expanding as well? The reality is that the US should make a standing offer of accession to any other nation, with only a handful of basic preconditions attached. We should be shocked if we reach the centennial of Hawaiian statehood in 2059 without a few more stars on the flag.

Threats and Hazards The return of the "somebody do something" fallacy
The reaction to the failed attempt on the Northwest flight in Detroit seems much to close to what the terrorist probably wanted us to do.

Science and Technology The story of the smallest planet found outside the Solar System

Science and Technology A visually luxurious look at the history of the world's subway systems

Water News The case for an Iowa water-management plan

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Humor and Good News The Onion: "Rural Nebraskan Not Sure He Could Handle Frantic Pace Of Omaha"
Go ahead. Make fun of the Midwest all you like. Just don't forget that a disproportionate number of America's great investors, for instance, have set up shop well outside the Wall Street nexus, and in so doing have contributed to a much smarter long-term perspective than tends to prevail in the parts of the country where "Midwestern values" don't prevail.

Humor and Good News It's definitely not spelled "definately"

Broadcasting How Craig Ferguson got to be the funniest man on late-night television

Iowa Snowstorm leads to 3500 calls to Iowa State Patrol

News Some very attractive typefaces from 2009

Water News The most unusual instance of land application in a long time

Broadcasting Show notes from the WHO Radio Wise Guys - January 9, 2010
And this time, it even includes a video special of two grown men blowing bubbles. But for a good reason.