Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

The United States of America Rubin and O'Neill agree: Fix taxes and start cutting the deficit
Two former Secretaries of the Treasury are talking sensibly: They know the government can't just ratchet up taxes or slash spending quite immediately without putting a pretty unpleasant pinch on the middle class. But they also know that the current spending pattern simply can't be allowed to go on forever. Our status as a debtor nation is a serious threat to American well-being.

The United States of America The Federal debt is equal to $1,800 for every second that has passed since the US declared independence in 1776
Do the math: Current Federal debt: $13,310,887,351,665.80. Seconds since independence was declared: 7,387,372,800. Then try to comprehend how much money that really represents.

News Not the way to stripe a parking lot
The wrong paint sends the wrong message

Water News We get it, Nature: Time to knock it off with the rain

Health Young adults go uninsured because of income
The cost of insurance, not the need for it, is what appears to drive whether young adults are covered

News A folding-chair trolley that might actually make you break down in tears

Computers and the Internet One measuring service says Android phones are used more than iPhones
Though, in terms of total sales, BlackBerry might still be the overall leader. The only important takeaway from all of this is that competition has been very, very good for the consumer.

Humor and Good News A scientific typo
The Large Hadron Collider could be something very different with an inverted pair of letters

Water News The wettest year-so-far in recorded Iowa history

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The American Way Want to stop a fight? Just lay down clear ground rules.
Wind turbines make enough noise that some neighbors will complain. In Oregon, the state has laid down laws on industrial noise that are clear enough that the builders of new wind turbines are paying the neighbors to put up with the sound. It's the market system at work.

Health Newts can regenerate limbs -- why not mammals?
Researchers at Stanford think they've figured out why not us -- because mammals have certain proteins circulating in our bodies which prevent cells from growing quickly. So they tried suppressing the proteins and successfully did so in mice, generating new muscle tissue. The key, of course, is to keep the replication from going awry and turning into cancer. It's highly promising, though.

News Moscow subway station has artwork that's too depressing
It's based upon Dostoevsky's work, and some people are concerned that the artwork is so depressing that it will cause passengers to commit suicide (which apparently happens with some frequency there anyway). Meanwhile, the rest of Moscow is seeing a doubling of the normal death rate because of all the pollution in the air caused by nearby wildfires.

The United States of America Why won't Americans use the $1 coin?
The Federal Reserve is sitting on $1.1 billion in unused dollar coins, because we're too fickle to use them -- even though they last longer and are a much better value to produce than dollar bills. Perhaps it's time to phase out the dollar bill, increase production of the $2 bill, and mint only dollar coins instead. We don't have to stop printing the dollar bill altogether, but if it's becoming too costly to keep circulating it, we should start working on alternatives.

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Health Bacteria are becoming rapidly antibiotic-resistant
One scientist thinks we have about ten years left with most antibiotics before they become ineffective

Computers and the Internet Trojan horse attack steals $1 million from UK bank accounts
It's a bank heist that didn't require masks or guns: Keylogging and password-sniffing malware dumped on users' computers via online advertising services. Use a limited-access account and don't visit websites that don't earn your trust.

News Putin just can't help showing how manly he is
Russia's prime minister (and once and future president) "helped" fight the wildfires there by flying a tanker plane overhead to drop water on the fires. Talk about your modern-day propaganda machine. The White House has nothing on these people.

Computers and the Internet Germany is considering new rules restricting Google Street View

Computers and the Internet Omaha couple victimized by Craigslist scam
Don't accept real-looking checks until you're sure they've cleared. The couple got taken for what looked like a legitimate insurance voucher.

Science and Technology Human ancestors used tools a million years before we thought they did
In fact, that's so early that it suggests that early tool use by pre-humans may have defined the route that evolution took to get to us

Water News Why is Ames flooded?
Because they got two months' worth of rain in three days

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Computers and the Internet "Now the worst thing you've done is often the first thing everyone knows about you"
Now that everything seems to leave behind a digital footprint, we probably need to re-think just how seriously we take whatever we discover about other people online. A little more forgiveness may be in order now, even if we can't forget.

Health Non-muscle cells can become heart cells with the right genetic reprogramming
And they don't even have to return to a stem-cell-like state first

Science and Technology World population graphed by longitude and latitude
Simply overlaying a graph of the world's population by each of latitude and longitude atop a map of the world gives one a fascinating perspective on where all the people are. They're not necessarily where we tend to think they are.