Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

The American Way The EconDirectory for September 2010
Hundreds of websites with opinions, news, and commentary on business and economics

Humor and Good News The funniest car review ever
(Video) Few cars get tested for their worthiness as amphibious assault vehicles

News The humanitarian crisis in Pakistan
The immediate disaster caused by flooding is being compounded by the inadequacy of the humanitarian response

Science and Technology Video of gorillas in the wild
(Video) Because there's always something interesting about watching our evolutionary cousins in their natural habitat

Humor and Good News How the Stivers Ford jingle came into being
(Video) The (un)true story of how a local car commercial found its jingle

Health Aspirin: Good for those who think they're having heart attacks
But variations on an e-mail recommending the use of aspirin for this purpose also tend to get littered with junk advice, like a (pointless) suggestion that the heart attack victim not lie down. More than anything, the key is to initiate the emergency response by calling 911 and requesting an ambulance. A follow-up aspirin probably helps.

Broadcasting Legal IDs from radio stations all over America
The top-of-the-hour ID required by the FCC is one of those artifacts of culture that most people probably don't even notice in their daily lives, but they offer radio stations the opportunity to show some character

Broadcasting The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - September 5, 2010
The full show, broken into four pieces: people leaving food behind in the studios, the need for median barriers on our expressways, the amazingly low price of high technology today, and a couple of alternative ideas to highway median safety.

Broadcasting The WHO Radio Wise Guys - August 28, 2010
The complete show, in segments: getting computers covered by homeowners' insurance, the Droid X (part 1), the Droid X (part 2), how to fix a broken T9 dictionary, how to fix a broken laptop screen, the value of online education, and the FAA finally approves the use of GPS for airliners

News Hizzoner the Mayor finally decides he's ruled Chicago for long enough
Richard Daley says he's not running for re-election as mayor of Chicago next year. That would mean it's the end of his more-than-two-decade time running the Windy City.

Business and Finance New suitor says it wants to buy out Casey's
The convenience store chain has been fighting hard to stay out of the hands of Couche-Tard, but the company says it's actually talking to a company offering just 4% more than Couche-Tard.

Socialism Doesn't Work Old-school socialist-flavored unionism is still around
A photo from the BBC (the last in a slideshow about a strike against the London Underground) includes the flags of Cuba and the PLO, and a fist smashing a swastika. How odd. They're fighting the battles of the last century, it would seem.

News Putin could be running Russia until 2024
It's looking like they're setting him up to run for the Russian presidency again in 2012, which would give him the chance to have two more consecutive six-year terms in office

Humor and Good News Don't anger the panda
(Video) He's an animal with a serious anger-management problem that he takes out on computers and anything else in sight. Also not to be trusted: White guys with soul patches. Grow a beard or don't, but don't go with an upside-down Charlie Chaplin mustache.

Water News Wildfires burn homes near Boulder

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Computers and the Internet "Google Instant" starts trying to predict what you're searching for before you're finished typing
It's a rather bold move by Google, turning its search engine into a predictive tool. It's likely that many people will find the new feature useful, since it will probably shave off a handful of seconds a couple of times a day. But it will also end up becoming a brand-new target for the same people who think "search engine optimization" is a substitute for putting real, useful content on the Internet. They'll start trying to figure out what the most popular searches are on the Internet, then try to game ways to bump their subjects and links up high on the search strings that will come up first. Supposing that someone wanted to game a search for "Brian Gongol" -- they might try to game a high-ranking result for "Brian G". Never underestimate the efforts to which people will go to try to profit from the Internet without doing any real work ("real work" here being defined as creating something that people might deliberately want to see -- not something they'll stumble upon more or less by accident). Here's another risk: People will end up seeing unsavory things on the way to that for which they're actually searching -- they seem to have already anticipated that words like "assault" and "cockpit" start with words that might bring up some results that could upset people, but there will be other things they haven't anticipated in the same way.

Computers and the Internet Stupid things said on Twitter can and will come back to haunt
An Olympic swimmer from Australia is in hot water for making a homophobic slur on Twitter. The painfully over-hyped pop musician Justin Bieber got into a public spat over hacked accounts and personal phone numbers posted in public. People need to learn to take about three or four deep breaths before posting anything on the Internet -- especially considering how quickly anything can be misinterpreted and spread globally.

Computers and the Internet Almost everyone in Iowa could have broadband Internet access
That's the state of affairs, technologically speaking. But only 66% subscribe to it.

Business and Finance Happy people give generously to charity
And according to a study on the subject, the "Anglosphere" countries appear to be the largest share of the top ten most generous countries in the world. A third of the world's population has given money to charity in the last month. Related: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has issued its annual report for its work in 2009, including its report that polio is almost gone from the planet and is a top priority for the foundation over the next few years. The Gates Foundation is sitting on $34 billion in assets to give away.

Computers and the Internet Plunging mobile-phone service prices in the developing world
A price war in Kenya is making phone calls get so much cheaper so fast that the country's inflation rate has been affected. More importantly, though, is this: The country has virtually no landline phones, but two-thirds of households in Kenya have mobile phones now. They simply leapfrogged the entire step of landline phones altogether. What will be remarkable is when smartphone prices plunge and Internet access via phone becomes commonplace there. Again, they could skip the entire stage of rolling out landline access to the Internet and just place much of the country directly into the "3G" era.

Humor and Good News Tiger Woods jokes are still funny
(Audio) What's on the golfer's voicemail?

Science and Technology MIT team tries to replicate the solar-collection properties of plants
Considering that photosynthesis and the mechanisms that support it are the result of millions of years of evolution by natural selection and random mutation, we should stand in awe of the fact that we're coming close to figuring out how to reverse-engineer the process synthetically.

Broadcasting Budget problems in Britain could lead to major cutbacks for the BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the heir to a long line of work that traces its origins to Britain's former status as a world empire. The Empire Service was intended to reach the English speakers of the empire worldwide -- serving, in essence, the same role as the Internet today in keeping a world audience informed of current events. But with the decline of the empire, the service managed to enter a new role, and today is perhaps the most widely-used public-service news outlets in the world. But times are tough for all kinds of charities, and that includes the BBC's free services to the rest of the world. Obviously, Britain gains something from having a global presence -- just like the United States gains from funding the Voice of America, and other nations benefit from their own broadcasting services as well. But the BBC is unique in its reach and its capacities, so recovery from cutbacks isn't likely. That's unfortunate, since too much of the world still lives under authoritarian rule and thus has limited access to information about what's happening around the world. The United States has already done too much to scale back the Voice of America; similar cuts to the BBC World Service would be profoundly sad.

Humor and Good News Magic T-shirt protects fat kid from ridicule
(Video) The Onion delivers another high-quality spoof

Iowa The old train depot in downtown Des Moines could see passenger service once again

Water News EPA fines Nebraska landowner $30,000 for illegal dam

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Threats and Hazards Asteroid detection, still woefully inadequate, is getting better

Socialism Doesn't Work Even more stimulus spending? Really?
What good is spending money we have to borrow, just to end up paying extra for it? And what good are tax breaks if money isn't flowing?

Science and Technology A railroad on a string

Health Revising the concept of death

Broadcasting Video recap from the WHO Radio Wise Guys - August 28, 2010
And a wobbly video tour of the studio, too

Science and Technology The laws of physics don't apply to me
Or to you, either. At least, they don't appear to apply equally all over the universe.

Science and Technology Learning from mistakes is more durable than learning from success

Health Stroke risk

Humor and Good News Lady Gaga in a meat bikini
That's at least one way to live up to a stage name.

Water News Clean water in disaster zones

Health Maybe we really can regenerate organs
A woman appears to have regenerated most of the last segment of her pinky finger after it was severed in an accident

News What life is like for the trapped Chilean miners
Routine tasks are being used to help them maintain a semblance of the ordinary and maintain their mental health

Science and Technology Robots that think like babies

Humor and Good News Voice mail from World War II
An American GI recorded a message to his young bride using an old phonograph, but it got lost in the mail -- and only found its way back to him more than half a century later

Aviation News With Daley leaving, will Chicago get Meigs Field back?

Agriculture Tighter-than-expected corn supplies mean higher prices

News Chicago's John Hancock Building to get a 94th-floor ice-skating ring
It'll be a temporary installation from January through March of next year, and it's only a tiny layer of synthetic ice, but it's going to be skatable

Business and Finance Privatizing the British Royal Mail

Water News High nitrates in Dixon water