Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Computers and the Internet The world's active Internet population: 2 billion
So, roughly speaking, about a quarter to a third of the world's population actively uses the Internet. Of course, that means the majority don't...at least not yet.

Science and Technology First photograph of a human being may have been found
The picture is from 1838, and the subject is only incidental to the picture, but it could be the earliest photographic record of human life. It also turns out that early methods of photography recorded at a sufficient resolution that lots of surprising things can be seen by zooming in using modern methods.

Weather and Disasters Lowest non-hurricane atmospheric pressure record set
A huge windstorm sweeping the lower 48 states was caused by the passage of a record-setting low-pressure system that cruised through Minnesota

The United States of America Using the barbershop to improve public health
By studying people's habits and patterns, public-health officials have figured out that a lot of black men in America aren't getting the kind of health screenings that they need -- but by working with barber shops, they can improve the reach of efforts designed to improve mortality rates and improve people's quality and quantity of life.

Science and Technology Necessity is the mother of the invention of the flying car
A missionary to Latin America has built (and gotten FAA certification for) a flying car, which he says is needed for those places with roads that aren't connected to the rest of the world. It's a powered parachute, rather than a winged vehicle, but if it does the trick, it doesn't have to look like a Jetsons hovercraft.

News Mikhail Gorbachev isn't a fan of Vladimir Putin
Russia's experiment in democracy is a truly fascinating thing to see happening before our very eyes. It's one of the landmark ongoing events in history. Is Gorbachev the "father" of Russian democracy? Perhaps not quite in the exact sense of the "Founding Fathers" in the United States, but there's probably no other Russian more worthy of the title. So his disappointment with the path of Russia's politics today should carry some weight with insidea and outside observers.

News Palestinian Authority plans to declare independence in August 2011
Regardless of the Palestinians' nation-state status, peace will not endure there until economic growth brings them a lot closer to the material well-being of their neighbors in Israel, and that's only going to happen if the rule of law can be established and entrenched in support of a market economy. In other words, the world will need to start buying goods marked "Made in Palestine" in order for peace to come to the Middle East. It may not be a sufficient condition in and of itself, but it's definitely necessary.

Iowa Why Iowans ought to have earthquake insurance

Humor and Good News You think you know Elmo?
(Video) In his regular voice, the puppeteer behind Elmo (from "Sesame Street") doesn't sound one tiny bit like he can hit a falsetto giggle

Humor and Good News Was all that worth it? Totally.
(Video) Eric Cartman goes wild at Casa Bonita for one of the funniest "South Park" scenes ever

Water News Water quality is Iowans' most serious concern about agriculture

Iowa Recession has reversed Midwestern "brain drain"
Well-educated people are migrating into states like Iowa and Nebraska, even as the broader economy hits a rough patch. The anecdotal evidence has it that the migrants either discovered or re-evaluated the value of quality of life, and find the benefits of the Midwest attractive. Moreover, the Midwest hasn't participated vigorously in many booms, so thus it doesn't tend to be hit very hard by the busts, either.

Computers and the Internet China has built the world's fastest supercomputer
It's believed to hit 2.507 petaflops in calculation speed. Japanese scientists thought back in 2007 that we'd have a 10-petaflop computer by next year, but if we're only at 2.5 by now, that sounds like it might be a stretch. Regardless, the fact that China now possesses the fastest supercomputer in the world serves as a reminder that the level of competition is always rising, and we're going to have to work hard to keep up, whether we like it or not.

Aviation News Carbon fiber and the new Boeing 787
New materials make lighter, safer, more efficient planes possible

News Opposition says this weekend's elections in the Ukraine have been corrupted
They're specifically calling out illegitimate ballots being printed where they shouldn't. It would be enormously disappointing to see the Ukraine lose more of the democratic free ground it appeared to gain in the Orange Revolution.

News Hundreds killed in new Indonesian tsunami
Once again, as in the 2004 tsunami, lives were lost because early-warning systems didn't work. We (as a species) have to keep getting better at this. Nature often wants us dead, and we can't drop the ball on fighting back.

Humor and Good News Great bloopers from the vault at KCCI-TV

News The true size of Africa
A creative visual depiction of the continent's true geographic size

Health Massive door-to-door vaccination drive to end polio in Africa
300,000 people will try to vaccinate 72 million children in 15 countries across Africa in an effort to eradicate polio. That's like vaccinating more than the entire population of France, or twice the population of California.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft will try to re-enter the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7
At least one reviewer thinks it's enough of a leap forward to put the phone in competition with the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android. Great news for consumers.

Computers and the Internet Twitter rules are "making Facebook seem like an open alternative"
The company behind the microblogging service is trying to put its foot down now in order to keep their trademark from going the way of Kleenex. But whether or not they succeed, the service is bound to be overtaken by nimbler competitors within 18 months. Not a lot of new people are discovering Twitter at this stage. Most people have likely heard of it by now and decided whether or not to use it. Thus the service is likely at the peak of its profitability, since from this point forward, it's going to be sharing the microblogging market with competitors offering better alternatives. There's nothing particularly unique about the structure of Twitter's service that grants it any real monopoly power, and that's where profits come from over the long term.

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