Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Science and Technology George Lucas may be buying the rights to the likenesses of dead movie stars
Why? Reportedly, to put them in new films using new animation technology.

Business and Finance Comedy Central adopts an ugly new logo
It looks like a copyright symbol with a chunk bitten out of it. It's almost as lazy as the new Democratic Party symbol. One would think that the advent of computers and vector graphics would usher in an era of greater creativity and complexity in corporate branding, but it looks like we're just getting lazier. Old symbols were far more elegant, like the General Electric mark.

Science and Technology All the energy in the world
How different countries use energy -- and what kinds they use. One glance at the graphs for the United States and China makes it quite clear that not only is China bounding right to the front of the pack in terms of total energy use, it's also using dramatically more coal than any other country to produce it. That's going to have a distinct effect on the planet's atmosphere.

Humor and Good News The Christmas presents have been opened
Anticipation can drive a person nuts

News "You won't burn in hell. But be nice anyway."
Ricky Gervais explains why he's an atheist. Whether one agrees or not, it makes for interesting reading.

News How to calculate the size of an effective nuclear arsenal
The British thought they needed at least enough of their own to kill 10 million Russians just to keep the USSR from bothering Western Europe. That's in addition to the massive arsenal its NATO ally the United States already had available.

The United States of America Iowa will drop to four House seats in 2012
That's down from 11 in 1920

Computers and the Internet Fake disk-cleanup programs are infecting the Internet
Over time, computers slow down -- that's because they tend to accumulate new programs that take up disk space and CPU time. There are lots of things people can do to prevent the buildup and speed up a slow computer, but downloading software that promises to fix the problem is the wrong thing to do.

The United States of America "Birther" movement, please go away
The movement to have Barack Obama removed from office under the argument that he wasn't born in the United States has really quite outlived any credibility, and now the new governor of Hawaii is promising to do what he can to make them go away. That won't actually work; they'll just develop a persecution complex which will only confirm in their own minds that they're victims of a conspiracy.

Broadcasting Notes from the "Brian Gongol Show" on WHO Radio - December 26, 2010
Including thoughts on whether technology is making us just plain lazy

Broadcasting Podcasts from the Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - December 26, 2010
Four segments in MP3, in all: "Should non-speeders win cash prizes?", "Digital technology is making us lazy when it should be making us better", "When is it appropriate to friend one's parents on Facebook?", and "Christmas presents for everyone".

Water News Ice jams cause flooding near Grand Island, Nebraska

The United States of America Yes, yes, yes: The case for a much larger House of Representatives
Jeff Jacoby makes a compelling argument in favor of a favorite pet proposal: To expand the US House of Representatives by something like a factor of ten. It needs to be done, in the interest of fairness and proportional representation, and in the interest of more responsive government. It simply must be done, yet few people seem to have the imagination or the political courage to call for it.

Science and Technology How an exoskeleton helps paraplegics to walk again
One has to be astonished to see a tool like this, which allows paraplegics to leave their wheelchairs and walk (and even climb stairs) with the aid of crutches. It's really quite mind-blowing, and yet it's only an infant technology now in the trial stages. One can only imagine how rudimentary it will look 25 years from now. Despite anything that is said about this being a civilization in decline, the evidence simply has it that we are in fact getting better all the time. We may stumble and may take some steps backward from time to time, but humans are getting smarter all the time, and as we get smarter, we can solve more of the problems that previously bound us.

Computers and the Internet Free fonts from Font Squirrel

Water News How threatening is chromium in the water?

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Business and Finance "Crowdsourcing": A way to use popular opinion to obtain stunningly unpopular mediocrity
Nebraska had a popular contest and vote to determine how to design the state's new automotive license plates. And the winning design is painfully ugly. Brutally so. Design is the kind of thing that comes from talented people with skills and a comprehensive vision -- there's a reason logos like the NBC peacock and the Chase Manhattan symbol came from the same design studio and have remained popular for years. Hint: It wasn't because they had a vote.

Computers and the Internet Amazon says the Kindle is its top-selling product ever
Beating out even the top-selling book they've ever sold. And when the price for the e-book reader falls to about $75 (as it would be reasonable to predict will happen in 2011), then sales ought to become even more brisk. Schools will switch to e-book readers (rather than dusty old textbooks) out of economy as much as practicality, and people will view the reader as the equivalent of an expensive dinner out. That makes them an easy sale (relatively speaking).

News Left-wingers and their political parties
The Irish political landscape is in a bit of tumult as their next election approaches -- and a group of leftists are trying to form a party built around, well, being leftists. But the problem with leftist populist movements is quite the same as that of right-wing populist movements: Being built upon popular anger at "someone else", they can only endure for a short period of time while the villification still satisfies. And that never really lasts for long.

Humor and Good News A club for people who like hand-lettered signs
Thanks to digital printing, there aren't quite as many hand-painted signs around as there used to be. But like many crafts, hand-painting has its adherents who will keep the art alive.

Threats and Hazards The stupidest stunt in history
(Video) Russians try making their own bungee jumps off buildings. Terrifyingly stupid.

Computers and the Internet Keeping secrets about a huge breach of secrecy
Journalists from Wired magazine are defending their decision to keep secret some of the documents they have about how the Wikileaks documents found their way from the US government to the broader Internet. The real problem with the leaked documents isn't so much that someone published them, but that someone who had access to them and knew better than to release them did so anyway -- that's the real crime.

Computers and the Internet Facebook lists give a false sense of security
Though it may make sense to categorize Facebook "friends" by how one knows them, assuming that those lists will remain durably private and secure is a really bad plan.