Gongol.com Archives: January 2011
Brian Gongol


January 19, 2011

Computers and the Internet "Cyborg anthropology"
(Video) How our increasing reliance on things outside of our own bodies (computers, phones, websites, and plenty of other things) makes us into a different type of sub-species -- at least culturally -- than we used to be.

News "It is China's trajectory then, rather than its current power, that gives it superpower status"
China's economy is undoubtedly on the rise -- but it also has some seriously shaky foundations, including an internal debt problem (yes, really), a government that is showing signs of hostility to foreign companies, and a clearly enormous problem with the gap between real innovation and copycat intellectual-property theft. On that last point, a real economy can't be built for the long term on stolen innovations any more than it can be built on a resource-driven economy. Oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia benefit in the short term from their resource abundance, but they risk becoming complacent in the face of that cash inflow and failing to invest for the time after the resources run out -- not to mention failing to spread the wealth to those who don't happen to have access to the resource wealth itself. Stolen intellectual property is much the same; you can make a good cheaply for a short time, but sooner or later, customers catch on to the fact you're selling them crap, or some other country starts to supply labor at an even lower price, or the products you're stealing become obsolete and are replaced by newer, better things that aren't so easily copied. Or -- and this may be wishful thinking here -- other countries realize that free trade requires the rule of law, which includes the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Regardless, there are serious problems to consider in China's future.

Computers and the Internet What does copyright mean in the digital age?
(Video) A TED Talk by Larry Lessig from 2007 that's just as relevant today as it was nearly four years ago -- which only tells us that no progress has been made towards rationalizing copyright laws. Too bad.

Business and Finance Good times to be a partner at Goldman Sachs
A New York Times analysis says people at the partnership level within the firm were granted considerable bonuses in the form of stock options in 2008, which are now worth a fortune compared to their market price then. The structure of the compensation may not be all bad -- the options require that the partners hold on to their shares until 2014, so at least they're enforcing some long-term investment in the health of the company -- but the sheer size is what's difficult to swallow. What is the right amount for investment banks to take as their commission for conducting the business of business finance? One would not be alone in thinking that the collective investment-banking payout is a bit disproportionate to the value it actually creates.

The United States of America How structure made JFK's inaugural speech a winner
A rhetorician breaks down the elements that made John F. Kennedy's inaugural address one that people still quote today. Imagery and three-part lists seem to have been among the most powerful contributing features.

News Reopened after 100 years
A townhouse in France that belonged to a wealthy bachelor has been re-opened after about a century of being sealed off. Now it's a museum -- a lot like a house-sized time capsule.

Business and Finance A tax map for small business
The IRS's guide to what small business owners need to do to protect their assets, in a tax sense

Broadcasting Podcasts from the January 16th "Brian Gongol Show" on WHO Radio
Including: "The computer that can win 'Jeopardy!'", "Computers to make your life easier", and "Who's in charge of China?"

Broadcasting Podcasts from the January 15th "WHO Radio Wise Guys"
By segment: "Verizon gets the iPhone", "Reassurance to the technophobe", "Social bookmarking without Del.icio.us", and "The $75 e-reader is coming"

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