Gongol.com Archives: March 2011
Brian Gongol


March 4, 2011

News Gaddafi ties make the London School of Economics look really bad
The head of the school has resigned after it was revealed that a whole lot of the LSE's money came from Libyan contributions, fees, and tuition. Does it say that higher education is too beholden to big contributors? That schools need to think more carefully about whom they choose to educate? That there is no middle ground between completely free governments and total despots with whom companies and schools should interact? All are good questions.

Threats and Hazards Crooks use telephone relay services to attempt credit-card scams
One of the great features of the Internet is the availability of text-relay services, that allow people who are deaf or unable to speak to use relay services to convert their typewritten text to a spoken relay operator. It's a wonderful service -- but it can also be abused. The relay operators can't interject their own words into the conversation, since it's strictly a relay service. But that also means that crooks, especially from overseas, can use the relay operators to mask their own spoken accents and conduct credit-card scams. It happens all the time, but it's rarely reported. And one of the worst parts is that credit-card companies have no incentive to stop the scams, since the liability falls upon the merchant processing the card. The credit-card industry does a categorically awful job of informing merchants and offering them any reasonable degree of support to thwart fraud.

Business and Finance Why Berkshire Hathaway succeeds as an operating business
Part of the reason for Berkshire's enormous success is that Warren Buffett is a phenomenal allocator of capital -- he knows, far better than the average, how to invest. But he also maintains a highly decentralized management system that relies upon good management close to where the operating businesses need it -- not a bloated corporate structure. In there, somewhere, are lessons not only for American business, but also for a lot of government and educational institutions.

Business and Finance US unemployment rate falls considerably from a few months ago
Manufacturing and construction added a lot of jobs

Computers and the Internet Twitter gave Charlie Sheen a fast-tracked "verified" account
On which he is either going completely bonkers in full view of the entire universe, or very efficiently gaining a lot of PR for some kind of new book or cult. Regardless, he's gotten more than a million followers practically overnight, and started a cultural reference to "winning" that even McDonald's has jumped aboard.

Computers and the Internet The DC area had big failures in its 911 service during a January snowstorm
And the problem is that it's certainly looking like Verizon tried pretty hard to avoid telling anyone

Health Some good advice for people hitting the gym for the first time

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