Gongol.com Archives: August 2011
Brian Gongol

August 3, 2011

Business and Finance Robots are replacing people building the iPhone
The manufacturer making the units has faced a lot of bad press and scrutiny for the apparently pretty bad conditions it keeps for its employees, some of whom have committed suicide. Now they're setting a plan to replace some of those workers with robots. This should set off some warning lights: If Chinese labor is now getting too expensive (or troublesome) to work with, and robots are more economical, then several consequences are likely to ensue: First, the increase in demand for robots will probably expand the market for them, bringing economies of scale and making robotics more affordable for manufacturers around the world. Bad news if you're a factory-line laborer without other skills. Second, it signals that the search for low-cost labor will drive work out of China -- likely to other portions of southeast Asia, and eventually to Africa. Could be good news for the people living in those countries, if it brings in foreign investment and stable jobs. Third, it could be the beginning of the end for the Communist Party in China, which depends upon rising wages for as many people as possible to keep it in power. If companies start using their revenues to buy new machines rather than to employ new workers, it's going to put the brakes on China's rapid urbanization and leave a lot of people wondering where the higher wages went. China already faces regional strife as some of the far-flung provinces are getting harder for the central government to manage. If the manufacturing boom stops feeding workers and only serves to enrich the people with capital (dare we call them the "capitalists"?), that unrest could rapidly become widespread.

The United States of America States are going to face a lot of budget trouble without Federal support
A Minnesota state representative says "There's a new sheriff in town, and its name is Reality". He's absolutely right. The transition will undoubtedly be very uncomfortable for many states -- just like living without the stimulus money they had two years ago made for budget pain this year.

Computers and the Internet The latest share in Twitter sold at a rate that would make the entire company worth $8 billion
That's an astronomical market cap -- more than the sale price of Chrysler in 2007. Which makes it evident that people are buying into the firm either without thinking, or in the wild hopes that the market valuation will keep climbing just long enough for them to ride the increase and then sell out before the bubble bursts. But it's decidedly not a sensible valuation.

Threats and Hazards Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #5
An Australian girl spent 10 hours thinking she had a "necklace bomb" around her neck after an intruder broke into her house

Iowa The modern radio business doesn't make room for the legends it used to
Full-service radio is virtually gone

Iowa The 2011 Iowa State Fair: Now with a lot more police!
Last year's mob scenes were shameful

The United States of America The insider language of some branches of Christianity

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