Gongol.com Archives: August 2011
Brian Gongol

August 18, 2011

Business and Finance US stock market falls by 4.5%
No cute interpretations or headines are in order. Just one major issue: We need a serious measurement of the amounts of money that (a) Baby Boomers have been saving for retirement, (b) that have moved out of stocks lately, and (c) that have recently moved into bonds and bond funds. It seems likely that that (b) and (c) are pretty close to one another, and that either one marks a not-insignificant share of (a). As of this time last year, half hadn't saved enough to even think about retiring comfortably, and it's likely that many -- whether they've saved enough or not -- have been so spooked by the recent volatility that they're trying to cash out of the stock market now, seeking to lock in any gains they might've had since the 2008 market drawdown. It does appear that many billions are flowing out of stock investments and into money-market funds and other "safe" waiting places.

Business and Finance Stop the economic-incentives madness
It's great that businesses want to expand in Iowa, and if economic-development incentives are made available, those businesses can't really be criticized for pursuing those offers. But economic-development incentives are a zero-sum game for the nation as a whole, with a lot of overhead costs. Congress should step in to stop them. Unilateral disarmament in the economic-development battlefield isn't likely to happen, since nobody wants to be the politician or public official blamed for failing to "bring jobs" to a community. But the fact of the matter is that these incentives tax some companies and people to subsidize their own competitors. It's a perverse structure that really must end.

Computers and the Internet The August Patch Tuesday update from Microsoft
It came out last week, but is undoubtedly still just now being added to some computers. This latest round contained about a dozen updates, two of which were labeled "critical."

Science and Technology There's no such thing as a psychic
There are just people who are really good at cold-reading the nonverbal cues of other people. As proof, the illusionist James Randi offers $1,000,000 to anyone who can prove psychic powers under controlled conditions.

Health Do yourself a favor: Take two minutes for a self-exam today
Take a minute or two and conduct some basic self-screenings for cancer. Early detection saves lives. There's lots of misinformation about cancer that finds its way around the Internet, largely because we've been trained to wait expectantly for some sort of magic-bullet solution to cancer. But cancer risks can be significantly reduced through a balanced diet, exercise, and early detection and treatment. Meanwhile, science is making great progress towards improving genetic detection, which holds great promise for some types of cancer. Instead of forwarding hoax-ridden e-mails about "cancer cures" and false threats, people should instead remind their friends and family to assess their health once a month.