Gongol.com Archives: December 2011
Brian Gongol

December 9, 2011

Computers and the Internet Russian president shares ill-advised Twitter comment
The story here isn't so much about the ill-advised re-tweet. It's the admission that the account isn't really being managed directly by Medvedev himself. We'd like to believe -- even if it's only for 140 characters at a time -- that we are hearing directly, in an unfiltered way, from our leaders. But when that veil is pierced, as it is in this case, and as it was when it was admitted that President Barack Obama wasn't actually behind his own Twitter account, it tells us that once again, we're getting a "spun" version of the truth about what these figures are thinking.

In reality, this has been going on for as long as there's been an electronic media. Some of Winston Churchill's greatest speeches weren't actually delivered by Churchill himself. Perhaps we'll find out that FDR's "fireside chats" were also scripted by a speechwriter and performed by an actor, too.

But, truthfully, we would be better off if we really did hear from these leaders -- unfiltered, un-spun -- no matter how improbable that seems. Just think if the President, or any other leader, took just ten minutes a day -- just ten! -- to sit down and compose a set of thoughts about what seemed most important. There's an authenticity of voice that comes from leaders who have to account for themselves in public and in the open. That's probably half of the appeal behind New Jersey governor Chris Christie. He's about as accessible and plain-spoken as a politician comes these days, and the colorful personality that comes through every time he appears before an audience -- and he appears before a lot of them -- humanizes him and makes him seem like he's actually thought about the issues that he faces.

Everyone who's in a thinking job benefits from being forced to spend a couple of minutes a day breaking down what's important in the moment. Most of us don't spend enough time in thoughtful reflection -- not by a long shot. And who's in a more important position for that kind of reflection than our elected officials? Yet not only are they not being held to account for their thoughts to us -- there's every reason to believe that very few of them are honestly reflecting for themselves. Reagan famously kept a fastidious diary, but even the vast majority of politicians' books -- their modern-day paperback manifestoes -- appear to be the work of ghostwriters at worst, or of heavy-handed co-authors at best.

It will likely remain nothing more than a pipe dream, but it's virtually certain that this would be a far better world if every significant public official were to devote just ten minutes a day -- just ten minutes -- to writing a public account of his or her thoughts about the day. That writing would make their own thinking clearer, contribute vastly to the public debate, and humanize them in a way needed so very much in this era of spin.

Business and Finance US general worries about violence in the EU
The whole continent could be in huge trouble thanks to the economic distress. They've come up with a new treaty, but it doesn't include Britain. This could become very interesting.

News People are leaving Russia in droves
A nation can't survive an exodus for long. Losing more than 100,000 people a year is a bad thing, especially when the people most likely to leave are the ones who have the means to do so or the skills and education

The United States of America Tracking the race for the Republican Presidential nomination

Humor and Good News 40 pop-culture facts guaranteed to make anyone over 30 feel old
As if living in the 21st Century weren't already confusing enough

Computers and the Internet Samsung Galaxy is un-banned in Australia
Importation of the tablet computer had been banned due to a patent dispute with Apple

Weather and Disasters Hurricane-force storm hits Scotland
A wind turbine got torn to pieces and burst into flames after 165-mph winds blew in

Humor and Good News Pujols leaves the Cardinals
(Video) Another hilarious Taiwan-imation that actually happens to explain the situation reasonably well