Gongol.com Archives: 2011 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol



Humor and Good News Google Plus as a mountain base camp
The terms and conditions for the new social-netowrking site are a lot more favorable than those for Facebook, and that's a strong advantage. Plus, it's integrated into Gmail and other Google services, so it's easy to get to and you're reminded to use it whenever you're already logged onto any of those. On the downside, it's still not very well-designed, so it's visually clunky. And it's not quite as intuitive as it should be, so early adopters are spending a lot of time asking, "What am I supposed to do next?"

Iowa Des Moines gets a #1 ranking as a city for young professionals
The city is still hampered by local and state tax policies that are painful for small businesses, but low costs of living and a high standard of life make up for a lot -- especially for people who are willing to work for big companies. The winters are still terrible, though. We shouldn't lie about that. And sometimes the summer weather is awful, too.

Science and Technology Chicago will get a coal-to-natural-gas plant
A bill approving some of the necessary conditions has been signed by the governor

Agriculture Corn prices rise as projected supplies shrink
Overall, 80% of the state's crops are in good condition. That's even after considering the huge amount of flood damage in western Iowa.

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Humor and Good News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #2
Russian woman holds man hostage for three days after he attempts robbery. She knew karate.

Computers and the Internet Free text messaging via the Internet
Pretty pointless if you're an adult with unlimited messaging on your phone. Potentially valuable if you're a kid with text-message limits on a family plan.

Humor and Good News Michele Bachmann...on marriage
(Video)



Business and Finance If you don't want to lose control, don't give up control
Members of the family that sold the Wall Street Journal to News Corporation say they might not have sold out if they'd known that News Corp. was involved in unethical tactics at its newspapers in the UK. But here's the bottom line: Monday-morning quarterbacking on someone else's management of your former assets is meaningless. You can't complain because someone painted your old house an ugly color. If you don't want to give up control, then don't sell it off. And if you're really concerned about the legacy of something like a family business, but you are determined to sell, then choose a good buyer. That may require sacrificing some monetary gain up front. But if the company is worth something more than just the cash it can be sold for, then those other values ought to be taken under consideration.

News Minnesota state government shutdown causes a Coors shortage
The company can't renew licenses with the state while the government is shut down, and the state police say that means the beer has to come off the shelves. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune says that MillerCoors supplies 38% of the beer in the entire state.

Weather and Disasters National Weather Service breaks down the derecho event of July 11th
It really was a remarkable straight-line wind storm -- some winds hit 105 miles an hour. The storm appears to have wiped out 75% of the trees in Vinton.

Business and Finance ConocoPhillips will split in half
The nation's third-largest oil company, which came together through a merger of Conoco and Phillips Petroleum back in 2002, is going to spin-off its refining and marketing arm into a separate company. One analyst applauds the decision, saying that every company should find one thing to do well and stick to it. But that's really not a very sensible plan: Every company should probably find three things it can do well, and divide efforts relatively evenly among all three. Business is too dynamic to have just one focus -- what seems like a great market to serve today could evaporate practically overnight (just ask the landline telephone companies or the dial-up Internet service providers). A better strategy is to have three legs to the stool, and take revenues in from three different directions. That way, when one slips, the other two can provide support. And if one turns out to be a dying industry, it can be replaced without putting the entire firm at risk. Maybe ConocoPhillips is better off separating the exploration and refining operations. But that still appears to leave each company with just a one-legged stool.

Iowa Iowa's biggest business problem right now: Our schools are slipping
Good human capital is our best asset, and we're apparently allowing that to slide

Aviation News 134 Space Shuttle launches in 134 seconds
(Video)

News A labor strike at BBC News

Business and Finance Ben Bernanke may be ready to let the Fed pump more money into the economy
He's a historian of the Great Depression, so it's understandable that he's concerned largely with ensuring that the money supply isn't excessively tight. One can only hope, though, that he is correct in his assessment of how much he needs to open the throttle. In the meantime, Standard and Poor's may be ready to downgrade the US national credit rating because we have too much debt and are showing inadequate political will to fix that. We have to hope that the Federal Reserve can maintain its independence amid what will undoubtedly become a great deal of political pressure to monetize the debt.

Humor and Good News "Vatican reverses stance on gay marriage"
Only in the parallel universe of The Onion, that is. But it's a very clever report from that parallel universe, to be certain. Also in that parallel universe, Americans are working off our debts to China by dancing in silly costumes.

Humor and Good News My, how times change
(Video) In case you didn't think eight years was a long time ago, re-watch the "South Park" episode that lampooned the "metrosexual" craze of 2003. Tastes and preferences are unbelievably malleable.



Computers and the Internet Google's peculiar approach to social problems and how to fix them

The United States of America Rep. Michele Bachmann's husband says ridiculous things

Aviation News A big batch of Frontier Airlines planes were damaged by hail
Denver, where the airline is headquartered, got hit with a big hailstorm the other day, and the planes got in the way