Gongol.com Archives: 2011 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Weather and Disasters Earthquake in Washington, DC

Health Progress is being made on better HPV vaccines
That there is a vaccine available to prevent some types of cancer -- and that some parents won't give it to their children -- is mind-boggling

Humor and Good News Why you heard "Great Scott!" in "Back to the Future"
Dr. Emmett Brown's favorite phrase has a long history

Iowa Police officer thrown nearly 50' after being hit by car

Humor and Good News The "Muppet Show" theme, reimagined

Business and Finance Warren Buffett is still burying the lead in the story

Iowa Why kids should pay attention to bus-evacuation drills

Business and Finance Americans are watching household budgets better than in a long time

Science and Technology How far away is fusion power?

Threats and Hazards Intellectual-property theft borders on being a national emergency

Computers and the Internet The "Anonymous" problem

Broadcasting 90-year-old construction firm closes in Waterloo
This reinforces the argument that every firm needs to have a 100-year business plan, not because the plan will ever be even close to remotely correct at that horizon, but because the pace of change accelerates and the things that we think today are 100 years off may only be 50.

Science and Technology Out of sight, out of mind
The Great Ape Trust on the southeast side of Des Moines is having trouble raising enough money to pay the bills, but one could argue that part of the problem is that there's really no public component of the facility. Lacking that, nobody visits, which means people don't often think about it -- even though the organization seems to have been doing very interesting and worthwhile scientific research. As the characters in the movie "The Right Stuff" joked: No Buck Rogers, no bucks. Science needs to be seen as interesting and engaging for people to feel like throwing money after it. But most of all, it has to be seen.

Weather and Disasters If Hurricane Irene really does hit New York City, how bad could it be?
Really, really bad. The city just isn't built to accommodate a big storm, which could flood the subways, shatter glass from skyscrapers, and turn every Manhattan street into a wind tunnel. This could be really, really bad, and it's not as though we didn't know it might happen someday. The latest forecasts show the hurricane grazing Washington and landing squarely on New York City.

Weather and Disasters Very few people in the DC area thought to get earthquake insurance
Just because something is a low-probability event doesn't mean it shuoldn't be insured against, especially if it could be high-impact. It should come as no surprise that the earthquake disrupted mobile-phone service and caused so many people to try to check in that the system fell apart. Everyone needs a "push" and a "pull" method for telling other people that they're OK in case of an emergency.

Humor and Good News Gaddafi has a crush on Condoleezza Rice
Someone found a photo album dedicated to the former US Secretary of State in his palace -- which, to be fair, is no longer his

Computers and the Internet China caught Red-handed conducting cyber-warfare
We have to be prepared for a -- rival? opponenent? competitor? -- who wants to use these tools to our detriment

Computers and the Internet Slashdot site founder resigns
The site is a juggernaut in technology news and commentary

Computers and the Internet Three big new developments about the iPhone
A cheaper iPhone 4 may be coming, the iPhone 5 should be released soon, and Sprint may become the third carrier to offer the phone

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Business and Finance US economy continues growing...only barely

Business and Finance Lower pay for some investment bankers
The croupiers continue, however, to take a huge cut from the investments of others

News The war experience through the eyes of people in Tripoli
The war in Libya seems to have shown once again that air power is a necessary, but not sufficient, tool for winning a war

Business and Finance Old news, but interesting: Oprah Winfrey and the investment tool called a "family office"

Computers and the Internet New privacy policies at Facebook
One might credit the power of a competitor -- like Google Plus -- for bringing this about

Weather and Disasters Fine maps of the incoming Hurricane Irene

Computers and the Internet UK government drops ridiculous plans to try to shut down social media websites in case of emergency
The tools are content-agnostic; that is, they can be used by the bad guys, but also by the good

Computers and the Internet DC-area cell phone networks were overloaded after the earthquake
No big surprise, but that it's no big surprise is only a reflection of how obvious it should be to everyone that there's just not enough capacity.

Iowa Terrible story about a beating death in Waterloo
The story is still evolving, but it sounds as though an adolescent feud turned violent and resulted in the death of a teenager who was being taunted for being gay. Whether it rises to the legal status of a hate crime or not, it reflects the really awful extent of open homophobia, which really has to stop. We're a civilized nation, or at least we should be, and what consenting adults do behind closed doors is nobody else's business. Nor ought it be anyone else's concern how an individual is sexually oriented. We're all just people here, and most human beings are basically good and are just trying to live their lives -- so making anyone else's life worse just because of the way they're naturally wired to be attracted to others is really quite inhumane.

Threats and Hazards China's shameless cyber-warfare
Cyberwarfare is a tool of foreign policy that's a whole lot "softer" than building up a huge military arsenal, but that makes it no less potentially destructive. The right cyber-attack against the United States could be not only economically devastating, but also physically so. Much of our infrastructure is governed by computers, and much of that governance is conducted via the Internet. The United States is at grave risk, and we're no better off for ignoring the threat.

Business and Finance Pete Ricketts calls special tax credit for angel investors "a dumb law"
It's another of many economic-development incentives that mainly serve only to funnel resources from taxpayers to the well-connected

News Tolls on Illinois Tollway roads will almost double
The Illinois Tollways, despite all kinds of criticism, are probably so politically entrenched that they'll never become freeways

Computers and the Internet Will Facebook's new privacy features protect it from competition?
Pressure on Facebook from the new rival, Google Plus, appears to have forced the incumbent to take some steps toward better privacy protection. Over the long term, Facebook simply cannot hold its place as the market dominator in social networking, just as Google will not be able to hold indefinitely to its position as top dog in Internet search.

Business and Finance Environmentalism and economic development
A satirical paper suggests that rich nations combat global deforestation by covering half their lands with trees. The point being, of course, that it's easy to sit back and offer armchair solutions from the rich world that may appear to solve global environmental problems -- without recognizing that those solutions may have serious consequences for the economic well-being of the people affected.