Gongol.com Archives: 2011 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Business and Finance Government steps in to block T-Mobile merger with AT&T
AT&T is holding out 5,000 jobs in call centers as a carrot, but the real question is whether the merger would hurt consumers. The public shouldn't be unreasonably forced to subsidize those 5,000 jobs.

Science and Technology The trouble with academic journals
They're using their monopoly power to exact huge profits -- at the expense of spreading knowledge. This is undoubtedly a deadweight on social benefit.

Health Why the Japanese live longer than everyone else
Nutrition, hydration, public health measures, and a commitment on the part of many to getting good preventative care

Computers and the Internet No more encryption software in Pakistan
It's being prohibited by a government that doesn't realize that encrpytion software can be used for good as well as evil. One software developer says it exactly right: "This is like banning cars because suicide bombers use them".

Iowa Dear Iowa CCI: Please stop being jerks. Love, everybody else in Iowa.
Now it seems nearly everyone agrees that the activist group is past the point of being a useful contributor to public debate and is now nothing more than a shouting club

The United States of America Jokes are supposed to be funny
Yukking it up over hurricanes and using those guffaws to score political points is tasteless

Business and Finance Corporate taxes are a canard, but many executives are paid far too much
We have two counterproductive patterns at play in American business: One is a tax structure that's punitive towards many otherwise sane and sensible capitalistic behaviors (like distributing dividends to shareholders). The other is a pattern of ratcheting up executive compensation to heights that serve only to stoke the fires of ego and not to demand outstanding performance from the overcompensated.

News Britain's RAF is literally flying bundles of cash into Libya
They're trying to restart the economic market there. One might call it the ultimate experiment in monetarism.

Science and Technology Could the greenhouse effect be counteracted by artificial volcanoes?
It's known that ash from volcanoes can cause global cooling -- the "year without a summer" proved that. But it really sounds like a dicey thing to try to create artificial volcanic effects in order to cool the planet.

Computers and the Internet What's taking Google Plus so long to catch on?
The service really does have a lot of features that are great in theory, but so far there's just very little momentum outside communities of enthusiastic technophiles. At least two forces should be propelling it more than they seem to be: One is Facebook's hubris, the other is Google's increasingly serious need to find ways to make money after the search-engine boom runs out.

Weather and Disasters Flood recovery continues in the Midwest
The railroads are attempting to get things back together after an awful summer due to Missouri River flooding...not that the media headquartered in places like New York paid even the slightest bit of attention.

Health New analysis says the awful 1918 flu epidemic could have been manageable
...Manageable, that is, if today's methods had been applied. That's good news, considering we still live in fear of another influenza pandemic.

News Why the Chicago Bears should be a much more valuable franchise than they are
Family ownership within a family that doesn't have a lot of other income-producing assets does tend to keep the team's hands tied, among other problems

Iowa Competition from Megabus entices incumbent bus service to drop prices

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The United States of America New EPA regulations on smog are put on hold
Public demand for better air quality is apparently lesser than public demand for economic expansion fueled by "good manufacturing jobs", so the White House is putting the brakes on regulations that manufacturers say would be costly to them and prevent their expansion. It's just further evidence (confirmation, really) that all "environmental" choices are really economic choices. It's interesting to see what happens when the availability of resources changes and thus so does public opinion. Everyone wants a pristine environment, until they see the bill.

Business and Finance What should Apple do with its enormous cash pile?
One environmental pundit says they should invest in manufacturing in environmentally-friendly ways, and do so within the United States. It's decidedly unlikely to happen, considering that Apple has already made it clear that it's willing to accept the cost of much more piracy as a result of doing business in China. Those piracy costs do far more damage to Apple's bottom line than the costs of environmental consequences. In other words, there are far more directly compelling reasons to quit manufacturing in China than environmental protection, and Apple hasn't done so, so why would they change course now?

Aviation News Report says waiting to clean up space junk is only going to make the problem much worse
As pieces of debris collide with one another, they're going to create even more pieces of debris, and the smaller they get, the harder they're going to be to collect. But they'll still be capable of enormous damage.

Business and Finance Will Baby Boomers cash out and continue to deflate the stock market?
Possibly -- so suggests a research paper from the San Francisco Federal Reserve. They think it could last two decades. If so, great times could be ahead for people looking to buy shares in American companies on the cheap. The telling question for America's future is: Who will those buyers be?

News We should have stopped calling it a "War on Terrorism" a long time ago
Terrorism is a method, not an ideology. No sane person wants terrorism, but ending it is an impossible task, and thus sets up a war upon it as something that's doomed to failure. There are better ways to bring about a safer, better world than declaring "war" on a method of action.

Business and Finance Some reassurance from Warren Buffett
Past quotes that are certainly applicable in today's anxious economic climate

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Business and Finance Is India almost ready to shut down its oversized bureaucracy?

The United States of America Palin continues to flirt with running for the Republican nomination
But she still won't commit to doing it