Gongol.com Archives: January 2012
Brian Gongol

January 4, 2012

Science and Technology How concrete is good for your health
Most Americans don't have dirt floors, but people in other nations do -- and that exposes them to a range of creepy diseases. Concrete floors in their houses can make them healthier, and concrete on the roads to their homes can open up trade and increase prosperity. Funny how little incremental improvements that we often take for granted in the United States can have such a profound impact elsewhere. Of course, just paving the roads isn't enough to ensure that people will live well -- China's been paving everything in sight (or so it seems), and one of the consequences is that air pollution there is going to be unhealthy for people to breathe from now until at least 2030, and perhaps much longer. One of the reasons people criticize capitalism is that they tie it (mentally) to industrialization and pollution. But the truth of the matter is that free markets under the rule of law in societies where people have the right to elect their own representatives are the ones where pollution is most aggressively attacked. That's because the will of the people (which, generally, is a cleaner environment) gets enacted by the government, which in turn imposes regulations that give private parties an incentive to do something about cleaning up that pollution. Nobody has any incentive to invent a double-hulled oil tanker in a country where the government is the party responsible for moving the oil and has no accountability to the people it harms by spilling it.

Science and Technology Cornell University researchers think they can make things briefly invisible
An experiment with "compressing" light allowed them to create a tiny gap in the apparent perception of time. It's not enough to let anyone rob a bank (the gap was 50 trillionths of a second), but it's interesting science nonetheless.

Iowa The Iowa Caucuses in real-time

Science and Technology Blind test gives no edge to Stradivarius violins over modern makers
In fact, the violinists who tried them out side-by-side in a Pepsi Challenge-style test actually preferred the new violins over the really expensive antiques

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #8
18-year-old shoots home intruder on New Year's Eve. He broke into her house with a knife. Everyone needs to know some form of self-defense.

Computers and the Internet Google's rules on paid links may have ensnared one of Google's own operations
They have a requirement that paid links include some special code that tells the Google search bots to not follow those links. Someone on contract to promote Google's Chrome browser apparently failed to follow those rules.

News The Cubs don't need Zambrano anymore
His attitude doesn't seem to have done any good for the team, so it was time to let him go

@briangongol on Twitter