Gongol.com Archives: March 2012
Brian Gongol

March 5, 2012

Iowa The epic challenge of keeping small Midwestern towns alive
The enormous success that is modern agriculture means that we need far fewer people than ever before to produce much greater amounts of food. While that's a very good thing for society, it has consequences: One of those is the depopulation of rural areas. Those places without a lot of people are essentially "leaking" their populations, largely to bigger cities nearby, because that's where the jobs are. The epic question for states like Iowa and its neighbors is how we can concentrate our resources so that we don't end up with desolation in those places "in-between". Given the right mixture of access to technology, transportation, and a good business environment, there are excellent cases to be made for economic growth in many small towns. They can offer outstanding quality of life with an exceptionally low cost of living, for starters. But some decisions have to be made along the way about how to let the market make the allocation decisions without starving communities of the resources they need to provide the basic services (like roads and clean water and fire protection) that are non-negotiable requirements of modern living.

Business and Finance How Toyota builds cars and trucks in the US and still makes a profit
Seeing improvement as something to be done in "event mode" rather than as a cultural practice may be keeping a lot of companies from getting ahead in the Toyota way

Humor and Good News Historic pictures...Turnerized
It turns out that color really does put a new spin on some famous old photos

Humor and Good News Is this really a discussion?
A handy flowchart

Agriculture Increased corn production could finally be catching up with increased demand
As those two come closer to equilibrium, corn prices might cool down a bit -- which in turn could cut the throttle of the skyrocketing prices for agricultural land in the Midwest

Computers and the Internet Tech Tip: Is Google Plus ever going to take off?