Gongol.com Archives: March 2012
Brian Gongol


March 29, 2012

News Some people should lose their jobs for being stupid
An American woman who became a hooker in Mexico because she didn't want to go home "back to the claustrophobic suburbs [she] had worked so hard to escape" quit that line of work and became a teacher. But she kept on writing about the experience under her own name. And seems shocked (!) that she lost her job over that. This is another anecdotal case for what should be called the "judgment economy". Lots of people talk about the "knowledge economy", but it's probably a misnomer. Thanks to the Internet, there's massive access worlwide to vast troves of information and knowledge. But judgment can't be looked-up on Google. The kind of nutjob who would willingly pick prostitution over life in the suburbs and then pick some kind of imagined ethnographic fame over a teaching job doesn't have the judgment to leave a building on fire.

Business and Finance America's economy is growing
Not at a breakneck pace, but an annualized growth rate of 3.0% in the fourth quarter of last year and a 1.7% rate for the full year of 2011 is at least something positive. Britain's economy shrank in the fourth quarter, by an estimated 0.3%. It's not an economic collapse, but a contraction of any sort is unsettling. One further note on the US change: GDP should really be measured against population, since the important thing is that people become better off, on average. An economy can grow quickly, but if the population grows even faster, then the larger pie is offset by sharing a larger number of slices. In the US case, the Census Bureau estimates that we gain, on average, a person every 15 seconds, after births, deaths, and migration. That's four people per minute, or 5,760 per day, or 2.1 million per year. Considering that the population overall is about 313 million, then the population grows by something like 0.6% a year. So what really matters -- GDP per person -- grew by something less than that 1.7% rate.

Computers and the Internet Best Buy announces plans to close 50 stores
The company lost $1.2 billion last year

Threats and Hazards PowerPoint strikes again
FBI PowerPoint instructions told agents they could break the law. That is not the case. But the lazy way in which so many PowerPoint presentations are composed may have given a faulty instruction to unknown numbers of agents anyway.

Computers and the Internet What is it about the Internet that encourages racists to spout off?
The number of people who are apparently willing to say blatantly racist things in a thoroughly public forum like Twitter is downright amazing. Anything said in a public account on Twitter is archived by the Library of Congress. So any idiot that says something stupid on Twitter is saying it for the public record, forever.

News Huge cuts coming to BBC News
They're going to get rid of 140 jobs in the venerable news organization. It's a large number of jobs -- though it's not as large a set of layoffs as, say, the ABC News layoffs of 300 people two years ago.

Iowa The big fight over university funding in Iowa


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