Gongol.com Archives: April 2012
Brian Gongol

April 2012
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April 1, 2012

Humor and Good News Google Maps does April Fools' Day in 8-bit style

The United States of America Volunteers are transcribing the newly-released 1940 Census details

Business and Finance Angel investors and the Midwestern economy

Computers and the Internet Is it legal to jailbreak an iPod?

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April 2, 2012

Business and Finance How the beef industry should fight back
The perjorative name "pink slime" has been used to malign beef trimmings used in ground beef. It's a really awful slander, considering the stuff they're attacking is just plain old beef. But because the beef industry has failed to market the product in a comprehensible way (calling it "lean finely-textured beef" is fine for the FDA, but nobody is going to the store to pick up a pound of LFTB), they need to give it a sensible, marketable name. It should be called "the cookie dough cut". Everyone's familiar with rolling out a batch of cookie dough and using a cookie cutter to get shapes (like Christmas trees and Santa hats, for instance) -- and then rolling the excess dough back together again to cut more shapes. That's really all that LFTB is -- it's what's leftover from predetermined cuts (like New York strip), recaptured to prevent it from going to waste, and then processed just like the plain old ground beef that it is. Unfortunately, we live in a world where the two-second sound bite ("pink slime") is enough to persuade a lot of people -- even though it would only take about eight seconds longer to recognize that it doesn't deserve such an awful and slanderous name. But if people are going to be lazy, then it's important for the industry to strike back with its own two-second counter-name (like "the cookie-dough cut") and at least demand a fighting chance in the marketplace.

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April 4, 2012

Aviation News Dallas-area tornadoes cause more than 400 American Airlines flight cancellations

News Skyscraper fire in Moscow extinguished by helicopters dropping water
The building is still under construction, and it's supposed to be the tallest building in Europe when it's finished. The fire happened on the 66th and 67th floors. The whole thing is supposed to be 1150' tall when completed, but who's going to want to be inside a building hit by a major fire well before it was completed? It's not a problem to which Americans are immune -- there's still the fight over the Harmon Tower in Las Vegas, which has cost $279 million to build, but which the owner (MGM) wants to implode before it's even finished or ever used because it doesn't meet earthquake codes.

Computers and the Internet Should politicians follow their rivals' kids on Twitter?
Two candidates for the Republican nomination for Senator from Nebraska are in a fight over just that question

Business and Finance Has GE become a worse company?
Moody's has downgraded the company's credit rating, saying it's still a very strong company, but that its financing wing is a major risk to the rest of the company.

Computers and the Internet Yahoo will cut 2000 jobs to try to save $375 million a year
Contrary to what the buzz might be, the company still makes a lot of money -- $1.05 billion in 2011. That's down about $200 million from 2010, which might indicate where those intended cost savings from layoffs are supposed to come from. Total revenues, though, were way down in 2011, so they need to figure out what they want Yahoo to be.

Computers and the Internet Internet Explorer browser use is on the rise, of all things
Firefox and Chrome have both slipped a little bit, and ceded ground to MSIE, which still has a majority share of browsing time

Humor and Good News Sarah Palin on the "Today Show"
(Video) The Daily Show has a pretty good look at the event. Just plain weird.

Threats and Hazards How much oversight should be applied to GPS tracking of criminal suspects?
Quite a lot, really. There's always the question of whether it becomes necessary to wake up a judge in the middle of the night to get a warrant, but isn't that the least we should be able to ask from our criminal-justice system? And what of drone aircraft used by local police authorities?

Computers and the Internet Microsoft is losing share in the smartphone market

Threats and Hazards Data breach at a major credit-card processor

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April 5, 2012

Iowa Hidden Valley wants people to use ranch dressing like it's ketchup
Apparently, they haven't been to Iowa, where people are probably more likely to use ranch dressing than ketchup, anyway. It's practically the state's official food.

Humor and Good News What was Hillary Clinton texting from her BlackBerry?
The Tumblr account with spoof answers is pretty funny -- but it's hard to escape the observation that she could very easily be gearing up for a run for the White House again in 2016. The time she's spent as Secretary of State seems to have been a grade-A performance, and it's quite possible that Democrats will end up looking at the Obama Presidency with a sense of voter's remorse...realizing that Clinton was the better choice in 2008.

Science and Technology Google's "skunk works" lab is working on a next generation in eyeglasses

Health Whooping cough is back

Threats and Hazards Supreme Court says police have a lot of power to order strip searches

Computers and the Internet Smartphone security is the next big challenge for IT

Broadcasting Brian Gongol's show notes from filling in on the afternoon show on WHO Radio - April 4, 2012

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April 6, 2012

Computers and the Internet Nebraska watches candidates for US Senate fight over whether their kids' Twitter accounts are fair political game

Computers and the Internet Google isn't the only digital librarian in town
An online collection of two million digitized books is hitting the Internet next year. They're going to try to digitize books only after the five- to ten-year period during which new books sell most of their copies and make most of their money.

News Chinese power brokers to military: Ignore rumors of a coup

Business and Finance Is your investing style a result of genetics?

News Hugo Chavez looks for sympathy and a religious boost
Venezuela's political strongman has cancer, and he's using some televangelist-type fervor to look for sympathy. He actually has an opponent in the upcoming October elections, and he (Henrique Capriles Radonsky) is using the latest stunt to accuse Chavez of being a perpetual candidate. Worth watching: Whether the military really acknowledges the results of a fair election.

News US Coast Guard sinks Japanese ship floating aimlessly since the 2011 tsunami
The owner didn't want it back, since it was already destined for scrap. And since it was floating around shipping lanes, it was a dangerous piece of debris to leave adrift. Must have been fun to use as target practice.

Weather and Disasters Tornado Alley is on the move, and it's eating up more of Iowa

Business and Finance Warren Buffett's life in a parallel universe

Threats and Hazards April is "Distracted Driving Month"

Computers and the Internet Report claims that more than half a million Macs are victims of a malware attack
Apple is trying to cut off the damage with a security patch

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April 10, 2012

Broadcasting The telegraph transcripts from the night the Titanic sank -- read aloud
Though they're read aloud by synthesized voices -- devoid of any human emotion -- it's absolutely riveting listening. Truly a stellar piece of work by the BBC. We all know how the story ends, and we all know how it's been characterized in movies and in pop culture -- but this is the equivalent of listening to the cockpit voice recorder from an airplane crash.

The United States of America Prepare for a future of higher taxes and fewer government-funded benefits
Ben Bernanke reiterates what should already be widely-understood in America today: We're spending too much and taxing too little (at least, too little for the amount of stuff we seem to want government to do). And if we don't get our act together and undertake some belt-tightening in both directions, we're going to face a very unpleasant moment of reckoning when our creditors decide to stop raising our effective credit limit.

Science and Technology Engineers need to get their PR mojo back
An article from the Sioux City Journal from 125 years ago speaks in glowing terms about civil-works projects with an enthusiasm that news reporters reserve today for covering celebrity gossip on Twitter. One of these things is more important than the other, but we celebrate too much of the wrong one.

Iowa Judicial review is enshrined in American law. Get used to it.
It's called consistency. The judicial branch has just as much right to overturn acts of Congress (like the health-care reform law) as it does to judge same-sex marriage a constitutionally-protected right under state law. The kinds of people who like to position themselves as "against judicial activism" have to realize that they must be consistent about their relationship with the courts: If they want courts to safeguard certain rights, then they have to accept that courts may sometimes protect other, sometimes unpopular, rights. That's what the judicial branch is for.

Iowa Disincorporating an Iowa town
A sad move, nostalgically. But if nobody wants to step up to manage the city's affairs -- or even to bother voting in a municipal election -- then it may not serve a lot of purpose to keep it on the books.

Computers and the Internet More speculation on the end of Google Plus
The service is still struggling to really spark fanatical popularity, but rest assured that Google is going to keep plugging away at trying to build some kind of social-networking site that resonates with users, somehow, some way.

Business and Finance Facebook, really? $1 billion for Instagram? Really?
$1 billion for a company with nine employees and no particularly spectacular new technology? Welcome to Bubble Town.

Aviation News A ride on the solid rocket boosters that carried the Space Shuttle
(Video) A unique video.

Iowa Cedar Rapids Gazette company buys stake in local cable TV and Internet provider
The Gazette Co. is an unusual organization -- it's not part of one of those highly-leveraged firms that bought up everything in sight using lots of debt. It's an ESOP company under local ownership. ESOP companies aren't perfect -- notably, they can get into trouble when lots of old employees want to sell out and there aren't enough willing young employees looking to buy-in. But without the debt albatross that's sinking a lot of other media companies, they can do creative things like buying into other media organizations, and experimenting with things like online delivery with a more forward-thinking approach.

@briangongol on Twitter

April 13, 2012

Business and Finance Article 18: Why Italy's economy is hard to jump-start
The law makes it nearly impossible to fire employees -- which naturally makes them extremely reluctant to hire people in the first place

Socialism Doesn't Work Press bus makes wrong turn in North Korea
And they ended up getting a better view of what really goes on inside the Stalinist state

News North Korean rocket launch failure
Was it a tool of space exploration or just a thinly-veiled weapons experiment?

Humor and Good News Why there's not a big market for "social media experts"
Lots of people who lack other skills are trying to sell themselves as "professional" users of sites like Facebook. The reality is that no amount of publicity can make up for a lack of good content.

Computers and the Internet Google announces stock split

Iowa Western Iowa groups hope to speed up the widening of Highway 20

Computers and the Internet Historical images overlaid on modern Google Street View shots
Really fascinating

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April 14, 2012

Weather and Disasters Huge risk of big tornadoes and large hail across Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas today
As well as Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri

The United States of America The United States needs to put more diplomatic and trade attention on Latin America
The President is there for speeches and meetings now, but the region really needs to be much more than an occasional area of focus. Too often our worldview breaks down into the equivalent of "Us (yay!), China (scary!), and Europe (buddies in trouble!)." There's a lot more nuance deserved than that.

News God bless the memory of Jackie Robinson
(Video) Even some of his friends in baseball still held stupid prejudices about people like him, years after he broke the color barrier in baseball

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April 15, 2012

Business and Finance What recruiters see in a resume
Heat maps show what people are seeing when they spend a few seconds on a resume

Computers and the Internet Google tries redesigning Google Plus to get people to come back

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April 16, 2012

Computers and the Internet Sergey Brin: "Very powerful forces" are "lined up against the open Internet"
Google's in a precarious spot: It thrives on open access to the Internet -- sites walled-off behind password protection, like Facebook, get in the way of their access to the information that's out there. But at the same time, Google remains the 800-lb. gorilla of the "open" Internet, without any serious rivals -- so it looks and behaves sometimes like a monopolist. Users are correct to be skeptical of Google at all turns -- even if the company is simultaneously stepping out as a (self-interested) defender of openness on the Internet (which is a good thing).

Business and Finance Student loan defaults are "a necessary market correction"
It's an unpleasant reality, but it's true. People have been obtaining degrees with little or no real value in the marketplace, and they've been financing those educational experiments with debt. Dr. David Hakes of UNI puts it like this: "The fact is if you have to explain your major in a job interview, that is not a good sign." Sure, in an ideal world, we would all get to study whatever interests us most, deep down in our souls. But the reality is that we're not so advanced that we can all live lives of recreation. The cold, hard truth is that we still need a lot of people to do a lot of work to keep society functioning, and people need to know how to do useful things in order to do their part. The market cannot reward what the market does not need. And the educational industry has been subsidizing those low-value degree programs for quite some time, without acknowledging that we need to be a little bit tougher in order to ensure that society really continues to progress.

Weather and Disasters How thunderstorms prevented an even worse tornado outbreak this weekend
It was a bad outbreak -- but it could have been catastrophic, had more tornadoes formed, or if the ones that did develop had been closer to heavily-populated areas. As it was, there was a flood of mud, rain, and hail that did a lot of damage to an emergency room in Norfolk, Nebraska, and there was a lot of very serious damage at Creston, Iowa. And poor little Thurman, Iowa got hit hard -- and it's a community that was immediately adjacent to the path of last year's Missouri River flooding.

The United States of America Jewish temple, Islamic mosque, and Episcopal church to share common campus in Omaha
Now, that's American.

Humor and Good News The Sinatra Group
(Video) One of the best "Saturday Night Live" sketches of all time. "Sinbad O'Connor!"

Humor and Good News Who's your (child's) daddy?
A Craigslist ad details an anything-but-immaculate conception

Humor and Good News And now, a public service announcement from former child celebrities
(Video) Kirk Cameron, himself a former child celebrity, says of homosexuality: "I think that it's detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization". Some of the other child stars of his generation beg to differ.

Health Alex Karras sues the NFL for head injuries

Broadcasting Cell phones have (almost) killed CB radio

Business and Finance Why we need better personal-finance education in America
Young people are seeing offers for credit cards on websites like Facebook -- and they may not know enough to ask the right questions before committing in response to what look like very attractive offers.

Computers and the Internet Social-media sites are turning prom invitations into absurdly elaborate performances
It's just prom. Not everything needs to be a spectacle. And since you're not likely to marry your prom date, you might want to cut back on the digital trail you're leaving behind that may cause a future spouse to become jealous.

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April 17, 2012

Weather and Disasters Creston incident shows why we need more weather-radar installations
The tornado sirens in Creston weren't activated prior to the tornado touchdown there, even though lots of people were on the lookout for a tornado -- including the National Weather Service. But Creston is around 70 miles away from the nearest National Weather Service radar installation, at Johnston. At that distance, the radar can only see to about 5,000 feet above the surface. Anything below that 5,000' level can be invisible to radar (this depends on the precise pattern that's chosen, but the curvature of the earth can't be overcome -- at a distance of 70 miles, the horizon is about 3300' above the ground. (Conversely, by the way, the orientation of the radar scans means that radar can't see things immediately above it.) Considering the dramatic improvement in the quality and speed of tornado warnings that occurred after the current generation of Nexrad radar sites were installed, it seems like the next logical extension is to increase the density of coverage by those radar installations, to improve warnings and forecasts even further. The coverage map for Nexrad installations still shows a lot of completely empty regions and others with very sparse coverage, including stretches of northern and southern Iowa. Considering that the initial installation cost of the original WSR-88D (Nexrad) installations was about $5 million each, it would seem that a reasonable cost-benefit argument could be made for installing a lot more of these radar sites in the interest of public safety.

Computers and the Internet US and China play cyber-war games
It was a test to see if the two could get along without coming to a shooting war, even if they suspected the other of attacking them via the Internet. The results? Not particularly reassuring.

Computers and the Internet Anyone who's squeaky-clean enough to run for office in 20 years will have to be a borderline-psychopath
(Video) The Onion jokes about it, but it's true. Kids generally lack judgment -- and in the past, that made little difference. Mistakes were made, and the worst that could happen was generally that an embarrasing photo showed up in the school newspaper or in the yearbook. But tools like Facebook and Twitter are (a) arming them with the tools to do really colossally-stupid things in front of a global audience, (b) recording those errors for all time, and (c) encouraging them to say and do stupid things in the hopes of obtaining just a tiny sliver of passing notoriety. Whether the mistakes are small or large, it seems hard to imagine that anyone is going to be able to leave behind any kind of digital footprint that lasts from age 13 to age 35 without leaving behind a few regrettable patches. And anyone who is so good at avoiding those mistakes from such a young age and for so long is likely the kind of person who's so focused on being "perfect" that they lose touch with reality. As a society, we're going to have to (a) adjust to the new reality and become more forgiving of people's past errors, and (b) do a better job of helping kids understand that they shouldn't make unforced errors online.

Business and Finance Japan offers IMF $60 billion to keep the wheels from falling off the world economy
Meanwhile, the US nominee to head the World Bank has gotten the job, even if Brazil doesn't like the decision

Socialism Doesn't Work Sometimes, it's good to get out of the family business
The new heir to power in North Korea must have signed off on the failed rocket launch the other day that cost his country nearly a billion dollars in actual expense, plus massive amounts of diplomatic goodwill worldwide. Someone needs to find a way to make the case to Kim Jong Un that belligerence isn't going to be in his own personal interests. He clearly doesn't care about the best interests of the people of his country -- and that kind of abuse of his own people, unfortunately, has been his family's legacy.

Science and Technology Shingles that double as solar-power collectors now on the market
They're being sold in California, Colorado, and Texas to start

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April 18, 2012

Business and Finance Shareholders give big rejection notice to Citigroup executive-pay plan
It was only an advisory vote, but when 55% of shares cast say "no" to the CEO's pay plan, it's hard not to notice

News New York Times cuts free-article access to ten per month
Stupid, stupid, stupid. The problem here is that they offer no digital-only option for subscriptions. Anyone who wants more than ten articles a month will have to pay for a print subscription. Lunacy. The print product is the costly part of the affair -- production and distribution cost money. But once an article has been written -- for print or for the Internet -- distributing it to every additional reader via the Internet is practically free. So if they were smart, they'd offer a low-cost digital-only subscription option and get thousands of users to sign up for $5 a month. But instead, they're just telling folks that it's either $4 to $7 a week or nothing at all. Totally dinosaur-like thinking. The New York Times is good reading...but it's not essential to most people's lives. If your cost of distribution to the next marginal customer is practically zero, then for the love of Milton Friedman, charge a low but reasonable price for it and maximize the potential revenues! Netflix charges $8 a month for unlimited access to television and movies. The price point for "all-you-can-eat" content on the New York Times -- for most users -- is going to be something less than that. But if they're too caught up in their own sense of self-importance to realize that, then they're not going to last very long.

Aviation News Delta considers buying a refinery
They say that jet fuel is a little over a third of their operating costs, so perhaps some vertical integration will help ease that pain. If true, it's an interesting move.

News Once I was the King of Spain...
The Moxy Fruvous song may have been an absurdity, but so is the real King of Spain. First of all, it's bizarre that Spain still has a king. The point of having any kind of monarchy in any advanced nation in this day and age is utterly beyond reasonable comprehension. But even further, this genius has gone off and hurt himself while hunting on an African safari. This is particularly embarrassing, considering that Spain's economy is a lot weaker than it really ought to be. And for an institution that gets an 8.4 billion Euro subsidy from the country, one would think that his time would be better spent doing things like conferring patronage on private businesses, instead of going around shooting elephants in Africa.

Business and Finance Will natural-gas prices stay artificially low?
One analyst thinks that natural gas prices are absurdly low -- perhaps just 1/6th or 1/7th of what they ought to be. That's going to reduce the incentive (in the short term) for anyone to invest either in efficiency projects (like improved insulation, where natural gas is used for winter heating), or in alternative-energy projects (where natural gas is used to fire up electrical generators to meet peak demand). But while the news is bad in the short term, it may be an signal that those investments that are presently depressed by very low natural-gas prices could be available at discount prices. After all, it's most attractive to buy things when nobody wants them -- if it's highly likely that they'll want them at much higher prices in the future.

The United States of America US DOT secretary: "America's one big pothole right now"
That's a bit of an overstatement. But there is something to be said for putting some investment to work in the nation's civil infrastructure. The problem is that quick-fix items -- like repaving a bunch of roads -- isn't necessarily the investment we need most right now. The nation's water and wastewater infrastructure is in dire need of upgrades, just as badly as the roads need help. But sewers are a lot less sexy than superhighways, so politicians can be counted upon to divert funding to those projects that offer the best opportunities for ribbon-cutting and immediate gratification, rather than where the money really ought to be spent for the maximum public good. On a related note: The New York Times tells of new developments in rapid bridge replacement using prefabricated structures that can simply be lowered into place.

Threats and Hazards Chicago will add speed cameras
This kind of automated enforcement of traffic laws is easy to sell as a "for the children" kind of proposition -- but the insidious part of it is that it conditions people to expect to be watched by Big Brother. And when people tire of being watched all the time, they start to get subversive. It's a natural thing to want to rebel against an overzealous authority figure. Automated traffic-enforcement cameras are, rather by definition, that kind of overzealous figure.

Business and Finance How the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska turned gambling profits into a non-casino company

Health Caffeine is a drug, after all
College students in Sioux City were sent to the hospital after overdosing on caffeine during a physiology experiment. Caffeine is a funny drug -- it's legal and available virtually anywhere. It's also (for most consumers) a performance-enhancing drug, whether it makes it possible to wake up more easily or to get more done -- or, in some cases, to improve the ability to focus. But it's still a drug that can have hazardous side effects in excessive doses.

Threats and Hazards Heartbreaking story of Iowa teen suicide
A 14-year-old appears to have been harassed -- literally to death -- after coming out of the closet. Kids shouldn't be driven to that kind of despair by their peers or by anyone else.

News Stadium plan falls apart, so the Vikings could leave Minnesota
Not that it would be a good idea for taxpayers to have to ante up $550 million to fund half of a new stadium

Agriculture Chokecherry tree blossoms up-close

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April 19, 2012

Business and Finance April 2012 EconDirectory

The United States of America Voting habits by what you drink, what you drive, and what TV shows you watch
The campaigns know this information. Also, by where you eat and what you do on the Internet.

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April 22, 2012

Computers and the Internet Online advertising volume rose by 22% last year
The Interactive Advertising Bureau says it totaled $31 billion in 2011, including about $15 billion on search-engine-related advertising, and a little under $2 billion for both advertising on mobile devices and on video.

Socialism Doesn't Work Socialist comes in first in French voting for president
The socialist candidate got 28% of the vote, followed by the center-right incumbent (Nicolas Sarkozy).

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April 24, 2012

Computers and the Internet Parents should talk with their kids about smartphone safety
Location-sharing applications and photos can get kids into a lot more trouble than the corded phones on the wall of 20 years ago used to allow.

Business and Finance Have young people gotten the financial education they need?

Computers and the Internet Google plans second data center in Council Bluffs
It's a $300 million project, and will supposedly employ 50 people when finished

Business and Finance Intellectual-property theft and industrial espionage aren't getting any less serious

The United States of America Homestead Act to be displayed in the most-homesteaded state
45% of Nebraska was claimed by homesteaders

Computers and the Internet Texting, faster for so many other things, is still a slow way to deliver 911 reports

Iowa West Des Moines wants plans for a "Grand Technology Gateway"
The city wants to put in a stretch of, presumably, tech-heavy businesses along the south side of town along the river

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April 27, 2012

Agriculture Department of Energy study says Corn Belt faces more pressure from climate change than from government energy policy
Cited is an increase in heat waves that can do a lot of damage to corn as it's growing, rather than as the effect of a degree or two of additional heat evenly applied throughout the summer

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April 28, 2012

Business and Finance West Des Moines "business incubator" expands
Business incubators are interesting: They highlight some of the problems for startup businesses (access to affordable office space, the need for support services like IT, and the need for capital) -- but they don't really solve them on a large scale. And if those problems exist on a large scale, shouldn't they be addressed in a way tha tdoesn't favor particular businesses over one another? Obviously, private firms are welcome to manage their own incubators (usually in return for a cut of the ownership and future profits of the startups), but when incubators are government-run or -subsidized, that makes them a little harder to accept.

Business and Finance Anti-counterfeiting packaging rules planned for EU
Is it a tax on generic drugmakers in favor of brand-name manufacturers? Or is it a legitimate method of preventing crooks from profiting off of the hard work of drug development done by legitimate research?

Humor and Good News Orderly thought
A great line from Charles Krauthammer, regarding a man who helped him finish med school after a paralyzing accident: "He was a man of orderly habits and orderly mind, but he never flinched from challenging the orderly"

Science and Technology Watches used to be a necessity; now they're almost strictly for show
Technology has put a clock on every phone -- and one that's more accurate than any wristwatch. So what used to be a necessity is now just a luxury good -- and one that can be used for a signaling effect.

Iowa And that's why you use the One-Call notification service before digging
The sight of a huge fireball in the middle of an empty Iowa farm field is pretty surreal

Business and Finance Who owns IKEA? The answer isn't all that clear.
The legendary furniture company is privately-held, and definitely profitable. But its ownership structure is positively bizarre, and though it's doing a great job of growing, it's really not clear where all of the profits for that growth are going to go. One's first hint that something is bizarre about the company is that even though it's notoriously Swedish in heritage (and design), the company is registered in the Netherlands.

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April 29, 2012

Business and Finance First-quarter economic growth: 2.2% annualized rate
At least, that's the first estimate from the government. It's subject to change. It's an acceptable number, but nothing exciting. It's much better than the 0.2% contraction in the UK, but much slower than the 8.1% growth rate in China. Now, there's no way for the US to grow at the same rate as China -- the gigantic US economy simply can't grow as quickly as a smaller economy, just like a car going 100 mph can't speed up (in percentage terms) as quickly as a car going 25. As Warren Buffett put it, "A fat wallet, however, is the enemy of superior investment results." Of course, he wrote that in 1995, when his company had $11.9 billion in shareholder equity. Today, it's worth $168 billion. What's been true for Berkshire Hathaway can be quite easily true for America: The rate of growth may not be astonishing, but it can be good and can still compound over time to produce really amazing long-term results. The key to take away from investing that applies to the broader American economy is this: Keep growing, try to raise that rate of growth, and don't suffer losses. Losses are a perverse thing, in both finance and macroeconomics: When something (a stock price or a GDP figure) falls by half, it has to double in order to recover. Put another way: The first rule in making money is to not lose money.

Computers and the Internet Tech tip: Could China launch a cyberwar against us?

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