Gongol.com Archives: December 2012
Brian Gongol

December 26, 2012

The United States of America How old will you be in 2050? Ready to share the country with 440 million other people?
America's infrastructure -- not just the "roads and bridges" that President Obama is always talking about, but also the dams and water-treatment plants and airports and harbors and power plants and sewers and levees and locks and other non-sexy things that the public needs every day but doesn't always see -- needs a whole lot of investment. Though infrastructure work certainly can create jobs, that's not why we should care about infrastructure investment. We need to care about it because it is a necessary (though not always sufficient) component of civilization and economic growth. ■ Just as it's a bad idea to look at a house as an speculative investment, it's a bad idea to think of infrastructure improvements as a speculation on jobs. A family should buy a house because they need a place to live and because it's suitable to what they need and can afford, not because they hope it'll appreciate 500% in price so they can sell it. Similarly, we shouldn't throw money at paving roads because we hope it'll create jobs and spur the economy, we should do it when it's the best use of a tax dollar for ensuring that we continue to have what we need to live in a civilized way. Obsessing over "roads and bridges" as a jobs plan may actually distract attention (and funding) from the infrastructure priorities we need most. ■ We most certainly need to spend money on infrastructure improvements. The important thing is to be sure we're spending that money wisely and where it's sensibly needed most, not just where it wins votes. The private sector also accounts for a lot of infrastructure spending -- like the billions that railroads spend on tracks and bridges and rolling stock. They have a huge incentive to spend that money wisely. So should the public sector.

Computers and the Internet The Instagram/Twitter feud may be perfectly-timed for Flickr
Flickr, which belongs to Yahoo, may be poised for a bit of a renaissance after updating some of its social-media features (like its iPhone app. That may be a sign Marissa Mayer (who now runs Yahoo) is acting on a smart strategy to boost some of their individual properties.

News Military police chief of Syria quits
He's gone to Turkey, saying the military there is no longer protecting the people

Computers and the Internet UK school (wisely) adds lessons on defamation and social media to the curriculum
It's too easy for the young and naive to say things that are profoundly stupid to a really big audience

Business and Finance A select few charities for your consideration
It's unfortunate that outsiders can't donate to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They're really setting an extremely high standard for effectiveness and accountability.

Computers and the Internet Even the Zuckerberg family doesn't always get Facebook privacy right

Health Using the Myers-Briggs personality type to anticipate responses to stress

Science and Technology Stop giving "chemicals" a bad name
Lecturer says, "Yes they're obscure, get over it, this is life and we are just a big bag of chemicals"

Computers and the Internet 55% of traffic to British newspaper sites comes from outside the UK
A huge chunk comes from the US

News Plan working through Russian government would stop adoptions by Americans
Should children really be kept from caring homes just because of national pride?