Gongol.com Archives: 2012 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol



Business and Finance Rep. Ron Paul's gold standard won't fix problems with banks
Then again, those who just want to break up the big banks might not have it right, either: Canada's banking industry is dominated by giants, but they haven't had anything close to the problems of the American banks that have a much smaller proportional hold on the banking sector here. But the gold standard is an antiquated idea and shouldn't be revered.

Business and Finance Don't be fooled by economic and stock-market "cycles" -- just focus on the fundamentals
Looking too hard for patterns in the past keeps people from seeing the reality of the present and the future.

Iowa Excellent breakdown of the Iowa Caucus results
A breakdown of which candidates perfomed well among different demographic groups, by county. Very interesting.

The United States of America How Americans spend our time
Interesting facts: About a third of people with jobs work on weekends. On average, men work about 40 minutes more per day than women. About a quarter of us work at least part of the day from home. Half of women do housework on an average day, while only one in five men do. TV takes up half of our leisure time. Kids appear to cost adults about an hour of leisure time per day, compared with their childless peers.

Broadcasting Show notes from an afternoon on WHO Radio - January 6, 2012

Computers and the Internet Violin destroyed over PayPal policies



Business and Finance Google's bold move to buy Motorola has a downside
Motorola's weak performance hit Google's stock price pretty hard today. Google's trying to fashion a modern-day conglomerate, but it's making some odd choices along the way.

Threats and Hazards Repugnant KKK flyers are being distributed in Cedar Rapids

Science and Technology Political attitudes may be rooted (partially) in how people think
Literally, that is -- how their brains process information. Some research hints that whether one is inclined to follow the cues of others may be a left/right thing.

Broadcasting De-commoditizing the nightly news
Network television is figuring out that they have to deliver differentiable products in order for anyone to prefer one newscast over another

News A nation-sized game of chicken
Britain's prime minister has laid down a gauntlet, telling the head of Scotland's government that they need to bring up a referendum on leaving the UK within 18 months or shut up until the next Parliament

Business and Finance Now the banks are borrowing from their former debtors
European credit markets have turned so sour that banks are getting big companies to essentially lend them cash to stay open

Humor and Good News "Larry, you can barely say it now"
Facebook allows teacher to get her revenge on an idiot former student

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Business and Finance Apple's CEO gets paid a nauseating amount
Did he create $378 million in value to the world last year? Put another way: Did he create more value for the company than Apple would have gotten from 3,780 people, each paid $100,000? Or: Did he do as much for Western civilization as 1,512 generals and admirals? If your answer is "Yes", then your name is probably Tim Cook. Or you're sleeping with him.

Computers and the Internet Google to Twitter: Nyah-nyah


Humor and Good News Anyone stupid enough to rename himself "Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop" is stupid enough to be taken off the streets for the good of everyone else


Humor and Good News Sen. Al Franken knows how to ask for money


Humor and Good News The in-efficiency expert
(Video) A Rube Goldberg page-turner

Business and Finance Hostess files Chapter 11


Humor and Good News Kids having a conversation in sign language
(Video)

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Computers and the Internet "To whom thy secret thou dost tell, to him thy freedom thou dost sell" - Benjamin Franklin
Ever stopped for a minute to think of the blackmail value built up inside Facebook? Not just what you've told, but whose profiles you've viewed...whose pictures you've lingered upon...which comments you made three years ago. It's like everything every mob and oppressive secret police agency has ever tried to collect, all in one database. No matter what their terms and conditions say now, nothing guarantees they won't ever use or sell this information against 800 million people. Just the blackmail value in telling employers which employees were on Facebook during working hours is enough to make one shudder.

Computers and the Internet Michelle Obama is on Twitter now
Only some of the messages put out under her name will really be originally hers. This hearkens back to recent comments about the need to hear directly, in an unfiltered way, from our public officials. Now, whether the First Lady really does her own Tweeting or not doesn't really matter much in the grand scheme of things. But to reiterate the larger point: It would be good for society if our leaders actually had the self-discipline and dedication to sit down for ten minutes a day to compose and share their thoughts on the things that matter with the rest of us.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft places a big bet on smartphones
The company probably sees that Nokia's weak, BlackBerry is fading out, and Apple's reached a ceiling on the number of people willing to pay a premium for their much-vaunted "user experience". Android phones have reached a majority in the US market, but if the other competitors are weak, Microsoft might have found an opening using a flavor of Windows 7 to run the phone. Windows 7 has turned out to be a really good operating system, and Microsoft would be smart to capitalize on it.

Business and Finance US manufacturers say China is dumping cheap wind-turbine towers on the American market
Dumping has to be one of the least-certain ways of gaining monopoly power, but nobody should be surprised if it's actually true that the Chinese government is doing whatever it can to aid its own manufacturers as they try to keep people employed and put a lid on unrest in the hinterlands

Health $10 million is yours if you can make a Star Trek-style body scanner
It's another X-Prize (one of a series of inducement prizes) that seeks to concentrate the benefits of far-out-there research in a way that might accelerate the pace of technological advance. This one is being named for Qualcomm. The public is being invited to submit comments on what they'd like to see in this dream diagnostic machine until April 30th. They're going to pick 15 diseases and award the prize to the machine that does the best job of nailing down those diseases. Inducement prizes are a great tool, because the awarding agency/individual/government/company doesn't pay a penny until the winner shows proof of a result. By concentrating benefits, they make far-flung goals look more interesting and thus concentrate research efforts in their pursuit.

Science and Technology Live a happier life by making fewer decisions
That's one of the reasons why checklists are so attractive -- by taking the thought out of routine tasks, they allow the individual to concentrate on the really big decisions that need to be made in life

Humor and Good News Some people are just really slow learners
(Video)

Computers and the Internet Get ready for a slew of ridiculous new top-level domains
Don't expect to be going to www.whatever.gongol anytime soon. They cost $185,000. Give this one a 65% chance of being a total boondoggle. Just like people still aren't convinced of dialing 1-888 or 1-877 rather than 1-800, they're not going to be convinced of using anything other than good old .com anytime soon.

Humor and Good News The Onion: "Area man's hard work finally pays off for employer"
It's surprising that there wasn't more of a rush toward independent contracting during the late economic contraction. One would think that people are getting tired of being conventional employees.

Business and Finance Man fined $400,000 for offering to buy American Airlines
Court says you can't do that if you have "no significant assets". However, it's being reported that Delta may be thinking of a buyout while American is in bankruptcy.



Business and Finance We live in a very strange world: Mortgage interest rates are below 4%

Computers and the Internet Forget the $100 laptop, an even cheaper tablet is here
An Indian company is making a tablet now for $50

Business and Finance Insurer Aon says it's dumping Chicago for London
Exactly how many of their Chicago-based employees do they expect to take with them to the UK? Technically, in the short run, the company says it's only moving about 20 people, and that it will expand its operations in the US, starting with Chicago. But plenty of promises can be made in the short term that don't pan out in the long run, especially once people have stopped paying attention. Illinois has a terrible tax situation for companies, and this may be a symptom of that disease. But pulling up stakes on Chicago and going to London instead? That's a pretty dramatic move.

Humor and Good News Someone in a Mickey Mouse costume knows how to dance
(Video)

Humor and Good News When Warren Buffett visits the doctor, does he tell them he's "self-employed"?
The question, of course, is really just rhetorical and a little tongue-in-cheek, but it is funny how the "self-employed" are treated differently from those who are employed by others. Sometimes it's hard to see how the distinction is relevant, as at the doctor's office.

Iowa Polk County proposes a big plan to fix the courthouse problem
The question isn't whether something should be done -- it must. The real question is whether any alternatives would be better

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