Gongol.com Archives: 2012 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol



News "The Cubs Way" is finally being written down
Every organization has a "way" of doing things. The smart ones write it down so new people can learn it quickly. That's how institutional memory can be documented and used efficiently inside any organization -- from baseball teams to Fortune 500 companies to governments.

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Agriculture The first lab-grown hamburger will be eaten in October

Weather and Disasters Where to see the auroras

News Latvia still not interested in Russia, 20 years after independence
The country voted 75% against making Russian the country's second language

Business and Finance Mortgage-backed securities...are back

Humor and Good News Miniature libraries

News Swedish man claims to have survived two months trapped in his snowbound car

Humor and Good News New mothers and their blogs

Threats and Hazards Scientology labor camp



Business and Finance Foxconn, the company assembling many Apple products, raises wages by 25%
Bad publicity for low wages and long hours have come back around against Apple and its contractor, so wages are going up. But at the same time, the company's (wisely) trying to automate more of the assembly process, which in turn will simply put some workers out of jobs entirely. This is how things work -- higher wages create pressure to automate. But it's also a signal that the "cheap labor" advantage that China has had for a long time is not destined to last forever.

Computers and the Internet There's not enough radio spectrum space for all of our smartphones
Mobile access to the Internet is a huge perk. But it's such a wonderful thing that we're saturating the available radio signals for using it.

Business and Finance The failures of business schools
"[W]e've fostered a segment of the population that thinks they're entitled to a high-paying job by virtue of the fact they have a college degree and can fog a cold mirror"

Aviation News Southwest Airlines subsidiary AirTran will soon offer service from Des Moines to Chicago Midway
It's pretty close to what Des Moines-area travelers have been hoping would happen for a long time -- it's not exactly direct service from Southwest to other destinations, but it'll certainly open up a lot of access to Southwest routes out of Midway

Humor and Good News Animated diagram of the Polo Grounds
It has to have been one of the strangest-shaped baseball fields in history

Science and Technology Clone of a 30,000-year-old plant comes back to life

News Good for society: More wind power. Bad for society: Hiding the costs through tax breaks.
Nobody can blame the companies taking advantage of the tax breaks for doing so -- it's just a smart business move. But at one point or another, society has to decide that our lawmakers need to stop trying to pick winners and losers via the tax code. It's just not healthy. If they were that good at picking good businesses, they'd be private-sector investors themselves, rather than eelcted officials.

Broadcasting Show notes from the WHO Radio Wise Guys - February 18, 2012



Threats and Hazards "Sleepwalking into a surveillance society"
London may have cameras everywhere, but they don't appear to be lowering the crime rate. And when the people defending the cameras lean on phrases like "“We try and strike a balance with civil liberties but a lot of the time we are reacting to what people are wanting", that's when one should become alarmed. Civil liberties are not a popularity contest.

News 8-year-old hit by stray bullet shows more composure than many un-shot adults
Some poor second-grader got hit by some stray gunfire in the Bronx, but still managed to keep his composure -- and his manners. All of which causes one to think that this kid deserves to grow up someplace where bullets don't hit second-graders.

Computers and the Internet Google's plans for an antenna farm in Council Bluffs

Business and Finance White House plans push for simpler corporate tax rates
More often than not, a simpler tax code is a smarter tax code. Fewer loopholes, exceptions, and tricks mean less wasted effort shuffling paper rather than just doing business.

Weather and Disasters AccuWeather predicts a worse-than-normal tornado season
It's warm in the Gulf of Mexico, and that's the fuel that powers major storms

Computers and the Internet Facebook's content rules
They're trying to navigate the sensibilities (and laws) of countries all over the world. There's no way to do that without looking ridiculous from time to time.

Humor and Good News Rick Santorum's Gmail inbox
It may be a parody, but it's not that far removed from some of the outlandish things Santorum says

Humor and Good News When your neighbor's Christmas lights outshine yours...



The United States of America The Onion: Captive breeding program for moderate Republicans
It's a spoof that really isn't all that far removed from reality. The Democratic Party, meanwhile, has been alienating moderate voters by letting its own far-left activists run the show. Mathematically, there's really only room in a first-past-the-post political system (like America's) for two major parties -- if the parties are each seeking to win over the votes of the largest number of people, who will tend to be in the middle of a left-right spectrum. But if both parties are hijacked by activists from the extremes -- particularly if those activists are more interested in ideological purity than in winning elections (and don't think that there aren't plenty of people in both parties who would rather lose an election than cede any ground within their own narrow bands of "purity") -- then there may be a very unusual opening for a moderate party to emerge between the two.

Health How culpable is the NFL for head injuries?
The family of a former player for the Chicago Bears is suing the NFL over his suicide, since he suffered a large number of concussions while he was playing.

Socialism Doesn't Work Why is sports welfare so much more widely-accepted than other forms?
The race to see who can throw the most government money at a plan to build a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings is astonishing. It's not unlike the nauseating lengths to which states will go to subsidize the film industry. The favoritism shown to the sports and entertainment industry is both unfair to other firms and inefficient for the economy as a whole.

Computers and the Internet AT&T promises 4G almost everywhere in Iowa by next year

Business and Finance Sears is on sale. No, really. They're selling Sears stores.
Including two in Iowa.

The United States of America Study of kids in Florida suggests K-8 schools are better than separate elementary and middle schools
At least when measured by math and reading test scores

Humor and Good News Twitter comment inspires short-lived breakfast cereal



Iowa Can Iowa, Iowa State, and UNI be marketed under a common banner?
Some of the members of the state Board of Regents think they can, and should, in an effort to attract students from outside the state -- and especially outside the country -- since they pay higher tuition rates than in-state students. It would definitely be a challenge to merge the identities in any meaningful way, given how much the schools have tried to differentiate themselves from one another. It's a distinct contrast from the University of Nebraska system, for instance, which is dominated by the Lincoln campus, but also has "University of Nebraska" campuses in Omaha and Kearney. But the Iowa schools need to do something to shore up their budgets -- programs like the renowned Price Lab School at UNI are being placed on the chopping block.

Business and Finance LinkedIn is nice, but business cards aren't going anywhere

Iowa Many Post Offices slated for closure are in places where there aren't affordable alternatives

Aviation News Fantasy camp for extreme air-travel nerds