Gongol.com Archives: 2012 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

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.

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

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