Gongol.com Archives: 2012 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Business and Finance IMF communique warns the US and EU to get their debts under control

Humor and Good News About that new iPhone...
(Video) "Saturday Night Live" skewers the seriousness of people's complaints about their new smartphones. On a related note, an Inc. columnist thinks entrepreneurs have it easy, at least compared with their predecessors of a century ago.

Iowa What gets measured gets done
Schools in Iowa are reporting cases of bullying to the state, and some are (wisely) analyzing the data on their own to look for ways to combat it. In general, a good idea. But they do need to be cautious about making the reporting requirements so onerous that it's viewed as a burden, rather than as a useful too. They also need to be certain that they take great care with any data they use that involves or records the actions of children. We need to be vigilant about the Big Brother risks of big data collection.

Threats and Hazards There is a ton of gang-related violence in Chicago right now

Weather and Disasters A bad drought year also meant a low-tornado year
We're looking for any silver linings we can find, aren't we?

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Business and Finance A radical thought experiment: What if we abandoned Social Security and gave the money to teenagers?

Business and Finance Government-employee pension programs are $1.2 trillion underfunded

News Cubans have new freedom to leave for longer than before

Weather and Disasters "Our four-day forecasts today are as accurate as our one-day forecasts were in 1987"

News "It is not democratic to cover up [Prince Charles's] interventions" in British politics
Why, again, does an advanced nation like Great Britain still have a monarchy, other than the personal popularity of Queen Elizabeth?

The United States of America The buck stops...with Hillary Clinton?
The Secretary of State claims that she, not the White House, is responsible for the security shortcomings at US diplomatic facilities abroad. There was a time when Harry Truman made it clear that "The buck stops here." It's really a let-down that the White House now says, "You can't change Washington from the inside."

Computers and the Internet Microsoft releases pricing for the Surface tablet
32 Gb for $500, the same with the "Touch" cover (a specialty keyboard) for $600, or 64 Gb with the Touch cover for $700. The whole thing runs Windows RT, which is an offshoot of the new Windows 8.

Computers and the Internet Apple teases a product launch on October 23rd
The general expectation is that they'll introduce a miniature iPad. But the consensus expectation has been wrong before.

Humor and Good News The Red Bull supersonic freefall jump...in Lego
Now that still and video cameras are preposterously cheap, people have taken the volume of video-making to a whole new level. Some are ridiculous, and some are fantastic, and many are somewhere in between. But with YouTube claiming 72 hours of video being uploaded every minute, that means a ratio of 4320-to-1 of time being recorded and shared to time passing. In other words, if you were to try to watch all of the videos uploaded in 2012, it would take you until the year 6332. That's as far from now in the future as the year 2308 BC is in the past. That's about the time when the Egyptians started beekeeping and the first stones were laid on Stonehenge.

Business and Finance After adjusting for inflation, American workers are making less than before

Business and Finance China's economy grew at a 7.4% annual rate last quarter
Which is much faster than the growth rate in the United States, but the growth rate in China has been slowing down for seven straight quarters. While that's probably good news for individual firms and industries that have to compete with Chinese companies, it could be very destabilizing for the world -- China's growing economy has been especially important to the global economy during the slowdown, and a China in which the economy doesn't grow fast enough is one in which the people will have time to think more about their limited political freedoms. Economic liberalization without political liberalization simply cannot go on forever.

Business and Finance Student loan debt in perspective

The United States of America Pimp my bulldozer
A response to: "If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." (President Barack Obama, July 13, 2012)

The United States of America A contrarian's guide to electoral precedent

Computers and the Internet Newsweek will be going all-digital at the end of the year
US News and the Christian Science Monitor have also pretty well abandoned print, too. This trend will continue.

Broadcasting Old CBS News videos

Weather and Disasters NOAA's winter outlook forecasts a dry winter for the Upper Midwest
When, unfortunately, that's exactly the opposite of what we need

Weather and Disasters Dust storms over southern Nebraska today
High winds shut down Interstate 80 out in the western part of the state

Health Take two minutes for a self-exam today
Take a minute or two and conduct some basic self-screenings for cancer. Early detection saves lives. There's lots of misinformation about cancer that finds its way around the Internet, largely because we've been trained to wait expectantly for some sort of magic-bullet solution to cancer. But cancer risks can be significantly reduced through a balanced diet, exercise, and early detection and treatment. Meanwhile, science is making great progress towards improving genetic detection, which holds great promise for some types of cancer. Instead of forwarding hoax-ridden e-mails about "cancer cures" and false threats, people should instead remind their friends and family to assess their health once a month.

Computers and the Internet Less than a week until Windows 8 launches
It's a big change to the look and feel of the operating system, and it will undoubtedly confuse many users. But it may be essential for Microsoft to make the change so they can adapt to "lighter" computing -- mobile phones, tablets, and netbooks. The official release will be on October 26th.

Business and Finance Unemployment figures look lowest in the Midwest
Nobody should make the mistake of thinking the US economy is monolithic. We're all affected by many of the same factors -- but not in the same ways. On a related note, culture matters, too -- Iowans, for instance, are relatively stingy tippers. But then again, some servers in New York City think they're entitled to 25% tips. If 20% is the norm, then what are they doing to earn a 25% bonus?

Business and Finance Toyota pickup tows the Space Shuttle Endeavour
Publicity stunt? Sure. But it's worth noting that the Tundra is the second-most American-built truck.

Computers and the Internet Google rolls out a $249 Chromebook on Monday
Built by Samsung and running the Chrome operating system, they're going to give other computers a run for their money. It's going to be heavily cloud-centric, so people may want to pay more to get the $329 version with 3G wireless.

Business and Finance A summary of just how bad America's retirement-savings crisis really is

Business and Finance Someone goofed and let out Google's business results too early
And the company had a lot less profit in the third quarter of this year than they had brought in since the first quarter of 2011. So the stock tanked as traders (not investors, traders) panicked. But Google still has $45.7 billion in cash, so they have a great deal of capacity to decide what to do with themselves. They're still bringing in lots of ad revenues at YouTube and from their search results, but the growth rates are slowing, so unless they keep expenses from growin faster or find other sources of growth, they're going to see some leveling-off. Is all of that enough to justify an 8% drop in the market price of the company?

Computers and the Internet Inside Google's data centers
The company has been notoriously secretive up until now about its data centers. But they're aggressively building them -- Council Bluffs already has one finished, with a second one being prepared and more on the drawing boards.

Computers and the Internet Facebook claims 65 million users in India
It's a tremendous potential growth market, just based upon the population. But saturation rates for things like smartphones are extremely low, which means it's going to be a long slog to market maturity.