Gongol.com Archives: February 2013
Brian Gongol

February 21, 2013

Threats and Hazards Shootout and explosion leaves three people dead on the Las Vegas Strip
But the Las Vegas Police, apparently keen to protect tourism revenues more than people, say that even though the shootout happened at the corner of the Strip and Flamingo Road (or, in other words, dead center when you search for "Las Vegas" on Google Maps), a police spokesperson says "People don't have to worry". Oh, really? One would think people should worry when there are shootings along one of the most popular pedestrian paths in America. If the police can't use the mountains of video evidence that most certainly exists from the hundreds of surveillance cameras in the area to swiftly identify the perpetrators and send them directly to prison for life, then we should immediately end the use of surveillance cameras for any policing purpose in America. This had better be the world's fastest open-and-shut case. If it's not, then nobody should ever visit Las Vegas again.

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #11
A teacher -- recently trained in curbing incidents like school shootings -- stopped a stabbing at an Iowa City restaurant on Monday. You never know when you're going to be around when something bad is going to happen.

Science and Technology World population of mountain gorillas is under 1,000
The good news is that the number appears to be increasing. The bad news is that it's still so dangerously low.

Business and Finance What's wrong with the French labor system?
Quite likely, the fault lies with the law

News What is so hard about understanding that 911 is for emergencies only?
That the Iowa State Patrol sent out a press release reminding people that 911 is for emergencies only, and that 511 is the road-condition number, tells us that some idiots are still calling 911 asking for road conditions. And the abuse of 911 isn't just isolated to Iowa winter travelers. There's a never-ending litany of stupid calls to 911.

Computers and the Internet "Scroogled"?
Microsoft wants to raise fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the minds of webmail users by pointing out that Google's computers review the contents of your e-mail sent via Gmail to target the ads that appear on the service. Humans don't conduct the reviews, but computers do. And it's no big secret to anyone who has paid any attention whatsoever to Google for the last eight or nine years. But at the same time, many people who aren't tech enthusiasts -- but rather, just ordinary users -- probably aren't aware that Google targets ads in that way. And if their complacency or ignorance of the technology is disrupted by a rival's ad campaign, then that's probably better than them not being cognizant of the process at all.

Business and Finance The inflation rate is still between 1% and 2%
Now, this would seem odd, given that the Federal Reserve has poured vast amounts of money into the money supply. But the economy is governed by a simple equation: MV = PQ. The quantity of dollars in the economy (M), multiplied by the velocity (V) of those dollars (or, put differently, the number of times each dollar is used) equals the price level (P) times the quantity (Q) of real goods and services in the economy. More money poured in, with the velocity of money and the quantity of goods held constant, means the price level rises -- or, in other words, inflation. But what seems to have happened lately is that velocity (V) has fallen off a cliff. It's unusual, but if everyone just sits on their money, then the Fed can (and must) dump a ton of new money into the system in order to keep prices from crashing. (And, while lower prices might be fun on occasion in Wal-Mart, persistent deflation is a really, really bad thing.) So, the real challenge here is that someone is going to have to pull a mountain of money out of the economy when the velocity picks back up again someday, or else we're going to have a huge problem with inflation. But they can't take it out before then, or we'll have painful (or even disastrous) deflation.

Computers and the Internet A low fashion quotient isn't the only obstacle to Google Glass
The company is trying to find ways to make their wearable computers (attached to a pair of eyeglasses) look good, according to the New York Times. But the problems don't stop with aesthetics. It's also going to be very difficult for people wearing glasses-that-are-also-recording-devices to convince friends and family to be candid around them. It's hard enough to live with the knowledge that people could be surreptitiously recording your every move anyway. Unless Google Glass adds a full-fledged 1980s-VHS-camera-style flashing red "recording" light to Google Glass, every conversation will have to be preceded by "Are you recording this? Really? Come on, tell me the truth." Try having an intimate romantic conversation with someone wearing a pair of glasses like that. Without a doubt, wearable computing is going to become more commonplace with time -- perhaps someday achieving complete ubiquity. But the early adopters will have a lot of explaining to do. Wristwatch computers and less in-your-face (literally) jewelry will probably make better inroads than glasses will. And then the glasses will be made with smaller frames -- indistinguishable from those on ordinary glasses -- and the questions will probably stop.

Science and Technology Stand up to "psychic" frauds

Health The vast power of vaccines

News Jesse Jackson, Jr. pleads guilty to taking $750,000 from campaign funds for himself