Gongol.com Archives: May 2013
Brian Gongol

May 16, 2013

Weather and Disasters Damage mitigation makes sense
Former Obama administration official Peter Orszag concludes that it's probably time to start looking at ways of making urban life more resilient to things like heavy rainfall and other dynamic weather patterns. His essay expresses frustration that "we seem to lack the will to reduce this threat by cutting greenhouse-gas emissions", but concludes that something can be done about mitigating the consequences. That's a conclusion that may well have been informed by Bjorn Lomborg, who has long argued that (a) there are likely to be climate changes ahead, (b) we humans may or may not be ultimately responsible, and (c) even if we are responsible for it, even the most drastic cuts to things like carbon-dioxide emissions are likely to make life terribly miserable without really reversing the effects of climate changes already underway. Lomborg makes a strong case for focusing our energy and resources on addressing problems that we know with a high degree of confidence that we can solve, rather than on speculative and massively costly efforts to reverse the warming of the global climate. His group concluded that $75 billion spent wisely could massively improve human happiness worldwide.

News Al Gore probably is about as wealthy as Mitt Romney
Gore got wealthy mainly after leaving office. His connections have kept him well-fed.

Weather and Disasters Some good news: 356 days without a tornado
That's the longest spell without a tornado in recorded history in Iowa. But we can't help but feel sympathy for the people of Texas, who had 12 tornadoes, including at least one EF-4 yesterday.

Iowa The Great Plains during the Colorado gold rush
A great map showing Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado during the gold rush. This is how the Great Plains looked during the Civil War.

Science and Technology Scientists find 1.5-billion-year-old water source a mile and a half under Canada
They think it's gone untouched by the rest of the environment for that incredible length of time, and they're trying to figure out if it contains anything living. If it does, that could hint at ways we should look for (and at) possible forms of life on Mars.

Computers and the Internet What does it mean to be a publisher?
The main writer behind a Chicago Cubs-related website posts a mea-culpa after relaying some rumors that he turned out to regret. He notes that since his site has evolved from a one-man blog into a much more significant operation, "I can -- and will -- still write 'differently' about the Cubs than traditional media, but I've got to stop thinking of myself as operating in an insular bubble." He deserves credit for recognizing that digital publishing still carries responsibilities, even if those words never make it to paper or the regulated airwaves. It's a lesson a lot of people have to learn, especially now that it's possible to publish to the entire world from a smartphone (possibly while drunk). As Charlie Munger put it at the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, "I think there's a time when your ignorance and folly ought to be hidden".

Threats and Hazards The threat to several species in Africa is great

News Will the indignation at White House behavior grow?

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