Gongol.com Archives: August 2013
Brian Gongol

August 5, 2013

Agriculture Lab-grown hamburger served for the first time
The idea of lab-grown meat is going to take a while for most people to digest (psychologically), but in the long run, it's an idea that we should do our best to get right. The more we can do to satisfy the world's food needs, the safer human civilization itself will be...and if that requires some novel, innovative, and mind-bending experiments along the way, then so be it.

Humor and Good News Dinosaurs playing Scrabble
Better than dogs playing poker

Business and Finance The New York Yankees get a terrible return on their player-salary investments
They aren't getting the kind of hits per dollar that the market returns for most every other team

Aviation News The future of regional jets
If your home airport isn't a major hub, here are the airplanes that are coming soon to a terminal near you

News Why more choice isn't always a good thing
Chuck Klosterman's 2005 column still resonates -- even though we don't want anyone to take away our choices, sometimes it's satisfying not to have to decide

News The situation in Detroit didn't have to come to bankruptcy
But the choices that would have prevented it needed to have been made long ago and weren't. George Will argues that those calling for a Federal bailout of the city claim to bow to forces as great as a hurricane -- but that those forces are nothing more than the result of irresponsible popular choice. It's very difficult to see a durable solution to the city's problems when many adults aren't even literate to an 8th-grade level. That's a problem so deep that no quick fix is going to work. The state of decay in the physical infrastructure of the city is haunting.

Computers and the Internet Google goes public with "Project Loon"
That's the plan to provide WiFi Internet access over huge geographical areas with the help of high-altitude balloons. Great for consumers, but Google investors will probably come to regret some of the company's (literally and figuratively) lofty ambitions someday.

Business and Finance To get a bead on the economy, check with the machine shops
The people who make the pieces behind the scenes that become the products that other companies assemble can give a decent reading of the tea leaves as to the health of the real economy

News How do you define "fair"?
Alex Rodriguez is going to challenge his suspension from Major League Baseball, and that challenge means an appeal before an independent arbitrator. Consider the number of individual things that weigh on whether the outcome of the process is "fair": The independence and conscientiousness of the arbitrator, the process for revealing and reviewing evidence, the weighing of the rules applied, the circumstances -- including the law -- under which the rules were instituted, the length of the suspension, the cost of the suspension (to the suspended and to his team), the potential deterrent effect of the judgment, the benefits to be gained by breaking the rules, the implicit costs of not breaking the rules, the toll of a rules violation on the integrity of the sport, and the impact on fans of the sport...among many other factors. How does one measure "fairness" in terms of the damage done to the careers of pitchers, for instance, who played by the rules when certain batters did not? (It certainly could have conferred an advantage to pitchers had the roles been reversed.) Can anything be done to compensate them now? What about the potential deterrent effect of a punishment? Does that "make whole" the damage done to players who may already have retired from the game? The point is that "fairness" is an enormously difficult ideal to achieve.

Computers and the Internet At long last, Netflix will allow multiple profiles on the same account
Parents don't want their recommendations contaminated with kids' choices, and vice-versa, and the quality of the Netflix recommendation engine is best used on an individual basis. Letting people share the cost of an account while still getting individualized recommendations is a wonderful feature.

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