Gongol.com Archives: December 2013
Brian Gongol

December 25, 2013

Business and Finance The economics of gift-giving
Sure, we overpay for the gifts we give to others, and many people would probably be happier with cash than with some of the things they receive. But that overlooks the sentimental nature of gift-giving -- as well as the benefits of feeling good about actually giving the gifts themselves.

Humor and Good News Perhaps people are overestimating the number of real "existential crises" out there

Iowa Cedar Falls police officer shoots man for trying to beat him unconscious

Business and Finance China aims lower
The government is hoping for a 7.5% rate of economic growth in 2014. They were hoping for 8% in 2013. The new target would still be a rapid rate of expansion, but half of a percentage point is a lot to shave off expectations.

Computers and the Internet Dell says a quarter-million computers are infected by Cryptolocker
A hugely important component of their report: "Backups to locally connected, network-attached, or cloud-based storage are not sufficient because CryptoLocker encrypts these files in the same manner as those found on the system drive."

Threats and Hazards The government spies on telephone metadata...to prove that it needs to spy on telephone metadata
The problem we're experiencing with over-reaches in the "war on terrorism" is the same as the problem of public budgeting. Nobody gets credit for returning what they don't use...which in turn leads to overreach and waste. A Nobel Prize awaits the person who figures out that Gordian knot.

Threats and Hazards UN says thousands have been killed in South Sudan
It's not good for humanity that a situation like this can go on and still seem like a remote problem

Business and Finance How grandparents can give their grandchildren a gift of financial savvy
You don't have to ram an understanding of money into their heads -- but it's really not good for finances to remain a taboo topic

Aviation News Brilliant use of a digital billboard
(Video) British Airways set up a billboard in London to highlight where its flights were going as they passed overhead

The United States of America Brian Schweitzer may have his eye on the White House
The former governor of Montana is a different flavor of Democrat than the ones currently running the party -- which, naturally, he'd have to be to get elected in Montana. Whether that translates into national appeal may be a different question altogether, but he's showing up in Iowa, and outside politician does that just for fun. On a related note, there's a case to be made that we're really divisible into eleven different cultural "nations".

News "What's the best way to encourage scholars to combine the best insights from multiple disciplines?"
The question comes from Bill Gates. The shortest answer may be to insist that college-bound students get two majors -- one in a "hard" science or a technical field (like science, business, or computers), and one in something from the liberal arts. On their own, liberal-arts degrees get a bad rap (and often deserve it). But the "hard" sciences need their actors to be well-rounded.

Computers and the Internet Facebook might kill itself by trying to be everything, all the time, to everyone
Specialization may be the way to stay durable. And now that Facebook is toying with video ads, they're really going to test the patience of some users.

Business and Finance Attitude starts at the top
Governors who make positive and optimistic "condition of the state" speeches may actually influence their local business communities to invest.

Business and Finance Standard and Poor's says Europe is no longer has AAA credit

News The Battle of the Bulge in color
Something about colorization (done right) makes the pictures a lot more real

The United States of America Putin says America is "non-traditional"
Ah, for the days when we all understood the original meaning and intent of the label "classical liberalism"

Iowa State-owned resort is barely breaking even

Humor and Good News How different media outlets would report the end of the world

Computers and the Internet British company says half of teenagers surveyed have never sent a personal letter
A Tweet to family and friends will only go so far

The United States of America If you don't like Washington gridlock, you may need to change the system
But motion isn't the same as action -- and action isn't necessarily what we always should want from our political representatives. So if they aren't getting things done, isn't that often a good thing unto itself?