Gongol.com Archives: January 2014
Antibacterial soap: Not helpful, and probably harmful
Why Bill Gates is optimistic about 2014
Progress on important human-development issues is being made, with more to come
Valuable information sheets on nutrition and health
Including one that analyzes what's inside energy drinks
The best times of year to make particular purchases
Different things are cheap at different times of year, so knowing when the best deals are available can be a money-saver for those who have the luxury of putting off their purchases
No new monsignors
Is the NSA spying on Congress?
More specifically, are they spying on Congress any more or less than on the rest of the American public? Mum's the word. Incidentally, the NSA isn't the only agency in question: Some local police departments seem to be practicing a lot of extraordinary data collection, too.
Winter weather local-news bingo
WHO Radio Wise Guys: January 4, 2014
Trends, tips, and technology
Back to the (very recent) past in savings
A 2005 analysis of savings in the United States noted that the household savings rate was nearly zero, and that the US economy was depending mightily on business "savings" and inflows of foreign investment to make up for that terribly low rate. The personal savings rate has recovered a bit since then, but it's still not very impressive. Ultimately, too, if we depend heavily on foreign purchases of American stocks and bonds to support the economy, we may be effectively giving away our assets in exchange for short-term gratification. How we go about solving that is a real challenge, but it's a debate we really must have post-haste. The more we become dependent upon government programs (like Federally-subsidized health care), the more it will become tempting to vote ourselves into poverty by giving ourselves "benefits" which can only be paid-for by borrowing from abroad.
If we fall for the straw-man arguments, we'll never get better as a country
Today, it's the left wing mocking small-government types by equating snowplows with socialism (tongues sarcastically in cheek). Yesterday, it was people on the right who claimed that Phil Robertson (of "Duck Dynasty") was being denied his First Amendment rights in being suspended from television by his cable network. Let's be clear: No sane person thinks that a basic public infrastructure is socialism, nor is it a violation of the First Amendment for a cable network to suspend a TV personality for saying things that reflect badly on the network. We should call out otherwise-reasonable people for echoing straw-man arguments and false representations of their opponents. All but 1% of us mean well and want things to get better for everyone -- even if we sometimes pull in different directions to get there.
News outlets: For crying out loud, stop giving credence to crop circle "alien" theories
If you see a crop circle, it was done by people. Period.
The lungs have a sense of smell
Sometimes, charity isn't helpful
Be thoughtful about your charity -- think about what good and harm you may be doing, and give deliberately rather than haphazardly.
Dozens of tricks to make life a little easier
These so-called lifehacks vary from the stupid to the inspired, but they do highlight how helpful the Internet has become as a tool for disseminating ideas universally at zero cost. A good lifehack with suitable applicability can be spread around the world in a matter of days, when by comparison it took thousands of years for humans to learn to use written language.