Gongol.com Archives: May 2014

Brian Gongol

May 2014
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May 1, 2014

News Better designs for daily reports

Socialism Doesn't Work British Green Party wants to re-nationalize industries like the railroads

Weather and Disasters Meteorologist orders his own tornado evacuation on live TV

Business and Finance US personal savings rate drops to 3.8%

Computers and the Internet Microsoft Internet Explorer susceptible to a zero-day security hole

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May 2, 2014

Weather and Disasters Forecasters are getting much better at predicting severe weather many days in advance
Perhaps we're not far from a time of having school cancellations for severe weather

Business and Finance Construction companies don't last forever
The companies that built the I-35W bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis aren't in business anymore. Not atypical.

Business and Finance Seattle's mayor says they'll enforce a $15 minimum wage

News Seattle Police: "Officers moving in to break up a moving fight between superheroes and anarchists"

Business and Finance Unemployment rate reportedly drops to 6.3%

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May 3, 2014

Health High-school kids build prosthetic hand with 3D printer

Business and Finance Are value investors "perpetually optimistic"?

News More violence in Ukraine

Health MERS case reported in Indiana affecting a health-care worker who flew through Chicago

Business and Finance Notes from the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting

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May 5, 2014

Computers and the Internet Just for fun, Sony tweaked a cassette tape to hold 185 terabytes

Business and Finance Target CEO resigns over data breach

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May 6, 2014

Computers and the Internet Stephen Hawking thinks we aren't taking artificial intelligence seriously enough...as a threat

Humor and Good News The Onion plans satirical site targeting Buzzfeed
Clickhole is coming next month

Computers and the Internet Skype announces free group video calls for up to 10 people
They must be feeling the pinch from Google Hangouts...?

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May 7, 2014

Science and Technology Computer model of the universe looks a lot like the real thing
One of the problems is balancing dark matter with visible matter

Weather and Disasters Omaha recalls a $300 million tornado from 1975


May 8, 2014

Health Using nanoparticles to find cancer cells with incredible precision

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May 9, 2014

Computers and the Internet Bigger than the Facebook IPO?
Alibaba wants to go public (the total amount isn't set yet, but it could be $20 billion, according to some speculation) -- and that would put a windfall of cash in Yahoo's bank account when it happens.

Computers and the Internet Police won't aggressively enforce rules on Lyft and Uber in Omaha...yet

Business and Finance The Pope is not an economist
His call for "legitimate redistribution" of wealth may be a statement of moral longing, but not really one of actionable economics. The poor only really become less so when opportunities to capitalize upon their knowledge, skills, and motivation are made possible by rational systems of law. Less valuable than "redistribution" is making sure that legitimate public services like education and sanitation are delivered well, and that property rights are respected (which they are not in many parts of the world). We're not going to get far when a billion people lack basic sanitation.

Business and Finance Cultural differences kill a huge merger of ad firms
Omnicom and Publicis were going to merge in a $35 billion deal. Then nobody could get along on the details.

Threats and Hazards Fukushima was an immediate disaster, but the ongoing radioactivity appears minimal

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May 10, 2014

Socialism Doesn't Work Hipsters on food stamps
Everyone gets to where they are in life through a blend of luck (good and bad) and choices (good and bad). Nobody should want to take good luck away from others, and we're not civilized if we don't recognize that bad luck just happens to some people (who may consequently need a helping hand to recover). But to the extent that we fail to build systems that reward and encourage good decisions (and discourage the bad ones), we're just knocking down the kind of standards that have taken centuries of human progress to achieve. We have romanticized certain notions -- like the value of doing only what you love and the myth built up around "creative" workers -- to the point of fetishization, when what we really need are smart people who are willing to do hard work because that's what's really rewarding in the long run. Hipsters using food stamps because they can't find full-time work as bloggers are making bad choices, not falling victim to bad luck.

Business and Finance "Like so many tech startups, Silvercar seems desperate to claim that it is 'disrupting' an incumbent industry"
Would someone please take the word "disruption" and hit it on the back of the head with a shovel? Most progress is from evolution, not revolution -- and when revolutions do happen, they rarely need to self-promote quite as much as "disrupters" like to announce themselves. Better goods and services? Yes, please...but stop trying to make them out to be bigger leaps than they are.

Broadcasting Show notes: WHO Radio Wise Guys - May 10, 2014
Official show page for the tech-news show and an on-demand podcast

Business and Finance How to set fees as a public speaker

Broadcasting Little-known facts about "The Cosby Show"

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May 11, 2014

Computers and the Internet Twitter co-founder says he's in it for the long run
That's fair, and quite probably a sincere belief. But the company still isn't making money, and the stock market isn't looking too kindly upon that loss-making (now entering its fifth straight year. One thing everyone should know about investing is that Nobody schedules an IPO to be good for buyers. IPOs are timed for maximum benefit to the sellers. People usually pursue an IPO for one of three reasons: (1) They're forced to do so upon reaching a legally-defined number of shareholders (Microsoft, for instance, had to go public because of the number of employees who owned shares); (2) they need to raise cash for expansion plans (which, in today's unprecedented environment of near-zero interest rates, is a rare thing); or (3) the insiders believe the company has reached its point of maximum hype relative to potential. And that's why nobody should rush to buy shares of Alibaba in its forthcoming IPO.

Computers and the Internet "Jet" is going all-digital
Times are tough for publications that go with words printed on a physical page, but that's no reason for the institutions themselves to die off. Jet is moving to a digital model.

The United States of America The Vice President wants to position himself as a leftist
He's probably running for the White House (again) in 2016, and it looks like he wants to do so as a left-wing populist

Broadcasting Barbara Walters is retiring this week

Weather and Disasters Fake, overstated, and overused weather pictures

Computers and the Internet Cybersecurity goes far beyond just antivirus protection
The worst thing that computer users can do is become complacent...and that's a major reason to worry about Mac enthusiasts who think they're impervious to attack because of the platform they use. Today's threats (and those of the future) are going to approach from directions that antivirus doesn't protect and that the Mac OS doesn't defend. Everyone who wishes to continue using technology needs to consider understanding the threats about as well as they should understand medicine: You should know how to perform first aid, and be at least informed enough that you can engage your doctor in decision-making. That's a tall order, but in the modern world, it's inescapable.

Broadcasting Show notes: The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 11, 2014
This week: Why we should at least think about giving everyone $250,000 when they turn 20. Listen live to the show at 9pm CDT.

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May 12, 2014

Health Polio is on the rise
It's an emergency of global consequence, since herd immunity is essential to keeping us all safe

The United States of America A Rorschach test for party platforms
The left prefers to talk about "fairness" and "equality"; the right, more about "freedom" and "liberty"

Broadcasting CBS will be worse-off without Craig Ferguson around
He managed to show that late-night television could be funny and silly, but also (when needed) quite thoughtful

News AP to reporters: Keep it under 500 words
It would seem that Reuters has issued the same guidelines. Anyone who's ever written for broadcast knows that 500 words is quite enough to tell a decent story. That's not to deny that some stories demand more, but when reporting the news, there's no reason to go for a John Galt monologue.

Broadcasting How they animate "Archer"


May 14, 2014

Computers and the Internet EU court orders Google to change results in "right" to be forgotten

News Mexico is now a net importer of petroleum products from the United States

Computers and the Internet Washington Post adds staffers with new focus on digital presence

Weather and Disasters How Japan bombed the United States during WWII
Balloons and the jet stream

Weather and Disasters Tornado videos from Nebraska

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May 15, 2014

Computers and the Internet The law-makers need to know technology
It is inevitable that technological issues will find their way into legal matters, so it's important that the people who make law (and who adjudicate it) have some familiarity with technology. The same goes for voters. Unfortunately, some remarks made during recent oral arguments before the Supreme Court have some observers worried that the Justices may need some serious "Consumer Technology 101" education. The same, though, should go for voters.

Computers and the Internet Almost everything that Snapchat said it did...it didn't
Many of the privacy claims made by the app renowned for its supposedly "disappearing" messages were in fact totally wrong. That should embarrass Facebook, which tried opening its wallet wide to buy out Snapchat last year. Facebook seems to have been far more lucky than smart so far, and seeing how it got taken for a positively asinine amount in exchange for WhatsApp, nobody should be surprised when Facebook crashes and burns.

News Surprise! Chicago's red-light camera program looks pretty corrupt.
The relationship between the city authorities overseeing the program and the private company providing the service looks like it got a little too cozy, with kickbacks and everything else you might expect.

News Illinois has a $100 billion public-pension debt
But a judge just ruled that any changes to the program would be unconstitutional if they change benefits or retirement ages

Computers and the Internet New LA Times website wants to pre-write readers' Twitter updates

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May 16, 2014

Iowa Debate over funding Iowa's state universities
It's a debate over academics, but also one involving the "keeping kids in Iowa" problem. "Keeping" shouldn't be the focus -- people move away from home all the time, wherever home is. But attracting the right workforce (no matter where they were raise) is a much more legitimate concern.

Business and Finance The longer young investors remain averse to stocks, the less wealthy they're going to be
But many appear to have been spooked badly by the 2008/2009 downturn

Business and Finance Flat incomes plus a little bit of inflation mean lower real incomes

News If only all rival candidates could stand politely next to one another

Science and Technology Tesla Motors foresees building hundreds of battery factories

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May 17, 2014

Computers and the Internet Detente between Apple and Google?
They're not in love or anything, but it appears they've come to an agreement to resolve almost two dozen lawsuits over who's using whose technology.

Weather and Disasters Damage survey from the May 11th tornadoes in Iowa

Business and Finance Are millions of 20-somethings unemployed, or are they just contractors and freelancers?

Business and Finance Nebraska supreme court says customer lists aren't always trade secrets
If they can be gathered from public sources or recited from memory, then the court doesn't think they're entitled to special legal protection

The United States of America US Air Force will have special time-off program for young parents

Science and Technology Stoneware that is grown rather than cut

Computers and the Internet Do we think and talk too slowly for future robots to want to bother conversing with us?

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May 24, 2014

Computers and the Internet Any company that has to scramble for the future like Google does faces huge extremes ahead
If they effectively apply computing technology to real-world problems, they'll have a real future. But the amount of way-outside-the-box thinking they will have to do just to stay competitive in the digital realm is truly daunting. They might just succeed, but one shouldn't bet the farm on it.

The United States of America President Obama: "The Superhero of Excuses"

Threats and Hazards 31 killed by bombing in China
It grows ever harder to believe that China as we know it will have the same borders in a decade or two

Business and Finance Negotiation tactics it can't hurt to learn

Humor and Good News Vocal ranges of pop singers, illustrated

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May 25, 2014

Socialism Doesn't Work FBI and others finally take a shot at China over cybertheft
It's long, long, long overdue

News In America, we form our coalitions before the general election
Which is why there are so many factions and wings within the Republican and Democratic parties. But it's also why a candidate who drops his affiliation with his own party in order to run as a rival independent is really running as a spoiler, whether or not he wants to admit it.

Business and Finance How Ben Bernanke is making a fortune off the dinner-speaker circuit
People seem to think he's going to give them special insight into what's happening next at the Federal Reserve. He seems to have no trouble cashing in on the notion.

Business and Finance It's time to fix the annual shareholder meeting
Almost all of them are rubber-stamp affairs. Too bad for capitalism -- we need some checks and balances.

Computers and the Internet Why Omaha is getting 1-gigabit Internet service from two different providers

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May 26, 2014

News Results of European elections don't offer much cause for optimism
Elections for the EU parliament appear to be sending lots of farther-left and farther-right representatives to Brussels. Just one example: Britain's anti-EU party won the most seats reserved for the UK. But if you ask the incomparably smug Paul Krugman, everything's just ducky in the Old World.

Threats and Hazards White House outs CIA station chief in Afghanistan
A pretty rotten failure of internal security. Time to review the system in place that allowed it to happen.

Computers and the Internet NYT innovation report is "like a bunch of people got together to envision 2010 from 2005"
Not everyone thinks they got the lay of the land right. Getting digital publishing right poses quite the challenge.

Iowa Iowans: High on patriotism, but low on unemployment
The combo means that there aren't a whole lot of people looking for opportunities in the military strictly for career options...but the recruits who walk in the door tend to be already quite eager to join

Aviation News Clubbing with Jay-Z at Atlanta Hartsfield


May 27, 2014

Business and Finance Alibaba wants to go public in the US -- but fakes are an unsettled problem
It's one thing to follow a competitor's lead and to try to improve upon what's already out in the market. It's quite another to try to rip off the look and feel of another good -- the trade dress, as it were -- and try to pass off a copycat item as if it were the original. It is that shameless ripping off of the originals that makes so much of the ongoing Chinese intellectual-property theft into such a terrible thing.

Threats and Hazards The United States is falling far behind in digital-warfare capabilities
Among other things, the Department of Defense buys things on such a slow timescale that they're only able to purchase technology that's more than a generation out of date

Computers and the Internet Google shows off its progress with the self-driving car
This is exactly the kind of thing that Google should be building its internal systems to promote -- applications for technology that fall well outside the company's standard lines of business (like search engines), but that could stand a massive dose of new computing power and programmatic thinking. The value of a truly self-piloted automobile would be enormous to society -- freeing up millions of person-hours every day for more useful purposes, preventing thousands of deaths and injuries annually, and providing means of independence to people who can't currently get from place to place on their own.

News Your tax dollars at work

Broadcasting A perfect walk through the history of local-television news openings
(Video) Through the lens of WBZ-TV in Boston

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May 29, 2014

The United States of America Uncle Sam versus the Chinese cyberarmy

Computers and the Internet Time to change eBay passwords

Broadcasting John Williams returns to WGN Radio
He left for a gig at WCCO in Minneapolis after previous management at WGN turned the station into a train wreck. Williams will now host shows for both stations every day, which is a lot to ask of a broadcaster...but he's really, really good.

Humor and Good News Musicians of the World: Less mopey crap, more power ballads. Please.
(Video) The Wilson Sisters could totally beat Justin Bieber in a street fight.

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May 30, 2014

Computers and the Internet Google, Europe, and the "right to be forgotten"

Computers and the Internet Why you should consider using two-step verification for Google access

Science and Technology Engineer suggests "printing" ourselves on another planet instead of traveling there

Computers and the Internet Why did Apple pay $3 billion for Beats?

Business and Finance Higher minimum wages will mean more automation
Companies don't hire people for the feel-good nature of putting people to work. They do it to achieve specific ends. And if a machine can achieve those ends cheaper than a person, then a machine will get the job.

Computers and the Internet Google's lack of employee diversity might surprise people

Threats and Hazards Mass murder in Syria

Humor and Good News Bureaucracy

Weather and Disasters Better radar for tornado detection

News Incoming college freshman wants to go to the West Virginia state legislature
That might be starting a bit too early

Computers and the Internet Microsoft is developing a smartwatch

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May 31, 2014

Business and Finance When Harvard grads flock to Wall Street, the market might be getting overheated

Aviation News Volcanic eruption in Indonesia shuts down flights in northern Australia

Humor and Good News Are Disney villains going soft?

Humor and Good News Super Mario's new "kart" is a Mercedes

Socialism Doesn't Work China's President Xi plans tighter controls on religion and forced ethnic assimilation in China's west

Business and Finance A math-heavy way of debunking the work of most (but not quite all) stock-pickers
Most of them add very little value at all when managing other people's money...but they're still paid dearly for it, because most people don't understand that they're getting screwed

Computers and the Internet Google intends to shame ISPs into faster service with YouTube video-quality index

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