Gongol.com Archives: November 2014

Brian Gongol

November 2014
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November 1, 2014

News Should you have to be doing journalism to teach journalism?
And, if so, is there any distinction that makes journalism special, or does the same expectation apply to all professions? Another angle on this idea suggests a "teaching hospital model for journalism".

Business and Finance Banks are getting into trouble again
You don't want to be in a position where schadenfreude is working against you, and Wall Street generally has been working triple-overtime to make that happen

Agriculture Drones to the rescue of agriculture
Becoming the low-cost producer is the only survival mechanism in a commodity market

Business and Finance America's business executives think their subordinates are slackers
A Deloitte Consulting survey basically reveals that half of executives (and companies) have zero interest in training and developing their people, including those who are in line to become higher-level executives. That's appalling. What is a company if not a group of people working together with a common base of knowledge to get things done? If managers at the highest levels aren't confident in their subordinates, that's the fault of the managers.

Broadcasting Now a year old, here's what went into the current Weather Channel graphics

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November 2, 2014

Broadcasting Show notes: The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 2, 2014

Agriculture Corn is still king in Iowa, but at half-price, it's holding down some of the economy

News Chicago Sun-Times attempts to launch a national news network
They're trying to start up a national-scale, localizable site with a partner in each of the 50 states.

Broadcasting Does television have to be original to be good?
Columnist Phil Rosenthal argues that sometimes you're best off duplicating a model that has worked before. See the book "Copycats" for another angle on the same argument.

Agriculture Four ways to make farming better in poor places
Bill Gates's list is interesting -- the most interesting is the use of videos showing farmers how to do things better and raise more crops. It's interesting to note how important a sensitivity to the local culture can be towards getting people to adopt practices that will help them.

News The view from the new World Trade Center

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November 7, 2014

Computers and the Internet Microsoft makes (some) Office free

News Detroit is approved to exit bankruptcy
$18 billion in debt will be written down to $11 billion

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November 8, 2014

Threats and Hazards The Fourth Amendment: DOA?

Weather and Disasters Huge storm to hit Alaska, then track south

Threats and Hazards Gorbachev says we're at risk of a new Cold War
The battle for classical liberal values has to be fought every single day without backing down. And we might have stepped back a little too much.

News AP drops its director of news training
Any organization (including a non-profit like the AP) that puts training and development on a lower shelf is headed for trouble

The United States of America Fresh off electoral drubbing, President Obama demands quick confirmation of attorney general


November 9, 2014

The United States of America America remains the world's most attractive place for investment

Computers and the Internet Irish group uses fake profiles on Tinder to highlight sex trafficking

Business and Finance KC Federal Reserve says the Midwest manufacturing economy is "sluggish"

Computers and the Internet Facebook tweaks the news feed to make it easier to throttle back individuals
Social media have made it much too easy to find out who's a lot crazier than you might have guessed from real-life encounters. Facebook is wise to insert this tool -- probably long-overdue, really -- since the problem with any online tool is that people can easily declare "bankruptcy" of sorts on their accounts. When MySpace got too overbearing, people just left.

News China's putting $40 billion into a "silk road" project
More money being spent on infrastructure to expand influence across Asia. They have loads of cash, low-return options for domestic investment, and a serious need to sustain economic growth by any and all means. We'll see more big announcements like this.

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 9, 2014

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November 14, 2014

Humor and Good News Disney princesses without the impossible waistlines

Business and Finance Somehow, a store built on a 9-year-old's fashion whims doesn't sound like a permanent business model

Humor and Good News Observations on Sesame Street's iconic Pinball Number Count

News Does working in Foxconn's Chinese factories sap people of their will to live?

Threats and Hazards White House intrusion incident: Everything that could have failed or gone wrong, did

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November 15, 2014

Business and Finance Forecasting consultancy thinks a recession in 2015 is 65% likely

Threats and Hazards Des Moines mother lets her 5-year-old die of neglect
Even the most ardent libertarian should recognize the compelling interest that the state must have in protecting children

Threats and Hazards How serious are we about our eastern-frontier NATO allies?
Russia is aggressively showing off its military hardware around the Baltic (and elsewhere). How seriously should we take these displays, and are we deadly serious about going to war to defend our allies if they are attacked?

Business and Finance Sometimes what kids need for better development...is job training for their parents
If we give lip service to the importance of "education", but treat it as though it's something we do as children and then forget about later, then we're going to be disappointed in the long term. It's no good to think of a diploma as the end of education, particularly in a globally competitive economy. And if kids aren't able to come home to stable home lives, it's much harder for them to learn...which means that we need to address the need for education and job training comprehensively. Post-secondary education costs too much and there are too many barriers to study. That's absurd, considering that we have the Internet at our fingertips and a national interest in raising the quality of our labor force.

Science and Technology "Newsweek" argues that technology is "stuck"
That is: It's creating lots of baubles, but not a lot of real progress. While there are a lot of meaningless, distracting products that are making their way to market, technology is iterative. It has to grow in small steps, in addition to big leaps. And those big leaps are unpredictable and infrequent.


November 16, 2014

The American Way Germany celebrates 25 years of reunification
Capitalism won. Communism lost. And yet market economies only work if they are actively defended every single day against well-meaning idiots and malicious statists.

Iowa The "farmer wave" gets its own week in Iowa
When Iowans give other drivers the one-finger salute...it's not the same finger as in other parts of the country

Business and Finance Putin says he expects a "catastrophic" lull in oil prices, but reserves can handle it
Russia has long ridden natural-resources bonanzas (thanks to the country's enormous size, it has access to more of those than most nations do). But you can't build a durable economy on natural resources without a real market strategy. Very few countries get this right.

Business and Finance Compensation consultant: Best job in the world?
Get hired by a corporate executive to come up with a way to justify the highest possible amount that very executive should be paid. America needs more actively-involved (and slightly management-hostile) shareholders.

Threats and Hazards Kurdish group says ISIS/ISIL/QSIL has 200,000 fighters
The longer the group holds its positions, the more entrenched they become in the public mindset -- and that's what the group wants

Business and Finance More signs of trouble that the Chinese economy is slowing
Big consequences could result for the rest of the world

Broadcasting Show notes: The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 16, 2014

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November 17, 2014

Science and Technology Today: Drones give us unprecedented views of the climb up a TV tower
Tomorrow: Drones will do dangerous work (like climbing towers) instead of people

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November 19, 2014

Broadcasting Show notes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 19, 2014
Filling in for Simon Conway

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November 20, 2014

Threats and Hazards The US military has very low faith in the political sector
By historical standards, that's a bit of a problem. Countries usually need a system of trust with arm's-length detachment between their military and political sectors in order to do well.

Computers and the Internet Facebook plans a business edition, it appears

Computers and the Internet Why is college so slow to get online?
Bill Gates shares some observations on the long, slow haul to get post-secondary schooling on the Internet

Business and Finance Who among the world's richest people made it themselves?

Agriculture The harvest is in, and the crops did well
But it may not quite be the blow-the-doors-off record-setter that people had expected

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November 21, 2014

News Circuit-court judge says Illinois can't adjust state-employee pensions to fix the state's budgetary train wreck
Something has to be done -- Illinois is in dire distress, and the pension obligations involved are no small cause

The United States of America "Legislative branch not included"
Cartoonist Jeff Koterba nails the problem with the executive branch expressing its frustration with the legislative by moving unilaterally. If you don't think the President should be allowed to commit troops to war without Congressional approval, or if you think that it's important for the laws to reflect the will of the people, then you shouldn't be applauding the Obama administration's unilateral action to change the immigration system. It's inconsistent policy.

News The transitive property of the NFL

Health HS runner with MS doesn't feel pain while running
It may confer a competitive advantage, but nobody would voluntarily pay the price to get it. The girl deserves credit for the effort.

Business and Finance China's central bank cuts interest rates to give the economy a boost
Their economy is still growing, but the rate of growth is slipping. The slippage is the problem. The country is flush with cash (thanks to years of exporting much more stuff than they have imported), but it appears they're running out of good ideas for domestic investment. That's going to spell trouble: If the Communist Party can't deliver consistent and fast economic growth, they're going to have a lot of trouble keeping a lid on political rebellion.

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November 22, 2014

Threats and Hazards While America slept...
Chinese hackers attacked NOAA's computers in late September. Why? Don't know; don't care -- other than to know that it's a piece of critical national infrastructure, and should be taken as seriously as an attack on any other piece of infrastructure, in the physical world or the digital one.

News Republican governors are the party's best shot for the White House
Republicans who are either sitting or past governors are almost certainly the GOP's best prospects for electoral success in 2016. Americans tend to lean Republican in our executive-branch politics when it becomes clear that the adults need to be in charge for a while.

Business and Finance If China's economy slows, a lot of raw-materials prices could drop

The United States of America Perspective on the scale of America's energy boom
We're enormously lucky -- the job now is to be smart and convert that good luck into a durable advantage

News Putin doesn't want a revolution

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November 23, 2014

Business and Finance Radio shownotes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 23, 2014

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November 24, 2014

Computers and the Internet What if the European Commission actually tries to break up Google's European operations?
Sure, there's certainly much about Google's behavior that might cause one to watch them carefully. But they're in an industry where incumbency really is no guarantee of ongoing success (just ask AOL), and where it may in fact just be an obstacle to ongoing performance. It takes very little for people to sample a competitor's wares when it comes to things like search engines, and a superior alternative is a hugely attractive thing.

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November 29, 2014

News The firing of Secretary Hagel
Long story short: It doesn't come from a position of strength for the White House

Health A fight at the University of Iowa Hospitals over scrubs

Threats and Hazards We live in a world where children aren't even free to dance
Protests in Iran are now taking the form of spontaneous dance -- because it isn't allowed

News The need for better "explainers" in the media
Reporting is one thing; contextualizing is something else. Both are essential.

Threats and Hazards "60 Minutes" examines America's short-sightedness with our infrastructure
We've coasted for far too long, and that's only making the necessary repairs more costly. People need to realize that deferred maintenance and depreciation are real costs.


November 30, 2014

The United States of America Peace requires strength; strength requires discipline
A rule of life that shouldn't be overlooked on any scale. Individuals need to be disciplined and strong in order to live without fear of others. Nations have to be disciplined and strong in order to live peacefully in the world. And a corollary: One cannot be merciful without first being strong.

Humor and Good News A helpful guide to cousins, cousins-removed, and the like

Business and Finance OPEC decides against production cuts
And the practical effect is essentially the same as imposing economic sanctions on the United States (and the rest of North America), which has roared ahead with production from non-traditional oil sources into a leading position in the global petroleum market

Business and Finance Private nostalgia should rarely be funded by the public purse
Food for thought next time someone expects taxpayers to pick up the tab for something they want, "just because"

Agriculture Efforts being undertaken in Illinois to promote cover crops

Broadcasting Radio notes - The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 30, 2014

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