Gongol.com Archives: 2015 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

July 26, 2015

News One-paragraph book review: "The ITT Wars"

News How Taylor Swift could cause a diplomatic incident
It's not because she's never, ever, ever getting back together with a diplomat

Threats and Hazards Set off the alarms: ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh continues to evolve into a permanent nation-state

Science and Technology NASA found another planet much like Earth

Broadcasting Show notes - The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 26, 2015

July 24, 2015

Business and Finance $800 billion in investments have left China in the last year
The government may be propping up the stock market, but that's a huge amount of capital outflow from the private sector. Gargantuan, really.

Business and Finance Amazon.com earned a profit in the second quarter
Remarkable because the company doesn't usually earn a profit. It was only $92 million on $23 billion in sales (or a 0.4% profit margin), but it's in the black nonetheless. The thing is, it's really hard for anyone to compete with an outsized market dominator that doesn't turn a consistent profit.

Science and Technology Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.4 million US vehicles
They were left vulnerable to hacking because a communications port was left open. A USB device is supposed to fix the error.

Computers and the Internet YouTube still working on a subscription model
They say content creators responsible for 90% of time spent watching have signed up to permit their videos on the subscription service, but they want 100% parity between the two versions of YouTube (ad-supported and subscription), so they might end up dropping some videos if the creators hold out.

Computers and the Internet "Time-lapse mining" from photos shared online
Researchers at the University of Washington and Google cooperated to "mine" social media for thousands of photos of well-known locations to create time-lapse videos using "geometric stabilization" (since the photos are aggregated from different perspectives). The paper concludes, "Our system discovered 10,728 time-lapses that show how the world's most popular landmarks are changing over time" and suggests how more could be done in the future as the number of online photos available for "mining" will grow. The system seems to especially like buildings under construction and waterfalls.

July 23, 2015

Threats and Hazards Chicago Tribune editorial gets the Sandra Bland case exactly right
Calling for the arresting officer to be fired, they note, "Bland didn't die at the side of the road. She died three days later, in jail. She shouldn't have been there in the first place." In any conflict, it is the solemn responsibility of the party with more power to de-escalate the situation.

Science and Technology Can you record the police?
If you're not interfering with their work, yes. And they can't take your phone or erase its contents without a warrant. And if you look at the suspicion surrounding the glitches in the dashcam video of the Sandra Bland incident, you should see why independent recordings and third-party custody of police dashcam and bodycam videos are important.

News Judge says the State Department shouldn't have taken four years to respond to FOIA requests over Sec. Hillary Clinton
Taking four years to respond isn't anything close to "transparency"

Humor and Good News Sen. Lindsey Graham stars in "How to destroy your cell phone"
A very clever response to Donald Trump acting like a clown and giving out Graham's personal telephone number. (Most of the methods shown are not in fact recommended for destroying an old phone.)

Threats and Hazards FBI director worries more about ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh than Al Qaeda
James Comey thinks that Al Qaeda's more methodical approach keeps it from conducting as many attacks as its offshoot will ultimately initiate, because the latter has taken to massive levels of publicity and has the potential to give ideas and some forms of training to "lone wolf" attackers

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July 22, 2015

Threats and Hazards Texas state trooper radically escalates traffic stop
(Video) The result was that a woman named Sandra Bland went to jail over failure to signal a lane change. And was found dead in her cell three days later.

News Donald Trump (a/k/a The Orange Menace) gives out Sen. Lindsey Graham's personal phone number at campaign stop
It's an utterly classless move by a world-class clown

Computers and the Internet Matchmaking website for cheaters gets hacked
AshleyMadison, which was just about to go for an IPO, now has to deal with a group that says it's going to release "all customer records, profiles with all the customers' secret sexual fantasies, nude pictures, and conversations" online. This is a case where even if you like the outcome (shutting down a website for adulterers), you have to be displeased with the process.

Broadcasting HDTV is too good
It's driving people crazy on movie and TV sets -- they have to attend to details that have never mattered before, and that means they have to create an unreal reality in order not to offend what viewers expect to see

News Army chief of staff views ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh on a decadal timeline
General Ray Odierno: "ISIS is a ten to twenty year problem, itís not a two years problem"

July 21, 2015

Science and Technology Robot passes test of self-awareness

Aviation News United Airlines rewards hackers for telling them about security error on website
Millions of miles -- probably cheaper than the consequences of leaving the security error in place

Science and Technology How police cars have gotten better -- a subtle quality-of-life improvement

Humor and Good News You, too, can claim to be worth $10 billion

News North Korea claims a 99.97% electoral turnout
A good example of how numbers can sometimes be a little too perfect. See also: Bernie Madoff.