Gongol.com Archives: 2015 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol

September 6, 2015

Threats and Hazards Perverse incentives can deliver despicable results
In China, "It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure" because the incentives are on the side of killing a pedestrian rather than causing injury. The costs of burial are less than the costs of compensating the injured person for their medical care. Always look to the incentives created by laws, rules, culture, and other systems to anticipate the likely outcomes or to explain ones that seem perverse.

Computers and the Internet The new Google logo
There are things that the new "identity" does well, but the logo itself is nothing impressive

Computers and the Internet Facebook Messenger is now the number-two app on US smartphones
Only the Facebook application itself is more widely used. Forcing people off the messaging service built into the broader Facebook app and into the dedicated service certainly gave them another product to tout -- though it doesn't necessarily mean they have any broader total reach than before.

News A thoughtful angle on the Syrian refugee situation
People are escaping war by boat and on foot. Pope Francis has gone so far as to implore every Catholic parish in Europe to take in a refugee family.

News One-paragraph book review: "Devils on the Deep Blue Sea"

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September 5, 2015

Business and Finance Startups are wildly overrated
Fortune: "The companies in the US that have a high impact on job growth aren't newest firms -- they're companies that are at least 15 to 20 years old on average"

Weather and Disasters Why Miami isn't ready for another hurricane
Low elevation, high population density and growth, and porous bedrock

Humor and Good News Barenaked Ladies cover of "In the Air Tonight"

Humor and Good News The Cubs are at last consistently fun to watch
(Video) Cubs fans have waited far too long to get players who crush grand slams

September 3, 2015

News A mass crisis, summed up in one little person's tragedy
If your reaction to the death of a child who drowned while trying to escape Syria is anything but heartbreak, you need to readjust your thinking

News Why Europe has so many refugees trying to get in
Human-caused disasters in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Northern Africa are leaving tens of thousands on the run

Science and Technology The near-term outlook for electric cars
They're coming soon to a mass market

Business and Finance Why Berkshire Hathaway reinvests all of its profits at MidAmerican
A guaranteed 11% return on equity is a huge incentive to reinvest. That's contributed heavily to Iowa's wind-generation boom.

Business and Finance Where are America's STEM jobs, and how much do they pay?

September 2, 2015

Threats and Hazards It's time to be clear about the shocking magnitude of the Syrian humanitarian disaster
2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this summer. If six Boeing 747 jumbo jets had crashed this summer, we'd be paying attention to the problem. But somehow this story is falling through the cracks. And it's not a single disaster featuring 2,500 casualties -- it's 2,500 individual calamities, including two involving innocent little boys who drowned on a Turkish beach. The pictures are absolutely heart-wrenching. But the reality is even worse. Millions of people are trying to flee ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh and a criminal government in Syria. Where is our humanity?

Business and Finance A rise in productivity
0.7% from year to year, according to the BLS. That's better than zero, but not by much.

Threats and Hazards An extremely troubling police shooting

Business and Finance The trouble with chart-watching
People who look to predict the future of business by the movements of stock prices are playing financial astrology

Humor and Good News Cartoons should be funny, not tepid

September 1, 2015

Computers and the Internet Russia and China are building databases of data stolen from American computers
A vast repository of spies and subjects is being created, it would appear

Computers and the Internet Behold the new Google logo
A triumph of over-simplification. Where's the energy in the new look? Wholly dull, milquetoast, and uninspiring.

Business and Finance The NLRB may have gone too far

Broadcasting KCRG-TV is no longer independently owned
The Gazette Co. is selling off the standalone station

Computers and the Internet LinkedIn is rolling out a new messaging service