Gongol.com Archives: 2015 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol

December 18, 2015

Aviation News US Air Force to offer $125,000 "critical skills retention bonuses" to drone pilots
They have to promise to stick around for five additional years. Warfare has changed dramatically.

Aviation News The FAA will require drones to be registered next year
It should never have taken this long for the agency to impose the registration requirement. If they'd implemented a registry back when these things were brand-new, then everyone would see registration as the status quo and there wouldn't be a fight. But trying to implement registration now -- long after drones have hit the mainstream -- is comically incompetent.

Computers and the Internet A 64-bit version of Firefox has arrived

Computers and the Internet DNC goes to war with the Bernie Sanders campaign
The two are fighting over access to voter data belonging to the Hillary Clinton campaign that the DNC says the Sanders team took, "like if you walked into someone's home when the door was unlocked and took things that don't belong to you".

News Battles, both economic and military
Ukraine says it can't or won't repay $3 billion in bonds owned by Russia. Russia lent the money to prop up the former government, and now Ukraine says it can't pay back in part because it's so expensive to fight with the separatists in the eastern part of the country (who are, of course, backed by Russia).

December 17, 2015

Science and Technology California is working on rules for self-driving cars
The faster they get something on the books, the better. The technology is moving quickly, and the lack of a legal framework is a serious problem. There is a very urgent public-health case to be made for getting humans as far away from the driver's seat as possible. We are the cause of almost all crashes.

Computers and the Internet If you think governments can or should control the Internet, you have a friend in the Communist Party

Business and Finance Seven years of 0% interest rates
Even at just slightly over 0%, we still live in remarkable times that will look totally incredible from the perspective of future history

News Canadians are selling "bottled air" to China
The smog is so bad in China that people are actually buying it. One thing is for certain: People with political rights and a little bit of prosperity tend to agitate very quickly for changes to environmental conditions that endanger them. Killer fogs in London led to clean-air legislation, and river fires in the Rust Belt led to clean-water legislation well before the Federal government stepped in. But if people either lack the political influence to agitate for a solution or the material well-being to afford the resources necessary to do the cleanup, then no obvious solution exists.

Business and Finance You can try to fight economic laws, but they act like gravity
The Teamsters Union Central States Pension Fund is running out of money and is asking the government to allow it to reduce benefits. One's heart breaks for the pain that cuts would impose on the pensioners who expected to get their full benefits -- but the pension system was inadequately designed: Too many Baby Boomers joined and are now retiring, the workforce taking their place is less interested in joining unions, and the pension fund apparently over-promised what its actual investment returns can do. Perhaps it's a reminder that (a) everyone has to get educated about finances and look out for themselves, regardless of the promises made by employers, unions, or the government; and (b) that it's best to see that labor and capital are mutualistic and that nobody wins when they turn antagonistic with one another. That second part might be a worthy reminder for the short-sighted buffoons who have nothing but bad things to say about "corporate America" without realizing that -- just for instance -- sometimes a union pension fund itself owns a big slice of "corporate America".

December 16, 2015

News New battleship breaks down after 20 days of service
If it were a car, we'd call that a lemon

Broadcasting Could Thursday-night NFL move to a streaming-only model?
Nobody should dismiss the idea prematurely

Business and Finance Dow and DuPont want a "marriage of equals"
A rarity when each of the partners is worth around $50 billion

Computers and the Internet Microsoft really, really wants you to update to Windows 10
Still free to computers with Windows 7 or 8, at least for the time being. No guarantee that it will last beyond the start of next year.

Business and Finance Federal Reserve decides to raise interest rates to 0.25%
It's non-zero, but barely distinguishable from it

December 15, 2015

News The world "has not grown harder: just more foolish and selfish"
How we treat refugees says a lot about our humanity

Science and Technology Why government needs to evolve with the pace of technology
We don't necessarily need more democracy -- people are inclined to make stupid decisions, especially when decision-making isn't their particular strength -- but we do need to make sure that laws and regulations keep pace with the real world.

Science and Technology Ford will put Gorilla Glass in the new GT

Aviation News Northrup Grumman touts its 2030s-era fighter jet of the future
Probably jumping the gun a little bit...maybe we should get the F-22 working flawlessly first.

Business and Finance The Midwest continues to experience deflation
Fun in the very short term, maybe. But a real hazard in the long term, since it tends to discourage people from spending money, which is more or less that upon which the entire economy relies.

December 14, 2015

News Civilian oversight of police and the military is critical to a civil society
A Chicago police officer has been acquitted of charges he shoved a gun into a suspect's mouth and pressed a stun gun to the man's groin. It may have been a perfectly reasonable and sound decision -- but it's also worrisome that we can entertain the thought that such a thing could have happened, and believe actively that the allegations might be true. We do these things because there are sufficient examples of brutality and excessive force that they do not seem categorically impossible. That's a problem, and it suggests a failure of civilian oversight.

Business and Finance Alibaba buys the South China Morning Post
An interesting parallel to Jeff Bezos buying the Washington Post

Computers and the Internet Is the end of emojis coming?

Iowa Surge in students from China at the University of Iowa
But the boom has created some cultural stumbles for some of the foreign students

The United States of America The President needs a communications coach