Gongol.com Archives: May 2016
The Metis, historically identified as the offspring of native or "First Nations" peoples and the French fur traders who arrived later, have long had trouble obtaining legal recognition. Part of the problem, naturally, is that the mixed ancestry of the Metis meant they didn't form a well-defined group. The definition part of the process isn't going to be simple, but the legal recognition is long overdue.
Their military weapons are improving, and it's hard not to suspect that cyber-espionage against the US defense sector has played a role
Investors who care about voting control might need to pay attention
At some point, Castro Communism has to fall. Will accelerating tourism and economic exposure help hasten that downfall? On a related note, the cruise is being conducted by a Carnival-owned startup cruise line promising that people can take a seven-day cruise and "transform lives". Seems like a stretch.
Some quick math: $44,000 for 90 minutes is a rate of $29,333 an hour. At 40 hours a week times 50 weeks per year, that's an annualized rate of just a little shy of $60 million a year. There aren't a lot of people whose time is legitimately valued at that rate, nor is it easy to stomach the idea that a mere speaker could deliver that rate of value to a tourism conference. Seems like a case of spending other people's money on yourself, which Milton Friedman warned usually doesn't result in restraint.
Warren Buffett reiterates his argument that the minimum wage is a bad instrument by which to really improve the lives of the working poor. It's not a philosophical argument; it's a practical one. In practice, a higher minimum wage may make a marginal difference to the lives of some adult workers who earn it. But about half of people at minimum wage (48%) are under age 25. Raising the wage by too much will reduce the number of entry-level working opportunities available to them -- which reduces their ability to acquire things like the soft skills and job experience that put them on the ladder to future, higher-quality jobs. Raising the minimum wage to track inflation -- or even just a modest boost -- aren't bad ideas, necessarily, but they aren't real systemic fixes for the deeper issues. Targeted assistance like the Earned Income Tax Credit is probably more efficient at helping the true breadwinners who are at low wages, and ultimately the broader solution is a matter of job training and education. Of all people at or below minimum wage, only 16% have at least an associate's degree. In the long run, we need to fix the training and educational system so that workers have higher market value that places them well above the minimum wage as a market-clearing rate.
That doesn't usually happen, apparently
Is it "crayfish" or "crawfish"? Depends on where you live.
Regrettably, that crazy person is running for President
The economics of the newspaper business have never favored anything other than natural monopoly, anyway -- but high production and distribution costs in a time of digital media are enough to topple almost any duopolies that remain
The over-aggressive ground cover is spreading everywhere
An academic suggests that it would mean fewer TV campaign ads. Equally self-serving is the argument on behalf of small states that the Electoral College should stay in order to keep us from being steamrolled by the bigger states. But then again, that's exactly why the college takes the form it does.
Iowa's most left-wing county will provide a small-scale experiment for the rest of the state to watch
Canadian wildfires truly stun the viewer
Warren Buffett obliquely criticizes Grinnell College for its endowment largesse (largely a result of his own work as a trustee) but its failure to make college more affordable with that wealth. The core problem in college costs isn't necessarily funding -- it's the management and administration of higher education. What other industry could behave with such disregard for efficiency?
A strong argument against funding the financial industry
An exceptional political moment. The prospective Republican nominee is no more a Republican than his expected Democratic opponent.
A state that really isn't going to be in play for anyone but the Democratic Party may be a very good place for someone to run up an alternative gambit
That's why it won't happen wholesale -- the self-driving car will arrive one piece at a time. But it will arrive eventually.
A well-backed startup lasted just nine weeks
Such as it is
"There is absolutely no sign that it will erupt anytime soon, but the data we collect tells us that the volcano is still very much alive [...] Over the last 8 weeks, there have been over 130 earthquakes formally located by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and many more earthquakes too small to be located. Earthquake rates have been steadily increasing since March..."
Withholding endorsement of Donald Trump
The company says Windows 10 is now running on 300 million devices, and that the free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8 users will expire on July 29th -- after which, upgrades will cost $119. Still not a terribly high price, but why pay if you have the option to get it free?
There are plenty of people willing to sensationalize and exaggerate in the interest of getting more followers
A good step
Lots of copying disincentivizes innovation
They're going to finish in sections so battery production can begin before the building is complete
The chief of the Kansas City bank worries that the political climate is ripe for bad policy
Live on AM 1040 starting at 1:00 pm Central Time, or streamed via iHeartRadio
Possibly not, at least in the voting booth
We're at war with innumeracy
The prefer YouTube and Instagram over Facebook
A fantastic use of UAV technology. Why should people place themselves in harm's way if the machines can go there for us and get a better view?
Facebook is putting them in your face
That takes longevity to a whole new level.
That's the rumor now
A major-party Presidential candidate who is all but certain to carry his party's nomination into the general election seems neither to understand the consequences of inflation nor the devastation that would result from a failure to keep the central bank independent. An independent authority over the money supply is a non-negotiable condition for a large, stable economy within a free political system.
2-and-20: 2% of assets every year, plus 20% of returns year-over-year. That's a huge cut being taken by people who on average are not delivering excess performance.
Clarity and legibility aren't matters just for graphic designers. They matter to public policy.
The problem is that the Libertarian Party has far too long been identified with some of its more counter-cultural issues, like the legalization of drugs. The real opportunity right now is for a party in the center of a normal distribution of the population and its political views -- not from some corner of the map of the "world's smallest political quiz". As the parties have drifted apart, they haven't stranded the extremes -- they've stranded the center.
A failure to standardize in a way that crosses over to pure online content has really held back the field
Suicides and other personal tragedies are showing up as people stream their experiences live to the Internet. How can and should the service providers react? Immature young people are making bad decisions with these streaming tools, too. This issue is only going to become more important as the options become universal: Facebook Live is now available to everyone in the US.
Chips don't make a lot of difference to security without PINs. And nobody's using that part of the card yet.
Microsoft is killing off the "Sunrise" app
They want to deliver the videos upon which YouTube heavily depends
Definitely one of the items that people should have been disabling when setting up Windows 10
They may be old and less fuel-efficient than newer jets, but fuel costs so little that they may still be economical to fly
Their new logo and application icons depend heavily on gradients, which are pretty passe in the design world today. The new look really isn't all that new-looking.
Mostly a human process, mostly dependent upon what's being covered by a handful of widely-known sources
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is being "harvested" for parts
...you're not the driver who harassed a cop on I-235, got pulled over in the Valley High School parking lot, and found yourself arrested for flashing a weapon
The company is wise to start investing beyond its core business
If security becomes impossibly slow, it makes air travel less and less useful
Adding bubbles to the water at the bow of a ship could permit the rest of the vessel to pass through the water with less friction
Tested successfully over a very short track for a very short time this week, it may be in line for real implementation in the future
Yahoo may be so vastly under-priced that even the notoriously tech-averse Berkshire has to give it a serious look. It would probably only participate in a deal that leaves Berkshire in the role of investment bank (with someone else responsible for any ongoing operations), but with the right deal, anything is possible.
With links to the podcast
With links to the podcast
And there's no way to make up a tenable alliance between his vision of America and the unmitigated, inarticulate goulash of false promises that is Trumpism
This is no way to conduct a democracy
& Those are the words of Vladimir Putin
The escalation from the plain old "thumbs up" to the multi-dimensional reactions may be nice as an expression from friend to friend, but it also gives a lot more potential information to those who aggregate data about Facebook users for commercial purposes
A matter of grave concern for the rest of the Western Hemisphere. Not only is the country economically important (as a major producer of oil), but it also has the potential to create a lot of disturbance. And, critically, there is an enormous human cost of suffering that has been building under the country's profound mismanagement by a corrupt and mindless government.
Yet it is in Iran, where women are being harassed by the authorities for posting pictures of themselves without head coverings
The photographs aren't vintage -- just the livery. His campaign is using a plane bearing the markings of the once-defunct, now-revived heritage airline
One newspaper publisher tries to ensnare another with a higher bid for its stock
When humans identify the recyclable products inside a waste stream and robots do the physical picking, the process goes much faster and more effectively than either humans or machines alone can achieve
A great deal about the story seems incongruous, doesn't it? It's certainly not an organic outcome (that is, it wouldn't have happened spontaneously), but the United States is too attractive a market for investors around the world to resist, and China has a lot of money to put to use. And if that manifests itself in a Chinese company pursuing and winning a bid to build cars for the CTA, and the contract includes a "Buy Chicago-made" provision, then what is organically or spontaneously unlikely becomes possible. Rival bidder Bombardier protests, saying "Buy American" is all that should have mattered, not "Buy Chicago".
The online media outlet, which has been an openly pro-Trump mouthpiece for much of the 2016 campaign, turns a foul attack on Bill Kristol. Shame on them.
As one of CNN's premier political journalists, Tapper is in an important role -- one that most of his peer group has failed to execute with enough vigor. Too many of them have treated the rise of Donald Trump as "good television", but haven't acted like bulldog journalists. Good for Tapper for stepping up his questions.
The idea of distributing a marquee semi-nightly program via an on-demand service may not be new, but it hasn't really been tried on quite this level before
Important messages need to be delivered well -- and in ways that our brains are capable of processing efficiently
A recently-retired British general has published a book saying he thinks Russia might go after Latvia as soon as next year. The book's online description says the nuclear deterrent won't work. When reviewers skewer the writing but then say, "for all the clumsy writing, it is of profound importance when a former Nato deputy commander is screaming at us that the alliance's high readiness task force is a sham", then attention must be paid.
Security flaws let hackers figure out how to unlock doors integrated with the Samsung platform. The hackers, fortunately, were researchers at the University of Michigan and Microsoft, but the proof of concept is enough that it should put on ice the ambitions to connect everything everywhere in the "Internet of Things". Hacking an entire home (or office) is an attractive proposition, so it's best not to be the very first adopter. One of the main problems the researchers identified is "overprivilege", or the granting of too much power to programs and applications to achieve what they're advertised to do.
"Allo" will be their next-generation chat application, with an AI assistant built-in. Duo is to be a 720p HD video chat service.
And they're killing off the Time Warner name. They claim to reach 25 million customers in 41 states.
It's the Truman Show come to life. It's not an unequivocally bad thing that people can now live-stream anything they want to Facebook -- think, for instance, of the deployed soldier who can be shown a live stream of a major family event -- but it's also not an unmitigated wonder of the world, either. People make bad decisions, and it's hazardous to let them make bad decisions in front of what is -- at not even the click, but just the hover of a mouse -- a global audience that could easily include lots and lots of people with mal-intent. We should not be in the least bit surprised when a Gresham's Law of sorts swallows up "Facebook Live" -- bad purposes, bad actors, and bad audiences will drive out the good.
But if "human flypaper" is part of a broader scheme to make vehicles safer for everyone, then so be it
And the more it cedes that line to Microsoft, the worse Google's future is going to look
So says a study from January, saying discrimination against African American renters shows up both in prices and in the agreement to even make a deal.
The scramble to get AI integrated into people's lives will have interesting effects on how we perceive what thoughts are our own and which ones we share with a digital surrogate or adjunct.
Reviews of the meeting seem to suggest that it went down exactly as expected: The site's perceived political bias against conservatives appears to be a problem for the business model, so it will be corrected not out of political motivation but out of the pursuit of profits.
The week in trends, tips, and technology
The week in making money and having fun
The imperial Presidency is a pox on American civilization, and it needs to be stopped before the next President. Our options aren't looking good, and whomever is inaugurated in January 2017 needs to be restrained by the law much better than recent Presidents have been. Never take powers while in office that you wouldn't want your opponents to have when they're in charge.
Not the worst idea that could happen. If there's going to be an extensive welfare state, perhaps it makes sense to apply it with the maximum degree of individual autonomy and self-control possible -- and a guaranteed income may be the way to do it. Or perhaps not. Much depends on whether there would be an adequate support structure in place to ensure that people knew what to do with their guaranteed incomes.
Both companies have recent experience with disastrous amounts of debt...and this new arms race is only going to end in a debt disaster, too.
Taller turbines may give them a better chance to capture stronger, more sustained winds at higher altitudes
It's a real thing. A real and awful thing.
The county-by-county data isn't as rosy as it could be
It's inevitable that data usage will increase -- unless some very significant changes are made to the way that content is delivered, and there's little chance of that happening anytime soon, at least not at the same pace as new usage escalates.
Better to make the upgrade when you've set aside a couple of hours to manage it than to wait for it to be thrust upon you
Five girls are graduating together from high school, much better off than when they arrived
The perils of international business
It's disappointing to see them discussed like some abstract concept (especially when it's by people who only want to say awful things about them). They are real human beings living real human lives under terrible circumstances, and like people all over the world, the vast majority -- probably 99% -- are good and decent.
A story that might almost be funny if it didn't mean other people's lives were at risk -- including other guests at the same hotel and the couple's children. Behavior like this is wonton negligence and cries out for a very firm intervention by law enforcement.
They may very well be enjoying one another's company, but they also may be trying too hard to obtain their self-esteem from the approval of people outside the relationship looking in
UNI is a great university, but the system surrounding it is creating artificial problems
They plan an all-summer effort to crack down on "speeding, failure to obey traffic control devices, improper use of lanes, texting while driving and failure to utilize seat belts"
In the long run, it's important to do a couple of things. First, government can do well simply to draw a line somewhere -- a clear line -- so that the market can respond by allocating the costs of the damage done by wayward robots. Cutting the check isn't the same as paying the price, so it doesn't matter quite so much whom the law saddles with liability. What matters is establishing the rule itself so that the costs can be allocated efficiently by the marketplace. (Think of real-estate agent fees: The seller "pays" the agent, but the cost comes from the sale price, which is ultimately paid by the buyer. The agent's commission comes partially out of both the seller's and buyer's pockets, even if only one of them technically cuts the check.) What's also important is that the benefits of automation (which tend to be diffuse, or spread out across lots of people who each benefit a little bit) don't get overwhelmed by the concentrated costs (like those of the people who might be injured by faulty robotic systems). In other words, we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, even if there end up being terrible, high-profile stories of people injured or killed by malfunctions. The aggregate gain to society will still be enormous, even if some people pay a very high price. That may very well indicate that a case ought to be made for a national insurance pool for such errors -- otherwise, the cost of private insurance may be prohibitive if the potential costs of liability appear to be unlimited.
And good for her. Trump's behavior is erratic, nonsensical, and wildly unbecoming a candidate for President of the United States. His continued attacks on members of the Republican Party are petty and unprincipled and only further serve to reveal him not as an authentic Republican, but as a virus that has infected the party.
It's practically everyone's favorite tech rumor, and Morgan Stanley now boards the train, arguing that Apple's recent investment in a ride-sharing company in China is indicative of a serious focus on transportation.
Launching three products at once: Pebble Core (a cellular-enabled super-compact computer aimed at runners who don't want to carry their phones and at developers who want something tiny to hack), Pebble 2 (a $99 next-generation black-and-white smartwatch), and Pebble Time 2 (with a big color display for $169).
Lenovo bought the phone-maker from Google in 2014 and that was after it collapsed in value by about 75% under Google's control.
Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to build an undersea cable between Virginia and Spain to transmit Internet content at 160 terabits per second -- a pretty wide thoroughfare for data. Microsoft is investing because it's investing full-tilt in the cloud computing market. Construction is to begin this August with completion by October 2017.
At age 96, he uses his technique to directly save a life for the first time
Scam after scam after scam keeps popping up, and it's all because people are too loose with their "friend" requests
Nissan took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors after Mitsubishi's market price plunged because of a massive misstatement of fuel economy ratings for its vehicles. Nissan is run by Carlos Ghosn, who seems to be very, very good at turnaround situations.
They're pretty obnoxious birds
As the President visits Hiroshima, nuclear weapons return to the front pages (at least for a little while). A few worries: The nuclear arsenals of the world (and the command-and-control structures surrounding them) are old and may not have been adequately maintained. There are plenty of weapons in places where political leaders (and military ones) may not be adequately grounded in reality. Imprecise tracking of fissionable material may make it too easy for non-state actors to make weapons of their own. And even if the prospect of all-out nuclear attack seems altogether improbable, nobody can really certify that an "oops" engagement is an impossibility (that is, given the right resources and the right set of conditions, we can't be sure that a weapon might not be engaged in a way that could be made to look accidental). These are real worries.
If you find the subject of mergers and acquisitions interesting, this book won't dull your feelings -- but prepare for a long slog.
Interesting enough company to keep for listening in the car, provided you aren't offended easily by someone dismissing faith and don't hav any children in the vehicle with you.
Live on WHO Radio at 9:00 pm Central Time
Had it been a work of fiction, nobody would believe it -- but it's an important documentation of modern financial history
If it's one of the most common passwords, the company isn't going to allow users to employ it. They're going to "dynamically ban common passwords", based on the lists they can automatically generate of the most over-used passwords. That means "123456" is out, and so are a lot of others like it. Microsoft will use the new dynamic banning policy on Microsoft accounts like Hotmail, Outlook, Xbox, and OneDrive. Unsurprisingly, they're also pushing users to activate two-factor authentication, too. Interestingly, Microsoft's research finds that it's actually counterproductive to force people to change passwords regularly because it leads to the use of more predictable passwords. And people are already dangerously predictable.
Growing reason to take seriously the Libertarian candidate
What's good for Google -- to have the single, latest OS out there universally -- is bad for the phone-sellers who want people to have to buy new hardware to get the latest software
Nobody needs an over-eager, micromanaging President. But we're fools if we're hiring someone who doesn't plan to do the job.
If 500 Americans or Europeans died in a plane crash, it would make non-stop headline news. There should be no less respect for the loss of lives from Syria and other troubled nations.
Certainly not the worst political memoir/position book ever written, but definitely not as strong as Kasich's actual record