Gongol.com Archives: September 2016

Brian Gongol

September 2016
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September 16, 2016

Threats and Hazards Colin Powell's email account got hacked

And while it's dismaying that his private communications have been stolen and put on display to the public, a lot of what he's been saying in private is actually quite reasonable

Threats and Hazards "[H]igh caseloads for child welfare workers and a lack of cooperation among agencies"

The things that a state inspector's report says are putting children in Nebraska at risk of serious injury or death. Similar conditions probably apply in other states, too. A civilization has a weighty responsibility to protect its children.

News Expensively bad ideas from Sen. Elizabeth Warren

The economic interventionists of the left wing are on parade right now

Science and Technology Bloomberg takes a ride in a self-driving Uber car

(Video) Self-driving cars are already real

Computers and the Internet Twitter to ease its 140-character limit -- just a little bit

Some links and media will no longer count against the total

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September 17, 2016

Weather and Disasters Satellite view of a super-typhoon

An awesome display of the behavior of low atmospheric pressure

Threats and Hazards Underfunded state pension programs are a huge problem

A huge problem, that is, of which we are almost totally ignorant

News Texas county settles with family of Sandra Bland

There is no good reason why she should have died while in police custody -- nor good reason for her to have been in custody in the first place. Her family deserves restitution, but it shouldn't be the end of the story.

News Debate commission blocks Libertarian candidate from first Presidential debate

A serious loss for the American public, which deserves to hear from a qualified alternative to a candidate who is a threat to national security.

Computers and the Internet Apple releases new iMessage

And it's a lot more complex than plain old texting

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September 18, 2016

Business and Finance Never give an unrestricted gift

That might be the lesson to take away from the story of the New Hampshire college librarian whose bequest was partially used to fund a football scoreboard. Many people have looked at this story and used it as a case study in how sports-crazed America has its priorities all wrong, and that's a pretty natural first-order conclusion to take away. But the second-order issues that this story brings to light are perhaps even more important in the long run. One is the problem of entrusting resources into the hands of people who are clearly inattentive to the issues of headline risk and trustworthy custodianship; it's not just a problem at a university in New Hampshire. Another second-order problem illustrated by this story is the problem of eating the seed corn -- when you get a windfall, the dumb thing to do is to spend it right away on something non-productive (and make no mistake about it -- a football scoreboard is a non-productive investment). Windfalls should be used to make long-term investments; if you didn't know the windfall was coming, you won't miss it if you put it to use doing things that may not give you an immediate sense of satisfaction. It's hard to get people to sacrifice for the future, so windfalls should be used to make those future investments seem painless.

The United States of America Manchester Union Leader endorses Johnson-Weld ticket

"Restoration of [...] checks and balances might be the most promising benefit of a Johnson presidency."

Agriculture Driverless tractors? They're real.

Autonomous vehicles aren't just for the highways

Science and Technology "[I]mmediately stop using and power down the recalled Galaxy Note 7"

So advises the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Samsung has already said it's halting sale of the devices over the reported fire risk. It's a hugely embarrassing situation for Samsung. It's a million-device recall.

News "You didn't build that"

In the case of Donald Trump? No, he really didn't. To an extraordinary degree, he has used political connections and tax loopholes to enrich himself.

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September 19, 2016

The United States of America "I've never seen a layer of government that didn't have 10% or 20% of excess spending in it"

Vice Presidential candidate Bill Weld, who is on the only ticket in 2016 giving any serious discussion to reducing the size of government, getting the budget under control, or reforming our entitlement programs so we don't go crashing into a fiscal brick wall

Threats and Hazards A lifejacket graveyard to depict the plight of refugees

Reuters says almost 7,000 people have died on the seas trying to escape Syria and other troubled countries since January 2015

Business and Finance ITT Tech shuts down abruptly

It's the most recognizable remaining vestige of the once-great ITT conglomerate. The closure is a huge misfortune to the students who are left as unsecured creditors -- and at a time when continuing education is more important to economic success than ever.

News The Washington Post reviewer really didn't like the Clinton-Kaine campaign book

Good: A manuscript that gives the reader a legitimate insight into the mind of the candidate. Bad: Regurgitated policy papers.

News Apocalypse Watch at Stratcom

A team in Omaha keeps watch 24 hours a day

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September 20, 2016

Science and Technology Technology-illiterate people shouldn't control the levers of government

We don't necessarily have to fill Congress with coders, but the people who make and enforce our laws had better understand the big picture when it comes to technology

Threats and Hazards Why was a motorist shot by Tulsa police?

The available video evidence shows no apparent cause for police to have taken lethal action

Computers and the Internet Some HP printers are about to start rejecting third-party ink

HP has long made a good product, but this is taking things too far

Science and Technology At last, the Federal government is setting rules for self-driving cars

While government over-regulation is a bad thing, it's inevitable that some technologies (like self-driving cars) are going to require new or revised rules. It took much too long for the government to respond to the rise of autonomous automobiles, but at least they're finally getting something on paper.

News How libraries used to be a key source of national pride

Libraries have always needed to reflect the needs of their times, and they will continue as institutions of great importance even in a mostly-digital world. They will need careful curation, guidance, and promotion, however.


September 21, 2016

The United States of America Gary Johnson most popular among military officers

The third-party candidate for President tracks ten percentage points ahead of either the Republican or Democratic candidates. And he also makes a good case that technologists should support him, too.

News Some Canadians are packing serious heat

Fearing armed robberies, some Canadians in the Prairie Provinces are going into the fields armed with some serious firepower. And this story -- which obviously runs contrary to the popular image of Canadians as super-friendly people who hate guns -- is a reflection of the fact that in the less-populated parts of the country, it can take a long time for police to arrive. Too long, in fact, for individuals to feel safe. So they arm themselves, and no reasonable person would deny that they are doing the rational thing. If the police take 30 to 60 minutes to show up, you have to serve as your own security. And that's why it is so hard to come up with a principled position on gun control: People who live in sparsely-populated rural areas may have very different reasons for carrying firearms from their counterparts who live in urban areas. And the balance of public safety may very well tilt strongly in favor of arming some citizens while trying to limit access to those same weapons for others.

Broadcasting Stephen Colbert finally finds his voice

His exasperation with Donald Trump seems to have really brought out the real Colbert

News Chicago plans a big wave of police hiring

Almost a thousand new officers. Let's hope they also take a look at the systemic factors and circumstances that have led to the city's awful violence. More police? That's part of the answer. But it's not the whole answer.

News Trump used charity funds to pay legal bills


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