Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

January 29, 2016

Business and Finance Negative interest rates: A reality in Sweden

And now in Japan, too. It's hard to think of anything that would do more to discourage saving than a negative interest rate.

Aviation News Boeing starts testing new 737 Max

Basically the same as the regular 737, but with a big boost to fuel efficiency

Business and Finance China to "look after" stock market "investors"

Government intervention only helps the traders -- real investors want volatility so they can take advantage of cheap prices

Aviation News Google drone crashes after wing breaks

They're practicing to deliver Internet access to far-flung users

Aviation News F-35 still not fully functional

...but production is ramping up quickly anyway

Broadcasting Free iTunes Radio is over

You can still pay to get it

Humor and Good News Stephen Colbert takes down Trump using Trump

(Video) The national class clown has lots of ways to make himself look like a fool

January 28, 2016

Business and Finance Early warning sign for the economy: Baltic Dry index is crashing

If the cost of shipping goods across the oceans is falling dramatically (and there's no sudden rush of new supply to explain the drop), then something is quite likely wrong with trade volumes

News Good point: Relying on "Indian" costumes to represent "wild" behavior is thoughtless stereotype

A picture is worth a thousand words, and it's worth re-considering the use of images that have been taken for granted for all too long

Humor and Good News Scary health threat of the moment: Zika virus

Public health is a great example of the kind of subject that government is uniquely equipped to address

Business and Finance Meredith gets $60 million breakup fee

Their proposed merger with Media General fell apart, but it doesn't hurt Meredith's bottom line to get that cash

News The Navy's intelligence chief can't see classified documents

What a bizarre circumstance and a pretty obvious violation of common sense

Iowa Sanders campaign wants its own caucus count

The Iowa Republican and Democratic parties got together to set up an accountable method of collecting caucus results -- it's unfortunate the campaign wants to opt out of a good-faith arrangement that shows the parties can actually work together.

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January 27, 2016

News "Why is it that voters in the world's greatest democracy are turning away from accomplished leaders in favour of untried individuals with worryingly simplistic ideas?"

Hard to put it better than that.

Computers and the Internet "The threats and the attacks are bigger than they've ever been"

White House cybersecurity strategist says we need better ways of developing software that are more rigorous than current standards

News Denmark to confiscate cash and valuables from refugees to pay for asylum

On the surface, it looks like they're just using it to pay for the cost of shelter and care. But that kind of confiscation most certainly will have a chilling effect on the interest of any wealthy or middle-class asylum-seekers in going to Denmark, which probably will have the opposite of the intended effect. If you have wealth and you know it will be taken away, you'll probably avoid going there (which means asylum-seekers with advanced skills will be weeded out). But those who don't have anything consequently have nothing to lose.

Threats and Hazards Civil war in South Sudan has killed 10,000 people

We should probably begin by knowing where South Sudan is and taking it seriously. A civil war that kills 10,000 people anywhere is a tremendous stain on humanity.

Business and Finance Apple is seeing "extreme conditions"

Everywhere the global manufacturer looks, it sees signs of pending or imminent economic trouble

Business and Finance Fixing poverty through market-friendly mechanisms

If we misunderstand the basis of poverty, then it's going to be hard to get the solutions right. On the other hand, if we recognize that market economics are probably the best tool for creating the wealth that resolves poverty and then deliberately apply lessons for enhancing that growth, then maybe we can do better at eliminating poverty.

January 26, 2016

Business and Finance Is a recession likely?

Instead of asking people to forecast whether it will happen, a better approach to the story would ask whether the ingredients are in place

Broadcasting East Coast blizzard led to record on-demand TV viewing

The blizzard didn't follow a tidy schedule, so why should people's entertainment choices?

Threats and Hazards Chicago's red-light camera program opened the door to big-time corruption

A city official just got convicted on more than 20 counts of bribery and other corruption-related charges. With tens of millions of dollars on the line for the contractor, Chicago's unfortunate reputation for corruption got the best of things.

Computers and the Internet Apple says iPhone sales are slowing down

Smartphones have reached a near-saturation point among the economies where they are plausible and affordable. That forces Apple to look for "what's next", which is the curse of technology giants: It takes a lot of good decisions to stay in the lead, and it's very hard to build long streaks of good decisions when operating on the cutting edge.

Health Task force says all adults should be screened for depression

That would be a terrific step forward to move from a paradigm built around "mental illness" to one of sustaining "mental wellness". That's where we ought to be -- treating mental wellness as something positive to be sustained as much as possible and promoted holistically, not as something only to be addressed when something has "gone wrong".

Agriculture The banana as we know it could be endangered

That's the trouble with having one genetic line become predominant

January 25, 2016

Business and Finance Lots of worried feelings emanate from Davos meeting

It's a strange thing; the world has achieved more useful things in the last couple of decades than can really be counted, yet there's anxiety all over

News Lots of posthumous David Bowie material is forthcoming

The economics of modern music favor live concerts, but the long view of history would like us to squeeze as many new creations as possible out of our greatest artists. Too bad nobody's looked hard to find a way to reconcile the two.

Broadcasting Disney animated films have a disproportionate tilt favoring male characters

While we're fixing that, could we also do away with the whole "princess" paradigm? There are plenty of entries already in the canon, and girls deserve to see female characters depicted in a world free of hereditary monarchy

Business and Finance Dallas Federal Reserve: "Texas factory activity fell sharply in January"

The decline was dramatic and, it appears, somewhat unexpected

Business and Finance Johnson Controls and Tyco announce merger plans

A peculiar development, considering that Tyco has spent the last decade de-conglomerating itself

Business and Finance Minneapolis makes the case for demolition bonds

There have been a couple of thousand demolitions in the city since 2002 -- a worthy reminder that if we don't construct buildings to last forever, then perhaps we should be accountable (at the time of construction) for the cost to tear them down

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