Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

February 7, 2016

Business and Finance The world is awash in bad lending

Super-cheap borrowing has created a perilous situation

Business and Finance Consumer confidence in Nebraska is low

The economy may not be in recession, but there are plenty of warning signs that things aren't good

Threats and Hazards ISIS crucifies people on advertising billboards

Barbarity with no bounds

Threats and Hazards Cyber breach at tax-preparation company

Targets of opportunity

Threats and Hazards The difference between a space launch and a missile test?

It's not obvious. Except when it's being conducted by an authoritarian regime. Then it's pretty obvious what's up.

February 6, 2016

News Europe's cohesion threatened by refugee crisis

The human toll of the crisis in Syria and surrounding environs is of the greatest magnitude. Dealing with it humanely is a moral imperative. Failing to deal with it assertively could be politically fatal to the EU itself.

News Is the Republican Party undergoing a fundamental realignment?

Parties don't break apart or collapse all that often -- but it does happen from time to time

Humor and Good News Why some people just have that angry look about them

The scientific origins of "RBF"

Iowa Polk County promises $30 million for convention-center hotel

News Chicago's two major newspapers are under common ownership

The majority owner of the Chicago Sun-Times now is the largest shareholder in Tribune Publishing, too

Computers and the Internet Cyberwarfare is a bigger threat than terrorism

And Sen. John McCain wants Silicon Valley to enlist.

February 5, 2016

Threats and Hazards Deficits need to return to the public debate

If we don't reverse the direction of public budgeting, the country's going to pay in the not-so-distant future. Interest rates at all-time lows are simply buying us a short-term cushion from the pain.

Computers and the Internet Twitter shuts down 125,000 accounts for promoting terrorism

They claim most were supporting ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh. The suspensions aren't necessarily a perfect idea -- there's reason to believe that by casting terrorist supporters off Twitter, the mainstream may be chasing them to places that are harder to watch. There's quite often more to the story when it comes to cyberwarfare.

The United States of America Republican governor of Massachussetts: Cruz and Trump are unfit to serve

Indisputably true

Business and Finance White House proposes $10 per barrel oil tax

And that's how you know it's nothing more than a stunt -- not a serious proposal. At $2 or $3 a barrel, directed specifically at subsidizing a next-generation energy future, virtually nobody could object. At $5 a barrel, it would be a tough sale, but might stand a chance given the right trade-offs. At $10 a barrel (when oil is barely above $30 a barrel), it's a punitive tax. Where they could easily have grabbed low-hanging fruit, the administration instead picks an unproductive fight.

Business and Finance Chinese-led group buying the Chicago Stock Exchange

And the great asset sell-off continues

Threats and Hazards Mogadishu flight incident was probably a bomb

Smuggled, possibly, on the person of a bomber posing as someone confined to a wheelchair

February 4, 2016

Computers and the Internet Google parent company Alphabet announces earnings

Alphabet had $75 billion in revenues in 2015, with $67 billion of that coming from advertising. Only $448 million in revenues came from "other bets" -- their category for Calico, Google Fiber, Google Ventures, Google X, and Nest -- and that category lost $3.5 billion. Turns out, it's expensive to lay that much fiber-optic cable. Why they don't just buy proven, profitable businesses and find ways to make them more profitable is a mystery. The "science projects" are sexy and headline-grabbing, but from an investment perspective, there may be smarter choices to be made.

Business and Finance Many people don't understand their student loans

Literacy comes in many forms: Conventional literacy with the written word, of course, but also numeracy...and functional literacy with science, technology, and economics. If we're sending 18-year-olds out into the world with high-school diplomas and not adequately preparing them for those "other" literacies, then we're in trouble.

News Psychographics are influencing the 2016 election

Senator Ted Cruz may be making the most progress with them thus far...to the detriment of the health of the Republican Party.

Computers and the Internet Now Yahoo may be reconsidering putting itself up for sale

Verizon is being kicked around as a possible buyer

Computers and the Internet NSA worries that quantum computers will overwhelm security

And for what it's worth, they're not just a security issue. Massive changes in computing capacity and strategy could easily overturn some big business models -- like, for instance, Google's.

Business and Finance Toyota to shut down the Scion brand

The cars will simply become Toyotas

February 3, 2016

Threats and Hazards 10,000 refugee children have gone missing in Europe

Computers and the Internet People care about what's been "taken" from them

Microsoft's decision to reduce the amount of free storage space offered through OneDrive is making people mad. But it's still a free product!

Computers and the Internet Comcast to start charging extra to high-bandwidth broadband users

Business and Finance Harley-Davidson reliability means the used market is flooded

While that may be making it hard for Harley to sell new motorcycles, it's also a sign they need to find other, related things to produce

Computers and the Internet Facebook wants to take a shot at Twitter

People have adapted their usage patterns for the two services to accommodate their relative strengths and weaknesses -- so while Twitter is fiscally vulnerable, it seems less vulnerable technologically

Computers and the Internet China's biggest banks are profiting from spam

February 2, 2016

News North Korea claims to be planning a space launch

Never forget that the foundations of all rocket-based space travel are shared with the foundations for intercontinental ballistic missiles. On a related note, China has just released some photos from the Moon.

Science and Technology A $40,000 exoskeleton

Technology may not be able to biologically solve paralysis yet, but it may be able to give people adequate workarounds

Threats and Hazards ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh claims it's building an "army of the poor"

There's no doubt that poverty and a sense of helplessness can incline some people towards extremism. Strategic global thinking would seek to eliminate the worst of poverty in order to choke off the flow of raw material (that is, frustrated people) to extremist movements.

Computers and the Internet Yahoo tightens its belt with a 15% staff cut

That's no small change -- more than one person in every seven will be let go. The company's press release on the matter calls it "sharpening focus", but digging deeper they claim that they expect to save $400 million a year with the smaller staff.

News The Iowa Caucuses

(Video) In hilarious Taiwanimation

Computers and the Internet The FCC worries about a persistent digital shortfall in rural areas

High-speed broadband Internet access just isn't finding its way into sparsely-populated areas, and that could end up permanently crippling rural areas.