Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol


May 29, 2016

Business and Finance Book review: "Big Deal" by Bruce Wasserstein

If you find the subject of mergers and acquisitions interesting, this book won't dull your feelings -- but prepare for a long slog.

Humor and Good News Book review: "Me of Little Faith", by Lewis Black

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.

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 29, 2016

Live on WHO Radio at 9:00 pm Central Time



May 27, 2016

Computers and the Internet Under the sea

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.

Health Dr. Heimlich gets to use his eponymous maneuver for the first time

At age 96, he uses his technique to directly save a life for the first time

Computers and the Internet Just don't accept Facebook friend requests unless you're sure

Scam after scam after scam keeps popping up, and it's all because people are too loose with their "friend" requests

Business and Finance Turnarounds must be a lot of fun (for the right manager)

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.

Iowa Canada geese: From near-extinction to annoying overpopulation

They're pretty obnoxious birds

Threats and Hazards What should really alarm us about the nuclear threat

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.


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May 26, 2016

Science and Technology As robots do more, who's responsible when they do something wrong?

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.

News Gov. Susana Martinez -- a Republican -- fires back at Donald Trump

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.

Science and Technology Apple in the car business

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.

Computers and the Internet Pebble returns to Kickstarter roots

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).

Computers and the Internet Lenovo has trouble integrating Motorola

Lenovo bought the phone-maker from Google in 2014 and that was after it collapsed in value by about 75% under Google's control.



May 25, 2016

News Syrian refugees are human beings first

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.

News Meth cookers burn down home, then set fire to their hotel room

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.

Computers and the Internet What it really means when couples over-share on Facebook

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

Iowa A former member of Iowa's Board of Regents opines on the departure of UNI's president

UNI is a great university, but the system surrounding it is creating artificial problems

Iowa West Des Moines Police to target distracted driving

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"


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May 24, 2016

Business and Finance Much of America is in recession

The county-by-county data isn't as rosy as it could be

Computers and the Internet Mobile data consumption is skyrocketing

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.

Computers and the Internet Microsoft is getting really aggressive about pushing Windows 10 upgrades

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

Humor and Good News Touching story of some girls at Boys Town

Five girls are graduating together from high school, much better off than when they arrived

Computers and the Internet French authorities raid Google offices over taxes

The perils of international business



May 23, 2016

The United States of America Restrain the Executive Branch

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.

Business and Finance The Swiss are voting on a national minimum income

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.

Business and Finance Tribune Publishing may counterpunch at Gannett

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.

Science and Technology MidAmerican Energy tests a new ultra-tall wind turbine

Taller turbines may give them a better chance to capture stronger, more sustained winds at higher altitudes

Computers and the Internet Internet trolls on the Chinese government payroll

It's a real thing. A real and awful thing.