Gongol.com Archives: 2016 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol

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.

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

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