Gongol.com Archives: November 2017

Brian Gongol


November 2017
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November 22, 2017

Computers and the Internet The party of limited government needs to get behind technology in the public sector

(Video) A compelling argument advanced by Kristen Soltis Anderson in conversation with Bill Kristol

Computers and the Internet Uber was hacked last year for data on 57 million accounts

That they paid the attackers and didn't disclose the breach until just now is not a good sign for them

Science and Technology The world is radically more electrified than it was 25 years ago

It would be hard to overstate just how important electrification in the home really is for human development. Food refrigeration alone is revolutionary.

Business and Finance A big gap between economic performance in big cities and small towns

When you see big macroeconomic stats, remember that they aggregate the experiences of 325 million Americans. What's happening to us on the neighborhood level varies widely. This has deep meaning for a bevy of public policy issues, from education to infrastructure.

Socialism Doesn't Work Video of a defecctor escaping North Korea should give each of us a start

The desire for freedom clearly represents something deep within human beings


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November 23, 2017

News Rwanda offers to take in 30,000 refugees

Appalled by the news that slave auctions are taking place right now in Libya, a small country with a modern history of genocide is trying to atone for its past by stretching to protect human rights today.

Humor and Good News An antidote to the apocalyptic drumbeat

It's hard to get away from the world of bad news, but a story about a woman who volunteers to hold sick kids in the hospital is a decent antidote.

Threats and Hazards Just what is going on here?

Was the idea of running for President part of a big quid pro quo between Donald Trump and people he needed in Russia? An extraordinary claim, for sure -- demanding equally extraordinary evidence.

Science and Technology Does an author have to be a human?

Does artificial intelligence have a claim to copyright? Does the person who created the AI have the right to what it produces? Per the Constitution, intellectual property protections exist "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries". If AI is strictly a tool, then the creator of the AI has no more right to its output than the maker of a pen has a right to what someone writes with it. This may seem like an issue for sci-fi, but computers can already generate original music at the click of a mouse and some news organizations already use AI to write news stories. The sooner we start to wrap our brains around the issue, the better. Computers are not only here to stay, they're going to end up doing a lot of things most of us never expected.

The United States of America Thanksgiving: A symbolically appropriate day to try something in honor of American Indians

Also, a really appropriate day to give to the American Indian College Fund


Recent radio podcasts


November 24, 2017

Threats and Hazards 400,000 tweets about Scottish independence came from fake accounts

No surprise: Russia looks to have been behind most of them. The age of memetic warfare is here, and to not recognize that is as stupid as to not recognize tanks rolling across a border.

News Secret Service recollections of the Kennedy assassination

An event that has long since entered the realm of myth is one that happened to real people -- some of whom are still alive. Interesting to read the recollections of one of the men closest to the event.

Threats and Hazards Hundreds killed at a house of worship

At least 235 people were murdered in Egypt as they gathered to pray.

Health If you're going to need CPR, need it in public (and be a man)

Study finds that people are more likely to get CPR in public than at home, and that men are much more likely to get CPR than women. That's really important information, and certainly gives the public-health sector something to do.

News What comes first?

Most obituaries identify a person's place within a family. Your co-workers and your government aren't your survivors. Life ought to be organized accordingly.

News "We do not seek to confront anyone."

Margaret Thatcher's words from 1979 bear remarkable timeliness today: "We do not seek to confront anyone. The world is too small and precarious a place for that. We and the Communist world share a common interest in the avoidance of war, and in the development of trade and commerce. We long for the freer movement of people and ideas."


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November 28, 2017

Science and Technology Sweden's innovative way of improving road safety

Laudable: "[L]et's create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system." They've decided that it's better to look at the root causes of accidents than to hope they can fix human beings. This is the way a lot of professions ought to operate -- build better systems instead of forever hoping that human beings can be perfected.

Business and Finance On the value of economic historians

Every profession, trade, or craft needs to know from whence it came. Economics is perhaps in need of this more than most, since it's such a constructive field with such a (relatively) short history as a science.

News Parents all over the world spend more time with their kids now than in the past

Labor-saving devices in and around the home probably play at least a partial role. Will new ones on the horizon create even more family-based leisure time?

Iowa It's fun to have limited competition

Iowa doesn't have a whole lot of big highway contractors

News Why Chile is so long and narrow

History has left some weird results in its wake


Recent radio podcasts


November 29, 2017

News Time should change the "Person of the Year" title

Time Magazine should long ago have clarified that the "Person of the Year" citation isn't an award to be won by changing the name to "Newsmaker of the Year". The fact they haven't made the change is a colossal unforced error that only plays right into the hands of President Trump, who is so utterly lacking in self-awareness that he took a press event to honor the Navajo Code-Talkers and turned it into a reckless display of insensitivity. In fact, he remains the leading newsmaker of the year -- but also in fact, no responsible organization in the world would nominate him as the most laudable person or character-driven leader in the world today. Time Magazine, it's time to change the name of your award. Either name the newsmaker of the year, or name the person of the year. One gets credit for commanding attention. The other ought to command respect.

Iowa Meredith purchase of Time Inc. could boost Des Moines

Creative talent will stay at Time in New York, but the Meredith CEO says a lot of support staff will move to Iowa

News Roadblock to Brexit: The Irish/Northern Irish border

So, paradoxically, Britain's past as an expansionist/imperialist state is standing in the way of its ability today to secede from a different political project. It's an incredibly messy situation.

Business and Finance Most of Great Britain is less productive than most of old East Germany

And the old East Germany is much less productive than the old West Germany. Very important for the future of any country's economy.

News No whining

Kat Timpf: "It suggests that President Trump does not understand that his role is to be a servant for the people of the United States -- of all of the people, whether they (or their fathers) like him or not."

News Missive: Welcome to Bizarro-World

Some recent updates


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November 30, 2017

Threats and Hazards British prime minister rebukes American President for stupid tweeting

This is really an awful state of affairs -- wherein the head of the Article II branch of the United States government shows neither the self-awareness nor the impulse control to keep himself from stoking the fires of false and misleading representations of the world, to the extent that he causes real and meaningful international harm in the process.

News What cities offered Amazon to entice HQ2

Some of the offers have leaked out, and they're scarcely above the level of municipal prostitution. If one takes it as a given that HQ2 will be built somewhere in the United States, then massive subsidies on the part of some local and/or state government in order to "incentivize" its construction represent a net transfer from the public to a private company, at no net gain to the welfare of the country at large.

News A lonely voice among Democrats, arguing that anti-Trumpism isn't enough

With Democratic fundraising events being headlined by people who think their 2016 shortcoming was that "We just didn't work hard enough", the party needs badly to realize that it has to capture voters who are persuadable -- and they're likely to be found toward the center of the political spectrum (or map, as one might see it). "Working harder" isn't always the answer.

Science and Technology Holographic dead rock stars on tour

Elvis doesn't have to be alive to still be in the building. It's really very weird to think that a holographic singer is something people are willing to pay to see, but there's no accounting for tastes and preferences.

Broadcasting NBC renews "The Good Place" for a third season

Normally, a show renewal isn't noteworthy -- but "The Good Place" is unapologetically philosophical. It's good and entertaining television in its own right, but it makes no excuses for actually exploring big matters of morality. Quite unusual for major-network broadcast television.

News Many more changes coming to Wrigley Field

Renovations are ongoing and involve removing a whole lot of seats for a while


Recent radio podcasts