Gongol.com Archives: 2018 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol


September 14, 2018

News China's building a lot of ships, but the US Navy is still the biggest

Most of this analysis is good and reassuring, but there's one intangible factor that deserves careful scrutiny: Who is learning fastest? China's project to build aircraft carriers is less about the ships themselves and more about figuring out how to scale up really big tasks.

News Mayor Daley #3?

Bill Daley is running for his brother's (and father's) old job: Mayor of Chicago

Threats and Hazards Who spent my $3,000?

The Federal budget deficit is on track to exceed $3,000 per person this fiscal year. That's not total Federal spending, it's just the amount being over-spent. That's crazy, and if you think people are living in precarious fiscal circumstances today, the consequences of these deficits are going to be painful.

Computers and the Internet Twitter should add a "dunce cap" button

Some people will get followers, likes, and retweets, no matter how stupid their comments. The least the service could do is offer a counter-vote option for sane people to flag the idiots with a penalty.

Health When the fastest overnight carrier isn't Fed Ex

A story (from May) about a rush delivery of a specialty medication from Omaha to Denver -- mostly via state patrol cars

News Michael Bloomberg in 2020?

The Times of London is reporting that it's a real plan



September 13, 2018

Threats and Hazards Your neighbor probably values democracy, but...

12% of Americans, though, would say that living under democratic rule is a "5" or less on a ten-point scale.

Threats and Hazards The buck stops with the President

President Trump took to Twitter with a cowardly, weak, and uncomprehending reaction to a calamity that occurred on his watch, claiming that revised estimates of the death toll from the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico were not just exaggerated, but exaggerated specifically by his political opponents to score points. Neither caring about nor understanding the facts, he only wants "wins" with quick attribution -- which makes it a very real possibility that he might wake up one morning and threaten to default on the Federal debt. The threat alone would be devastating, but he's already shared his ludicrous opinion that the debt can be inflated away. "Print money to lower the national debt" is not the point of view of an economic genius. It is not even the point of view of a student who has paid attention through the first two weeks in an introductory macroeconomics course.

Health Bone marrow donation is easier than in the past

A drive in Central Iowa -- looking especially for people with varied ethnic backgrounds -- highlights that many donors can give without any surgery at all

Weather and Disasters What to expect from Hurricane Florence

Some places could end up with four times as much rain as what fell on Central Iowa back on June 30th and July 1st.

News Goldilocks and the three generals

A case for flag officers who are neither too optimistic nor too pessimistic. In the words of Dwight Eisenhower: "And it is well to remember that caution and timidity are not synonymous, just as boldness and rashness are not!"

Broadcasting A phenomenal use of television

(Video) Illustrating the power of storm surge with immersive virtual reality is a great idea. Every medium has something special it can do that the others can't.

Computers and the Internet Stupid policies are yielding predictably bad outcomes

Prices for PCs spiked in August. In related news, the President's indefensible trade-war approach to doing business with China has resulted in new tariffs.

News To criminalize the victim? Abhorrent.

Local news reports on a few grams of marijuana found in the home of Botham Jean, a man killed in his own apartment by a reckless neighbor who happened to be an armed police officer. If the piece of trivia -- that he may have possessed a tiny quantity of marijuana -- causes you even a scintilla of doubt that this man should be alive and safe in his own home, then you ought to forfeit your citizenship immediately.


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September 12, 2018

News Compulsory military service may create perverse incentives

A set of classmates in South Korea got themselves too fat to serve

Threats and Hazards Why Russia's policy of messing with its neighbors yields results

One of the most compelling articles on true political economy that's been on the scene in some time: "[F]ractured regions fuel instabilities and armed conflict by empowering authoritarian governments. This is likely to strengthen Russia’s increasingly institutionalized, and often divisive, presence in the contested areas".

Weather and Disasters The cruel negligence of leaving a child in the path of a hurricane

If you're an adult and make a willing and informed choice to expose yourself and only yourself to harm, so be it. But to put a kid in the path of a calamity BY CHOICE is reckless endangerment.

News A map that really tells you something

A new cartogram of the world depicts where the global population lives and puts those populations to scale, rather than the land masses they occupy. It's quite revelatory. Cartograms are powerful tools for fixing the often erroneous models we naturally carry in our heads.