Gongol.com Archives: April 2019

Brian Gongol

April 24, 2019

Computers and the Internet 80% of tweets come from 10% of users

According to Pew research into the American online public. Pareto would be so disappointed in us: Every business book in the world says it's the 80/20 Principle, not the 80/10.

Iowa Running (legally) blind

A great feature story in the Cedar Rapids Gazette about a high-school track standout who can barely see at all. Parents everywhere should strive to raise our kids with the kind of resilience Erin Kerkhoff puts on display. A valuable role model.

News Three-year-old children are being found migrating without their parents

Would you let a 3-year-old so much as cross a busy street on their own? The answer is "Of course not!" And that ought to give all of us some measure of the desperation that some parents and children face. These harrowing journeys must somehow, some way, appear less risky than staying where they are. And that is truly heartbreaking, and ought to serve as a call to action to do something to ease their plight.

Threats and Hazards Things are looking bad in Afghanistan

The Defense Department's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says "If the economy collapses or if they are not paid, if we withdraw the funding, you have 500,000-some troops and police who are trained and have weapons...what are they going to do?" Afghanistan is a nation of 34 million people, just behind Canada in the population rankings and just a little ahead of Venezuela. It has more people than Texas. The reader ought to consider words like "collapse" with sufficient gravity.

Threats and Hazards The 2020 elections will be targeted by hackers -- so what comes next?

CNN phrases the headline "Hackers could target the 2020 presidential election. How will newsrooms respond?" But one would have to be absolutely as high as a satellite in geosynchronous orbit to think it's merely a hypothetical. It's not even a question. It's a certainty. Now, what matters is what newsrooms are going to do about it when they are fed stolen items.

Humor and Good News Salaries aren't the only thing that matters, the MLB edition

Ryne Sandberg cites the improved Cubs dugout facility as a tool for attracting talented players

Business and Finance A dark look at a major diamond retailer

Worth pondering: "Mandatory arbitration is a good idea only if people can be trusted to do the right thing when the consequences are minimal and don't include the threat of prison or public shame."

News Will Scotland hold another independence vote?

The Financial Times reports: Nicola Sturgeon "insisted the country must be ready to hold a second independence referendum by 2021 if Brexit goes ahead". Given the incompetence of the management of Brexit, a "yes" vote wouldn't be surprising at all.

News A new Godwin's Law

Is someone ready to name the phenomenon where someone is the first to compare themselves to the Messiah, as Rep. Steve King just did?

Computers and the Internet Recommendation algorithms: They're everywhere, and not always doing good

In theory, computers ought to be helping us to make better decisions, and for the moment, the best sandbox to practice that is in retail. But the problem is that sometimes they do what they're supposed to do (but the assumptions are wrong), and other times they do everything they shouldn't. On the most innocent extreme, one of those silly recommendation algorithms might suggest the song "Blurred Lines" to a listener twice in the span of 30 minutes. Such foibles look positively charming by comparison with the dark side of algorithmic dependency, when bad actors hijack the algorithm or when antisocial (or even sociopathic) feedback loops are created.

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