Gongol.com Archives: November 2019

Brian Gongol

November 2019
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November 1, 2019

News Marine training at Parris Island to undergo gender integration

Marine Times: "For years, Marine leaders have insisted female Marines especially do better if they train in a separate unit. But the Marine Corps also has come under serious pressure as it is the only U.S. service branch without a coed boot camp."

Threats and Hazards Federal debt now $70,000 per person

A $23 trillion tab, and what do we have to show for it?

Threats and Hazards Anonymous tipster exposes outrageous day-care operation

Drugs and guns within reach of children at a place so badly supervised that the owners didn't even answer the door when state authorities showed up

Computers and the Internet Gresham's Law, but for the sharing economy

It doesn't take long for bad actors to ruin good new platforms online

Humor and Good News Rats can be trained to drive tiny cars

And when they learn how, the resulting video is glorious


November 4, 2019

Humor and Good News Minnesota man warned to stop making Iowa doughnut runs

The Clive Krispy Kreme store truly is a monstrous scene for a major criminal enterprise

Computers and the Internet Facebook's new brand: All-caps

Seems appropriate for a platform on which too many people take to shouting constantly

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November 25, 2019

Business and Finance Let a creative market bloom

The market economy should blossom in many ways -- entrepreneurship, proprietor capitalism, publicly-traded firms, S-Corps, partnerships, ESOPs, and co-ops all among the many forms that firms should take. But one size simply does not fit all.

Business and Finance Schwab to acquire TD Ameritrade, and now Omaha wonders

This is why every conscientious municipality keeps a close eye on how well it's creating an environment that cultivates new business formation and growth. You never know when one of your major employers (even the homegrown ones) may go away.

Socialism Doesn't Work China's autocrats really thought Hong Kong was going to vote their way

In politics, as well as in markets, it's not so much the quality of the first round of information going out that matters. It's the feedback that really counts.

Science and Technology Tesla's truck has an odd look

One humorist on Twitter says it looks like "When you try to learn AutoCAD the night before your project is due." This thing is styled as if the designers were being held hostage inside a Dire Straits music video.

Aviation News Washington state tries taking lead on electric aircraft

The big selling point for electric aircraft really isn't environmental friendliness -- at least not to the end buyers. It's the potential to dramatically reduce maintenance costs. Motors have fewer moving parts than engines.

Iowa Mall of the Bluffs kicking out its tenants

A question: How much could the owners have done better to have softened rents to keep occupancy high?

Agriculture Harvest 2019 is a wreck in North Dakota

Major crops like corn are incredibly far behind schedule

Computers and the Internet Social media doesn't have to be a terrible experience

Anyone who complains about how "awful" their experience is on Twitter, for example, could make their experience vastly better by using lists and scrolling through them on Tweetdeck instead. That's how you concentrate goodness.

Threats and Hazards Tucker Carlson can't even side with freedom

In saying he's siding with the Russians over their invasion of Ukraine, he ought to feel welcome to self-deport. The flippant nihilism of it all should disgust everyone who isn't already a stark raving loon. He really should wear a scarlet letter for this kind of stupidity, now and for the rest of his days.

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November 26, 2019

Threats and Hazards Presidential pardons shouldn't create "moral blank check" for war crimes

There is a reason you will find no equivocation in the Honor Oath at the US Air Force Academy: "We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, (so help me God)."

Threats and Hazards Turkey fryers or weapons of semi-mass destruction?

$70 for a tool to burn down your own home

Weather and Disasters "Fire in Paradise"

(Video) A sobering and important documentary. Do make the time to watch it.

Science and Technology Why aren't inverted chevrons used on more vehicles?

The pattern seems like it should be used on every tow truck, ambulance, fire truck, cop car, and rescue vehicle out there. Maybe even school buses. Data on the subject seems strangely sparse, but it seems hard to believe that visibility isn't enhanced.

Aviation News FAA to test shrinking distance between airline seats

Seat pitch is already close to zero-margin as it already is

News Compelling beyond words

(Video) A young woman documents her life in Aleppo, from student protester to mother under siege

Weather and Disasters Watch a "bomb cyclone" go off

Friends, that's ear-popping territory.

Recent radio podcasts

November 27, 2019

Broadcasting Even the rich and famous sometimes face hostile work environments

"Variety" reports that Gabrielle Union has been pushed out of "America's Got Talent" over some really stupid workplace conditions. Most notably: "Union was subjected to a very specific critique -- that her rotating hair styles were 'too black' for the audience of 'AGT,' a note she received over half a dozen times, according to four sources". Gabrielle Union has every right to make use of whatever hairstyle she feels suits the way her hair naturally grows out of her head. To pester her otherwise is like telling Howie Mandel to stop being bald.

Business and Finance Better off-ramps and better on-ramps (to education) go hand-in-hand

A vigorous discussion has been taking place on social media among people debating the merits of really hard preliminary courses in graduate studies of topics like economics. And a perfectly defensible position is that there ought to be more "terminal" master's degree programs in the field. The inversion of this is true as well: There should be good on-ramps to graduate study of econ, too. For a field that devotes entire classes to the study of labor and human capital, there's a strange resistance to nontraditional study.

Computers and the Internet A hard floppy?

Lots of people are now in adulthood who don't really remember the era of floppy disks

Iowa 100-year-old retires from her 70-year-old weekly newspaper column

It's hard to remember in an era saturated by 280 characters and TikTok, but we've always needed those consistent voices who show up and tell the story of their community with wit and empathy. We won't stop needing them, either. Not as long as we keep living around each other.

Computers and the Internet Twitter threatens to shut down inactive accounts

But what about accounts that belonged to people documenting events like the human-rights violations in Syria? This is a non-trivial question. If people used social media as a means of documenting crimes with the specific intent of making them visible for all the world to see, then extraordinary caution ought to be used before taking them down.

The United States of America A PSA for Federalism

Remember, if you hear a Presidential candidate advocating a policy you like, you don't have to wait to bring it to reality at a national level. Try pushing your state legislature to do it instead. Starting an idea at the local level is an honorable pillar of the American tradition. The entire population of the United States in 1790 was just shy of 4 million people, or about the size of a mid-sized state today.

News Explosion at a Texas chemical plant

Some rather dramatic video here.

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November 28, 2019

Threats and Hazards What signal do we send?

In the signals we send to China over Hong Kong, bear in mind the words of Dwight Eisenhower: "We believe individual liberty, rooted in human dignity, is man's greatest treasure. We believe that men, given free expression of their will, prefer freedom and self-dependence to dictatorship and collectivism. From the evidence, it would appear that the Communist leaders also believe this; else why do they attack and attempt to destroy the practice of these concepts?"

Business and Finance How to deconstruct a building

Better design practices when buildings go up could help make them easier to remove when it's time for them to come down. And so could a better supply chain for re-used materials taken out of buildings that are removed from occupancy. And perhaps every building ought to be built with a demolition bond.

Agriculture The giant mess that is 2019 harvest season

It's worst in North Dakota: "North Dakota was the furthest behind on gathering among major producers, with just 30% of corn harvested"

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November 29, 2019

Threats and Hazards Tone it down a notch

A teaser for an article on election interference efforts published on Axios was published as "Americans are at each other's throats. Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity." It's possible to issue warnings about foreign influence work (which is real) and the fragility of our institutions (also real) without amplifying the narrative that we are "at each other's throats". Are we really? Or aren't there about the same number of quacks as ever?

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November 30, 2019

News Bystanders jumped in to stop London terrorist

The terrorist was killing people, and other people fought back -- with a narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher and their fists. Said one: "I was brought up on rugby and the rule is 'one in, all in'. I did what any Londoner would do and tried to put a stop to it."

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