Gongol.com Archives: December 2019

Brian Gongol

December 23, 2019

News A non-traditional student finds his classmates aren't all that (snow-)flaky

James Hatch: "To me there is no dishonor in being wrong and learning. There is dishonor in willful ignorance and there is dishonor in disrespect." He echoes Benjamin Franklin ("Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn") and Charlie Munger ("If we hadn't been so good at removing our ignorance step by step, we would be a fraction of ourselves today...We're very good at ignorance-removal, and fortunately for us, we have a lot more ignorance to remove."). It's really quite wise to know we don't know everything.

Threats and Hazards A message from prisoners in China

It's not a message in a bottle, but perhaps the next-closest thing: A note found in a Christmas card, apparently inserted by prisoners being forced to work in a Chinese factory. Material prosperity is only good if it helps to preserve and expand the security of basic human rights and freedoms -- not if it's traded as a substitute for them, which is the model being employed by China. Gilded authoritarianism is authoritarianism nonetheless.

Threats and Hazards Moderate earthquakes off the Pacific Northwest coast

Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver are all in a region where the threat of a giant earthquake ought to have people at sustained attention

Humor and Good News The ultimate Turing test

"Would Alexa blackmail me if I ran for office?"

Threats and Hazards US armed forces try to figure out social media in a new battleground

TikTok, for instance, is a tool that may be very useful for recruiters trying to reach a young audience. But it's also probably a huge security threat, given its murky origins in China -- a known cyber-adversary of our own military. What's nutty is that the US will soon have a "Space Force" as a dedicated military branch, but not a "Cyber Force". Cyberspace is the site of ongoing, never-ending hostilities. Space is an obvious extension of an Air Force mission far more than cyber is an extension of any existing branch. Cyber Force should have come before a Space Force. New battleground, new rules; not to mention a vast need for new training, new strategies and tactics, new recruitment, even a new military academy.

Weather and Disasters Fascinating satellite imagery from 2019

The titanic steps forward in the quality of weather-satellite imagery really pop when you see just how vivid the pictures of major storms (like hurricanes) have become

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