Gongol.com Archives: March 2021

Brian Gongol

March 26, 2021

Science and Technology How can we get big improvements without big disasters?

The awful conditions of the last year have at least a few silver linings: They've catalyzed some technological improvements that are here to stay. We've had to do so much to accommodate not being together with other people that we've had to make extraordinary progress on things like telemedicine and remote work just to muddle through. The really interesting question is: Is it possible to get some of those really big, really fast changes without having to go through something terrible like a pandemic or a war to get there? Why are so many things stalled by the status quo?

Threats and Hazards There's no such thing as a "nobody"

Kawaski Trawick was having a mental-health incident when two police officers showed up in response to a 911 call. Within two minutes, one of the officers had killed him. When a supervisor showed up to ask whether anyone was injured, someone responded "Nobody. Just a perp." That's a profoundly terrible thing for anyone to say, much less someone entrusted with the tools of lethal force. There's no such thing as a "nobody", and the dehumanization of others -- even "perps", which this victim really wasn't -- is an intolerable practice. ■ It is this very same kind of dehumanization of others that deprives us of the open acknowledgment of the fact that the murders in Atlanta were rooted in racism, whether that was the murderer's avowed belief or not. That racism is a form of dehumanization.

Weather and Disasters Lots of vulnerable housing in the path of Alabama tornadoes

A disaster geographer did some quick analysis and found a lot of mobile homes right in the damaged areas. It always takes a combination of natural conditions and social conditions to turn a storm into a disaster.

News California's new rules could mean a lot of new housing

Rules that effectively liberalize government policy on ADUs (auxiliary dwelling units -- things like granny cottages in the back yard) could well mean that a state widely recognized as suffering a housing shortage could make up for some lost time. Suppliers are moving extremely fast to enter the market, and according to Bloomberg CityLab, "Backyard flats may wind up accounting for a sizable share of the new housing built in California during the 2020-21 pandemic years." It's amazing what can happen in the public interest when people have the option to pursue their own self-interest.

Humor and Good News Why doesn't Swatch make a smartwatch?

You can't deny there would be a massive nostalgia opportunity in making a Swatch smartwatch. Combine it with a slap bracelet, and no 40-something would be able to resist.

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