Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 18, 2009

Brian Gongol

The world would be much better-off if people learned to stop using stupid fonts and start thinking about how to design their work better. It's amazing how many things in this day and age still don't work properly -- like car rental, which always seems like a throwback to 1964. We have all kinds of tools now to help us do things better, yet we frequently fail to do so. So instead of learning a few things about good design, people slap silly fonts on their reports and car-rental companies make us stand in line for hours instead of using the self-check-in kiosks that can be found at every airline counter in America.

Fortunately, smart people like Bill Gates are using their brains and money to solve some of the world's biggest problems. And good for them. Gates just announced a $120 million commitment to help solve agricultural problems that leave millions of people hungry.

But instead of hearing about Bill Gates, we're being bombarded with the news of the family that faked a hot-air-balloon accident in Colorado. Something's wrong with that imbalance.

One can't help but be amazed at just how accurate age-progression software has become. It's a sign that with some intelligence and a little willpower, we humans are quite capable of solving difficult problems in ways that make life better. Even if we occasionally screw up and do things like invent Internet addresses that are unnecessarily long, as Tim Berners-Lee recently admitted his shame at doing.

One thing that the government could do right now to make things better is to fix the stupid copyright laws and bring copyright terms down to a reasonable length. There's no sensible reason for copyright to hold its grip for seventy years after the death of a work's creator. That restricts knowledge from flowing as freely as it should.

Newsletter edition

- Copyright law needs to be fixed. There's no reason to "protect" works for seventy years after the death of the creator.

- The Federal debt is completely out of control, and it's growing faster than anyone should dare excuse. It's so large (just shy of $12 trillion) that if divided among all of us, it would buy a Mercedes C-Class sedan for every single American.

- It turns out that URLs should never have included the double-slash.

- For as much as I hated him (for good reasons or bad) a few years ago, it turns out that Bill Gates is a really good person, donating $120 million to solve world hunger.

- Don't use stupid fonts. Please.

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