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January 30, 2014


Socialism Doesn't Work Pity the poor college students of China
The Communist government there, living in terror of leaving people with their own free thoughts, is pushing colleges to ban Western textbooks, especially if they speak ill of the Communist system


January 25, 2014

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 25, 2015



January 22, 2014

Business and Finance Deflation: It only sounds good if you don't think about it
Falling prices compound the costs of debt and cause people to pull back on worthwhile spending. High inflation and deflation alike are ugly. Which is why the EU is looking at another big round of pumping money into the economy.

Computers and the Internet Free upgrades to Windows 10 for users of most recent predecessors

Computers and the Internet People are often the biggest security flaw in a computer network
Like staffers in Washington, DC, who don't know how to resist attacks on their trust instincts

Health Confirmed measles patient exposed others in Omaha
Whether the contagion spread, we don't know yet

Computers and the Internet Google may be soon to offer mobile phone service



January 21, 2014

Computers and the Internet Terrorists mask their emails to look like spam
It helps prevent detection

Business and Finance Honda: Seven-year auto loans at today's rates are "stupid" for manufacturers
It's hard to keep your head when everyone else around is losing theirs, but Honda deserves praise for seeing beyond today's illusory low interest rates

Computers and the Internet Resounding praise for Windows 10
It'll have a start menu and plays nicely with mobile devices. It also comes with a new browser.

The United States of America Predominant religions by county in America

News Anarchy is no substitute for the (carefully constrained) rule of law
People sometimes take anti-government sentiment too far and get the idea that a world with no government at all would be preferable to one that overreaches. While the overreach is dangerous and should always be pushed back, the law is necessary for the protection of innocents, like the 8-month-old baby found in a closet next to a loaded gun in a drug-filled Des Moines apartment this week. Someone has to step in on behalf of the welfare of the child. Government can be a powerful tool for good, like when safe-haven laws save the lives of babies whom their mothers might otherwise abandon dangerously.



January 20, 2014

News From the Ministry of Dissent Management...
There's a difference between government transparency and propagandizing. A transparent government is one whose workings are visible to the public and where sunlight can provide "the best of disinfectants". Streaming the State of the Union address on the Internet is fine, but it's not really any special measure of transparency. But promoting the government's coverage of its own speech with Tweets like "The best place to watch the State of the Union at 9pm ET is http://wh.gov/SOTU" isn't really transparency -- it's a declaration that the public is better off getting spin on the speech from the administration that just delivered the speech, rather than from independent journalists. The government certainly should provide the stream -- but it shouldn't then try to jump into competition with the Fourth Estate. It wouldn't be much to make a fuss about if it weren't for the fact that the White House has made lots of noise about being transparent while in fact being secretive, obstructive to journalists, and obsessive about controlling its own image. No: In a liberal democracy, the White House website is emphatically not the "best place" to view the State of the Union address...unless you want to hush dissent.

News How the FBI sought to silence Martin Luther King, Jr.
When people say, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide", they clearly aren't recalling how the government has treated many people who have been doing the right thing, even when it went against the prevailing ways of the times

Threats and Hazards Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #17
A man was abducted at gunpoint in Des Moines by someone who demanded he help him find narcotics

Computers and the Internet Twitter bets on developing markets by buying an Indian company

Computers and the Internet What's new in Windows 10



January 19, 2014

Computers and the Internet A review of the Centcom hacking
Like it or not, we're engaged in non-stop cyberwar

Broadcasting The high cost of retransmitting "free" television

Computers and the Internet Xiaomi -- the biggest cellphone maker you've never heard of

Business and Finance Signs of trouble in the Chinese real-estate bubble
If there's too much cash coming into a country and not enough options available for investment, a bubble in the asset class(es) that are available is pretty much inevitable. The looming default by a Chinese real-estate development company may be a signal of trouble to come. Couple that with the government's steps to rein in the stock market, and things may be about to get very interesting.

Threats and Hazards Little progress made on investigating attack on Colorado NAACP office



January 18, 2014

News Of all kids in America's public schools, more than 50% are living in poverty
The only long-term way to keep them from finding themselves in self-perpetuating cycles of poverty is to make sure that the educational system gives them the tools to get out, and that the economy contains sufficient opportunity for them to use those tools

Iowa "Economic growth in Nebraska, Iowa, and eight other Midwestern states remains stubbornly slow"
The weak market for crops (like corn prices) is not helping anything in the Midwest, and that's showing up in the Rural Mainstreet Index assembled by Creighton University

Science and Technology Are we crossing "planetary boundaries"?
A paper in "Science" says we're already breaking the limits for extinctions, deforestation, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and nitrification of the oceans. The authors say we're into danger zones for each of those, and possibly in better condition for other indicators, like aerosol pollution, ozone depletion, freshwater use, ocean acidification, and the spread of modified organisms. One note on these: Finding sources of energy that are cheap and non-polluting can solve virtually all of these.

Threats and Hazards Is The Onion at risk of a Charlie Hebdo-type attack?

News Smuggler tries taping 94 iPhones to his body
He was going from Hong Kong into mainland China. The border patrol thought he was walking stiffly.

Broadcasting A new coach for the Bears, and no seats in the bleachers at Wrigley

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 18, 2015



January 17, 2014


Business and Finance If you eat at Hardee's, you may be working at Hardee's too
Self-service fast-food kiosks are being pilot-tested at 30 Hardee's restaurants. Welcome to the future: If you don't mind doing some things for yourself, you may get faster service with fewer errors...but do not be surprised over the long term if lots and lots of entry-level jobs get replaced this way. There will be economic and social consequences as a result, making the need to constantly improve our educational system one of our most important priorities as a country. And in tandem with that, we have to ensure that opportunities remain available in the economy -- and that requires big-picture thinking, not government micromanagement.

Business and Finance A negative interest rate -- talk about extraordinary measures
It's how the national bank of Switzerland is seeking to re-value its currency. A negative interest rate makes it unpleasant to hold on to the currency, so it pushes people to spend it quickly. In a way, it's the same effect as inflation (since holding on to the money instead of exchanging it quickly for goods and services means you lose buying power), but it's an unusually explicit way of doing so. It's also illustrative for those who wonder why a little bit of inflation is a good thing, but a lot of it (or negative inflation) can be terrible.

Aviation News SpaceX shares video of the failed "soft landing" of its rocket
(Video) At least they're trying bold new projects. Not all of them will work.

Computers and the Internet British police arrest man for "suspicion of unauthorized access to computer material"
It's related to the hacking of the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox networks on Christmas

Computers and the Internet Google is cutting off sales of Google Glass to individuals
There may be a revival, and there may be other paths they take to market, but time is running out to buy the Google Glass Explorer Edition. Sales end January 19th.


January 16, 2014


Iowa Gov. Branstad: Iowa needs more people
In his inaugural address, he notes: "Although we are growing as a state, we arenít growing fast enough. Iowa remains the one state in the nation that has not grown by even 50 percent since the 1900 census."

Agriculture Oil's price crash hasn't helped ethanol, but Federal mandates guarantee at least some demand
By 2022, the government will require 36 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel to find their way into the fuel supply. Right now, ethanol consumption is about 13 billion gallons and biodiesel is about another billion. The price per gallon of ethanol has to be lower than that for gasoline to meet consumer demand, because it contains about 30% less energy per gallon. So when gasoline prices plunge, it puts extra pressure on the margins for ethanol producers.

News Cubs buy three Wrigleyville rooftops
The team should've done it a long time ago, and placed the controversial digital scoreboards and video boards there instead of messing with the park

Business and Finance Falling gas prices drive inflation to a negative 0.4% rate
That's a meaningful month-over-month drop. Overall, the total inflation from 12 months ago is just +0.8%. Food costs more, and so does medical care. Long-term deflation isn't as good as it sounds on the surface, if it causes people to cut back on economic activity altogether.

Threats and Hazards Pay attention to the Boko Haram in Nigeria
They oppose things like democracy and secular education -- and they're killing hundreds of people in a country that has the potential to grow and be a healthy liberal democracy...but not if it's plagued by terrorism. Satellite photos show how bad the attacks by the group really are. We will come to regret it if we don't pay active attention to what's happening in Africa. 177 million people live in Nigeria -- making it more than half of the size of the United States by population.


January 15, 2014


Aviation News USAF needs more drone pilots -- right away
Pilots are working 6 days a week, 13 or 14 hours a day. That's a pace that can't be maintained forever. Pay is rising to accommodate.

Computers and the Internet LinkedIn endorsement helps catch lottery cheater


Business and Finance A critique of "disruption" as a business goal
The business case for "disruption" is weak. The critique may be a little over the top, but it's worth examination.

Business and Finance Stuff costs less than it recently did
The Producer Price Index has dropped month-over-month in four of the last five months, especially because of energy

Water News The physics of flow and freezing water


January 13, 2014


Health Vaccinate your children
The Onion satirizes: "To be fair to the parents, no one could have predicted that neglecting to immunize people against diseases would lead to more people getting diseases."

Threats and Hazards Empty exhortations from the central government after Chinese stampede disaster


January 11, 2014

News Free community college? How much will it cost?
$60 billion over ten years, says one estimate. We'll have to see whether they payoff exceeds the expense when the details are finally revealed.

Computers and the Internet Cedar Falls will get a Presidential visit
The city will be used as a backdrop for the President to talk about putting high-speed Internet access in more places around the country. Cedar Falls has a strong municipal utility that got on the high-speed broadband train years ahead of much of the country, and it has certainly helped the local economy.

Business and Finance Does a dead person's money do more good in the hands of the government than charity?

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 11, 2015



January 8, 2014


Health "Six of the seven California patients ... were not vaccinated for measles"
Two of the unvaccinated patients in California's measles outbreak were too young to get the shots, so they are innocent victims, too. But that leaves four individuals (or their parents) directly responsible for their own illness and for creating a hazard that endangers the health of others. Vaccinations are one of our best weapons against contagious diseases, and the people who insist upon exempting themselves from them ought to voluntarily quarantine themselves on an island far away from the rest of civilization, as their behavior is in fact un-civilized.

The United States of America The First Amendment in action
A local politician objects to having his name in the paper, so the paper strikes back. They overstep in making a broad judgment about "conservatives" in general, but overall their editorial is great fun.

News President Obama wants "free" community college
Here's the biggest problem: It's not "free", it's just "free" to the student, whose part in the process is to "attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program." While it's true and valid to note that some kind of technical training or associate's degree is probably today's functional equivalent of yesterday's high-school diploma, this proposal needs a lot more thought before it will look like a solution to the needs of the economy and the people and not like another indulgence with other people's money.

Computers and the Internet The Internet Archive rolls out an MS-DOS game emulator
Programs that went into obsolescence with the arrival of better operating systems are back

Computers and the Internet Don't write off the PC just yet
They're featuring nicely at the Consumer Electronics Show


January 7, 2014


News The freedom to satirize is as meaningful a human right as the freedom to worship in peace

Business and Finance Big colleges usually fail when hiring new football coaches
And yet the salary inflation in the coaching sector outstrips the increase in virtually anything else one can imagine. It's time to end the travesty.

Humor and Good News The travel of a sci-fi future with the style of the past
Someone at NASA has had great fun coming up with posters promoting future space travel in the style of the great 1920s/1930s design motif

Computers and the Internet How to report the "help desk" phone scam
Americans are getting telephone calls from people pretending to represent Microsoft and other big names in computing, and in the process of those calls they seek to intimidate the victim into loading malware onto their own computers

Weather and Disasters The impact of the Great Lakes on land temperatures
It's stark


January 6, 2014


News At what point does ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh become a nation-state?
They have adopted many of the trappings of statehood, but is it enough to simply deny them legal recognition? And, on a related note, are we fighting Assad in Syria or not?

News A heavy hitter throws weight behind criminal-justice reform
Charles Koch, demonized by the left, takes up a cause on which they might actually have to agree with him: Fixing the criminal-justice system so that people aren't railroaded by inadequent defense. Our system as it is presently structured wastes a shameful amount of human potential.

Computers and the Internet Facebook founder starts his own book club
Perhaps taking a cue from Oprah, or perhaps from a certain radio show in June, which advocated "less time with Facebook and more time with book-books"

Computers and the Internet Corning rolls out "Iris Glass" at Consumer Electronics Show
They claim it will enable super-thin LCD televisions

News Striking image of a grounded cargo ship


January 5, 2014


Computers and the Internet Always have a definitive outlet that speaks exclusively under your authority
For most people, that probably ought to be some variation on "[firstname-lastname].com". That way, people know conclusively when you're speaking for yourself and can check what other people try to say about or for you. For instance, if you're Bill Gates, it's helpful to have a website where you post things like book reviews, so that when a guy like Thomas Piketty decides to put words in your mouth about a telephone conversation you had ("He told me, 'I love everything that's in your book, but I don't want to pay more tax"), you can point to exactly what you said about the book ("Piketty's book has some important flaws that I hope he and other economists will address"). We don't all have the soapbox and bullhorn that Bill Gates does, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't learn to speak conclusively for ourselves. A domain name (even if it's only used to point to a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn profile) is a very healthy start.

News How Sen. John McCain re-asserted control over the Arizona Republican Party

Computers and the Internet Benchmarking the major antivirus programs

Computers and the Internet Should Yahoo buy CNN?

News Why is the poverty rate soaring among Hispanics in Nebraska?

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January 4, 2014

Health Ebola gets the headlines, but the flu kills more Americans by far
And that's included healthy young people this year, to our great sadness

Computers and the Internet Are we more anxious because our periodicals aren't very periodical anymore?
A New York Times contributor says the "ICYMI" ("in case you missed it") phenomenon makes us anxious that we're missing out on things all the time -- when it's not possible to catch up on it all

Computers and the Internet Terrorist moron geo-tags his Twitter updates

Computers and the Internet Lost in our devices
The National Geographic photography contest winner for 2014 is a glimpse of the zeitgeist -- a woman staring at her smartphone while everyone else around her is engaged in a tourist display

Business and Finance There's career value in becoming a specialist

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 4, 2015
Streaming online at WHORadio.com and on the air (1040 on the AM dial) at 9:00 pm Central Time



January 3, 2014

Business and Finance Left-wing, union-backed policy group says trade deficit with China cuts jobs in every Congressional district but one
Without deeply examining their methodology or claims, it's quite possible that there has been some meaningful net reduction in employment in the United States as a result of persistent trade deficits -- not just with China, but with the entire world. But the predominant concern shouldn't be with the jobs "created" or "destroyed" -- it should be with the ultimate impact on net wealth. As a country, if we're importing a lot more than we're exporting, then in the long term, we are sending our dollars overseas and building up a non-trivial balance on a metaphorical national "credit card". If we don't turn that around in a hugely meaningful way, then we'll have to pay down that debt and repatriate those dollars by selling off a significant amount of assets. Not everything, of course, but if our trade deficits linger at about 3% of our national income (about $40 to $45 billion a month on about $1,400 billion in GDP each month), then it's not going to be pretty when the day of reckoning arrives. Let's not overlook the real numbers, either: With a population of 320 million people, it's the equivalent of us each buying about $1600 a year worth of foreign stuff more than we're creating. We need to agree and understand that it's not sustainable and then get to work on debating the proper solutions -- ones that won't squash all of the benefits we do obtain from free trade (and there are many).

Health Critics want Gates Foundation to stop focusing on specific diseases
While it's understandable that they want a more holistic approach to "health-system strengthening", they're overlooking the fact that accountability requires at least some specificity. The broader and more vague the mandate, the more likely it is that any organization will fail to actually achieve its mission. One could scarcely expect to get good value by assigning someone a large pile of money and saying, "Go fix transportation". But if instead, the options (air travel, ships, trains, cars, and so on) were carefully evaluated for their likely effectiveness at achieving certain specific goals (like getting food to market, or moving people at low cost to metropolitan centers), then specific and worthwhile investments could be made with a reasonable expectation of getting results. Health is the same: The Gates mission is to find specific causes of illness and death, target them relentlessly, and eliminate them. There will be some unintended consequences, mistakes, and oversights along the way to be sure. But if you're not specific about what you're trying to fix, you're likely to do a lot worse.

Computers and the Internet Customers sue Apple over iOS 8
They say it takes up a lot of storage space on their devices -- particularly when upgraded from a previous version -- and that it's a shadowy way to force people to pay for cloud storage. The claim holds that a device advertised as having 16 Gb of storage really only offers about 80% of that amount once the OS has taken up residence. It's probably a silly and frivolous suit, but it does highlight the fact that people need to realize that they can't store endlessly, nor is the listed storage capacity of a device what they'll actually get in practice.

Threats and Hazards "The smuggling and sale of oil provides ISIL with as much as $1 million per day"

Business and Finance Americans probably don't realize how far we are from saving enough
Saving enough for a comfortable and independent retirement requires thinking on the order of about a million dollars. Maybe more, maybe less, but that's the order of magnitude of the thinking required.

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - January 3, 2015



January 2, 2014

Health Researcher suggests that cancer is basically just bad luck, 2/3rds of the time
"[O]nly a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to 'bad luck,' that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells." This conclusion will be hotly debated, to be sure. Undoubtedly, some cancer risk is certainly due to environmental or genetic conditions -- but if it's really this much of a crapshoot, there's a strong case to be made for putting all of us under routine surveillance (blood tests at every annual physical, for instance), and for crafting our health-care system to accommodate the sort of risk that apparently affects us all with substantial equality (in other words, if we're all at mostly equal risk and the risk is mostly random, then we should all bear the costs rather equally as well).

Threats and Hazards Three dozen people killed in New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai
Public-policy researcher asks why people weren't warned about the hazard via social media. It seems like that kind of responsiveness is a long time off.

Broadcasting "Ida" - a film worth watching
It's very well-executed from a technical standpoint, and the plot is high-caliber

Computers and the Internet A brief history of web design

Broadcasting Today is just like the day before
(Video) A real home run of a PSA for disaster preparedness


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January 1, 2014

Computers and the Internet FBI wants to recruit "ethical hackers"
Annual salaries for these "cyber special agents" start at about $60,000 a year. That number might need to go higher if we really want to recruit qualified technicians.

Computers and the Internet BlackBerry saves the day for Sony after hacking

Iowa Shawn Johnson on the Iowa stereotypes encountered during "The Apprentice"

Humor and Good News Kim Jong-Un: Extreme eyebrow plucker?
The South China Morning Post brings this not-very-urgent but hilarious update to the world's attention

Humor and Good News "My doctor told me I should vaccinate my children, but then someone much louder told me I shouldn't"
The people behind The Onion strike again with a great piece of satire




The United States of America The Fugio Cent: Benjamin Franklin's admonition to the country
Franklin designed a penny with the image of a sundial and the word "Fugio" (Latin for "I fly"...thus suggesting "Time flies"), and a slogan saying "Mind your business". It's entirely possible -- maybe even likely -- that he intended for the ambiguity of that particular phrasing. "Mind your business" certainly literally means "Attend to your work", but it also can be another way to say "Mind your (own) business". How delightfully American.

Business and Finance Outside investors aren't enamored -- at all -- with Japanese stocks
Bloomberg reports that investment inflows are dropped by 94% from 2013 into 2014. To the contrarian investor, it's certainly a signal worth investigating.

Health Psychological conclusions reached in 2014 that could make for a happier year ahead

Business and Finance What is wrong with the open-plan workplace
Distractions from noise alone probably reduce quite a lot of any gains to be had from "easier collaboration"

Business and Finance Fifteen out-of-left-field predictions for 2015
Some will be right, many will be very wrong. Most valuable as an exercise in considering some of the outside circumstances that could mess with the status quo in the year ahead.

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Business and Finance Cheap work eventually runs out
China's labor costs have risen enough to meaningfully diminish the country's competitive advantage. The boom didn't really last long by historical standards.

Computers and the Internet Facebook admits its automatic "year in review" might have missed the mark for some people
You might think that a quick glance at the global and national data alone might have suggested that not everything we talk about on Facebook is stuff we'd like to relive...but perhaps these things do not occur to the wunderkinds. And, to be quite honest, the apology as shared with the Washington Post was actually a bit tone-deaf in itself.

Computers and the Internet More Apple products were activated over Christmas than those of any other manufacturer
So says Yahoo analytics subsidiary Flurry, which says "Apple accounted for 51% of the new device activations" right around Christmas.

News
Team planning Obama Presidential library is worried about Chicago proposals
The hilarious part: Most of their concerns have to do with political uncertainty, and whether the government and public agencies involved will actually supply the things they want for the library to go through. This, from a group planning a library to honor a Presidential administration that has shown a remarkable affinity for capricious initiation and execution of rules to advance its own political agenda, with great disregard for the consequences to the people who have to live by those rules and laws.

Science and Technology German transition to renewable energy is painful
There are lots of moving parts to the system -- and it appears that they aren't being very well coordinated. Germans are as a result paying a very high price for electricity without a mountain of attending benefits.

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Socialism Doesn't Work China blocks Gmail
Because nothing is worse for an authoritarian government than people who can think for themselves and exchange those thoughts with others in relative privacy and freedom. Let's not forget that mundane-seeming technologies like the fax machine helped undermine the Soviet Union.

Business and Finance Who owns what in America

Business and Finance America's most unpopular companies

Threats and Hazards ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh turns on its own

Business and Finance Japan's savings rate has turned negative
That's a first



Threats and Hazards What's gone wrong with the Secret Service?
Washington Post analysis: Too many new duties after 9/11, getting shuffled into a new DHS bureaucracy, and -- in no small measure -- a loss of experienced workers and a huge degree of distrust of management by the rank-and-file

News Russia's economic woes partially tie back to its takeover of Crimea
War can't be examined in isolation from economics. Russia may be on track to burn through its fiscal reserves in a matter of just a couple of years. What happens next is probably not going to be pretty.

Health Whooping cough may be evolving to evade immunization
That's scary. What's worse is the thought that people are choosing to exempt themselves and their children from immunization programs, which only opens the door further to the risk of the disease among the population as a whole. The awful movement that steers people away from vaccines is only weakening the immunity of the human species at large. We clearly have enough to worry about with the natural evolution of our viral enemies without some of our fellow people turning into traitors against us all.

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #16
A crowded Chicagoland mall was evacuated and closed after a fight broke out in the food court. Good people need to know how to protect themselves and de-escalate situations with authority.

Science and Technology Is there really anything wrong with disposable technology?
A British engineering professor bemoans the fact that young people generally don't know how to fix their gadgets, but is it really a bad thing that the technology itself improves so quickly that there's little incentive to keep up with the details?

Broadcasting Show notes - The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - December 28, 2014
Airing live at 9 pm Central; streaming at whoradio.com/listen



The American Way A perfect economic system (or something close to it)
Incentives for those who will work. A safety net for those who can't. A fair but firm push for those who won't.

Business and Finance What to do with middle-skill workers?

Business and Finance China becomes emergency lender to Russia
They're trying to prop up the ruble -- exactly as predicted -- and it reflects the country's intentions to win friends (or at least loyal supplicants) on the world stage

Threats and Hazards Suicide epidemic in a small town
There's no doubt that mental wellness has a contagious component. Less stigma, more realistic approaches to helping people.

News Journalists need to know what's paying the bills
And the advertising side of the business needs to know what the product they're selling is really out to do

Broadcasting Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - December 27, 2014

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Computers and the Internet "Lizard Squad" claims responsibility for knocking out Xbox and PlayStation live networks on Christmas
Whoever they are and whatever their intentions, expect to see a meaningful increase in online mischief and criminality as Russia's economy shrinks

Threats and Hazards "Imagine if you could have tweeted at the Nazis"
A journalist recaps her encounters with -- and analysis of -- terrorist sympathizers who are using Western communication tools like Twitter to promote a very un-Western war

Business and Finance China's central bank is making money cheaper
And that's probably going to keep on driving growth in the Chinese stock market, even if real growth turns out to be in shorter supply than before

Computers and the Internet Uber claims its rides-for-hire service is making more money for drivers while cutting prices for customers
The optimal place for driving-for-fares is somewhere on the continuum between Uber's unregulated but feedback-driven system and the heavily-regulated (but not necessarily for the benefit of public health and safety) taxi system. It's probably a lot closer to the Uber end of that spectrum.

Computers and the Internet How Facebook's "year in review" may be cruel automatically
Because Facebook "likes" don't really distinguish between things people actually like and the general-purpose use of the "like" simply to express solidarity, support, or acknowledgment, there are lots of people getting automated looks at their past year that try to frame sad moments as though they are celebratory. There's a long way to go before these kinds of errors are properly avoided.

Socialism Doesn't Work North Korea tries escalation after "The Interview" hits theaters
The North Korean propaganda agency is in a tizzy over "The Interview"



Computers and the Internet Google says the self-driving car is now at the official prototype phase

Computers and the Internet Why grandparents might be the next frontier for Snapchat

Computers and the Internet Mediacom customers suffer e-mail outage
It was company-wide and lasted for a while. It's a good example why people with mission-critical e-mail needs should have a dedicated domain name with e-mail routing that sends messages to at least two different destinations (like an ISP e-mail service and Gmail).

Health A cartoon explanation of vaccines

Iowa Steady population growth in Iowa and Nebraska
But it's steadily low growth -- much lower than fast-growing states. Still, that's better than shrinkage. Minnesota added more people.



News Police shootings should be systematically addressed just like airplane crashes
We need to understand what causes the escalations and how to achieve de-escalation whenever possible

Business and Finance Personal income went a little up in November
But personal saving went down -- now to 4.4% of disposable personal income

Threats and Hazards Terrorist recruits to Syria and Iraq may be joining for sex
There are many layers on which the problem of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh has to be addressed: (1) True believers, (2) soft sympathizers, (3) indifferent bystanders, (4) weak-minded followers, and (5) unwilling hostages and victims -- just to name a few

Computers and the Internet Apple users get an automatic security update
It's not something they're used to getting -- but a security vulnerability in the OS X had to be fixed

Business and Finance How US households are reducing debt


Telephone or text: 918-2-GONGOL (+1-918-246-6465)


Threats and Hazards The horrifying specter of what's happening in Iraq and Syria
The terrorist group there is hardening into a state, and a ghastly one

Threats and Hazards Surprise! Red-light cameras tied to too-short yellow-light cycles in Chicago
The result? More rear-end crashes. Still no evidence to be shown that red-light cameras are really about safety; they're all about the ticket revenues.

Iowa Iowa officials may try for a hands-free mandate for phone use while driving

Computers and the Internet Ello explained

Health One way to move away from poverty: Get people better cooking stoves
(Video) Some of the things that are so easily taken for granted in rich countries make us less capable of recognizing simple steps that can be taken to improve the dignity and quality of life for people living in poor countries -- like providing access to better ways of cooking food. It's a much more powerful idea than one might think.



Business and Finance Inflation at work, college football edition
Assistant coaches at the University of Iowa are getting pay increases that far outstrip the change in the cost of living

News Pope Francis takes on the Vatican bureaucracy

News The world's largest ship will process natural gas offshore
It's going to be a floating liquified natural gas processing plant for Shell, and it's massive

News Saudi Arabia won't cut oil production
Or at least so they say. That's bad news for higher-cost oil producers (read: everybody else), but especially for countries that depend heavily upon oil profits, like Russia and Iran.

Health Why it may help to whistle while you work
It may serve to occupy the brain during routine tasks so you don't over-think things and psych yourself out

Telephone or text: 918-2-GONGOL (+1-918-246-6465)


Broadcasting Radio shownotes - Brian Gongol Show - December 21, 2014



Computers and the Internet 2014 was a good year for Microsoft under new CEO

Threats and Hazards Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #15
Rahm Emanuel's son was robbed near home by two male attackers using a chokehold and their fists. If the mayor's own son isn't safe to walk down the street, who is?

News Michele Bachmann leaves Congress

Broadcasting Farewell for now to Craig Ferguson on television
But it looks like he'll be back on the air soon...just not on the "Late Late Show". Television will be worse off without him in the meantime.

Computers and the Internet Facebook's popularity continues drooping among teenagers

Computers and the Internet Watch out for vulnerabilities in cheap holiday tablets

Broadcasting Show notes: WHO Radio Wise Guys - December 20, 2014



Threats and Hazards FBI puts blame for Sony hacking directly on North Korea
President Obama's response: "We will respond proportionately and in a space, time and manner that we choose."

Threats and Hazards Russia's economic (and therefore political) situation is "extremely grave"
Says the former head of the European Central Bank

Threats and Hazards Pentagon migrates the name of ISIS/ISIL to "Daesh"
You can't fight an evil until you name it

Computers and the Internet Laptop with health records on 2,800 people stolen in Chicago

News Paramount nixes showing of "Team America: World Police"




Computers and the Internet How will Russians preserve savings as the ruble plummets?
Some may turn to crypto-currency

Computers and the Internet BlackBerry says: Bring back the tactile keyboard
And they're so doing with the new BlackBerry Classic

Health It turns out you don't really "burn" fat, you breathe it out

Computers and the Internet China takes a terribly short-sighted move towards purging foreign-made technology

News The "elf on a shelf" is a creepy way to get your kids comfortable with living in a police state

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News US and Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations

Business and Finance Russian ruble in trouble
Plummeting oil prices can't be helping

Business and Finance Federal Reserve: Nothing to see here. Just move along, people.
They're now adopting "patience" as a policy for raising interest rates

Socialism Doesn't Work Dallas theater will run "Team America" in place of cancelled North Korea film
Sony cancelled the release after Carmike, AMC, Cinemark, and Regal said they wouldn't show it.

Computers and the Internet Social-engineering attack targets Iowa utilities

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Threats and Hazards Taliban members kill 140 people at a school in Pakistan
There's really no way to measure the kind of cowardice it takes to kill kids who are simply trying to go to school. Any political system, group, or philosophy that thinks schoolchildren -- kids simply learning to read and write and think for themselves -- isn't worthy of the 21st Century and should be wiped from the face of the earth.

Business and Finance Advice for personal productivity
Much of it is really good (schedule relentlessly, plan ahead, focus on your high-value work). Some of it is junk (to-do lists are valuable, no matter what the author says -- it's simply up to the individual to use them in the way that motivates them most effectively). Productivity advice is so heavily dependent upon personality factors that these kinds of prescriptive pieces have to be taken with a grain of salt.

Humor and Good News Progress made by humanity in 2014

Broadcasting "Radio continues to be a useful, profitable technology"

Humor and Good News Mother calls C-SPAN to chastise her pundit sons for arguing

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Threats and Hazards The terrible humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq

Computers and the Internet Woman sent to prison for five years for promoting terrorism on Facebook
She lives in the UK, and inciting terrorism -- even if she's trying to incite it in Syria -- is against the law there

Computers and the Internet Firefox dumps Google search for Yahoo
An interesting move; Yahoo hasn't really been a meaningful independent player in search for some time. But Firefox, which is trying a sort of brand-reboot after having given up quite a lot of ground to the Google Chrome browser, is now in a five-year agreement with Yahoo to provide Yahoo as the default search engine (while still listing others). Yahoo, meanwhile, is reciprocating by encouraging users of its properties to "upgrade" to Firefox.

Computers and the Internet YouTube builds in a GIF maker
A smart adaptation to new uses of old technology. There's nothing new about GIFs, but people are using them in lots of social-media applications that otherwise don't allow for easy video consumption.

Science and Technology An awesome visualization of the phases of the Moon

Computers and the Internet Heavy rains knocked out power to San Francisco, and that hurts the tech industry


Computers and the Internet Seagate rolls out 8-terabyte hard drive for $260

Health We're screwing up anti-microbial treatments, and it's going to have costly consequences


Computers and the Internet Google is pulling its engineering operations out of Russia
Rumor has it the company doesn't want to have to follow a law that requires them to store data about Russian users on Russian-based computers

Computers and the Internet Google's core revenues from search-related advertising may be tapering off

Iowa Farewell to the Merle Hay Cinema

News Washington Post says President Obama had the worst year in Washington
And he largely brought it upon himself

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Iowa Iowa Department of Education clamps down on early school start dates

Threats and Hazards Russia's "unprecedented" behavior in the Baltic
It's not unprecedentedly friendly. Meanwhile, the White House insists that there is no plan to send ground troops back to Iraq. While that may be superficially satisfying, it's probably not a great idea to telegraph to our enemies what we just won't do.

Business and Finance Oil prices fall and stocks go along for the tumble
It's been a whole lot of pain on paper this week. There's speculation that world oil demand will be down in 2015, and that has people worried that the global economy may be headed for trouble.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin gives farewell address

Computers and the Internet Why political campaigns use Twitter
They don't expect to change voters' minds...they want to manipulate the spin. Not a huge surprise.

Broadcasting Show notes for WHO Radio - December 12, 2014
Live from 4pm to 6pm CT on WHO Radio

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Socialism Doesn't Work Pro-democracy protestors lose their fight in Hong Kong
The government is kicking them out and rolling on with a less-than-democratic process for picking an executive in 2017

Threats and Hazards $2 million in kickbacks secured Chicago's red-light camera contract
So say the Federal prosecutors involved

Business and Finance They don't build 'em like they used to
Ford has transitioned to an all-aluminum body on the F-150, and that's changing the way they're running the factory.

Computers and the Internet Some heavy lifting to be found in December's Patch Tuesday

Broadcasting A fine analysis of "The Newsroom"
The problem is that we want to be entertained by Brian Williams slow-jamming the news, but deep down we know we want Scott Pelley to do the heavy lifting of real, meaningful television journalism. And Scott Pelley is just not cut out to be a television character...so building a clever drama around a character with his nose for news isn't going to produce a naturally engaging product.

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Business and Finance Jack Bogle: Why invest overseas when you have American opportunities?
His opinion serves to reinforce the observation that the entire world is looking to the US as the best choice for investment right now. Much of the rest of the world is just too unstable or too uncertain to merit heavy bets.

Computers and the Internet Facebook improves its internal search engine
A likely shot across the bow aimed at Google

Broadcasting You can't expect a news anchor to maintain her composure indefinitely
(Video) Not when she finds out what some people do in their free time. All giggles aside, it doesn't matter what people were doing at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare -- a deliberate leak of chlorine gas is a very serious and troubling event.

Broadcasting One gets the impression President Obama wants a show on MSNBC after his term expires
(Video) His appearance on the "Colbert Report" may be chuckle-worthy, but it certainly seems like the place he's been most comfortable in a long time

News Going to war over Chinese food
A Harvard law professor takes his mission in life a little too seriously and threatens all kinds of legal nonsense over a $4 overcharge



Science and Technology Strong evidence Mars had liquid water sometime in the past

Aviation News China asks the US for help detecting space junk
Of course, China had a role in putting it there. So much for the oft-repeated canard about long-term thinking.

Business and Finance Cheap energy provides a temporary economic stimulus to the economy
We'll miss it when it's gone. This is a bonanza and should be recognized for what it is.

Aviation News American Airlines seeks to de-commoditize air travel
They're touting new airplanes and power outlets at every seat. But good luck: The air-travel business is heavily commoditized and tends to stay that way.

News Rather than praising kids just for success, praise the process
It may well be that kids need to learn to overcome challenges more than anything else



Threats and Hazards "The Chinese are not tired. The Russians are not tired. ISIS isn't tired."
Condoleezza Rice on the need for America to think about national security, even if we're exhausted of the subject.

Computers and the Internet Can anything be done to stop the proliferation of online hoaxes?
The latest to spread like wildfire is the misinformed notion that you can claim exclusive copyright to anything you post on Facebook. You cannot. Their terms explicitly give Facebook the right to use what you post however they like, and to sell it to anyone they choose.

Business and Finance Uber is being pushed to a preposterous market price
The real value of the company simply cannot equal its current price, nor anything close to it

Computers and the Internet Social-media training from the Department of Defense
What they tell soldiers, sailors, and airmen to do isn't bad advice for civilians either

Business and Finance Reconciling theology with the dismal science
There are a lot of theoretical and philosophical reasons to advocate different types of economic outcomes, but the long and short of the matter is that market forces are natural forces, like the tides. We can adapt to them and in some cases direct them in limited ways, but to pretend as though they won't prevail in the long run is to pretend that we're much more powerful than we really are.

Broadcasting Shownotes from the Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - December 7, 2014


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