Gongol.com Archives: 2010 Weekly Archives
Brian Gongol

Broadcasting Partial transcript from the Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 17, 2010

Health Different forms of leukemia can be distinguished by genetic codes
This new discovery means that doctors could be able to skip straight to the most effective types of treatments for individual patients' cancers

News Satan's response to Pat Robertson

Science and Technology How much of the future will we see through "augmented" eyes?
Services for mobile phones that offer data overlays for conventional views of the world are already here. How long before those layers are projected on the world via eyeglasses and contact lenses?

Humor and Good News Swedish newspaper: "Weight Watchers clinic floor collapses under dieters"

Computers and the Internet Google's investigating whether the China attacks were an inside job

Business and Finance A brief period of bond dominance over stocks has just ended
It's a peculiar event to find that one would have done better to invest in bonds than in stocks -- so rare that it's only happened twice before in the last 80 years

The United States of America President Obama's favorite crutch phrase: "Let me be clear"

Health Today is self-exam day
Take a minute or two and conduct some basic self-screenings for cancer. Early detection saves lives. There's lots of misinformation about cancer that finds its way around the Internet, largely because we've been trained to wait expectantly for some sort of magic-bullet solution to cancer. But cancer risks can be significantly reduced through a balanced diet, exercise, and early detection and treatment. Meanwhile, science is making great progress towards improving genetic detection, which holds great promise for some types of cancer. Instead of forwarding hoax-ridden e-mails about "cancer cures" and false threats, people should instead remind their friends and family to assess their health once a month.

Broadcasting Podcast: Oh, Facebook, why do you shoot yourself in the foot?

Water News Midwestern EPA region gets a new administrator

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Weather and Disasters US helicopters land on front lawn of Haitian presidential palace
What appears to be a complete failure of the Haitian government as a result of the earthquake could really find no better metaphor. As people rush to donate money to the relief effort, it seems logical to place those donations with Catholic Relief Services, which already has at least some existing infrastructure for aid distribution in the country. The process in Haiti will migrate from the immediate need to extract people from the rubble into the short-term need to get them medical aid, water, and food, to the medium-term need to get the country's economy restarted. In the long term, we should not be surprised if Haiti or other Caribbean islands consider applying to become part of the United States. There's no question that the relief effort in Haiti would have been conducted much differently had the same disaster occurred in Puerto Rico. Related: Even the Congo is sending relief money to Haiti.

Computers and the Internet Vintage ads from Apple Computer
The fonts and styles are dated. But the really eye-popping part is to look at the technical specifications: 64 kilobytes of RAM? Cassette tapes for memory? Monochrome displays? 300-baud modems? Oh, yes, kids: We lived like that.

News Yushchenko loses Ukranian presidential race
Now, a run-off between another "Orange Revolution" leader and the guy who was originally backed by Russia to win five years ago

Humor and Good News The 1985 Bears are out to reprise the "Super Bowl Shuffle"

Water News Spencer gets $146,000 to help with sewer separation

Water News Iowa's ponds and lakes just aren't getting enough oxygen

Broadcasting Air America is shutting down
The company just couldn't make a profit. Times are obviously tough all over the broadcast landscape, with NBC paying Conan O'Brien $32.5 million to buy out the rest of his guaranteed contract to host the "Tonight Show". Now, Conan needs to hire the writers from "Arrested Development" and produce some great television. Conan clearly knows how to take advantage of a stunt, like pretending to blow $1.5 million on a sketch.

Socialism Doesn't Work Don't kid yourself: Big government power inevitably leads to big abuses
Chinese civilians -- tens of thousands of them -- are being ordered to retrieve the debris of a rocket that crashed and left behind deadly chemicals. That's what a government can do when the state is the sovereign, not the people. The fight over Internet access in China between the government there and Google will undoubtedly continue to reveal just how much an over-powerful government will do to try to repress its subjects.

Science and Technology The orangutan who's best friends with a dog
(Video) People wax philosophical about whether humans are naturally good or naturally bad. It's a ridiculous question. While there's a whole lot of theology that preaches the "fallen" nature of man, which in turn many take to suggest that we're innately evil, the fact is that humans, like other animals, can only survive over the long term by cooperating for mutual benefit. We make mistakes, and sometimes we can benefit in the short term by following "evil" ways. But eventually, the species needs cooperation and reciprocity (things we deem as "good") in order to survive. That's why cheaters get kicked out of sports, corrupt politicians get sent to prison, and nations band together to defeat fascism. Seeing how a primate and a dog can play together isn't itself proof that animals are innately good, but it certainly ought to give pause to those who are quick to condemn all living beings as being evil. Unfortunately, the belief that we're all evil causes some people to adopt all-or-nothing political attitudes and counterclaim legitimate legal concerns about religious freedom with untenable claims of personal offense when others try to exercise those religious liberties.

The United States of America Fergie Jenkins says that Mark McGwire should apologize to the pitchers of his era
Jenkins, a former pitcher himself, says that McGwire damaged the careers of pitchers who were playing by the rules by using steroids to improve his performance against them. He has a point.

Humor and Good News What's in a name?
Phyllis Stein might be aware of the pun her name creates when it's turned into the name of an art gallery

Water News Northwest Iowa town recognized for protecting its water

The United States of America Supreme Court strikes down lots of limits on campaign spending
People will talk at eye-watering length about how they want to take the influence of money out of politics. But the reality is that money chases power, and the only way to truly reduce the influence of money over politics is to reduce the power of politics itself. The less government is engaged in doing, the less cause there is for people to try to influence the government. Do the same people who strongly endorse campaign spending limits also cheer for the Yankees, who have a massive payroll -- but one that only accounts for 15% to 30% of their success? The best way to really take the influence of money out of Congressional politics, at least, would be to expand the size of the House of Representatives ten-fold. We currently have 435 Representatives; we should have 4,350. That would take the average number of people represented per House member to 70,000 or so, instead of the current 700,000. In other words, getting elected to the House would take about the same amount of money that it takes to run for city council in a medium-sized city like West Des Moines or Waterloo, Iowa. Increasing the number of House members would reduce the cost to get elected, increase the prospects for new people to become citizen legislators, and reduce the relative influence of each individual Representative -- while simultaneously improving the quality of representation by smashing the current network of gerrymandered districts and cutting the risk to small states that they will lose huge amounts of representation over small changes in population. (To wit: Iowa is going to lose a seat in the House after the next census, dropping from five Representatives to four. That's a 20% cut. With a larger House, the number of Representatives might more reasonably change from 50 to 45. Changes in apportionment would be far less drastic with a larger House.) What's the real objection? That it would be too difficult to find seating for 4,350 people in Washington? Poppycock: The concert hall at Kennedy Center alone seats 2,442. It's not hard to find a few more chairs and a few more offices.

Business and Finance Anything that can't go on forever will eventually stop
That includes spending like drunken sailors and failing to pay the tab

Computers and the Internet How a web design goes from quality to disaster
The evolution of design means that people learn how to do things better as time marches along. That's why artists now know how to portray motion better than painters did in the past, and how we learn to construct bridges that won't fall down. Oddly, though, lots of people who know nothing about design and layout think that being a website user qualifies them to be website designers, as though watching a basketball game qualifies one to coach a basketball game. It's not true. And, unfortunately, that's why there are so many catastrophically ugly websites on the Internet.

Computers and the Internet Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6
They claim it'll work 20% faster than the previous version of the browser

Iowa Caucus season returns to Iowa

Threats and Hazards Iranian police distribute magazine full of pictures of protesters
It's surely intended to strike fear into people who might think of protesting the ruling authorities. Anyone who's ever said, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide" should take very serious notice. Governments aren't always in the right.

Computers and the Internet Video games could be leading to the return of rickets
Kids who spend too much time planted in front of video screens may not be getting enough natural Vitamin D. It might not help that some broadband Internet providers are rolling out 40 Mbps service. That's a whole lot of capacity for video -- and gaming -- data.

Broadcasting Show notes from the WHO Radio Wise Guys - January 23, 2010

Computers and the Internet Twitter changes its recommendation strategy for new users
Instead of offering a random sampling of popular accounts to follow, they're clustering popular accounts by category. It's a good move, but it's not enough to ensure that Twitter can remain the most-used microblogging site for long.

Broadcasting "Better Off Ted" just keeps getting funnier
(Video) The latest episode includes some of the funniest wordplay on television in the last year

Aviation News Crashed airplane for sale: Cheap!
What remains of the plane that crashed in the Hudson River is now available for sale

Humor and Good News London Holiday Inn offers bed-warming service...using real live people
Sounds like a delightfully easy job...but a really creepy service. Wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to use electric blankets? Isn't it awkward enough to sleep in a hotel bed knowing how many other people have slept there, too?