Gongol.com Archives: 2014 Fourth-Quarter Archives
Brian Gongol

Business and Finance Bill Clinton sees that it's time to reform corporate taxes
Clinton came from a business-friendly wing of the Democratic party that the current administration has aggressively sent into exile, so we're wasting time blathering about "inversions" instead of fixing the real problem. That's not the way they would fix a faulty car design at a place like Honda, and it's not the way we should fix a faulty economic system. Ask why things you don't like are happening, and keep asking "Why?" until you get to an ultimate cause...then fix it.

Business and Finance August's personal-savings rate: 5.4%
Could have been higher, but at least it's above zero. Bodes well for the future if we can be consistent about it.

Humor and Good News 49ers wide receiver drafts a "Fantasy You" team via Twitter
A hilarious gag, really

Computers and the Internet Steve Ballmer doesn't want the LA Clippers using Apple products
Can you blame him? He's the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft.

Computers and the Internet Google's watching you from above
Or at least, they're floating balloons to provide broadband Internet serve

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Computers and the Internet Forgotten archive of speeches re-discovered
There is so much material that hasn't been digitized (and may never be), and it is at enormous risk of being lost to history if we don't catalog and digitize it

Computers and the Internet Parenting as a member of Generation X

Agriculture Iowa's corn and soybeans are behind schedule

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #12
Two kids got into a fight at a Council Bluffs high school. The aggressor ended up dead after a single blow from the other student. It's tragic, and it never should have happened. But everyone really must know how to defend themselves against punches, kicks, and weapons -- especially if learned within a context that increases the odds that you will de-escalate any confrontation you enter.

News Pre-revolutionary Russia in color photographs

News Keep a close eye on Hong Kong
The tensions boiling to the surface there are most likely not that far removed from the tensions we'll see in other parts of China someday if the Communist Party doesn't ease up on personal liberties

Computers and the Internet Nashville Marriott busted for jamming personal WiFi hotspots
Internet access may not be a fundamental human right, but it's also nobody's arbitrary right to block your access to it

Iowa Homeowners in the Quad Cities want guns for protection from coyotes
There are places where other protection isn't readily available and where a gun is the only reasonable tool of defense. Circumstances vary, but that's why universal gun bans don't make sense in America.

Iowa Spoof video brings attention to pull-over/slow-down rules
Police officers face too many hazards already; bad drivers shouldn't add to the risk. West Des Moines police officers deserve credit for having some fun bringing light to the issue.

Humor and Good News Parenting in the advertising parallel universe

News One-paragraph book review: "Honda: An American Success Story"
Toss out the hideously outdated dustjacket, and you have one of the very best books on management to be found anywhere.

News One-paragraph book review: "The Outsiders"
An appealing take on rationality in capital allocation, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Investors Instead".

The American Way What's on the mind of Bill Gates
One of the world's smartest people has an unlimited budget to do what he wants, and he's using it to make the world a better place. That hasn't happened a lot in human history. He is the perfect technocrat and he doesn't have to work inside a bureaucracy -- it's a very special event in history, really. Broadly speaking, people really just want things to work. And who can blame them? We're paying for the system, whether it works or not, so we ought to get our money's worth.

Threats and Hazards The Chinese military is targeting US military contractors
If you thought we were all going to hold hands and sing "Kumbaya", you would be mistaken

Iowa "[D]o we really want to tell them we tore down an historic building to put up a glitzy highrise?"
Yes. Yes we do. The decision not to grant historic-preservation status to the downtown Des Moines YMCA building is a perfectly fine one, especially if it moves the space from a lower value to a higher value. There's nothing wrong with being nostalgic unless you're trying to do it on someone else's dime.

News Mistakes of the 1970s: Open floor plans in schools
Classrooms need doors, it turns out. The plans to wall up some classrooms around Omaha is an example of how decisions often have long-lingering consequences (35 to 45 years, in the case of schools from the 70s), and how knowledge isn't the same as judgment. Anyone can learn how to design a classroom, but deciding what layout to use takes judgment.

Broadcasting Show notes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 5, 2014
Streamed live at 9:00 pm on WHORadio.com and heard on AM 1040

Business and Finance Warren Buffett's answer to a stock-market dip: Buy!

Computers and the Internet Microsoft will skip Windows 9 and jump straight to Windows 10

News The problem with funding a low-value degree

News Dialogue between the two Koreas?
It can't happen soon enough.

News Onetime Haitian dictator Duvalier dies

News Things aren't getting better in Hong Kong

Threats and Hazards Chicagoland man arrested for trying to join the Al-Qaeda-Land fight

Threats and Hazards Police confiscations are like highway robbery

Computers and the Internet HP is getting broken up after all

News The job market for academics isn't friendly

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Computers and the Internet Assignment for Bill Gates: Make Microsoft Office better

Business and Finance Nestle CEO blames corporate debt troubles on shortage of values
"[S]hort-termism eroded much of the trust between companies and society and rebuilding this needs to be a priority for business leaders."

Computers and the Internet How the Washington Post and the Amazon Kindle are coming together

Weather and Disasters The SPC is bringing out severe weather models with greater detail

Computers and the Internet Nobody stays on top in tech forever
Slower smartphone sales are hurting Samsung's bottom line, so the company is looking for new products to make to revive its profits. Great news for consumers; terrible news for investors.

Business and Finance Demand falling, production rising: Recipe for lower oil prices is coming together
And there's no doubt it's having a positive effect on the US economy. We're getting lucky right now, and there's no guarantee the luck will last indefinitely. It should also be noted that corn is cheap right now, and ethanol production is high.

Business and Finance Marchionne thinks the auto industry needs a carmaker bigger than Toyota
And he sees mergers as the way to get there. Given the enormous debt that Fiat undertook to swallow Chrysler, they're going to have to be both good and lucky to survive...so perhaps we should temper our enthusiasm for megamergers.

Iowa When to see the peak in fall colors in Iowa

Computers and the Internet Construction continues on Apple's new world headquarters

Iowa An old tradition returns to the University of Iowa
A tower decorated with corn

The United States of America The Republican Party wins when it's the party of good government
Going into November, Republican candidates have a lot of government failures to which they can point as evidence that it's time for the Democrats to be removed from power. That's when the GOP has historically been at its best -- when it's the party of getting the job of government done efficiently and effectively. But there's also a serious risk to the party if its candidates indulge in overstatement.

News Conclusive proof that red-light cameras aren't used to improve public safety
Chicago authorities gave out tickets for drivers at intersections with short-cycled yellow lights. It's quite simple: If you want to cut down on red-light running and consequent crashes, you lengthen yellow lights and increase the gap between the red in one direction and the onset of green in the other. At least, that's what you'd do if safety were your priority.

Agriculture Turning flies into food
Via the conduit of livestock feed

News UKIP gets its first elected seat in British Parliament
The anti-EU party now has a toehold in domestic lawmaking in the UK

Health Real diseases that are scarier than ebola

News A completely ridiculous building
A Park Avenue building in New York will be the second-tallest tower in the city (second only to the new One World Trade Center), but its highest occupied floor will actually be the tallest. It's to be 1,396 feet tall and Crain's New York Business says the apartments inside are selling for $4,000 per square foot. So if you're looking to blow upwards of $75 million on your "home", operators are standing by. The ultra-thin, ultra-tall blueprint seems terribly disproportionate, but the time-lapse video of construction is worth a look.

Computers and the Internet Instagram and Twitter overtake Facebook among teen users
According to research by Piper Jaffray

Broadcasting Unsolicited endorsement: "Key and Peele" is better than ever
It's brilliant sketch comedy, and the most satisfying part is that there's some kind of incredibly satisfying word play somewhere in each sketch. The brilliant "gay wedding advice" sketch, for instance, involves lines about couscous and Camel Cash that nobody could reasonably see coming.

Broadcasting No-nonsense writing advice from Trey Parker and Matt Stone
No sympathy for people who let writer's block or pretention get in the way

Iowa MidAmerican Energy adds another $280 million in wind turbines to its plans
Adams County will get a bunch of new turbines

Broadcasting Show notes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 12, 2014

Computers and the Internet Third-party apps hack Snapchat
It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that something like this happened

Business and Finance How the Dutch fixed retirement savings
It looks like it works, but it isn't pretty. That's the tough reality.

Business and Finance What happens if you raise the minimum wage?

Threats and Hazards The continued threat in Syria and Iraq

News The UK Independence Party could turn European politics upside-down

News Fight out the details however, but every community needs a public library
Equality of opportunity to learn

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Computers and the Internet Dropbox had a little problem with a bug that led to file deletion
Cloud storage can't be your only option

News "That is not dignity."
Resolving poverty in the right way can bring a lot of dignity to the people of the world

The United States of America Sec. Hagel wants the US Army to be a "coastal defense force"

Computers and the Internet And now it's "voiceprint" time
Is the adult voice as unique as a baby's cry?

Computers and the Internet Slot machines for the 21st Century

Computers and the Internet Blackmail photography ring busted in Boone
More than 100 users had access to a collection of illegal photos of their own underage peers

Computers and the Internet Spoofed phone numbers: How crooks make you think you're calling yourself

Health A baby's first hour in the world

Aviation News Japan is getting back into the airliner-manufacturing business
Also, keep an eye on the HondaJet

Iowa Moving to Des Moines: More hipsterish than Brooklyn?
Let's avoid the hipster thing, shall we? But, yes, there's a lot of good happening right now in Central Iowa.

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Threats and Hazards More friction in Hong Kong
Sooner or later, this will be much more important than ebola. Or maybe it already is.

Business and Finance The people freaking out about stocks aren't really investors
Responding to some passing bad news is just negative speculation, not investment

Computers and the Internet Idiot uses anonymous website to threaten Drake University
But he overestimated his anonymity

Threats and Hazards Now we don't even bother with the War Powers Resolution
What's the point of the rule of law if nobody ever respects the rule?

Aviation News Two years in space?

Health Getting kids to try is the best thing

Business and Finance Cheap energy prices are helping restrain inflation

Humor and Good News One of the best outbound voicemail greetings ever

Iowa Banking time in Cedar Rapids
People are using it as a substitute for cash transactions, and there's nothing wrong with it -- but people should realize that cash is just a relatively frictionless way of "banking" one's efforts already. A "time bank" is really a lot less novel than it may seem.

Business and Finance No more Nokia smartphones
Microsoft is killing the name and replacing it with its own

Science and Technology Robotic companions are promising, but there are risks
They could provide a fantastic means of providing surrogate sentient conact for people who are isolated, lonely, sick, or mentally debilitated. But that also means they may be used unethically to steal information from unwitting victims.

News Canadian police responded swiftly to the shooter at Parliament Hill
The Sergeant-at-Arms got a standing ovation for stopping the shooter

Iowa Iowa is #2 in wind energy nationwide

News When journalists turn to second jobs to make ends meet

News Have we overestimated China's ability to strategize?
Like a lot of things that are "foreign", Americans have widely ascribed certain virtues to Chinese culture -- like the propensity to strategize over the long term. At least one Japanese editorial voice thinks that's more hype than reality.

Computers and the Internet Alibaba's profits make Amazon's non-profitability look worse
A lot of companies get by on investor cash while they try to kick-start their business model. But Amazon has gone on basically making no meaningful profits ever since its launch. The company managed to lose money on $21 billion in sales. Now that investors can choose to invest in Alibaba instead (which is making money), their patience with Amazon's strategy may wear thin.

Computers and the Internet Cloud services help Microsoft's bottom line
And that's good news for Iowa, since Microsoft has two large server farms in West Des Moines -- one finished, and one under construction

Threats and Hazards Student uses Instagram to threaten his middle school

Threats and Hazards The alliances and disputes in the Middle East are even more complicated than we think
No reasonable observer can really keep all of the rivalries and allegiances straight without help

Broadcasting Streaming music services are starting to compete for speech programming
A French streaming-music service has bought Stitcher, which offers a seamless podcast stream ("stitching" together separate podcasts into a one-click experience).

News How the Toronto Globe and Mail addressed the Parliament Hill attack with grace and class

Humor and Good News Why you should hate Buzzfeed
(Rough language)

The United States of America The best political name ever?
Lacey Merica is running for re-election to the Omaha school board. But with a name like "Merica", she's probably aiming too low. On a related note, how is it possible that in 2014 there are still candidates everywhere for all kinds of offices who don't even bother to have a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn presence, much less an official campaign website? It's incomprehensible.

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #13
An Air Force lieutenant stops a man from killing his mother and himself in a Walmart store. The airman had a gun on him -- but what if he had not? The perpetrator was carrying a knife.

News Why everyone should know self-defense: Case study #14
The police won't always help you. Even if they're standing right there with guns drawn.

Computers and the Internet Company directors may be abusing the "right to be forgotten"
European law tells Google that it has to take down certain links from its search results upon request when the material becomes "irrelevant" to the subject. Fortune Magazine points out that a lot of British and Spanish company directors have asked that their content be taken down, probably because it would show that their businesses failed. Meanwhile, the BBC is going to start publishing a list of stories that are being pulled from the Google index in order to protect the "right to remember" on behalf of the public.

News And while we're distracted elsewhere...
...China is starting up a development bank for projects in Asia. China's foreign ministry says "China is doing this to promote solidarity". The United States has reason to be apprehensive about this kind of influence-peddling.

News Bad times for executive protection services
After security breaches at the White House and the terrible attack on Parliament Hill in Canada, one would think that Britain's protective services might have a better perimeter defense for the prime minister than appears to be the case. A guy carelessly jogged into David Cameron -- apparently with no ill intent at all -- but how in the world did some random runner get that close without someone body-checking him first? Nobody's saying that elected officials should live in a bubble, but ye gods: It's 2014, and we've had decades of experience in the modern era to see what ought to go into executive protection. This shouldn't look like amateur hour.

Water News Do your part: Keep leaves out of the storm sewers

Business and Finance When it's literally free to borrow
Sweden's central bank has moved its main interest rate to zero

Business and Finance Europe's economy is growing too slowly for a lot of people who want jobs

Science and Technology Nestle brings in robots to sell coffee machines in Japan

News Should colleges have to make it over a "gainful employment" hurdle to get Federal aid dollars?

Health Training pediatric nurses to handle the toughest conversations

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Computers and the Internet Former CEO at Apple wants to sell low-cost smartphones in developing countries
Obi Mobiles are already for sale in India and the Middle East

Science and Technology Lowe's is testing robots as customer-service delivery devices
If the robot can show you where to find that random bolt in Aisle 14, do you need a human to lead you there? More bad news for people who are at risk of being displaced by automation.

Threats and Hazards Only about 25% of Illinois students finish high school being ready for college work
College isn't the only goal, of course, but as an indicator, this is a troubling one. If they're not ready for college, are they ready for anything else about adult life?

Computers and the Internet Microsoft rolls out "Microsoft Band"
It's supposed to be a tool for tracking health indicators, but it also connects to smartphones and other devices. Ars Technica calls it "a nice enough entry" into the market, while CNet is downright enthusiastic. Not everyone has need for a smartwatch (or any watch, for that matter), but it's good to see developments making the market more interesting.

Threats and Hazards Russian aircraft have been flying a little close to Europe lately
No violations of sovereign airspace (at least not yet), but it's definite posturing

Weather and Disasters Storm closes part of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive

News Should you have to be doing journalism to teach journalism?
And, if so, is there any distinction that makes journalism special, or does the same expectation apply to all professions? Another angle on this idea suggests a "teaching hospital model for journalism".

Business and Finance Banks are getting into trouble again
You don't want to be in a position where schadenfreude is working against you, and Wall Street generally has been working triple-overtime to make that happen

Agriculture Drones to the rescue of agriculture
Becoming the low-cost producer is the only survival mechanism in a commodity market

Business and Finance America's business executives think their subordinates are slackers
A Deloitte Consulting survey basically reveals that half of executives (and companies) have zero interest in training and developing their people, including those who are in line to become higher-level executives. That's appalling. What is a company if not a group of people working together with a common base of knowledge to get things done? If managers at the highest levels aren't confident in their subordinates, that's the fault of the managers.

Broadcasting Now a year old, here's what went into the current Weather Channel graphics

Broadcasting Show notes: The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 2, 2014

Agriculture Corn is still king in Iowa, but at half-price, it's holding down some of the economy

News Chicago Sun-Times attempts to launch a national news network
They're trying to start up a national-scale, localizable site with a partner in each of the 50 states.

Broadcasting Does television have to be original to be good?
Columnist Phil Rosenthal argues that sometimes you're best off duplicating a model that has worked before. See the book "Copycats" for another angle on the same argument.

Agriculture Four ways to make farming better in poor places
Bill Gates's list is interesting -- the most interesting is the use of videos showing farmers how to do things better and raise more crops. It's interesting to note how important a sensitivity to the local culture can be towards getting people to adopt practices that will help them.

News The view from the new World Trade Center

Computers and the Internet Microsoft makes (some) Office free

News Detroit is approved to exit bankruptcy
$18 billion in debt will be written down to $11 billion

Threats and Hazards The Fourth Amendment: DOA?

Weather and Disasters Huge storm to hit Alaska, then track south

Threats and Hazards Gorbachev says we're at risk of a new Cold War
The battle for classical liberal values has to be fought every single day without backing down. And we might have stepped back a little too much.

News AP drops its director of news training
Any organization (including a non-profit like the AP) that puts training and development on a lower shelf is headed for trouble

The United States of America Fresh off electoral drubbing, President Obama demands quick confirmation of attorney general

The United States of America America remains the world's most attractive place for investment

Computers and the Internet Irish group uses fake profiles on Tinder to highlight sex trafficking

Business and Finance KC Federal Reserve says the Midwest manufacturing economy is "sluggish"

Computers and the Internet Facebook tweaks the news feed to make it easier to throttle back individuals
Social media have made it much too easy to find out who's a lot crazier than you might have guessed from real-life encounters. Facebook is wise to insert this tool -- probably long-overdue, really -- since the problem with any online tool is that people can easily declare "bankruptcy" of sorts on their accounts. When MySpace got too overbearing, people just left.

News China's putting $40 billion into a "silk road" project
More money being spent on infrastructure to expand influence across Asia. They have loads of cash, low-return options for domestic investment, and a serious need to sustain economic growth by any and all means. We'll see more big announcements like this.

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 9, 2014

Humor and Good News Disney princesses without the impossible waistlines

Business and Finance Somehow, a store built on a 9-year-old's fashion whims doesn't sound like a permanent business model

Humor and Good News Observations on Sesame Street's iconic Pinball Number Count

News Does working in Foxconn's Chinese factories sap people of their will to live?

Threats and Hazards White House intrusion incident: Everything that could have failed or gone wrong, did

Business and Finance Forecasting consultancy thinks a recession in 2015 is 65% likely

Threats and Hazards Des Moines mother lets her 5-year-old die of neglect
Even the most ardent libertarian should recognize the compelling interest that the state must have in protecting children

Threats and Hazards How serious are we about our eastern-frontier NATO allies?
Russia is aggressively showing off its military hardware around the Baltic (and elsewhere). How seriously should we take these displays, and are we deadly serious about going to war to defend our allies if they are attacked?

Business and Finance Sometimes what kids need for better development...is job training for their parents
If we give lip service to the importance of "education", but treat it as though it's something we do as children and then forget about later, then we're going to be disappointed in the long term. It's no good to think of a diploma as the end of education, particularly in a globally competitive economy. And if kids aren't able to come home to stable home lives, it's much harder for them to learn...which means that we need to address the need for education and job training comprehensively. Post-secondary education costs too much and there are too many barriers to study. That's absurd, considering that we have the Internet at our fingertips and a national interest in raising the quality of our labor force.

Science and Technology "Newsweek" argues that technology is "stuck"
That is: It's creating lots of baubles, but not a lot of real progress. While there are a lot of meaningless, distracting products that are making their way to market, technology is iterative. It has to grow in small steps, in addition to big leaps. And those big leaps are unpredictable and infrequent.

The American Way Germany celebrates 25 years of reunification
Capitalism won. Communism lost. And yet market economies only work if they are actively defended every single day against well-meaning idiots and malicious statists.

Iowa The "farmer wave" gets its own week in Iowa
When Iowans give other drivers the one-finger salute...it's not the same finger as in other parts of the country

Business and Finance Putin says he expects a "catastrophic" lull in oil prices, but reserves can handle it
Russia has long ridden natural-resources bonanzas (thanks to the country's enormous size, it has access to more of those than most nations do). But you can't build a durable economy on natural resources without a real market strategy. Very few countries get this right.

Business and Finance Compensation consultant: Best job in the world?
Get hired by a corporate executive to come up with a way to justify the highest possible amount that very executive should be paid. America needs more actively-involved (and slightly management-hostile) shareholders.

Threats and Hazards Kurdish group says ISIS/ISIL/QSIL has 200,000 fighters
The longer the group holds its positions, the more entrenched they become in the public mindset -- and that's what the group wants

Business and Finance More signs of trouble that the Chinese economy is slowing
Big consequences could result for the rest of the world

Broadcasting Show notes: The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 16, 2014

Science and Technology Today: Drones give us unprecedented views of the climb up a TV tower
Tomorrow: Drones will do dangerous work (like climbing towers) instead of people

Broadcasting Show notes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 19, 2014
Filling in for Simon Conway

Threats and Hazards The US military has very low faith in the political sector
By historical standards, that's a bit of a problem. Countries usually need a system of trust with arm's-length detachment between their military and political sectors in order to do well.

Computers and the Internet Facebook plans a business edition, it appears

Computers and the Internet Why is college so slow to get online?
Bill Gates shares some observations on the long, slow haul to get post-secondary schooling on the Internet

Business and Finance Who among the world's richest people made it themselves?

Agriculture The harvest is in, and the crops did well
But it may not quite be the blow-the-doors-off record-setter that people had expected

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News Circuit-court judge says Illinois can't adjust state-employee pensions to fix the state's budgetary train wreck
Something has to be done -- Illinois is in dire distress, and the pension obligations involved are no small cause

The United States of America "Legislative branch not included"
Cartoonist Jeff Koterba nails the problem with the executive branch expressing its frustration with the legislative by moving unilaterally. If you don't think the President should be allowed to commit troops to war without Congressional approval, or if you think that it's important for the laws to reflect the will of the people, then you shouldn't be applauding the Obama administration's unilateral action to change the immigration system. It's inconsistent policy.

News The transitive property of the NFL

Health HS runner with MS doesn't feel pain while running
It may confer a competitive advantage, but nobody would voluntarily pay the price to get it. The girl deserves credit for the effort.

Business and Finance China's central bank cuts interest rates to give the economy a boost
Their economy is still growing, but the rate of growth is slipping. The slippage is the problem. The country is flush with cash (thanks to years of exporting much more stuff than they have imported), but it appears they're running out of good ideas for domestic investment. That's going to spell trouble: If the Communist Party can't deliver consistent and fast economic growth, they're going to have a lot of trouble keeping a lid on political rebellion.

Threats and Hazards While America slept...
Chinese hackers attacked NOAA's computers in late September. Why? Don't know; don't care -- other than to know that it's a piece of critical national infrastructure, and should be taken as seriously as an attack on any other piece of infrastructure, in the physical world or the digital one.

News Republican governors are the party's best shot for the White House
Republicans who are either sitting or past governors are almost certainly the GOP's best prospects for electoral success in 2016. Americans tend to lean Republican in our executive-branch politics when it becomes clear that the adults need to be in charge for a while.

Business and Finance If China's economy slows, a lot of raw-materials prices could drop

The United States of America Perspective on the scale of America's energy boom
We're enormously lucky -- the job now is to be smart and convert that good luck into a durable advantage

News Putin doesn't want a revolution

Business and Finance Radio shownotes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 23, 2014

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Computers and the Internet What if the European Commission actually tries to break up Google's European operations?
Sure, there's certainly much about Google's behavior that might cause one to watch them carefully. But they're in an industry where incumbency really is no guarantee of ongoing success (just ask AOL), and where it may in fact just be an obstacle to ongoing performance. It takes very little for people to sample a competitor's wares when it comes to things like search engines, and a superior alternative is a hugely attractive thing.

News The firing of Secretary Hagel
Long story short: It doesn't come from a position of strength for the White House

Health A fight at the University of Iowa Hospitals over scrubs

Threats and Hazards We live in a world where children aren't even free to dance
Protests in Iran are now taking the form of spontaneous dance -- because it isn't allowed

News The need for better "explainers" in the media
Reporting is one thing; contextualizing is something else. Both are essential.

Threats and Hazards "60 Minutes" examines America's short-sightedness with our infrastructure
We've coasted for far too long, and that's only making the necessary repairs more costly. People need to realize that deferred maintenance and depreciation are real costs.

The United States of America Peace requires strength; strength requires discipline
A rule of life that shouldn't be overlooked on any scale. Individuals need to be disciplined and strong in order to live without fear of others. Nations have to be disciplined and strong in order to live peacefully in the world. And a corollary: One cannot be merciful without first being strong.

Humor and Good News A helpful guide to cousins, cousins-removed, and the like

Business and Finance OPEC decides against production cuts
And the practical effect is essentially the same as imposing economic sanctions on the United States (and the rest of North America), which has roared ahead with production from non-traditional oil sources into a leading position in the global petroleum market

Business and Finance Private nostalgia should rarely be funded by the public purse
Food for thought next time someone expects taxpayers to pick up the tab for something they want, "just because"

Agriculture Efforts being undertaken in Illinois to promote cover crops

Broadcasting Radio notes - The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 30, 2014

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Humor and Good News "Dignity, not dependency, is the ultimate gift."
If your charity isn't of the "teach a man to fish" variety, it's probably misplaced

News If there's rail-freight gridlock, the problem probably started in Chicago

Computers and the Internet Microsoft buys out an email startup

News Chris Rock's unvarnished take on the world today
He's not right about everything (who is?), but he has some important things to say

Weather and Disasters Averages don't tell the whole story
As we enter the winter of 2014, it's worth noting that 2013 ended up "normal", on average, but was made up of a lot of extremes

Water News Water affects economic growth everywhere

The United States of America Rob Portman won't run for the White House in 2016
The Ohio Senator wants to return to the Senate. Nothing wrong with that; he's a generally good influence on Republican politics.

Computers and the Internet Sony gets hit by a serious cyberattack
It's not clear from where the attack came (though North Korea is on the list of suspects)

Business and Finance British households are now spending more than they're earning (on average, of course)

News New Wrigley Field will have two fewer video boards than originally planned
Renovations are long overdue -- the structure itself is in dire need of care. But the plans included a few too many new signs for comfort, so it's good to hear that they're scaling back.

Broadcasting "Dangermouse" is coming back to television

News Omaha is converting a closed Borders bookstore into a digital public library

News The fight for basic respect for women in India

Business and Finance How absurd is the new condominum tower on New York's Park Avenue?

The United States of America Secretary Hagel's parting shot as he's kicked out of the DoD

Business and Finance Chicago city council sets a $13/hour minimum wage to begin in 2019

News Three ways to defeat ISIS/ISIL/Al-Qaeda-Land

Business and Finance President Obama chases employers over wage stagnation

Business and Finance There's a shortage of qualified workers in the marketplace

Business and Finance Is anyone really satisfied with government regulation of taxicab service?

Computers and the Internet "Gagnam Style" broke YouTube's counters

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Computers and the Internet You have to own your digital identity in the 21st Century
Ashton Carter, the President's nominee for Secretary of Defense, apparently didn't have his own Twitter account prior to his name making it to the forefront of the news. And that let an impostor take over. No real harm comes of it for now, because the hoax was only mild. But it's a silly oversight for a high-profile official in the 21st Century. If something you own and control doesn't come up as the very first thing when you run a search for your own name (on Google or another search engine), then you have work to do.

Broadcasting A time for two anchors
(Video) Brian Williams can be quite funny, and brings a highly relatable personality to television news. But when things get rough, it's Scott Pelley you really want at the anchor desk. CBS's front man is all business, all the time.

Threats and Hazards Too many ambassadors are political awardees -- not professional diplomats
At a time when the State Department has been showing less competence than usual (over situations like Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, and Russia, to name a few)

Threats and Hazards Another long war ahead
Secretary of State Kerry says it's going to take years to fight the Al Qaeda splinter group that's taken territory in Syria and Iraq

Computers and the Internet The Department of Defense now regards Facebook as a tool of war -- for the enemy
And their security advice, while a little clunky, isn't bad for civilians to follow

Threats and Hazards Under attack by barbarians
It will not be enough to defeat ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Al Qaeda in a conventional martial sense. The ideology must also be driven into the ground, such that nobody ever perceives it as a viable one again.

Health "Good behavior in older siblings can be as contagious as bad"

Aviation News Fire risk from air shipment of batteries

Computers and the Internet Uber arrives in Cedar Rapids

Humor and Good News Sometimes the make-good is better than never having made a mistake at all
Arby's finds a very funny way of fixing an oversight in their deal with Pepsi

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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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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

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.

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

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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.

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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"

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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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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

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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

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.

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.

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.