The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

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Wouldn't it be nice if Internet access and website up-time were as reliable as electrical service or municipal water service? Too bad that's not the case. We're probably still a good 15 to 20 years away from that kind of reliability.

On this Independence Day weekend, perhaps it's time to think harder about America's fiscal independence. Federal, state, and other government debts alone are mind-bogglingly huge, and much of it is the wrong kind of debt -- going to pay for things we'll consume right now, like health care, rather than funding long-term investments like highways and infrastructure improvements. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger deserves some credit for arguing that his state needs to save more to pay for fighting wildfires. California has run a huge deficit on wildfire-fighting costs for five years in a row.

On that note, it should be recalled that Iowa's legislators and executive branch have done a terrible job of saving for a rainy day. Lots of spending over the last couple of years has been drawn from trust funds, rather than paying as we go for what we use. That makes it harder for us to overcome disasters like this year's flooding without sudden tax hikes.

How we learn to deliver education and knowledge in non-traditional ways will probably have more influence on the next 50 years of America's future than just about any other subject -- save, perhaps, for how well we get a grip on our spending habits.

It's a little sad that we don't even seem to know anymore why we practice certain leaving the windowshades up during takeoff and landing in passenger airplanes. Sure, part of it is about keeping passengers oriented during the most dangerous stage of flight. But it's also an anti-hijacking measure. But no one seems to remember that. We have to remember why we do these things so we don't end up doing them for the wrong reasons.

This week's disaster-preparedness step: Keep some cash around the house in case of a power outage. If thunderstorms, flooding, or ice storms knock out the power, as has happened in the past many times, then your credit cards and ATM cards aren't particularly useful. Cash still works in an emergency.

Judging from the photos, China's leaders think future wars will be fought with Segways and flamethrowers. Uh-huh.

Computer makers should be applauded for selling simplified computers for older users. Internet access can make a big difference in a person's life, and not being able to get online because today's PCs are too sophisticated for some users can really inhibit a person's quality of life.

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