The WHO Radio Wise Guys
Brian Gongol

The WHO Radio Wise Guys airs on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at The show airs from 1 to 2 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. A podcast of show highlights is also available. Leave comments and questions on the Wise Guys Facebook page or e-mail them to

Scary days in the skies: People are buying high-powered lasers online and flashing them into the eyes of airline pilots. A pilot on an American Airlines flight in Austin, Texas, was injured by one of these laser incidents earlier this week, and a guy in the San Francisco area was just arrested for flashing lasers into the eyes of the pilots of a police helicopter. It's recently happened in Montreal and London, too. If we find it impossible to control the sale and purchase of these high-powered lasers (which we probably will), then the next-best solution will have to come from in-cockpit technology to protect the eyes of the pilots.

If you were designing government today, is this how you'd do it? Beyond the obvious problems with hiring thousands of people via patronage (purely political appointments), we have lots of other bizarre and pointless obstacles to good government floating around as well. For instance, the President-elect is being told he can't use e-mail or his BlackBerry. The objections are both technological (some say it's too hard to make the President's e-mail sufficiently secure) and legal (the Presidential Records Act makes much communication with the President a matter of public record), but it's really hard to imagine running any business -- large or small -- without quick access to information and feedback on the Internet. It's hard to believe there isn't at least some sort of solution that could be found to most of those objections. If nothing else, wouldn't it be in the public interest to ensure that the President can get feedback from outside his inner circle of advisors?

The pixel -- the basic unit of putting anything on your computer monitor, television screen, or even your cell phone display -- is over 440 years old, say some designers. And the pixel's long reign may be coming to an end as display technology gets so good that even my Palm Pilot looks high-definition compared to the television sets of two decades ago.

Digital pens are a new hot item this year. The Livescribe Pulse looks like it might be the most cutting-edge of them all, but without having tried it out ourselves, we can't really recommend for or against it.

Some tips for safer online shopping this holiday season:
  1. Do your shopping from a limited-access profile (if you're using Windows)
  2. Trust your instincts: If something looks suspicious, leave
  3. Insist on shopping only with secured access using SSL encryption
  4. If an offer looks too good to be true, assume it is
  5. Look for professionalism. You should be able to call and get a real person on the phone to reassure you that the business really exists. And the website should look like the business invested in building something of quality. You wouldn't buy a "Rollax" from a weirdo in a trenchcoat in the middle of a burned-out neighborhood, so expect your online retailers to show some professionalism as well.

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