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

The death of Michael Jackson may be the first event to have nearly crashed the Internet. News sites, Google, Twitter, and virtually every other site that could have been slowed by the event seems to have been. Dan even discovered what the Twitter "fail whale" is all about.

This got us to thinking: First we had GeoCities (which, by the way, is being shut down this year), then MySpace, then Blogger, then Facebook, and now Twitter. With each step, it becomes easier and easier for people to put their thoughts (and in many cases, half-baked opinions) on the Internet for all the world to see. It should be virtually impossible to find any adult capable of dialing a telephone who can't set up an account on Twitter -- even if they don't really know what it's all about. This leads us to the issue of opinion exhaustion: Do we know too much about what everybody else thinks? Probably. If we aren't there already, we're certainly close to that point.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, is so threatened by this abundance of opinions -- something that's just a matter of annoyance here, but which there poses a threat to the government's ability to rule -- that it's trying to censor every use of the Internet from within its borders. This, in the long term, is going to be catastrophic for the Chinese economy. Dissent is a good thing. Legions of people who are forced to think alike aren't likely to produce great new innovations.

We were asked by a father hoping to buy a computer for his daughter whether he should buy a laptop with Vista or Windows XP. Brian says Vista, Dan says XP. The difference of opinion is linked to the upgrade to Windows 7 when it's released soon. Dan thinks XP will be an easier change. Brian argues that we over-estimate the likelihood of any upgrades we're going to make to our own computers, and that it's better to go with the latest available edition of an OS than to try to remember to upgrade later and deal with the hassle.

Steve Jobs got a liver transplant earlier this year. Was it preferential treatment because he's rich? He got the transplant in Tennessee, rather than his home state of California. The answer is likely something pretty close to "No," since the guidelines for who receives a transplant like that are pretty hard to get around. Fortunately, though, liver regeneration may be more likely than we as a society have thought. The faster we can make progress on making replacement organs in the lab, the better off we'll all be. Synthetic blood would be a huge help, too.

A caller asked what to do about her computer, which has been on the fritz since a lightning strike at home. It's a good lesson in some very valuable knowledge: Whatever you do, make sure that you run some sort of a backup that isn't located on your computer itself. DVDs can work, though Brian recommends using a portable hard drive. And make sure you're using surge suppressors. These are essential steps from our basic checklist for computer security.

The news of the House decision to approve cap-and-trade regulations on our greenhouse gas emissions could hurt the US economy by making energy much more expensive. Perhaps fortunately, our competitors are hobbling themselves in different ways. China may be permanently hampering its own ability to innovate by crushing dissent through even tougher censorship of the Internet within its borders. Our dissenters and contrarians have been people like Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs and Bill Gates -- people who have gone on to create great things that make other people better off. Innovation, by definition, doesn't come from thinking between government-approved lines.

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