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 government's "cash for clunkers" program is reportedly out of money, and Congress is working on shoveling more dough its way. But doesn't anyone remember what happened after the automakers came out with a huge slate of incentives and discounts to encourage people to buy cars in 2001 and 2002? It depressed new-car sales for years after because people took advantage of the incentives and then put off new car purchases when the incentives faded. The same thing is going to happen to automakers all over again with this program. Sure, the program may do some good by taking less-efficient vehicles off the road...but it's also going to do harm by taking cars away from the poor and from young drivers. Older "clunkers" are often sufficiently reliable transportation for people who just need to get to and from work or school. Every government program has consequences beyond just the obvious, and it looks like these consequences might've gone completely overlooked by our politicians.

Bill Gates has gone to India, and even though some people want to over-simplify what he said there, there's very good reason to believe that his message about using technology to help raise the standard of living in that country was right on track. Simple tools like the toilet and the can opener may seem too basic to represent "technology" to us, but ask yourself two questions:
  1. Could you build one (a toilet or a can opener) from scratch?
  2. How much human knowledge is really contained within that simple piece of technology?
The first answer is that you almost certainly can't build a toilet or a can opener on your own. The second answer is that huge amounts of all the knowledge humanity has ever learned about sanitation and food storage are locked up in those simple tools, and we rarely give them even the most passing of consideration. So when we hear about the "no toilet, no bride" effort in India, it tells us that we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the things that "technology" in all its forms can help achieve. Its real value is in how it releases people the time and capacity to spread their ideas (human capital).

Would you believe that the iPhone has been adopted faster than electric refrigeration was in the 1920s? Strange but true. Dan is continuing to search for a way to make the iPhone work for his world, but he's probably going to (reluctantly) end up with a BlackBerry instead. The truth is, everyone has a beef with their smartphone anyway. They're far from perfect at this stage, but they're getting better rapidly.

Speaking of things that are less than perfect, we're still a long way from perfect information about everything. Consider that a paper Brian wrote about the Clayton Anti-Trust Act is one of the top results on Google for that subject.

If you're like most people and you use Adobe Flash, get it updated -- they've fixed some important security bugs. If you don't know how, visit Brian's list of program updates and follow the links.

A caller asked how Craigslist makes money. Their main source of revenue appears to be a limited range of fee-based postings. The rest are listed for free, and since the company doesn't have a lot of overhead, it doesn't need to make a lot of revenue in order to still be profitable. And, as Dan recalled, eBay has a 25% stake in the company.

Someone has claimed a patent on podcasting. We'll see how that one shakes out.

Want to know yourself better? Try the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, which may be more illustrative than you would expect.

Dan brings us news of a company called General Fusion, which (obviously) is working on nuclear fusion. This caused Brian to note his growing list of company names based on the company's age. The current trend is to make up a word to use as a company name -- the "General (fill-in-the-blank)" convention for naming companies faded a long time ago:

Keyword Company Year
Amalgamated Amalgamated Copper 1899
Amalgamated Amalgamated Bank 1923
Amalgamated Amalgamated Motor Cycles 1937
Amalgamated Amalgamated Life Insurance 1943
American American National Insurance Company 1905
American American Gas and Electric (now AEP) 1906
American American Greetings 1906
American American Licorice Company 1914
American American Pop Corn Company 1914
American American Motors Corporation 1954
American American National Insurance Co. 1905
Associated Associated Mutual Insurance Cooperative 1913
Associated Associated Dry Goods 1916
Consolidated Consolidated Gas (later ConEd) 1884
Consolidated Nevada Consolidated Copper Company 1904
Consolidated Consolidated Cigar Corporation 1921
Consolidated Illinois Consolidated Telephone Company 1924
Consolidated Consolidated Bearings 1932
Deluxe Deluxe Corporation 1915
Federated Federated Insurance 1904
Federated Federated Department Stores 1929
General General Railway Signal Company 1904
General General Motors 1908
International International Harvester 1902
International International Paper 1898
National National Cash Register (NCR) 1884
National National Guardian Life Insurance 1920
National National Airlines 1937
Standard Standard Oil 1870
Union Union Pacific 1862
Union Union Electric Company 1902
Union Union Carbide 1917
United United Cash Store (now United Supermarkets) 1916
United United Parcel Service 1930
Universal Universal Pictures 1925

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