The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

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Come New Year's Eve, we'll be midway between 1990 and 2030. That makes it seem much more real that we're racing towards some of the big problems we've always pretended are far in the future -- like the collapse of Social Security in 2037. Brian Christensen reflects on 1990 when he was a newlywed with a cat that liked to frame him for mistreatment -- causing his wife to think he had injured the cat when he'd done nothing wrong. The future is here and we don't even seem to know it, much to our own injury.

And it's not as though we can't put the pieces of the puzzles together. For instance, Google has announced that it's going to start investing in electricity generation and other energy projects -- exactly as we predicted in November 2007. The investment is purely in Google's self-interest: Energy costs are among their most significant expenses (besides computers and people), and it's becoming clear that there's only a certain amount of money it's going to be possible for Google to extract from Internet advertising. The company needs to diversify its revenue streams, and energy innovations could simultaneously cut their expenses.

That doesn't mean Google is abandoning search-related activities, but there's probably not a fortune to be made adding a new layer to Google Maps to supply information on real estate. Sure, it's useful -- but it's not necessarily all that newly-profitable.

But at least Google should be congratulated for innovating and trying new things -- unlike the NFL, which has busted the Chicago Bears for a cross-promotion with the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. We still remember the "Super Bowl Shuffle" almost a quarter-century after it was recorded, so maybe there's something to be said for letting NFL teams get a little creative with their promotions instead of being hamstrung by stupid league rules.

And speaking of moves that are difficult to justify... You, as a taxpayer, are a shareholder in General Motors, since the government owns a majority share in the company. So you should be pretty interested in making sure that the board of directors acts as an independent representative of, and advocate for, the owners. But the news that they've booted the CEO and replaced him with the chairman of the board should tell you they're doing anything but. Putting the board chair in the CEO's office makes it impossible to separate the functions of the two groups -- it's like letting a football coach also serve as a referee. There's supposed to be a separation between the two roles, except in cases where the managers are already the owners. It happens sometimes, but it's not happening at GM. And that should make you mad. Hopping mad.

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