Wise Guys on WHO Radio - March 15, 2014

Brian Gongol

The WHO Radio Wise Guys airs on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. 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 wiseguys@whoradio.com.

Facebook as your newspaper substitute

Facebook, it seems, is trying to take the place of the daily newspaper with its "trending" feature, which it surprises me to note "isn't available to everyone right now". One can only speak from very limited anecdotal experience, but for my own case, about half of the stories showing up have been within the realm of some kind of interest. As I type, it's showing me three top stories -- one about Jon Stewart in a dispute with Fox News [inside-baseball stuff for media types], a crime story about the founder of Pinkberry [couldn't care less], and a note about Peanut Tillman coming back for another year with the Bears [I am a Bears fan, so it got that right]. The impression I've gathered from feedback from friends is that they aren't really targeting news to the individual.

A few thoughts:

In the news this week

Computers and the Internet Amazon delivers a big test in demand elasticity
By hiking the price of Amazon Prime from $79 a year to $99 a year -- and doing it with a week's notice -- they're really going to test whether consumers care a lot about that $20. Bold move. But Amazon isn't a very profitable company -- they lost money in 2012, and shares currently sell for more than 600 times last year's profits per share. Remember: A sky-high stock price can be totally disconnected from profits. Perhaps this is an effort to jolt some profit-making into the bottom line.

Science and Technology The world's power companies are considering 1200 new coal-fired electric plants

Health Measles outbreak in New York City: Blame the anti-vaccinators
It's happening in Manhattan and the Bronx, and some people have been hopitalized as a result. Two of the cases were in people whose parents chose not to vaccinate them. Contagious diseases like this can be transmitted most easily to the vulnerable -- like people who are already sick and in the doctor's office for other reasons. There is really no legitimate dispute about the costs versus the benefits of vaccination. It is unconscionable that people use excuses based upon completely rejected claims of side effects to justify the decision to put their own children and others at high risk of harm. People who don't understand the importance of herd immunity do not have the right to put others at risk based upon their ignorance.

Health HPV-related cancers have increased in Iowa in recent decades
All the more reason to treasure the HPV vaccine as a real advance

Science and Technology Sponges may be the key to explaining jump from no-animal Earth to animal-populated Earth
Their ability to live on very little oxygen may signal the bridge

Computers and the Internet Speed-reading for everyone
Some technology developers think they've cracked the code to speed-reading for everyone, without training, using a method of identifying the place where the eye should land on a word for maximum comprehension. Quite interesting. Possibly promising. The name ("Spritz") may leave a bit to be desired.

Computers and the Internet What might make Google worry about smartphones
In general, Google will have to make an incredible number of right decisions over the next ten to fifteen years if it wants to match any of the success of its first decade and a half. That's going to be a really, really tall order...and the chances of them making it without major pain aren't great.

Business and Finance "Sometimes being a fast-follower is better than being a leader"
Analyst commenting on how Lexus may have stolen some of Acura's thunder

Health Why we have (and need) safe-haven laws
A woman is looking for the mother who left her as a newborn in the bathroom of a Pennsylvania Burger King. It is absolutely essential that people know that every state has a safe-haven law allowing mothers to relinquish their infants unharmed, no questions asked. The window of time available and the acceptable locations vary by state, but the fact that protection is universal should be known...universally.

Computers and the Internet Experian may have let loose an incredible amount of consumer data to a crook

Computers and the Internet Visa and MasterCard want you to get a next-generation credit card
Instead of magnetic strips, they want your cards to use the EMV chip