Wise Guys on WHO Radio - January 3, 2015

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.

Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

In the news this week (discussed on air)

Computers and the Internet Customers sue Apple over iOS 8
They say it takes up a lot of storage space on their devices -- particularly when upgraded from a previous version -- and that it's a shadowy way to force people to pay for cloud storage. The claim holds that a device advertised as having 16 Gb of storage really only offers about 80% of that amount once the OS has taken up residence. It's probably a silly and frivolous suit, but it does highlight the fact that people need to realize that they can't store endlessly, nor is the listed storage capacity of a device what they'll actually get in practice.

Threats and Hazards Three dozen people killed in New Year's Eve stampede in Shanghai
Public-policy researcher asks why people weren't warned about the hazard via social media. It seems like that kind of responsiveness is a long time off.

Computers and the Internet FBI wants to recruit "ethical hackers"
Annual salaries for these "cyber special agents" start at about $60,000 a year. That number might need to go higher if we really want to recruit qualified technicians.

Business and Finance Cheap work eventually runs out
China's labor costs have risen enough to meaningfully diminish the country's competitive advantage. The boom didn't really last long by historical standards.

Computers and the Internet More Apple products were activated over Christmas than those of any other manufacturer
So says Yahoo analytics subsidiary Flurry, which says "Apple accounted for 51% of the new device activations" right around Christmas.

Socialism Doesn't Work China blocks Gmail
Because nothing is worse for an authoritarian government than people who can think for themselves and exchange those thoughts with others in relative privacy and freedom. Let's not forget that mundane-seeming technologies like the fax machine helped undermine the Soviet Union.

Listener questions addressed on the air

In the news this week (not discussed on air)

Health Critics want Gates Foundation to stop focusing on specific diseases
While it's understandable that they want a more holistic approach to "health-system strengthening", they're overlooking the fact that accountability requires at least some specificity. The broader and more vague the mandate, the more likely it is that any organization will fail to actually achieve its mission. One could scarcely expect to get good value by assigning someone a large pile of money and saying, "Go fix transportation". But if instead, the options (air travel, ships, trains, cars, and so on) were carefully evaluated for their likely effectiveness at achieving certain specific goals (like getting food to market, or moving people at low cost to metropolitan centers), then specific and worthwhile investments could be made with a reasonable expectation of getting results. Health is the same: The Gates mission is to find specific causes of illness and death, target them relentlessly, and eliminate them. There will be some unintended consequences, mistakes, and oversights along the way to be sure. But if you're not specific about what you're trying to fix, you're likely to do a lot worse.

Health Researcher suggests that cancer is basically just bad luck, 2/3rds of the time
"[O]nly a third of the variation in cancer risk among tissues is attributable to environmental factors or inherited predispositions. The majority is due to 'bad luck,' that is, random mutations arising during DNA replication in normal, noncancerous stem cells." This conclusion will be hotly debated, to be sure. Undoubtedly, some cancer risk is certainly due to environmental or genetic conditions -- but if it's really this much of a crapshoot, there's a strong case to be made for putting all of us under routine surveillance (blood tests at every annual physical, for instance), and for crafting our health-care system to accommodate the sort of risk that apparently affects us all with substantial equality (in other words, if we're all at mostly equal risk and the risk is mostly random, then we should all bear the costs rather equally as well).

Computers and the Internet A brief history of web design

Computers and the Internet BlackBerry saves the day for Sony after hacking

Computers and the Internet Facebook admits its automatic "year in review" might have missed the mark for some people
You might think that a quick glance at the global and national data alone might have suggested that not everything we talk about on Facebook is stuff we'd like to relive...but perhaps these things do not occur to the wunderkinds. And, to be quite honest, the apology as shared with the Washington Post was actually a bit tone-deaf in itself.

Business and Finance America's most unpopular companies

Science and Technology Is there really anything wrong with disposable technology?
A British engineering professor bemoans the fact that young people generally don't know how to fix their gadgets, but is it really a bad thing that the technology itself improves so quickly that there's little incentive to keep up with the details?

Listen again on-demand