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Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 29, 2015
How to play the long game, Toyota-in-Nascar edition
By getting a foot in the door in a highly "American" sport and persisting in showing that their products are just as American as their Detroit competitors, Toyota made an investment in its brand equity with a real payoff
Southwest is turning St. Louis Lambert Field into something of a hub
With 39 destinations, it's not quite how things used to be when TWA served St. Louis as a hub (back then it had more than 100 destination cities), but it certainly serves to fill some of the excess capacity built up before TWA was acquired by American. TWA had 76% of the airport's travelers back before it was swallowed up.
Microsoft fixes big Dell security bug
JetBlue wants to train some pilots from scratch
Microsoft halts Windows 10 updates for a moment
Of course Donald Trump has no scruples about running as a third-party candidate
But he's really just "campaigning" as a vanity publicity stunt. It has to be viewed as a commercial endeavor, not a political one: He's getting endless free media coverage, which only serves to advance his interests as a marketer who vomits his name atop lots of gaudy real estate. He stands to lose very, very little, even by saying profoundly offensive things.
Our enemies are playing the long game on the Internet
ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh has a long view of its presence online as a tool of both recruitment and terror. Meanwhile, the United States seems to perpetually cutting back, mismanage, and under-fund its own tools of international public diplomacy, especially those under the Broadcasting Board of Governors. It's penny-wise pound-foolishness. International broadcasting costs us next to nothing, but unfortunately there's been a lot of displacement of conventional broadcasting methods (like shortwave radio) in favor of Internet services -- when they represent two different products for very different audience purposes and should have been treated as additive, not substitutional.
Bioengineering is starting to venture past some remarkable (and possibly irreversible) lines
Science proves Americans' smiles have grown over the last century
Sophisticated point-of-sale malware could exploit holiday shopping
IBM says smartphones dominated online shopping this Thanksgiving
Their analysis says smartphones were used for 46.7% of online shopping on Thanksgiving day
China's big industrial companies are making less money than a year ago
Total profits have fallen by almost 5% from last October -- and have decreased for five consecutive months
Domain registrar increases the price of a .uk domain
It's not by much, and the resulting cost still isn't high (about $6 a year), but it's rare to see prices like this increase rather than decrease
Punching through the Great Firewall of China
The browser plugin, called CacheBrowser, uses the "content delivery networks" so widely employed by many major websites to reconstruct the pages of sites whose URLs are blocked by Chinese censorship
Seth Meyers gives Donald Trump the skewering he deserves
Candidates should be asked about their plans for cyberwarfare
It could be an enormously powerful tool for "asymmetric" warfare by groups much too small to threaten our national security with tanks and airplanes. We sorely need a national cyberdefense strategy with a clear identity.
"Suddenly, all Syrian refugees are viewed as potential terrorists -- just as IS had hoped."
The terrorists behind ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh are looking several steps ahead, and terrorist attacks serve to further their agenda. Dismissing them as the "JV squad" or thinking that they will collapse without a deliberate strategy on our part is just wishfulness.
Forecasting where the stock market will end 2017 is a lavishly silly exercise
Team backed by Jeff Bezos lands a reusable rocket
Is owning the tapes to some long-lost Beatles recordings the same as owning the intellectual property?
"Why you should have a messy desk"
Like many similar clickbait articles on the Internet, this one is profoundly silly and reductionist. It could be counterweighted easily by articles about "Why you should always start with a blank sheet of paper" or "Always go to a blank drawing board". What matters is figuring out quickly what works most effectively for your own method of thinking and then sticking to whatever enhances it.
When China's currency reconciles with reality, the results are going to hurt
A deep-down security issue has been found in Dell computers
When the company president goes AWOL
It comes as no surprise that prominent business managers are vanishing without explanation -- totalitarian regimes can be threatened by economic power as well as political power
It comes as no surprise that prominent business managers are vanishing without explanation -- totalitarian regimes can be threatened by economic power as well as political power
New chipped credit cards are going to slow down holiday shopping
A candidate who threatens to sue a rival for damaging his brand name isn't a serious candidate
That's the behavior of a self-promoter
Terrorists aren't really going to mosques
Look into the eyes of displaced children
Wealthy Russians are planning to leave -- in huge numbers
What will the US labor force look like in 25 years?
"We lose the war against ISIS if we don't get serious about our presidential candidates"
Oil below $40 a barrel -- a real possibility
Mixed with good and bad, of course. Cheap gas feels good, to be sure. But it also undermines efforts to find more sustainable energy sources. We should use a portion of the energy bonanza to make a serious investment in the future.
Financial literacy is an essential form of literacy
Along with basic technological literacy and basic numeracy, these are just as important as being able to simply read in the conventional sense
Surprise! Apps for viewing porn are also data thieves.
DC police chief: If you can, shoot an active shooter
Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 22, 2015
Is software programming really "engineering"?
On one hand, engineers of the civil/structural/environmental variety shouldn't let other people cheapen the title since certain types of engineering are (literally) a profession. On the other hand, engineering has long been much broader than what is defined strictly by those professions -- and we could use a lot more engineering-think from people outside the engineering professions (as strictly defined).
Rural bankers in the Midwest aren't very optimistic
Steve Jobs and the drowned toddler can't be the only images of the Syrian refugee crisis
They both belong in the discussion, but our understanding of the situation must go deeper
Japan asks Australia to stand up to "self-righteous assertions" by China
China says it's going to continue expanding its man-made island chain (in a transparent attempt to create maritime claims where none ought to exist). Now the question is whether anyone else can counterclaim or present a rejection of the claims that will stand up. China clearly doesn't want to lose face after putting in this investment.
Fire in Chicago's Hancock Building on the 50th floor
It happened in a residential part of the building
Jobs aren't the only thing
"Job creation" is a popular theme for politicians, but jobs alone aren't the only thing that matters. The national unemployment rate is estimated around 5.0%, which is generally thought to be in the neighborhood of the natural rate of unemployment. Yet lots of reasonable people would say the economy is substantially underperforming its potential. Jobs matter, but they're not the only thing that matters. And politicians need to show some humility about what they're capable of doing.
Why we shouldn't laugh at the (admittedly preposterous) North Korean dictatorship
It's now in its third generation of unimaginable absurdity, but it's no less murderous
What's going on inside the minds of Trump supporters
Chinese government goes after $64 billion in "underground" money movement
It's no surprise that people inside China are looking for ways to get their money outside the country, for reasons of both returns and security
"Branded content" looks like a new thing -- but it's as old as broadcasting itself
Companies like Marriott are spending money on original content (like 15-minute YouTube movies) that are intended to promote their brands. It's actually quite a back-to-the-future thing, considering that many commercial radio stations started as in-house "branded content" vehicles: WLS stood for "World's Largest Store" (Sears). WHO started out as a tool for Bankers Life (now Principal Financial). KMA was a department of the Earl May seed company.
Where Syrian children sleep
A powerful documentation of the refugee condition
ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh keeps a round-the-clock computer help desk
It does not do us any good to caricature them as some kind of medieval enemy. They are very much a product of the modern world and are not afraid to exploit modern tools. It is a modern machine of monstrosity.
US ranks second in index of global charitability
Seven of the top ten are among the world's most advanced economies. Two (Sri Lanka and Myanmar/Burma) are very much developing. One (Malaysia) is middle-class. It's certainly an endorsement for promoting prosperity.
What's new in the Windows 10 update?
It's a large update -- perhaps on a scale near that of the big service packs that came with Windows XP.
Proposed Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern merger would be huge
CP thinks it can cut operating costs at Norfolk Southern by 10 percentage points
China won't save the world's economy
President Xi Jinping: "China's economy is still coping with the complicated internal and external environment, considerable downward pressure, and the temporary pain of deep reforms". Don't imagine them to be quite so temporary. The political environment is going to put a permanent damper on the economic environment. It's too bad we ceased to call it "political economy" as a branch of study a long time ago -- the two are intertwined.
First the boom, now the purge
China's government is arresting and prosecuting people inside financial firms. It's a very modern form of purge.
Skilled workers tend to retire at 65: Beware the consequential workforce shortage
North America could soon be short by almost a million skilled industrial workers
Digital exhibitionism puts us at risk
It's hard to resist the lure to share too much personal information and leave behind a big digital footprint. These are uncharted waters.
Cumulus Broadcasting is moving into the prettiest building in Chicago
The Art Deco-inspired but 1989-built NBC Tower is really quite gorgeous
What's the root cause of radicalization in Europe? Look at youth unemployment.
The most dangerous thing in the world may very well be lots of young people (especially young men) with lots of free time and nothing to do. It can be especially dangerous when they don't think they have any prospects for improvement to their own material well-being. Always beware the well-intended steps that are supposed to make things better for the poor but that present new barriers to entry into the workforce for those with no experience and no skills.
Asus introduces the Chromebit
An $85 computer running the Google Chrome operating system. Attach to a monitor, add a keyboard, and you have computer functionality.
Pandora buys out Rdio
Consolidation in the broadcasting industry continues, even when there's no actual broadcasting taking place.
The price of steel is in freefall
Really bad news for extraction economies. This needs to be on the radar of the people who look after foreign affairs and geopolitics: The extractive economies are generally the lesser-developed ones. If they suddenly have less income, they're going to become less stable.
Unintended consequences of a larger air war over Syria: More refugees
We can't just look at the millions of displaced people as simple "collateral damage". There needs to be a vision for what is to be done for and about them. The air war may very well be necessary -- but it cannot be conducted as though in isolation from any other circumstances or consequences.
Will terrorists try to exploit the refugee crisis? Of course.
That should not make us treat the refugees badly. They are victims, too.
Good for Shepard Smith
Fox News Channel host editorializes against the knee-jerk reaction against refugees
Germany orders its flags to half-mast in honor of Paris
A lot can change in the course of a few decades. It matters whether our civic and political leaders have a vision for the future.
Going public made Cabela's vulnerable
If you don't want to lose control, don't give up ownership
Chicago restauranteur thinks tipping is about go extinct
Instead? A flat 20% service charge added to every bill.
Keeping perspective after the Paris attacks
China wants to buy Syngenta
China has lots of available capital to invest, and lots of American companies are prospectively for sale. If you don't want to lose control, don't sell out.
Japan's GDP fell in Q2 and Q3
That officially makes for a recession. Business investment is slipping, and that most likely has a contributing effect.
Tough times for the South Korean chaebol
It may be necessary for government to protect certain firms or industries for countries without a lot of natural resources to develop rapidly. South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and others have gone the route of high intervention in exchage for quick development. But eventually the protections have to go away, and that transition isn't easy.
"[T]his is a war about a vision of history"
"State-sponsored slavery seemed like a thing of the past, but now ISIS is an unapologetic slave state."
Facebook never intended to get into fights it cannot now avoid
Some British parents are fighting to get the service to remove a photo of juveniles from the page of a far-right-wing group -- so far, to no avail
Google launches "YouTube Music" app for phones
People already use YouTube heavily for listening to music (whether or not they watch the videos), so this is hardly a groundbreaking step -- other than admitting that's what people use YouTube for
Microsoft starts major updates to Windows 10
It always takes Microsoft a little while to dial it in after launching a new operating system
Twitter's stock price is below IPO price
The service has certainly found its place, but growth remains elusive and so do profits. Who would want to compete with them if even from a position of dominance they still don't bring in buckets of cash?
Google self-piloted car pulled over for driving too slowly
Microsoft locates some data centers to avoid US legal authority
Probably a sensible thing to do if you have customers who want to avoid certain regulatory oversight
Amazon will start distributing NEXRAD data
The government collects the data via the National Weather Service, but until now has found the distribution of that data to be beyond its capacity.
Russia wants to build a nuclear doomsday machine
No, really. A doomsday machine, like in "Dr. Strangelove".
Mitsubishi claims starting from scratch helps it build a super-efficient regional jet
Google is getting into the manufacture of computer chips
Not content to make the software, they're venturing into the deepest heart of hardware
Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - November 14, 2015
China's dependence on captive government enterprises
That dependence will keep Chinese industry from developing the kind of quality improvements that Japan and Korea have used to their respective advantages. Honda, Toyota, and Samsung are all examples of companies that learned to get better at their industries because the pressures of the marketplace forced them to do so in one way or another. Toyota developed kaizen methods because they didn't have enough cash to purchase lots of raw materials inventory. Honda overcame strong government objection in Japan to even enter the auto market, and crushed the major automakers at meeting new emissions regulations using new technology in the 1970s, when its cars were entirely unknown in the US. Samsung has fought pitched battles in semiconductors, smartphones, and all manner of consumer electronics. To build a company for long-term success, it's crazy to try to insulate the company from competition with a captive market. Success is forged in the heat of competition.
Email goes back to the future
US military networks are going to strip incoming messages of HTML and turn them into plain text, just to thwart cyberattacks
Dubai is (supposedly) buying jetpacks for high-rise firefighters
Canada and Denmark are engaged in the most polite border dispute in history
Their respective militaries keep leaving bottles of liquor for one another
Des Moines got a tornado and then snow the other day
An exceptionally rare phenomenon
Russia is using "hybrid warfare" in Syria
Memorial Sloan Kettering says women shouldn't change their mammography schedules
Despite new recommendations from the American Cancer Society, MSKCC says women at normal risk should stick with a target age of 40 to start screenings
Puerto Rico is edging towards full-blown fiscal crisis
This is going to test our understanding of bailouts
Female economists don't get the respect they deserve
Tacit demotions of their contributions seem to be a problem in the (already minimal) coverage their work receives in the mass media
Apple's new iPad Pro is 12.9" in diameter
...blurring the lines altogether between "tablet" and "laptop" sizes
The shocking human tragedy in northern Africa
People are risking everything -- and often losing their lives -- trying to escape war, terrorism, deprivation, and other horrors. And the heartlessness with which people like Mike Huckabee try to say "That's not my problem; they're too far from home" is revolting. No sensible person thinks we should grant entry to every refugee without the slightest effort at screening out the inevitable bad apples, but it is pure hackery to malign the refugees by mockingly asking, "[A]re they really just coming because we've got cable TV?"
AB Inbev lands the SABMiller purchase
Sale price: $107 billion
Negative interest rates, long thought imaginary, are now very real
It's one way to try to get people to spend money
Mitsubishi officially enters the regional-jet market
Test flights are underway
Chicago Cubs broadcast moves again: From WBBM to WSCR
WSCR was formerly the renowned WMAQ
Why people are so desperate to get into Europe
Oh dear: Large companies have over-extended their borrowing again
The duration of near-zero interest rates should have been a signal it would come to this. The real peculiarity, though, is that all this borrowing seems not to have driven real investment in tangible things that will improve long-term business prospects. So where in the blazes has all the cheap money gone?
The right is "peaceably to assemble", not to call in "some muscle" to bounce journalists from a public space
Fortunately, faculty members at the University of Missouri seem eager to punish the titular faculty member who demonstrated some serious misunderstanding of the First Amendment.
Saul Bass and the importance of a company logo that matches its image
Why Dave from "Alvin and the Chipmunks" always sounded a little unhinged
Google and Tag Heuer roll out a $1,500 smartwatch
Get a smartwatch, but get a cheap one, then beat the crap out of it as most people do to their regular watches. Then replace it in a couple of years with one from the next generation. Unless there's something you simply cannot live without in the smartwatch you've been craving, everyone should start with the Pebble. For $100 (less when on sale, as they frequently are), you can test whether you get any real utility out of a smartwatch without committing hundreds and hundreds of dollars to a piece of vanity jewelry.
The problem(s) with a record harvest
Iowa farmers are bringing in so much corn there's no place to put it all. And that's not going to put any upward pressure on low prices.
Samsung's $600 "Galaxy View" tablet has an 18.4" screen
Russia "sabotaged" London 2012 Olympics with doped athletes
"Uber angst": The fear of getting "disrupted" right out of business
Rep. Paul Ryan is elected Speaker of the House
Ryan and Chief Justice John Roberts get a lot of flak from elements of the "conservative" movement -- but they are two of the sharpest center-right minds in America, and we're lucky to have them both in high office
Malaysia's slow drift away from English has hurt its economy
The latest slang, interpreted
Linguist says Australian accent comes from early settlers being drunk
Michael Bloomberg editorial: Bad schools are a bigger long-term threat than terrorism
While dramatic, it's probably true. We badly need to find ways to improve career and technical training opportunities -- one of the worst things a country can develop is a persistent, low-skill, low-income underclass. It just doesn't work out in the end.
Cash flow is becoming a problem for Midwestern farmers
As go the farmers, so goes a lot of the small-town economy. This is not a good sign.
Casey's finds credit-card skimmers mounted to gas pumps
The incident shows that not even the Midwest is safe from crooks
Phil Collins is going back to the recording studio
Tough times for Norway's sovereign-wealth fund
Getting things right with a natural-resources bounty is very, very hard. Norway has done better than average -- maybe better than most -- but they're still not bulletproof.
One-paragraph book review: "The Herbert Hoover Story"
Yahoo turns back to Google for search help
Honda hits brakes on plant expansion in China
An $822 million plant will go on hold because the company is worried about a decline in demand growth
Out-of-control orchestra dads
The CBC's very funny satirical program "This is That" spins a tale of a parent who brings varsity-sport-parent intensity to his kid's orchestra rehearsals
What happens to people who die alone in New York City
It's a big city with a lot of isolated people
China's ways of manipulating the currency
Google is betting on "machine learning"/artificial intelligence
Even a company that is "native digital" -- computer-based from its very founding -- is looking for new ways to have machines do the work so that they don't have to hire people to do it
US Navy to China: Those aren't real islands. Your territorial claims are denied.
Turning reefs into artificial islands is just a naked ploy to claim large amounts of open sea. This isn't building up contiguous ground via landfill (like Manhattan) or draining low-lying areas (like Holland). It's really not that far from sinking an oil-drilling platform somewhere and claiming that it's sovereign territory with rights to a surrounding nautical boundary.
Why Omaha didn't stand a chance at salvaging ConAgra
Perhaps illustrative of the need for communities to focus on always leveling the playing field for the little firms that may organically grow into the big shots -- instead of trying desperately to kowtow to the big guns
The worst thing in America? Donald Trump, say Latinas.
Big earthquake hits Afghanistan
One-paragraph book review: "Honda: The man and his machines"
Negative interest rates in Denmark make property enter a bubble
It's getting really hard to differentiate in the car market
And it's only a problem because cars have generally gotten much better
China's economy keeps showing signs of slowing
Building the next bomber
Omaha reacts to losing the ConAgra headquarters operation
A wheelchair that can climb stairs
Lifesaving aid workers in Syria are on the brink of collapse
Racist radicals may be working in German refugee camps
China may be easing controls on capital investment
Here's a terribly misleading list
A purported list of the "25 jobs with the best work-life balance" really only reflects that there are certain jobs that early entrants manage to exploit (temporarily)
Japanese automakers want to introduce self-driving cars around the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Jim Webb is dropping out of the Democratic Presidential race
Good for Rep. Paul Ryan: Putting family ahead of political ambitions
And he may still end up as Speaker of the House
Price tag for SanDisk: $19 billion
Canadian politics take a left turn
One-paragraph book review: "101 Things I Learned in Architecture School"
Show notes: Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 18, 2015
One-paragraph book review: "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis
Larry David is brilliant as Bernie Sanders
But Kate McKinnon is positively inspired as Hillary Clinton in the latest "Saturday Night Live" cold open
Meet Chinese democracy
The impossible position of a big metropolitan daily newspaper
Too long protected by monopoly powers, they haven't had a really good time making the transition to a much more competitive market
NBC is going to launch an all-comedy online programming service
If only it could bring back Phil Hartman and put him back with Dana Carvey, the world would be a better place
What in the world do inmates have against bacon?
Disney wants a counter-cyberwarfare intern
Shame on Mike Huckabee
A Presidential candidate who wears his Christianity on his sleeve should be positively ashamed of himself for saying of Syrian refugees, "It matters if they’re really refugees escaping terror, escaping potential death, or are they just looking at this as an opportunity to get out of their country and go find the benefits America will provide." First, it's preposterous to suggest that the overwhelming majority of people trying to escape Syria are anything but refugees trying to escape the twin threats of Assad's brutal and soulless dictatorship and ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh's awful incarnation of a totalitarian regime. Anyone who doesn't know better than that shouldn't be running for so much as dog catcher, much less President. But let's examine the second half of Huckabee's statement: Since when has any voluntary group of immigrants to the United States ever looked for anything other than "an opportunity to get out of their country and go find the benefits America will provide". That's exactly why immigrants have always come here! Huckabee's attitude is toxic and reflects the attitude of a man unfit to be President.
It's not quite full autopilot, but...
Tesla says the Model S can just about drive itself, and will be fully capable of so doing in three years
With the consumer computer business in turmoil, how long can AMD hold out?
Warning signs: Factories are slowing production
It's not a huge contraction...yet. But two months in a row of decreased output from American factories is a bad sign.
"Key and Peele" end the run of one of the smartest shows on television
It's good to know that they're going to continue working together -- but the show was just so perfectly executed and so brilliantly written that its departure will leave a void
The Midwest had accelerated deflation in September
There was slight deflation nationwide, but marked deflation in the Midwest
Russia plays cyberwarfare offense against NATO
Federal government starts fighting back against non-payers on student debt
All the more interesting, considering the tone that has been set from the top of the Obama Administration for quite some time -- one that has suggested that college is a right and that other people should pick up the tab
Low interest rates have set large companies on a debt binge
This should surprise nobody. What is surprising, though, is that we're not seeing the money being spent on capital equipment -- durable goods orders are down and in some sectors, significantly so. That's a bad signal for the economy at large -- if you're not seeing spending on stuff that will produce future profits, then you're not seeing a priming of the pump for future growth.
Taking the wrong messages from research literature
A pop-culture analysis in The Atlantic says that determination is a bad thing. Embedded in the story, though, is this clarifying quotation: "[I]t's important to know when to quit and reevaluate rather than blindly push through". That is quite the opposite of saying perseverance is perverse -- it says that we ought to look for the optimal outcome.
One-paragraph book review: "Accidental Empires"
An honest job interview
"I'm dumb as rocks"
An identity crisis for today's libraries
Openness to all could mean an unsettling environment for some
Alibaba founder wants China's economy to slow down
FBI takes out a botnet
Cubs to preserve home run ball that landed atop video board
Australia will resettle 12,000 refugees from Syria
To those who fear the influx of refugees from Syria into Western countries, the question really is this: Wouldn't you rather show mercy and compassion in a time of need and give thousands of people the chance to absorb your sense of freedom and individual liberty, rather than condemn them to fear, violence, and potential radicalization in a hostile place?
No doubt remains: Malaysian airliner was shot down by a Russian missile
Deflation in the UK
Falling prices only sound like a good idea if you don't know what happens in the long run
If ever there were a case for government to try harder to do better
...it's the heartbreaking way in which American Indians have been treated
Where's the PIN in "chip-and-PIN"?
The whole point of making credit cards more secure is being negated by our failure to use the PIN system. Without the PIN, the chip is really too much just for show.
Union pension funds in big trouble
As with too many pension funds, the problems have been apparent for a long, long time
Good social relations at work
Sure, it's good to have friends at work. But we also should make sure that we're doing "work" in a way that respects the need for people to have "off-work" lives, too.
Britain's new left-wing party leader is a small-"R" republican
And he may be wrong about a lot, but he's right about that
The time for real, deliberate laws and policies on police body cameras is well overdue
The law is way behind the technology, and that's a problem
Why good people get chased too often out of politics
Tools like Twitter are leading us to behave like rabid pack animals
Google gets more search inquiries from mobile devices than from desktops
Cigarette smoking is going to kill China
The Donald Trump exit strategy
He's not serious about running for President. He's only in it for as long as it appears to inflate his personal "brand".
The Federal Reserve held off raising rates because of the global economic picture
Threading the needle -- raising rates before inflation takes hold, but after the danger to the US economy is gone -- is a challenge nobody in economic history has ever faced with nearly the same heightened stakes. Janet Yellen may need more luck than anyone has ever needed.
Gannett just can't help itself from going back into debt
What a train wreck
These are our allies?
Whether it's making headlines or not, the refugee crisis continues in Europe
This is the most historically-significant event taking place right now, whether or not it's in the news
Corporate boards are boys' clubs, and that's a problem
Women shouldn't be there as tokens -- they should be there because they're half of the population and are conspicuous by their absence
45% of Americans don't pay income tax
Wind energy now costs the same as coal or natural gas power
Car buyers aren't willing to pay yet for the tools that will make driving safer
Too bad; the costs of crashes are much too high
AB InBev raises offer to buy SABMiller to more than $100 billion
Who wants to go to a crime-ridden city for the Olympics?
Rio 2016 may be your chance!
Investment money is flowing away from emerging markets
And that's the first time that's happened in a quarter of a century
Carl Icahn foresees bad things ahead for the markets
Uncertainty persists, but catastrophe? That's a bit tough to swallow.
Credit scores and your love life
Couples with high credit scores tend to stay together. People tend to get romantically involved with partners of similar scores.
ConAgra is leaving Omaha to save $300 million a year
Or so they estimate. But those estimates, like any promises of savings from "synergy", are almost always well off the mark. And it's going to cost them $345 million to leave.
Iowa State University career fair shows just how much demand exists for engineering majors
The long road to a more secure credit card
Tesla officially enters the SUV market
Chicago cops break rules to save a young life
A look at one of America's most economically-disadvantaged places
Medicine as a science still has a lot to learn
But at least there's plenty of evidence that they're trying
Flowing water on Mars, you say?
German publishers buy Business Insider
For a company valuation well over $300 million, that sure looks like a triumph for digital-first/digital-only publishing
Founder of Cumulus Radio booted from CEO suite
I-80/I-380 interchange project will cost $270 million
And it will take five years -- if all goes according to plan. But it's a much-needed development.
An unusual door-to-door sales pitch: Library cards
There are two terrible forces destroying lives in Syria
Both ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh and the Assad government are purveyors of death
Apple claims 13 million new iPhones sold on opening weekend
You cannot escape Facebook ads
Google claims "How to" searches on YouTube are growing by 70% per year
Fun fact: Not everything is best explained with a video
There just aren't many options left for central banks
God save us if there's a major economic contraction
Speaker Boehner is stepping down
Is Apple really going through with its silly plan to build cars?
Profits of Chinese industrial companies fall by almost 10% year-over-year
US personal savings rate: 4.6%
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pokes Mark Zuckerberg over hate posts on Facebook
FTC investigating anti-competitive behavior by Google in the Android market
Pebble rolls out "Pebble Time Round" for $250
A new entry in the smartwatch market
Hundreds killed in Mecca stampede
How radio has gone video
Chinese copycat behavior is so bad, it even includes the F-35
How the US DOT sees "megaregions" emerging in the coming decades
Hong Kong should worry about 2047
That's when the "one country, two systems" policy expires with China. But any reasonable observer would have cause to wonder whether that expiration date won't find itself radically revised closer to today. And when prospective candidates for office are out advising people to "prove" that Hong Kong is "here to contribute to the country, and not to make trouble", that should itself be a cause for worry.
Some predictions about your future dining experiences
HP will cut an additional 30,000 jobs as it splits in two
That's on top of 55,000 other job cuts that were already expected.
What happens when a library goes bad?
Omaha is dealing with what appears to be a serious erosion in conditions at its downtown library. The reports suggest it's become less a place for people to read and learn in peace and more a site for society to temporarily dump off some undesirable characters. Libraries are such an essential part of culture that it's tragic to watch when they aren't able or willing to remain vibrant. Some real changes in the way libraries work, reach out to the community, and see their scope of responsibility have been foisted upon them by outside conditions. But those same conditions -- mainly technological changes -- actually make good libraries more important than ever, to serve as a free public resource to those who might not otherwise have the means to improve themselves.
The cab-versus-ridesharing war in Chicago escalates
The mayor wants the ride-sharing services (like Uber and Lyft) to be able to pick up passengers at the convention center and airports (which they can't officially do now). But the plan would also grant a 15% fare increase to taxi drivers. Add in a bunch of new surcharges the city wants to assess from both classes of rides-for-hire, and you're looking at a pretty combustible situation. Cab owners and drivers don't want their franchise eroded, but it's hard to see how they can keep standing forever without massive reforms to the business model. If you only make money because someone else is statutorily prohibited from competing with you, that's rent-seeking.
EPA orders 482,000 diesel Volkswagens to be recalled
The agency says their emissions-control systems were programmed to function at full capacity only when being tested, not when actually on the road
What to do with a loony economy
Canada's three largest political parties just held a debate on economics. The country is in an interesting situation: It's already a well-developed, highly advanced economy, but it's also been the beneficiary of a huge resource bonanza. That's really unusual: Canada only really entered the resource boom in the last generation, as a mature economy that didn't really need the money. Other countries with similar resource endowments (Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria, among others) never developed economies independent of their resources. That puts Canada in a truly blessed state, if they're smart enough to use it well -- but it's extremely hard to do so, as that requires striking a balance between enjoying the benefits today and putting off that enjoyment by reinvesting elsewhere and/or holding off on using up the resources too quickly. That may be easier in countries like Norway, where a very specific set of conditions exist that permit a highly socialized economy to work out. Canada is not as homogenous as Scandanavia, so it's very hard to get the same kind of cultural consensus built around making long-term decisions. That's no criticism of Canada; it's just what exists.
Another hint at the flying-car future
For $200,000, you can get an amphibious airplane that you can stash in your garage. It's a light-sport aircraft, so it's meant to be easy to operate (the training time is half that for a regular aircraft). The wings fold, so it can be mounted on a trailer the width of a regular car, and the Icon A5 has a range of 450 miles on 20 gallons of regular unleaded gas. It has landing gear, too, so you aren't just tied to landing on water. But despite the 1,500 preorders already on the books, one has to wonder whether we're really going to see personal aircraft ever take off (pardon the pun). Even 20 hours of training is too daunting an obstacle for a huge portion of the population. A betting person might wager instead on the prospects for autonomous electric-powered aircraft that could carry about half a dozen passengers. Electric, because that would make them quieter, more reliable, and less polluting than engine-driven aircraft. Autonomous, because computers are already quite capable of autopiloting every stage of flight already (so why bother training people to do it?). And sized for enough passengers (probably 6 to 10) to make it profitable for someone to own and operate the aircraft as a service to go between secondary markets that are well below the demand sizes necessary to justify regular scheduled commercial aircraft. But if people knew there were flights taking off every 60 minutes between, for instance, Des Moines and Kansas City, then a scheduled air-bus-like service could be economically attractive.
No change in interest rates, decides the Federal Reserve
This tightrope walk -- deciding when to reverse course on a positively stunning expansion of the money supply but not doing so before there's actual inflation to counteract. Money still isn't moving. And it seems like the Fed sees it that way, too.
Amazon is pushing a new $99 Amazon Fire TV box
Undoubtedly seeking to steal thunder from Apple TV. Oh, and now they're dropping the price of the 7" color-screen Kindle Fire with WiFi and 8 Gb of storage to $49. It might be noted that the regular Kindle is $79.
Twitter claims it reaches more people than Facebook does
A stretch, to be sure.
GM will pay $900 million in settlement over faulty cars
They had ignition switches that could shut down while a car was running.
Dog saves drowning boy, then gets help
Your cat wouldn't do that
Some women who belong on US currency
Journalist: "Stop blaming the media for Donald Trump"
But there are at least two things wrong with that analysis: First, Donald Trump is a monster that is entirely the creation of a star-struck media complex. He has been since at least the 1980s. He can easily seem like a big deal to people in New York City, and that's where much of the nation's media narrative is driven. They mistake his chutzpah for actual success, and fawn over him like teenagers at a rock concert. (The truly, truly successful businesspeople typically avoid ostentation and excess attention to their work because they benefit from a subtle touch. Trump is nothing but a hype man.) The second problem is that the level of deference to Trump exhibited by some journalists is excessive to the point of irresponsibility. Unfortunately, most journalists aren't also business majors -- so they don't really know what questions to ask about what really matters. But because Trump can't stop telling them that he's "really rich", those who aren't sophisticated enough to objectively evaluate his claims are at high risk of falling for the (self-serving) legend.
Another civil war that deserves attention
Syria isn't the only place with strife, civilians on the run, and terrible atrocities taking place. Burundi is in a similar predicament.
A flywheel for oil production
Prices are low, so oil drillers aren't thrilled -- but they can't exactly shut down, because most producers have to rely on maintaining cash flow to service their debts and keep from going broke. Stopping production altogether is a non-option. Even when production actually costs them money, some will keep going because the costs of shutting down are so high. So now they're storing oil in tanks on St. Lucia, awaiting a day with higher prices.
AB InBev wants to buy out SABMiller
That's a lot of beer
Facebook wants in on that virtual-assistant action
"Facebook M" looks like it's out to compete with Apple's Siri and Google Now and Microsoft Cortana
Intel won't sponsor Science Talent Search anymore
An interesting history of color
Those who save 15% of their income
How likely is your flight to be on time?
A deep and interactive analysis by 538
An expanded alliance between Toyota and BMW is under consideration
In a lot of ways, the main cost a company has to face in many endeavors is that of "tuition" to learn about whatever it's doing. Some companies buy out others to pay that de facto tuition, while others spend on research and development. One of the more interesting approaches (and one that isn't used as widely as one might expect) is the joint venture.
Does it matter that Iowa is losing a home-grown company?
Meredith says it will retain its presence in Des Moines even after its acquisition by Media General. But promises are easy to make. As always, the best way not to lose control of something is to keep ownership of it. Maybe local ownership matters, maybe it doesn't. Some companies would be better off under management by others; some companies get ruined by a merger or acquisition.
A basic understanding of technology should really be a prerequisite for holding high office in 2015
The Hillary Clinton e-mail server story is an example of exactly why technological illiteracy is hazardous, especially when it involves high-level government officials. For instance: After months of protesting that the server had been "wiped", the Clinton camp is now backtracking and saying they don't know what "wiped" really means, and their service provider says they only deleted the files. There's a big difference between "deleted" and "wiped", and it's the kind of distinction a person should know before trying to use technical jargon to sound sophisticated -- or before taking part in any kind of lawmaking process in which it would matter to know the difference. We need literate, numerate, and technologically literate people in high office. If you can't understand the scope of a problem, you're never going to find an adequate solution.
There's a talent
Miss Colorado skipped the conventional light entertainment routine (singing, dancing, and so on) to talk about being a nurse in the Miss America contest.
A large crowd of men ages 25 to 54 has dropped out of the workforce
That could pose a long-term hazard to growth, as well as to political and social stability
The terrorism threat remains
What share China consumes of some of the world's major products
New cancer research suggests chasing the type of mutation, not the site of the tumor in the body
Goldman Sachs thinks $20-a-barrel oil could happen
Far-left-winger wins leadership election for the UK Labour Party
Why some teenagers make jokes about 9/11
Asking economists to forecast recessions is an exercise in hilarity
Knowing that something is likely to occur is one thing. Betting on when it will happen is a huge mistake. Brilliant people with lots of their own money on the line have lost big by trying to guess economic cycles. That's because it's not a rational process -- it's very much an outcome driven by human psychology.
Ten automakers agree to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature
This is how the self-piloted car is going to come about -- not in one big revolution, but in iterative improvements to our safety. Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo are all committed. The schedule is yet to be finalized between the automakers and the US Department of Transportation.
Fairfield police were "lawful" in using deadly force
Two officers fired on a car when the driver tried to run over one of them. Anyone who has the intention of running over a police officer deserves to get shot (at least karmically). However, the fact there were two other people in the car, including a juvenile -- compounded by the fact the police DIDN'T HIT THEIR MARK -- should be deeply troubling. If you can't hit your target, DON'T SHOOT. If they missed their mark, they could just as easily have hit one of the passengers. What if they had killed the kid?
The guy who ruined air travel last fall gets a dozen years in prison
He cut cables and lit a fire at the air-traffic control facility serving Chicago before he tried to kill himself. He lived and the facility was badly damaged. Prosecutors said $100 million in losses resulted.
Is it real or is it Photoshop?
A 25-picture test
President Obama wants 10,000 Syrian refugees to be admitted to the US in the next fiscal year
We could probably handle many more than that -- and morally, we probably should
Nobody wants to be around for a hard landing of China's economy
But don't be surprised if there's some serious pain as the laws of economic physics come to bear on the fast-growing market. Despite the rapid growth rates that have been achieved there, when China's premier says things like "we need to take targeted measures to resist downward pressure on the economy at the same time we need to build momentum for sustainable and healthy economic growth", he's only saying things that sound superficially good. The truth of the matter is that when politicians think they have the kind of power that the central government in China imagines that it has over economic growth, then they're only kidding themselves. The only thing a government can really do is remove impediments to growth by encouraging free markets and the rule of law, while reserving their interventions for those limited cases in which the market fails miserably. But that's not what the Chinese government is trying to do -- they're trying to keep up a specific rate of growth while exercising all kinds of measures to manipulate outcomes, like trying to prop up the stock market, micro-manage the currency exchange rate, and keep control of the "commanding heights" of the economy through state ownership of enterprises. That kind of stuff can work in the short term to kick-start growth -- authoritarian measures seem to have done well in small economies like South Korea and Singapore, but only for a limited time. The hangover that inevitably results once the economy grows beyond the reasonable capabilities of the government to manipulate (and China's economy is far beyond that point) is terribly painful (remember the Asian financial crisis at the turn of the century?). If you had $1,000 to invest right now (or even $1,000,000), you would stand much better odds for the next 25 years by investing in an index of the American market rather than an index of the Chinese market. A command economy (or even a mixed one) can only grow for so long before the inevitable inefficiencies, human errors, and pricing distortions catch up with the system and whack it in the kneecaps.
Apple to make iOS 9 available as a free update on September 16
The company also announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (coming at the end of the month), a new Apple TV, and an $800 iPad with a $100 stylus.
Enrollment and lots of other figures rising nicely at UNI
The visibility of economic inequality may actually make people behave badly
Department of Labor proposes radical expansion of overtime eligibility
Anyone making $50,440 a year or less could not be exempted from receiving overtime pay. As always, the law of unintended consequences will rear its ugly head if this is implemented -- employers are terrified of a massive increase in overtime liability, so they might just end up hiring more part-timers or temporary workers instead of giving additional work to their existing employees. And don't be surprised if a massive wave of lawsuits ensues if the rules actually go into place. As has been too often the case with this administration, good intentions are advanced with little or no acknowledgment of economic reality, which will actually make it very likely that the people whom the government wants to "help" would actually find themselves penalized. Unintended consequences are very real, even if the people making the decisions think they're smarter than everyone else.
Federal government plans to indict hackers from China
Why the government wants access to your text messages
British Airways plane catches fire in Las Vegas
One-paragraph book review: "Kaizen: The key to Japan's competitive success"
Facebook changes its "Pages" service to try appealing to small businesses
No doubt this will spur Google to try to promote more heavily its services in the same market
Cubs manager Joe Maddon on goal-setting
Why you should donate instead of feigning outrage over a dead lion
The work of the African Wildlife Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa -- and thus by improving their economic prospects, reducing the incentive to do things like killing lions illegally. Taking care of people can also mean taking care of wildlife.
China has a lot of debt, but not in excess of assets
Interesting note: For all the talk about the tough times in China's stock market, stocks are only about 2% of household assets there.
Meredith and Media General will merge
And thus another Des Moines institution gives way to someplace larger
When publicly-funded arenas go bad
Nobody should be surprised when they don't pay for themselves
Tips for personal productivity
Phrases to use with children to develop their resilience
Paul Krugman and Donald Trump agree on bad economics
Krugman thinks that government intervention has reduced the unemployment rate and sees a kindred spirit in Trump. Both believe far too much in their own hype.
Krugman thinks that government intervention has reduced the unemployment rate and sees a kindred spirit in Trump. Both believe far too much in their own hype.
UK to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria
The situation is at historic proportions. Germany is taking 31,000 and France will take in 24,000.
Perverse incentives can deliver despicable results
In China, "It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure" because the incentives are on the side of killing a pedestrian rather than causing injury. The costs of burial are less than the costs of compensating the injured person for their medical care. Always look to the incentives created by laws, rules, culture, and other systems to anticipate the likely outcomes or to explain ones that seem perverse.
The new Google logo
There are things that the new "identity" does well, but the logo itself is nothing impressive
Facebook Messenger is now the number-two app on US smartphones
Only the Facebook application itself is more widely used. Forcing people off the messaging service built into the broader Facebook app and into the dedicated service certainly gave them another product to tout -- though it doesn't necessarily mean they have any broader total reach than before.
A thoughtful angle on the Syrian refugee situation
People are escaping war by boat and on foot. Pope Francis has gone so far as to implore every Catholic parish in Europe to take in a refugee family.
One-paragraph book review: "Devils on the Deep Blue Sea"
Startups are wildly overrated
Fortune: "The companies in the US that have a high impact on job growth aren't newest firms -- they're companies that are at least 15 to 20 years old on average"
Why Miami isn't ready for another hurricane
Low elevation, high population density and growth, and porous bedrock
Barenaked Ladies cover of "In the Air Tonight"
The Cubs are at last consistently fun to watch
(Video) Cubs fans have waited far too long to get players who crush grand slams
A mass crisis, summed up in one little person's tragedy
If your reaction to the death of a child who drowned while trying to escape Syria is anything but heartbreak, you need to readjust your thinking
Why Europe has so many refugees trying to get in
Human-caused disasters in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Northern Africa are leaving tens of thousands on the run
The near-term outlook for electric cars
They're coming soon to a mass market
Why Berkshire Hathaway reinvests all of its profits at MidAmerican
A guaranteed 11% return on equity is a huge incentive to reinvest. That's contributed heavily to Iowa's wind-generation boom.
Where are America's STEM jobs, and how much do they pay?
It's time to be clear about the shocking magnitude of the Syrian humanitarian disaster
2,500 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this summer. If six Boeing 747 jumbo jets had crashed this summer, we'd be paying attention to the problem. But somehow this story is falling through the cracks. And it's not a single disaster featuring 2,500 casualties -- it's 2,500 individual calamities, including two involving innocent little boys who drowned on a Turkish beach. The pictures are absolutely heart-wrenching. But the reality is even worse. Millions of people are trying to flee ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh and a criminal government in Syria. Where is our humanity?
A rise in productivity
0.7% from year to year, according to the BLS. That's better than zero, but not by much.
An extremely troubling police shooting
The trouble with chart-watching
People who look to predict the future of business by the movements of stock prices are playing financial astrology
Cartoons should be funny, not tepid
Russia and China are building databases of data stolen from American computers
A vast repository of spies and subjects is being created, it would appear
Behold the new Google logo
A triumph of over-simplification. Where's the energy in the new look? Wholly dull, milquetoast, and uninspiring.
The NLRB may have gone too far
KCRG-TV is no longer independently owned
The Gazette Co. is selling off the standalone station
LinkedIn is rolling out a new messaging service
Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 30, 2015
Show notes - WHO Radio Wise Guys - August 29, 2015
The face of refugees arriving right now in Europe
Let's not forget that millions -- literally millions -- of people are on the run in Syria. They're people, not wild animals.
Going to cash right now is a dumb financial move
But people are doing it in droves
11 years in prison for supporting ISIS/ISIL/QSIL/Daesh from America
Throw the book at them
Earthquakes are inevitable. Disasters are not.
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, a reminder: Natural disasters are inevitable. But prosperity and the discipline to use some of that surplus in order to prepare for the inevitable are two very good ways to resist suffering.
Consumer Reports is crazy for the Tesla Model S
Tesla got one very important thing right: They went upscale with their electric car, rather than trying to achieve mass appeal but at a cost $15,000 above the comparable non-electric cars.
Facebook claims a billion users per day
Instagram to permit portrait, landscape modes
Art is in the constraints. This does away with the biggest constraint of all on Instagram: The forced square. This will obviously please some people in the short run, but it really damages the appeal that made Instagram attractive from an artistic standpoint. Now it's just another dull way to share photos, like all the rest.
Burger King brilliantly proposes "McWhopper" in the name of Peace Day
Burger King: Looks clever and fun in their proposal. Looks engaged. Nothing to lose by tweaking your larger rival. McDonald's, on the other hand, looks sanctimonious in response. But rumor has it you shouldn't try building your own McWhopper.
The Federal Reserve looks at different exchange rates than Wall Street
Because the relative strength of the dollar affects our imports and exports, that affects the size of the economy. So it's not a trivial distinction what the Fed uses to establish how much inflation is occurring.
Not everyone named in the Ashley Madison hack was actually trying to cheat
Apparently, the company did nothing to verify addresses -- so people may have used the addresses of others in order to evade detection
New orders for durable goods are down a lot from last year
This is a problem, especially because capital investment by businesses has also been lagging for quite a while -- and there's really just no way to escape the fact that you need things in order to make other things
Putting computers to work on behalf of education
Computers aren't a substitute for teachers -- they should be used as enhancements. But if there's an area in which we should be almost maniacally eager to improve quality, especially in ways that can reduce costs, then education surely must be it.
Theo Epstein is up for a contract extension in 2016
The Cubs had better show up with a blank check. His value to the franchise is incredible.
Angela Merkel reminds Germans: Migrants are people, too
Refugees trying to escape troubles south of Europe are really just doing what any rational person would try to do
Plagiarized national anthems
Selfies in the voting booth
On one hand, an expression of free speech. On the other, a risk to the secrecy of the ballot. Who can tell for sure that a photo of a completed ballot wasn't coerced?
Dish won't turn into a major cellphone carrier after all
The FCC has gotten in the way
Japan has so many people turning 100, it's busting the government's gift budget
Is the Chinese government really backing off intervention in the stock market?
NYSE Rule 48
How the stock exchange tries to put the brakes on an erratic market
Watch as the Chinese stock market enters a meltdown
50 North Korean subs have left their bases
China's government can't prop up the stock market any longer
The market is a natural force much bigger than our power to coerce it effectively in most big cases. Britain's stock market took a big hit, too. Tremendous buying opportunities exist in the stock market when people lose their minds like this.
The tools Hyundai touts behind its convoy of cars driving themselves
The self-driving car isn't going to arrive all at once, like Google has been preparing to offer. It's going to arrive iteratively -- step-by-step. Parking assistance and lane management tools beget still better things and more serious overrides of human behavior. As comfort levels increase with each step, humans will eventually cede control of the car altogether to the car itself, and thank God. We are the weak link in the chain.
Cop draws gun on man apparently just standing in his own yard
It's not that police officers are inherently bad or eager to power-trip, but some are -- and the consequences when they can't demonstrate adequate self-control are so grave that the rest of us need to be sure that real civilian oversight is taking place. We should also be recording and sharing evidence of misbehavior, because it matters.
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