The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

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If you'd like to help flooding victims here in Iowa, we encourage you to donate to the Race to Recovery. Or you can send your donations to:
Race2Recovery Fund
c/o Vantus Bank
PO Box 687
Newton, IA 50208
If you haven't gotten certified in CPR, visit the American Heart Association website to find a class near you.

Cooking grease has gone from being useless waste to becoming a profitable commodity. In fact, it's so much of a profitable commodity that San Francisco's Greasecycle program is now fighting grease theft. (Homer Simpson, by the way, was a grease-recycling pioneer.) This is a great example of how resource recovery is going to be a much bigger business in the future. Landfills are becoming like banks -- they store valuable stuff that increases in value with time. There will come a time at which someone will be able to make a profit from recovering all of the metals and other materials buried in our landfills in the form of old refrigerators and cars and other junk that has been thrown away over the decades.

It should be noted that rising gas prices are probably going to become the new "normal" -- we predicted $5 per gallon gas earlier this year, and they're just about to happen in San Francisco. We don't need to be energy independent, just not quite so energy-submissive. The recent Nigerian pipeline attacks are a good example of why. We depend too much on unstable and dangerous parts of the world for energy, which we desperately need for our economy to keep humming. The problem really isn't speculation, even though the king of Saudi Arabia and Senator Obama both think they can score points by claiming so. Speculation can't explain the persistence of the increase in prices. The problem really is that China, India, Brazil, and other parts of the world are rapidly increasing their consumption of oil, and none of the major producers are finding huge new supplies.

The part that's probably hardest for most people to understand is that consumption doesn't have to double for the price to double. The problem is that we, as consumers, don't have a lot of alternatives to petroleum. Thus, it's really hard for us to cut our consumption by 10% or 20% without making big lifestyle changes or spending a lot of money (for instance, by moving closer to our workplaces). Thus, our demand for oil is pretty inelastic -- that is, it doesn't change much unless the price changes by a whole lot. But on the supply side, it's really tough for the producers to come up with big increases in production without spending a lot of money on exploration, new pipelines, and new refineries. Thus, when the rest of the world starts using a little more, the oil producers have a hard time catching up, and the market becomes a lot like an eBay auction for a popular item as the bid window comes to a close. The price goes up and up as everybody chases the same thing.

A new report suggests that the average American is deeply in debt. We desperately need better fiscal education, pronto.

If gas prices or debt are putting the pinch on your budget, here's a list of a bunch of legitimate ways to make money online. Most of them don't require you to leave your house, so you don't have to spend any money on gas to get there.

Great news: Math can help cure leukemia. That's why Microsoft's bosses are stupid if they don't start getting into computational biology and other fields where computing power can pay huge dividends. The real progress of the future will come from harnessing the power of computers and smart people to solve big problems without a lot of wasted human effort.

And if you're into analog entertainment, Tetris ice cubes might be the thing for you.

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