Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - December 15, 2013
Brian Gongol

The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.

Health matters

Health A big step forward for personalized medicine
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering have developed a new way to test cancer patients' blood to help determine the best methods of treatment based upon each individual's genome. Very exciting news.

Health The measles are back with a vengeance
And the people who withhold immunizations from their children are directly to blame

Health Don't nag kids about the abstract dangers of drug use
Make them read the story of the meth addict who tried to kill his girlfriend and three police officers -- and who ended up handcuffed, shackled, and dead of a heart attack

Lessons for, from, and about China...and at home

Agriculture China is trying to steal seed secrets

Agriculture Iowa farmland prices hit a new peak

The United States of America The press steps up its demand for a more transparent White House photography policy
The government has been issuing staged photos like a Cold War-era propaganda machine, but the news media just want to be able to take their own pictures. That's not unreasonable.

The United States of America Rough times within the Republican Party
Unfortunately, to some degree, the abrasive and rush-to-be-first-to-say-it nature of some media is causing some people to substitute shameful playground taunts for real political thought. And that's too bad -- America's first-past-the-post voting system means we're usually going to have a two-party system, whether or not people like it. And if we're going to have two parties, then we should want two vibrant, intellectually healthy parties...not a bunch of arrogant windbags.

Health How to end China's choking smog
Give people a real right to vote. They'll hold the right people accountable. Free societies (free both economically and politically) are without question the best ones for public health and environmental quality.

Threats and Hazards Signs are bad for the New York Times and other journalistic organizations operating in China
Rumor seems to have it that Bloomberg and the Times are both on thin ice

News Surreal views of London blanketed in fog -- from overhead
Contrast them with the notorious smog over London decades ago (or with Shanghai today) and ask if there's any better recipe for public health and environmental quality than a market economy with a democratic system of government. (There isn't.)

Health The choking smog over Shanghai
At some point, the people will have had enough of this mismanagement

Threats and Hazards Child protection must be a priority value
A baby died of exposure in a Chicago apartment after being left by her own mother -- in an apartment where heat is included with the rent. In no reasonable universe could we say that society shouldn't step in to protect the child in a case like this. It's wise to respect the instinct to hold the line against government encroachment into too many areas of our lives -- but we should always bear in mind that there are some cases in which government intervention is the only humane policy.

Life can and should be getting better

Business and Finance A downsizing GM is cutting off its investment in Peugeot
The car industry has an unusual degree of cross-ownership, which may surprise many people -- GM's release Peugeot shares notwithstanding

The American Way By many measures, life has never been better
Credit is largely due to the freedom that many people have to do what they want with their thoughts, their money, and their lives

Aviation News Flying in the supposed golden age of flight...wasn't so pleasant
We shouldn't confuse the style portrayed with the substance of just how unpleasant many aspects of it really were

Aviation News Get the humans out of the cockpit
We should eagerly welcome the day when humans are no longer in moment-by-moment control of planes, trains, and automobiles. Autopilot isn't killing people -- human error is.

Facebook and Google: Time is running out to stake your claim to being a regulated utility. Act now, before time runs out!

Computers and the Internet Gmail is going to take a bite out of email marketing
By caching the image files upon which e-mail marketers have traditionally relied for their data, Google is going to make it really hard for anyone outside the company to know who's getting mass mailings.

Computers and the Internet Depending too heavily on Facebook is going to be Upworthy's undoing
Facebook is starting to get the hint that many users are tired of being bombarded with clickbait everywhere in their news feeds. Upworthy and the Huffington Post are by far the most notorious transgressors. So if Facebook gets smart and throttles them back, times could get tough for the clickbaiters. Incidentally, a word to the wise: Make sure you're breaking out of the echo chamber once in a while. If everyone's sharing the same things, then we're really not testing new ideas.

Some other things

The United States of America Why the US and Canada should get a little closer
Borders don't have to be permanently static, you know. And a merger of two friendly, prosperous neighbors might make a lot of sense.

Humor and Good News Romance, or just a good case for the Oxford comma?

Threats and Hazards In 2013, there are still countries that conduct purges

Computers and the Internet Cedar Rapids wants to build a city-wide WiFi Internet system

Threats and Hazards Venezuela continues falling for the populist narrative
The party in power nationally is keeping power on the local levels as well

Computers and the Internet Microsoft labels the Federal government an "advanced persistent threat"
That's the same category in which they place cyber attacks and "sophisticated malware". Microsoft says it's stepping up encryption tactics and releasing more information about program code so that people can see they're not complicit in intrusive government surveillance. Still think government is always good and business is always bad?

Business and Finance Are corporate boards of directors getting better?
The staff columnist on management at The Economist suggests that many are better than they were ten years ago. One might ask, in addition to whether they are "providing strategic direction" to the company and appropriately managing their supervision of the CEO (which is what the columnist highlights), whether their incentives are fully aligned with the rank-and-file shareholder. There are boards on which many directors own none of the company's stock and who sell the shares they receive as compensation the very moment they vest. That's troubling. It conveys to the other shareholders that the rank and file are suckers for holding on to their shares.