Gongol.com Archives: October 2016

Brian Gongol

October 27, 2016

The United States of America We could have had President Romney

While there are people who support Donald Trump because they're angry or racist or otherwise provoked by his dark messages, there are many others who actually perceive him to be a highly competent individual. While that perception is contradicted (strongly) by the facts, it's a powerful driving force. People are attracted to competence, even if we like to pair it with other shortcomings so that we don't have to feel intimidated by the highly-competent individual. (See, for instance, the personal demons that television writers have given to characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Gregory House, and President Josiah Bartlet.) The huge problem ahead of us is that the American public rejected an indisputably competent candidate in 2012 when Mitt Romney lost the election. Romney's resume was impeccable, as was his personal character. In nominating Donald Trump in 2016, the GOP threw its backing to the illusion of competence. As it becomes virtually certain that Hillary Clinton will win the election and face a hostile Republican House of Representatives (with the Senate likely to be close to evenly split between the major parties), we are likely to see almost no opportunities for anyone to demonstrate real competence in Washington in the coming few years. That, in turn, is going to frustrate voters even more, and make them hunger even further for competence. The best thing for the country will be for multiple non-Washington figures (governors, most likely) to demonstrate great competence under duress (in the face of natural disasters, for instance) and to then gain a foothold in the race for the 2020 Presidential nomination. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen is for the illusion of competence to win again. We have to be on guard against that possibility.

News "But Barry Goldwater wrote a bestselling book outlining a coherent vision"

One of many reasons why 2016 shouldn't be compared with 1964

Health AIDS was probably in the United States in 1971

A truly scary thought, considering how much earlier that was than anyone's realization of the threat

Science and Technology A self-driving 18-wheeler has successfully worked on American roads

Have no doubt: Self-driving vehicles are going to have a huge impact on us in the years ahead

Business and Finance Don't ask the barber if you need a haircut

Harvard's endowment has been performing poorly. Maybe part of the problem is that its managers have had too much power to guarantee their own compensation, independent of performance. Oversight matters!

Computers and the Internet Twitter announces plan to shut down Vine

The short-video-looping service was a $30 million acquisition for Twitter in 2012, but Twitter continues to struggle with actually turning a profit. Since alternatives (like Snapchat) already exist, they're probably pulling back rather than reinvest in new development of the platform.

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