Gongol.com Archives: 2018 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol


June 23, 2018

Broadcasting Radio show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 23, 2018

Live on WHO Radio from 2:00 to 4:00 Central


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June 22, 2018

Iowa Train derailment in northwest Iowa spills crude oil into flooded river

Business and Finance EU imposes counter-tariffs on American goods

Steel, clothing, makeup, bourbon, and more. What genius put it in the President's head that import taxes are a good idea at just the moment when the Baby Boomers (the largest generation) are moving en masse into their fixed-income retirement years? The President wants to slap 20% tariffs on European cars now, apparently ignorant of the fact that BMW and Mercedes build cars in the United States.

The United States of America George Will memorializes Charles Krauthammer

News Colorized photo of a young Auschwitz prisoner

Stripping these photos of their colorlessness takes away the psychological distance that can allow us to let down our guard against present-day evil. Colorizing history isn't always a good idea, but sometimes it has merit.

Health Brett Favre wants no more youth tackle football

Iowa Huge ranges in college attainment levels just miles apart

Iowa has some counties where about 60% of adults have at least an associate's degree. Not far away -- and sometimes immediately adjacent -- are counties where the rates are in the 20% range. The gap is most substantial for the most rural counties, and that could make it hard to hit a statewide goal of getting 70% of adults through some kind of post-secondary training or education by 2025. A four-year degree isn't for everyone, but the vast majority of people will need some kind of post-secondary education if they want a reasonable level of material economic comfort.

News Charles Krauthammer passes away

He wasn't always right (who is?), but when he was right, he was quite usually spot-on.



June 21, 2018

News The shame of a family-separation policy lingers well after its suspension

The Economist: "The history of America's moral corrections suggests that what they lack in spontaneity they make up for with momentum."

Computers and the Internet SCOTUS opens door for states to collect Internet sales taxes

Science and Technology Brains in petri dishes

Scientists at UCSD are making Neanderthal mini-brains (organiods) out of stem cells and recovered Neanderthal DNA. The list of questions it raises is long. The research is aimed at studying the features of our brains that make us social animals, but these are proto-brains, after all. It's argued that the organoid brains can't think and have no sensory inputs, but studies (including some driven by biotechnologies like CRISPR) are pushing on the boundaries of what needs strict ethical scrutiny.

Agriculture "Two of the top three export destinations for U.S. pork have added a tariff in retaliation of United States tariffs"

Trade warring is very real

The United States of America "He resumed the plough with industry"

Having won the war with violence, the newly independent Americans secured the peace with their productivity



June 20, 2018

News Handing over the keys to the GOP

Absent a change like fusion voting or ranked-preference ballots, a two-party system is basically inevitable under America's first-past-the-post electoral system. So while it may be a respectable choice for people to resign from their parties in protest, whoever remains tends to get control of the infrastructure that's generally necessary to win elections. It's time for people who have historically been aligned with the Republican Party to think hard (and speak up) about what the party should stand for. The utter vacuity of the man in the Oval Office and the shapelessness of whatever Trumpism is conspire to make it insufficient to be just "Never Trump" or "Anti-Trump". Necessary, maybe. But insufficient. He is a void, so what follows must not also be a void.

Health Atul Gawande picked to head up Berkshire Hathaway/Amazon/JP Morgan health company

His book "The Checklist Manifesto" is one of the best books on cognition. He's tackling a giant project here, but possesses a well-qualified mindset for the job.

The United States of America Being serious about immigration doesn't require being cruel or indifferent

A lucid, temperate, and humane opinion on immigration from Jonah Goldberg that ought to occupy the mainstream of public opinion: "[S]o long as there are very poor countries, very poor people will understandably want to move here."

Threats and Hazards An 8-month-old baby taken from his parents

An utterly breathtaking account of what kind of stress the family-separation approach places on children. An 8-month-old infant is utterly helpless -- and anyone who would bend over backwards to defend a bad policy instead of defending the child is a scoundrel. As the Bloomberg editorial board opined, "The cause of better policy, and the reputation of the United States, aren't served by willful cruelty directed at innocent children. This deplorable strategy should end immediately. Trump started it, and Trump can stop it."

News Business can be a guardian of a free and open society

United Airlines says it won't fly separated children for the government

News World Refugee Day

Worthy causes on this day: Catholic Relief Services and the UN High Commission for Refugees

Humor and Good News "We're Generation X, and we've had it up to here with your attitude."

Emmanuel Macron castigates a punk kid who got a little too familiar



June 19, 2018

Threats and Hazards Who's the disingenuous party here?

China's ambassador to Australia accuses the Aussies of having a "cold war mentality". Nevermind that Australia has more than adequate reason for concern over Chinese influence campaigns (attempting to manipulate elections and even local-level governments) and abundant cause for concern over China's aggressive posture in the South China Sea. Look for this rhetorical tactic to show up again and again: A sort of geostrategic gaslighting.

Threats and Hazards Separating children from their parents at the border isn't an immigration policy -- it's an act of cruelty

What is being done in our name as a country merits protests to Congress. As John Stuart Mill wrote: "A civilization that can thus succumb to its vanquished enemy [barbarism] must first have become so degenerate, that neither its appointed priests and teachers, nor anybody else, has the capacity, or will take the trouble, to stand up for it."

Business and Finance We don't have a lot of options in case the economy turns south

The demand for happy talk is endless, but economics requires grappling with cold, hard reality. We not only have a shortage of tools for stimulating an economy gone bad, we also have politicians bent on doing things that will actively make the economy worse. And with politicians engaging in a "lurch toward protectionism", the anxiety created by today's dumb behavior in a fair economy will linger even after we muster the will to turn back away from protectionism and re-embrace free trade. Much of the damage is done just by the threat. In the words of Milton and Rose Friedman, "Competition in masochism and sadism is hardly a prescription for sensible international economic policy!" Tit-for-tat tariffs are madness.

Business and Finance Walgreen's replaces General Electric on the DJIA

Really taking the "industrial" out of the "Dow Jones Industrial Average", aren't we? Creative destruction is a cruel thing.