Gongol.com Archives: 2018 Weekly Archives

Brian Gongol


July 8, 2018

Threats and Hazards Read the briefing book

The President refuses to read the briefing book prepared for him, so "ahead of important meetings, aides have made something of a deal with the president: If we put it in a red folder, please read it." If a 2nd-year TSA screener or CIA field agent refused to read assigned briefing materials, he or she would deserve prompt termination.

Weather and Disasters Building "tiny homes" for Hawaii volcano evacuees

Good to see novel solutions being applied to important problems. Finding ways to house people displaced by natural disasters is a persistent problem.



July 7, 2018

Aviation News Case study in a disaster-in-waiting that could be stopped right now

But will it? Or will the normalization of deviance win out?

Humor and Good News Something about exuberant dancing Germans is hilarious

Good for a light laugh

Broadcasting Show notes - Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 7, 2018

Live on WHO Radio from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm Central


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July 6, 2018

Weather and Disasters An aggregation of coverage from the June 30th flash floods

Rainfall totals of 9" in a short period of time, centered right on top of Iowa's biggest urban center

Threats and Hazards Budget deficits and billowing debt as intergenerational warfare

America's wildly imbalanced budget priorities will spend vastly more on entitlements for the old (and interest on the debt) than it ever will on programs that benefit children. In the words of Margaret Thatcher: "We have first to put our finances in order. We must live within our means. The Government must do so. And we must do so as a country."



July 5, 2018

The United States of America Are you a practicing American?

Being an American takes practice and belief. Some of us just happen to have been lucky enough to have been born here.

News The torment caused by family separations

In the words of Stuart Stevens, "There's not a community in America that wouldn't move heaven and earth to help when an Amber Alert is announced. And yet we have a massive Amber Alert of missing children on the border and it's our government to blame."

Threats and Hazards Russian nerve agent poisons two more in UK

And those two people aren't thought to have been targeted -- they may just be collateral damage from the original attack

News US resettles far fewer refugees in 2017 than in prior years

Having taken in three-quarters of the world's refugees since 1980, the US has closed its doors in a substantial way. That's to our detriment; refugees aren't freeloaders looking for a free lunch -- they're people trying to escape detrimental circumstances at home and make new lives for themselves in a safer place. If we aren't confident enough to be that safer place, then we need to take a long look in the mirror.

Business and Finance Trade war begins tonight

Tariffs and counter-tariffs are scheduled to become no longer threats but reality. And that's just stupid. The President is threatening to escalate from taxing $34 billion in imports to $500 billion. It's hard to stop the bleeding from a self-inflicted wound.



July 4, 2018

The United States of America America is neither doomed nor perfect

America is, and always has been, a work in progress. We have work to do today, and more to do tomorrow.

The United States of America Thomas Jefferson was 33 years old on July 4, 1776

Wisdom doesn't always wait for age. Benjamin Franklin was 70 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence, an act that truly put everything on the line for his country. Age is no excuse to stop being a patriotic servant of what is good and right.

Threats and Hazards China's debt-based diplomacy is no trivial matter

The country's "Belt and Road" initiative may be creating a lot of tangible infrastructure projects all over the world, but those projects aren't being done for charity, and they're not all necessary. China's bankrolling them in the expectation of making money off the construction work itself, as well as off the financing. And the government is so touchy about it that it has gotten aggressive with Australian journalists who asked questions about it.

Business and Finance Meet the people defending trade

It needs a robust defense in this era

News Fastball's catchy song "The Way" is about a real-life tragedy

Which certainly tempers the story a bit

Humor and Good News It's Independence Day

Not, as some on Twitter have mistyped, "Independance" Day. Though it might be fun to see whether anyone could do justice to the Declaration of Independence in the form of interpretive dance.



July 3, 2018

Threats and Hazards Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that Russia really did try to influence the 2016 election

There's no (reasonably) denying Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election. There's no (reasonably) denying they're trying the same in 2018. And 2020. And 2022. There's no (reasonably) denying that other states and non-state actors are trying, too.

News Boring politics are good politics

The three key attributes of a good political leader: Curiosity, competence, and humility. (It's that third one that keeps things the right degree of boring.)

News Syrian government wants 5.6 million refugees to come back

To go back would take an act of extraordinary faith in a government that hasn't earned it

News Why are people torching their credibility?

Commentators like Brit Hume are seeking to argue that certain principled conservatives who stood against the election of Donald Trump are now "standing on a shrinking sliver of ground". After Charlottesville, family separations, and a nascent trade war with Canada...if you still think that people like Tim Miller are the problem, then you're the one missing the point.

Threats and Hazards A heart-wrenching attack in Idaho

A refugee child was killed at her own birthday party. As one resident put it, "I felt how defenseless those kids were, and how their parents felt they couldn't protect them in those moments."

Threats and Hazards China is trying to drive a wedge between the US and Europe

The Chinese government is making opportunistic use of President Trump's indefensible trade aggression to try to wedge the US away from historic allies in Europe. It's an opportunistic tactic in service of a very long-term strategy. As Dwight Eisenhower put it: "So we are persuaded by necessity and by belief that the strength of all free peoples lies in unity; their danger, in discord."

Science and Technology Technology is only as good as the people using it

Nebraska State Patrol uses FLIR technology to find and rescue a man who got lost and disoriented in a corn field

Iowa Most photos of fireworks are overrated, but not this one

A spectacular shot of downtown Des Moines


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July 2, 2018

Threats and Hazards "National security" isn't a blank check to do stupid things

Tom Nichols: "This is not a serious appeal to national security, but an attempt to use a magical incantation to shut off debate and dissent."

Threats and Hazards "There is no failsafe...There is, in fact, only us."

The people who think there's nothing to lose by putting a wrecking ball to the world order, to the function of the Federal government, or to the classic notions of civility that make the country function? They are sorely misguided. As Eisenhower put it, "[W]e view our Nation's strength and security as a trust upon which rests the hope of free men everywhere."

Computers and the Internet Unless you type slower than 20 words per minute...

...there's really no excuse for non-standard abbreviations.

Threats and Hazards Protectionism, no matter what?

The Commerce Secretary says the President isn't going to alter course on his trade war against the world, no matter what the stock-market reaction. Putting aside for a moment that the stock market isn't the economy and the economy isn't the stock market, the real worry here is that, as the economic consequences of bad trade policies mount, the President will not only "not be deterred"...he'll double down. Because that's what he does when backed into a corner: He always doubles down. As even Canada retaliates against our nonsensical policies, one doesn't need to begrudge those who wanted to believe the President when he promised that trade wars would be easy to win. He's a masterful self-promoter, and people have been buying what he's been selling. But it's time to tell the emperor that he's naked: Trump's trade wars are stupid.