Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 5, 2014

Brian Gongol

Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio

Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.

That's not smart

I had to throttle back a few friends on my Facebook news feed this week because they were getting just a little too insufferable. My thoughts to them (it's nothing personal, but I hope they get the message): Have you ever been out to eat and found yourself seated next to a table where some indulgent parents can't help but cater to every whim of their whiny little brats? We're talking about that kind of never-say-no family where the kids are clearly in charge and the parents, blind and deaf to the way their kids are riding roughshod all over them, turning into little monsters in the process. They let the kids scream unchecked at full volume, throw food on the floor and elbows into neighboring patrons, and make general fools of themselves and their parents.

On the other hand, have you ever gone out to eat with someone who was a little too fanatical about their diet? Not someone with a legitimate health restriction -- just somebody who takes a wicked sort of pleasure in self-denial. It can quickly get ridiculous -- insisting that everyone go along with special orders for steamed vegetables and every sauce "on the side", and disapproving looks as you reach over to butter the complimentary bread. Those people are no fun, and in the process of subjecting everyone to their preferences, they make live unpleasant for everyone else around.

These restaurant extremes are illustrations of the same kind of thing we should most object to happening in our political and economic climate. There is a healthy, centrist American way that, when we follow it routinely, leaves us satisfied and happy. We have to reject the blindly indulgent left-wing option, which gives people everything they want especially when they demand it by shouting like the uncouth kids at the next table over. But we also have to steer clear of being so harsh and austere like the fanatical dieter that we fail to occasionally indulge in small deviations from a strict orthodoxy when it's going to leave people happier without really doing any harm.

So while we can't just cater to every demand from the petulant little brats of the world, it's OK to cheat just a little on the diet and have some dessert. We shouldn't be out to give everyone a free ride on life, but it's pretty stupid to be so rigid that we don't kick in a little money for some foreign aid or a public library.

This week

The American Way What's on the mind of Bill Gates
One of the world's smartest people has an unlimited budget to do what he wants, and he's using it to make the world a better place. That hasn't happened a lot in human history. He is the perfect technocrat and he doesn't have to work inside a bureaucracy -- it's a very special event in history, really. Broadly speaking, people really just want things to work. And who can blame them? We're paying for the system, whether it works or not, so we ought to get our money's worth.

News One-paragraph book review: "The Outsiders"
An appealing take on rationality in capital allocation, or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Investors Instead".

Iowa "[D]o we really want to tell them we tore down an historic building to put up a glitzy highrise?"
Yes. Yes we do. The decision not to grant historic-preservation status to the downtown Des Moines YMCA building is a perfectly fine one, especially if it moves the space from a lower value to a higher value. There's nothing wrong with being nostalgic unless you're trying to do it on someone else's dime.

News Keep a close eye on Hong Kong
The tensions boiling to the surface there are most likely not that far removed from the tensions we'll see in other parts of China someday if the Communist Party doesn't ease up on personal liberties

Computers and the Internet Nashville Marriott busted for jamming personal WiFi hotspots
Internet access may not be a fundamental human right, but it's also nobody's arbitrary right to block your access to it

Threats and Hazards Russia's fight with Chechnya is fueling our fight in Syria and Iraq now
Some Chechens got a lot of practice fighting a sophisticated army when they rebelled against Russia. Now those skills have moved (with the fighters) to the Middle East.

Aviation News One person should not have been able to do that much damage to Chicago's air-traffic control
The system just can't be that fragile -- they're saying that October 13th is the target date to get everything back up to full speed

Threats and Hazards Intruder got pretty deep into the White House
Contradicts previous reports and should send a shiver down the spine. Isn't that exactly what the Secret Service is supposed to prevent?

Yay Capitalism Prize

Iowa Spoof video brings attention to pull-over/slow-down rules
Police officers face too many hazards already; bad drivers shouldn't add to the risk. West Des Moines police officers deserve credit for having some fun bringing light to the issue.

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