Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 23, 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.

Some things we need to fix sooner rather than later

Are things really different right now? Too many people like to throw out the old canard that "Everything has changed" or "Everything is different". Most often, no, everything is not different. But if the subject is "things that could do us harm", then yes, some things are. Individuals and small groups possess much greater resources for executing large-scale malfeasance than ever before. A smartphone now has more power than a supercomputer of twenty years ago. People have the capacity now to use 3D printers to build homemade guns and to get access to high-level DNA manipulation tools that could be used to make homemade biological weapons. So, yes, some things are different than in the past.

Does anything offset the new risks? Yes. The widespread possession of the same resources that the bad actors can have means that we are capable of solving problems quickly.

Is the system capable of handling this tension? On a Constitutional scale, yes. Federalism, the separation of powers, and other Revolutionary-era structures in place allmake for a very robust system. It was designed for a time before cars, trains, airplanes, telephones, broadcasting, or the Internet. At a large scale, our system is profoundly robust.

On an operational scale, no. We are living in a needlessly fragile world right now: And there are very real threats Murders in Africa, like the killings of 28 people in Kenya at the hands of terrorists, and in Israel, where Americans were killed at a synagogue. There's ISIS, and bird flu, and ebola, and other global health hazards. We need all of the resources we can muster. Activating our people and their investments to produce as much as we can as efficiently as possible is the 21st Century equivalent of a well-armed 18th Century militia.

This week

Threats and Hazards While America slept...
Chinese hackers attacked NOAA's computers in late September. Why? Don't know; don't care -- other than to know that it's a piece of critical national infrastructure, and should be taken as seriously as an attack on any other piece of infrastructure, in the physical world or the digital one.

Business and Finance China's central bank cuts interest rates to give the economy a boost
Their economy is still growing, but the rate of growth is slipping. The slippage is the problem. The country is flush with cash (thanks to years of exporting much more stuff than they have imported), but it appears they're running out of good ideas for domestic investment. That's going to spell trouble: If the Communist Party can't deliver consistent and fast economic growth, they're going to have a lot of trouble keeping a lid on political rebellion.

Business and Finance If China's economy slows, a lot of raw-materials prices could drop

News Circuit-court judge says Illinois can't adjust state-employee pensions to fix the state's budgetary train wreck
Something has to be done -- Illinois is in dire distress, and the pension obligations involved are no small cause

Science and Technology Today: Drones give us unprecedented views of the climb up a TV tower
Tomorrow: Drones will do dangerous work (like climbing towers) instead of people

In case you missed it