Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - November 23, 2014
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 laterAre 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:
- Our justice system is too dumb to separate the 1% of the population who are sociopaths from the people who just make bad decisions and need correction (literally, the source of "corrections" departments).
- Our educational system is geared to the wrong pace. We treat learning like something you get, terminating with a diploma. If you stop learning, you stop increasing your earnings power. Some parties who truly get it prosper -- Honda has really captured a lot of the externalities from educating their workforce -- but they're in a tiny minority. As a culture, we pay lip service to things like being a "learning community", but it's inexcusable that in 2014, an adult can't easily enter a program that would be the equivalent of an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree at a minimal cost with easy access. We leave massive amounts of human capital on the table. That's like leaving crops to rot in the field.
- We have an abominable cultural knowledge of money and investing. People invest inefficiently, unwisely, and pay mountains of cash for the privilege. It's patently unacceptable. People end up poorer individually and we give up growth as a country.
This weekWhile 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.
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.
If China's economy slows, a lot of raw-materials prices could drop
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
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
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