Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - January 25, 2015

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.

This week

Health Confirmed measles patient exposed others in Omaha
Whether the contagion spread, we don't know yet

News Anarchy is no substitute for the (carefully constrained) rule of law
People sometimes take anti-government sentiment too far and get the idea that a world with no government at all would be preferable to one that overreaches. While the overreach is dangerous and should always be pushed back, the law is necessary for the protection of innocents, like the 8-month-old baby found in a closet next to a loaded gun in a drug-filled Des Moines apartment this week. Someone has to step in on behalf of the welfare of the child. Government can be a powerful tool for good, like when safe-haven laws save the lives of babies whom their mothers might otherwise abandon dangerously.

News From the Ministry of Dissent Management...
There's a difference between government transparency and propagandizing. A transparent government is one whose workings are visible to the public and where sunlight can provide "the best of disinfectants". Streaming the State of the Union address on the Internet is fine, but it's not really any special measure of transparency. But promoting the government's coverage of its own speech with Tweets like "The best place to watch the State of the Union at 9pm ET is" isn't really transparency -- it's a declaration that the public is better off getting spin on the speech from the administration that just delivered the speech, rather than from independent journalists. The government certainly should provide the stream -- but it shouldn't then try to jump into competition with the Fourth Estate. It wouldn't be much to make a fuss about if it weren't for the fact that the White House has made lots of noise about being transparent while in fact being secretive, obstructive to journalists, and obsessive about controlling its own image. No: In a liberal democracy, the White House website is emphatically not the "best place" to view the State of the Union address...unless you want to hush dissent.

News How the FBI sought to silence Martin Luther King, Jr.
When people say, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide", they clearly aren't recalling how the government has treated many people who have been doing the right thing, even when it went against the prevailing ways of the times

Threats and Hazards Little progress made on investigating attack on Colorado NAACP office

News Of all kids in America's public schools, more than 50% are living in poverty
The only long-term way to keep them from finding themselves in self-perpetuating cycles of poverty is to make sure that the educational system gives them the tools to get out, and that the economy contains sufficient opportunity for them to use those tools

Two things to fix online

1. Congress should categorize its websites by session; that is, every session of Congress should have its own directory or subdomain (for instance:, for David Young's website in the 114th Congress). They way they set up the sites now, as soon as a session ends, the old websites disappear (at least, until the National Archives eventually saves them somewhere). That's bad for historical continuity. It wouldn't be hard to fix this.

2. Politicians should always have 100% control of their own personal Twitter accounts, then have "Office of..." accounts. The practice of "signing" Tweets in the individual's initials (in my case, if I were to have staffers Tweeting in my name, I might then sign my own updates with "-BG") really just cuts into the authenticity of contacting the individual whose name appears on the account. There have been and will be antics and mischief with people misusing accounts in the name of others, and personal control over your own "megaphone" to the world ought to be worth the minimal time and effort it requires.

Why are we so bad at risk?

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