Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - March 1, 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.

Understand the problem before regulating the "answer"

Daylight Saving Time must die

I am a huge fan of Benjamin Franklin. I think he left behind an enormous body of knowledge and philosophy that are a huge contribution to Western Civilization. But I really wish he hadn't originated the idea of Daylight Saving Time. Of course, we would be wise to use our time differently according to the available sunlight -- but there's just no reason we can't make that happen by adjusting our own behavior. It doesn't have to be government fiat.

As a means of saving energy, it probably had a lot more effect back in WWI, when it first became a recognized thing. But today? With programmable thermostats, Thinsulate, and tankless water heaters, we don't have to crank the clocks to save the money.

There are so many reasons why it's stupid to keep following DST:

This week

Computers and the Internet Hedge-fund manager is starting a unit to be run by artificial intelligence
Bloomberg says that Bridgewater Associates will use trading algorithms run by computers that are supposed to learn and evolve. It's smart to create and follow rational guidelines (or rules, or in a computing sense, codes) -- but it's also important to have human comprehension about why those rules are in place and when it makes sense to override them. There's a reason we say "the exception that proves the rule". Artificial intelligence may be helpful at identifying opportunity and could certainly be used as an enhancement for lots of decisions (including financial ones, just like it can enhance medical and engineering decisions), but this kind of gambit tends to get out of hand quickly in the financial world. LTCM collapsed while being run by some of the smartest people in money.

Computers and the Internet Good reason to hold your applause on the FCC's net-neutrality ruling
The Omaha World-Herald puts it well: "Few will know the real costs of net neutrality rules until the FCC makes public the more than 300-page regulation that it passed without releasing the document first to the public."

Threats and Hazards "NATO and Russia hold rival military exercises on Estonian border"
That's a headline that had better wake up the planet

Threats and Hazards Manipulations of power and privilege
At least on the surface, it appears that United Airlines may have put a route into place just to please the chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has supervisory power over the three major airports in greater New York City. It may be a far lesser kind of extension of privilege to the politically powerful than the apparent plunder of Yemen by its former president for an estimated $60 billion, but both situations derive from the common thread that people will seek power and luxuries, and they'll do it whether the economic system involved is free-market, socialist, communist, or otherwise. It is purely naive to imagine that capitalism is somehow specially susceptible to abuse or that government power isn't always and everywhere at risk of abuse as a tool for enhancing the lifestyles of the politically powerful. In general, the more powerful the government and its ability to regulate, the more likely (and larger) the abuses will be.

Threats and Hazards The Guardian claims Chicago Police have a "black site" for detentions that exceed legal standards

Iowa Some students will get into the U of I law school without taking LSATs
From an outside perspective, it looks like a sensible evolution -- why impose a costly testing regime on people whose qualifications are obviously sound? Next step: Making law school (and other programs) more accessible for people who don't feel like dropping everything and enrolling in a residential program for multiple years. We have the technology to do it, just not the will.

Threats and Hazards 90 Americans are killed on the road every day
In a rational world, we would be more eager to do something about that than we are to be frightened by word of a terrorist threat against shopping malls. One is a known fact, killing a known number of people, and something which we could be doing more to solve. The other is a threat -- a scary one, yes, but at this stage only a possibility. We need to be rational about the things that get us worked up, otherwise terrorists succeed in disrupting our lives and harming us by just saying wild things, without necessarily doing anything at all. That is the very definition of asymmetry in warfare.

Threats and Hazards China is not our buddy
The people are certainly as good and fine as they are anywhere else in the world, but the government is not

Science and Technology Robotic exoskeletons are already helping paralyzed people to walk

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