Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 23, 2015
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.
Tin Foil Hat Award
Yay Capitalism Prize
"Knowledge Wins" is the title of a WWI poster with the subtitle, "Public library books are free".
- We (unfortunately) need an occasional sense of crisis to revive our attention to and appreciation for knowledge, learning, and education.
- Crises in the form of wars have done the trick quite a lot in the past -- imagine the space race without the Cold War, aircraft development without World War II, or much of modern medicine without World War I.
- Even in business, many of the companies that perform the best operate with a sense of perpetual crisis: Bill Gates famously infused Microsoft with a sense of perpetual anxiety about who might be hot on their trail, and both Honda and Toyota have effectively used tight supply chains as a means of forcing quick responses to competitive hazards
- Perhaps, though, it's the lack of a recent crisis that's fueling what seems to be a sort of "rise of the stupids" in American politics
- We all know what real illiteracy is, but this is more like a sort of voluntary illiteracy (people who can, but choose not to, read a book)
- A sort of terrible twin to voluntary illiteracy is voluntary innumeracy, like when a certain awful human being in the Presidential race claims that the unemployment rate is 42%, which isn't even remotely close to the true figure. Whether that's a case of stupidity or voluntary innumeracy, it's inexcusable.
- Donald Trump is hot in the Presidential race right now because of name recognition
- But much of what he says is stupid
- 42% unemployment rates? Learn to count and stop being a fool.
- But the celebration of ignorance that ensues from his style of politics (like the beating of a homeless man in Boston by a couple of clowns who were inspired by Trump's lunacy is a pox on a civil society
- If you're deliberately remaining stupid, have the decency to shut up and keep your hands to yourself
- It's not just on the lunatic populist right -- it's also happening on the lunatic populist left.
- Bernie Sanders as a serious contender for the Democratic nomination? The populist socialist? Has nobody paid attention to anything in world history over the last 25 years?
- The sort of streak that supports him is the same sort that ends up smashing the windows of coffeehouses in the name of workers' rights and a $15-an-hour minimum wage
- The worry is that we're in the midst of a crisis, but it's being masked by a bunch of lucky breaks
- America's energy bonanza is #1 on that list of lucky breaks -- we're paying far less for gas and electricity than any reasonable expectation would have had it just a few years ago
- Add to that the economic stumbles in China and in Europe, and suddenly we're doing much better when graded on the curve than we really deserve to be doing in absolute terms
- But the clock is ticking.
- The Middle East is as unstable as ever, and troubles there are already spilling into the rest of the world
- Russia's demographic crisis and the low price of petroleum are a couple of fuses just waiting to burn
- China is on the brink of huge political trouble if its economy doesn't pick up soon (and there's no reason to believe that's happening)
- North Korea and South Korea are actually shooting at one another right now
- And none of that is to mention what's happening in Europe, South America, or Africa
- The world's level of complexity is rising, and that raises the need for thinkers
- In other words, "Nerds, please save us!"
- Or in another set of words, "Knowledge wins"
- Small things should be done well because they build to big things
- It's OK to be silly on occasion -- we all need to get things out of our systems once in a while
- It's OK to flirt with a silly candidate
- But we're a little too close to poisoning the well
- Resisting mainstream acceptance and adoption of nonsense -- well, that's essential
Quote of the Week
"The king's cheese is half wasted in parings; but no matter, 'tis made of the people's milk." - Benjamin Franklin