Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 29, 2016

Brian Gongol

The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.

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

Computers and the Internet Mark Zuckerberg enlarges his domain over Facebook

Investors who care about voting control might need to pay attention

Health Dr. Heimlich gets to use his eponymous maneuver for the first time

At age 96, he uses his technique to directly save a life for the first time

Business and Finance Turnarounds must be a lot of fun (for the right manager)

Nissan took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors after Mitsubishi's market price plunged because of a massive misstatement of fuel economy ratings for its vehicles. Nissan is run by Carlos Ghosn, who seems to be very, very good at turnaround situations.

Threats and Hazards What should really alarm us about the nuclear threat

As the President visits Hiroshima, nuclear weapons return to the front pages (at least for a little while). A few worries: The nuclear arsenals of the world (and the command-and-control structures surrounding them) are old and may not have been adequately maintained. There are plenty of weapons in places where political leaders (and military ones) may not be adequately grounded in reality. Imprecise tracking of fissionable material may make it too easy for non-state actors to make weapons of their own. And even if the prospect of all-out nuclear attack seems altogether improbable, nobody can really certify that an "oops" engagement is an impossibility (that is, given the right resources and the right set of conditions, we can't be sure that a weapon might not be engaged in a way that could be made to look accidental). These are real worries.

News Gov. Susana Martinez -- a Republican -- fires back at Donald Trump

And good for her. Trump's behavior is erratic, nonsensical, and wildly unbecoming a candidate for President of the United States. His continued attacks on members of the Republican Party are petty and unprincipled and only further serve to reveal him not as an authentic Republican, but as a virus that has infected the party.

News Syrian refugees are human beings first

It's disappointing to see them discussed like some abstract concept (especially when it's by people who only want to say awful things about them). They are real human beings living real human lives under terrible circumstances, and like people all over the world, the vast majority -- probably 99% -- are good and decent.

Business and Finance Much of America is in recession

The county-by-county data isn't as rosy as it could be

Computers and the Internet Mobile data consumption is skyrocketing

It's inevitable that data usage will increase -- unless some very significant changes are made to the way that content is delivered, and there's little chance of that happening anytime soon, at least not at the same pace as new usage escalates.

Computers and the Internet French authorities raid Google offices over taxes

The perils of international business

The United States of America Restrain the Executive Branch

The imperial Presidency is a pox on American civilization, and it needs to be stopped before the next President. Our options aren't looking good, and whomever is inaugurated in January 2017 needs to be restrained by the law much better than recent Presidents have been. Never take powers while in office that you wouldn't want your opponents to have when they're in charge.

Business and Finance The Swiss are voting on a national minimum income

Not the worst idea that could happen. If there's going to be an extensive welfare state, perhaps it makes sense to apply it with the maximum degree of individual autonomy and self-control possible -- and a guaranteed income may be the way to do it. Or perhaps not. Much depends on whether there would be an adequate support structure in place to ensure that people knew what to do with their guaranteed incomes.

But first...

Tin Foil Hat Award

News Meth cookers burn down home, then set fire to their hotel room

A story that might almost be funny if it didn't mean other people's lives were at risk -- including other guests at the same hotel and the couple's children. Behavior like this is wonton negligence and cries out for a very firm intervention by law enforcement.

Yay Capitalism Prize

Computers and the Internet Under the sea

Microsoft and Facebook are teaming up to build an undersea cable between Virginia and Spain to transmit Internet content at 160 terabits per second -- a pretty wide thoroughfare for data. Microsoft is investing because it's investing full-tilt in the cloud computing market. Construction is to begin this August with completion by October 2017.

Science and Technology MidAmerican Energy tests a new ultra-tall wind turbine

Taller turbines may give them a better chance to capture stronger, more sustained winds at higher altitudes

Partial transcript from Segment 3

So when we talked in the last segment here about the idea of a guaranteed national income in which again there are voting on in Switzerland in about a week, it will be interesting just to watch. I'm not going to advocate I'm pro or against, I'm just going to say it's an interesting concept and one potential way to cut through a complicated welfare system and make it very simple, make it very clear and just the question is whether they will actually approve it so we can see it in action, just an interesting question. But there are plenty of people out there who are idiots who probably shouldn't be permitted to really do much of anything alone and outdoors and unsupervised. I have this very interesting story, coming out of the Dubuque area this past week and I thought I'd share it with you. This is a tin foil hat award winner. There were a couple of adults who got busted because they had a meth lab inside their house, their house burned down as a result of this meth lab. So they were temporarily displaced, they found themselves living inside of a hotel, so, what do they decide to do when they were at the hotel? They decided to start cooking meth there as well and managed to light their hotel room on fire. So there are just some people whose stupidity cannot be thoroughly plumbed.

It's impossible really to get in just how dumb some people are. And here's the problem, while I look at this and say Ok, you kinda wanna see bad things happen to people that are just that impossibly stupid. On the other hand, there were people who were in the way, who could have also been injured by this. It's been reported out here that they had 2 children with them, a 12 year old and a 14 year old who both escaped from the fire, one of them sustaining minor burn injuries. The level of stupidity involved here though is just astonishing: you burn down your house by being stupid and bad about how you cook meth. Then you do the same thing in a hotel room because you are displaced from the house that you burned down. Some people's stupidity simple cannot be helped it would seem. These are people who should not, in any way be permitted to endanger other people as they clearly did when they nearly burned down their hotel endangering anybody else who happened to be staying or working there at the time not to mention the 2 minor children with them as well. Innocent till proved guilty yada yada yada but there are some people who should probably find themselves behind bars and left in some place when they couldn't do any harm to the rest of us. These folks I would probably put at the top of that list. So, they might be restrained, they might constrained, they might find themselves in some ill-fitting orange jumpsuits for quite some time to come and one might hope so. But we can't always restrain things or people when things get out of hand and it is about time or in fact probably, well passed time, that we should have started observing the following rule: I would like to establish, if it has not been taken already, if nobody's already claimed this, I want to establish this as Brian Gongol's Iron Law of Politics: Never take power while in office that you wouldn't want your opponents to have when they are in charge. And I bring this up because the imperial presidency has gotten far out of hand.

If you have been awake and alert over the last 16 years or so, one or the other of the presidents who have occupied the White House in that time period probably have gone too far on something that has probably aggravated you. If you are a republican you can probably come up with a laundry list of complaints about the things that president Obama has done that you thought he was no authorized to do, should not have done or should not have been permitted to do or where he overreached in one way or another. If you are a democrat or left wing leaning you may have the same laundry list or the same length of a laundry list to say about something that George W. Bush did while he was in office and guess what? In both cases you are probably right. There are plenty of things we would like to see done, see get done, they don't necessarily have to be done by presidential fiat but unfortunately for a long time, we've been giving deference to this idea of an almost imperial presidency that is first among equals in the 3rd part executive, legislative and judicial branch set up that we have and they are not first among equals, they are one among equals and that's all it is. Unfortunately so, this imperial presidency is a pox on our civilization and it's gotten out of control and quite frankly --again, I don't care whether you are left, right or etc. or not even sure about the above- you outta be looking at this election cycle and thinking "man, you know, there's a good chance that somebody I wouldn't trust with my car keys is about to end up in the White House with their finger near the nuclear trigger among other things. I have no time for this. I have no enthusiasm for this. The risk that this could happen tells us we have gone too far with our deference to the executive branch to the oval office and our options are frankly not looking too good. Whoever is inaugurated in January 2017 needs to be restrained by the law a whole lot better than recent presidents have been and I think it's time we do some of that.

I don't want people to think you have to do this is the name of some constitutional restoration or anything like that. I am not one who thinks we need to deify the founding fathers, they were human beings, they made mistakes, they were also very intelligent. But there's no reason to believe that we aren't equally intelligent today. In fact, there's solid reason to believe that you and me, dear listener, are smarter than the founding fathers, even if we are not especially bright today. I will give you this case right here on News Radio 1040 WHO, let me give you a couple of for instances.

If you understand the difference between AC and DC electricity, pretty simple, pretty basic, pretty fundamental you can probably get it, alternating current, direct current. If you know the difference between those two and how they work, then you understand electricity better than Benjamin Franklyn that was not only a founding father but pretty much the first scientist of America. You understand that better. If you understand something as basic as AC and DC, you understand electricity better than he did and quite likely, a whole lot of other things about science as well. If you understand the idea of putting rebar inside concrete to make it work, then you understand important issues about reinforced structures that Thomas Jefferson didn't know even though he was one of the greatest architects of the revolutionary war era. If you understand that basic fundamental premise that if you put rebar inside the concrete you have one thing that compresses well and one thing that stretches well and between the 2 of them you actually maintain stability a whole lot better than if you just do one or the other. Did you get that? You understand architecture better than Thomas Jefferson and that's pretty important.

If you understand the role that nitrogen fixing, especially with things like soybeans, plays in the role of making other crops grow, if you get that, then you are a better agronomist than George Washington who was one of the foremost agronomists of his day, he was one of the greatest farmers of his generation. But if you understand something as basic as the mechanism by which soy beans take nitrogen out of the atmosphere, stick it in the soil and make it available to the next thing you put in place, like say, corn, you get agronomy or at least something fundamentally important about it better than George Washington did and he was one of the best of his day.

If you understand the relationship between inflation -- sticking a bunch of money into the money supply and then causing prices to rise -- and you understand the relationship between that and the potential for people to go unemployed, cause often times there's a tradeoff between these two, then you understand economics better than the founding secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who was an incredibly bright man in his day and now being commemorated in a Broadway show.

But, what I'm saying here is that if you understand basics about how the world functions today, you understand important things that make you smarter than the founding fathers even though they were foremost in several different fields themselves in their own right and when they formed our government. Now again, this isn't to say that they weren't smart, cause they were, actually better than being smart, they were wise and they set up a system that works very effectively, checks and balances, that's a stroke of genius really. It's far, well and beyond better than most governments have ever been on planet earth. It's fantastic, beautiful, it's simple, and mathematically you would call it elegant. It's a great solution to the problems of lots of people wanting power than they need to be restrained by. Well if you need 3 legs to the stool and each one of them keeps the other 2 in check, that's a mathematically elegant solution to this problem, it's brilliant, it really is. And people who want to go to a regular national vote, no, no way, no way. The Electoral College for all its foibles, for as weird as it looks is a brilliant mean of keeping small states like Iowa, from getting run over by big states like New York, Texas and California. It's a brilliant system for protecting the interest of small states. Again, I'm saying this not because I want to diminish them but because some people want to say "Well the founding fathers were geniuses, demi gods, they are just like god like in our eyes and we just have to go back to the way things were then" Not true, not true because there are things we understand now better than they understood then, that's important to get.

But one of the things we have lost track of we need to now apply our brain power today to doing, is restraining the executive branch from doing stuff that the imperial presidency approach has taken too far. It's really important that we do this because no matter where you are on the political spectrum or the 2 dimensional grid, you probably can look at this election and go "There's some people who are, have a chance of winning the White House that I wouldn't trust with my credit card" and if they are in charge, they may think based on this sort of imperial approach that's been taking the presidency, that yeah, they actually do have the power to do whatever they want with your credit card. If you look at the way the debt has been run up over the last couple of decades, they are effectively doing it to you, to the ton of thousands of dollars. Keep in mind the debt is so large now that you and I and everybody around is on hook for about -- the last count I saw was about 58 thousand dollars per person in terms of actual federal debt right now. No! But part of that is driven by this mentality that we don't have checks and balances that need to work against one another now. Well, it's important that we get back to that and restrain the federal branch, restrain the executive branch because we are running out of time here folks, we're running out of runway. January 2017 is coming fast and no matter what side of things you are on you gotta be looking at this realizing there's a half decent chance that somebody you can't stand or wouldn't want as your county dog catcher, ends up in the White House. So, it's time to restrain them before it's too late.

Listen on-demand