Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 5, 2016
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.
Saudi Arabian government fund to invest $3.5 billion in Uber
Uber is supposedly pushing hard to expand in the Middle East, and the investment satisfies Uber's hunger for cash investment and the Saudi government's need to put oil profits to use in industries other than petroleum. Having a great endowment of any natural resource (like oil) can subject an economy to a perverse natural-resources curse. Whether investments like one in Uber are the right ticket out isn't a certainty, but it's likely a step in the right direction.
Donald Trump's completely inadequate summer reading list
He claims (dubiously) to be planning to get through a book on Hillary Clinton, a book on Richard Nixon, and "All Quiet on the Western Front". Real leaders need to read widely and be able to talk and write about what they've been reading. Theodore Roosevelt was a voracious reader, reputedly speed-reading a full book a day. In Benjamin Franklin's words, "From a Child I was fond of Reading, and all the little Money that came into my Hands was ever laid out in Books." Our military leaders insist on sharing long and thoughtful reading lists for the professional development of the officers serving beneath them. A dignified occupant of the White House should be a reader-in-chief as well.
Book review: "When Genius Failed: The rise and fall of Long-Term Capital Management", by Roger Lowenstein
Had it been a work of fiction, nobody would believe it -- but it's an important documentation of modern financial history
My faith in humanity has been restored after a trip to, of all places, Chicago.
The Windy City should have been the kind of place to further give my faith in humanity a swift kick in the groin. The state and the city are both in dire fiscal distress, violent crime is way out of control, and the traffic alone is enough to send a normal person into fits of rage. And what typically makes me so mad about that is that Chicago is part of my family's "homeland" -- we've been there since practically the time of the Great Chicago Fire. So when I see the city in bad shape, it breaks my heart doubly.
But a few things I saw there gave me some real hope:
- I'm a lifelong and notorious Chicago Cubs fan. And I love my Wrigley Field to pieces. But I can't lie: To see the team coming together according to a long-term plan for making it a systemically successful operation is awesome. So is the significant amount of renewal taking place on private dollars around the ballpark. And it's contagious: When investments are made by one neighbor, it instigates other neighbors to catch up. It's a magnificent thing to see.
- I ended up on two rides with Uber -- not my first Uber trips, to be sure, but my first after starting to wonder if the whole country had lost its collective mind. And while I'm still a little edgy about a system that relies almost totally on unofficial quality control via things like driver ratings, I also came to realize that whenever I'm in my own car, I'm trusting the very same drivers not to hit me -- so perhaps it's not so great a stretch to stop worrying about thousands of entrepreneurs trying to make a buck, knowing they would be publicly judged by every customer. Hard work still manages to pay, somehow.
- And I encountered one of the hardest-working restaurant workers I've seen in at least a year: A recent immigrant from Ukraine, who shared that she had only been here for seven months, was working full-time, going to school full-time, had no family in the country, and already had a plan to start her own business. If you can just start to picture what life in Ukraine must have been like over the last few years, and then to imagine what it must be like to start over in a whole new country with no family safety net, and then to go to work and hustle your tail off like your very life depended upon it...well, that ought to make you proud of America and maybe just a little eager to think about promoting what makes this place great.
I still have a lot of heartburn about what's going on -- on many fronts -- but this weekend was surprisingly restorative. And I'd never have thought of Chicago as a place to make me feel better about my fellow man.
- Podcast of this episode (forthcoming)
- Official station page for this episode (forthcoming)