Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 16, 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.
Segment 1: This week
- Missing child in West Des Moines
- UK's new prime minister: Realigning the political parties
- Turkey's coup: Democracy isn't always ideal, and neither is stability
- Terrorism in France: Terrorism is a tactic, not a philosophy or a belief system
- National Governors Association meeting in Des Moines: Governors for the White House
Segment 1: Quote #1 of the Week
"The truth is, in human affairs there is no good, pure and unmixed; every advantage has two sides, and wisdom consists in availing ourselves of the good, and guarding as much as possible against the bad." - Alexander Hamilton
Segment 2: Make money
A Nebraska think tank is looking at five states as chief economic competitors. This is exactly the kind of economic competition that should take place among the states. That competition shouldn't come in the form of special incentive packages.
...it's just that a more efficient economy (resulting from trade) is capable of absorbing some of the impact and helping the affected workers to recover, while distributing the benefits of trade to the broader public in a significant way. To reduce trade to "us" versus "them" is not only reductionist, it gets things all wrong and harms people.
Like any tool, it can be used well or poorly. And if it's not being used well, then its benefits may not be going to where they are needed most.
Segment 3A: Have fun
The FX Network show is really quite excellent. Its real genius is that both the writing and acting are executed with artful restraint. It would be too easy for the show to go over the top, and they manage to instead take the right path. It's excellent television and deserves the five Emmy nominations it received.
Segment 3B: Clean up after yourself
A New York Times map from 1956 shows traffic choke points that remain the choke points of today. This can be taken in two ways, both of which are valid: First, decisions have lasting consequences -- New Yorkers are fighting the same commuting battles today that they did 60 years ago, because of decisions that were made even before then. But, second, it's never too late to start working on correcting an error -- at any time in the last 60 years, someone could have changed the course of the traffic problems and the people of New York might be in a better situation than the one they've apparently suffered for more than half a century. Make decisions, seek to make them definitively and well -- and if they turn out to be bad, change course without delay. Inaction is a decision in its own right.
The problem for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others is that they're either purely neutral conduits for the content of others (in which case, anything goes), or they're making editorial judgments about what can and cannot be posted. And if they make even a few judgments, that makes it very hard to argue that they are not responsible for a failure to make others if there are lives at risk. It's not an enviable legal position to be in.
Segment 4: Mind your business
The Great Asset Transfer continues. American ownership of assets will be exchanged for foreign ownership as a means of rebalancing long-standing trade deficits. Some will involve highly prominent, name-brand assets -- like half of Paramount Pictures. It's going to make some people angry, nostalgic, and/or nationalistic, but the asset transfer is inevitable given our long-standing behavior (and our revealed preferences -- people can pay all the lip service they want to "Buy American", but it's hard to find people willing to pay a true premium price to do it). And Rule #1 of private property may well be that ownership means control, so if you don't want to lose control, you can't give up ownership. Selling equity in a company may be a good way to come up with liquidity, but it's a lousy way to remain in the driver's seat.
Because that's how cyberwarfare works: Rivals and competitors want every possible angle on information that may give them insight into your decision-making. Knowing how the bank regulators are looking at the financial system probably gives the Chinese government some valuable insight into the function of the American economy as a whole. It would be very interesting indeed to find out whether China is selling some of the information it obtains through cyberespionage to private parties. One could imagine that there are firms and institutions that would be willing to pay for insider information, even if it was obtained through tactics that could be appropriately defined as war-like in nature.
When something becomes super-popular in a very short time (like the overnight sensation that is Pokemon Go), there's a very good chance that the general public is missing something very serious behind the scenes. In this case, the app appears to gain a huge amount of access to individuals' Google accounts.
Quote #2 of the Week
"You may give a man an office, but you cannot give him discretion." - Benjamin Franklin
Segment 5: Contrary to popular opinion
Be skeptical of "compulsory" anything -- compulsion should be a rare choice. But this actually may be a very good idea. Just like it reflects some peculiar social priorities that the government spends lots of money on seniors' health care versus very little on that of innocent youth, it similarly reflects a warped set of priorities that we only seem to contribute to the education of the young. "Lifelong learning" is easily manipulated into a buzz-phrase, but a society with its priorities straight would actually set its political agenda to reflect its socio-economic goals, and those goals should include upward mobility throughout an individual's working life and beyond. Job retraining and skill enhancement shouldn't be an exception; they should be the norm.
Segment 6: Technology news
A distracted driver caused a crash that injured a passenger in October 2015, and now she's been convicted and sentenced to 140 hours of community service.
And, broadly speaking, most people are inherently good. An example of that emerges as it is reported that a Good Samaritan rescued a baby from the attack in Nice, and used social media to reunite him with his family.
They plan to start selling late in the year
Segment 7A: Hyperbole is going to kill us all
Fox News quotes Newt Gingrich as suggesting a religious test leading to deportation for some. That betrays a fundamental belief that democracy and classical-liberal civilization are extremely fragile. While we do in fact need to pass along the values that keep civilization afloat, and while there are certain existential risks to that way of life, it seems that Gingrich is adopting a view that makes out civilization to be much more fragile than it is. Worse, he appears to embrace an intolerance that makes it inherently more fragile, rather than less. Civil law is undermined when it seeks to police the beliefs of individuals.
Segment 7B: Campaign 2016
The Internet and television continue to grow closer and closer
Trump picks Pence for VP
Pence meets one worthy test for a potential President: He has experience as a governor. I strongly believe that there is an important claim to be made on behalf of putting governors in the Oval Office -- experience as an elected executive is really important training for the modern Presidency, at least until we can build a White House simulator.
Sanders endorses Clinton but still wants "revolution"
He's starting three political organizations, including one called "Our Revolution". This reads quite like the "Obama For America"/"Organizing For Action" approach -- and it represents another chip at the foundation of the conventional party system. Sanders never really identified as a Democrat, and now it appears he will continue to operate in a way that will try to position itself as better than the party system, much like OFA.
Johnson shows staying power
When the pollsters bother to list the Libertarian ticket, Gary Johnson gets about 10% of the vote. And a Pew poll found that Johnson beats Trump among Millennials in a three-way race, 22% to 21%. Anyone getting polling calls in Iowa ought to ensure that they don't get boxed into a two-way question. It won't be a two-way race on Election Day; Johnson will be on the ballot everywhere.
Segment 7C: Curiosity, competence, and humility
Curiosity, competence, and humility are three essential characteristics for an elected official. We don't always see enough of them, and we don't always applaud them like we should. Senator Tim Scott has flown the radar, at least in my own attention. But he said some things this week that merit close attention.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) addresses the Senate and points out that even as a high-status elected official, he encounters police at what he perceives as an unusually high rate -- for "driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial" -- because of the color of his skin. Many people can identify with being pulled over under weak pretenses -- rolling stops, tail lights out, failure to signal, or license tags that are out of date. But it is hard to argue that some people aren't getting additional scrutiny because of their race. That's a problem because it undermines the legitimacy of the policing profession generally, because that profession derives its legitimacy from the consent of the people.
A little time spent learning to empathize is never a bad investment. Senator Scott's address is a humble but important call for empathy.
Segment 8: Getting to Inbox Zero
Spoofing e-mail accounts
From Char in Ames: I do not have a Gmail account. However, I have recently received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org to my office email address. Basically, someone has taken my work email address and removed my business name and added gmail.com. How can I find out where it is coming from? Can I found WHO did this? I am concerned about hacking my business account. I am an accountant with connections to several banks accounts, etc. I am trying to listen today, but cannot get the station in at the moment. THANKS Char in Ames
From Chuck: your [sic] not Rush, stick to what you know
No, Chuck. I'm not. Neither the Limbaugh variety, nor the Geddy Lee variety. Though I was a drummer and I do have some libertarian leanings, so maybe you're confusing me for Neal Peart.
Subject Line: Donald Trump
From Tom in Carroll: I am sure that since you are so intelligent you know that Donald's daughter Ivonka [sic] has converted to the Jewish faith and that her husband is Jewish and that their children are being raised in the Jewish faith. Give me a break.
Yes, Tom, it is widely known that Trump's daughter Ivanka is married to Jared Kushner, who has taken to defending his father-in-law in the New York Observer, of which Kushner is the publisher. That doesn't change the fact that Donald Trump has used his favorite medium (Twitter) to retweet (or signal-boost) white supremacists in January, February, April, and July. This isn't an isolated accident or two. When something happens over and over again, it's insufficient to claim that he is immune to criticism for it because he has Jewish offspring. If anything, that makes his behavior more disturbing, since he's amplifying messages that target his own family. Kushner himself has cousins who have called him out for what is happening in his name.
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (Coup in Turkey, terrorism in France, new government in the UK, and the governors in Des Moines)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (Competition among the states, adjusting to trade)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (Emmy nominations for some great TV shows, and is Facebook aiding terrorism?)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (Selling Paramount Pictures to the Chinese)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 5 (Maybe we should require adults to attend school)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 6 (Polk County gets a texting-while-driving conviction)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 7 (Western civilization isn't as fragile as Newt Gingrich says)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 8 (Spoofing email accounts, I'm not Neil Peart, and you can still be a racist even if you love your grandchildren)
- Official station page for this episode (forthcoming)