Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - October 29, 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.
The Clinton e-mail thing
Anthony Weiner's continued existence seems like proof that the Clintons don't actually go around killing people who pose a risk to them— David A. Graham (@GrahamDavidA) October 28, 2016
- Clinton is country music played by an experienced artist
- Johnson is alt-rock played by a college band on the rise
- Trump is an orangutan on amphetamines playing death metal
21st Century conservatism
Hey, friends. What's new? Been about two months since we talked.
I published a book in the meantime. It's all about the honorable conservative alternative to Donald Trump. Hope you take a look. It's 99 cents on Kindle.
While there are people who support Donald Trump because they're angry or racist or otherwise provoked by his dark messages, there are many others who actually perceive him to be a highly competent individual. While that perception is contradicted (strongly) by the facts, it's a powerful driving force. People are attracted to competence, even if we like to pair it with other shortcomings so that we don't have to feel intimidated by the highly-competent individual. (See, for instance, the personal demons that television writers have given to characters like Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Gregory House, and President Josiah Bartlet.) The huge problem ahead of us is that the American public rejected an indisputably competent candidate in 2012 when Mitt Romney lost the election. Romney's resume was impeccable, as was his personal character. In nominating Donald Trump in 2016, the GOP threw its backing to the illusion of competence. As it becomes virtually certain that Hillary Clinton will win the election and face a hostile Republican House of Representatives (with the Senate likely to be close to evenly split between the major parties), we are likely to see almost no opportunities for anyone to demonstrate real competence in Washington in the coming few years. That, in turn, is going to frustrate voters even more, and make them hunger even further for competence. The best thing for the country will be for multiple non-Washington figures (governors, most likely) to demonstrate great competence under duress (in the face of natural disasters, for instance) and to then gain a foothold in the race for the 2020 Presidential nomination. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen is for the illusion of competence to win again. We have to be on guard against that possibility.
Making peace with the probability of a Clinton election
Sen. Bernie Sanders, who was never really a Democrat anyway, is going to make life miserable for the (virtually certain-to-be) Clinton administration. And Sen. Elizabeth Warren will be a nuisance from the hard-left, too. That's what's so awful about the current state of the parties: There's no business-friendly wing of the Democratic party anymore...just a whole lot of people on the left pushing ever-harder for really bad policy.
Is it a sign of complacency or something worse?
One of many reasons why 2016 shouldn't be compared with 1964
For a moment, let's get serious about the minimum wage
- Polk County and others are implementing higher minimum wages than the Federal/state figure.
- Gov. Terry Branstad floated the issue of flattening the minimum wage statewide
- The minimum wage really probably ought to be pegged to inflation
- But the minimum wage doesn't exist in a vacuum
- #1: Don't get careless with raising the minimum wage too high. If you don't have an on-ramp for people to enter the workforce when they have limited skills, then you run the risk of creating permanent harm.
- There aren't a lot of things worse for a society than a large number of young people (especially adolescent males) with nothing productive to do
- Low-wage jobs ought to be places where people acquire soft skills that let them get on the metaphorical escalator to higher pay
- #2: If we just jack up the minimum wage without addressing the underlying problem of human capital, then we're not doing any good, either
- If adults are truly trapped in low-wage work, we need to figure out how to get them out of that trap
- That's as much an issue of public security as it is about economics
- It's expensive to be poor, and even a hike from $7.25 an hour (the Federal minimum) to $10.75 an hour (the Polk County minimum wage starting in 2019) still only gets a person up to the $22,000-a-year range at full-time hours. MIT says that's only enough to sustain a single adult.
- If we're not addressing the human-capital problem (skills, talents, experience, intelligence, education, etc.), then we're just doing things that feel good rather than sustainably resolving the problem
Huge consequences follow a failure to address costs in the health-care sector. We've only re-shuffled who pays.
What's the real end game?
A truly scary thought, considering how much earlier that was than anyone's realization of the threat
He's aware of what his kids are doing online, which may or may not be easier to do with the help of the Secret Service. But he's providing a decent model for behavior for the rest of us.
But because Donald Trump is a wickedly unqualified, undisciplined, and unthinking Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton is getting a free pass on what should be massively damaging news. That's the problem with nominating an awful candidate. John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, or Marco Rubio all could have ridden the lousy insurance news to a bump in the polls...but the Republican Party is stuck with the Orange Menace instead.
They're going to alert members of the public of the presence of the cameras and ask for permission to film. This may not be the perfect solution, but it's at least one acceptable option for maintaining some privacy rights.
Practical over short distances, within metropolitan areas? Let's not count on it. But the future of commercial aviation may very well look like this: Small, self-piloting aircraft ferrying perhaps six passengers at a time over distances of 100 to maybe 500 miles. Likely these would do best when paired with electric propulsion rather than combustion engines. There's a lot of traffic on the Interstate and primary highways across this country that involve people taking multi-hour car trips. An on-demand air service for this kind of travel, made economical by self-piloting aircraft, low-maintenance electrical propulsion, and the use of secondary airports, could certainly beget a whole lot of advantages.
(Video) One of the best-ever political spots, and it's for nothing more than a local office. But it does illustrate an important principle: People want their government officials to be competent, even if that makes them lovably goofy as individuals.
Domain names are cheap. Don't let them out of your sight.
As when the state tried to raise and flatten the statewide sales tax a few years ago, the appeal is not from those who want higher costs, but rather from those who want uniformity across jurisdictions. Of course, raising the minimum wage is only a symptomatic act if it fails to address the question of why people are only earning the minimum wage. We need to dig deeper and find out what obstacles are keeping people from raising their own level of human capital.
An overwhelming majority go for Clinton, even though many have grave reservations about her. Literally none of the major papers have endorsed Trump. Several have endorsed Johnson, including the Detroit News and the Chicago Tribune. Many, like the Cedar Rapids Gazette, are endorsing their first Democratic tickets in a very, very long time.
A hilariously brilliant but magically unpretentious guide to better writing and speaking
Blitzer's usual television style -- a half-yelled, rapid-fire stream of new "urgencies" -- isn't all that useful in the grand scheme of things. But he shines in this clip where he repels an assault of stupidity from a Trump surrogate who doesn't grasp the consequences of attacking the concept of the free press. The means by which Trump has openly undermined freedom of the press on a grand stage are unforgivable.
A thorough and eye-opening view of the businesses that Chinese companies are buying overseas
Fortunately, we all have the free will to construct a lot of good characteristics, even if nature has sealed some parts of us in place from birth. It's not really an exaggeration to say that you are your habits -- and good habits are surprisingly easy to adopt.
With the party chair admitting they may need to reevaluate the "consequences" promised against some of the 2016 candidates who refused to back Donald Trump, consider this: The reconstitution of the party as a functioning organism will specifically require the participation of people who saw what was happening this year and took a stand against it.
What awful things happen after the election? The animal spirits that gave us 2016 haven't been tamed.
Merging content creation with content distribution. Old Ma Bell has come a very long way back around the block.
Certain niceties are required in a world of self-government
Russia's stunts with warships in the English Channel could easily be a distraction from other, nefarious deeds
They've had a recent history of substantial revisions, so take the number with a grain of salt. But if it's true or close to true, then it's very good news. We need broad-based economic growth -- but we also need to be attentive to the likelihood that a lot of parts of the country are experiencing their own local economic slowdowns that aren't reflected in national figures.
Remember: On average, the average team in the NFL will win 50% of its games. But sometimes you're the Patriots (6-1) and sometimes you're the Bears (1-6). You might even be the Browns (0-7).
Aggregate data tells a portion of the story, but it rarely tells you everything you need to know. Big parts of America (geographically, demographically, and sectorally) are doing poorly at the same time that others are doing well.
The team won its first National League pennant since 1945
Clean up after yourself
Dissatisfaction with conventional politics isn't just an American phenomenon. The question is whether the discontent expresses itself in ways that become fundamentally constructive towards something better. It's not enough to just emit a primal scream.
Get frustrated. Fine. But voters everywhere need to pay their civic rent and get involved in building whatever is supposed to come next.
Mind your business - part I
The short-video-looping service was a $30 million acquisition for Twitter in 2012, but Twitter continues to struggle with actually turning a profit. Since alternatives (like Snapchat) already exist, they're probably pulling back rather than reinvest in new development of the platform.
The creator of Vine is mad about what happened to his baby, Tweeting "Don't sell your company!"
Maybe it's a little ironic that he used Twitter to backhandedly criticize Twitter.
If you don't want to lose control, don't sell. That's a pretty ironclad rule, and yet it's one I think a lot of people overlook. Once you've sold off control, you don't retain any say in what happens to your "baby".
If I had created something like Vine, I wouldn't get emotionally attached to it. Anything in technology like this is so fleeting, so passing, so quick to be usurped by whatever comes "next", that any success with it is ephemeral. Even Mark Zuckerberg will probably someday find that Facebook has become yesterday's news. Other things? I'd be more protective of non-technology businesses, if I thought I could build them for the next 100 years.
Mind your business - part II
Harvard's endowment has been performing poorly. Maybe part of the problem is that its managers have had too much power to guarantee their own compensation, independent of performance. Oversight matters!
Quote of the Week
The week in technology
Some of the tools are still in development and roll-out, but it looks like the pending acquisition by Microsoft has put a little bit of new life into the company
Have no doubt: Self-driving vehicles are going to have a huge impact on us in the years ahead
Press a button, order a restock of something you use around the house. It's either the height of laziness or the peak of consumer-economic genius. Maybe both.
Contrary to popular opinion
What if we talked ourselves into believing that the Trump phenomenon is all about anger, when that's only part of the story for some of the people?
What if the real story is that people felt an urgent need for competence, and Trump's years of self-promotion, aided and abetted foremost by NBC, convinced people that he really *was* competent? The most competent person of all for the job, even?
That turns the narrative in a different direction. There's anger, hostility, and anxiety, to be sure, but that doesn't give a direction forward.
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Have a little empathy
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Tin Foil Hat Award
Yay Capitalism Prize
Capitalist solution of the week
Don't despair; pay your civic rent
- President Obama has been campaigning with the catchphrase, "Don't boo...vote!"
- But it goes deeper than that -- don't give up on politics...pay your civic rent!
- Sen. Ben Sasse refers to the idea that most of our problems are "pre-political"
- I don't know if that's his original phrase or if he got it from somewhere else, but it's valid
- People who are engaged in things take ownership of them, including their problems
- "Community service" as it gets pushed in schools is OK, but it's more like veneer than hardwood
- Civic rent comes from doing something with your skills that enhances the fabric of the community in some way
- This is a cultural thing, not a political one
- Wrestling is huge in Iowa, and in neighboring states like Illinois and Minnesota. It's not politically privileged, it's just a "thing we do".
- Minnesota and other states are hockey-obsessed, and it's started to gain a foothold in Iowa
- Indiana has basketball; the South has football
- The point is that these things emerge organically from the people
- No political action is going to flip a switch to make us better at paying our civic rent
- But it's not going to come from posting Facebook and Twitter memes or signing online petitions
- These things can start anytime; I always liked archery for fun, but now I see that West Des Moines has archery teams in the schools. If the "Hunger Games" can bring about club sports, then maybe our widespread disappointment in this election can kickstart some civic rent-paying.