Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - March 31, 2018

Brian Gongol

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.

Segment 1: (11 min)


Curiosity, competence, and humility: Is journalism also activism?

Segment 2: (8 min)

Iowa news: Sibley man gets confirmed right to criticize his city

A northwest Iowa man has secured his right to say what he wants about his local government. Josh Harms of Sibley has won a Federal court injunction ensuring his right to leave up a website called, where he has expressed his opinion that local officials aren't doing enough to make the town an attractive place to live. The ACLU joined his side in the case, and the injunction won't necessarily force the city to do what he wants, but it stops the local government from trying to stop him from complaining. It might still bring about social consequences, of course (making fun of your own town in public can certainly cause that), but the First Amendment is pretty clear -- not only that you have the right to free speech, but also that you get to complain about your government. As Americans, we believe that "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" is both a fundamental natural right -- and something that many of our fellow humans have far too long been denied.

Segment 3: (14 min)

Mind your business: The President vs. Amazon

Threats and Hazards The President, the interventionist

He cannot restrain himself against the impulse to create enemies, whether real or imagined. While it's only circumstantial evidence, the weight of the evidence is overwhelming that his antipathy towards the Washington Post (owned by Jeff Bezos) is translating into a reckless campaign against (which was started by Jeff Bezos, but exists as a publicly-traded company). Bezos owns about 79 million of Amazon's 484 million shares outstanding, for about 16% of the total. Thus the President's ire is not only un-American, anti-market, and factually dishonest, it is also poorly targeted. At this pace of pointless, patronizing interventionism, he is on track to make FDR look like Milton Friedman. The President's enthusiasm for government intervention in the economy produces lots of wicked outcomes and should be roundly denounced by anyone who considers themselves pro-markets and pro-freedom.

Threats and Hazards Reckless economic interventionism

The President has once again turned to Twitter to lash out at an American business; this time, Amazon. Says he: "I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!" This screed is so brimming with nonsense that it is almost impossible to parse reasonably: Amazon pays taxes. Amazon uses the US Postal Service (which is a net gain, not a loss, to the carrier). And Amazon is just an efficient conduit on the Internet, but it is by no means exclusive as an online retailer and the troubles inflicted on "thousands of retailers" would be real even if Amazon itself did not exist. Most Americans in any kind of retail or wholesale sector are likely to be both users of, and competitors with, Amazon. As many business leaders have noted (among them, Satya Nadella of Microsoft), increasingly complex business needs have lots of us operating outside of traditional business rivalries. Most of us now have reason sometimes to cooperate with our natural competitors. That's just the evolution of business and a natural result of specialization. All of us, though, should stridently object to the President continuing to call out individual American businesses for scorn like this, and we should object if he were to offer praise, too. It's bad behavior in principle, and it's reckless economic interventionism in practice. But there is a third layer in the case of this particular President, and it is the result of his near-complete unwillingness to follow the well-established norms of the office, like putting his assets into a true blind trust. As was worth notice even before he took office, we have no assurances that he and/or his inner circle aren't profiting from his social-media outbursts -- for instance, by shorting a stock before a rant. To assume the best (that he and his circle are refraining from such behavior) is inexcusably naive. The norms exist for a reason, and his conscious, willful rejection of those norms should not be taken at face value. In the absence of evidence of innocence, the person who deliberately tries to change the rules in such a way as would benefit himself at the expense of others should be assumed to be a cheater.

Segment 4: (5 min)

Segments 5 and 6:

Have a little empathy: Peggy Huppert from NAMI Iowa (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

Governor Kim Reynolds signed two bills into law on Thursday that are intended to improve the quality of mental health care in Iowa: One expands the state's mental health care system, while the other is aimed at putting Iowa's educators in a better position to help prevent teen suicide. We spoke with Peggy Huppert, executive director of NAMI Iowa, the local extension of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about the new laws and what they represent for progress in treating illnesses affecting the brain like the medical conditions they truly are, worthy of the same quality and degree of attention (and freedom from stigma!) as any other medical condition.

Segment 7: (14 min)

The week in technology: Facebook is still in trouble, and it's getting deeper

Segment 8: (5 min)

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

By the numbers

Make money

Have fun

Clean up after yourself

Mind your business

Quote of the Week

The week in technology

Your role in cyberwar

Contrary to popular opinion

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

21st Century conservatism

Inbox zero

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Tin Foil Hat Award

Yay Capitalism Prize

Capitalist solution of the week

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Aviation News New York Times article actually suggests that men wear track suits in flight

"Thank you for flying Sopranos Airways. Have a cannoli."


Twitter will be of no use to me until I can selectively block any post containing the "What if I told you..." meme.

I had a personal-space bubble...until I had kids.

Halogen-light ovens exist. Easy-Bake Ovens on steroids, apparently.

One year ago

Five years ago

Ten years ago

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