Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 26, 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)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

Disappointment in public institutions: Without a doubt, we have lots of public (and private) institutions that have disappointed us, but self-government is a learning process. Disappointment should lead to reform, not cynicism.

For example: I am beside myself with rage over this story...

Threats and Hazards Federal government workers have lost track of 1,500 migrant children

They were separated from their parents by our draconian policy on border-crossing, and now it's unclear where 1,500 of them have gone. That's truly appalling. If this isn't a firing offense for people up and down the chain of command, what is? These are children we're talking about. Like the video of children being gassed in Syria, or like pictures of children being starved in Yemen, this story is a massive transgression that feels even worse to any reasonable person with little people at home whom they would defend with their very lives. A century ago, Herbert Hoover was known as the Great Humanitarian. Put aside anything you think about his Presidency -- as a private citizen, he had done more to rescue refugees and save young lives from starvation than anyone alive today. Where is our Hoover in 2018? Who is empowered to step up to solve these problems? Who is being invited to do so? Does anyone know where even to start?

If we succumb to cynicism, we figure nothing can be done. But, if we're skeptics of power, then we have a reason to hold people accountable and to demand better be done in our name.

We're in the midst of some rotten circumstances. A lot of people looked at the political landscape and found it so vacant of honesty and results that they took a flier on Donald Trump.

I disagreed, but I get it: At some point, people might simply ask what point there is in staying the course.

But, now that we're well over a year into his Presidency, it's time to stop cutting him slack.

He has a mighty platform from which to undercut faith in our institutions, and he's doing it -- from blasting the FBI to spitting at the free press to blaming everyone but himself when things go wrong. Public cynicism was too high already, and it's getting a beat-down from above.

All of this seems amplified by the weird new rules of "engagement". We don't talk around the water cooler so much as we rant at each other on Facebook. And the really pernicious thing about Facebook in particular is how it can normalize really dumb opinions -- as though the nuance of a Constitutional republic can be summed up in a Burma-Shave sign.

But there's a cottage industry already well into its adolescence that seeks to make those Burma-Shave arguments and turn them into votes.

The more we govern ourselves locally (at the state level and below), the more robust the country is against manias, tantrums, and, yes, foreign meddling. A comment from Federalist 40 is in order here:

For perspective, the population of the entire United States in 1790 was 3.9 million -- almost exactly the same as the population of Oklahoma today, or enough to get you a fat FIVE seats in today's House of Representatives. And they worried about Federal overreach THEN!

We won't perfect our world by reclaiming responsibilities at the local level, but I think we can learn to contain and minimize the damage done by mistakes, errors, and incompetence -- as well as by the occasional bout of ill will.

And I honestly believe that the clock is ticking on the need to make that shift. We need to turn away from the cynicism bred by big-government, ham-fisted, top-down authority (and all of the failings that will come with it) and get back to a level of accountability and control where choices, results, and (yes) personal character matter.

Segment 2: (8 min)

Live read: iHeartRadio app

iHeartRadio app:

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

I think things started to go wrong when male rock stars stopped recording music videos on the beach while wearing white tuxedos.

Clean up after yourself

News Overcrowded city life is overrated

There are certain opportunities available only in certain very large cities. But there are also hidden costs that go along with megalopolitan living that people too often overlook when evaluating whether to live there. For example: Getting out of New York City by road on a holiday weekend is a complete nightmare. Same for most other really large cities. The time spent in traffic in the biggest cities -- as compared with somewhat smaller cities that offer, say, 75% of the same amenities -- is an enormous toll to place on one's existence without some kind of compensation.

Segment 3: (14 min)

Hyperbole is going to kill us all: North Korea, nukes, and the summit that wasn't

Interview with Dr. Megan Reiss of the R Street Institute

News No North Korean summit

The President has abruptly cancelled his much-vaunted summit with Kim Jong-Un

Segment 4: (5 min)

Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)

Smart speakers

Segment 5: (11 min)

Iowa news

The Bernie Bros sent out an email yesterday, urging Iowans on their list to vote early. Talk about dumb timing.

A gubernatorial candidate dropped out this week over bad personal behavior. And Harvey Weinstein did a perp walk over charges of sexual assault.

"Pardoning the bad, is injuring the good." - Benjamin Franklin

I regret that we, as a society, have pardoned bad behavior against women for so long -- whether it was technically legal or not. I hope that tide has permanently turned.

Sometimes, the only guarantee of good behavior is the view of history -- the warning that bad behavior may come back to haunt you.

There's nothing weak or flabby or snowflaky in being tuned-in to good versus bad behavior, or calling it out, or in acknowledging that people might suffer grievances for a long time before speaking up.

There's great strength in looking for those places where we might be doing wrong, even if we're not aware of it, and making corrections before history catches up to us.

21st Century conservatism

News NFL will require players to stand for the National Anthem or teams will face fines

But let's ask some serious questions: Will the NFL do anything to actively address the problems that players sought to highlight with their gestures during the anthem? Will the league do anything to counter the false narrative that players were protesting the flag or the anthem, rather than conducting a protest during the anthem but not directed at it? Will the league require players, coaches, and referees to salute the flag with hands over their hearts, as proscribed by Flag Code? Will the NFL cease the use of giant, field-covering flags as prop, which is behavior expressly in violation of Flag Code, which prohibits the flag from touching the ground or from being "carried flat or horizontally"? Will the NFL put its money where its mouth is and put a halt to all sales of food and beverages during the playing of the anthem (the 49ers are hinting they'll suspend sales in just such a manner)?

The United States of America "Because it's about the flag, the censorship is even worse"

A thoughtful -- and conservative -- rebuttal to the NFL's plans to crack down on expression during the National Anthem

If we don't stand for principles, then it doesn't mean much if we stand for the flag.

The President is completely wrong when he says "Maybe they shouldn't be in the country" if NFL players won't stand for the National Anthem.

This kind of talk is an obscenity when it comes from the President. The Fourteenth Amendment isn't a punchline.

A reminder: "Conservative government means rule by consent; Socialist government means control by compulsion." - Margaret Thatcher

Segment 6: (8 min)

Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)

Smart speakers

Your role in cyberwar

You can drive him in The Beast, fly him on Air Force One, and put layers of explosion-proof glass around the Oval Office, but you can't save a wayward principal from himself.

If the President won't turn over his cell phone for a security review, he's responsible for what happens when it's hacked. And it WILL be hacked.

The week in technology

The transformative power of putting a video camera in every pocket really shows up in a huge way with this powerful report (with abundant video evidence) on the shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 by a Russian missile.

The week in technology

Computers and the Internet "As unlikely as this string of events is..."

How an Amazon Echo recorded a household conversation and sent the clip to a family acquaintance

The week in technology

Science and Technology A 3D-printed tiny home

(Video) Making it out of concrete is pretty cool, and permits a one-day production cycle. But it's worth asking whether the constraint on building high-quality homes in poor places is a shortage of labor, the cost of materials, or something else. Is a 3D printer really removing an important constraint?

Segment 7: (14 min)

Quote of the Week

The United States of America "You can go elsewhere for a job, but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul."

Senator Jeff Flake offers a pointed set of remarks at the Harvard Law School commencement ceremony

The United States of America Defense Secretary Mattis addresses Air Force Academy graduates

"It is now your responsibility to ensure our adversaries know they should always prefer to talk to our Department of State, rather than face the US Air Force."

Iowa news

The one big mystery of Ankeny's boom: Why isn't the city growing to the east of I-35?

The Census Bureau also reports that In every region except the West, the bigger the city, the faster the growth. Urbanization isn't new, and it's not reversing course, either.

By the numbers

Threats and Hazards Nebraska drug bust uncovers enough fentanyl to kill 26 million people

In a time of big numbers, this one is huge

This week

News Chicago City Council approves half-billion-dollar Obama Presidential Center

Only one alderman voted "no" -- because he objected to the $175 million the city is supposed to spend on infrastructure directly related to the center (with no plans for where the money will be found). And that's not a bad objection to muster. The tradition of building Presidential libraries is a neat one -- if they're sustainable projects with true educational and historic merit, and not just giant monuments to ego.

Curiosity, competence, and humility

You can't be well-rounded in the 21st Century without a mix of the technical *and* the humanities.

News Where are the nerds?

A complaint from Britain that describes a problem often encountered in the US, too: Not enough nerds in the rooms where big decisions are made. Not everyone needs to be a technician...but at least a couple should be in the room, most of the time.

Segment 8: (5 min)

By the numbers

Why are there so many home runs in baseball right now? Something about the baseballs has changed, and they're experiencing less drag in-flight than before. This is a change that is noticeable just between 2015 and 2017.


I'm celebrating #WorldGothDay by wearing a pair of khakis and a polo shirt.

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

Socialism Doesn't Work China plays hardball with Taiwan

The Communist government on the mainland is engaged in a pressure and isolation campaign to put the screws to the Republic of China. And it's happening at a time of edgier relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China.

Make money

Business and Finance US trade negotiators want to cut visas for Canadians and Mexicans, too

Unless those workers have some kind of bizarrely low marginal propensity to consume, then letting them into the country to work has, broadly, an economy-expanding effect. The United States is the world's most powerful magnet for talent, and the more of it we attract, the stronger a country we are.

Have fun

Mind your business

News Pope OK with a man being gay

A man reports that Pope Francis expressed compassion for him when he revealed that he was gay, saying "God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn't matter to me. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are." That might be the kind of statement that aggravates the doctrinal purists, but regardless of its conformance with dogma, the Pope's reported statement sounds everything like one of pastoral care and concern. The Pope is, after all, a priest. And one would hope that any priest faced with another human being's anguish would choose to demonstrate concern, respect, and love rather than beating that person about the head with a strict interpretation of doctrine.

Iowa news

Weather and Disasters 10 years after the Parkersburg EF-5 tornado

When the EF-5 is classed as total devastation, it's not an exaggeration

Contrary to popular opinion

Inbox zero

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Victory comes from knowing your adversary better than he knows himself, not from mischaracterizing him.

The President makes a big mistake in continuing to use the "animal" language to categorize MS-13. They're terrible -- but doubling down on ineffective language doesn't make us better able to stop them.

Tin Foil Hat Award

China is bullying other countries for even acknowledging Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong: "China's aviation regulator last month sent letters to 36 airlines asking them to remove references on their websites or in other material that suggests Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are part of countries independent from China"

Sentences that ought to be well-understood by American voters: "Taiwan and the United States must prepare for greater hostility in the coming years, almost certainly lasting out to the next Taiwan presidential election in 2020".

Yay Capitalism Prize

Capitalist solution of the week

One year ago

Five years ago

Ten years ago

Programming notes

Calendar events to highlight


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