Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 11, 2018
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.
Breaking news to watch
- Plane stolen from Sea-Tac, then crashed. Maybe a suicidal airline employee?
- DC braces for another "Unite the Right" (white supremacist) rally on Sunday (WRC-TV, WTOP)
Segment 1: (11 min)
BUT FIRST: The opening essay
21st Century conservatism
A compelling argument from a think-tank consultant who has found his thoughts on national policy strongly influenced by his work on a state committee. People forget that Federalism made sense in the 1790s, when the entire country was less than 4 million people. It makes even more sense today, when 4 million is the population of just a mid-size state. This country isn't uniform, and we shouldn't fool ourselves into thinking it is. We're better off with lots of experiments and adaptations suited to local conditions, with a national government mainly suited to defense and protecting individual rights.
The sooner people stop thinking of America as a hollow aggregation of policy choices and start remembering it as a set of ideas about how we do things, the better.
- What makes an Iowan?
- 99 counties, all represented at the State Fair
- Different local expectations
- Clinton isn't Clarinda
- Des Moines isn't Decorah
- What do we agree on? Fair play, Iowa nice, doing things for ourselves, community pride, education
- Those things are values, even if we disagree on policies
Segment 2: (8 min)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day
- The U.S. Pizza Museum has opened (at least temporarily) in Chicago.
- Grand-opening tickets for this weekend were sold out.
- Up until now, it's mostly been an online museum with pop-up events.
- Some people think Chicago-style deep dish isn't really "pizza". They're terribly wrong and misguided souls to think not. It's within their rights to be wrong, but they are so very, very wrong. Deep dish is the most important and delicious style of pizza.
Segment 3: (14 min)
What's with the smoke in the skies?
How unusual is this?
Does anyone track the frequency of fires' effect on our air quality or visibility conditions?
By the numbers
The lightning blew up a transmission line to the tower, which happens to be one of five transmission towers in Iowa that reach to 2,000 feet -- placing them tied at #8 for the tallest structures in the world.
Segment 4: (5 min)
Live read: iHeartRadio app
And yet still people have the temerity to ask why we put up with Iowa winters. The frost line is our Maginot Line, people!
Segment 5: (11 min)
The week in technology
The company providing the technology is adamant that it can secure the votes via blockchain. But it's the human element that should make people apprehensive about any experiment like this. Some Iowa voters got bad information from text messages intended as reminders on primary-election day in June. There is something authoritative and certain about physically appearing at a polling place on election day (or in returning a properly completed absentee ballot) that is simply not replicable in a world of apps and websites. The risk to Internet voting is far less a matter of communications security than one of social engineering.
Your role in cyberwar
Once an adversary has identified your weakness, you should expect them to exploit it until it is fixed. You don't have to be Sun Tzu or Carl von Clausewitz to figure this out: We're cyber-vulnerable.
These top officials described the cyber threats to our country as real and ongoing, our editorial says: https://t.co/HuWfVSA75R— World-Herald Opinion (@OWHopinion) August 7, 2018
He's in a position to have an informed opinion on the matter: Estonia is a past satellite state subjected to Russian aggression and occupation, a forward-leaning and tech-friendly society, and an eager member of the NATO alliance (since 2004).
Yet introducing an entirely new branch of the armed forces is not the responsibility of the Executive Branch. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution unequivocally gives that authority to the Congress alone. Also, there's the weighty matter of long-standing international agreements prohibiting the militarization of space. And also the question of whether an entire military branch is necessary for such things. These things are matters for serious study and deliberation, not promotional campaign emails selling merchandise.
Segment 6: (8 min)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)
Contrary to popular opinion
This is a great idea. Some books are better and some are worse than others, and it's healthy to acknowledge that. As Sen. Ben Sasse so well put it: "We must be able to grapple with ideas we don't like, and internalize the distinction between a bad book and a wrong book." There's nothing wrong if a librarian admits to hating "The Great Gatsby" or "Ulysses" or "The Fountainhead". Isn't it healthy for libraries to encourage debate about both writing and ideas? Doesn't that start with honesty? For instance, James Joyce's "Ulysses" is a huge struggle to read. But talking about it (and whether the reader liked it) opens the door to telling someone why they really must read Joyce's spectacular "Dubliners", and maybe sample some of "Finnegans Wake".
Segment 7: (14 min)
Yay Capitalism Prize
For those times when stopping to refuel is asking too much from life
Note to self: Discover the next hot real estate market, buy all the residential housing in sight, campaign for every land-use restriction possible, rent out the scarce housing at exorbitant prices, capture a disproportionate share of incomes from high earners. https://t.co/JJuIWVxiB5— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 6, 2018
Mind your business
As Benjamin Franklin put it, "Pardoning the bad, is injuring the good." It's hard not to imagine that there's an appeal for a big tech-platform firm to get regulated as a public utility -- common carrier rules could apply, and someone else (the government) would be responsible for the hard choices. But, of course, the sweet smothering embrace of quasi-monopoly status tends to make the monopolist fat, sloppy, and lazy...and thus highly susceptible to massive disruption later on. There is a left-wing push for government regulation that fails to recognize the unintended consequences. And the trouble flows in other directions, too: With Google rumored to be seeking a way to provide a censored search engine in China, one must pause to reflect on whether classical-liberal values are strong enough to emerge spontaneously, anywhere, when given enough time (which they would) -- but what service does it do those values (or the people who hold them) to participate in their repression?
As Charles Koch has put it: "I'd counsel any entrepreneur to do everything possible to keep her company private, no matter how big it grows."
It's nice being at the age where the hits of my youth are playing in every store I enter (because retailers think I'm at prime spending age). I will loathe it when it's the next generation's turn.
Segment 8: (5 min)
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Laura Ingraham's idiotic protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, America is about a belief system -- particularly one about the way things are to be done and how people are to be treated. If she thinks that is threatened by the origins of new entrants to the country, she doesn't understand the nature of the country itself.
On the anniversary of the awful events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, some of the same bad actors are planning to gather in Washington, DC, for another white-supremacist rally. And there will most certainly be counter-protests.
Unsorted and leftovers:
A 29-year-old airline employee apparently took a small commuter airplane from Sea-Tac and crashed it with no one else aboard.
It happened in British Columbia, where the adult victim found herself fighting off a neighbor with a pair of gloves and a butcher knife
Clean up after yourself
Stories emerge of homeless families taking shelter at police stations
Have a little empathy
A Western journalist with a long history of reporting on China warns Uighurs outside the country: "Don't go back under any circumstances. The very act of having been abroad is enough to condemn you. They will threaten your family and friends, but your going back will not save them." Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that a UN panel member reported on credible evidence that at least a million Uighurs are being held in political indoctrination camps in western China.
Unlikely because of its location: Inside the Omaha Correctional Center. But it's part of a 12-week course offered to some of the inmates. The sooner we train ourselves to ask whether people have productive alternatives to idle time and bad behavior, the sooner we'll make progress against crime. It's best to keep people out of the correctional system to begin with, but when they land there, rehabilitation should be a priority for as many eligible people as possible.
Tin Foil Hat Award
What good is sacrificing the automotive industry for the sake of trying to profit a raw-materials sector (in steel and aluminum) that can't possibly keep up with real demand? The US should pursue cooperative, multilateral approaches to constraining China's bad behavior (like intellectual property theft) -- but that requires a constructive and rules-based approach. Tariffs aren't it.
Capitalist solution of the week
I'm overdue for a haircut, but I'm pleased the humidity has dissipated a little bit. My hair had gone from "Nightly News" to "Bill Clinton Circa 1993".
One year ago
JUSTIN ROBERTS and ANDY PETERSEN are coming up with "State Fair Live" next
Live read: State Fair
- WHO CRYSTAL STUDIOS -on the western end of the Grand Concourse
- Stop by the WHO Crystal Studios for a chance to win tickets to Cirque du Soleil "Crystal", a breakthrough ice experience coming to Wells Fargo Arena October 17-21. Tickets on sale now at Hy-VeeTix.com.
- AMERICAN TOPPERS AND ACCESSORIES is a partner with us at the WHO Crystal Studios this year, sponsoring the official "Charging Station" for your smartphone. It's on our deck and you'll notice it's been sprayed with a Line-X protective coating!
- WE CAN PUT YOU IN IOWA's MOST FAMOUS PLACES! Take your picture inside the Crystal Studios and the Iowa Historical Society will put transport you to the American Gothic House, one of the bridges of Madison County, or even at the State Fair itself, circa 1900!
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