Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 18, 2018

Brian Gongol


The Brian Gongol Show can be heard on WHO Radio in Des Moines, Iowa on 1040 AM or streaming online at WHORadio.com. The show airs from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Central Time on Saturday afternoons. Podcasts of show highlights are also available.


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.

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Interview with David Young

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Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)

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Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

News Amsterdam is using surplus of open water to make room for artificial islands

And those islands are being used to create affordable housing. How interesting. One thing is for certain: Due to the constraints imposed on them by nature, the Dutch seem willing to think well outside the conventional box when it comes to things like engineering and urban policy. Worth watching what they experiment with doing.

News On the problem of calling modern soldiers "warriors"

It turns out, there's a much deeper set of historical roots involved than might immediately meet the eye. An article that is worthwhile not only for what it says sociologically and about our political/military relationship -- but also because it's a pretty terrific speedy survey of war history. Talking appropriately about the military -- with neither disrespect nor undue deference -- is critical to protecting self-government against the low-probability, high-impact chance that we might take the wrong path. Maintaining the proper lanes is really important.

Threats and Hazards "Stand your ground" turns to manslaughter

Americans need to know the overwhelming importance of restraining ourselves to what is a proportional response

Threats and Hazards Giant CIA screwup in China

Foreign Policy: "[T]he real number of CIA assets and those in their orbit executed by China during the two-year period was around 30". And it's because the Chinese government cracked the CIA's system for communicating with its sources in China. It's hard to make Internet-based communications tools that can go unidentified behind China's "Great Firewall".

Threats and Hazards China may be holding a million people or more in concentration camps

The Uighur people are the targets

Threats and Hazards Is China's place in the Pacific truly ascendant?

And is China's rise irreversible? In a very interesting piece, Hal Brands argues: "[I]t would also be dangerous for U.S. and allied leaders to accept the thesis that China is destined to dominate the region and simply give up on countering Beijing’s ambitions."

Threats and Hazards Attacking an election doesn't require changing votes

Noting the problems that resulted from bad data on the voter rolls in a couple of states, a Pew analysis notes that "To sow confusion in the fall, Russia could hack voter registration systems, altering names, addresses or party affiliations". And that's enough to undermine faith in democratic processes and institutions.

Humor and Good News 10-year-old helps deliver surprise baby cousin

She has better presence of mind than many adults

Humor and Good News To be a "pracademic"

A portmanteau to describe "academics who are engaged with practical policy issues"

News "Lincoln officer injured while trying to subdue a naked man"

Someone buy this arresting officer a beer: "[T]he 18-year-old had stripped in the lot, slapped the security guard and urinated on a security vehicle [...] The man then charged toward the officer, police said, and a Taser had no effect on the man"

The United States of America Saluting the Navajo code-talkers

What they did, in service to a country that didn't always pay them adequate respect, is quite the story.

By the numbers

Agriculture Where the corn grows

Iowa alone produces 17.9% of the nation's corn. That's more than any other state, though Illinois and Nebraska both make it into double digits.

The United States of America Forecasting the election

FiveThirtyEight is out with some odds on who will win where. But whatever you think of the forecast, three cheers for their use of data visualization. Tilegrams are absolutely the right way to represent House districts when you're trying to illustrate control of Congress.

The United States of America Virginia had 747,610 people in 1790 Census

Today, the average Congressional district contains almost exactly the same number of people. Considering that Virginia at that time was home to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe -- the Virginia dynasty -- then perhaps we should consider just how much talent ought to be found in the average CD today.

Make money

Business and Finance Should Tesla go private?

Notwithstanding the likely huge legal obstacles that could scuttle whatever Elon Musk has in mind, if he is to heed the advice of many enormously wealthy people, he might just do whatever he can to take the company out of public markets. But which partners will he have to take on to make that happen?

Business and Finance What would make Warren Buffett buy an airline?

Not unrelated to the question of Tesla going private is the example of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire may be a public company, but Buffett's management style is that of a private owner (with a very long time horizon). His voting control over the company makes it possible, and his temperament makes it the law of the land. Thus, while he's been burned by airlines before, there's no certainty that he wouldn't reverse himself and capture the whole of an airline (like, possibly, Southwest) if he determines that the fundamental economics of the business have changed from his prior experiences.

Have fun

News What really matters in life

A really useful visualization of the remainder of a person's life. In the words of Ben Sasse: "Life needs to be lived and prioritized with the understanding that it is limited. An awareness of one's mortality makes life richer because the important can be emphasized and the trivial marginalized."

Clean up after yourself

Business and Finance A thought experiment

What if, instead of a $1 trillion deficit, we were running a $1 trillion Federal budget surplus? What if it were designated specifically to be a "rainy day" fund, for use in smoothing out a downturn? In a truly rational world, the Federal government would run a balanced budget, but would "save" 1% or 2% of GDP in a rainy-day fund. That fund would then be used to buy additional goods and services of various types during a recession. The net result of a Federal "rainy day" fund might then be to allow the government to make certain discretionary purchases at discounted prices during an economic downturn, while providing a defined and predictable quantity of economic stimulus -- fully paid, and about as intergenerationally fair as can be (as opposed, say, to making children born in 2030 pay the interest on debt taken out to provide "stimulus" to the economy in 2008).

Mind your business

News Where's the syllabus?

Teachers and professors all over confess to finishing their class syllabi at the last minute. In the modern world -- quickly shaping up as the teach-yourself economy -- it's hard to think of anything more important to a student than a thorough and well-structured syllabus that seeks to comprehensively document what a person should read to understand a subject.

Quote of the Week

The week in technology

Computers and the Internet Google employees leak internal discussion of China search project

A New York Times reporter reveals that an "all-hands" meeting included high-level acknowledgements of a project to deliver search results in China -- where there would be no way to avoid government censorship.

Your role in cyberwar

Computers and the Internet Sen. Ben Sasse pushes cyber into the NDAA

Per War on the Rocks: "The relevant section in the NDAA calls for a 13-member bipartisan commission that includes members of Congress, senior executive branch officials, and private citizens...to evaluate 'deterrence, norms-based regimes, and cyber persistence'". We must treat cyberwarfare like the substantial battleground of not just the future, but the present.

Iowa news

Weather and Disasters More wildfire smoke is heading Iowa's way

The haze in the skies is coming from Canada

Iowa Iowa City mayor issues letter opposing I-380 widening

The Interstate self-evidently needs to be six lanes between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. This opposition is based upon pie-in-the-sky opposition to personal vehicles generally, not a reasonable grasp of the situation.

Weather and Disasters A full accounting of the July 19th tornado outbreak

High-quality satellite imagery reveals that even more had touched down than radar or spotters had seen

Weather and Disasters Electrician sees the piece of wood he signed 41 years ago

Notable because he signed and dated the piece -- which was mounted inside the steeple above the Marshall County courthouse that was later knocked down by a tornado -- precisely 41 years to the day before it came down

Contrary to popular opinion

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

The United States of America Scathing and succinct

Retired Admiral William McRaven launches a terse and powerful broadside against the President's behavior: "Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation." Security clearances shouldn't become the objects of political tug-of-war -- they should be utilized only for the security of the country. It is the President's choice to make them into something they should not be that has invited the backlash. The McRaven opinion piece is important because it tells people like him that they are not alone, and as Susan Hennessey writes, "courage is contagious". We humans are social animals, and we respond to the cues of others we see as members of our own packs. It's up to those who are less impressionable -- less susceptible to being cowed or bullied or misdirected -- to put on clear demonstrations (of courage, character, stamina, guts, honesty) for those who are more impressionable.

News When prominent people utterly -- and maybe willfully -- misinterpret history

Contrary to what Jerry Falwell, Jr. claims to believe, there is no inherent good to a President who chooses to be vulgar in every sense of the word. That interpretation is an utter perversion of the entire point of representative democracy. The Founders were obsessed with the nature and character of the people who would be chosen to lead the country. To think they weren't is pure ignorance -- and to be so open about being so wrong is utter hubris.

21st Century conservatism

News When far-right nuts mistake themselves for architecture critics

There's probably no reasoning with rabid traditionalists who oppose anything new or urban, but there's nothing anti-conservative about architectural design. Architecture is an honorable expression of human knowledge and an act of value creation. Those are values that are widely celebrated within the tradition of classical liberalism (the main root of modern conservative thought). Reactionary traditionalists aren't really conservatives, so they probably don't get the point.

Curiosity, competence, and humility

Have a little empathy

News Consider the challenges some kids face just in attending school

Students in Comoros, for instance, almost certainly don't have potable water, electricity, or adequate toilets where they attend classes.

News The paper cranes of Hiroshima

The child who inspired the movement died 60 years ago

Inbox zero

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Health Measles outbreak in more than 20 states

Per a news report: "The majority of people who got measles were unvaccinated." Voluntarily going unvaccinated recklessly endangers others, especially kids and those with compromised immune systems. Herd immunity matters. It especially matters to those for whom vaccination may not be an option (like the very young, or those undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia), and to leave them defenseless (by choosing to exempt one's self from getting a vaccination without medical need) is a moral failure.

Tin Foil Hat Award

Socialism Doesn't Work America needs two sane parties, and this isn't the way to get there

Gallup reports that 47% of Democrats now view capitalism positively, versus 57% who view socialism positively. That's a recipe for disaster -- a ten-point drop in capitalism's "favorables" in just two years. "Small business" has incredible favorables among the population at large (92%), but that too often translates only into lip service instead of truly responsive policy-making.

Business and Finance The President doesn't know the history of tariffs

To claim that the country was "built on tariffs" is to misunderstand the very nature of taxation. There is nothing "great" about import taxation: It had certain administrative advantages to the young republic because the government found it easier to collect taxes at ports than to staff a bureaucracy for inland revenue. Federalist Paper No. 35 specifically counters the President's ignorant assertion that high tariffs are a "great" thing for America. Protective tariffs have been widely used over time, by a wide variety of countries, but the "protection" they offer is illusory and fleeting at best. Just ask South Korea, which is today paying a heavy price for the consequences of government favoritism paid to particular businesses and industries in the name of economic development.

Business and Finance Retaliatory tariffs imposed by China are hurting US automakers

The reality of trade wars: The "wins" are imaginary, and the losses are quite real.

Business and Finance Consumers: Prepare for price inflation

You have the President's trade wars to blame

Yay Capitalism Prize

Capitalist solution of the week

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Would you have traded for a different surname within your own family if you could have?

Kickers

Kickers

Humor and Good News Lolo Jones puts on her pants two legs at a time

(Video) The most impressive way to put on a pair of pants is also the most labor-intensive.

Kickers

News Fugitive strips while on the lam -- in an Iowa cornfield

Running through corn fields in Iowa in August without clothing: Not recommended.

One year ago

Five years ago

Ten years ago

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