Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - March 2, 2019

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.

Breaking news to watch

Segment 1: (11 min)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

By the numbers

Business and Finance Promises, promises

The initial estimate of America's 2018 GDP growth is in, and it's 2.9%. That's not a bad figure. But it's also not the 4% that the President promised over and over in his campaign. It was a false promise, and that's why it deserves scorn and why he deserves criticism for making it. 4% annual growth could only be sustained by substantial improvements in labor productivity, and that's pretty hard to see happening without other structural changes taking place. ■ President Trump isn't the first to make this false promise, either: President Obama relied on unrealistic growth projections of 4%, too. ■ Wishing doesn't make these things so. And temporary sugar highs (like a big tax cut) can bring about a short-term spike in GDP growth, but sugar highs are no way to run an economy. ■ Voters need to have more modest expectations: Presidents don't have magic wands to make the economy start or stop. And politicians need to be vastly more modest about the promises they make, for the very same reasons. And that, in the end, is why anyone who makes these false promises ought to be scorned publicly.

The moral of the story:

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Iowa news

Iowa Traffic and weather together

Daryl Herzmann put together an animation of the radar signature and the Iowa DOT road conditions report from the latest storm. And it tells a story quite elegantly. We can always count on Herzmann to produce the Iowa weather visualization we didn't know we needed.

Weather and Disasters The "Accumulated Winter-Season Severity Index" says it's been a rotten one in Iowa

As with driving a car, it's not just the speed but the acceleration that counts. Not only are we teetering on the brink of "extreme", basically ALL of the terrible weather has happened since mid-January. It was super-mild up until then, so winter has been both painful and abrupt. In fairness, though, maybe better to have loved and lost a milder winter, than never to have loved at all.

Weather and Disasters Clear a path to your fire hydrant

A wintertime responsibility to one's neighborhood that many people probably don't realize is on their shoulders.

Weather and Disasters The ice dams are growing out of control

And Iowa could be in for some substantial flooding when all the ice and snow finally melt

Iowa Expansion planned for Central Iowa Shelter and Services

They ran beyond capacity during cold-weather incidents this winter, and obtaining some flexible space for use in high-demand situations would be a worthy thing for them to do. On one hand, it's too bad the demand is such that they need to expand. But on the other, it's good to see a community-level response.

The moral of the story: It's been a short, hard winter. Probably better than a long, hard one -- but we should give ourselves credit for enduring the "hard" part.

Segment 3: (14 min)

Technology Three | The week in technology

Aviation News NASA hitches its wagon to commercial spaceflight providers

SpaceX is testing a crew-ready rocket and capsule that should permit American astronauts to get into space without depending on the Russian space program

Threats and Hazards Visit North Korea's bomb museum from the comfort of home

The Nuclear Threat Initiative has posted a 3D virtual model of a North Korean weapons-production facility, filled with models of the country's various weapons of the bomb and missile variety. It's a little glib to say "And be sure to visit the gift shop!", but the model is really well-done and is certainly the closest thing any ordinary person will ever encounter to a real weapons lab.

Computers and the Internet Yet another round of alarm: Now, it's the "Momo Challenge"

Maybe this particular phenomenon is a real threat, maybe it isn't. But it highlights the problem that YouTube, the way it operates now, cannot possibly take the amount of responsibility that it ought to take for the content posted on it. ■ Here is a modest proposal for moderating YouTube content: Require any new video to receive 3 to 5 "endorsements" from verified, individual users before it goes public. If you endorse something that violates guidelines, you lose the right to endorse or post for yourself. Nobody, at present, has any incentive to moderate the "community". This would put skin in the game. ■ Given the psychological toll it appears to put on content moderators to troll the Internet all day policing for the bad, it's well past time for services like YouTube to think about imposing accountable systemic restraint. The government shouldn't impose prior restraint on speech, but content vectors like YouTube and Facebook quite likely should do so.

The moral of the story: Technology is only as good or as bad as the people using it. That's why you can't believe that technology alone will save us. It has to be used by people who are conscious of the moral consequences of their use. In other words, give us STEM -- but be sure to give us the liberal arts and humanities, too.

Segment 4: (5 min)

Have fun

Business and Finance Implied value of the Chicago Cubs: $2.15 billion

The Ricketts family is buying the last 5% of the team from the Tribune interests, and at $107.5 million for 5%, then that would imply $2.15 billion for the whole enterprise. A real punch in the gut for people who owned Tribune shares back in 2007, when the company was taken private.

Have a little empathy

Health Record-setting preemie goes home

Delivered at 24 weeks of gestation, he weighed 9.45 ounces. Zero pounds, 9.45 ounces. Truly remarkable progress by medical science in evidence here.

Curiosity, competence, and humility

The United States of America Send in the governors

Colorado's former governor (John Hickenlooper) and Washington's current governor (Jay Inslee) are entering the race for President. To this, the American public ought to say: Send in the governors! No, really: Send us lots and lots of governors. Bush (43), Clinton, Reagan, Carter...all governors. It's solid training ground for future Presidents. ■ Being a major-city mayor is also probably decent practice for the Presidential role. But, generally, a governor's desk is the closest thing we have to an Oval Office simulator. ■ Senators want to talk about policy. But keep in mind that most United States Senators oversee offices of a few dozen staff members. Governors are the chief executives of their entire states -- and even a modestly-sized state like Iowa has around 50,000 employees -- and the governor not only oversees those employees, but also has to navigate the expectations of a state legislature and the oversight imposed by a state judicial branch. The orders of magnitude are different, but the roles of governor and President really aren't that different. And there's little room for amateur hour at the top.

The moral of the story: There aren't many things more satisfying than seeing people do things well -- fixing a baseball team, saving babies, or running a government.

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

Make money

Clean up after yourself

Mind your business

Quote of the Week

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


One year ago

Five years ago

Ten years ago

Programming notes

3pm-4pm: Hawkeye Pregame
4pm-7pm: Iowa MBB vs. Rutgers
2p-3p: Compute This (normal time)
3pm-5:30pm: Iowa WBB vs. Northwestern
5:30pm-9pm: Iowa Barnstormers @ Quad Cities (tape delayed)

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Live read: Contests

Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)

Smart speakers

Calendar events to highlight


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