Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio

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

Pulling street spam from I-235 exit ramps

It's my own version of a neighborhood watch

Iowa 10% jump in real-estate assessments in Polk County

That's a very, very big increase for a biennial adjustment

Property taxes are hard on:

But it's also hard to find an alternative

Who uses property tax revenues?

I want a valuable community, so that incentivizes care and improvement of my property

Also incentivizes interest in the quality of public services and neighbors' property quality

The United States of America What's another $2 trillion in deficit spending over 10 years?

That's the path laid out in the forecasts based on the House Budget Commitee's plan. Once again, the rules should be (1) Decide what you want from government; (2) Limit those wants, aggressively; and (3) Pay for it all. We seem to be stuck on step 1, with no intentions of ever reaching step 3.

The moral of the story: Local government has to balance budgets. I'm no happier about a tax increase than anyone else could be. But I'll take it over the Federal-debt approach anytime.

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Segment 3: (14 min)

Health 5-month-old needs living liver donor to survive

"Possible candidates must have O blood type, weigh less than 150 pounds, younger than 40, in good health, and not recently pregnant. Doctors only need 25 percent of the liver and said it will grow back within six months."


Heather Butterfield, Iowa Donor Network (

"April is National Donate Life Month so this is a great opportunity for us to increase awareness about donation and the need for people to register as donors."

The moral of the story:

Segment 4: (5 min)

Have a little empathy

Weather and Disasters Almost 600 Nebraska homes rendered uninhabitable by floods

Imagine your own home getting "red-tagged" as uninhabitable. Then multiply that by everyone on your entire Facebook friends list.

Humor and Good News Nurse adopts baby who went five months without a visitor

Affirm your sense of human decency with the help of this story. Every life has value. Every individual is worthy of dignity. And how we commit ourselves to those beliefs determines the course of civilization.

The moral of the story:

Segment 5: (11 min)

Clean up after yourself

Humor and Good News Paper towels could be making us terrible at math

4 is 8! 8 is 12! 2 is 5! 6 is 9!

The United States of America Don't expect a revival of the draft to create better voters

Good citizen-voters should have informed opinions on defense and diplomacy as a matter of civic duty, period. It shouldn't hinge on whether you spent any time in uniform, either by choice or by draft.

News Now we're back to debating the gold standard?

When Margaret Thatcher said, "Each generation has to fight for its own liberties, in whatever way is appropriate," she should have warned us that the fight would routinely involve the stupidest, stubbornest possible counterparties.

The moral of the story:

Segment 6: (8 min)

Technology Three | The week in technology

Weather and Disasters China's carbon-dioxide emissions are mind-blowing

An intriguing litmus test would be to ask people if "Country X" should be expected to reduce its emissions, even if doing so would be politically unpopular. Then let people take the Pepsi Challenge of Climate-Related Emissions.

Weather and Disasters When thunder roars, go indoors

Radar detects lightning striking 50 miles away from the center of a thunderstorm in Oklahoma

Facebook calls for more regulation -- regulatory capture is alive and well, if nefarious

The moral of the story:

Segment 7: (14 min)

21st Century conservatism

Threats and Hazards NATO needs a refreshed mission

Resisting tyranny everywhere? That could be it. Writes Hal Brands: "[T]hese efforts would have greater impact if the world's foremost democracy did not seem so ambivalent about leading the democratic world."

The United States of America What might a future American consensus look like?

If we could re-converge the American political consensus around anything, it might just be Ike.

The United States of America The President thinks about a post-office memoir

Instead of the score-settling "tell-all" memoirs of the present, Americans ought to spend a little more time with the thoughtful reflections of Presidents on whom history has had some time to decide.

Tin Foil Hat Award

News Is the UK going to figure out Brexit?

It's hard for an outsider to see how the Brexit debacle has done anything but make independence look more attractive to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Threats and Hazards The rule of law matters

Vladimir Putin may remain in office past 2024 if the power brokers around him think it's the only way they'll survive. When security (whether financial, physical, or otherwise) becomes dependent upon who is in charge rather than what rules apply, then the corrupt have every incentive to perpetuate corruption. The rule of law matters.

Threats and Hazards American universities wise up to the threat of China's stateside public-diplomacy campaign

It's unwise to be xenophobic. It's also unwise to turn a blind eye to projects that use "culture" as a thin veneer over an overtly hostile political endeavor.

Threats and Hazards Russia may send even more troops to Venezuela

Clearly not an act indicating support for the right to self-determination by the Venezuelan people

The moral of the story:

Segment 8: (5 min)

Mind your business

Threats and Hazards It truly is idiotic to say that wind turbines cause cancer

Every unsubstantiated, wildly speculative claim that "X causes cancer" is a real insult to those of us who have had cancer, who conduct research on cancer, or who have lost loved ones to cancer. We're not your punchline and not your prop.

The moral of the story:

Unsorted and leftovers:

A hashtag America can get behind:#FeelTheEthicalConcernAboutBern

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) April 6, 2019

This is a pretty great idea. Obviously, it gives the teacher an entry point to provide needed care and attention, but it also gives other students a sense of awareness about their peers.

— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) April 6, 2019

This week

Iowa "Heartland Visas": Should Midwestern states get special access to additional skilled immigration?

A big-picture idea well worth considering here in Iowa. We're not losing net population on a state level, but increasing urbanization means we're depopulating rural areas, and it may be stoking a negative feedback loop. This might help.

News University of Nebraska officials meet with Sen. Ben Sasse

Officially, it was just a routine visit to Washington. But the university has an opening for president, and it would be professional malpractice if the regents didn't at least raise the prospect with him. And as someone with a well-publicized interest in the nature of how future generations are formed (beyond by the law, which is where he operates today), he'd be crazy not to at least consider it. If he's considered as a candidate, what he does will say a lot about whether his experience as a Federal elected official tells him that current politics are salvageable.

News Ten leading contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020

Jonathan Last ranks them: Sanders, Biden, O'Rourke, Harris, Buttigieg, Warren, Klobuchar, Booker, Gillibrand, and Yang. Nary a governor is found in Last's top ten, which (strictly from a functional standpoint) is unnerving, particularly if he's right. Governors and (very) big-city mayors should form America's #1 development league for Presidents.

The United States of America An alternative to DC statehood: Return most of the district to Maryland

Not an idea ready for prime time all on its own, but certainly a better choice than making DC (with the Capitol included) a brand-new state. The precedent? Parts of DC were returned to Virginia long ago. Let's not pretend like we're the only country with a special set of rules that apply to our capitol.

By the numbers

Make money

Business and Finance More work to be done before there's a China-US trade deal

It could be negotiated by the ghost of Milton Friedman himself and it would still fall short, for one simple reason: Multilateral agreements are nearly always better than bilateral ones.


News "Impact" is not a verb

Perhaps worse than anything, "impact" is utterly ambiguous as a (non-)verb. It suggests anything from crashing ("he was killed on impact") to leaving a hazy impression ("the lingering impact of her words...").

Computers and the Internet What dead celebrity should have had a Twitter account?

The correct answer is Benjamin Franklin, the original American master of pith. Of course, it's possible to offer an approximation of a Franklinesque account, by capturing Franklin's voluminous writings and programming them to run in a bot account. But obviously, there's something missing since it's not really him. In the future, though, personality engines will permit artificial intelligence to synthesize responses to new and novel questions with answers drawn from the past statements of great thinkers like Franklin.

Humor and Good News National Hug a Newsperson Day? Think again.

If you meet a cuddly newsperson, odds are good that you've actually found a PR person instead. Most journalists are hard-working, decent people -- but they're not usually a soft and fuzzy crew.

Science and Technology Parking on a 30-degree incline

Certainly a way to pack more vehicles into the same space. But also a way to ruin a lot of transmissions.

Programming notes

Justin Brady: Interviewing George Foreman's son at 5pm. He's starting an actual fight club and yes, we can talk about it.

Iowa Barnstormers are home TONIGHT vs Cedar Rapids River Kings
-coverage starts at 6:35pm on 1040 WHO and the iHeartRadio APP

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Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)

Smart speakers

Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)

Smart speakers

Calendar events to highlight



Listen to the full episode from April 6, 2019 here

Segment 1: Property assessments are up 10%, but I'm determined not to complain. Paying for city-level needs is a hugely challenging task, and property taxes are an imperfect tool for doing the job. We should spend more time and energy seeking alternatives that would work better.

Listen to segment 1

Segment 2: What's a good Catholic boy to eat for lunch on a Friday in Lent? Pick the ideal meal in this week's Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day.

Listen to segment 2

Segment 3: The story of a 5-month-old in desperate need of a living organ donation gave us a very good reason to talk with Heather Butterfield of the Iowa Donor Network. Did you know they've been able to use tissue donations from donors as old as 105?

Listen to segment 3

Segment 4: We can't forget about our friends and neighbors in southwestern Iowa and neighboring Nebraska. The floods there have left so many people homeless, it's as though everyone in your Facebook friends list lost their house.

Listen to segment 4

Segment 5: Feel the ethical concern about Bern. It's not just the President who should release his tax returns -- Sen. Bernie Sanders should do it, too. Voters need to know who may be beholden to what and to whom.

Listen to segment 5

Segment 6: When weather experts say "When thunder roars, go indoors", they're not kidding: Radar detects lightning strikes 50 miles away from the core of a thunderstorm. Plus, two other items in this week's Technology Three.

Listen to segment 6

Segment 7: After 70 years, does the NATO mission need a reboot? The institution is still valuable to America and our allies, but it's possible we need to revisit the motivation for the alliance and breathe some new life into it.

Listen to segment 7

Segment 8: I'm a cancer survivor, not a punchline. The President should be ashamed of himself for treating cancer like a joke. And he owes a lot of people an apology.

Listen to segment 8