Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 25, 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

The moral of the story:

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Humor and Good News Let the taco trucks flourish!

It's a well-known, documented scientific fact that tacos are the happiest food.

The moral of the story:

Segment 3: (14 min)

The moral of the story:

Segment 4: (5 min)

News The suburban faux-stone facade

Sure, it looks fine for now. It permits builders to meet zoning requirements or whatever standards are put into place by corporate planners at national retail and restaurant chains. But someday, it's going to look as dated as the circa 1965-1985 giant panel glass windows (a la Kmart storefront) with the shiny 1" metal frame around the perimeter.

The moral of the story:

Segment 5: (11 min)

Technology Three | The week in technology

Threats and Hazards Facebook won't take down manipulated videos of Speaker Pelosi

Then update your rules, Facebook. If you haven't gotten the message yet, this is EXACTLY the kind of manipulative activity that requires a serious response -- not because it's a Democrat or a Republican being targeted, but because it is PATENTLY MISREPRESENTATIVE of reality. Wonder how fast that policy will change when manipulated videos of Mark Zuckerberg start popping up like weeds.

Threats and Hazards What to do about facial-recognition technology?

Editorial writer Josh Greenman of the New York Daily News argues that "the idea that we should ban police from taking surveillance camera or cell-phone camera images and running them through a database of mugshots, when they already use fingerprints and DNA, and when they already rely on (chronically unreliable) eyewitness reports to zero in on suspects, is just silly." Perhaps an all-out ban is "silly", but the issue demands a very serious debate about limits and oversight. In fact, it deserves the most extraordinary scrutiny we can impose. And that's because Americans have a fundamental right to be left alone if we're behaving "peaceably", to borrow a valuable word from the First Amendment. That's not a right that government grants to us -- it's an inherent right, forming essentially the foundation for every other civic right we ordinarily take for granted. So anything -- anything at all! -- that would begin to encroach upon that fundamental freedom requires the toughest sort of review we are capable of applying.

The moral of the story:

Segment 6: (8 min)

SpaceX launches first round of Starnet satellite complex

Segment 7: (14 min)

Make money

Business and Finance Buckle up for economic potholes ahead

Macroeconomic tea leaves are the hardest tea leaves to read -- but there's a lot of real money on the line for a lot of people in the housing and construction sector, so it's like a prediction market on steroids. So when it's observed that construction spending is slipping in ways similar to how it has fallen ahead of past recessions, then reasonable observers ought to take notice. In other words, this is a real window into "Watch what I do, not what I say."

Have fun

Business and Finance "Veep" needs a spinoff

Specifically, one that pits Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) opposite Minna "Finnish Wolf" Hakkinen (Sally Phillips). They form a delightful character rivalry whose narrative arc, incidentally, would absolutely crush the Bechdel Test.

Clean up after yourself

Science and Technology Who should clean up carbon emissions?

Noting that China is already the world's largest emitter, but that it was historically produced mostly by the United States and a couple of other allied countries, it's a question the world is going to hear. A problem like this doesn't lend itself to rivalrous obligations to pay. If you created a mess in the past, whether you knew it was a mess or not, it's your duty to clean it up. If you're creating a mess now, especially knowing that it's a mess, it's also your duty to clean up. Ideally, borrowing an idea from futurist Ian Pearson, demand will rapidly push technological frontiers forward in the markets that can afford to pay for newer and better things, resulting in diffusion of those technologies to places with fewer resources.

Mind your business

Computers and the Internet Resignation with clarity

One thing to be said about British politicians: They've learned to format their letters so you can read them as clear single images on Twitter and other social media. Can't say the same for many American politicians.

The moral of the story:

Segment 8: (5 min)

Have a little empathy

Humor and Good News Better than the stereotypes

Two 10-year-old girls from Nebraska raised $10,000 for charity, had their heads shaved as the challenge, and donated the hair to an organization that makes wigs for pediatric cancer patients. Engage in whatever generational stereotyping you want, but these Gen Z kids deserve a round of applause wherever they go. Their parents should be proud.

Socialism Doesn't Work The dastardly work of authoritarians

A French journalist shares heretofore unseen images of China's crackdown in 1989. It's worth asking: What would happen if similar protests broke out today? Have the tools of government surveillance and repression outpaced the tools of mass organization and real-time reporting? The government is reviving the language of struggle, referring to a "new long march" in the trade war with the United States. That's not the language of glasnost or perestroika.

The moral of the story:

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

News Family unveils truly arresting sculptural tribute to daughter

God willing, maybe the message will save some lives.

Humor and Good News "Interstate Love Song" as piano solo

It's a real testament to the quality of the song that a rendition like this -- so completely different in execution -- can sound completely faithful to the original and totally at home in another genre altogether. Not every song can do that.

Threats and Hazards "I'm an extremely stable genius."

Show us, don't tell us.

Weather and Disasters Tornado damage in Adair

An evident tornado track right across Interstate 80

Weather and Disasters Extremely powerful storms in southern Midwest

Lightning from the storms was plainly visible from hundreds of miles away. Debris from the tornado in Jefferson City, Missouri, could be found still falling half an hour later.

Computers and the Internet Bring back Google Reader

The sunsetting of Google Reader was done so badly that the transition was rough for power users. Feedly, too, but Twitter feeds are widely used in place of conventional RSS.

Hot (social) topics

By the numbers

Quote of the Week

Your role in cyberwar

Iowa news

Contrary to popular opinion

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

21st Century conservatism

Curiosity, competence, and humility

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

Monday: Van and Bonnie at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum in Johnston from 5am to 9am

Live read: iHeartRadio app

iHeartRadio app

Live read: Contests

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 May 25, 2019 here

A lot of people will offer you earnest pleas to take Memorial Day seriously, as more than just a day off work or an excuse to buy something on sale. But let us go a little further: It should be a reminder that our patriotism should be more than paper-thin, and should require us to do more for the people who serve the country in uniform than to just say "Thank you for your service". Everyone -- civilians included -- should spend time and energy studying military issues so we don't fall for fraudulent "leaders" who wrap themselves in the flag.

Listen to segment 1

Which is the happiest food? Pizza, tacos, burgers, or chili?

Listen to segment 2

What's wrong with the proposed design for the Federal courthouse in downtown Des Moines? A lot of things. But above all, it's insufferably dull. Des Moines deserves far better than a design that takes no risks at all.

Listen to segment 3

If something is worth building, it's worth building right. Some folks would rather do a Federal courthouse building on the cheap, but if it's going to be here for 50 or 100 years, then it had better be done right the first time. Sometimes, you have to spend a little more to save a lot in the long run.

Listen to segment 4

The Technology Three: I recognize your face.

Listen to segment 5

SpaceX launches a swarm of satellites to swirl all over the planet, delivering Internet access.

Listen to segment 6

Big red flags are going up from the construction industry. They could be a dire warning about economic hiccups to come -- soon.

Listen to segment 7

Giving indigent veterans an honorable final resting place.

Listen to segment 8