Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 8, 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

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley to President: "Tariffs not the answer"

Congress needs to assert itself and the responsibilities explicitly described in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The President isn't the tariff-maker, unless they abdicate the duty. And if they can't take those powers back when they are written right into the Constitution, then we ought to toss out any member of Congress who doesn't have the guts to do it.

Agriculture Senators from farm states threaten to take back tariff authority

Congress has handed over a lot of responsibility for tariffs to the executive branch over the decades -- because it was thought that the executive would be more consistently pro-trade than the legislative. Now that the conventional wisdom has been turned on its head, it's well past time to reclaim that authority. It's not a new argument, either -- see Federalist Paper No. 35: "Exorbitant duties on imported articles [...] tend to render other classes of the community tributary, in an improper degree, to the manufacturing classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of the markets..."

Segment 1: (11 min)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

Computers and the Internet Thoughtfully colorized photos from D-Day

Far more effective than the old Walter Cronkite series "You Are There", these photos really do erase the mental distance from the event usually afforded to us by black-and-white pictures.

News A toast by Queen Elizabeth

One doesn't have to be a monarchist to appreciate that, since they've chosen to retain a monarch, Britain truly has been fortunate to have Elizabeth in that role. Her role may be officially nonpolitical, but she ascended to the throne when Winston Churchill himself was prime minister. There's no way she can be indifferent about the transatlantic alliance. And that comes through quite clearly in her toast to the relationship between the US and the UK on the occasion of the President's state visit. Perhaps someone stashed a copy of Kori Schake's excellent book "Safe Passage" on board Air Force One for the President to read en route to the UK. It's a great examination of the "special friendship" toasted by the Queen -- how it came into being, and why it benefits the parties involved. If not, someone please get him a copy for the ride home.

The moral of the story: Our forebears found their way out of the woods in WWII and overcame tremendous odds. It wasn't a certainty going in, and the sacrifices required are still overwhelming to consider today. We're not that different today. We can rise to challenges again, and not a moment should be spent telling ourselves otherwise.

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Segment 3: (14 min)

Iowa news: Christine Hensley on the Federal courthouse plan

The moral of the story:

Segment 4: (5 min)

Curiosity, competence, and humility

The United States of America Breaking the cycle of resentment

Most Americans -- regardless of age, creed, origin, or geography -- are decent, honest, and hard-working. And we're mostly free to pick up and move, if we want. Starting from a sense of respect for those assumptions would sure do a lot to break the political cycle of resentment. Enhancing people's ability to move freely is one of the best welfare-type investments that we can make. And if people choose not to do so, the rest of us have a civic responsibility to respect that decision -- while expecting people to be accountable for what happens in those communities where they do choose to live.

News Slavery, in the words of ex-slaves

The Montgomery Advertiser, in a bold and intelligent protest of Alabama's "Jefferson Davis Day", shares the words of nine former slaves. Words like, "Course they cry; you think they not cry when they was sold like cattle? I could tell you about it all day, but even then you couldn't guess the awfulness of it." Everyone of good conscience ought to read what they said.

The moral of the story:

Segment 5: (11 min)

Make money

Business and Finance Why haven't newspapers fixed the subscription model?

Venture capitalist Paul Graham speculates that newspapers can't remain "neutral" and survive. But that's a strange conclusion to draw when there's a simpler hypothesis: Newspapers need to offer low-friction, low-volume, low-cost subscription plans for readers outside their primary markets. Many readers have interest in secondary newspapers outside their natural subscription bases: Someone in Des Moines may have a lesser, but non-trivial, interest in the newspapers of Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, and even Denver. It's unlikely any meaningful number of people were subscribing to that many print editions of out-of-state papers a generation ago, so it's equally unlikely that people would want to pay full price for all-access digital subscriptions to that many today. But there really must be a way to offer people in the "long tail" a way to pay modestly for their news without forcing them into a binary, all-or-nothing subscription choice. Where is the option for newspaper readers that acts like an EZPass? A person might live in Iowa, but travel the toll roads in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio from time to time -- all with the help of frictionless access to those roads from an I-Pass. They pay a fair share, but they pay a lot less than the residents of those states. In other words, how come newspapers haven't figured out an online subscription model that works as easily as the reciprocity passes people get when they become members of a zoo or an aquarium? It's not rocket science. The binary choice of full-price-or-nothing stands in the way of letting people who value journalism do something to pay for it.

Have fun

Clean up after yourself

Weather and Disasters "Climate change poses new threat to Panama Canal"

They're actually having to consider creating a whole additional lake just to accommodate volatile weather patterns that threaten the operation of the canal. Watch for revealed preferences: Where people spend their money, not just what they say. Spending the money to build a lake seems like enough commitment for one to believe they think something new and significant is happening.

Threats and Hazards Growing our way out of debt may not be an option

This might be aptly termed a fragile situation: "[W]ith low interest rates but relatively high debt, the budget is increasingly sensitive to interest rate risk -- just a 1 percentage point increase in projected interest rates would cost $1.9 trillion"

Mind your business

News Governing competence: How do we demand more?

In the words of Bill Gates, "[G]overnment is a pretty blunt instrument and without the constant attention of highly qualified people with the right metrics, it will fall into not doing things very well."

The moral of the story:

Segment 6: (8 min)

Technology Three | The week in technology

Computers and the Internet Scammer offers baby for adoption via spam

What's the game here? Perhaps hoping someone falls for the heartstring-tugging and then gets drawn into sending money to facilitate the "adoption"?

Computers and the Internet Wherefore art the note-taking application of our dreams?

Comp sci people have developed artificial intelligence that can falsify video and write music, but there's still no such thing as a great calendar app or a full-featured note tool.

Computers and the Internet Editing speech in videos as easily as typing

That's the promise made on the back of research at Stanford and some affiliated institutions. Considering the number of people who were taken in by the low-tech "slurred words" video, this sophisticated manipulation is going to wreak havoc on all kinds of evidence we have grown to trust.

The moral of the story:

Segment 7: (14 min)

Hot (social) topics

By the numbers

News Giant billion-dollar meth bust in Australia

AUS$1.2 billion in drugs seized -- "hidden in stereo speakers from Bangkok" -- which comes out to $840 million in US dollars at current exchange rates.

The moral of the story:

Segment 8: (5 min)

Tin Foil Hat Award

News "Chernobyl" miniseries as reminder it's a good thing the West won

We become the stories we tell ourselves. "Chernobyl" presented the Soviet system as a grim antihero, and as Tom Nichols confirms, it's important that we remember why.

Have a little empathy

The United States of America The American Declaration of Independence speaks to China, too

We coexist on a planet with the people of China. And if we are true to our own Declaration of Independence, we should see those people as being just as worthy of individual dignity as we are.

Threats and Hazards "Bloody shirts are banners for students' movement"

A dispatch from Tiananmen Square in 1989, as it was reported in real time. And today? "I think there will be more [protests] in the future. There will be more in the future, and more conflict."

News Why have American values been taken out of American foreign policy?

Kori Schake: "...people have inherent rights and loan them in limited ways to governments for agreed purposes. We fail often to uphold this principle, but it is a genuine departure for an American administration not to even acknowledge it." Read the Declaration of Independence: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." True in 1776. True in 1989. True in 2019. Consent is a prerequisite of legitimacy. And a government that will not tell the truth has no rightful claim to power.

Socialism Doesn't Work A theme for June 4th

A song lamenting what happened in 1989, and a reminder that a world of government exclusively by the consent of the governed, protective of the liberty and dignity of the individual, is the rightful human condition. These words are not ambiguous: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." The anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is a very good day to reflect on these words.

Yay Capitalism Prize

The American Way Perkins: The pinnacle of capitalism?

354 restaurants all over America where, at almost any hour of day or night (often 24 hours a day), just about anyone can afford a consistent, made-to-order, sit-down meal that would put your great-grandfather's Thanksgiving dinner to shame.

The moral of the story: Restaurants and other creature comforts aren't what make a country great -- they just make it pleasant. Greatness emerges only from the environment of freedom, individual liberty, and the rule of law (with mercy for the weak).

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

Threats and Hazards Why so many shootings on Lake Shore Drive?

One of Chicago's busiest thoroughfares is also the site of far too many murders. But why?

Science and Technology The dwarf planet

The only thing to be said for demoting Pluto is that it's really hard to come up with a mnemonic device that adds the other four -- FOUR! -- dwarf planets (each smaller than the Moon). And if you drop Pluto, it can become "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nutella", because Nutella is everything.

Threats and Hazards President, abroad, calls Speaker of the House a "disgrace"

It used to be said that politics stops at the water's edge. But apparently nobody said anything about a Festivus-style airing of grievances.

News Why it's "renowned" and not "reknew"

Renown has nothing to do with "knowing"

News Pedantry is the last refuge of the scoundrel

Company requests correction over news story that said their medication cost $40,000. It's really $38,892. Gizmodo doesn't really regret the error.

The United States of America He fought right out of a body bag

Forget superhero comics. The true story of Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez is amazing.

Threats and Hazards The USS John McCain incident is a shame on all of us

Jonah Goldberg, on what it says about the President and his audience: "[Apologists argued that] the chaos and crudeness were worth getting good judges, tax cuts, and less regulation. That doublespeak and lying used to vex me. But the newfound sincerity troubles me even more."

News Save your fury over metric

Tucker Carlson ranted against the metric system over a chyron reading "Is the metric system completely made up?". Of course it is -- and so is counting by tens.

Business and Finance McDonalds sells old corporate campus to founder of Paul Mitchell

The campus of Hamburger University is under new management.

News High heels aren't the root problem

19,000 people in Japan have signed a petition against dress codes that require women to wear high heels. The root problem isn't the footwear, but rather the cultural norms that permit such requirements to go into place. Sometimes it's the most idiosyncratic things that reveal deeper systemic troubles.

Weather and Disasters It just doesn't end

Possibly a crest on the Missouri River? Still no relief from flooding -- just maybe a little less of it.

News President Jimmy Carter named a tenured professor at Emory

He's 94, and has been lecturing there since 1982. At last, he will be free to speak his mind with the security of tenure.

News Architectural works of Le Corbusier

It's easy to see the concrete and glass and steel in these, but equally interesting is the interaction between the modernist architecture and the natural world around. There's more to it than the contemporary stunt of showing a couple of trees on the 45th floor of a high-rise.

News Illinois doubles gas tax

Some of the funding, it is said, will go towards building a rail line from Chicago to the Quad Cities. Per WHBF-TV: "Instead of paying 19 cents per gallon, drivers in Illinois will have to pay 38 cents starting July 1. It will cost drivers about $100 extra a year, and generate about $1.2 billion for the state." That will certainly be of note to the many Iowa communities along the Illinois border

Quote of the Week

Your role in cyberwar

Iowa news

Iowa Iowa City elementary school fined by OSHA

It's a fine over failure to train staff about attacks from students, which seems troubling

Agriculture Iowa crop planting is incredibly far behind schedule

Corn is only 80% planted, when by this point in the average year it is 99% planted and 91% emerged. Soybeans are just 41% planted, when they're normally 89% planted and 63% emerged. The ground is just plain saturated, and more rain doesn't help.

Contrary to popular opinion

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

21st Century conservatism

Inbox zero

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Capitalist solution of the week


Humor and Good News Strike at the world's biggest Nutella factory

Forget Brexit. This strike is the real crisis gripping the European economy:

Health 25 cups a day, and your heart stays OK?

Study claims that as much as 25 cups of coffee per day won't stiffen the heart muscle fibers. Fine for your heart, maybe, but let's talk about what you'd need to spend on toothpaste and breath mints.

One year ago

Five years ago

Ten years ago

Programming notes

6:35pm: Barnstormers Pregame
7:05pm-10pm: IA Barnstormers vs. Sioux Falls Storm

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 June 8, 2019 here

Yes, the Millennials could fight WWII today -- if they had to. Every generation is dismissed by its seniors. Even the Greatest Generation. Look at colorized photos of D-Day and ask yourself why we even risk making the same mistakes today as the ones that led to that war.

Listen to segment 1

Donut day! Which doughnut wins National Doughnut Day?

Listen to segment 2

Can Des Moines stop the new Federal courthouse? It's prime riverfront real estate -- why should it be filled with a boring Federal courthouse? Christine Hensley helps figure it out.

Listen to segment 3

Breaking the cycle of resentment by respecting the choices others make to have pride in their own communities -- while holding them accountable, too. Like the Montgomery Advertiser's incredible and powerful approach to telling the story of slavery from the first-hand perspective of ex-slaves themselves.

Listen to segment 4

What inscriptions should go on the Federal courthouse? A caller argues the case for Biblical inscriptions on the new Federal courthouse. I argue for what I call "providential moralism" -- the kind of moral claims routinely made by the Founders, referring to Providence or the Creator. I think that approach is central to having a pluralistic society.

Listen to segment 5

How newspapers can learn from the zoo: Newspapers need reciprocity passes -- so you can support a couple of papers directly, but still get access to what's in others.

Listen to segment 6

Edited videos are breaking through, and we ought to treat it like a four-alarm fire. Researchers at Stanford and elsewhere have come up with powerful technology to manipulate videos -- and the damage they could do is almost completely out of control.

Listen to segment 7

Capitalism is great, but freedoms are even better. Or: "Why I love Perkins, but the Declaration of Independence applies to people in China, too".

Listen to segment 8