Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 15, 2019
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
Hong Kong protests
Take note of what's happening in Hong Kong
"Huge" isn't enough to describe the scale of the protests -- perhaps half a million people -- and they are self-organizing, too.
The triumph of spontaneous order
Hong Kongers leave water for one another during mass protests. Most people are good by nature, and are trying their best for themselves and their families. Sometimes we just need to be nudged or led in the right direction.
Massive protests emerge in Hong Kong
In case you had any doubts about the universality of certain "unalienable rights", let this be Exhibit A
500,000 people marching in Hong Kong
It's what organizers hope to achieve. If half a million people assemble in Hong Kong, that surely would be worthy of news coverage.
Hong Kong's protests succeeded -- for now
The government will suspend debate on a bill that would have opened the door to extradition to mainland China for people who are supposed to be under the umbrella of Hong Kong's freedoms
What happens when China finally awakens?
Discontent may be widespread, but a true awakening against the authoritarian regime also requires political organization -- and that's tough to achieve. Consider the absolutely epic amount of work required to conduct the recent elections in India. Organization on that kind of scale -- civic or political -- isn't something that spins up overnight.
Have a little empathy
"Freedom from fear and injustice and oppression will be ours only in the measure that men who value such freedom are ready to sustain its possession -- to defend it against every thrust from within or without." - Dwight Eisenhower— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 14, 2019
These could become very dark times indeed. https://t.co/4oNaL7v70E
"We need friends in the world, and they need us. The bell tolls for us, my friends. Humanity counts on us, and we ought to take measured pride in that. We have not been an island. We were 'involved in mankind.'"— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 14, 2019
- John McCain and Mark Salter (@MarkSalter55)#JohnMcCainDay
"The worst hunger crises are driven by things human beings do to each other"
Food is perhaps the cruelest conventional weapon of war, since it disproportionately punishes the sick, the young, and the old for fighting in which they're almost certainly not the belligerents.
Leaders need to find some imagination
America has a long and checkered history with those seeking asylum or refuge from violence and war. But our shining moment came in the shadow of WWI, when Herbert Hoover coordinated the effort to avert famine in Europe. Who is our Herbert Hoover in these circumstances today, as family separation remains a consequence of government policy under the Trump Administration and as the world's refugee/displaced population is larger than ever?
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Live and let live: America's founding goal
James Madison: "Indulging no passions which trespass on the rights or the repose of other nations, it has been the true glory of the United States to cultivate peace by observing justice..."
The moral of the story: A strong economy keeps people from tossing out a good system of government. Personal freedom to choose what to buy and sell is one of the most foundational freedoms of all. But even more foundational are the rights of individual dignity: Personal conscience, freedom of protest, the right to self-determination. And those are the rights that the people of Hong Kong are showing matter more than just the right to make money.
Segment 2: (8 min)
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day™:— Brian Gongol Show (@briangongolshow) June 14, 2019
It's #FlagDay in the US. Do you fly a flag in front of your home?
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day™:— Brian Gongol Show (@briangongolshow) June 7, 2019
In honor of #NationalDoughnutDay (or is it #NationalDonutDay?):
Segment 3: (14 min)
Three of the biggest time-wasters in America today
Conference calls, bad PowerPoint decks, and meetings where nobody distributes agendas or reports in advance.
Why do meetings make people sleepy? The buildup of carbon dioxide in meeting rooms and seminar halls may actually provide a useful physiological explanation that doesn't seem to have really occurred to most of us before.
A "how we met" story so unlikely that it would be more satisfying as fiction than as fact, since it would be deserving of tremendous applause as a creative story.
La Sagrada Familia Basilica gets a building permit -- after 137 years of construction
The construction work significantly predates the constitution of Spain itself, so they really ought to have been grandfathered in.
Clean up after yourself
What would it take to really revolutionize non-automotive transportation?
A thought experiment: What would it take to truly revolutionize pedestrian and cyclist transportation, especially in suburban areas? Shelters over sidewalks to make them useful 365 days a year? Electric bicycles? Moving walkways? Bridges or elevated lanes to bypass roads? Ski lifts mounted down the middle of highways? What novel applications of existing technologies would make moving at a human-powered pace competitive with getting stuck in traffic? The car isn't going to disappear, but even if we convert the entire automotive fleet to electric power and eliminate most air pollution, there would still be consequences from choosing autombiles as our primary tool for getting from Point A to Point B.
There are those who would say it's alarmist to take too seriously the rise in US Treasury securities outstanding. Those people would be wrong.
Norway's legendary sovereign-wealth fund divests from most coal mining
A socialized market economy can work...if you have strong social cohesion, ample rewards for private-sector investment, a big natural-resource endowment (like Norway's oil), and prudent managers of the profits from that resource endowment. It also doesn't hurt to have some form of work requirement and supplemental form of gainful employment -- lest you encounter the often grave risk of creating a large class of young men with nothing productive to do. These conditions are not met in all of the places where "democratic socialism" gains traction, and that's a real problem -- because in those places where the preconditions are not met, the system is extremely unlikely to succeed. And that's not a statement of criticism about the people who are lured by the appeal of what such a system promises; it's simply a recognition of certain immutable facts of human nature.
What makes your mistakes different, sir?
Peter Navarro has no serious answer why today's tariffs on items like steel are supposed to be any more effective than past failures. Recall 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..."
The moral of the story:
Segment 4: (5 min)
WHORadio.com: Links to the work Stanford researchers have done to edit video as easily as typing new words into a script
Mind your business
You are not a "guru" or a "ninja"
A piece you ought to read about a real pet peeve: Fluffing corporate language like job listings to create a false sense of importance -- and obscuring everything that really matters along the way. A very important criticism of fluffy job listings: They suggest that only fervent applicants with nothing to sacrifice are welcome, and that people with personal commitments (like parents) ought not apply.
A bank is no place for a sloppy, made-up name
SunTrust, merging with BB&T, will call itself "Truist". Not "Truest", "Trust", or "Tryst".
Why are there so many utterly uncommunicative company names?
Maybe a silly lamentation, but really: Why so many three-letter abbreviations that mean nothing? Pilita Clark proposes a simple test: Is it easier to find out what your company does from your homepage or from Wikipedia?
The moral of the story:
Segment 5: (11 min)
Hot (social) topics
- 12-Year-Old Girl Invents 'Medi Teddy' For Sick Children
- A young girl who suffers from a rare disease has invented something to make hospitals a little less scary for children like her.
- 12-year-old Ella Casano is the inventor of the "Medi Teddy", a teddy bear designed to conceal IV bags and give sick children "a friendly face to look at".
- Ella, who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at the age of 7, made the first Medi Teddy using a stuffed animal and a glue gun.
- Now, she and her mother want to manufacture them on a larger scale, lauching a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising $5,000 to make the first batch of 500 bears - which Casano plans to give out for free.
- What do you think of the 'Medi Teddy'? What are some other ways we can make hospitals less scary for young children?
- A Bill to End Religious Exemptions for Vaccines
- The State of New York says religious exemptions for vaccines is a thing of the past after voting to remove all non-medical exemptions for immunizations.
- The measure was passed by both the Assembly and Senate and was immediately signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
- The state has been hit with one of the biggest measles outbreaks in decades and statistics show that most of the confirmed cases have been found in Orthodox Jewish communities.
By the numbers
Lake Erie is 2.5' above normal
And that could have caused some light earthquakes
The moral of the story:
Segment 6: (8 min)
Funds for the Des Moines venue were raised privately, at a time when such things were done
Iowa needs a new state flag. Here's an idea.
Stealing a few ideas from the "Good Flag, Bad Flag" pamphlet by the American Vexillological Association, a symbolic substitute for our present-day overcomplicated mess.
The moral of the story:
Segment 7: (14 min)
Technology Three | The week in technology
First it was Amazon Prime-branded trucks rolling up and down I-35 and I-80. Now, it's delivery in Amazon-branded vans in top-100 markets, like Omaha.
Instagram will keep "deepfake" videos of Mark Zuckerberg
Consistent? Maybe. Wise? Probably not.
California may have power outages to stem wildfire threat
It's beginning to sound a lot like California needs an all-out, aggressive migration to microgrids. Or, at least parts of California.
The moral of the story:
Segment 8: (5 min)
Hot (social) topics
- Man Who Strangled his 5 Kids Sentenced to Death
- Despite a plea for leniency from his young victims' mother, a South Carolina man convicted of murdering his five children has been given the death penalty.
- Timothy Jones Jr. reportedly showed no emotion when the jury handed down its decision on Thursday, which came after two hours of deliberation. On Wednesday, his ex-wife and mother of his children Amber Kyzer told jurors their kids "loved their father" and pleaded for a sentence of life without parole.
- Jones was found guilty in the 2014 choking deaths of his children, who ranged in age from 1 to 8. Prosecutors say he then placed each body in a plastic garbage bag and dumped all five in rural Alabama. The sentence makes the 37-year-old the second person to be sent to South Carolina's death row in five years.
By the numbers
China-watchers debate the number of Uighurs being held in China
Reliable sources differ -- but their estimates range from 1 million to 3 million. And any one of those would be a giant number: A population of one million would be more than all but the top ten largest cities in the United States. It isn't just a number; it's at least a million lives, plus those left behind who are affected by their detention. And if an understanding of human nature is any guide, then we may very well see far worse before China's government gets better. The more threatened an authoritarian regime feels, the more driven they are likely to become in using fear and repression to intimidate their opposition. Everyone saw what happened to Gorbachev when glasnost and perestroika moved people's souls before the structure of government was prepared to adapt.
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Inexcusable, and deserving of wrathful judgment
The President, on camera with ABC News in the Oval Office, declares that he wouldn't alert the FBI if approached again by a foreign government demonstrating intent to influence an election. This was not unforeseen: Federalist 75 includes the comment, "An avaricious man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the acquisition of wealth. An ambitious man might make his own aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his treachery to his constituents." They weren't fortune-tellers; they just knew enough to recognize the frailties of human nature.
The moral of the story: We need government to restrain people from harming others -- especially the strong against the weak. In a state of nature, a physically strong person might get away with murdering others -- and the people with guns may get away with herding people without them into concentration camps. The "rule of law" means we can't be OK with outbursts like a Chief Executive saying, from the Oval Office, that he doesn't want to follow the law.
Unsorted and leftovers:
Just half a century past Loving v. Virginia
The Supreme Court case that squashed bans on interracial marriage isn't that far in the rear-view mirror. If you're looking at a Baby Boomer, you're looking at someone who is older than this Supreme Court case. Sometimes it's hard to put into perspective just how long the law has permitted injustices to go on.
Changes in routine shouldn't put babies at risk
Summer changes in patterns can put children at risk of being left behind in hot cars. Don't let it happen.
May the Warren and Charlie Show reign for a thousand years
Warren Buffett says he wants to keep up the extravaganza that surrounds the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha
More than five months without a SecDef
The vacancy at Secretary of Defense has now gone on longer than the Battle of Anzio. It is inexcusable.
Tribune Tower -- now for "luxury living"
Chicago Tribune employees -- the former occupants -- have a hard time believing it's quite so luxurious. Of course, in the words of Le Corbusier, "A house is a machine for living in."
Hot (social) topics
- U.S. Says Iran Removed Unexploded Mine From Oil Tanker
- The U.S. military has released a video supporting the claim that Iran was behind an attack on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
- Military officials say the video shows the Iranian navy removing an unexploded mine from a Japanese-owned tanker.
- Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of orchestrating the attack based on an intelligence assessment.
- The attack comes as tensions remain tense between the U.S. and Iran, is the video enough evidence to pin the attack on Iran? If not Iran, who else could be responsible and why?
Quote of the Week
"He has blessed the United States with a political Constitution rounded on the will and authority of the whole people and guaranteeing to each individual security, not only of his person and his property, but of those sacred rights of conscience so essential..." - James Madison
Iowa's farm situation looks troublesome
For crops like corn and soybeans to reach full potential takes time, and the planting season has been wrecked by wet weather. We run a very serious risk of crops failing to reach full maturity by the time the frost arrives. There's going to be a lot of nervous staring at the skies come October, when planting delays will start to show up as harvest delays; the earliest 1" snowfall recorded in Des Moines was Oct. 10 (in 2009). Is it the fault of climate change? Maybe, or maybe not. But (a) we've seen ample evidence of meteorological extremes, and (b) anthropogenic causes are plausible, so (c) a pragmatic combination of conservation/mitigation techniques and meaningful investments in resilience are probably prudent. For certain, the most imprudent course of action is to do nothing environmentally-focused, but to wreck the world trading order out of spite.
Headline: "Four crashes in Iowa Sunday kill five people". Key sentence: "The Iowa State Patrol says the lone survivor in these four crashes, was wearing a seat belt, but those who died were not."
Weaponizing funding for veterans is political malpractice
It is insulting and fundamentally un-American to make funding for veterans' programs the subject of an unrelated issue -- as Rep. Steve King is trying to do by making a play to de-fund "sanctuary cities". After careful study and debate, we should spend what ought to be spent on veterans, period. And do it without tying that funding to other issues. The seriousness with which America has addressed its debts (literal and otherwise) to veterans is a subject as old as the Republic itself. It's hard enough to do right, even without the distraction of tying that issue to other ones.
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
Guardrails in a time of tribalism
Jacob Levy wisely observes: "You'd think that might mean that a moment of close partisan balance and considerable uncertainty about effective coalitional power in the medium term would favor some kinds of moderation of institutional vision: planning for a world in which you don't know whether you're 51 or 49. Instead, I see a polity full of people planning for their next supermajority." It may well be that we are watching people play out a prisoner's dilemma in which all faith in the other party has broken down (on both sides). Same effect: Behaving like there's no tomorrow. Jonah Goldberg has advanced a plausible theory that the major parties are very weak, which perversely has made partisanship more extreme at the margins as interest groups try to run the table whenever they get close to power.
Have a little empathy
Qatari workers held in conditions that shock the conscience
A German sports-news outlet covers their treatment as part of work related to the 2022 World Cup. And it will be enormously interesting to see whether FIFA takes the appropriate steps here to show that (a) they take the reporting seriously and (b) they are a credible institution with real regard for what takes place, in essence, in their name. Guest workers or native-born, they are people. Human beings, endowed with a right to dignity by their very existence.
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Cutting the check isn't the same as paying the price
The President wants to believe that Americans pay "very little" for his tariffs on Chinese goods. But when high taxes are imposed on anything, consumers end up sharing in that cost, period. You can quibble about their share of that cost vis-a-vis the relative slopes of the supply and demand curves, but they absolutely do pay.
A delusion: "Some people said it was the best speech ever made by a president in Europe"
A Presidential claim on par with "My girlfriend is hot and she lives in Canada". There is an unfathomable degree of ahistorical hubris involved in his thinking that an unremarkable speech is somehow comparable with "Tear down this wall" or "Ich bin ein Berliner".
The President turns to his favorite medium to pick another of his endless fights with the news media. He ought to heed the words of Calvin Coolidge: "Perhaps one of the reasons I have been a target for so little abuse is because I have tried to refrain from abusing other people. The words of the President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately." Self-awareness plus historical literacy make for a powerful combination.
"It's not you, it's my dodecahedron." https://t.co/dML0ko9KhY— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 12, 2019
Suddenly I'm developing an interest in cruelty-free dining... https://t.co/fNxbEWXjit— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 9, 2019
♫ Listen to the first hour of the episode from June 15, 2019 here
♫ Listen to the second hour of the episode from June 15, 2019 here
① Hong Kong is fighting back against China's latest attempts to revoke their rights, and Americans need to pay serious attention.
② Do you fly a flag in front of your home?
③ Why meetings put you to sleep (blame carbon dioxide!) and why Iowans don't walk to work.
④ A bank is no place for a sloppy, made-up name
⑤ A creative kid finds a better way to treat young hospital patients, and is raising funds.
⑥ Severe weather interruptions
⑦ Instagram preserves a deepfake, behaving consistently but probably unwisely.
⑧ Severe weather interruptions