Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 13, 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

Weather and Disasters New Orleans area gets 7" of rain

Putting stress on a levee system already being challenged by an abnormally high Mississippi River. A tropical storm is coming.

Segment 1: (11 min)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

I was in a meeting this past week where we were trying to figure out as a group how to make sure that we had the right people joining the organization helping to lead it into the future. This is one of my favorite kinds of groups. It is an all-volunteer organization. Nobody has paid to manage or run it everything is done purely by volunteers. Not only that it is exceptionally committed to equality of representation.

It's an ore industry organization, but every possible stakeholder is represented and involved. There's an overwhelming commitment to fairness and to ensuring that as many people as possible are represented by the organization and in the organization rather than having any one left out.

In fact, one of our discussions hinged on just how finally we could split the hairs to make sure that those who would normally get left out of the conversation still had a seat at the table specifically we were talking about people from small towns. So overall it was an exceptionally good meeting. One of the things that occurred to me though is that I don't do a lot of things because I'm told to do them, but I have a whole lot of things that I do because I feel a duty to do them.

And I kind of wonder how that gets transmitted.

Part of our conversation circulated around the fact that over time different organizations have shown different levels of commitment to this bigger organization.

And it sort of depends on the whims and the generations and the experiences of the people who are leading the constituent organizations to decide who shows up and does the work and gets things done.

in the broader organization

this obviously isn't exclusive to the comings and goings of a trade group like mine. It also shows up in everything from

Community leadership like people running for school board's all the way down through civic organizations, libraries, churches, and so on.

And I worry a lot these days about whether the idea of Duty is getting transmitted people doing things not because they're told to do them, but because they feel a deep sense of responsibility to do them.

I wonder whether people feel like they're essential.

To keeping things running and whether keeping those things running is essential.

There are two sides to this coin. Obviously. I don't think we can afford to leave either one out.

I had a similar conversation online as I tried to explain to people in a an area that I take a lot of interest in that they have a social duty to respond when they get a call from a reporter or from a talk show host not because there's any law telling them that they have to do so and not because they're going to be told by their bosses that they need to show a certain number of media hits in order to get paid but simply because if good people don't show up to do these things bad people will people with motivations that aren't interested in community art interested in Civic responsibilities aren't interested in the general welfare, but rather people

Earth something to sell people who have something to gain by pulling one over on the rest of us.

You wouldn't believe the amount of trash that I get in my inbox every day from people trying to weasel their way onto the air.

There is so much snake oil for sale these days. It would blow your mind and yet if it didn't work once in a while for these hucksters to get through they wouldn't bother sending these messages in the first place. Eventually, they'd get the picture and would quit trying. Well, they don't do that. They keep showing up and they show up in bigger and bigger numbers. It's just like the sort of trash that overwhelms social media from time to time. There are plenty of people with interesting things to say, but it's really easy for them to get drowned out by the noise of a bunch of people with nothing but trash to share and yet we can't let that be what shuts down useful productive civically minded conversations about things. And by the way, I hate the word conversation as a substitute for argument's debates disputes or disagreements. I think it's really healthy for us to argue about things. Maybe that's just the Irishman and me, but I think it's good when ideas Collide I think it's good to disagree and I think it's really good to see that you can have a robust disagreement about things but still get along still survive and live happily and peacefully side by side. I think we're really good at doing that when were called upon by exigent circumstances.

We are really good as Americans at rising to the occasion when a big challenge is presented in front of us.

We've had flooding in Iowa this year.

And just the other day there was massive flooding that disrupted plans I had in next-door Nebraska.

And yet if you look down south things are even worse today probably in New Orleans.

People will rise to the occasion at least many of them will.

And the ability that people have to show resiliency and to pick up and do their Duty when an emergency calls for it is always refreshing and it's always reassuring that it's still there inside the American Spirit.

But what about those times when it's not an emergency? What about those times when we just need people to show up and do the mundane tasks people need to do something just to keep the lights on in those basic organizations that we do need to lean on when the time calls for it.

I worry a lot because I know the budgets are tight. I know that Staffing is low. I know that people feel stretched and overcommitted. I heard somebody used the phrase serial overcommit or the other day and it sure rang true.

We're told that when you want something done, you don't go to the person who looks bored. You look go to the person who looks busy because they're the people who know how to get things done by and large. That's probably true.

But man, we need to have more people showing up and looking busy.

Everything about the world gets more complicated and more complex all the time.

That is absolutely within the nature of human nature as well as technological and economic Advanced. We want those things but it also means that the stuff that we do outside of what we do to get paid or what we do to take some recreational time off that stuff also gets more complicated and we've got to show up and do the work to keep things running.

Nobody's going to tell us that we have to keep the local Boy Scout Troop running.

Nobody's going to show up in force us to keep the public library open.

Nobody's going to show up in force us to keep the food bank full.

And in a lot of ways, there's been an effort to merge doing good things with having fun with Leisure Time. This is why we end up with fun runs and bake sales.

And other activities that seek to make Leisure Time somehow productive. I don't have a problem with that.

But I also wish there were more of a sense of Duty around in general telling people that we all have something to do. We all have something to contribute and we've all got to show up and sometimes that means sacrificing a little of that leisure time that we're so jealous of protecting because once in a while we need to really up our game.

Whether it's responding to a hurricane in New Orleans.

Or to a massive tornado hitting Marshalltown last year.

Or whether it's just keeping up a Civic Society in a complex noisy and difficult world.

People have to show up.

Duty maybe a four-letter word, but it's a pretty necessary one, too.

The moral of the story:

Segment 2: (8 min)

Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day

Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and Chris Stapleton have a new collaboration out called "Blow". It almost fits in better with an 80s hair band playlist than anything I've heard in a long time.

The moral of the story:

Segment 3: (14 min)

Guest: Emily Barske | Editor | Marshalltown Times-Republican

Segment 4: (5 min)

Website reminder

The United States of America "The Conservative Sensibility"

An interview with George Will about his new book

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Computers and the Internet Disingenuous, or just plain stupid?

CNBC reports that "Chinese internet stocks may be a good buy for investors, according to global investment banks UBS and Credit Suisse." Which either reveals complete disregard for the investing public or stunning ignorance. But if you think that Internet companies are a gamble in the Western democracies (and they sure are), imagine the moral hazard involved in dealing with a country named year in and year out as "the world's worst abuser of internet freedom".

The moral of the story:

Segment 5: (11 min)

By the numbers

Iowa Air conditioning isn't going to be the end of us all

Home heating accounts for vastly more BTU consumption than air conditioning in America. But if you live in Iowa, you can assuage about 99.9% of any guilt you might feel about using electricity (including for air conditioning), because MidAmerican Energy is pushing hard into the production of electricity from renewable sources. Or at least 51.4% of that guilt, for now. So when we're running the A/C, we're really just taking hot blowing air from outside and converting it to cool blowing air inside.

Technology Three | The week in technology

Computers and the Internet Facebook Libra: Another cryptocurrency we probably don't need

Pretty clear that an organization with enough hubris to try to launch its own currency doesn't really have a lot of time for the public good.

Computers and the Internet Standards still matter

Ever since Google shut down Google Reader, all faith should be lost that the FAANG companies would ever go back to supporting broad-based, open standards (like RSS). In a parallel universe, open standards are allowing small businesses to do things like post a simple file somewhere on their website (not unlike robots.txt or favicon.ico) with key identifying information and basic details like hours of operation. Without consistent open standards supported by big players, instead, business operators have to spend all their godforsaken "Internet marketing" time running around updating things uniquely for every "walled garden" on the Internet, and consumers cannot consistently trust any of it.

Computers and the Internet Meeting app can hijack Mac webcams

Webcam covers for laptops cost about $3 apiece. Don't trust; take precautions.

The moral of the story:

Segment 6: (8 min)

Mind your business

News Which Ross Perot are we supposed to remember?

It's possible to envy Ross Perot (1982), to loathe Ross Perot (1992), to have no informed opinion whatsoever on Ross Perot (2002), and to respect Ross Perot (2012). But it's often hard to say that, as our opinions on people become fixed in time like a mosquito trapped in amber. As hard as it may be, it's worth trying. Each of us lives a single existence, linear in time. But to the world, we are infinite slices of parallel beings. Only one Ross Perot has passed. But uncounted Ross Perots are being remembered.

The moral of the story:

Segment 7: (14 min)

Hot (social) topics

The United States of America Parachute wedding dress loaned to Fort Bragg museum

A bride is lending her wedding dress, made of her husband's WWII parachute, to the 82nd Airborne Museum -- but reserves the right to let her great-granddaughters wear it if they want.

Puerto Rican Officials Arrested In Corruption Probe
Six people, including Puerto Rico's former secretary of education, are facing fraud charges for their handling of more than $15.5 million in federal funding.
Former education secretary Julia Keleher is accused of hooking up her friends with rich government contracts, without having to go through the typical channels. Keleher has also faced criticism during her two-year tenure for closing hundreds of schools after Hurricane Maria.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello called the allegations "a shame".

Chicago Mayor Won't Let ICE Access Police Databases
As ICE is reportedly gearing up to launch massive raids this weekend, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is trying to block their efforts.
This week, Lightfoot announced that the Chicago Police Department will not cooperate with ICE or allow them to access police databases.
Lightfoot says the move is "permanent", adding "Chicago is and will always be a welcoming city that will never tolerate ICE tearing our families apart".
It's been reported this week that ICE plans to launch raids in 10 major cities beginning this Sunday, rounding up over 2,000 undocumented immigrants.

Mom Who Let Daughter Lick Tongue Depressor Arrested; Faces 30 Years
In a surprising development, Florida police have arrested the woman who posted a video of her daughter licking a tongue depressor and putting it back into a doctor's office canister.
Jacksonville resident Cori E. Ward, 30, was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with tampering with consumer products without regard for possible death/bodily injury, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. The charge is a felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
The video, which surfaced on Facebook this week, shows a girl touching several tongue depressors in a container at All About Kids and Families Medical Center. After removing one, the girl thoroughly licks the wooden medical instrument before replacing it in the container. A sign above the canister reads, "Please do not touch medical supplies. Thank you!"

The moral of the story:

Segment 8: (5 min)

Clean up after yourself

Threats and Hazards Chinese influence in South America: Yes, really

The head of US Southern Command "told the Senate Armed Services Committee's Emerging Threats subcommittee that China is only going to increase its efforts to live 'inside our own neighborhood seeking to displace the United States as the partner of choice'". Mind your community, or someone else might.

The moral of the story:

Unsorted and leftovers:

This week

Make money

Have fun

Broadcasting It took 22 years for The Verve to get paid for "Bitter Sweet Symphony"

The Rolling Stones got all the credit until finally relinquishing the rights

Quote of the Week

Your role in cyberwar

Iowa news

Contrary to popular opinion

Weather and Disasters Lightning can strike many miles away from a storm

(Video) You can see it happen

Coming up this week

News Immigration raids to begin Sunday

So reports the New York Times.

Weather and Disasters Slow-moving flood works its way across central Nebraska

Portions of the Wood River basin got 9" of rain on Monday and Monday night. The water is moving in a slug that passes town-by-town through the river.

News Nobody did the reading

Robert Mueller's testimony to Congress is going to be delayed because, in effect, Congress hasn't done its homework and isn't prepared yet. Per the Washington Post: "Mueller will testify for three hours -- an extra hour -- before the Judiciary panel and then give testimony to the Intelligence Committee for two hours."

Hyperbole is going to kill us all

Threats and Hazards Has your member of Congress read the Mueller Report?

Politico asked, and a bunch of legislators admitted they haven't read it. Some haven't even tried. It's hard to believe any of them should be paid for their work.

What's the big idea?

21st Century conservatism

The American Way Private property is a bulwark for personal liberty

And that's the correct order for those priorities: Liberty for the individual first, secured by private property. As Margaret Thatcher said, "I passionately believe that private property should be spread as widely as possible, as a bulwark for the liberty and independence of the people, and to enhance a sense of responsibility to future generations."

Socialism Doesn't Work Remembering 1989

When Mikhail Gorbachev loosened the reins on Eastern Europe, a bunch of countries reacted and ultimately the Soviet Union fell. What would it take for a Gorbachev-like figure to emerge in China? We have to think of human nature for what it is -- people will do (sometimes extraordinary, sometimes very antisocial) things to protect themselves and their immediate families. We live inside of social systems with rules and expectations (just like China's rulers live within the rule systems of the Communist Party), but sometimes external conditions trigger changes. Gorbachev thought he could bring about a controlled transition away from the worst of Communist excesses; in the end, he couldn't. So what are the incentive structures and the elements of human nature that will determine what happens in China someday, when the irresistible force (of people's natural sense of liberty) finally starts to break the immovable object that is the Communist Party of China?

News Who is (or might be) America's Macron?

If the old two-party, two-ideology system has truly been replaced with a four-way split (among nationalists, socialists, the center-right, and the center-left), then who's going to make the case for a centrist bloc?

Cities and the people

News Amazon's DC-area HQ2 looks...ordinary

Ordinary in the contemporary "let's put a random adornment on the exterior that makes it look slightly ragged" sense. What's missing from modern architecture? Architectural setbacks. Like, honest-to-goodness Chrysler Building-style setbacks.

Curiosity, competence, and humility

Have a little empathy

Threats and Hazards A real-life totalitarian nightmare

(Video) Should you watch all 9 minutes of this report from The Economist on the appalling treatment of the people of Xinjiang? Yes. But if nothing else, jump to 5:48 and listen to how China spies on people inside their own homes.

Inbox zero

Tin Foil Hat Award

News The most inexplicable traffic stop ever

A stolen vehicle, a rattlesnake, an open bottle of whiskey, a gun...and some uranium that nobody seems to be able to explain. Oklahoma, you've really set a new bar.

Yay Capitalism Prize

Capitalist solution of the week


Humor and Good News America's greatest deficit

Sure, the Federal budget deficit is distressing. But is it anything compared to our deficit in power ballads? Related: The most useful YouTube comment ever.

Humor and Good News Sharkysharky?

What on Earth caused Google's spellchecker to suggest that made-up word when "surveillance" was what was typed in?

Humor and Good News Knowing how good you have it isn't so easy to do

Future generations will need to look back on the 90s and appreciate just how gifted so many of the "grunge" and "alternative" artists really were. Chris Cornell could just rip your heart out with his voice. And then there's Scott Weiland, who cut these lyrics to "Interstate Love Song" in one take. An unapologetically hard rock song woven with elegant harmonies, and quite possibly the perfect rock track.

Humor and Good News Show, don't just tell

A single good illustration beats a hundred overwrought bullet points in a PowerPoint deck. Like a photo of a weight machine quite naturally illustrating a normal distribution.

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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 July 13, 2019 here

Duty may be a four-letter word, but it's a pretty necessary one, too. We can't just show up when a crisis emerges.

Listen to segment 1

America faces a serious deficit: Of power ballads.

Listen to segment 2

Marshalltown Times-Republican editor Emily Barske offers an update on the first anniversary of the July 19, 2018 tornado

Listen to segment 3

Check out the transcript of my interview with George Will

Air conditioning isn't going to be the end of us, after all. Technology standards still matter. Facebook's cryptocurrency doesn't impress me yet. A meeting app could hijack Macintosh webcams.

Listen to segment 5

How are we supposed to remember Ross Perot? It's possible to envy Ross Perot (1982), to loathe Ross Perot (1992), to have no informed opinion whatsoever on Ross Perot (2002), and to respect Ross Perot (2012). But it's often hard to say that, as our opinions on people become fixed in time like a mosquito trapped in amber. As hard as it may be, it's worth trying. Each of us lives a single existence, linear in time. But to the world, we are infinite slices of parallel beings. Only one Ross Perot has passed. But uncounted Ross Perots are being remembered.

Listen to segment 6

Mother lets her daughter lick tongue depressors at the doctor's office -- and shares the video.

Listen to segment 7

China is coming to our neighborhood. Their government's influence in Latin America is one of the most important issues troubling the head of the US Southern Command.

Listen to segment 8