Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - August 17, 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.
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Segment 1: (11 min)
BUT FIRST: The opening essay
21st Century conservatism
On the most basic level, it's wise to subscribe to a fundamental preference for maximum freedom of movement for people, money, goods, and ideas. Unrestricted movement? Probably impossible. But seek to maximize their free movement within the prevailing constraints. ■ People don't lose their skill sets when they move. And as Ryan Avent has argued, moving to a place with abundant social capital (like the United States) often makes the very same person radically more productive, overnight. Immigrants and refugees included. ■ Anyone with historical literacy should recognize that the Homestead and Land-Grant Acts were major government efforts to increase the economic potential of unskilled populations (including immigrants and freed slaves) -- almost 160 years ago. Many of us today are descendants. ■ So we ought to be much more concerned with projects to maximize people's access to self-improvement, no matter where they came from, than we should ever be interested in closing the door on immigrants. Our economy has never been a zero-sum game; it's a lot more loaves-and-fishes. ■ In the end, the moral case for immigration -- for America as a destination for free people and as a shining city on a hill -- is by far the most important and persuasive case. Even if it cost us extra to welcome immigrants, on net, it would probably be a price worth paying.
The entire story of American immigration has been one of transformation -- people seeking something better, working hard to obtain it, and trying to set their descendants on a better path. The whole thing.
Any comment about the people who lost their jobs to cheap foreign labor?— Hazzard County Engineer (@HazzardCoEng) August 14, 2019
I think the most important factor in our future economic success is what we do to increase our stock of human capital and to persistently invest in increasing that human potential. And I think the policies that do that will tend to help native-born and foreign-born alike.
So, you're saying your ok with taxing current tax payers to pay for the social programs to help people displaced by cheap labor AND the social programs to increase the potential of the cheap labor's offspring?— Hazzard County Engineer (@HazzardCoEng) August 17, 2019
I favor a broad spectrum of policies aimed at increasing human potential, from K-12 public schools to adjustment assistance and retraining for those displaced by trade and technology. And I think we ought to be doing much more to educate and up-skill *all* working-age adults.
Sounds good. Will you advocate for increased state educational spending next time budget season rolls around?— Hazzard County Engineer (@HazzardCoEng) August 17, 2019
I'm not handing out blank checks; I see Baumol's cost disease lurking in lots of corners. But I am open to new and innovative ideas, and some of them will cost money to implement.
The moral of the story:
Segment 2: (8 min)
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day™:— Brian Gongol Show (@briangongolshow) August 17, 2019
What is the oldest portable device you remember using to save files on a computer?
I think the true majesty of storing this much data on something this small is lost on anyone who never used a full-sized floppy disk. pic.twitter.com/Fo6FJBu5cE— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 15, 2019
I fixed so many people's floppy disks while working in the Schindler computer lab. Now I can probably get a microSD card that has more storage than the sum of all the computers (and student floppies) in Schindler at that time.— Raymond Johnson (@downclimb) August 15, 2019
Somewhere in my basement, in a box marked "college stuff", sits a Zip Disk that cost me a small fortune at the time (probably $150 to $200), and which even if completely full holds less than 1Gb of media from my broadcasting classes.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 15, 2019
But it was the only way at the time.
I have a vivid memory of "programming" graphics* into a Macintosh II, circa 1987 or 1988. It was brand-new and it was the only one in school. The color monitor was a sensation.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 17, 2019
* - By "programming", I mean placing pixel-by-pixel commands, like some demonic paint-by-numbers.
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day™:— Brian Gongol Show (@briangongolshow) August 10, 2019
Funnel cakes are...
The moral of the story: It's not always obvious how things are getting better, nor at what rate. We shouldn't take that improvement for granted.
Segment 3: (14 min)
Why financial types get the cold sweats when it's cheaper to borrow money for the long term than for the short term. One real worry to bear in mind right now is that the Federal Reserve has much less ammunition to deploy to smooth out an economic downturn than it did last time.
Wealth vs. income. Deficits vs. debt. Progressive (taxation) vs. Progressive (policies). Positive vs. normative. Gross vs. net. Assets vs. equity. Nominal value vs. real value.
The new amphitheater at Water Works Park in Des Moines is getting a good series of inaugural-season concerts
Clean up after yourself
An $867 billion deficit in ten months? Say it isn't so! Axios reports: "Spending has continued to outpace revenue, with a 3% rise of revenue overshadowed by an 8% jump in spending." Intergenerational larceny was wrong before, and it's wrong now. The ten-month deficit is a giant $2,627 per person.
Mind your business
"Every community has a duty to prepare its young people to enter the 21st Century economy with skills that are appropriate to their talents, interests, and abilities" is a fully defensible position. But the misty nostalgia for a UAW job building '52 Oldsmobiles in Flint -- a sentiment shared and expressed by elements of both the left and right -- is toxic. Margaret Thatcher, speaking 40 years ago at a time of economic stagnation in Britain, warned that "We still live under the continuing and undoubted influence of the first industrial revolution. In negative terms, concern with tradition has led to great efforts to preserve, regardless of cost, some of the industries created in the past. That course reads the wrong lessons from history and if pursued would lead to an industrial museum." That was a non-trivial warning in 1979, and it rings true today as well. A dynamic economy is the only way to grow -- but dynamism does lead to some displacement along the way. Accommodating that displacement humanely is a necessary step, but there is no excuse for trying to stop progress out of hazy nostalgia.
The moral of the story:
Segment 4: (5 min)
The Presidency shouldn't be about what the candidates want to do in their first 100 days. It should be about whether they're ready to be the chief executive...and that takes practice.
At least some people object to the idea of holding doors open for others because they perceive it as a gesture suggesting that some people are weaker than others -- usually, that women shouldn't be pleased when doors are held open by men. Connotations may vary elsewhere in the world, but it is far more the rule than the exception for people to hold doors for one another in the Midwest -- totally regardless of gender. Quite nearly everyone does it for quite nearly everyone else, and it ends up as an exceptionally egalitarian gesture. It's possible that the universality of the move is common where, 6 months out of the year, it can be painfully cold and it's only common courtesy to make it easier for the next person to get to warmth. But it's rather like saying "Bless you" to a sneeze. Nothing else is implied, even if one could make a contorted argument that saying "Bless you" is somehow today a religious expression.
The moral of the story:
Segment 5: (11 min)
Technology Three | The week in technology
How a whole generation of young people might get trapped into using a single brand of phone.
It isn't as easy to do as good security practice would make it, but everyone should at least enable 2FA on Facebook, Google, Twitter, and any email services they use.
White space is great, but not when it's evenly distributed all over the page. Then it just makes for low-density clutter.
The moral of the story:
Segment 6: (8 min)
Hot (social) topics
A New Jersey woman has been arrested for torching a man's house after he backed out on a booty call invitation. Blackwood resident Talja M. Russell was charged Thursday with attempted murder and aggravated arson in connection with the August 4th incident, police say. According to Russell's arrest report, the victim invited her over for sex, but had fallen asleep when she arrived just before 4 a.m. A check of the man's phone showed texts from the 26-year-old that included, "You wasted my money to come out here,” “I see you wanna die” and “I swear to god I hope you die." And security footage obtained from a nearby gas station shows the woman buying lighter fluid and a lighter. Police learned of the incident when the victim ran into the police station at 4:30 a.m., coughing and covered in soot, they say. He's recovering from first- and second-degree burns.
While Maryland hasn't gone as far as to legalize recreational marijuana, it's taken another step in that direction by limiting the rights of police officers who catch the odor of weed. In a 7-0 vote, the state's Court of Appeals has ruled the odor of marijuana doesn't constitute enough probable cause for a police officer to search a person. The ruling comes five years after Maryland decriminalized marijuana by making possession of up to 10 grams a minor offense, punishable by a $100 fine. Oddly enough, the new ruling does not apply to vehicle searches. That means a police officer who smells pot is allowed to search a car, but not the people inside it.
To some, the notion of wearing the same pair of underwear for multiple days might be off-putting. For others, it's a way of life. Underwear company Tommy John asked 1,000 men and women about consecutive undie days. 45 percent of people said they wear the same underwear for "two days or longer." 13 percent of those people said they wore the same boxers, briefs or panties for a week or more. As you might suspect, men are 2.5 times more likely to do this than women. Whether it's for marketing reasons or legitimate health concerns, Tommy John says we should update our underwear wardrobe every six months.
The moral of the story:
Segment 7: (14 min)
What's the big idea?
A giant Sky Glider obviously isn't the ticket (certainly not without enclosed, climate-controlled cars), but we should probably start taking a look at some novel ideas before we find ourselves irreversibly gridlocked.
The moral of the story:
By the numbers
Curiously, with the normal peak of tornado season now in the rear-view mirror, it's notable that the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service has issued twice as many tornado warnings as the Des Moines office.
Segment 8: (5 min)
The Senator suggests that his criticisms of Amazon have led to bad coverage of him in the Washington Post. Wasn't it Harry Truman who said "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog"?
Someone needs to come up with a word for "shows no interest in becoming a better person", or else I'm going to have a hard time discussing several prominent figures in the news today.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 14, 2019
Margaret Thatcher: "I believe implicitly that you can never make people good by law, but only from something inside them."
The moral of the story:
Unsorted and leftovers:
An entirely fair criticism across the spectrum. An idea should stand on its merits, or not. But it's not responsible to project the idea on some mythologized "other" and then cynically use that "other" like some kind of ventriloquist's dummy.
Recommended reading: "Despite being a niche business, the remodeling of convenience stores into funeral parlors may have a strong future, experts say, given the tough business conditions facing convenience store operators." The much deeper story here, though, is about social isolation.
This rolling-back of global integration isn't going to end well. It's going to be costly in a whole lot of direct ways -- and much costlier in hidden and implicit ones.
Diplomacy is inevitably an art full of compromises, but it ought to be at least mildly concerning that the American ambassador to Israel spoke up in favor of prohibiting members of Congress from visiting the country. Israel has a right to determine who visits their country, but that doesn't mean American diplomats need to speak about it in partisan fashion. In Federalist Paper No. 75, Alexander Hamilton wrote, "The essence of the legislative authority is to enact laws, or, in other words, to prescribe rules for the regulation of the society; while the execution of the laws, and the employment of the common strength, either for this purpose or for the common defense, seem to comprise all the functions of the executive magistrate. The power of making treaties is, plainly, neither the one nor the other." The Executive Branch must tread extremely lightly on Congressional freedom of travel because diplomacy is expressly a joint responsibility.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross forecloses on the possibility of any American response to a Chinese crackdown in Hong Kong, and does so on globally-televised CNBC. You don't have to be some kind of unhinged warhawk to agree that a better answer would have been "No comment".
Irrigation is making an increasing difference in the amount of food farmers can grow.
The chair of the Parliamentary foreign-affairs committee suggests the move, which is a bold proposal well worth a careful look.
When reporters use Twitter as their substitute notepads, they may unintentionally amplify messages that they shouldn't. For example, some of the President's more outrageous quotes are reported in good faith, and probably with the intention of conveying a sense of "Can you believe he's saying this nonsense?". But the unintended consequence is that the insults, slurs, and unfounded claims end up getting more eyeballs.
What a display. It's hard not to be inspired by the people of Hong Kong right now.
When racist viewers attack the people who make the local news
Quote of the Week
Your role in cyberwar
Contrary to popular opinion
My gut tells me that if the field remains crowded all the way up to the caucuses, then the breakout candidate(s) will be whomever gives voters the fewest reasons to dislike them.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 16, 2019
Being someone's first choice is great. Being *everyone's* second might work out better. https://t.co/LOmo5zVqLK
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
Cities and the people
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Have a little empathy
Beware any ideology that opposes the maximum possible freedom of movement for:— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 13, 2019
How are you feeling?
A thread worth your time.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) August 13, 2019
I also got a cancer diagnosis at an abnormally young age.
I also had a doctor who blew off symptoms brought to his attention.
I also have a "second opinion" to thank for getting it right.
Know your body. Ask about symptoms. Advocate for yourself. https://t.co/JBvjJlN7QS
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Someone needs to come up with a word for "shows no interest in becoming a better person", or else I'm going to have a hard time discussing several prominent figures in the news today.
Tin Foil Hat Award
Yay Capitalism Prize
Capitalist solution of the week
Chicago has always possessed a self-determination about it that really has no peer. It is not infrequently manifested in schemes to do things that would otherwise seem quite mad. See: Reversing the Chicago River and raising the entire city.
(Video) A creative Alabaman literally sings the praises of a chicken sandwich. Stick around for the sandwich-wrapper tambourine break...
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones will return
The thing about dad jokes is that you get hooked on delivering them when your little people are too young to judge you for them. But there is no known cure for the addiction.
Pete Buttigieg comes out against it -- which might be a stealth appeal to conservative intellectuals, who seem to have a soft spot for National League baseball
This day in history
What's the most challenging organization you've ever run, and what did you learn from running it?
What's a virtue you see in others that you wish you could demonstrate better yourself?
Who is the one most important individual who convinced you this was your shot to run?
If you could put into place one mechanism -- not a policy, but a mechanism -- that would make this a much better place in 20 or 30 years, what would it be?
What have you read to prepare yourself for the job?
One year ago
Five years ago
Ten years ago
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