Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - May 5, 2018
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.
Segment 1: (11 min)
BUT FIRST: The opening essay
It's "Woodstock for Capitalists" weekend in Omaha
But capitalism is neither completely triumphant today, nor permanently triumphant forever.
Tin Foil Hat Award
James Palmer, an editor at Foreign Policy, notes that "Chinese leaders believe -- wrongly -- that they can also use mass surveillance and AI to replace the necessity for openness in governance and freedom of speech and allow total control from the top." If one were looking to start a list of things that will cause massive anxiety and social unrest for the world in the intermediate-range future, one might start with this.
"AI will spell the end of capitalism", a massively wrong op-ed by Chinese legal scholar Feng Xiang, published by the Washington Post
Segment 2: (8 min)
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day
Red delicious apples are not delicious
Braeburn, Pink Lady, or (in a pinch) Fuji
Your role in cyberwar
A meme going around Facebook asks "Who can still remember their childhood telephone number?". Predictably, people are posting their old numbers in the comments. There's no such thing as a "security" question when people are this gullible. If only people realized that half of the dumb things they share in response to these social-media memes are extremely useful to the types of bad actors who would use their personal information against them. It's bad enough already that it takes virtually no effort at all to crack certain "security" questions like "What was your mother's maiden name?".
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Segment 3: (14 min)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)
Mitch Hurwitz is re-editing the season so that it's in the same chronological format as the rest of the series. Nice.
21st Century conservatism
The Boy Scouts of America announce their marketing plan to welcome girls to Cub Scouts (the full launch is later this year, but they report that 3,000 early adopters are already in). They're also changing the name of the program for older kids to "Scouting BSA" starting in February -- since the girls' track in the program is coming in 2019.
The virtues promoted in Scouting are not gender-specific. Girls will have separate troops at the adolescent/teen levels, and I enthusiastically welcome their freedom now to pursue the Eagle Scout award.
Kids have abundant opportunities to self-sort by gender if they so choose, sports being a prime example. But the values and principles behind Scouting -- being prepared, doing one's duty, helping others, and so on -- are non-gender-specific.
The more time that adolescent boys and girls spend seeing one another as peers and equals, capable of doing useful and challenging things together, the better.
I have known many women who would have made fantastic Eagle Scouts, becoming role models for girls and boys alike. Up until now, we've told them they can't just because of their sex. This policy change opens the door to developing and recognizing a whole new generation of female leaders. I am 100% in favor of such a step forward.
This subject is a great example of the difference between a traditionalist and a real conservative. As a conservative, what I care about is conserving the values and the principles that work. While I don't subscribe to change just for its own sake, I'm always looking for better ideas and better ways to do things.
Traditionalists, on the other hand, just want to stop the world in its tracks.
There's a grand conflict already underway between the conservatives and the traditionalists. The Scouting change is a small but very real flashpoint. If you're adamantly opposed to a girls' track in the Scouts, and you're using an argument like "Don't take the 'Boy' out of 'Boy Scouts'", then you're being a traditionalist. But if you look at this and say "I believe in the Scouting principles, and we've learned that women can do everything from pilot fighter jets to lead at the highest levels of government, and preparing girls to be those leaders through the BSA programs would be good for both girls and boys alike", then you're an open-minded conservative.
Segment 4: (5 min)
By the numbers
...it would have the world's 5th-largest economy. Shall we now impose tariffs on exports from California to the rest of the country? Those seem to be in vogue.
Mind your business
Should the threatened trade war of tariffs exchanged between the United States and China become a reality, one study estimates that Iowa would lose more than 1,800 jobs to the resulting inefficiencies.
Segment 5: (11 min)
Spillover from segments 3 and 4
Segment 6: (8 min)
Quote of the Week
"There is only one sure way of increasing prosperity. It won't be done by government strategies or plans. It will only be done by giving the people themselves the incentive to do so. You don't stimulate economies; you stimulate people." - Margaret Thatcher
The Upper Midwest is fighting a low-growth situation
It's largely outside of our making: "Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting decreased 1.7 percent nationally–the fifth consecutive quarterly decline. This industry subtracted from growth in all the Plains states."
When you hear good news (like that the unemployment rate is now below 4.0%, don't forget that it's part of a long-term trend -- the rate has been falling ever since the start of 2010 -- and what happens on the national level is often different from what's happening on a state or regional level.
Segment 7: (14 min)
A hotel opens in Chicago promising "elegance and refinement" in a "shared room" lodging model. Er...okay. But it's still a hostel.
Clean up after yourself
Homeopathy is a great example of the kind of quackery that justifies some regulation of certain products in the interest of public health and safety. Because...rabid dog saliva, for the love of Salk.
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$16K Every Day
Segment 8: (5 min)
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Rudy Giuliani has issued a statement apparently intending to clarify that the President's payments to keep Stormy Daniels from talking to the media were "nothing but a family thing", to borrow a phrase (not his words, but definitely his meaning). Besides the fact that the timing of the payment makes it self-evident that this quite certainly wasn't just a family thing, its existence alone highlights a very real security risk: The President's behavior (past and present) and his obsession with image make him dangerously susceptible to blackmail. That is a national-security risk. Think just of the revelation that he scripted his own fitness report: If someone lies when literally nothing is at stake, what could possibly be expected of their truthfulness when there are consequences to be paid for being honest? But when a person lies so casually about things that are so inconsequential (other than to his image), that is a person who is perhaps uniquely subject to manipulation.
The physician whose name went on the medical "report" on candidate Trump says "He dictated that whole letter". To have reached this conclusion really didn't take a great deal of sophisticated textual analysis, but it's nice to have confirmation. The problem isn't just that the report itself was fabricated, it's that the patient insists so much on the fabrication. A person so compelled to lie and exaggerate about the smallest of things cannot be trusted in the big things. If someone lies when literally nothing is at stake, what could possibly be expected of their truthfulness when there are consequences to be paid for being honest?
After saying that the President had reimbursed his lawyer for a $130,000 hush-money payment, Rudy Giuliani will probably be forced soon to "clarify" that Michael Cohen was "reimbursed indirectly" via his retainer -- as though a lawyer in Cohen's role acts like an all-you-can-eat buffet. The fact we have a President so susceptible to blackmail is a national-security risk.
Very well-put by David French: "We are not told to rationalize and justify sinful actions to preserve political influence or a popular audience."
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)
Unsorted and leftovers:
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Noah Smith proposes as a basic model of the world that "Nobody knows what's going on, and everyone is trying as hard as they can." A better version of that might be modified to say that the people who are trying their hardest have the most humility about what they don't know. Overconfidence correlates with duty-shirking.
It's nauseating for these words to come from someone masquerading as a conservative leader. Real conservatives know that people should be judged by their character, not their occupation.
Have a little empathy
A creative -- if likely impractical -- approach to providing shelter in-place to those who lose their homes to natural disasters: Inflatable buildings that could be air-dropped into place and raised with helium. Good ideas, though, often emerge out of the seemingly impractical ones. And this particular idea highlights one of the big problems that comes back over and over with natural disasters: People need someplace safe to live and rest when their homes are lost. It's worth rubbing together a few brain cells to see if we can come up with better ways to do that.
St. Louis's signature monument really does make the city stand out
Oops: "We recently identified a bug that stored passwords unmasked in an internal log."
Police officer signs off after 42 years, and his daughter (a dispatcher) is the one who gets to acknowledge the final call.
Police say don't try to chase the perpetrator in a hit-and-run accident. Just record everything you can.
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
Two young men were stopped and questioned by police at Colorado State because they were shy...and Native American.