Going at it Hammer and Tongs

This episode of America’s Most Trusted Podcast® is notable for both who shows up and who doesn’t. But James Lileks is our rock, welcoming our own Bethany Mandel into the co-host’s chair, and Dr. Samuel Gregg author of the upcoming book, Reason, Faith, and the Struggle for Western Civilization.

Then Bethany and James delve into the miniseries, Chernobyl, and explore their, er, generational differences.

Music from this week’s episode: “When I’m Sixty-Four” by the Beatles.

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There are 65 comments.

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  1. Arahant Member

    I was wondering about the cover photo until I got to the end. Great job, @ejhill.

    • #1
    • June 14, 2019, at 4:52 PM PDT
    • Like
  2. Arahant Member

    And @bethanymandel, you kids these days drop all your “ions.” Disconnect is a verb. The noun is disconnection. (I used to say, “You wouldn’t say you made a connect,” but then one day I heard someone say that. 😠) Elect is a verb. The noun is election.

    Now, get off my lawn!


    Also, born the year of the Challenger and Chernobyl Disasters? And you have children? I should call the police on your husband.

     

    • #2
    • June 14, 2019, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  3. EJHill Podcaster

    ArahantI was wondering about the cover photo until I got to the end. 

    Always, always stay to the end.

    • #3
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:44 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arahant: I was wondering about the cover photo until I got to the end.

    Always, always stay to the end.

    I do.

    • #4
    • June 14, 2019, at 5:48 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. Bishop Wash Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Arahant: I was wondering about the cover photo until I got to the end.

    Always, always stay to the end.

    The How Ridiculous guys on YouTube call it the 44 Club for their fans. Early on one of the guys announced that 44 is his favorite number at the very end. For awhile only those in the know caught references to 44.

    • #5
    • June 14, 2019, at 6:28 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. kedavis Member

    Probably the single biggest problem with Chernobyl is that there WASN’T a “containment vessel” like US/Western nuclear power plants have.

    • #6
    • June 14, 2019, at 11:24 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    I know it’s unnecessary with this audience but it’s both amusing and tiring at the same time that to our objective , take no sides media bureaucratic decisions made in Republican administrations are attributed to the President himself i.e :

    ‘Reagan declares ketchup is a vegetable’

    ‘Bush ( or Cheney) ordered Abu Ghraib abuse’

    ‘Trump sends children to internment camps’

    In Democratic administrations such things are done by low level staffers in Cincinnati, President Schultz knew nothing.

    Great job job on the solo hosting, James.

    • #7
    • June 15, 2019, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  8. Blondie Thatcher

    I loved the end! @jameslileks, you sound like me at work talking to my younger co-workers. I find myself explaining a lot of things to them. I do get the occasional push back of, “I’m not that young! I know what that means!” I enjoy the educational opportunities. 

    • #8
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. James Lileks Contributor

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    Great job job on the solo hosting, James.

    Thanks! I love those solo jobs where I have a co-worker. ;)

    • #9
    • June 15, 2019, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  10. Full Size Tabby Member

    I do not know the background for the early-in-the-podcast reference to media people apparently mocking the idea that people in rural areas need internet access or high tech or something, but I want to point out that farmers are sometimes very early adopters of technology. James mentioned using GPS guidance in tractors. Yes, farmers were early adopters of GPS technology. In the 1980’s (early days of civilian access to GPS) I worked for a company that supplied to aircraft manufacturers equipment for knowing position, direction of travel, etc. The company found itself selling versions to farm equipment (and construction equipment) manufacturers. It turned out that farmers were really eager to have exact position data so that they could apply fertilizers, pesticides, and other materials more accurately for different conditions in different parts of the field, so as soon as civilians had access to GPS data, farmers were putting GPS units onto their tractors and other equipment. 

    Farmers are very interested in technology. 

    Another unexpected group in early technology adoption – Automotive junkyards were very early adopters of “on-line inventory” and computer-to-computer communication so that they could communicate with each other about the availability of car parts. 

    • #10
    • June 15, 2019, at 9:20 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  11. Percival Thatcher

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    I do not know the background for the early-in-the-podcast reference to media people apparently mocking the idea that people in rural areas need internet access or high tech or something, but I want to point out that farmers are sometimes very early adopters of technology. James mentioned using GPS guidance in tractors. Yes, farmers were early adopters of GPS technology. In the 1980’s (early days of civilian access to GPS) I worked for a company that supplied to aircraft manufacturers equipment for knowing position, direction of travel, etc. The company found itself selling versions to farm equipment (and construction equipment) manufacturers. It turned out that farmers were really eager to have exact position data so that they could apply fertilizers, pesticides, and other materials more accurately for different conditions in different parts of the field, so as soon as civilians had access to GPS data, farmers were putting GPS units onto their tractors and other equipment. 

    GPS makes applying a 2% grade to an area a whole lot simpler than going out there and using a transit and lasers to position stakes, so a lot of construction equipment is similarly equipped. That plus you can tell a bulldozer that if it gets more than 500 yards from where it is supposed to be to shut down the engine and call the police.

    • #11
    • June 15, 2019, at 9:56 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. Arahant Member

    Percival (View Comment):
    That plus you can tell a bulldozer that if it gets more than 500 yards from where it is supposed to be to shut down the engine and call the police.

    Is that how you were caught?

    • #12
    • June 15, 2019, at 10:24 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  13. Rightfromthestart Coolidge

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    Great job job on the solo hosting, James.

    Thanks! I love those solo jobs where I have a co-worker. ;)

    Haha, Oh I see Co-host , I thought she was a guest. 

    • #13
    • June 15, 2019, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • Like
  14. Arahant Member

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    I thought she was a guest.

    Sure ya did. 😉

    • #14
    • June 15, 2019, at 2:06 PM PDT
    • Like
  15. Kim K. Member

    This was great. I’m glad James had a week to shine – again! And Bethany is a great sidekick, even though her jabs about James’ age struck a little close to home. I had my first kid between Challenger and Chernobyl. It was a big year!

    • #15
    • June 15, 2019, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. EJHill Podcaster

    Kim K. : This was great. I’m glad James had a week to shine – again!

    Any relationship between greatness and this podcast rests squarely on the yellow muscle shirt-clad shoulders of one James Lileks. It resembles very little to the format I submitted Thursday night, a good deal of which revolved around Peter’s return from Europe. And then I woke up on Friday to find out Peter was ill and had lost his voice.

    Bethany rearranged her day to be with us (Thanks again, Momma Mandel!) and we all flew by the seat of our pants, holding on to James’ coattails all the way.

    (Pause in the recording:

    Bethany: Now what?

    Baby Mandel says something off mic.

    Bethany: So you interrupted me to tell me the remote is working and you don’t have a problem?

    Baby Mandel says something off mic.

    Bethany: Oh, cripe… GET THAT THING OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!

    Resume recording…)

    Next week, Yeti will be back and firmly in control. I have it on good authority they plan to fire the low-rent hack they let do this show for the last two consecutive weeks.

    • #16
    • June 15, 2019, at 2:56 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  17. Percival Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):
    That plus you can tell a bulldozer that if it gets more than 500 yards from where it is supposed to be to shut down the engine and call the police.

    Is that how you were caught?

    It only applies to the people who don’t know which lines to dike out and which ones to short.😈

    • #17
    • June 15, 2019, at 4:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Henry Castaigne Member

    Bethany Mandel brings up decent points about Chinese manufacturing but she neglects the important benefits of industrialization.

    Firstly, the conditions of Chinese manufacturing are not sub-human because humans have functioned in terrible conditions up until the more advanced stages of capitalism which have happened fairly recently.

    Secondly, Falun Gong members (and probably other minority religions in China) are enslaved by the Chinese government and forced to work in factories. At times they slip in little pieces of paper into the products that they are making saying something like, “Help. I Christian. I slave.” and other rough English phrases. Jay Nordlinger has done great reporting about this.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/free-labor-and-slave/

    The issue of forced labor is separate from the regular factory worker in China.

    Thirdly, if the regular factory worker in China is treated so badly, why does he continue to get up and go to his job every morning? The answer is that a life of continuous and poorly paid agricultural work is worse than working in less-than-ideal factory conditions according to Chinese workers. I should note, that in every country that has ever industrialized, the workers made similar conditions.

    • #18
    • June 15, 2019, at 6:44 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. EJHill Podcaster

    Henry Castaigne: Bethany Mandel brings up decent points about Chinese manufacturing but she neglects the important benefits of industrialization.

    I like that you’re concerned about the industrial worker in China. Now, let’s talk about the de-industrialization of America. 

    • #19
    • June 15, 2019, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Arahant Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: Bethany Mandel brings up decent points about Chinese manufacturing but she neglects the important benefits of industrialization.

    I like that you’re concerned about the industrial worker in China. Now, let’s talk about the de-industrialization of America.

    I think he was saying he wasn’t terribly concerned about the workers in China.

    • #20
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:07 PM PDT
    • Like
  21. Henry Castaigne Member

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: Bethany Mandel brings up decent points about Chinese manufacturing but she neglects the important benefits of industrialization.

    I like that you’re concerned about the industrial worker in China. Now, let’s talk about the de-industrialization of America.

    It will happen like the de-agriculturization of America happened. Farmers figured out how to be so efficient that a small minority of Americans could provide all the food anyone would want and sell soybeans to China. Advances in technology will make it so that a small minority of Americans can make everything that Americans want and sell some extra to countries all over the world. 

    To improve the lot of workers in any country, you have a small government and don’t regulate stupidly. 

    But more importantly, I reject the assumption of zero-sum economics that your question is based on. Chinese workers can do better and American workers can do better with better at the same time. I know such a belief is unpopular is but it is nevertheless true.

    • #21
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. Henry Castaigne Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: Bethany Mandel brings up decent points about Chinese manufacturing but she neglects the important benefits of industrialization.

    I like that you’re concerned about the industrial worker in China. Now, let’s talk about the de-industrialization of America.

    I think he was saying he wasn’t terribly concerned about the workers in China.

    I am concerned about the slaves in China because slaves cannot get ahead. The industrial workers in China are alot like the industrial workers of Irish ancestry in America during the North’s increased industrialization. They have a real hard go of it but they get to improve their lot. The slaves, not so much. 

    • #22
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:13 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. EJHill Podcaster

    Henry Castaigne: But more importantly, I reject the assumption of zero-sum economics that your question is based on.

    If jobs are moved there is subtraction in Place A and growth in Place B. Now, if you want to argue growth economics that’s different. If the jobs in Place B are new, and the jobs in Place A continue then all is well. But you cannot reject a premise that demonstrably exists.

    Nor is it a matter of creative destruction. When auto production moved to Mexico we didn’t stop buying cars. When textiles moved to SE Asia we didn’t stop wearing clothes. When steel production moved to China we still built things from steel.

    Job transfers and technology transfers are losses to the United States. You can reject the premise all you want, it doesn’t make it less true.

    • #23
    • June 15, 2019, at 8:47 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge

    Really enjoyed this. Both James and Bethany have a certain matter of factness I gravitate towards

    • #24
    • June 15, 2019, at 11:13 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  25. Taras Coolidge

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne: But more importantly, I reject the assumption of zero-sum economics that your question is based on.

    If jobs are moved there is subtraction in Place A and growth in Place B. Now, if you want to argue growth economics that’s different. If the jobs in Place B are new, and the jobs in Place A continue then all is well. But you cannot reject a premise that demonstrably exists.

    Nor is it a matter of creative destruction. When auto production moved to Mexico we didn’t stop buying cars. When textiles moved to SE Asia we didn’t stop wearing clothes. When steel production moved to China we still built things from steel.

    Job transfers and technology transfers are losses to the United States. You can reject the premise all you want, it doesn’t make it less true.

    A dollar is just a promise of American goods and services. That’s what people in other countries spend them on, when we purchase goods and services from those other countries. For example, we buy cars made in Mexico; which gives Mexicans dollars to buy stuff from us. Employment shifts in both countries; which can cause political difficulties if the jobs lost are more visible than the jobs gained.

    • #25
    • June 15, 2019, at 11:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. RufusRJones Member

    There are two things going on here. One of them is pretty esoteric and I’m not going to get into a big argument about it.

    China never, ever should have been let into the WTO. It is not intended for fascist systems. It was extremely stupid to do this. All kinds of suffering and grief is happening and it is going to happen, both in China and here.

    When Greenspan started goosing the economy in 1996, this accelerated the job loss to China. We got a cheap stuff from them and then they bought our treasury bills and mortgages. Then it blew up in 2008, and now we have all kinds of social problems. The political system has gone haywire.

    After the Soviet Union fell, this opened up global trade. Better living through purchasing power. Same thing with automation. Deflation is better living through purchasing power. The problem is, our government and financial system isn’t set up for this, so they inflate anyway. It’s not going to work. Almost everything should be going down in price, but they can’t have that.

    What I’m saying is you’re going to lose jobs from specialization in trade, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.

    That is why you have populism and socialism breaking out all over the place.

    • #26
    • June 16, 2019, at 1:12 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. RufusRJones Member

    Regarding the parts about what the guest said about Judaism and Western civilization and Bernie Sanders:

    Dennis Prager had a great guest on that said the same thing about Judaism. They figured out a superior worldview hundreds of years before everyone else. It makes sense, and it builds a better society. It compounds human capital. That left a big impression on me. People really ought to pay attention to that.

    If you liked the discussion about Bernie Sanders, be sure to listen to the latest Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Kevin and Charles really hit it out of the park. It’s a real shame that you can’t get anyone to lead in the sense they are talking about.

    • #27
    • June 16, 2019, at 2:15 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. davenr321 Coolidge

    “Going at it hammer and tong(s)” an unfamiliar expression? What sad days are these when toil isn’t celebrated – my professors in the 1980s used the expression regularly regarding hard work necessary to accomplish great things. Also, re: Chernobyl. I recall a Bloom County strip revealing that Bill the Cat was responsible. 

    • #28
    • June 16, 2019, at 5:48 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  29. davenr321 Coolidge

    Easily located via internet.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/LgLQ6Pry2iideSN37

    • #29
    • June 16, 2019, at 5:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. Taras Coolidge

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    There are two things going on here. One of them is pretty esoteric and I’m not going to get into a big argument about it.

    China never, ever should have been let into the WTO. It is not intended for fascist systems. It was extremely stupid to do this. All kinds of suffering and grief is happening and it is going to happen, both in China and here.

    When Greenspan started goosing the economy in 1996, this accelerated the job loss to China. We got a cheap stuff from them and then they bought our treasury bills and mortgages. Then it blew up in 2008, and now we have all kinds of social problems. The political system has gone haywire.

    After the Soviet Union fell, this opened up global trade. Better living through purchasing power. Same thing with automation. Deflation is better living through purchasing power. The problem is, our government and financial system isn’t set up for this, so they inflate anyway. It’s not going to work. Almost everything should be going down in price, but they can’t have that.

    What I’m saying is you’re going to lose jobs from specialization in trade, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.

    That is why you have populism and socialism breaking out all over the place.

    In the 19th century, deflation led to labor violence, as businesses had to constantly cut nominal wage rates. Businessmen would point out that the lower nominal wage was actually worth more than the higher nominal wage of, say, ten years earlier. But it still looked — and felt — like a pay cut to the workers.

    By contrast, when you need to, inflation lets you cut real wages tactfully, merely by giving raises that don’t keep up with price levels. This is how World War II wage controls brought real wages down enough to end the Great Depression.

    • #30
    • June 16, 2019, at 7:37 AM PDT
    • Like
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