With the big game around the corner, Super Bowl ads are sold out, and advertisers are looking to return to the upbeat tone of the pre-COVID years. We give y’all a little preview. Plus, we discuss the White House’s handling of questions from the media about the recent U.S. raid in Syria and some hard data on the national debt. We’ll end the show with two Make Me Smiles — one from Down Under, and another that’s out of this world.
Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:
- Felicia Sonmez’s tweet thread on the U.S. raid in Syria
- “Raw data: Interest on the national debt” from Jabberwocking
- “NBCUniversal Sells Out Super Bowl Ad Inventory, Hitting Record $7M For Some Spots” from Deadline
- “Advertisers want to make Super Bowl commercials fun again this year” from Fortune
- “Fortune Favours the Brave” | Crypto.com from YouTube
- NASA says International Space Station will crash into Pacific Ocean once retired in 2030 from USA Today
- “Covid: New Zealand unveils phased border reopening plan” from BBC News
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Make Me Smart February 3, 2022 transcript
Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.
Kai Ryssdal: Hey everybody I’m Kai Ryssdal. Welcome back to Make Me Smart doing the best we can on this podcast to make the day make sense.
Justin Ho: And I’m Justin Ho. Thanks for joining us on this Hollowed Out Shell Thursday. We’re gonna get to the news fix and share make me smile or two. But first, how’s your shell feeling today Kai?
Kai Ryssdal: I’m doing all right. I’m doing all right. You know, I mean, it’s a lovely day here in Southern California, even though the rest of the country is having crazy bad weather which I sympathize. But you know what I mean? I mean, I think I think I’m finding some equilibrium. I don’t know, you?
Justin Ho: Yeah, kind of, I’d say moderately to fairly hollowed out. But I mean, I’m kind of new to this show. It is nice that you tape at the end of the day like that is that is great. I mean, you, we’ll stop, we’ll turn it in. And that’s it.
Kai Ryssdal: And then you’re done. That’s exactly right. Well, that was part of the whole. And look, we had a listener comment a couple of weeks ago about the 15 minute thing and me being all militant about it, but I’m like, “You know what? We say our piece, we move along, and everything’s good.” I just, there’s no need to dilly dally or linger. That’s my mantra. That’s what I’m saying.
Justin Ho: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kai Ryssdal: That’s what I’m saying. All right. So let us do some news. And I’ll go first. Just because for whatever reason, I am listed first on the rundown. So I’ve got two items, both of which are reasonably serious. And the first one goes like this. So the president was on his way to New York today. And I don’t know if this was a trip on the way to New York or on the way back from New York, but on Air Force One today at one point Jen Psaki, the press secretary was doing what’s called a gaggle for the traveling press corps. And Ayesha Rascore from NPR actually asked her Saki about the strike overnight that killed Haji Abdullah, the ISIS leader, and all the reports that he had blown himself up, right. And Ayesha said, “Look, are you going to give us evidence that he actually did blow himself up with a suicide bomb?” Because it’s relevant to number of civilians killed and is relevant to the way the attack went down. And Saki said, in essence, look, “Do you really think that the United States government and the military are not providing accurate information and that ISIS is providing accurate information?” That’s actually the quote. And, and that, to me, is just unbelievable, because, look, the fact of the matter is that the Pentagon has a history of not really being forthcoming about the results of it’s strikes when they go well, or when they go bad. And we need to look only as far back as the 29th of August. And that air raid in Afghanistan, as we were pulling out or right after we pulled out that killed 10 civilians. And was it not for the New York Times doing some digging, we would never know that civilians had been killed. Because the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath was like, “this was a good strike. We feel good about this.” And that just matters. That just matters. And for me, this brought back memories of the Bush Two White House, that is to say, George W. Bush and his early terrorism operations where if you criticized what they were doing or questioned it specifically as a member of the press corps, their response was, look, either you’re with us or you hate the United States. And that’s just not right. That’s just not right. So that’s, that’s, that’s my one very serious lead item. My second, not quite as serious, but a bit relevant, I think, to our economic times is from a blog post by Kevin Drum, who’s a commentator, shall we say on things economic, of decent reputation. And he points out, and I love this, actually, that the news the other day, that the federal debt was over $30 trillion. That happened like Monday or Tuesday, Brancaccio mentioned it on the morning report. I don’t remember what it was. The national debt is now $30 trillion, which is a boatload of money, let’s be clear, but the interest rate on the national debt that we’ve been paying, historically, it’s only 1.51%. Nothing. Nothing.
Justin Ho: So all the hand wringing about like, you know, the US debt is going up and up. We’re paying this is like this is not like we’re borrowing on a credit card and paying like 17% interest on it.
Kai Ryssdal: Right, right. Right. In 2021. The interest on the debt is 1.53%. So it’s slightly up but look, a percent and a half is nothing, is nothing that’s less than the 10 year Treasury closed out today. . It’s half of what you can get a 30 year mortgage for. Is the debt an issue? Yes, is it a problem right now. No. And I just want to make sure everybody understands that because
Justin Ho: Yeah, and what’s the alternative, you know, not support the economy during the financial crisis? I mean, during COVID.
Kai Ryssdal: Exactly, exactly. So anyway, that was just my little tidbit of macroeconomics is hard, but it’s not that hard.
Justin Ho: You know, and so just going back to the first story brought up like, you know, that old George W. Bush quote, I just wanted to quote the words of Obi Wan Kenobi, you know, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes,” right? You’re with us or you’re against us.
Kai Ryssdal: That’s right.
Justin Ho: That was a callback. All right. Well, I got a Super Bowl today. So we’ve been hearing about, I guess, like the ads that are going to air during the Superbowl. And I think today, we learned that NBC sold out of all the ad slots, like for a bajillion dollars each and I guess the main takeaway from all of this is that the overall themes gonna be a little more like normal this time, like the Clydesdales are coming back and that kind of thing. But there’s also a couple of new companies called FTX, which is actually a crypto exchange based in the Bahamas, and also another crypto company, crypto.com. And I don’t know if you remember this? It was like, late last year when there was this like Matt Damon commercial for crypto.com that came out.
Kai Ryssdal: Yes, yes, it was craziness.
Justin Ho: And we saw it was hilarious and widely mocked on Twitter, we should point out. And so it’s like, it’s basically him walking through these epic scenes of human achievement like a guy climbing a glacier and like a ship coming in. And then some astronauts show up. Here’s like, here’s a clip from the ad.
Crypto.com ad: They calm their minds, and steel their nerves. The four simple words that have been whispered by the intrepid since the time of the Romans: “Fortune favors the brave.”
Justin Ho: And then the screen says crypto.com, so like, you know, way over the top here, you think it’s gonna be like an ad for the new like, “Interstellar” movie or something. And so what I’m wondering is like, okay, so that was an ad for a football game back in the fall. But if this is at the Super Bowl, will this be a huge cringe fest like it was on Twitter? Like, will the general public have the same negative reaction?
Kai Ryssdal: Yes!
Justin Ho: You think so?
Kai Ryssdal: Yes, because it’s a completely ridiculous ad. But look, I have to to history geek out here and share this. So that line “Fortune favors the brave.” It was said by Pliny the Elder in 79 A.D. Why? Because he was in his boat going to investigate the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. And what happened to Pliny the Elder as he said, “Fortune favors the brave” and sailed off toward Mount Vesuvius. He was killed. So Fortune favors the brave, but the brave die. That’s the whole context of that ad. It makes me crazy every time I hear it. Crazy.
Justin Ho: God, that is funny. That is funny. Well, we got a good beer out of Pliny the Elder at least.
Kai Ryssdal: That well, yeah, exactly. That’s exactly right. I tweeted that the other day, and everybody came back and said, “Well, at least it was a good beer.”
Justin Ho: Yeah, that’s right. Well, I don’t know. Yeah, maybe if they keep hammering with this. us with this stuff and right, put it in front of the public enough we’ll start to think it’s more legitimate, but I don’t know. It’s gonna be funny to see how it plays out.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yeah. Anyway, Charlton hit it. Okay, so my make me smile is not so much make me smile it as as it is, a “Huh! This is interesting.” So, NASA said today, or maybe it was yesterday. Frankly, I don’t remember. That the International Space Station is going to be done at the end of 2030. It’s going to be, quote, retired. And they are going to crash it into the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which is all well and good. But those of us of a certain age, which is to say, if you remember when Skylab came down in the 70s, it came down, parts of it fell on Australia. And look, Australia is big. And there’s lots of open space and most of the planet is water. And I understand that, but it’s with some degree of trepidation that I look forward in 2030 to the International Space Station coming down. I’m just saying, let’s all just be on our toes then, shall we?
Justin Ho: I mean, I was talking about this with Kimberly on Friday, like, you know, there’s some space junk that’s apparently gonna fall into the moon or something.
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, yes. It’s a SpaceX rocket. It’s a SpaceX rocket. They’re, they’re not going to but here’s the deal. It’s gonna crash into the moon at like 5600 miles an hour. It’s gonna go splat in a very big way. But yeah, it’s a SpaceX rocket that was hoisting stuff. And I actually on this podcast, but a week and a half ago said, I don’t know how it got that far out, apparently. Sorry, I’m geeking out here on like, multiple levels today. Apparently, it was a Tesla rock – sorry SpaceX rocket. I’m confusing my Elon Musk companies. It was a SpaceX rocket that was launching some stuff out to the one of the Lagrange points. And the Lagrange points are where the James Webb Space Telescope now is one of them. I think it’s L two. And so that’s why that was in the news. Anyway, sorry. I digress. 56,000 miles an hour into the moon.
Justin Ho: I mean, it sounds juvenile, but it’s gonna be awesome, right? I mean, it’s not like David Blaine, you know, riding a balloon in the desert, some like manufactured thing. It’s like, this is gonna be like a slow descent, like a huge watery explosion. I imagine. It’ll probably make a great man-made reef, I’m imagining.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh, totally. Totally. That’s a really good thought. Yeah, middle of Pacific Ocean point Nemo, which is like the farthest point from land or something anyway. Anyway, what do you got? What’s making you smile?
Justin Ho: Well, kind of in the same, I guess geographical, the Oceania continent. I think it’s called. New Zealand, reopening its borders. They have closed very, you know, since it started the pandemic, they just announced kind of a phased reopening. And I think it’s made me smile, because I’m just happy about the idea of a world where we can visit New Zealand again, which is Middle Earth. I mean, come on, I mean, in the middle of COVID. There’s something else though, that I think echoes what Betsey Stevenson from University of Michigan said on this program a couple days ago, I mean, part of what’s going on is a lot of like really serious stuff about you know, New Zealand citizens not being able to get back but a lot of it is the labor shortage ’cause New Zealand has a very serious labor shortage like we do in the US and the border control policy is not helping anything. So, I mean, we’re talking about a pretty small island nation here, relatively speaking. And it’s not like the US has the same border controls. But there’s kind of a pretty clear lesson in there. I mean, if you’ve got a labor shortage in your country, you know, letting people in is one way to solve it.
Kai Ryssdal: Immigration matters. Immigration matters. It’s an economic story. It’s a labor force story. You betcha. You betcha. All right, good. So I think I think we are done for the day a neat and tidy, you know, 12,13 minutes. Look, that’s just what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna do like 15 minutes. Anyway, we’re done. Kimberly Adams and Matt Levin are hosting this broadcast, broadcast which is a podcast. They are hosting this podcast tomorrow economics on tap. I swear to God, I’m completely sober. The YouTube live stream will return soon, but not this week. There will be drinks and some half/full half empty. I’m curious as to what concoction Kimberly is going to come up with this week. We shall see. I’ll listen and find out.
Justin Ho: And keep sending us your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Or leave us a voice message at 508-UB-SMART.
Kai Ryssdal: Anyway you want to get a hold of us. We’ll take it. We’ll read emails on the air. We’ll play tape. Make Me Smart, which is again this podcast is produced by Marissa Cabrera with help all the time from Marque Green. Today’s episode was engineered brilliantly by Charlton Thorp.
Justin Ho: Bridget Bodnar is the senior producer, director of on demand is Donna Tam. What’s the what’s the margin of error do you think on a space station crashing? Like in the south Pacific.
Kai Ryssdal: Oh, that’s a great question for the statistically oriented among you. The relevant measurement is CEP circular error probable. That’s a great question. And I don’t know the answer.
Justin Ho: Like 1000 miles like?
Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, I don’t know.
Justin Ho: Yeah, we’ll see.
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