The Far Middle

Nick Deiuliis

Tune in weekly to Nick’s Far Middle Podcast, covering a range of timely and interesting topics spanning business, energy, sports, culture, politics, and policy. Each installment of the Far Middle podcast offers an entertaining stroll through a variety of subjects that Nick ties together in a common theme at episode’s end. Never predictable, but always engaging, the Far Middle is a must-listen for those looking for straight talk in a world of facade. read less
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Episodes

Journalism Bias
3d ago
Journalism Bias
The Far Middle episode 157 begins with a tribute to America’s servicemen and women following Armed Forces Day, celebrated the preceding Saturday, May 18. Leading off with the episode’s sports dedication, Nick goes back 40 years to the infamous “bean-brawl game” from August 12, 1984, between the San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves. Nick walks through the “train wreck” of a game that included three separate brawls, 17 players and coaches ejected, and several fans arrested. After hearing Nick’s review of the game that umpire John McSherry described as setting “baseball back 50 years,” relive the madness via YouTube. After revisiting the Padres-Braves drama, Nick asks, “What if my summary was delivered exclusively from the perspective of a devout Braves fan, or how would it differ and contrast if I delivered a summary from a purely partisan Padres fan perspective?” Those hypothetical competing takes on the game leads to the episode’s primary discussion: examining the evolution of journalism from its objective, balanced coverage of societal issues, to its biased state today. Nick focuses on two of the most established names in journalism—The New York Times and National Public Radio (NPR)—delving into their Leftist-bias progression. For the Times, Nick explains how that progression has been occurring for almost a century, while NPR’s biased shift is a relatively more recent change of course. While discussing NPR, the Far Middle’s “Fauci Focus” returns for a special reprise as Nick discusses NPR’s dismissal that COVID could’ve originated from a Chinese lab, “basically backing up 100 percent the positions that Anthony Fauci and NIH took.” In closing, Nick stresses the importance of balanced and objective journalism, expressing hope for the future of news organizations like NPR. Nick concludes by connecting back to 1984, noting the year’s top TV shows, one of which was a news show that’s still airing today.  Far Middle Connections: Today’s episode release date coincides with the anniversary of the Pirates’ Willie Stargell hitting three home runs, a double, and a single in a May 22, 1968, win against the Cubs. Stargell would help the Pirates win the 1971 World Series, their fourth in franchise history, alongside teammate Al Oliver. Oliver is included on Nick’s list of baseball greats deserving a plaque in Cooperstown.
The Far Middle Turns Three
May 15 2024
The Far Middle Turns Three
The Far Middle turns three with episode 156; representing three years and hundreds of unique “connections,” thought-provoking and surprising insights not found anywhere else. Following the recent 150th milestone episode that explored core themes of the podcast’s journey, from limited government to individual liberty, Nick opts for a fun approach this special episode, navigating a web of cultural icons and their connections within connections. Continuing to carry on the tradition of Dr. James Burke’s BBC “Connections” series, Nick begins the discussion on the heels of Mother’s Day. Nick highlights the role Ted Williams’ mom played in his ultimate signing with the Boston Red Sox. A difference of $500 separated Williams and Joe DiMaggio from being pinstripe teammates. For more on “Teddy Ballgame,” revisit Nick’s dedication to Williams in episode 130. The three-year episode’s release date, May 15, serendipitously also falls on the anniversary of the start of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak back in 1941. Revisit that streak in Nick’s closing segment from episode 56. Breaking from the well-known Far Middle analyses on public policy and cultural trends to business and finance and more, Nick features an all-star, award-winning lineup of connections spanning screen and stage. Nick notes Joe DiMaggio was not only a great baseball player, but a hopeless romantic, “and the object of his affection was none other than the legend Marilyn Monroe.” From there the connections turn to Ernest Hemingway, playwright Arthur Miller, actor and acting teacher Lee Strasberg, actors John Malkovich, Dustin Hoffman, Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, alongside a few other greats. A truly entertaining episode, Nick celebrates the series’ run by highlighting a range of accomplished figures, connected linear and fascinatingly intertwined—a great transition as year four gets underway in episode 157. Boxing fans: the third anniversary episode’s release date of March 15 also marks Rocky Marciano’s first world heavyweight title defense. In 1953, Marciano knocked out former champion Jersey Joe Walcott in the first round at Chicago Stadium. Head back to Far Middle’s 100th episode for Nick’s dedication to “The Brockton Bomber.” And if you have four minutes, watch that May 15, 1953, fight.
Going Back to California
May 8 2024
Going Back to California
Nick begins episode 155 by paying respect to Holocaust Remembrance Day, sadly observing, “The ability and degree of humans to harm other humans, it's one of those attributes that make us unique in the animal kingdom, badly unique.” Nick then shifts the episode’s focus to California, revisiting a state often in the Far Middle spotlight (see Nick’s commentary, “Ode to Los Angeles From a Wary Admirer,” and Far Middle episode 113 for some of Nick’s prior observations).  Beginning just south of San Francisco, the installment’s sports dedication is a Far Middle first as the honor goes to a high school, Junípero Serra High School, and its legendary lineup of alumni athletes. That roster spans football coach John Robinson and quarterback Tom Brady to baseball player/manager Jim Fregosi and MLB home run king Barry Bonds, and many others.  From athletes launching their epic careers at Serra High School, Nick pivots to the downward spiral of the Golden State, in particular declining quality of life in the Bay Area, thanks to continued Leftist governance and policies. Nick questions a study ranking San Francisco as the healthiest city in America as the reality on the ground (crime, homelessness, substance abuse) doesn't reflect this assessment. “Living and functioning in San Francisco these days can be quite the threat and danger to one's health, both physical and mental,” says Nick. Meanwhile, in Oakland, restaurants are closing due to crime and public safety concerns. “Crime has been a major issue in Oakland,” says Nick. “Robberies grew 38% last year, according to police data. Burglaries are up 23%, and motor vehicle theft jumped 44%. That's unbelievable. Roughly one of every 30 Oakland residents had a car stolen last year.”  While crime soars, Oakland’s leadership is more focused on threatening a 102-year-old man with fines for graffiti on his property. Nick also examines the state of education in the Bay Area.   “The potential of California, it's always been to serve as the ideal for the rest of us, it used to epitomize so much of the positive of the American dream,” says Nick. “But today the reality of California is the truth of what happens when the Left runs things and what it will bring to all of us eventually.” In closing, Nick reflects on a few California cultural icons (including John Steinbeck, Joan Didion, The Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys, and others), and how their depictions of California unfortunately differ from life in California today.
A Lack of Consistency
May 1 2024
A Lack of Consistency
In Far Middle episode 154, Nick examines a string of connections demonstrating how a lack of consistency is becoming the norm in society—raising questions about fairness, integrity, and the rule of law.In the lead-off spot and serving as the episode’s sports dedication, Nick discusses Major League Baseball's inconsistent handling of the Shohei Ohtani and Pete Rose gambling scandals. In addition to contrasting MLB’s Ohtani and Rose investigations, Nick also note’s MLB’s inconsistent stance on gambling. While the League says gambling is evil, and will result in severe punishment, at the same time the League enjoys profitable deals with gambling platforms.“The nice thing about baseball is that even though the handling of gambling sagas may lack consistency, the scoring and player statistics, they require consistency,” says Nick, connecting to inconsistencies in standardized test scoring for college admissions and explaining how wealthy students are manipulating the system to gain extra time on exams through dubious means.Nick then asks whether the law is consistently applied these days, or rather, is it subjectively applied depending on the person and the circumstances. That troublesome question leads to analyzing the judgement against former President Trump for the alleged fraud in New York regarding his real estate valuations.“The $454 million bond to appeal the ruling marks the highest bond ever recorded in United States history against a single individual,” says Nick. “For doing what, some people's experience has shown, all kinds of firms and banks engage in every day, which is negotiating and debating the value of assets to set loan levels and covenants.”Nick underscores that it’s not about liking or disliking Donald Trump, but rather, “it’s about whether the law applies to everyone consistently or whether the law gets selectively applied to those we don't care for.”Nick follows by addressing comedian Jon Stewart's comments on the Trump judgement by scrutinizing Stewart’s own lack of consistency regarding his personal real estate actions. “Using Stewart's anti-Trump logic, paying less in property taxes due to an artificially low assessed value, that would deny government of needed tax revenue,” says Nick. “Is that tax evasion or fraud? Of course it is not—we'd all be potentially liable for such.”Walking toward the end of episode 154’s line, Nick closes by reflecting on two giants in the history of music, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Both individuals’ careers were marked by inconsistency, “so a lack of consistency isn’t always a bad thing,” concludes Nick.
Big Truths
Apr 24 2024
Big Truths
Episode 153 of The Far Middle delves into "Big Truths," a contrasting theme to the prior episode's focus on "Little Lies." Leading off, Nick presents a few hard truths on the economics of professional sports for the installment’s sports dedication. Those truths include the challenge of becoming a professional athlete, and for the elite few that make it to the highest level of their respective sport, it’s a sad truth that many face financial struggles post-retirement. Shifting from sports, the next big truth centers on how different asset classes perform over time versus the inflation benchmark. “That's a crucial question because the objective of investing is to achieve a rate of return that exceeds inflation over your investment horizon,” says Nick. “If your return exceeds inflation, you've enjoyed a real rate of return, and your portfolio grew in value.” What’s been the best major investment class outperforming inflation over a 20-year investment horizon the past nearly hundred years? The answer may surprise you. From investment trends, Nick examines recent data and projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regarding the depressing financial health of our federal government. “By the early 2030s, the CBO is estimating that all, as in 100 percent, of federal government revenues are going to be consumed by two things, entitlements and interest on the federal debt,” explains Nick. Presuming the CBO is correct, Nick discusses the country’s options to avoid the big financial truth that spells trouble ahead. Nick continues the theme of big truths as he draws a connection to President Biden’s low approval ratings juxtaposed to his job creation performance since taking office. “When it comes to payroll growth since inauguration, and after those 1,000 days plus in office, Biden is tracking quite well versus his post-World War II predecessors,” says Nick. “In fact, only two presidents saw a bigger percent increase in payroll growth than Biden.” But despite the payroll growth, Nick suggests it’s simply been the economy rebounding to pre-pandemic numbers. “Maybe the American public realizes that big truth more than we give it credit for, which would explain President Biden's abysmal approval ratings,” says Nick. In closing, Nick highlights big songs about truth from two awesome groups, The Police and Depeche Mode. Take a break from enjoying the silence, and enjoy episode 153!
Little Lies
Apr 17 2024
Little Lies
Following a recent coincidental listen of Fleetwood Mac's "Little Lies," Nick examines a series of connections all based on little lies that have major consequences, particularly little fibs steering energy policy today. Marking episode 152’s sports dedication, Nick runs through a historic trifecta of sports related lies; including, George O'Leary's false resume claims, George Steinbrenner’s comments he planned to be an absentee owner, and Wilt Chamberlain's exaggerated sexual exploits. Nick notes there are many famous fibs from the annals of sports, such as the denials of fixing the 1919 World Series discussed in episode 149, as well as other moments that will likely be featured in future Far Middle sports dedications. Transitioning to energy policy, Nick argues those claiming wind and solar are zero-carbon energy sources are propagating a harmful misconception as their production carries significant carbon footprints. “Let's dispense with all those convenient little lies out there that underlie a flawed set of climate policies and energy transition efforts,” says Nick. “Until we do that, we're only going to be building our economy and society on a foundation of sand.” Nick then challenges the notion of U.S. energy independence, highlighting the country's increasing reliance on imported wind, solar, and EV components from China. And while America’s energy security erodes to reliance on China, Nick calls out another little lie that China is a growth market for renewable energy like wind and solar. Nick juxtaposes America’s removal of 95 gigawatts of coal-fired electric generation from its grid since 2015 to China adding 223 gigawatts of coal plant capacity to its grid. "What's all the coal-fired electricity and energy being used for in China?" Nick asks rhetorically. "It's often used to mine, process, and manufacture all the components and feedstocks needed to make more and more wind, solar, and EV products, which are then exported and shipped to places like the United States, where our energy policies mandate their use because we pretend they’re zero-carbon forms of energy. It's nuts." The discussion then shifts to the administrative state and bureaucratic behavior during the Trump administration, with examples of resistance from elite academia and entrenched government employees. Nick warns of potential future conflicts depending on the outcome of the 2024 presidential election. “If Trump wins the 2024 election, and I know that's a big if and I'm not saying he should, but if he wins the election, bar the door, because we're about to see one of the greatest freakouts in the history of government,” says Nick. “It could make 2016 and those prior Trump-term years look mild by comparison. “They say ‘rust never sleeps,’ neither does the need to make informed decisions regarding the maintenance of our energy ecosystem. There comes a time when scientific reality must check the environmental ideology,” continues Nick. Nick then connects those references to “rust never sleeps” and “comes a time” to the likewise-named Neil Young albums. And concludes with a reflection on Neil Young's boycott of Spotify over COVID-related content on Joe Rogan's podcast, touching on the irony and controversy surrounding the decision. Nick’s favorite Neil Young album? Give a listen!
Years, Numbers, and Consistency
Apr 10 2024
Years, Numbers, and Consistency
Far Middle episode 151 features a series of topics connected by the theme of “by the numbers, through the years, and through the lens of consistency.” That theme begins with the installment’s sports dedication honoring Bill “Wink” Winkenbach. Transforming the way fans watch and follow sports today, Winkenbach invented fantasy football in 1962. Nick looks at fantasy football’s growth, by the numbers and through the years, these past six decades. While Winkenbach was laying the foundation for modern fantasy sports in the 1960s, the Eisenhower administration would start counting the number of foreign nationals “apprehended” or “encountered” when crossing into the U.S. over the southern border. Nick proceeds to examine the immigration crisis by the numbers and through the years to present day. “Being part of a family who got its start here in America through immigration, I always lean toward being pro-immigration, but under, of course, reasonably defined sets of rules and criteria,” says Nick. “And that is far from what we have today… over the past three years, there’s a total of about ten million unauthorized, undocumented immigrants that have entered the United States…By the numbers on the immigration crisis should freak all of us out.” From the sobering and shocking data on America’s immigration crisis, Nick switches gears to World War II and the shocking tally of how many Soviet troops were killed by Stalin in conjunction with his ‘Not a Step Back’ order. Nick suggests a range of 300,000 to 900,000 Soviet troops were killed by their own government and fellow soldiers. Fantasy sports, the immigration crisis, and the Soviets killing their own troops—they reveal the importance of consistency and the danger of inconsistency. This leads to a discussion between the inconsistency of how former President Trump and President Biden were respectively charged and not charged for retaining classified documents. “Rules are rules,” says Nick. “When you break them, account for them. When you enforce them, do so consistently. To do otherwise is asking for trouble, both politically and culturally.” Continuing his focus on Washington, D.C., Nick shifts to the Inflation Reduction Act and specifically the Act’s sections to jumpstart the hydrogen economy. Nick explains the unique opportunity of coal mine methane (CMM) as a hydrogen feedstock and highlights the recent co-authored editorial, “Seizing Western Pa.’s unique hydrogen opportunity.” In the editorial by Matt Smith, Darrin Kelly, and Greg Bernarding, they write, “If properly enabled and maximized, CMM-based hydrogen production will be able to create over 696,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh region over the next two decades and infuse over $213 billion into the regional economy. We have identified over 30 unique projects, each with the potential to create close to 20,000 jobs.” Key to unlocking the economic and environmental benefits of these projects is the U.S. Treasury Department. Nick explains the Department “needs to finalize the 45V hydrogen production tax credits within the IRA. That's consistent with what the law intended. And that will facilitate a significant
The Far Middle Journey
Apr 3 2024
The Far Middle Journey
Marking the milestone 150th episode of The Far Middle, Nick reflects on the podcast’s nearly three-year journey and inspiration from Dr. James Burke's "Connections" series. “With such a prominent episode number, we need a compelling sports dedication, one that sits atop the greats, as a great of greats, and one that epitomizes and embraces the attributes of doing, achieving, hard work, and being rational,” says Nick, presenting the honor to Gordie Howe, aka “Mr. Hockey.” After reviewing Howe’s legendary career, work ethic, and transformative impact, Nick connects to The Far Middle’s impact on helping foster civil discourse and the importance of expressing diverse opinions. Looking back on the history of The Far Middle, Nick describes his philosophy on strategic thinking akin to that of a chess player, versus a checkers player’s mentality. However, the podcast’s beginnings resembled more of a checkers style before evolving into that of a chess player’s approach. He explains that each Far Middle episode is distinctly unique, with no two episodes exactly alike, yet all 150 episodes tie together a handful of core themes consistently and uniquely connected. “Strangely enough, applying a checkers player's mindset over the years helped me to become better at applying the chess player's mindset when thinking ahead,” says Nick. “It's one of life's interesting ironies.” Next, Nick references Ayn Rand’s essay, “Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors?”, in discussing a core theme of The Far Middle, which is the state justifying control of the individual under the cover of looking after the helpless individual’s best interests or the public good. “The state is promoted as the protector for the individual, the little guy's shield,” says Nick. “But who then protects the individual from the out-of-control protector when that protector explodes in size and scope?”  The episode delves into the Founding Fathers' vision of limited government and individual sovereignty, contrasting it with the growth of bureaucratic control. Drawing parallels to Orwell's "1984" and Huxley's "Brave New World," Nick warns against the dangers of state manipulation and the erosion of individual freedoms. In closing, Nick reaffirms his commitment to advocating for individual liberty and civil discourse as The Far Middle journey continues.
Manipulation
Mar 27 2024
Manipulation
The Far Middle episode 149 explores various forms of manipulation across society, spanning government, finance, electric vehicles, real estate, and more. In one of The Far Middle’s more unique sports dedications, the episode highlights an unlikely honoree: Arnold “The Brain” Rothstein. Nick explains that while the manipulative Rothstein didn’t excel in professional sports as a player or coach, his infamous role in fixing the 1919 World Series (which he denied) would transcend the sports world. Beginning this installment’s connections, Nick transitions to the evolution of the International Energy Agency (IEA). The agency “has succumbed to ideological pressures from the Left, the radical environmental movement, and the code red crowd,” says Nick. Those interests have skewed IEA’s demand forecast for global oil and natural gas use, and they then use that manipulated data as evidence there isn’t a need for further oil and natural gas investment. The argument is then parlayed into energy policy decisions, such as the Biden administration’s pause on new U.S. liquefied natural gas export facilities. Revisiting prior episode 148, “Fields of Resistance,” Nick highlights the German government’s budget manipulation attempts that ultimately sparked the German farmer protests. “Manipulation by government is not unique to Europe,” says Nick. “Our government here in the United States is fully capable of manipulation of its own.” This leads to a conversation about the U.S. EPA’s vehicle emissions rule, which is a de facto EV mandate. Nick reviews a paper by Paul Bonifas and Tim Considine, “Analyzing the EV Rule,” which finds, “The EPA’s EV rule would cost the U.S. economy and taxpayers $1,407 billion, an underestimation of $3,007 billion.” Next up is a topic familiar to readers of Precipice, which is the magnitude of public pension underfunding. Examining state and local government unfunded pension obligations, Nick references a Hoover Institution analysis that, “As of fiscal year 2021, the total reported unfunded liabilities of [state and local government pension] plans is $1.076 trillion. In contrast, the market value of the unfunded liability is approximately $6.501 trillion.” Switching from the public sector, Nick explains the manipulative tactics housed in the commercial real estate market to raise property values artificially. Perhaps one of the biggest manipulators is the Federal Reserve, which “has set interest rates far below normal for decades resulting in negative real interest rates, and such monetary manipulation has massive ramifications across society, much of them negative,” says Nick.  In closing, Nick questions the absence of the media and journalism who, by not calling out the manipulations discussed, are a willing accomplice by reporting opinions and the image rather than facts and the truth.  As episode 149 reaches twilight time, Nick pays tribute to what might be the greatest song in rock and roll history about manipulation.
Fields of Resistance
Mar 20 2024
Fields of Resistance
Far Middle episode 148 arrives at a special time: March Madness is here, spring has sprung, and America is celebrating National Agriculture Week. At this time of renewal, farming is the featured theme and focus. Nick begins in “heaven,” aka Iowa, for this episode’s sports dedication, which goes to “the Heater from Van Meter", Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. While Felller eventually landed in Cooperstown, his stretch to more than 2,500 Major League strikeouts began with playing American Legion ball in Iowa, with Nile Kinnick behind the plate. Learn more about Heisman Trophy winner Nile Kinnick in The Far Middle episode 138, “The Truth of the Matter.” Bob Feller, who grew up on a family farm, plants the seed for this episode’s examination of the roots of American farmer activism in the late 19th century and the parallels to Europe today. Nick discusses the recent surge of farmer protests across several European countries, from Ireland to Romania. The conversation further explores Nick’s recent commentary, “Harvesting History: Farmer Activism is Democracy’s Early Warning System.” In this episode, Nick offers both an American agriculture history lesson and an update on current issues and strife affecting European farmers. Learn how and why climate change policies are the singular root cause of today’s European farmer protests, and why other so-called causes are simply associated symptoms of those climate policies. “Farmers matter greatly in society—let's not mess with them,” says Nick. “They’re one of America’s great value creator classes—amongst creators, enablers, and servers—making society function, as I wrote in Precipice. Unfortunately, farmers are finding themselves under attack with this ever-pressing value appropriation by what might some call the takers, and that I reference in Precipice as the Leech.” In closing, Nick wraps with a fitting look back at the first Farm Aid concert. Now nearly 40 years ago, Nick pays tribute to Eddie Van Halen and Sammy Hagar’s first performance together on stage.
The Struggle Between Liberty and Authority
Mar 13 2024
The Struggle Between Liberty and Authority
The Far Middle episode 147 begins with an only-in-America connection as Nick presents the unique link between U.S. Senator Rand Paul and the installment’s sports dedication, Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Jim Bunning. Nick discusses Bunning’s accomplishments on the diamond that took him to Cooperstown, as well as his post-baseball career that took him to the United States Congress.   “It's another sports dedication that isn't so much about sport as it is about the unique journeys and opportunities that present themselves in America,” says Nick. The conversation then transitions into a discussion of John Stuart Mill's "On Liberty," Mill’s formative essay on individual freedom and the role of government in society. Nick’s commentary extends from and expands upon his recent article, “Revisiting On Liberty: Magnificent Guide in Troubling Times.” Nick explores many themes from Mill’s 1859 masterpiece, such as the importance of protecting individual rights from societal and governmental coercion, the dangers of suppressing dissenting opinions, and the need for tolerance of nonconformity. Nick draws connections to present day issues, such as vaccine mandates, censorship on social media, and ideological polarization. Regarding that polarization and today’s thought police, Nick notes that “Mill pointed out that society benefits from genius, but genius, it requires individuality and freedom. Everyone appreciates a genius in art. So, when some musical or literary genius comes on the scene, everybody loves that. But the same people often disdain contemporary genius that disrupts political, economic, religious, or scientific status quo and power. It's quite inconsistent.” In the closing lines of On Liberty, Mill writes, “The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the individuals composing it…a State which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.” Nick contends that the individual is going to have to reign once again supreme in the U.S. if we want to secure a bright future. Concluding the episode, Nick connects back to 1859, the publication year of On Liberty, to reflect on another milestone that year. And that breakthrough event took place in Titusville, Pa., where Edwin Drake struck oil giving birth to America’s oil industry.
Transformations
Mar 6 2024
Transformations
The Far Middle episode 146 highlights two contrasting transformations—the first positioned the NFL to become the league it is today, while the other transformation finds New York City on the precipice of ruin. This installment’s sports dedication goes to visionary NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Earning the job at age 33, Nick looks back on Rozelle’s role in transforming the NFL into the immensely popular financial success it is today. Rozelle’s leadership on revenue sharing and new television contracts not only increased the league's revenue and exposure but also made football America’s number one sport. Rozelle shaped the NFL into a cultural and economic powerhouse. “Rozelle is someone who transcended sport and represents what America has to offer, no matter what your profession or cultural interests,” says Nick. That powerhouse’s headquarters, New York City, connects to this episode’s focus, which is the myriad challenges facing the Big Apple largely due to years of leftist policies from the city’s leadership. Nick recounts a trip last month to New York and delves into the city's decline over the past few years, exacerbated by pandemic policies. While only in town for a couple of days, “I made it a point to talk to as many residents and businesspeople and workers and business owners as possible,” says Nick, proceeding to summarize the concerns and frustrations of those he spoke with along with personal observations. Nick first addresses crime, describing the city’s vibe as tense and on edge, followed by a discussion on the controversial leadership of Mayor Eric Adams as he’s “suffering from a host of issues.” Those issues span affordable housing to corruption allegations, but most notably a migrant crisis. That crisis made disturbing national news just before Nick’s visit, after a recent assault by migrants on New York Police officers in Times Square and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s ensuing response. “D.A. Bragg made a mockery of the entire justice system,” says Nick. Nick also examines once again the city’s transportation mess, from the deteriorating condition of the subway to the implementation of the regressive tax that is congestion pricing. Concluding his observations on the headwinds facing New York City, Nick shares troubling insights evidenced from a lunch at a friend’s Little Italy restaurant. And visible from that lunch was the mysterious and windowless Long Lines Building in Tribeca, which serves as an intriguing close for Far Middle episode 146.
Wild Ride
Feb 28 2024
Wild Ride
Episode 145 of The Far Middle begins with a sports dedication that continues a recent theme of honorees and tributes whose stories transcend beyond sports. Professional baseball pitcher, and longtime Pittsburgh Pirate, Dock Ellis is remembered in this installment. Nick describes Ellis’ intriguing story as one that’s reached urban legend status, but one that’s also sad and tragic. Nick looks back on Ellis’ career, specifically recounting Ellis’ infamous no-hitter from June 12, 1970, which Ellis accomplished after taking LSD earlier in the day. Ellis “was a personality, an advocate for causes, an addict, an individual, a lightning rod, and in many ways, he epitomized much of the late 1960s and 70s,” says Nick, paying respect to Ellis and his “wild ride.”  Transitioning from Ellis, Nick notes the geopolitical instability during Ellis’ playing days, and how those trying times—from the Vietnam War to the Cold War—resemble many of the myriad threats and “wall of worry” we face today. And amongst the multi-faceted wall of worry spanning the globe today, Nick delves into his greatest concern, which is China and its potential attack on Taiwan. Nick proceeds to examine a China-Taiwan analysis led by Mark Cancian (Colonel, USMCR, ret.), which looked at “what would happen if China attempted an amphibious invasion of Taiwan?” Cancian, a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) International Security Program, alongside co-authors Matthew Cancian and Eric Heginbotham, “developed a wargame for a Chinese amphibious invasion of Taiwan and ran it 24 times. In most scenarios, the United States/Taiwan/Japan defeated a conventional amphibious invasion by China and maintained an autonomous Taiwan. However, this defense came at high cost.” After reviewing the CSIS China/Taiwan wargaming report, Nick considers several follow-up questions. Including: How effectively do the Chinese and American militaries fight?If China invades Taiwan and is left vulnerable, will the U.S. attack Chinese military locations on China’s mainland?Will the Taiwanese fight, or will they fold and collapse when confronted with the brute force of a Chinese invasion?Will public opinion in the United States be able to stomach the level of losses likely to be suffered to save Taiwan?How will the conflict end? Does China go all in resulting in a global conflict? If the worry of a potential China-Taiwan conflict is keeping you up at night, Nick has an appropriate 1983 film directed by John Badham for you…shall we play a game?
Contrasting Views
Feb 21 2024
Contrasting Views
Episode 144 of The Far Middle falls just after Presidents’ Day 2024. Accordingly, Nick notes a few U.S. presidents that are underrated, overrated, and a pair he continues to enjoy learning about. Connecting from Presidents’ Day to this installment’s sports dedication, Nick revisits President Jimmy Carter spearheading the boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Nick examines the many geopolitical dynamics of the boycott that resulted from the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Interestingly, the boycott—a move to force the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Afghanistan—came just after the U.S. beat the Soviets in Lake Placid in the “Miracle on Ice,” which you can hear more about in prior Far Middle episode 80. Drawing on themes and issues surrounding the 1980 Summer Games boycott, Nick moves to present day and explores the contrasting views of “elites” versus those of average Americans on several economic, social, and political issues. Nick first highlights a comment from Jamie Dimon, who recently called out the insulated progressive elites in a CNBC interview, before next analyzing the results of a sobering poll by RMG Research for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. That poll, “Them vs. U.S.: The Two Americas and How the Nation’s Elite Is Out of Touch with Average Americans,” offers interesting to shocking to frightening insights on America’s elite demographic. Of those many insights, Nick calls out that “almost 50 percent of elites believe that America provides too much individual freedom. And meanwhile, 60 percent of voters believe that there's too much government control. That's what you call contrasting views.” He also highlights elites’ views of climate change, restating a frequent Far Middle topic that “climate change policies have nothing to do about atmospheric levels of CO2, and they've got everything to do with control of the individual across society and economy.” Unfortunately, the poll results offer a validation of the themes and arguments Nick makes in Precipice: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy America. “Although I wrote that book years ago, looking at where the minds of elites are today and how they are driving Western societies, they serve as proof points for the hypothesis laid out in Precipice…I wish Precipice would have been a false alarm, but instead, what's going on in America, is definitely not a drill,” says Nick. Referencing his discussion on the broken state of college and academia described in Precipice, Nick connects to academia’s unwillingness to reform, using Henderson State University in Arkansas as an example. This leads to a broader look at the societal value of a four-year college degree today, which “has never been worth less.” Moving from elites in academia, Nick discusses elites in bureaucracy, specifically former National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, who “was as bad as it got when it came to running over science and individual rights to justify draconian pandemic policies.” In closing, Nick flips the conversation to a positive side, telling the story of Pittsburgh’s Paul Mawhinney, his record store Record-Rama, and his three-million-plus record collection.
Morphing the Narrative
Feb 14 2024
Morphing the Narrative
The Far Middle episode 143, released on Valentine’s Day 2024, begins with a darker reflection from the holiday’s history: the St. Valentine's Day Massacre of 1929.   Nick then begins this installment’s connections, shifting from “illegal gangland Prohibition-era fights, with blood flowing and bullets flying on the streets, to another form of tough competition—the legally sanctioned NBA with blood in the paint.” Nick fast-forwards 73 years later to Allen Iverson’s legendary “practice” interview.   Nick examines the rest of the story behind Iverson’s interview and explains how it’s “a great example of how media can morph things to fit their desired narrative for whatever reason or for whatever motive.” Incidentally, Allen Iverson joins a select group of repeat Far Middle sports dedication honorees, checkout episode 92 for more. The theme of morphing the narrative then encompasses the episode’s focus as Nick counters many so-called experts’ claims that inflation has been tamed and run its recent short-lived course. Nick’s analysis is an extension from his recent essay, “20 Reasons Why the Worst is Yet to Come with Inflation.” Those 20 contributors of inflation—and their many underlying dynamics—can be broadly categorized into government spending and regulation, monetary policy, and geopolitics. A few of the inflationary drivers include:  The growth of the regulatory state making everything more expensive.The impact of languishing worker productivity continuing to increase the costs of goods and services.Higher taxes and fees at every level of government escalating the cost of everything, everywhere, every day.Climate policies fueling energy scarcity and raising energy costs, and more. “Each of these individual factors are their own contributors, but all of them together, that helps drive an incremental step-up of inflation, a cumulative effect that occurs when they all manifest together,” says Nick. In closing, Nick makes one more connection to February 14, as he remembers Richard Stanley Francis. The British champion jockey and author passed away today, 14 years ago.
Bring It on Home
Feb 7 2024
Bring It on Home
In The Far Middle episode 142, Nick once again starts the discussion with a sports dedication honoring an athlete whose accomplishments extend beyond sports. This installment’s honoree is the late Pat Tillman. While recognizing Tillman’s football achievements, Nick focuses on Tillman’s service and principles. Nick describes Tillman as an exemplar of a great American doing exceptional things throughout his very unique life. Nick then shifts the discussion back to his recent video series, “A Rational Thinker’s Guide to Climate Change and Related Policies.” Nick brings home his commentary spanning the prior two Far Middle episodes, and further examines his arguments from the concluding chapter of the series, “Forces Driving Present Climate Policies.” Those forces driving climate policies today can be best categorized as external and internal; with external coming from outside the United States, and internal being pressures and influences within the United States and West. Examining external forces, Nick covers OPEC, dynamics between Russia and Europe, Venezuela's aggression towards Guyana, and of course, China who “clearly is the biggest single example of who benefits the most with respect to climate policies and net zero journeys to really bad places.” Then there’s the internal driver of present climate policies. And the “best way to define it is as the Left within the West itself, whether it's the United States or Europe,” says Nick. “The Left at the end of the day, more than anything, despises the individual and specifically disdains the freedom of the individual to choose for themselves.” Nick proceeds to highlight several trends that are justified as “tackling climate change,” but at their core, they're about curtailing individual rights and greater control over individual choice. Examples today span what you can eat and drink, driving and EV mandates, 15-minute cities, and climate policy bleeding into government use of emergency powers. Nick rambles on with a final music segment, as he pays tribute to Led Zeppelin’s Led Zeppelin II album. Led Zeppelin II would mark the band’s first UK No. 1 album—a milestone occurring today, 34 years ago. For more Led Zeppelin commentary, check out Nick’s reflection on Led Zeppelin IV and Physical Graffiti.
Bad Medicine
Jan 31 2024
Bad Medicine
The Far Middle episode 141 tips off with a sports dedication once again highlighting a great performer both on and off the field (or court).Nick pays tribute to the great David Robinson, aka “The Admiral.” Nick reflects on the two-time NBA champion’s unique path to the Naval Academy, his time with the Spurs and the U.S. national team, and his commitment to education and supporting young people. “David Robinson put his money and actions where his mouth was; you just don't get a better-quality person than David Robinson,” says Nick. “And if more of us are like him, it's a winning formula for the nation and society.”Connecting from Robinson’s service in the Navy, Nick discusses America’s military today, who’s being told by our current leaders that climate change is America’s biggest threat. This sets up the episode’s primary focus, which is the continuing examination of his recent video series, “A Rational Thinker’s Guide to Climate Change and Related Policies.”Nick expands upon his analysis in part two of the series, “Consequences of the Experts' Cures,” beginning with the significant carbon footprint of so-called “renewables,” from their supply chain to installation. Their misunderstood, or perhaps ignored, life cycle carbon footprints are arguably the foundational flaw of the experts’ climate “cures.”The bad medicine, which is those cures, will have materially worse impacts on economies and quality of life for citizens across the globe than the actual symptoms of climate change, whether legitimate, manufactured, or imagined, explains Nick.The ignored carbon footprints of wind, solar, electric vehicles, and batteries underpin why the consequences are not going to be positive by pursuing the medicine or cures that the experts and the elites have prescribed.Nick next connects to how the experts’ cures are driving inflation and destabilizing the geopolitical map. Nick examines the aggression by Russia, China, Iran, Hamas, Venezuela, and others that are rooted in energy policy. Moreover, Nick calls out the hypocrisy of the “experts” who refuse to practice what they preach.In closing, Nick offers a great tribute to “the first president of the United States to enjoy rock star status.” Who was that president? Well not Obama or JFK. Press play to discover who, and rock on.
Skating Through the Climate Maze
Jan 24 2024
Skating Through the Climate Maze
Episode 140 of The Far Middle is a must-listen for hockey fans as Nick looks back at both the history of the game and the origin of the name "hockey." He recounts the game’s early forms in ancient Greece, 17th-century Holland, and its evolution in North America. While the game began outside of Canada, the Land of Maple refined and popularized hockey into the modern sport we know today. For more hockey talk, check out Nick’s prior dedications to “the Great One,” Martin Brodeur, Sidney Crosby, and Connor McDavid. Nick leaves the rink to spend the bulk of episode 140 revisiting a three-part video series he released earlier this month following the United Nations’ 28th “Conference of the Parties” climate summit (aka “COP 28”). The trilogy, “A Rational Thinker’s Guide to Climate Change and Related Policies,” is available here and also on Nick’s YouTube channel. This Far Middle further explores Nick’s commentary in the trilogy’s first installment, “Diagnosing the Problem and Issue.” Topics include: The poor and inept policies being forced upon society by the climate alarmist movement.Earth’s changing climate throughout history.The shale gas revolution’s role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.The economic, social, and ecological challenges of so-called 'renewable' energy sources like wind and solar—as well as their low energy density. “We need to have a follow-on conversation about what we know about climate change policies, because those policies, they're advertised as the medicine and the cure to climate change by the climate alarmist crowd,” says Nick previewing next week’s episode. He calls the expert and elites’ cures much worse than the disease of climate change and asks whether those symptoms are real or whether they’re fabricated.  In closing, Nick connects to John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim's Progress." He draws parallels between the challenges faced by dissenters in Bunyan’s classic work to today’s “religion of climate alarmism” and limitations on free thought in the present-day discussion of climate change.
Echoes of Greatness
Jan 17 2024
Echoes of Greatness
Following Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past Monday, and the anniversary of his January 15th birthday, Nick begins The Far Middle episode 139 with a great story of King’s nonviolence in action, which “no one did better than Martin Luther King Jr. with lasting impact.” For this episode’s sports dedication, Nick again spotlights an athlete whose greatness extends beyond the field, or in this case the pitcher’s mound. That individual is Walter Johnson, “the best pitcher in an era of dominant pitchers, and very well may be the best pitcher of all time.” Johnson was part of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s inaugural Class of 1936 alongside episode 137’s dedication, Honus Wagner. While noting Johnson’s epic baseball stats, Nick focuses on Johnson’s life and leadership off the diamond. Nick then moves from 1910s and ‘20s baseball to World War II, examining Americans’ views of the British military in 1942 versus present-day impressions of British strength during the Second World War. Reverting back to the turn of the century, just after Walter Johnson was born, Nick references American historian John Milton Cooper, and Cooper’s account of America’s thriving economy circa 1900. Nick also notes Cooper’s 2009 biography of Woodrow Wilson that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. “I'd love to pick his brain on Woodrow Wilson, who I consider to be one of the worst performing presidents in our nation's history,” says Nick. “And if you want to know why, read Precipice for a full explanation.” Drawing a connection from the more than 2,000 newspapers at the outset of the 20th century, Nick discusses a December 14, 2023, article in The Economist by former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennett. In the article, "When the New York Times lost its way," Bennett does “a great job of differentiating between classic liberalism and illiberalism,” says Nick, further commenting on the herd mentality and state of journalism today. Drawing connections from journalism, media, and America’s economic might, Nick reflects on a 2021 interview with author Walter Kern and the cultural divide between urban versus rural America. Addressing the divide, Nick calls media a “wedge creator and wedge preserver in America today.” And in closing, Nick wishes a happy birthday to America’s first “polymath,” Benjamin Franklin. “How many people do you know that could be described as all of the following?,” asks Nick. “A writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and a political philosopher.” In admiring Franklin’s immeasurable accomplishments and contributions, Nick highlights Franklin’s 13 virtues to cultivate his character and achieve not only success but also happiness.
Never Surrender
Jan 10 2024
Never Surrender
The January 10th release date of Far Middle episode 138 coincides with Save the Eagles Day. Marking the occasion, Nick suggests halting the “taxpayer-subsidized development of what’s become the most murderous aviary campaign in the history of man and since cats: wind turbines,” and even weaves in a Rage Against the Machine reference during the episode’s open. Nick again highlights a standout sports figure whose accomplishments both on and off the field epitomize greatness. And this installment’s sports dedication honors go to Robert Patrick "Rocky" Bleier—a Vietnam veteran, a four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, an author, the subject of the television movie Fighting Back, and more. After reflecting on Bleier, the discussion makes a jump cut to explore Frances Fukuyama’s 1989 essay, “The End of History.” Nick examines the paper and calls out a series of excerpts and assertions from Fukuyama that were a complete misread and a significant historic blunder. Fukuyama’s conclusions influenced even more historic blunders by those in power who believed the global ideological transformation that Fukuyama professed and subsequently set policy from. “I've said it before, I've said it on The Far Middle in prior episodes, I wrote it in my book Precipice, and I'm going to state it again, never ever underestimate the Left,” says Nick. “It comes at great peril for the individual and for society.” And while the Left might have been on the ropes in the late 1980s and 1990s, it will never surrender.  With the supposed fall of communism, socialism, and the Left, Nick notes the irony that in the end of history era, the ideological vacuum in the West has been filled with none other than the tenets and values of the Left. He uses examples of open borders, “tackling climate change,” and the vilification of prior Western values such as capitalism and the individual. In closing, Nick pays tribute to 19th century American author Horatio Alger who was born a few days after today’s episode release, on January 13, 1832. While the Left’s dislike for Alger today borders on hate, he focuses in on the Horatio Alger Association and its promotion of the American dream, which is now under attack by the mainstream media. “Constant listeners, in the words of Public Enemy don't believe the hype when it comes to the Left,” says Nick. “Horatio Alger, and all that he stood for in his stories, they're legitimate and real, as long as policy and culture allow individuals to freely achieve.”