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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An Eruption of Illogical Moves
Yesterday
An Eruption of Illogical Moves
The Far Middle episode 88 honors defensive great Alan Page, the anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ famous “Purple People Eaters” defensive line. Nick reflects on Page’s unique life story, “a story that oozes excellence through every chapter.” For more on the Purple People Eaters, check out where the Vikings’ defense ranks on Nick’s list of “The Ten Greatest NFL Defenses in the Super Bowl Era.”Nick begins this episode’s connections by noting Page is a prominent catholic, and most prominent Catholics look to the Pope for guidance and leadership. Nick says unfortunately the Vatican is at it again with its calls to Catholics to stop investing in companies or industries that the Church views as immoral.Nick contrasts the Vatican’s views on renewable energy investments with their view on investing in natural gas companies, as well as agricultural firms that use genetic science. “The Vatican’s recommendations are the exact opposite that science and logic dictate, it’s unbelievable that an institution that exists to provide moral guidance can have its moral compass be so fundamentally broken,” says Nick.The Vatican is adrift in a sea of distraction, much like the United Nations and its ocean of accords and treatises. Nick proceeds to examine the latest UN accord signed by nearly 200 nations, who’ve agreed to conserve 30 percent of their land, inland waterways, and coastal and ocean areas. Moreover, he looks at where the land conservation funding will come from, and the impact of such an accord on the poor and developing world. Nick then discusses environmentalism and climate change being used to justify the transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world, or from one unfavored class to the favored class.Nick summarizes that collectively the Vatican’s “faith-consistent investing,” UN accords, and forced value appropriation like the EU’s “solidarity contributions” all translate to lowering quality of life and should be exposed for their flaws.In closing, Nick celebrates the late, great Eddie Van Halen in conjunction with his birthday. Nick lists the best guitar-driven works by Eddie on each Van Halen album, from Eruption to Outta Space.
An Eruption of Illogical Moves
Yesterday
An Eruption of Illogical Moves
The Far Middle episode 88 honors defensive great Alan Page, the anchor of the Minnesota Vikings’ famous “Purple People Eaters” defensive line. Nick reflects on Page’s unique life story, “a story that oozes excellence through every chapter.” For more on the Purple People Eaters, check out where the Vikings’ defense ranks on Nick’s list of “The Ten Greatest NFL Defenses in the Super Bowl Era.”Nick begins this episode’s connections by noting Page is a prominent catholic, and most prominent Catholics look to the Pope for guidance and leadership. Nick says unfortunately the Vatican is at it again with its calls to Catholics to stop investing in companies or industries that the Church views as immoral.Nick contrasts the Vatican’s views on renewable energy investments with their view on investing in natural gas companies, as well as agricultural firms that use genetic science. “The Vatican’s recommendations are the exact opposite that science and logic dictate, it’s unbelievable that an institution that exists to provide moral guidance can have its moral compass be so fundamentally broken,” says Nick.The Vatican is adrift in a sea of distraction, much like the United Nations and its ocean of accords and treatises. Nick proceeds to examine the latest UN accord signed by nearly 200 nations, who’ve agreed to conserve 30 percent of their land, inland waterways, and coastal and ocean areas. Moreover, he looks at where the land conservation funding will come from, and the impact of such an accord on the poor and developing world. Nick then discusses environmentalism and climate change being used to justify the transfer of wealth from the developed world to the developing world, or from one unfavored class to the favored class.Nick summarizes that collectively the Vatican’s “faith-consistent investing,” UN accords, and forced value appropriation like the EU’s “solidarity contributions” all translate to lowering quality of life and should be exposed for their flaws.In closing, Nick celebrates the late, great Eddie Van Halen in conjunction with his birthday. Nick lists the best guitar-driven works by Eddie on each Van Halen album, from Eruption to Outta Space.
Accumulation, Accountability, and Advocacy
Jan 18 2023
Accumulation, Accountability, and Advocacy
The Far Middle episode 87 is dedicated to Sidney Crosby, who “epitomizes greatness on the ice,” says Nick as he highlights the best all-around player the NHL has ever seen, as well as Crosby’s leadership and his winning record. While Crosby, alongside Alexander Ovechkin in Washington, continues to accumulate points, another accumulation is also happening in Washington, and that’s the country’s federal debt load. There’s a crazy, scary trifecta facing our country’s fiscal health and government finances, explains Nick. That trifecta is a federal debt of $31 trillion and quickly growing, paired with continuous budget deficits and raging inflation. As interest rates are raised to fight inflation, the cost of servicing debt increases, thereby increasing debt, resulting in a serious math problem that doesn’t compute. Nick then points out where we’re seeing this trifecta come to light, adding concern is the fact tax revenues are near all-time highs. Should tax revenues decline, our fiscal situation will only worsen. Nick goes on to explain that government spends endless amounts of money not just to help the poor, or to right a wrong, but to now also to save the planet. This leads to a look at GM who expects its EVs will be profitable in 2025, thanks to recently enacted federal subsidies. As billions of tax dollars go from the middle class to multi-billion-dollar corporations, Nick says, sarcastically, that’s a price worth paying because it’s going to tackle climate change and save the planet. Nick next passes the puck from GM to FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried. Nick looks at how the crypto sham company duped investors for billions, doing so in part by ESG manipulation and virtue signaling. Nick juxtaposes GM and FTX to Vanguard, who has quit the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative, as well as the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Vanguard’s decision is a refreshing affirmation that Milton Friedman’s teachings are alive and well. Transitioning overseas, Nick comments on French President Emmanuel Macron who says he has backed a strategy of “absolute defense of Ukraine.” However, Nick calls out France’s energy policies, which have not done anything over the past decade to help Ukraine. While France’s words ring hollow, sometimes words matter greatly and to the benefit of all mankind, which leads to this episode’s conclusion: a reflection on Martin Luther King, Jr.—a master of the written and spoken word.
Climate Policy and the Damage Done
Jan 11 2023
Climate Policy and the Damage Done
Far Middle episode 86 celebrates the “Fab Five Record Setters of 1986.” These record setters span professional sports, from the hockey rink to Augusta National, and from Fenway Park and the Boston Garden to the boxing ring.While memorable records were being established in 1986, in 2023 we find several forgettable records being set. These include the declining state of the UK’s beloved brewing industry as it faces numerous challenges; from energy costs to labor strife to consumers’ purchasing power, challenges all rooted in climate and energy policy creating energy scarcity.The situation on tap for UK brewers reminds Nick of another record, Neil Young’s Harvest, and the song "The Needle and the Damage Done.” But in this case, it’s “Climate Policy and the Damage Done.”On that note, Nick discusses the irony of referencing an eco-warrior such as Young and explores what concerts and touring would look (and sound) like if such warriors’ performances were carbon-free.Next up in the episode’s setlist is a “groundbreaking” study from Stanford that, according to the study’s lead author, finds “electricity access impacts economic well-being at scale across an entire country in Africa.” Nick asks if we really need satellites and artificial intelligence to tell us something we’ve known since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Nick references this is a theme discussed in his book, Precipice. He argues that the corollary to inhibiting the availability of affordable and reliable electricity through climate policy, which is morally wrong, is suppressing growth and personal income, destroying quality of life, and denying those in the developing world a path to a better life.Equally morally wrong are business leaders not speaking up when they see policy prescriptions proposed or enacted that are impractical, “it’s leadership 101,” says Nick.The discussion then returns to Stanford as Nick uses the school’s administrative army, which almost equals the school’s student body, as a prime example of how the business model of higher education is broken.Nick closes by celebrating the numerous contributions of Alexander Hamilton, whose birthday coincides with today’s episode release.
Hollow Proclamations
Jan 4 2023
Hollow Proclamations
Far Middle episode 85 marks the series start to 2023. As The Far Middle enters its third calendar year, Nick once again connects issues spanning the past, present, and future.Dedicated to the iconic 1985 Chicago Bears, Nick looks back on the epic season of a team that was truly “must-see TV.” While not a dynasty, the Super Bowl XX champs had it all; boasting personalities like Jim McMahon and Walter Payton on offense, the "Monsters of the Midway" on defense, and Coaches Ditka and Ryan on the sideline.Nick moves from the “Windy City” to the hot air blowing from the medical journal, The Lancet, which in a March 2020 editorial made bold proclamations touting China’s success in handling Covid-19.Next, Nick examines a recent editorial by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, titled, “Biden Has the Economy Back on Track.” Nick counters Ms. Yellen’s hollow policy proclamations, in particular her accomplishments on energy being “a key focus of the administration’s work.”Staying on energy and the economy, Nick looks under the hood of Stellantis’ announcement that it would be idling its Belvidere, Illinois, plant that produces Jeep Cherokee SUVs. The company is looking to cut costs, and 1,300 jobs, to invest in electric vehicles. Nick says this is the real-world collateral damage of the energy transition that’s falling upon our middle class and middle America.Shifting gears from the auto industry to power sector, Nick reflects on Siemens Energy and the challenges its renewable business is facing. Nick reiterates the supply chain issues/sourcing for renewable sources, as well as the material required per unit of power derived from sources like wind and solar juxtaposed to sources such as natural gas.Turning to academia, Nick discusses Harvard and Yale’s decision to stop participating in U.S. News & World Report law-school rankings. He says our elite colleges can make quite the hollow pronouncements at times, and so too can the G20 (aka the master of the obvious) who issued a recent declaration stating, “Today’s era must not be of war.”Nick wraps this episode’s policy discussion by highlighting total factor productivity (TFP), a metric that measures how much innovation contributes to growth, particularly economic growth.And as 2023 gets underway, Nick goes back 78 years to 1944 and the Battle of Anzio to demonstrate the lessons and importance of strong leadership. Nick concludes: “If America and the West do not get better leadership, do not drop the ideology and embrace the reality, and if we continue to move sluggishly and inefficiently, we’re going to lose the current confrontation with our adversaries. It’s not Anzio and it’s not bullets yet, but there is a war and its largely being waged economically and via policy. Let’s wake up and win this thing.”
Appalachia First
Dec 28 2022
Appalachia First
As 2023 nears, Nick goes back to 1984 for episode 84’s dedication—commemorating the seven-game NBA Finals series between the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers. The intense matchup marked the golden era of NBA basketball as the 1980s would feature classic rivalries, many of the sport’s greatest players, and iconic coaches. Nick crosses over from the hard court to America’s military, stressing the importance of focusing on the best military equipment, contractors, and systems. He calls out a new rule proposed by the Department of Defense and NASA that aims to require defense contractors to disclose their CO2 footprints, reduction plans, and their climate risks. Nick suggests our government is more concerned about our military’s carbon footprint than its efficacy, which is great for our enemies, as are all America’s climate policies. Such a strategy would’ve spelled loss for the Celtics and Lakers in 1984, and Nick fears it could spell loss for our military in an increasingly hostile world. Next up, Nick discusses BP considering ending the publication of its Statistical Review of World Energy. “Another symptom of how the energy space is being driven, more and more, by the mystic and not by the science,” says Nick. While some in the energy space yield to mysticism, CNX Resources is not. That’s why the company has recently launched its “Positive Energy Hub”—a new forum for energy related facts and resources. Nick proceeds to delve into CNX’s recently announced vision for the Appalachian region, aka “Appalachia First.” It’s a chaotic world when it comes to energy, but Appalachia should be ground zero for a better energy future. The CNX vision is a strategic roadmap, leveraging low-carbon-intensive natural gas to transform key sectors of America’s economy and workforce while also changing the world for the better. Why Appalachia? Nick says it all centers around location-location-location, including Appalachia’s workforce, existing infrastructure, and decades of energy supply. Nick concludes by looking at the motivators behind constructing the Appalachia First vision. Visit www.positiveenergyhub.com/appalachia-first to learn more, and for a detailed presentation narrated by Nick. Happy New Year!
Leading by Inspiring
Dec 21 2022
Leading by Inspiring
The Far Middle episode 83 takes off with a dedication to “the Mad Stork,” aka NFL Hall of Famer Ted Hendricks. A four-time Super Bowl champion, Hendricks is “one of the greatest personalities and linebackers in NFL history,” reflects Nick. For those new to The Far Middle, Nick reminds listeners the podcast’s format is modeled after the TV series Connections. Hosted by science historian James Burke, “each episode of Connections would start with a modern innovation, and then jump back in time to show how one event linked to another, sequentially, connecting dots and making connections, hence the name of the series,” explains Nick. That innovative format serves as the structure for each Far Middle episode. As such, Ted Hendricks embodied durability, evidenced by playing in over 200 consecutive games. Durability is also important when considering what type of car to purchase, which brings us to Consumer Reports’ latest rankings on vehicle reliability. Those rankings find that electric vehicles are among the least reliable cars and trucks in the automotive industry today. Nick counters Consumer Reports’ outlook that EV reliability will improve with time. He argues that when government protects markets and subsidizes products like EVs, innovation is stifled, and continuous improvement is restrained as there’s reduced incentive for automakers to drive towards excellence. Subsidies for prodcuts like EVs are often justified under the taglines of “green is good” and “doing good by doing well.” Nick next applies these taglines in the context of LEED-certified green buildings and analyzes a new real estate report, “Green Is Good: The Enduring Rent Premium of LEED-Certified U.S. Office Buildings.” Nick reveals how the report’s title and summary don’t exactly reflect the data provided in the study. Read more on the report in Nick’s essay, “Mis“LEED”ing: Fact Versus Fiction for Green Buildings.” The next dot in this week’s Far Middle connections is the United Nations’ announcement that the world’s population has reached 8 billion, as well as unprecedented growth in life expectancy and fertility rates. Nick notes the UN attributes the growth to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine, but the UN conveniently failed to mention the leading driver, which is the importance of access to reliable and affordable energy. “Utilization of things like natural gas improves the human condition, particularly and drastically in poorer areas of the developing world,” says Nick. In closing, Nick looks back at a December 1988 address by Mikhail Gorbachev to the United Nations General Assembly. Nick shares two ironic excerpts that illustrate where Gorbachev was taking his nation in 1988, juxtaposed to where America’s leaders are taking us today. “Gorbachev in his speech, proved once again, there’s a big difference between being a leader and leading. The former is such because they simply hold power. But leading occurs only when a leader inspires, making others want to follow,” concludes Nick.
December Clouds
Dec 14 2022
December Clouds
In Far Middle episode 82, Nick rewinds the clock 40 years to November of 1982—a golden year in the golden age of boxing—as he pays tribute to boxers Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor and Alexis “El Flaco Explosivo” Argüello. Reflecting on their November 12, 1982, “Battle of the Champions” match, Nick says, “If you want to see boxing the way it’s meant to be, give a watch to that 14-round epic 1982 bout.” Shifting from rivals in the ring to geopolitical rivals, Nick highlights the historic agreement between Israel and Lebanon to develop natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. Nick notes the irony of the Biden administration mediating the dispute, thereby supporting foreign natural gas development while suffocating natural gas domestically. Nick moves from the Mediterranean to Britain, discussing a warning from the head of the U.K.’s electronic intelligence agency that China has “deliberately and patiently set out to gain strategic advantage by shaping the world’s technology ecosystems.” While Nick agrees that of course, China is beefing up its technological and surveillance prowess, he questions the inconsistency of the elite and expert class when it comes to judging China’s strategic positioning and tactical maneuvers. While there’s concern over China’s technological threat, the same concern doesn’t exist in their strategic positioning when it comes to energy. Next, Nick examines how science has evolved from a virtuous cycle of value creation to scientific consensus that stifles innovation. On the topic of scientific consensus, Nick unpacks California’s Assembly Bill 2098, signed into law this past September. The law authorizes California’s Medical Board to punish doctors who share COVID-19 “misinformation” with their patients; it defines “misinformation” as anything that “is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus.” Nick says, “If you like science, and you like saving lives, and you like the Constitution, you cannot like this California law.” Moving back to foreign policy, Nick explores the potential invasion of Taiwan by China, and the follow-on effects that it would have on the global economy, specifically the control China would gain over the semiconductor industry. Nick contrasts the inconsistent logic of America protecting and nurturing Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, versus America’s actions toward investing and protecting its own domestic energy sources. Nick returns to 1982 to close episode 82. He looks back on the career of the great Quincy Jones who took home five Grammy Awards that year, including Producer of the Year. If December clouds have you down, give a listen to Jones’ albums Walking in Space and The Dude.
Watching the River Flow
Dec 7 2022
Watching the River Flow
The Far Middle episode 81 arrives amidst the holiday season, with Hanukkah and Christmas just around the corner. Someone you wouldn’t want to see around the corner, if you were an NFL wideout in the 50s and 60s, is Hall of Fame cornerback Dick “Night Train” Lane—this Far Middle’s dedication. Nick transitions from trains to rivers and lands at Marietta, Ohio. Marietta, which sits at the confluence of the Muskingum and Ohio Rivers, is the setting of this week’s episode as Nick reviews three recent presentations he delivered last week while in southeastern Ohio. The first two talks were delivered to students at Marietta College, followed by a third address to members of the Economic Roundtable of the Ohio Valley. Listen as Nick reviews the rich history of Marietta before delving into his question-and-answer session with students. “You’re going to be me in 30 years,” Nick explained to the young adults in attendance, telling them to expect twists and turns along their career journeys. Next, Nick summarizes his remarks given to a class on ethical leadership. “The way I approached this opportunity was to talk about baking a cake, and the cake we’re going to bake is how you build ethical leadership within a team, or a company, or an industry,” describes Nick as he walks through the steps and “ingredients” to baking a cake of ethical leadership. “Make your values come alive each and every day through your decision-making.” Finally, Nick looks back on his address to the Economic Roundtable of the Ohio Valley, entitled, “Milton Friedman isn’t running the show anymore. And therein lies the problem.” Nick’s address reviewed six commonsense recommendations to broadly improve American society and our economy, concepts he first offered on The Far Middle in October 2021. Nick asks if we’ve made progress on these proposals this past year, or rather regressed, and then closes by tying them to Milton Friedman.
Welcome to The No-Growth Hotel
Nov 30 2022
Welcome to The No-Growth Hotel
The Far Middle episode 80 features a co-dedication to both the 1980 U.S. Men's Ice Hockey Team, and to the incomparable and prolific Jerry Rice. Nick notes Rice’s collegiate career at Mississippi Valley State and the offensive innovation of Coach Archie Cooley. The topic of innovation sparks the start of this episode’s connections as Nick moves through a host of topics like Rice weaving through a secondary.  While innovation represents growth, Nick zeroes in on the elitist organization, The Club of Rome, and their best-selling environmental book, The Limits to Growth. Nick looks at how the Club and its anti-capitalism/industrialization tenets have matriculated to the Church of Climate today and anti-growth initiatives disguised under the mask of sustainability. Nick notes the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, “outright prescriptions to stop growth and regress or reduce growth,” says Nick. He then questions how the term sustainability, a term so nebulous and hard to define, became so prevalent across society today. What’s not hard to define is the anti-growth, anti-free market ideology of the Left, and the linear sequencing of their trap. Nick proceeds to walk through how that sequence begins with a major policy that can impact almost everything across the economy, using the slew of energy and climate policies pushed by the Left as today’s biggest example. These policies create energy scarcity, which in turn leads to energy inflation and then overall inflation as the cost of energy is an input in nearly every product and service. Overall inflation leads to central banks fast and furiously raising interest rates. And when interest rates are raised, so too is the cost of carrying government debt. Skyrocketing debt service leads to either: increased deficits; higher taxes; and/or, reining in discretionary spending. Nick asks which of these three outcomes do you see happening as America experiences this sequencing in real time, and explains this is the trap of the Left’s no-growth approach. Nick concludes that policies coming from the elite class—whether it be The Club of Rome or the UN—have created a situation where society is checking in but can’t check out, which brings to mind the Eagles’ December 1976 release of Hotel California.
Unrest in the Forest
Nov 23 2022
Unrest in the Forest
The Far Middle episode 79 is a special Thanksgiving edition, dedicated to the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates.   The 1970s Pirates were known as “The Lumber Company” due to the hurting they could do at the plate. Today, on the geopolitical stage, we see Putin trying to lay the lumber on Europe with his use of energy leverage. Nick discusses the new spin from the Left on Europe’s energy chaos, which is that Putin is helping jumpstart Europe’s energy transition. This view is simply a means to justify more climate policy mandates.Nick proceeds to dissect, with Bert Blyleven precision, the recent quote from EU Green Deal Chief Frans Timmermans that, “Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable, and ours.” Following Nick’s analysis of Mr. Timmermans’ mistruth, Mr. Timmermans is presented with the first-ever Crown of Claptrap Award.Next, Nick turns to former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who won the Nobel prize for economics last month. Nick takes exception with the policies of recent Fed chairs that have created negative real interest rates, bloated asset bubbles, stoked inflation, eroded work ethic, and created a false sense of fiscal security. “No one should ever confuse Ben Bernanke with someone like Paul Volcker,” says Nick.Related to Fed chairs is how the Federal Reserve’s leadership over the past roughly 20 years has been mono- or unipartisan under recent presidents. Nick argues the Fed has injected extreme monetary policy into the veins of our economy and the symptoms are too severe to ignore any longer.While on policy, Nick offers a simple solution to address conflicts of interest within government: if the whole of government is going to put its power into pushing and enforcing climate policies, then the whole of government should be precluded and prohibited from profiting through the purchase (direct or indirect) of stock or equity of companies or funds in the favored industries under such policies. It’s a pretty simple solution that Nick pegs has about the same odds of being adopted as the Pirates winning next year’s World Series (currently sitting at 150 to 1).In closing, Nick connects back to the episode’s start, linking the 1979 Pirates to one of his all-time favorite rock bands, Rush. Specifically noting the lyrics to their song “The Trees,” which was released as a single in 1979.
The Trenches
Nov 16 2022
The Trenches
The Far Middle episode 78 is dedicated to the NFL’s unsung heroes of the trenches; including many legendary linemen who wore number 78, spanning Bobby Bell, Bruce Smith on defense, and Jackie Slater, Anthony Muñoz on offense, and many more. Trenches, while not the most hygienic, have served as the method of choice for sewer systems across civilizations, and the modern toilet isn’t to be taken for granted. The discussion turns to San Francisco where the city recently announced one public toilet is going to cost $1.7 million with an estimated completion in 2025. Nick outlines the root causes why one public toilet costs seven figures and years to complete—causes that tie into many of the topics explored in Precipice. From big city public toilet bungling, Nick next tackles big city public transportation messes, specifically the New York City Subway’s increasing crime and decreasing ridership. On crime and public safety, Nick addresses the overused soundbite of “be aware of your surroundings.” For individuals in bigger cities—if they truly are aware of their surroundings—then they likely realize it’s not safe to live there anymore, and it’s time to move, but that assumes the person has the job skillsets and finances to relocate. But what if they don’t have the means to move? “The poorest pay the steepest price when public institutions and public leaders don’t lead and they’re not accountable,” says Nick. On government leadership and accountability, Nick asks if government isn’t focusing on the basics for taxpayers and citizens, then what is government obsessing about? The answer, negotiating away our national interests and leverage to further the favored ideology. A big example is what’s happening with climate change policy and related accords and regulations. “Today, the highest levels of our governments are negotiating pacts with other nations that promise to benefit the climate in 50 years, but that clearly damage US interests today and that support our adversaries,” says Nick. He asks if such policies are doing the right thing, are a conflict of interest, a dereliction of duty or even treasonous? How many climate treaties, accords, regulations hurt America’s security, economy, and citizens, but at the same time benefit an adversary’s security, interests, and economy? Staying on energy, Nick counters the president’s criticism of American energy companies being profitable, and their alleged refusal to increase oil and gas supply. Ironically, it’s been damaging government intervention pushing a “dog’s breakfast of a policy mess” that’s resulted in a constricted energy supply. Nick’s final stop in episode 78 reconnects back to the New York City Subway as Nick pays tribute to musical genius Billy Strayhorn.
Paying Your Dues
Nov 9 2022
Paying Your Dues
The Far Middle episode 77 celebrates two of the NHL’s greatest defensemen, number 77’s Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque. Nick reflects on how Coffey set new norms for the position and Bourque epitomized the position over a long career as an elder statesman.Coffey and Bourque paid their dues over their Hall-of-Fame careers, unfortunately, the same can’t be said of today’s mass transit riders. Nick transitions to discussing major public transportation networks not enforcing fare collection and spending taxpayer dollars without concern over their rate of return. Nick highlights fare evasion in D.C. and the impact on the transit system’s finances.Alongside broken public transportation, there’s a host of issues American cities are dealing with, but their fiscal coffers aren’t one of them as the federal stimulus spigot has been wide open since 2020. However, things are changing as state governments spend more while tax revenue begins declining and interest payments start increasing. At the same time, high earners are leaving high-tax states for lower-tax states, which will inevitably impact state and local government tax revenue.The lack of leadership in public transit and government fiscal discipline pales in comparison to the Vatican’s vacant leadership. Nick next comments on Pope Francis’ focus on matters that have nothing to do with Catholic doctrine while he ignores crises where his support could have huge differences—one example is the imprisonment of 90-year-old Catholic Cardinal Zen in China. Listen as Nick explains why Pope Francis is turning a deaf ear to Cardinal Zen’s imprisonment, and read more analysis on Pope Francis in Nick’s papal profile in Precipice.Next, Nick examines the front-page headlines of one recent day’s paper; headlines that when packaged together sum up the climate policy scheme.In closing, Nick notes that he’s a big believer in the freedom of the press and only asks for a modest level of integrity and rigor. He concludes with a few truly mean comments that were made about prior presidents, spanning FDR to Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama.
A Double-Whammy World
Nov 2 2022
A Double-Whammy World
The Far Middle episode 76 pays homage to two great sports achievements from 1976: Anthony Dorsett’s Heisman Trophy-winning season, and the gold-medal performance of America’s boxing team at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.After recounting the monster accomplishments of Dorsett, and boxers Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael and Leon Spinks, Leo Randolph, and Howard Davis Jr., Nick transitions to discussing the monster accumulation of America’s national debt. “Our debt exceeded $31 trillion this fall, placing it at 125% of GDP, that’s a level we haven’t seen since World War II,” says Nick.America’s interest on its national debt is running at about $90 billion/month, or more than a trillion dollars annually. As the Fed continues to raise rates, interest costs will only increase. And add to that America’s growing debt, and we’re living in a double-whammy world.Inflation is also worsening America’s debt, to which Nick examines food price inflation and how energy policy resulting in energy scarcity correlates with increased food prices. So, what are governments doing to address the mess they created when it comes to energy and climate policies? In the case of Germany, they’re panicking and looking to address their problems with more state intervention—something many other countries and governments are doing.Nick transitions to UK tax policy, followed by the criticism of the World Bank head for his comments at a UN climate event. “Be careful for goodness sake when you’re speaking in public about science these days…stay in the herd,” says Nick before switching gears to commentary on the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Nick calls out the provision in the IRA of $60 billion going toward environmental justice, which is twice the annual budget of the entire Department of Justice.Next up is the academic complex, with Nick looking at collections from the 1.4% endowment tax juxtaposed to college loan forgiveness. And if you think things at colleges are bad, look at what’s happening in K-12 education, using Illinois as an example.Nick wraps by highlighting six epic rock albums released in 1976 and connecting their titles to this week’s topics.
Insult to Injury
Oct 26 2022
Insult to Injury
As The Far Middle reaches episode 75, the milestone installment is appropriately dedicated to the greatest Pittsburgh Steeler of all time, “Mean” Joe Greene. The four-time Super Bowl champ is one of the four faces on Nick’s Mount Rushmore of Pittsburgh sports Hall of Famers, which includes prior Far Middle dedications Mario Lemieux in episode 66 and Roberto Clemente in episode 21. Who’s the fourth face? That’s where things get interesting. While no one would ever call Greene soft, the same can’t be said for today’s American work ethic, and the numbers don’t lie. Nick proceeds to discuss attitudes to work and explains the far-reaching ramifications if America’s declining labor participation continues.Another subject on the decline is America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which the Biden administration has drawn down to its lowest level since 1984. And as the president seems to be putting political gain ahead of America’s vital interest with SPR drawdowns, Nick addresses billionaire Michael Bloomberg taking similarly destructible action. Specifically, Bloomberg announcing $85 million to stop petrochemical projects in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—thereby destroying opportunities for doers.While Bloomberg attempts to be a barrier to an expanded middle class, you may not have heard the latest from the Australian Institute for Marine Science which reports the Great Barrier Reef is enjoying record levels of coral cover. If you missed this, it’s because no one told you, as it doesn’t serve the code red for humanity storyline, explains Nick.Next, Nick looks at China’s recent coal investments and increasing CO2 emissions. Adding insult to injury, Nick notes that much of China’s coal-fired power and coal mine additions will be used to power its factories and facilities to extract, refine, or make the various feedstocks and components for wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles that the West is mandating.Shifting from Chinese energy policy, Nick returns to a recurring Far Middle topic: California energy policy. Nick explores a few of the 40 climate bills signed by Governor Newsom this past September.Nick proceeds to look back on America’s Declaration of Independence and points of contention with King George III, points that sadly mirror issues Americans face today with their own government. And in closing, Nick examines the $80 billion headed to the Internal Revenue Service from the Inflation Reduction Act. This brings to mind the great Johnny Cash song “After Taxes,” recorded on the album I Would Like to See You Again—released in 1978, the year “Mean” Joe Greene and the Steelers would go 14-2 and on to win Super Bowl XIII.
Always Keep Swinging
Oct 19 2022
Always Keep Swinging
The Far Middle episode 74 is dedicated to four notable events from the 1974 Major League Baseball season, specifically three great achievements and one infamous beer night in Cleveland. While baseball celebrated many milestones in 1974, America at large was struggling with horrible inflation and energy crises, situations we’re seeing repeated today. While most Americans recognize what’s going on, our elected leaders unfortunately do not. After noting skyrocketing costs in the U.S., Nick says we should count our blessings we’re not facing the inflation and energy insecurity that Europe is. The state of energy instability and unreliability in Europe today is evidence that the elite and their policies have now been exposed across continents.Transitioning from EU ineptitude, Nick looks at another bungling of a big moment by the elite: pandemic management and related draconian shutdowns. Nick then examines New York City’s fiscal health, where Escape from New York is evolving from a fictional big-screen account to real-world reality.Next, Nick explores whether we, society, are hardwired for destruction, and examines the stages of civilizations laid out by Sir John Glubb in his essay, “The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival.” Discussing America today, Nick observes, “You can’t help but feel we are sitting in one of the final two stages in a terminal decline.”Nick then pivots to commemorating the teachings and work of Reverend Ike. “Go save yourself and go achieve on your own behalf,” says Nick, referencing Reverend Ike’s philosophy and message.In closing, Nick wraps with a great Far Middle connection. Circling back to 1974, Reverend Ike, and one of the reverend’s listeners, John Lennon (who incidentally comes in at number three on Nick’s ranking of the Fab Four).
Partnerships
Oct 12 2022
Partnerships
The Far Middle episode 73 is dedicated to one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time, John Hannah. Hannah not only wore number 73, but his Pro Football Hall-of-Fame career began in 1973 when the Patriots selected him fourth overall in that year’s draft. One fellow Hall-of-Famer that would’ve loved to run behind Hannah is Jerome Bettis, which is where Nick begins this episode’s connections. Moving from teamwork on the field to teamwork in business, Nick discusses the special partnership between his company, CNX, and Jerome and John Bettis. Beginning as a business relationship, today it is one anchored by a focus on making a tangible, local, and impactful difference in their communities. The relationship most recently led to the creation of the “Wifi On Wheels” Cyber Bus. Staying on the theme of partnerships, Nick examines how partnerships were key to America’s shale revolution and the ongoing economic opportunities natural gas provides, as well as the critical role natural gas plays in foreign policy (topics further discussed in Nick’s essay, “The Premeditated Murder of the Greatest Story Never Told”). Next, Nick discusses a recent study on ESG investing and the ultimate winners of ESG marketing. He notes there are good, bad, and ugly sides to ESG. Nick pivots from the marketing of ESG to a final segment exploring how names are used in marketing. This includes a look at the use of the umlaut—and who was the first rock group to use it in their name? Listen for the answer!
Intervention Versus Intervention
Sep 28 2022
Intervention Versus Intervention
The Far Middle episode 71 is dedicated to a sports trio, spanning from the diamond to the gridiron to the rink. Nick salutes the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates, NFL Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen, and Penguins Center Evgeni “Geno” Malkin. Transitioning from Evgeni Malkin, who is Russian, Nick discusses the recent string of suspicious deaths of several executives of major Russian energy and industrial corporations. This leads to a look at European Union energy policy as bureaucrats panic to secure a grid and crumbling energy network that’s destroying economies across the European continent—unfortunately, the bureaucratic panic is only making things worse. Nick explains that the EU bureaucrat is engaged in a game of intervention versus intervention, and in the end, everyone will end up a loser.   Shifting from the pitfalls of state intervention, Nick notes Elon Musk’s comments that the world needs more natural gas and oil. Musk recently left California for Texas, to which Nick calls California dreaming in 2022 is more akin to a nightmare when it comes to their energy insanity. Connections continue with another example of the expert class taking the normal person for a fool; this time it’s misleading Covid statistics from John Hopkins. And Nick closes with an analysis of the numerous parallels between Aldous Huxley’s 1932 masterpiece, Brave New World, and society today. Although written 90 years ago, Huxley’s view into the future is frighteningly accurate. Read more from Nick on Brave New World in his commentary, “When a Blinded 1930s Writer Saw the 2022 Future.”
Compromised Academia and Media Standards
Sep 21 2022
Compromised Academia and Media Standards
The Far Middle episode 70 is dedicated to a pair of NFL defensive greats: Hall of Famers Ernie Stautner and Sam Huff. Nick calls Stautner the best defensive lineman of his era and discusses his one-of-a-kind toughness. And Nick notes Sam Huff’s unique family lineage to Nick’s company history and points out a certain assistant coach who was key to convincing Huff to stay in the NFL during his rookie-year training camp.Stautner played most of his career for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pennsylvania, and Huff was from West Virginia—states representing the heart of the Marcellus and Utica Shale natural gas plays. Huff was also the first NFL player to appear on the cover of Time magazine. These connections funnel into an exploration of how academia and the media often cut corners, compromise standards, and collaborate to present very misleading impressions of targeted entities, industries, or things like the domestic natural gas industry. Specifically, Nick examines Yale researchers using statistical modeling to suggest natural gas development causes childhood cancer—a headline-grabbing finding that contradicts their previous research that relied on actual data measurement.  Nick transitions to offering three observations on the Manti Te’o Netflix documentary, “Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn't Exist.” Nick’s biggest takeaway relates back to the media, how they were fooled, fell in love with the Te’o story, and how they could’ve discovered the story was a hoax much earlier if they had applied the most basic of journalistic standards. Next, Nick presents an interesting look at American household income when you normalize the data (i.e., deducting taxes paid and adding transfer payments received). “There’s income equality, not income inequality, across 60% of the U.S. population,” says Nick. Nick closes with a few comments on the lack of self-awareness by "eco-warriors," highlighting a recent speech by Harrison Ford.
Perpetual Change
Sep 14 2022
Perpetual Change
The Far Middle episode 69 celebrates the 69-win NBA season by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, a record for victories in a season that would stand until the 72 wins by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team. The Lakers' star-studded lineup (including Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Pat Riley, and Jerry West) not only won the NBA championship that year but also 33 straight games—a record that stands today. Staying in the late 60s and early 70s era, Nick discusses the final years of Pablo Picasso’s life, a colorful and expressive point in the artist’s perpetual changing career when he was massively prolific. Also at that time, in 1969, French writer Henri Charrière published Papillon, which Nick highly recommends. The book would be made into a movie starring Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman the year after the Lakers' 69-win championship season. And just as critics panned Picasso’s works at the end of his career, they similarly panned Papillon’s screen adaptation. Nick says to be your own expert when it comes to film and literature. Nick then transitions into an overview of the CNX Foundation Mentorship Academy, which is nearing the start of its second year. Nick describes the Academy’s mission, its first year, and an exciting summer that most recently included a cookout with prospective second-year students. Follow Academy updates at nickdeiuliis.com and at cnx.com.   Staying on education, Nick next discusses students, parents, and taxpayers finally starting to hold colleges accountable for the quality of education delivered during the pandemic. Nick closes with a one-of-a-kind, multi-part Far Middle connection going back to the early 1970s and linking Papillon, Pablo Picasso, and “winging-it.”