Tune in weekly to Nick’s Far Middle Podcast. Episodes 1-14 walk through Nick’s thoughts on his book, The Leech, chapter by chapter. Hear his perspective on how the book came to be, expanded thoughts on key topics in the book, the interconnectivity of themes, and how many of the troubling trends in The Leech dominate life today.
Subsequent episodes of the Far Middle podcast will cover a range of timely and interesting topics spanning business, energy, sports, culture, politics, and policy. Each installment of the Far Middle podcast will offer the listener an entertaining stroll through a variety of subjects that Nick will tie 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.
Buckle Up Your Chinstraps
Far Middle episode 63 features a co-dedication to two NFL hall-of-fame number 63’s: the Oakland Raiders’ Gene Upshaw and Kansas City Chiefs’ Willie Lanier.
Listen as Nick recounts the 1968 AFC Divisional Playoff when Upshaw and Lanier went head-to-head, and where Lanier and the Chiefs won the matchup’s coin toss and chose to defend the South goal line. On returning to the Oakland bench, Upshaw told his teammates: “Buckle up your chinstraps. We’ve just been insulted.”
Nick then starts connecting dots, starting with the insults the Biden administration continues to hand down on Americans, highlighting the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act amidst broader inconsistent U.S. trade and energy policy. “What gets interesting is when all these points come together,” says Nick. “We have all of these U.S. government intentions and desires colliding and conflicting into a massive and incoherent and illogical mess.”
Next, Nick discusses how dependent and interconnected everything is to energy, and the natural gas shortage facing the EU. He then transitions to the mounting risks and concerns surrounding public pensions—a topic discussed at length in Precipice, in the chapter, Funding Sources Part 2: Unwitting Retirees (AKA “Other People’s Money”).
Nick concludes by commenting on the four political parties he sees in America today, and then closes by reflecting on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in conjunction with the upcoming 59th anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The Far Middle episode 62 is dedicated Steph Curry and his career-high 62-point game, which took place on January 3, 2021, against the Portland Trail Blazers. Listen as Nick discusses the phenomenal shooter’s career, which is far from over, and where Curry ranks on Nick’s greatest NBA player of all-time list.Transitioning from the ultimate sniper shooter, Nick looks at the political and actual sniping going on in the Ukraine and the energy leverage Russia has over Germany. Nick notes that Germany’s natural gas reserves are at “alarm level” and energy policies of its own making have manufactured its energy scarcity.Continuing on energy and climate policy, Nick discusses how the two are the root cause of global turmoil, an emboldened Russia and China, a weakened West, and fueling inflation to record highs. He goes on to discuss the winners (government, bureaucrats, the expert class, large companies with market power) and the losers (small and mid-size businesses, consumers, and taxpayers) of mounting regulations, proposed SEC rules on climate risk, and ESG investing complexity—a theme explored throughout his book Precipice.Additional topics this week include Pope Francis, self-responsibility, and New York City real estate. Nick closes with a few of his favorite Ernest Hemmingway quotes in conjunction with the author’s July 21st birthday.
The Casual Hum of the Heartland
The Far Middle episode 61 is dedicated to Roger Maris and his 61 home runs in 1961 to break Babe Ruth’s record. Nick looks back on the controversy and confusion surrounding Maris and baseball’s home run record, and transitions to the confusion looming large today around mammoth economic and geopolitical issues.
Specifically, Nick looks at media coverage of energy exports and fuel prices, as well as Russia using as energy as a force multiplier as it curtails natural gas flows to Europe. And he questions why there’s not more journalistic focus on the current administration’s regulatory attack on domestic energy, which is increasing fuel prices and hurting Europe.
Next, Nick examines the current state of American energy and environmental policy after 17 months of the Biden Administration, followed by a discussion on the Federal Reserve (and its army of economists) continuing to be behind the inflation curve.
And in a Far Middle first, Nick examines the flow of the Ganges River in India. While a topical first, the takeaway is a continuing Far Middle theme—stay vigilant in separating fact from fiction. Last up this episode is a Far Middle real estate update examining Malibu, Cal., where the median price for a single-family home reached $6.99 million in the first quarter of 2022.
And Nick closes with a Far Middle signature connection, linking Roger Marris to “Robert Zimmerman” to George Kaiser.
Compromising Standardization and Improved Transparency
Episode 60 of The Far Middle goes to the 1960 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Nick looks back on the 1960 Fall Classic where David slayed Goliath and highlights a few interesting facts you might not know about the series.In this special edition, Nick explores the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) proposed climate rules, aka “The Enhancement and Standardization of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors.”Nick first explains the three levels, or “scopes,” of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and then walks through the unfortunate shortcomings of the SEC’s proposed rule. These flaws include a lack of fairness, investors potentially being misinformed, and the rule’s “squishy terms” of “material” and “significant.”“A rule that implements accuracy, consistency, transparency, and standardization across all companies—that’s going to be a good rule,” says Nick. “However, the rule, as currently laid out, in its details, falls far short of its golden potential and would likely increase confusion and create a misallocation of greenhouse gas-dependent capital and investing decisions, those are the exact opposite objectives of what the SEC is after, and what its mission is.”Nick closes by stressing the importance of the SEC getting this rule right, noting that the end goals and the mission are the right ones, but we need to be honest with ourselves and the public.For more, read CNX Resources' recent comment letter submitted to the SEC.
Markets and Competition Work
Episode 59 of The Far Middle continues the streak of NFL linebacker dedications, with this installment commemorating one of the greatest outside linebackers to ever play—Jack Ham. After reflecting on the quick, very smart, and respected Hall of Fame linebacker’s career, Nick juxtaposes Ham’s competitive spirit to the diluted competition in America’s education system.
American schools are dropping proficiency exams, class rankings, the SATs, and erasing meritocracy—going the exact opposite of the Chinese educational system. The only winners in the watering down of America’s educational system are the academic complex’s bureaucrats and administrators. “Who has the more virtuous and meritocracy-based education system, China or the United States,” asks Nick.
Next, Nick calls out the “America COMPETES Act,” which he says would weaken us against China and perpetuate our educational system monopoly—doing nothing for great teachers, students, parents, or taxpayers. Nick then addresses the benefits and growing popularity of school choice, as well as education being a pivotal issue in the recent Virginia gubernatorial election.
Shifting from education, Nick discusses Russia’s invasion into Ukraine. While Russia is all-in on their attack, the West isn’t even half-in. “Russia, I fear, is going to win,” says Nick. “If Russia prevails in eastern Ukraine, it’s energy dominance over the EU will have grown, and the EU and the US will continue to chase damaging energy policies that will put even more power in the hands of Russia and China, and that power will be wielded, and we will not like the results.”
Next up are “fraudsters and big business,” as Nick examines the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos scheme. Then, Nick questions why NY Gov. Hochul is offering New Yorkers with prior marijuana convictions the state’s first retail marijuana licenses. And while in a New York State of Mind, Nick closes with a few thoughts on greatest hits albums.
Hypocrisy: Running Like the Bulls in Pamplona
Episode 58 of The Far Middle is dedicated to the “poster child of the middle linebacker,” four-time Super Bowl champ Jack Lambert. Nick reflects on the career, character, and imagery surrounding the Steeler great. In unique Far Middle fashion, Nick connects the optics and urban legend of Lambert to the urban legend we’ve been taught regarding the Treaty of Versailles. Nick discusses Ludwig von Mises’ book, “Omnipotent Government,” and he suggests the Treaty wasn’t the debacle that some historians have insisted it was. “Actually, the Treaty of Versailles could’ve worked, maybe it would’ve worked, if stuck to and the reparations did not bankrupt or make Germany poor,” says Nick.Continuing on geopolitics, Nick comments on the emergence of the LIV golf tour and the resulting hypocrisy coming from some companies and public figures. “Hypocrisy, it’s running like the bulls in Pamplona these days,” says Nick. Next, Nick examines the relationship between the tech and energy sectors: their employment levels; their S&P index sector weightings shift; and, how the two sectors have performed against one another from an investment perspective.Transitioning from energy policy, Nick notes those policies are often justified by science, and highlights commentary by Bjorn Lomberg who recently wrote a piece discussing how science gets hijacked by political opportunists. In closing, Nick turns to the art world, where he’s discovered a new, innovative website that combines art with data science: “Mona Loves Gustav.” Check out monalovesgustav.com to find your “ArtDNA” via a fun online art quiz.