Studies Show and Experts Agree

The Far Middle episode 57 is dedicated to boxer, Carmen “The Upstate Onion Farmer” Basilio. “If you’re going to fight this guy in the ring, you better be ready for a war,” says Nick as he reflects on the fighter’s career; which featured a marquee win over middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson in 1957. Nick explains that Basilio lost a couple of crucial fights due to questionable split decisions, and whether or not organized crime was involved, the expert judges got it wrong at the worst time on the biggest stages.

Nick connects the idea of expert judges getting it wrong, to the often-heard phrases of “studies show” and “experts agree.” These phrases typically justify many damaging policies and regulations. Nick then introduces us to Sturgeon’s Law that says “90 percent of everything is crap,” and considers if 90 percent of studies and experts are crap, then that leads to results (i.e. public policies) that are crap. “Sturgeon’s Law might be the most crucial theory you never heard of, but not anymore,” says Nick.

On the topic of experts, Nick delves into a recent comment by a friend that we should listen to experts but not follow them, and we should all be the captains of our own ships. Subsequently Nick examines the numerous regulations governing being the captain of your own ship. The takeaway is that we’re not captains of our own ship, but rather a “food source for the bureaucrat.”

Also, in this installment Nick stresses the importance of capitalism and the free market; and, he examines government’s current foreign policy formula that runs counter to America’s playbook that’s been successful for the past 200 years—using energy policy as an example of government creating scarcity, reducing supply, and increasing prices. Nick concludes with offering summer reading selections, all of which are part of the “10 percent that is great, genius, and awesome.”

Realizing Untapped Greatness

Episode 56 of The Far Middle is dedicated to Lawrence Taylor, arguably the NFL’s greatest defensive player and one of the best-ever college football players. Nick comments on how “LT” excelled on the gridiron but struggled off the field and explains that both professional and personal success require work. Achieving success in both is one of the goals of the CNX Foundation Mentorship Academy – the focus of this week’s episode.

The innovative Academy program just concluded its inaugural year. Nick looks back on the factors that led to the initiative’s creation and its success. He highlights the importance of dedicated partners and mentors and discusses the maturation of the participating students. He concludes by noting Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak – a treasured record that was a close second for this week’s dedication. Nick points out that The Yankee Clipper grew up in a working poor family, similar to some of the Mentorship Academy students. “Let’s make sure that our young adults out there, in America’s urban and rural communities, that they’ve got a shot at realizing their untapped greatness, just like DiMaggio,” Nick concludes.

Massive Potential

Episode 55 of The Far Middle is dedicated to a sports record—Wilt Chamberlain’s 55 rebounds against the Celtics on Nov. 24, 1960. Nick reflects on the career of Chamberlain who maintains the NBA’s record of 23,924 rebounds, and notes Bill Russell is number two at just over 21,000 boards, followed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 17,440. Serendipitously, Bill Russell played against Chamberlain in that 1960 rebound record-breaking game.

Following his comments on the career of Chamberlain, which came about due to his massive potential, Nick addresses the massive potential of Appalachian energy. He juxtaposes his “sadness” mentioned in episode 54 regarding energy policy with excitement if America gets energy policy right and Appalachia energy is allowed to be unleashed. He further explains the key differentiator of free market versus government control when it comes to energy.

“When government gets involved in complicated matters best left to the competitive free market of entrepreneurs and innovators to figure out, I can assure you bad things are always going to happen,” says Nick as he transitions to analyzing the government creating a monopoly for baby formula producers and government’s role in producing the recent formula shortage.

While on the topic of government ineptitude, he looks at the over and undercounting in the latest Census. He also examines recent real estate purchases by the elites within the server class and closes by honoring the raw talent of the late Ray Liotta.

Big Policy Stuff Matters

Episode 54 of The Far Middle is dedicated to “The Manster” – Cowboys’ defensive great Randy White. Much like Randy White being a foundational anchor of the Dallas Cowboys’ defense, so too is domestic energy in our society today.

This Far Middle installment is a deep dive into the convergence of energy in Appalachia, economics, geopolitics and quality of life. “These are big themes, coming together into an epic confluence,” says Nick. “We get these right, we’re all going to win. We get them wrong, we’re all going to suffer.” Nick explains these issues were the catalyst to his writing Precipice (available here). He goes on to discuss natural gas supply and demand; the impact of global/national/regional/local energy policies fueling energy scarcity; and, concludes with a unique look at the intersection of tax policy and this week in music history.

High and Tight

Episode 53 of The Far Middle comes in high and tight, just like a Don Drysdale fastball—the namesake of this installment.

Nick covers a host of topics—“dots”—in this episode, which is the first lightning round format. Topics include market volatility, energy policy/costs, inflation and debt-to-GDP, Chicago and Mayor Lightfoot, conservation easements, the opioid epidemic, China, and more. And as he often does, Nick concludes by bringing the episode back full circle to Don Drysdale and one of the nine-time All-Star’s biggest fans.