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

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, as well as 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

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.”

Let’s Ride the Lightning

The Far Middle episode 68 is dedicated to the great NHL right winger Jaromir Jagr—member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup championship teams.

In this Far Middle installment, Nick presents his second-ever “lightning round” episode covering a wide range of topics. “It’s unbelievable how much material stacks up for Far Middle discussion,” says Nick, which is exciting but also concerning.

Leading off is the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr., who has to be better off the field otherwise the pressure on him will continue to build. On the topic of pressure, Nick travels from San Diego to across the globe to examine the latest on Russia’s geopolitical and energy pressure on the EU.

Staying in the EU, Nick calls out the impact of “Natura 2000,” and specifically the program’s effect on the Dutch agriculture sector which will only increase already high food prices. On the topic of radical environmentalism and their disdain for the human condition, Nick is reminded of Professor Paul Ehrlich’s quote that, “giving society cheap, abundant energy at this point would be the moral equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.”

Nick next addresses: 180-degree position reversals from environmental groups through their divide-and-kill strategy; the role of capitalism catalyzing science; the comical Inflation Reduction Act; and, the truth when it comes to energy subsidies. Nick counters the claim that wind and solar are cost-competitive with other fuels, calling out their massive level of subsidy while only providing 7% of the U.S. energy supply.

The lightning episode continues with: ESG investing; public pension funds increasingly investing in riskier, non-liquid assets; Florida’s “Stop Woke Act” and free speech; the BLM playing politics with water; and, “hearing” some surprisingly good news from the FDA.

In closing, Nick returns back to 1990—the year Jagr was drafted by the Penguins—to reflect on George Michael’s masterpiece album Listen Without Prejudice, released 32 years ago this past September 3.

Once in a Blue Moon

The Far Middle episode 67 is dedicated to two epic 1967 sports performances. These include NASCAR’s Richard Petty and his 27-win season that featured 10 back-to-back wins, as well as the stacked Philadelphia 76ers (whose lineup boasted some of the best collective nicknames of all time) and their incredible 1967 championship season.

Petty and the Sixers’ magical 1967 seasons happen once in a blue moon, as Nick next discusses U.S. equities and their valuations today that you’ll also only see once in a blue moon. Nick offers two new perspectives to illustrate the inflated levels of U.S. stocks: the valuation and priciness of U.S. stocks compared to the rest of the world; and second, how the price-to-earnings ratio today compares to what it has been under different inflation levels over our history.

Transitioning from equity valuations, Nick looks at what’s driving professional sports team valuations and the entrance of private equity minority ownership in professional sports franchises. He also highlights the allure of investing in a professional sports team, noting that over the past 20 years they’ve outperformed the S&P 500.

On the topic of sports, Nick revisits the episode’s connection to 1967 sports milestones, noting that 1967 was also the year John Wooden and the UCLA Bruins won their first of seven consecutive NCAA titles. Nick then presents his theory on why southern California sports teams never seem to draw huge attendances, “Every game of every team in every sport should be sellouts,” says Nick.

Concluding episode 67, Nick highlights a few of his favorite bookstores, from Pittsburgh to San Francisco and from Washington D.C. to Asheville. And he closes by reflecting on the passing of David McCullough, “Pittsburgh native, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he accomplished it all in his field…he may be gone, but far from forgotten.”