RW149 - To Be Left Alone

This week, Dan and John talk about:

  • Cool Hand Luke (Movies)
  • Neutral Milk Hotel (Music)
  • Sharing media with your partner (Relationships)
  • People who are so close with their partner they are a unit (Relationships)
  • Dan’s path to adulthood being to be independent (Dan Benjamin)
  • John’s path to adulthood being to be left alone (Early Days)
  • How things don't get better with age (Aging)
  • Teaching ideologies in elementary schools (School)
  • Ad-free Road Work (Podcasting)

Bonus-content for Patreon supporters:

  • At Randy’s in the middle of the night (Currents)
  • Quickly cycling between feelings (Depression)
  • Meeting up with Adam Savage (Currents)
  • Listener feedback (Podcasting)
  • Depriving yourself of all luxury, money is fake (Money)
  • Sexual interests changing with age (Relationships)

The show title refers to John’s goal of adulthood that was to be left alone.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

Cool Hand Luke (RW149)

Dan showed his son Cool Hand Luke, a great movie with Paul Newman. They are currently trying to give him hard boiled eggs on some mornings before school and he ate two of them and said they were so good he could eat ten of those. Dan asked if he could eat 50, but there is only one man who can eat 50 eggs! ”Voilà!” It is a great movie and it holds up. At the end of it his son looked at Dan and said ”ten out of ten!” The song that has the wandering melody and the little guitar made him feel really sad.

John has played that song and one time in the 1990s he has played the role of Cool Hand Luke in a play. His friend Michael Chick had written a play with Cool Hand Luke as one of the characters. He was a experimental playwright and actor and Cool Hand Luke’s presence in the timeline of the play was more of an art writing than the play being set in the 1950s. John did a couple of songs in that play. He did the finger-picking guitar and he got to dress all in denim which of course was nice.

The play was a disaster on opening night: John was in a closet on stage, but it was visible to the audience that he was in the closet, he forgot his lines, someone else forgot their lines and it felt like a light fell from the rafters. There was also a gunfight in the play, but the blood packets all exploded too early. By the end of the night Michael said and still says to this day that he felt he was going to leave Seattle and never return.

John was embarrassed himself and felt like he would never get on a stage again. Michael was a great actor and a great playwright and this happened during a time of John’s life where he knew at least as many actors and playwrights as he did musicians. He had always been a musician within that culture, nobody ever thought of him as an actor or a playwright, but they all collaborated on each other's stuff. They went to plays all the time because everybody they knew was writing plays and putting plays on.

It happened at a little theater called Wiggly World which fit 80 people and the 80 people that were there all mattered to them. It was an arts culture with 150 people making art for 150 other people. The play never ran again, it opened and closed this night because it was that big of a wreck that they never put it on a second time. Before the curtain went up Michael had imagined that this was his triumph. It was not that they were 14 years old and put on a play in their neighbor’s garage, but they were in their late 20s and this was the kind of art they were pouring their heart and soul into.

When opening a play like this it was on all of their minds that maybe this was the one that would go to Broadway or get made into a movie. Their ambitions were through the roof but it came crashing down around them. At one point they had to start a scene over and there was no accounting for this because everybody involved was very professional. They had done many productions that had run for weeks, it just was an ill-fated moment.

Since that time, as much as John loves Cool Hand Luke, he cannot think of the character and quote: ”No one can eat 50 eggs!” or any other of the 50 great quotes from that movie without having a tinge of personal regret at having been partly responsible for such a disaster, the ultimate cringe of remembering one of the biggest on-stage disasters of any of their lives.

It was probably recorded because Wiggly World was a film production place as well as a theater and they might have been rolling cameras on it, it may exist somewhere. John has never seen it. He doesn’t think it would ever get shown and he is pretty sure the tapes were destroyed if they were tapes, but: ”Nothing ventured nothing gained!” You got to take those risks! In a play with eight people involved all it takes is three things going wrong and it cascading wrong. So many films and songs have associations for John, but that doesn't ruin them forever.

Neutral Milk Hotel (RW149)

For many years John dated a girl who loved Neutral Milk Hotel, which was a source of contention between them. John never listened to the records and she would play them constantly in her car, but although she liked having music on all the time she kept the volume down low when John was in the car. She probably cranked it when she was driving around by herself.

John can't listen to music that way. If the music is on, then let's listen to the music and not talk, and if we are talking, let's turn the music off. His attention can't handle it and Dan is mostly the same way. In restaurants or hotels there is all that Trip Hop or The Electric Slide or whatever stuff in the background, all kinds of different non-vocal musics that are fine to have going on in the background, but if there is a lull in conversation and John starts listening to the music, that is what he is going to do and you have to redirect his attention back to talking. When it comes to music with vocals he either wants to be listening to it or not listening to it.

John would drive around with her in her car, listening to Neutral Milk Hotel. The vocalist Jeff Mangum has a high keening voice and it is recorded in a way where the voice is really compressed and distorted. It peaks, you can hear tape distortion, it is all tremendously effective, but at low volumes John was just hearing this guy going ”Eeeeeeeeh”.

His girlfriend didn't like John's own band, or at least she expressed no appreciation for it, which was always a crazy thing in their relationship because she met John when he was in this band that was central to his identity. She clearly liked him and wanted them to be together, she was publicly recognized as a huge music fan, she was the most hipster person, and yet she never praised John’s music. She would come to his shows as his girlfriend, but she showed no fandom. John’s sister thinks that she was a big fan and that this was just part of her attitude and mentality. It was part of their broken relationship dynamic.

John was always on edge about it: ”Why doesn't she like my band?” To drive around in her car and listen to this low-volume Neutral Milk Hotel thing became a thing where he would find Neutral Milk Hotel awful and she would say: ”What do you mean? It is amazing!”, but John never heard it and he never listened to it on his own and he was pushing back on her musical taste. It was only after they broke up that John put Neutral Milk Hotel on in his headphones one night and discovered it was incredible.

It was wonderful music and the album Under the Airplane Over the Sea was incredibly moving and became one of his favorite things, but it is also inextricably connected to this girl and this memory and this time when he thought he hated it because he hated the dynamic. He can still listen to the music, not without feeling a tinge and having a memory, but that is not enough to spoil a great album.

Sharing media with your partner (RW149)

John never had a shared love of a media in really any of his relationships. Together with his High School girlfriend (Kelly Kiefer) he identified the cover of the song Sea of Love by The Honeydrippers as their song. They went to school dances, Cotillions, or any of those other many dances all the time every weekend, and if there wasn't a scheduled dance they would pile in their car and drive around looking for dances and there would be dances. A couple of times they drove up on Sober House Dances. There would be six of them in the car, driving past a place, and they would see when somebody was having a dance and they would pull into the parking lot and get in there. That seems crazy now!

No matter where they were in the dance hall, no matter if she was dancing with somebody and John was dancing with somebody, if they heard the opening strands of Sea of Love they would head to the center of the dance floor and meet each other to dance to their song. This was the last time John ever had a song with someone and in the course of any relationship since then he never had a movie that was their favorite or a band that was their favorite or any kind of thing that they consumed together.

A lot of people think of their relationships in terms of their favorite movies or their favorite bands together. The Long Winters play a role in plenty of people's relationships, either because the two of them met at a show or they bonded over their love for the band or they played a song by The Long Winters at their wedding. The music or the movie or the TV show is some glue in their emotional lives, and the shared love of it is further evidence to them that they belong together. John has never had that!

Dan never had it either, unless it was a joke, like he was dating a girl in High School and they both really disliked a song, so Dan jokingly insisted that this was their song, but never for real.

People who are so close with their partner they are a unit (RW149)

Sharing media together is a signpost for the kind of relationship that John never had throughout his life and he suspected he was never going to have, but he envied it: A relationship where the sum was greater than the parts. John has always been suspicious of those relationships because he is so outside them that he can only look at them through a plate glass window. He has no idea what it would be to be in a relationship like that.

John had a friend who was in a really committed live-in relationship where you just thought of them as Bennifer. One time after he had seen him a few weeks earlier he was running into him on the street, asked where Jen was and Ben said they had broken up. John couldn’t believe it! It just didn't work out! He was seeing a new girl and she was moving in with him. It was only two weeks and he and Jen had been so braided together and not only had he broken up but he had a new somebody, he was using the word ”love” to describe his relationship with them, and she was moving in!

John had never done any of those things. He never had a Jen, his shit was never braided together with anybody, he never said he loved somebody, nobody ever lived with him, he never broke up with somebody who was that close to him, got over them that fast, met somebody else and felt the same way about them.

Every single one of those experiences was then and is still totally alien to John! And yet, this person is totally a friend of John’s and by outward appearances a normal regular human being like John. They are members of the same community! It is not like he was from a vegetarian religious cult on the edge of town that John couldn't identify with.

They liked Rock’n’Roll, he lived Downtown, he liked to get high, party and race motorcycles, they were members of the same group, except none of his experiences mapped onto anything John understands. John still thinks about that. You would think that that extreme a difference would preclude you having anything in common with the person. What would you have to talk about? But John really loves that guy and he was one of his close pals then. If all of that stuff doesn't create enough of an experiential gap that you wouldn't have anything in common, then what is commonality?

Dan’s path to adulthood being to be independent (RW149)

The younger generation after Dan is not only in the workforce now, but they are starting to have real life experiences, they have relationships, or maybe they have had a job for a number of years and even when it is your own business like Dan has, or even when it is something that you like doing and are passionate about, the monotonous drudgery starts to feel like work after a long enough time. You realize that there can be cool things to do and fun things to look forward to, but at the end of the day you are waking up in the morning and do the same thing every day.

As soon as that idea is no longer depressing to you and as soon as you accepted that doing this routine is part of life, the routine you do with your kids when you are putting them to bed at night, or the routine you do five days a week when you wake up, drink coffee, take a shower, shave, get dressed and drive the same road on your commute, then you enter into a different space and you start to have other things in common with people that you might not have had before.

Someone in their 40s or 50s has very little in common with somebody in their late teens or early 20s, but once you have been on the Earth for 25 to 30 years, a shared experience opens up in ways that Dan finds surprising because he has always felt a big gap between people in their 20s early 30s and people in their 40s or 50s and now he feels like that gap is shrinking.

It was in his late 20s when Dan started to not feel upset about it anymore. The routine thing was very early for him because he was working at a full time job before he graduated from college and drudgery settled in at 21 or 22 years old. He thought it was great! He was thrilled to death because as far back as he can remember all he ever wanted was independence.

He didn't like being under somebody else's thumb, he didn't like having to do certain things he saw no value in, for example school or homework. He always did as little as he needed to do to get by and he never excelled for the sake of excelling. He never took advantage of the educational opportunities that were before him in college.

As soon as he was out of High School at 17 or 18 he went right to college. Especially later when he was focusing on his major there were a handful of people who were a good 10 or 15 years older and who had come back to school. They graduated High School and they immediately went out into the workforce or maybe they had kids right away or whatever it was that prevented them from fulfilling a dream that they had of going to college. They worked and lived their life for 10 years or more and now they had gone back to school. They were mature and they were there to really learn.

In Dan’s tech writing major he had a technical documentation class and was supposed to keep a journal about the projects he was working on. At this point in their senior year they weren't just getting assignments, but they were doing something like an internship where a company would need a software manual written and their semester project was to write some documentation in the real world.

Dan thought this journal was garbage! What does he need to do that for? It was not helping him, but the stupid teacher wanted it. Dan would do the absolute bare minimum! The day before it was due he would be fabricating journal entries, going back months, trying to make it seem like he was really learning stuff, but he didn't care about any of that, he just wanted to graduate and get the hell out of there!

The students who had returned to college took this seriously and their journal was heartfelt and they shared all these details about what they were learning, about their thinking process and their questions and they would refer back to their previous journal entries in their next journal entry. It was what the teacher wanted and they were getting A's while Dan was getting a C. He just thought it was complete crap! Now he realizes that he should have gone into college with a different mindset to learn something, not just being there to push through it so he could do the thing he really wanted to do, which was work, and be on his own and be independent.

Dan wanted that so bad that everything else was just a means to an end. He didn't take very much of any enjoyment out of the educational process, out of the fact that he was in college and that he had this really great opportunity to meet interesting people and hang out and do interesting things. It was like detention: ”When is this going to be over? When can I do the thing I really want to do? This isn’t it!” These people who were 10 or 15 years older than Dan had come back, they got it, and what they got out of that same exact experience, sitting next to him in the same class, was a tremendous positive life changing experience.

John’s path to adulthood being to be left alone (RW149)

John never looked at adulthood as this freedom place like Dan did. None of the adults he knew were free. When John was a kid the adults didn't seem any more or less free than he or anybody else. His folks had very different attitudes about work, his mom was a diligent worker and a hard worker, and his dad was a "Got by by the seat of his pants” person, but John didn't look at them and at the power of their money and the power of their adulthood and feel like he couldn’t wait.

Not that he dreaded it, but his goals were always to recognize a path to being left alone. He knew that he couldn't just be left alone, but if you were born rich you could figure out a way to be left alone by just telling everybody to leave you alone. You wouldn't have to interact with people that you didn't want to because you were rich. But not being rich you needed to find a different path.

John’s mom firmly believed that the path to that goal was to work hard because if you work hard then nobody notices you and nobody takes you to the woodshed and you get to pretty much set your own tempo because you are working hard. It makes people leave you alone. That was not the path John wanted. He didn't want to work hard in order to get left alone because your boss is still there walking around, looking over your shoulder. He stops looking over your shoulder because you are consistently working hard, but that wasn't what John needed.

John’s dad had the power to be left alone, but John felt like he squandered it. John had this perception that if he could get recognized for something and get acknowledged as necessary for the world, as: ”Oh, he is great at tennis!” or if he found a skill that wasn't just being a good worker, but if he inhabited a talent, then people can't tell you what to do because you are a great tennis player and if they need a great tennis player you are the one.

Being left alone is maybe the wrong thing and ”Not tell me what to do!” is maybe a better description of what John was looking for. He didn't want to be a failure either. There are plenty of ways to have people leave you alone and not tell you what to do where you don't contribute to society in some job or life path that requires the very minimum out of you, but that was not what John wanted either. He wanted to help, he wanted to contribute, he just didn't want to be told what to do or have anybody watch him.

How things don't get better with age (RW149)

You don't cross over a line into adulthood and suddenly you are there. As a kid at 9 years old the 10 year olds seemed like they had a lot more access to things. When you are 11, then the 13 year olds just seem like they have so much more going on, and when you are 15 it is the same for 17 year olds. When you are 18 it is the 21 year olds, and when you are 21 it is the 24 year olds. When you get to be 24 you realize that is not true anymore. 24 year olds, 28 year olds, 32 year olds, and 38 year olds are all living in the same mix. Young people today say the same thing that John felt at the time, but what is interesting about Millennials is that they feel picked on but we hear their voices a lot more than anybody ever heard our voices.

When John was 24 and he was super-confused about how the hell you get anywhere. He didn’t have any money, he didn’t have any opportunity, he didn’t know how to do all these things, but he had all these thoughts, he wanted to be accepted in the world, he wanted to be embraced, he wanted to be given a job, he wanted to be trusted. Everywhere he looked there was no path to get to this place where he knew he was capable, he knew he could do things, he knew his ideas were good.

”Trust me with something! Hand me the keys to something, even something small! Let me do what I know I can do!”, but the world was a completely ambivalent shrug or just indifferent. The world didn't even hear him because there wasn't any place for him to express that. What you end up doing is to express it by getting drunk or you express it to your friends in the form of angsty pop songs, or a lot of people express it by working really hard at something.

The current generation can express all those feelings and be heard, not only to have those feelings reinforced and saved by lots of people their own age whom they don't know firsthand, but also by people who are older than they are who don't know them. The world at large hears their voice now! It is hard for millennials to understand that this is exactly how John felt except he didn't have anybody to talk to. No one his own age cared, let alone anybody who was 50 years old! Somehow John found a path from 24 to 38, not by discovering a trove of resources or by anybody picking him out of a crowded dance floor, saying: ”That one!”, but he kept doing what he was doing and little by little… it never felt like a path or a plan.

At 24 / 25 years old the feeling from High School that if you get to the next level things would be getting better was also missing. At 24 years old you realize that things are not going to be better when you are 25, but you are working in the same place as 38 year olds and they are getting paid more. It might even be a lot worse between 33 and 35 because if you are 35 and you are going to work with someone who is 22, you are conscious of the fact that you are not going anywhere. You are not this person's teacher, but you are their co-worker.

The realization that they push you out of school and then you are just in this pool is the crazy-ass thing! All kinds of Baby Boomers just finish up their careers right now, clinging to jobs somewhere. They never became managers, they are working, and their boss is younger than they are, and their boss's boss is younger than they are. That is surely a weird feeling, also for their boss and their boss's boss. John doesn’t have any 65 year olds working for him and he doesn’t work for a 65 year old nor does he work alongside a 65 year old. 65 year olds are only people he encounters in line at the grocery store and he doesn’t have any exposure to them. There are some 65 year olds listening to this program.

John never spent any long period of his life in an office where he started off as the youngest and then he was in the middle and then he was older and watched people come and go, watched his responsibilities ebb and flow. That seems like a really interesting way to graph your life, to have a daily reminder of: ”Oh, there is a new boss and he is younger than me!” and however you feel about it, it doesn't stop being true. You are not going to quit over it, so eventually you have to reconcile yourself to it.

John is prone to feeling a lot of status anxiety and it would be hard for him because at least when he was growing up, age was so directly connected to status, in his case because he was younger. The fact that he was the youngest person in the room was always connected to the feeling that he was exceptional. He was the youngest person in the room and yet: ”Here I am!”, it was part of feeling like a smart kid.

John has gradually become a middle age person and he is by far no longer the youngest person in the room, he is not even the youngest person in this room with Dan, but he is the oldest person in this room by a little. He never felt accomplishment and adulthood and all these things, he never felt the ground was flat, and he still wants to know how old somebody is and factors that in about how he feels about them. A good friend just had his 50th birthday any he is six months younger than John. That factors in to how he thinks about him, even though he has plenty of friends who are 30 years old and he does a podcast with a guy who is 31.

Some of it is tied to that thing that got baked into him in childhood when he was 9 and all the other kids in the room were 11. That was proof, that was exactly the thing where he felt: "You should leave me alone! I have shown you that I as a 9 year old can hold my own in this contest with these 11-year olds. I should be given a pass!” or: ”Stop nagging me!” Some of it goes all the way back and has affected John all these years.

Teaching ideologies in elementary schools (RW149)

John doesn’t remember when he started to feel like age and experience added up to something, but it probably was the turn of this most recent generation coming online and having such strong feelings about how things should be. When Generation Y first arrived they were just like us, just younger and they liked other things and had different TV shows. The older millennials, the people born in 1980, felt like an extension of the way Generation X thought and worked.

John’s generation had been watching this generation even when they were in school and he was told that this was the generation that had never been told ”No!” There were think pieces in The Atlantic magazine about 15 year olds who had never gotten a bad grade and were raised by a generation of parents who didn't have backbones or wouldn't tell their dog "No!" because they didn't want to destroy the dog's spirit.

There was a generation on the horizon, raised according to a philosophy of teaching and parenting that was effectively being held by John’s peers, but that was troubling in today's terms. It was problematic because it was based on a theory of the world that had decided that we were going to act like there was no nature component in the nature versus nurture argument and it was all nurture. We were going to make a generation of super-kids based on how we raised them and taught them and encouraged them or didn't. The educational philosophy followed the same pattern. We no longer allowed kids to feel bad and everybody got a ribbon.

John remembers feeling it coming and going. As a suspicious and dubious leftist media critic he said at the time: ”It can't be that bad! Kids always turn out fine!”, but when that generation came online, it wasn't the strong opinions that were unfamiliar, the strong opinions were the same as John’s opinions, but they had a conviction that they mattered, that their strong opinions were novel or that no-one had ever had them, or that the fact that we had failed to enact righteous laws was our failing, that the world was a shit-show because John and Dan had failed and now it was their turn at the ripe old age of 20.

This was the moment where John started to feel like age mattered. He had seen other things, he had seen people try and fail, he had seen good people try to do good things and have those attempts fail so many times that he took umbrage at the suggestion that the reason the world was bad was that we just didn't have good leaders or that nobody had tried, or that the Democrats were corrupt, or whatever the current logic was about why we needed to turn the keys of civilization over to a bunch of 22 year olds.

John looked at his own generation and realized that age had not made them any wiser. They weren't running the world really well because they were more knowledgeable, but they had recognized how much harder it was than it seemed to do good or to do anything! Being mad about it never made it easier for them, being unforgiving or unsympathetic never made it easier for anybody.

History is full of examples of generations who come in and thought they were going to sweep all the trash into the garbage and start anew, but those were the generations who created genocides. John’s ageism was not at all an expression of a feeling that they had done it better at all, but his ageism was only an expression of a feeling that it is so much harder than it looks to be a good person, to be a generation who accomplishes anything, and that all your heroes were deeply flawed.

We point to people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the success they had. We measure it in banners or the fact that Martin Luther King is in every text book in every school, but in terms of ”What did Martin Luther King want? Have we accomplished that? Did he accomplish it? Have we accomplished it relative to what Byron De La Beckwith wanted? Did he accomplish it and did his followers accomplish it?”

We tend to lionize our heroes and exaggerate their accomplishment and put ourselves in a position where we say: ”If only we had all followed our hero!”, but really: Where we are today is absolutely a product of Martin Luther King's thinking and his work and the efforts of the people around him in the time and the efforts of all the people since then to carry that banner, but we are also in a place that reflects the Southern white power revisionists and all the work that they have done this whole time.

There is no hero, there is just the constant march of time. We would like to have heroes and we like to put Martin Luther King's face on the wall, but what if he had not been there, if it had been someone else or if it had been no-one? It is an argument against the Great Man theory of history. The academic left likes to argue against the Great Man theory of history, but only sometimes, only selectively.

They want to say that it wasn't Abraham Lincoln, but they do want it to have been Martin Luther King. They want to debunk the Great Man theory of history and replace those great men with other great men, when really it is the slow march of a million people all trying to do a little bit better. Who gets elected president of the United States seems important right now and obviously the result in the Alabama legislature the other day makes it seem like our freedom is under direct immediate assault.

It has been like that John’s whole life! Every single year there has been some legislature somewhere trying to criminalize abortion or trying to criminalize homosexuality. It has been a constant war! It is not better or worse now, and that is insight into the fact that while we are fighting this ground battle we are fighting up in the top of the tower, too.

John has watched so many iterations of people bing hysterical about the emergency or about the risk and doom or about any success, any toehold, any new person elected, any new law passed. We pass a law that ensures the rights of some people and everybody goes: ”We did it! It is done!”, but it is never done. You didn't do it! You don't march along and then you cross some finish line and it is like: ”Well, abortion is safe and legal for the rest of time!” - ”No, it is still under assault!”

The other side also feels like it is constantly under assault. We are always struggling, but your generation doesn't have a sense that what you are trying to do is mutual. We are all trying to get better down the road and we are arguing about what better is, that is the important thing, not the street battle, not the street fight.

The important argument is convincing people in the larger world, making the argument for a comprehensive world, and making that argument clearly and an argument that is internally consistent, so that people across all stripes can say: ”Right, I get it! I get this! I get what we are working toward! I disagree on all these particulars, but…”

We are living in a world right now where we have lost the conviction that education advances us. Fully half the people in the country don't think that. They think education imperils them because the people doing the educating are suspect, have bad motives, are being run by the Jews, and so they don't believe in education anymore, but they believe in educating their children in their own traditions and they don't believe in the system of education. That is a huge backslide! Education is not itself ideological, it wasn't thought of as ideological until really recently.

Education was just education, and the fact that education is now regarded as ideological is as much the fault of the Liberals as it is the Conservatives because the Liberals very intentionally ideologicalified education by saying there were people in the world who are still racist or still homophobic and they were going to indoctrinate them in the correct way of thinking. It wasn't anymore like: ”Here is math, here is science, here is education, here is history!”, but it was: ”Here is the correct way of thinking!”

John tends to agree that those are the correct takes, but he came to that through through his own elective process, as a lot of people did. He did not get sat down in a chair when he was 5 years old and told to think something other than what his parents thought and taught to think that his parents were wrong about things. He discovered in college that his parents were wrong about some things, but there was a movement of philosophy that said they were going to eradicate bad thinking in this country and they were going to start at a very young age.

If we get to these kids at 5, 6, 7 years old and teach them how we want them to think, they are going to make the world a better place. Those 6, 7, 8 year olds went home and their parents said: "No, that is not what we think! That is not right! Those people at school are lying to you and we are going to fight those people at school. If you come into this house and tell us about the things you learned at school you are going to be in trouble!” and those kids came back to school on Monday and all that work you had done to try and make them into the citizens of the new world you wanted, not only was that work for not, but you have turned that kid into an enemy because you brought an ideology into elementary education.

We look at the situation today and we ask who these Neanderthals are, this 50 percent of the country who are angry racist sexist bigoted people, but in a way they are our creation because we wanted so hard to make the world better and we had a theory that you could do that by forcing it, by turning kids into soldiers and telling them to go home and tell their racist sexist parents that they were wrong.

John has a kid in elementary school, he knows what they are teaching her, and he agrees. When she comes home and tells him her new world view it is not inconsistent with his, but he can imagine how he would feel if he had different feelings. Not that he was racist, but just if he felt: ”Wait a minute! There is another side to that!” If his daughter came home from 2nd grade and expressed an ideology that conflicted with his, it would alienate him from the schools, the city, and the legislature. It would radicalize him as a parent and he would go to work on his kid. You see the product of it now!

John looks at this generation that seems to really be doubling down on this idea. The Millennials were raised in this environment and half of them were radicalized from the earliest days in school. Their parents supported it and they developed a conviction that came from not just being taught the ABC, but by being taught that Columbus was a genocidal invader. Half of the Millennials are furious about it, the ones who aren't on our Twitter, but who are marching in Charlottesville. Their parents feel the world has gone mad!

The Millennials who agree with John, the Liberals, feel like the only thing to do now is to force it down their throats harder, to make no attempt to understand them, to accuse them of racism, to accuse John of being a Boomer anytime he says anything online. He is excoriated as a ”both sides Boomer” now! They are so convinced that they know the truth and that the way to make the world a better place is to act according to that truth and to essentially burn anyone who doesn't adopt their way of thinking.

If there is anything John’s age has shown him, it is that this is a profoundly losing strategy. He doesn’t point to anything the Generation X did or that the Baby Boomers did and says: ”We did it better!” or: ”We had a superior path!” All he can see is: ”We failed over and over and we are continuing to fail and you guys are failing, too!” Generation X in all of their arrogance at least never ever for a moment thought they were doing a good job.

Ad-free Road Work (RW149)

Some time ago Dan said that there was a point at which if they had enough subscribers to their donor feed they would stop taking advertisements and be a strictly donor-funded show. At the time John was hoping that Road Work would continue to grow as an income stream and he didn't want to reduce their options, but Haddie told him the other day that they make twice as much money from their donors as they do from ads. They are basically doing two shows a week because in a lot of cases their donor feed show is just as long as a regular show. John is wondering what people think about that. How would that work?

If they had a certain threshold and if they were making $5000 a month in Patreon support they would stop taking ads, would there be an After Show at that point? Or would it just be a supported show? If it was a supported show, would that mean that it was only available to supporters? A lot of the people say that they support the show not for the bonus content, but they are doing it for the show itself.

Here is the weird thing: It was only when they started doing the bonus show that they got support that really measured up. This is such a great and interesting conversation and Dan didn't know any of the answers to anything. They are still in that situation where people expect podcasts to be free and they are unwilling to donate unless they feel like they are getting something special for that. John doesn't know either.

How could the people who only listen to the show and not the donor feed possibly know that there is an entire other show on the other side of the curtain? They don't talk about it very much. The reason John is thinking about it is that he has a couple of other shows that are now talking about what to give to donors. The Friendly Fire program has decided that it is going to do an extra episode a month for the donors and they are talking now on Omnibus about doing a donor model and a donor feed and what to put over there, but it feels like an extra episode a month isn't quite enough for Omnibus.

Then John realized: "Wait a minute!” He does an extra episode a week on Road Work where the regular listeners aren’t even registering that it is there, an extra episode a week that Dan and John both are really proud of. If they said ”Look‚ we are going to take this show behind the curtain!” the day they get $5000 a month, it is one thing to stop taking advertisements, and there might be people who donated just because they hate ads, but if you have a show that is earning all its money from its donors why would you not reserve it for them? New people aren't enticed behind the curtain.

John asks donors who listen to this and have opinions about it to write in and tell them what their thoughts are on the matter. There are people who would enjoy the donor feed that aren't really aware of what is happening here. Telling them like ”Oh, on the other side of the donor curtain we answer fan mail!” does not sufficiently describe what they are really doing. John would be willing to start considering that in a different way.

Why should regular listeners benefit with no ads when they are not the ones actually supporting them? The supporters should be the ones who get something. You can say ”Well, that is dumb! Everybody should benefit and make the show better!”, but then the flip-side is: ”What if we move the whole show to be for subscribers only?” It is going to limit the exposure of the show because now you can only listen to it if you are a subscriber. Dan wants everyone to hear it, he wants the world to hear it, whether they make money from all of them or just from a small portion.

They are doing two full episodes almost every week and what can come out of that? How could they make it better? Dan doesn’t know. They are making twice as much from their listeners as they do on ads, but Dan also doesn’t want to throw away that money either until they hit their goal. The best example of this is Dan’s friend Adam Curry who does a show called No Agenda with John C. Dvorak. They have always been a ”Support us through donation! Thank you for your courage!” type situation and their justification has always been that if something is important and something is good you should pay for it. ”Value for value” is their slogan for that.

Their whole plan is that they do not want to be beholden to anyone, they don't want to be accountable to anyone, and they don't want to have to worry about what they say or to worry it being controversial or going anti-establishment or whatever. They don't have to worry about offending a sponsor or ”Well, we can't say how we really feel about X because of the sponsor!” Being fully listener supported they are outside of that. Their show has been going for a very long time, it is a great show and they both make a full-time salary from it.

It is possible for people to do that, but maybe not for Dan and John. Their show is totally free and you can listen to it without ever paying anything, but if they hit their milestone, would the listeners who are paying be upset if they were to reveal the secret episodes? Maybe there is something else to do. Maybe the people who donate get episodes sooner by a week or even two weeks? It is worth thinking about! Dan would like to hear what people think, especially those who are here to support them. Email them vt.5yb5|krowdaor#vt.5yb5|krowdaor, or go to and click Road Work and send them an email and share your thoughts!


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License