The LoCo Experience

EXPERIENCE 74 | James "Pigeon" Fielder, CSU Political Scientist, Game Designer, and Crisis Consultant

August 01, 2022 Ethan Lee Season 2 Episode 74
The LoCo Experience
EXPERIENCE 74 | James "Pigeon" Fielder, CSU Political Scientist, Game Designer, and Crisis Consultant
Show Notes Transcript

James Pigeon Fielder, a longtime Military Intelligence Veteran now serving as a Political Science Professor at Colorado State University. He is also the Chief Operating Officer of Mobius Worlds Publishing.

 We discuss the essentials of crisis management and the conflicts happening in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and the larger Middle East. We also learned a little bit about the role playing games industry.

This is a fun conversation with a highly intelligent and interesting man. Tune in and I hope you love it.


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Curt:

Welcome back. This is your host Kurt bear, and I'm excited to introduce you to James pigeon fielder, a longtime military intelligence veteran now serving as an adjunct political science professor at Colorado state univers. Pigeon is also a partner and COO of Movius world's publishing and a crisis consultant for small and large businesses. We discuss the essentials of crisis management. Hint. It starts with people, the conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine and the larger middle east and where we go from here. And we learned a little bit about the role playing games industry. This is a fun conversation with a highly intelligent and interesting man. And I hope you love it. Welcome back to the local experience podcast. My guest today is pigeon fielder, James pigeon fielder. And, uh, he is a CSU political scientist. He's the owner of Mobius world's publishing. This was a game company and he is also crisis consultant. And one of the more interesting people I've met and we were just talking about how you got the nickname pigeon. So let's just start there. Why not?

james:

Yes. So I was in the, the military for 25 years. I was enlisted in the army for five and then commissioned in the air force for 20. I just retired about three and a half years ago. And people get nicknames in the military for all sorts of strange reasons. Like if you watch top gun Maverick and goose and this, that, and the other sure. Some people get nicknames for truly horrifying reasons, which I will not repeat here on recording. And I just lucked out. I happened to have pet pigeons oh, and big barbecue at my house all took as one. It was actually in the army. A private looked over at me, looked at the. Looked at my birds and looked at me and said, man, field's like a big old pigeon himself. Ah, and fast forward now to I've been here, I've been out of the air force out of the military for three years. All it takes is one person and 10,000 to know what my nickname is and it's over. So the three times I've actually tried to walk away like, oh, maybe it's unprofessional. Maybe I should just go by James. Now, even though the only person who calls me, James is my wife and I'm in trouble, even worse. She says James Douglas. Um, and yeah, it just, everyone still calls me pigeons. So I'm like, you know what, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna embrace it. See

Curt:

here I am. And I know you as a bit of a, like a game theory expert, and, and as you say, a crisis consultant, um, and that's kind of our involvement. We both attend 1 million cups and, and you've basically got a side hustle, I guess, from your two other jobs. uh, but, but talk to me about like, what does it take to understand a

james:

crisis? All right. So it helps that. I had a career in the military. I was military intelligence. I can say that now, I suppose, enlisted electronic warfare then commissioned kind of general intelligence. Yeah. And

Curt:

I don't, I want to talk as much as you can talk about some of those things too. Oh, sweet. All right.

james:

But we'll get there. uh, but actually had to go a little bit farther than that. Farther back. Like if I had to go back to grade school and I was terrible at math and I still am terrible at math. Hmm. I, I gravitated towards like the social studies, the social sciences, the history, the psychology, the civics, basically the topics that had a narrative. Like what's the story there. Yeah.

Curt:

And so not good at Kasey and economics, but really good at the Austrian. Yeah. That's, that's

james:

a good way of putting it. Yes. Um, so, and also my mother worked at the Washington post for 36 years and, uh, she would bring home the paper and I grew up basically reading the newspaper and I still front to back just about yes. Uh, with a special, special place in my heart for the comics page. Um, and I still, to this day, love once a week, New York times, um, the print version where I can feel the paper in my hands and all that. Yeah. Um,

Curt:

so you recognize kind of at an early age that you were a different kind of thinker than maybe the average. 10 year old.

james:

Yes. Or whatever. Yes. But unfortunately it took me a while to embrace that. Yeah. Yeah. Um, so basically when I see a crisis, I think of not the, well, I mean, I think about the crisis of course, and the outcomes, but I think about the story behind it, how it infl influences the people, like what are the, um, yes, you can put a dollar amount to something. You can put a value to something, but I want to know what the human story or the human element behind it is a what, how do you build resilience with those people? And then how do you move forward from a crisis after the fact? I

Curt:

think about like Ukraine, actually, even as you know, and there's different ways that people might respond, right? Like the people in Ukraine could have kind of rolled over and, uh, not been able to mobilize the kind of force necessary to even slow to the Russians down mm-hmm yeah. Or it can really, uh, motivate and, and I gives Linsky a lot of credit, like his performance as it were. Yes. Uh, whether it's a performance or just his, his, his way of being was really a big motivating factor for people, including the Europeans and the Americans. And we'll see how it shakes out now. Uh, I wanna talk more about that too. sweet, but it really like people can respond much differently and that can really affect the outcomes a lot. And so that's what you help companies prepare

james:

for. Correct. Um, so one to help them forecast. So as I like to. The first time you respond to a crisis, shouldn't be an actual crisis. You know, rather you spend $500 running a tabletop game than 500,000 trying to fix the problem in real life. Yeah. Um, but it's also not just about the forecasting it's um, how should I say in a well designed game and I should say. um, also that game theory is more mathematical ology is like the study of gameplay. Ooh. Games in gameplay. Oh,

Curt:

ludology that sounds like it's not like L E w D LD, right? No,

james:

no, no. that sounds like something far worse. Yes. So it's yeah, it's based on though. It's a Latin Ludis. Okay. Which is, um, means rules governed by rules, um, kind

Curt:

of rules of behavior and things. Right, right. Oh, I'm gonna talk about so many interesting topics with you if you allow it like, oh yes. You know, Canada truckers and European climate advocacy. And there's a lot of interesting like rules, behavior yeah. That we can touch on. Absolutely. I feel like let's, uh, let's talk about the CSU stuff I want. I think we might want to build a whole foundation for how did your career develop? How, you know, what were some of the key moments and some of that stuff, but let's talk about current days a little bit. So talk to me about the you political scientist. Does that mean you you're a political science professor? Yes.

james:

Okay. Um, well, I, I retired as an associate professor of the air force academy. I was my last site in the air force, but my idea of a good time after retiring was not chasing tenure track positions all over the United States. And plus my wife said, honey, you can retire anywhere you want when you get out. As long as it's in Collins, Colorado, which simplified my tactical problem. And thankfully I new people in the faculty. They said we have non-tenure lines. If you're interested. um, basically instructor lines and I was like, you know what? I've got a military retirement, I've got a pension. Right. I've got healthcare. Yeah. I like teaching. I mean, they can pay me in coffee grounds and I've been there three years now and I love it. Nice. Um, and they treat their, uh, instructors very well, at least in my department and my,

Curt:

it doesn't pay very great generally, but

james:

oh, I couldn't imagine if it was my full-time job. I'd probably be, uh, stress a bit more, but right. I see it in my current situation. It's my deal. Yeah. It's

Curt:

a great deal. Yeah. So do you go all the way across the board? Like PolySci 1 0 1 or do you do just certain courses with that kind of crisis or, or current events kind of focus or,

james:

uh, yeah, as matter of fact, I, uh, teach a course called current world problems. It's a 100 level course. It's simple, simple form. It's basically international relations for non-political science majors. Yeah. Um, and, uh, I leverage basically the full spectrum of my experience, you know, both the formal training and political science and my experiences as an intelligence officer and, uh, NCO in my military career plus. Getting to basically I put it this way. I get to read the newspaper and talk about it. And I'm like, that's a gig that doesn't get

Curt:

old. Yeah. very cool. Yes. It's kind of like, uh, I, I took quite a few philosophy classes in college and, you know, in that case it was old masters, but it was still really interesting to try to understand how they unfolded their thinking at that time. Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, you know, current events, it's that much easier cuz you got fresh fodder all the time and there's not that much new news. Right? Like in some ways you see a lot of patterns as you live around, as long as me and you have. Yeah. Yeah. So, so there's that. And is that the only class you teach then? Oh, I've

james:

also, uh, been regularly teaching, uh, Paul side 3 47 comparative authoritarianism. Ooh. I basically talk about the various types of authoritarian regimes. Hmm. Ranging from a full totalitarian state. Uh, think historically Nazi Germany, fats, fascist, Italy, almost fashion. Right? Fascist Italy, modern times make a case for North Korea all the way down to like a DEIC critically disguised dictatorship where they'll actually have election cars. I wasn't gonna go there, but you did um,

Curt:

is it close? Like we're on that spectrum, right? Well

james:

sadly, um, We, uh, freedom house releases a every year, a report of freedom in the world. And they, they rank, uh, states by their level of democracy versus auto. Yeah. The United States is still considered a democracy, but because of various issues, we've actually gone down a few points. Yeah. Yeah. Which

Curt:

for me, we're not Canada or, or Australia, but we're slipping. Yeah. Fair enough. I'll have you talk more about that later. We'll see if I can get you in trouble today. Outstanding. Be like you get canceled to be like, I heard you on the local experience podcast, what you said.

james:

Uh, but I should clear this is where I should this disclaimer. Yes. Disclaimer. So I tested in comparative politics and international relations in my PhD at university of Iowa and credited in security studies for my military career. But I'm not an Americanist. Like I never took American graduate level. American courses never tested in it. So I'm, you know, people will say, oh, you're a political scientist. Tell me about the next election. I'm like, uh, I don't know. You're guess as good as my, like what you, but I'm like, but I don't, I'm not, I don't study American government per se. Yeah.

Curt:

Yeah. Fair enough. Yeah. Yeah. Although it seems like you probably nerd out on some of that stuff too. Yeah. Listen. Like hardcore history, podcasts and things like that.

james:

Yeah. Keeping up with NPR and course New York times and Washington post and all

Curt:

that. So that's your CSU role and they let you beep up around and do this. And now talk to me about Mobious world's publishing

james:

right now. I should clarify. I'm I'm not the owner. Oh, do you wanna

Curt:

do, is disclaimer that says, you know, my views are not CSU views or things like that. Yeah. I, I

james:

probably should. My views are not the views of Colorado state university. Um, although I think they're pretty cool. So yeah, don't fire me. Okay. thanks. Um, uh, okay. Where the heck was I? Right? Oh, Mobius. I'm not, I'm not the owner. Well, I, oh, you're not I'm I am a owner. Okay. I'm one of four owners of the company, but

Curt:

that, sorry, I overstated you a partner in yeah. Partner. Uh, but uh, you are with us for this long. Oh yeah. You're the coup that's right.

james:

That's right. Cool. I am the chief operating officer of Movius world's publishing. We didn't think that through that. Yes. The pigeon was gonna be the coup of the company. So Hey, so yeah, Movius, world's publishing is on the one hand brand new, uh, we just stood up in March. We're still working on our website. Um, we're hoping to go fully live by the end of August. Okay. But we are built on the, the, um, the fodder or the that's not a good word. The sour foundation foundation, the sourdough starter of another company, evil beagle games. Uh, most of us actually either wrote. Uh, four or worked for in some capacity for be games. Okay. Be games, a sunset, uh, the founder, uh, wanted to go into semi-retirement. We wanted to go into some new directions,

Curt:

so yeah. He said, Hey, what? We we're smart enough to start a company. Yeah. And we

have

james:

two IPS. Okay. Uh, we have, uh, freedom squadron, which is a homage to GI Joe. Nice. And then we have, uh, uh, pros and paragons, which is a superhero rule set. So you want play Batman or a copyright disclaimer, some version of Batman. Uh, you use our, our rule set and what's that second time. Oh, prowls and paragons, prowlers and

Curt:

paragons. Interesting. Yeah. And are these like on the computer games? Is that

right?

james:

Oh, they're they're well, they're tabletops, they're primarily intended to be played pen and paper. However, uh, we have, uh, game masters who use virtual tabletops to play them where you actually download a map. Oh, interesting. You know, load up the tokens on

Curt:

it. Oh. So these are like, kind of those games where like you're wandering around gathering supplies and doing different things and that kind of stuff. Right. But it's on a physical tabletop game. Right. Cool. Cool. And so you're developing other games as well and have opportunities there. Yes. Yes. And so do you wanna talk about your partners in that at all? Like what does a different, uh, members of this group do? Is that allowed to be

james:

talked about? Oh yeah, absolutely. Yes. So we have, uh, chief executive officer, Jennifer Scheinfeld, who we call Maven, who, uh, took over, oh, the, or started the company of his. Uh, publishing. And she's also a, uh, in addition to an experienced game designer and editor, she's a world class ballet instructor. Oh wow. And I cannot pronounce the name of the school that she's a master of, um, which is embarrassing. And now she's gonna listen to this and go pigeon you fool. Well, you should try. Yeah. Try. No, I better not. I better not Jennifer. We love you. Yes. Then we have, um, uh, the other two owners are Marion Walman who is an it specialist consultant in, uh, the San Francisco bay area. Okay. And Robert Dorf, who's a retired, um, technologist in New Jersey who we're hoping is gonna move here to the Denver area. Okay. I should note that most of us live in the area, but it's a otherwise a fully distributed company. Yeah. Like we don't have an office, we run everything on slack, Google docs, uh, you name it. So the low overhead's low, but the creativity is high, which is great.

Curt:

Yeah. Yeah. That sounds like a pretty interesting, what do you hope to. Um, due with Mobius, are you looking to add a fleet of games or could you make acquisitions or things, or just mostly gives you an outlet for that creativity of designing and creating challenges?

james:

Well, we do wanna expand. Okay. Um, however, our core mission is we really wanna focus on like super heroic and action hero, style games. Like someone wants to play Batman, you can, someone wants to play Indiana Jones. You can wizards of the coast, dominates the market with Dinges and dragons, but that, which is fantasy based, right. Or more kind of a

Curt:

kind of reality

james:

games or, or near future, or in my case, I'm working on two settings that are, uh, one steampunk, like alternate yeah. Victorian history. And the other is a, like a mad max like vehicle sure. Um, oriented game. Yeah. Um, so we do wanna write

Curt:

sounds like we got a lot of copywriter, infringement challenges potentially. Uh,

james:

we do, but how we, how we, uh, protect ourselves is one writing for our own intellectual property or at least the IP that we license. Uh, for example, so freedom squadron and, and, and, uh, pros and paragons. So we can write for those, you know, with fairly clear, right though, we don't, you know, throw in something X-rated or something like that. But other, like if we wanted to write for another system, like. Let's say I wanted, I actually did want to create an adventure for Dungeons and dragons. We use what's called the open gaming license. So a lot of these other role playing game design firms will have an OGL that allows people to write for their systems and without violent copyright, as long as you follow certain rules. And it's really, this is really, this became popular in the around 2000, 2001 timeframe with the D and D 3.0. And since sentence remain popular with like Savage worlds, um, vampire of the masquerade, uh, traveler system, where a company will put out the rules and other people will write settings materials for it. And it really allows smaller creatives to grow. Yeah. But for the time being what, what our strategy is, is to focus on our core IP freedom, squadron, and, uh, pearls and paragons mm-hmm and add material to those settings. But as

Curt:

we, oh, kind of build a brand yes. Around those, and then you can get second release, third release, fourth release, that kind of thing.

james:

Right. And to, um, to avoid diluting our brand, we we're exploring is an, are basically a, our own open gaming license where we let other people write for us as well. And a, uh, imprint, um, process where we have, we have a stable creatives that have been the comp with Eva, be games for a long time, or, uh, now with Mobius. Yeah. Where we see 'em as part of. Fold. Yeah. Or hall of justice, if you will. Yeah. Um, the imprint program would allow them to basically create their own publishing imprints inside the company. So I know like Michael Sherbrook, who is one of most prolific writers on the team, he can then do some writing for DUNS and dragons. And then I want to do some wording for the traveler system. So I could have an imprint. Interesting. And also an imprint that we're exploring is actually purely educational and professional, like actually writing game scenarios for companies. Oh. And game scenarios for, uh, uh, schools and whatnot. And this way it, it does not, or our core heroic brand. Although imagine most of us are still gonna kind of write in that heroic style. Yeah. But at the same time, fans will come to us. They recognize bill keys. They recognize Mike cer. They recognize Jennifer Shinefeld. Heck they now recognize me, which is scary. And they'll say, oh, if they're right for pros or paragons, do they have more stuff? Oh, cer presents imprint. Right. And so it kind of allows us to expand, uh, without,

Curt:

and do you know the simply HR gals, uh, Tina Todd and her partner that we're around here, maybe not. Uh, anyway, they, they developed a comic book. Ooh, uh, called define the. okay. And it was really, basically a literally a comic book that helped companies go through like what's appropriate words and behavior, and what's not appropriate words and behavior, right. Particularly when it comes to gender mm-hmm um, that was their focus with that item. But to find the line, they were otherwise just an HR consultancy, but to find line like grew so much and became like a program that they could take to corporations and things. So I could see your world's blending there. Potentially if you can play a game that's way better than listening to some weird dude named pigeon talk about crisis management. yes,

james:

yes.

Curt:

Excuse me. Um, so, so that's interesting. So a lot of opportunities that you're kind of semi-retirement gig kind of that stays you in the game. Oh, I wanted to ask what's the path to revenue for a company like this. Are you like trying to wholesale to stores like target and places like that? Are you doing online community building and online sales where people order through Amazon or direct from cons, like what's who is that consumer and how do they turn into money in your pocket?

james:

Gotcha. So yes, up until now, we've been predominantly online only. In fact, we primarily market through, um, a site called drive through R PPG. And it's basically the, it's like the Amazon of online role playing games. Like if you wanna release a PDF. You generally will go there to release it. Hmm. Um, their cut is really small, so, and it, and, but their market is huge. Yeah. So it, basically, we see it as a win-win it's like a bulletin

Curt:

board almost. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Here's all this stuff in this field.

james:

Yes. Yes. And it helps we know members of the company to right.

Curt:

Um, well, it's all about relationships where we are.

james:

Yes. Yes. That's true. Um, but now that we're moving forward, we are exploring other options such as wholesale marketing to large game, uh, stores. Right. Getting conglomerates. Uh, but we're, we're working up to that. So first is, I mean, right now our website is, I mean, it's up yet? fair enough. Now you can't, if you go to drive through RPG right now and you search for freedom, squadron or pre Paragon say are available, but if you look at mob's world's publishing,

Curt:

whose job is that?

james:

Uh, oh, it's a, we have a company called a web Webre who is doing our website. Oh, okay. Building and they're basically taking some IMO material, uh, massaging it into the new site. Yeah. Graphics new everything. Fair

Curt:

enough. Yeah. Uh, just making sure you weren't slacking in your homework or something like that. Oh no. So Mo is really just on the launchpad. It's it's off the ground, but just barely. Yes. But I have a lot of opportunity. It seems like. And I, I think that notion of doing a game based training thing for crisis, uh, I, I think that's a winner, so you can have that for free So let's talk about your, your let's talk about. That young man. Where, where were you at? Uh, when you were that 10 year old boy reading the New York times every day. Oh

james:

man. Really? Where was, I hope that was one, yeah, public math, 1982. So then I was in, uh, Montgomery county, Maryland, and then just a few later moved to PG county, Maryland, which was a huge culture shock

Curt:

for, uh, how so kid. And, and what was that background? Were you military background with your family

james:

as well? Oh, no. Well, not really. My, my dad was in the military for figures, but I was preview. Yeah. I was along, he was along out by the time I was aware of it. Um, so yeah, it was a, um, I mean, I have to talk about demographics in my current field, so I had to think reality at the time as I went. Yeah. You said it was a big culture shock there? Yeah. I went from a, basically a, an affluent area to a very non-affluent area. Wow. So I went

through

Curt:

like, what did your folks split up or something like that or what

james:

happened? Um, well, my, my, my parents had already split up years before that. Okay. Um, now that you put me on the spot, I'm not entirely sure why my mother decided to move. Um, this was when I was in about fourth grade. I went from Aspert elementary in Montgomery county to Springdale lake elementary in prince George's county. And, uh, I'll be honest, those years from fifth to about 10th grade. Yeah. I was not happy. Yeah. Um, totally. I was not happy, depressed

Curt:

and. Frustrated with life. And that's part of these podcasts is like telling stories of people to overcome and find their special sauce, you know? Yeah. Yeah. And yeah. Uh, I'm sure whatever decisions fit into that for your mom, but you were, you were kind of, were you in the games world a little bit already then? Oh,

james:

no. I mean, aside from, well, I mean, entertainment, gaming, just for fun, like playing, I mean, I started playing DUNS and dragons in the eighties, early eighties. Yeah. So by then, I'd, I'd already picked it up and circum

Curt:

me a little bit. I, I strike you strike me as about the same age as me, but I don't even know 49. You're 49. I'm 47. Almost 48. So youngin. Yeah. So, um, so in 10th when you're 10 years old, you're what is that? That's you're like 1983 or something like that. Yeah. Somewhere 92, 83. Yeah. Big hair everywhere. Yep. That kinda stuff. Yep. Um, and so do, were you getting into trouble? Do you have siblings around that were

james:

not getting into trouble, but difficulty making friends? Yeah. I had a, did have a, I did make a small core group of friends when I moved that I still keep in touch with and I it's the value of friendship right there. Yeah. And I have a, I do have a twin brother. Okay. Um, identical. We actually, we don't know. Um, we, Tim close. Yeah. It's we never, we were, um, basically a knee high. We were exactly, it looked exactly alike, but now that. Adults. Yeah. Basically, if he came in the room and I wasn't in here, you'd think it was me, but that if you saw us standing to get next to each other, you could easily tell us about. Yeah. Yeah. Um, it turns out that, um, fraternal twins can look alike. Identical twins can look different a little bit. We'd have to have a DNA test to really figure it out. Sure, sure. Wait until I need a kidney transplant, right? Yeah. But I'll see what happens.

Curt:

So you get through that tough patch. Uh, were, were you a good student as well? Or was that part of your struggles? Like sometimes when you're don't have a lot of friends, you don't feel that love and in that status, I guess, right? Like, or whatever that you don't necessarily have a lot of motivation to take your studies seriously. And obviously you very smart, but

james:

yeah, that I, my, my academics tanked. So even God bless my mother, even though she's still alive, she's even shocked. She said, if someone told me fourth, fifth, 6, 7, 8, you know, so many grades that you were one day gonna be a retire from teaching from the air force academy. I would've said they were out of their damn line. Right. And you did, uh, what happened was I moved. Uh, struggled get to seventh grade. And one of my teachers, I wish I could remember his first name and I would give anything to find him again. Mr. Richardson. Yeah, he was a social studies teacher. He saw something in me. He saw you talk about me identifying what I like. Yeah. He saw it in me. Right. And I didn't kind of put it together and he

Curt:

helped me. He saw you more clearly than yes. You could see yourself at that time. Yes.

james:

Yeah. Yes. And that was kind of the start of kind of bringing me out of my, my, uh, shell. Yeah.

Curt:

And it wasn't just a snap either. Right? Like it it's a process. Yes. Takes a while to get into there and it, yes. Takes a while to get out.

james:

Um, I mean, I still, even up until graduating high school, I still struggled with mathematics and hard sciences, but history, civics, you know, I, I loved it English. I loved it. Yeah. Um, the story again, it was about the story that, that captured me. And

Curt:

so did you go straight into the military then? Or did you go to school for a while? Or what was your track after high school?

james:

Oh, so I went to, uh, I almost did join the military right. Of high school, but my parents discouraged me. Not that they, yeah. They said we don't mind you going to military, but we think you'd have more options if you went to college first. Yeah. And I turns out I did. So I went to, uh, university of North Carolina, Greensboro got a bachelor's degree in history and, uh, Just man, let me think. Public math. This is probably February or so. Right before I graduated in 94, there was an army recruiter set up in our version of the Laurie student center. Yeah. And he basically offered a deal. I couldn't refuse. He said, if you join the army, we will pay off your college loan. Right. Like reverse GI bill. Right. I'm like sign me up. And they did, I was five years of rolling in the mud, but I finished Miami term without a drop of college debt.

Curt:

And so you were just kind of, I guess for that early time, just a basic infantryman kind of thing.

james:

Oh, I was a, I was in Intel. I was a, I actually got, well, you said rolling in the mud. I didn't the, oh, everybody do that. Everyone rolls in the mud. Oh, fair. Um, so I mean the infantry certainly rolling it more, but I had my fair share of mud, like sleeping on hood, Hume, hoods under tarps and stuff like that. Um, so I was a, uh, selected to be Intel

Curt:

I should. And how did they select you? Like they give you some kind of a smart kid test or something like

james:

that, or, oh see, yeah. I'd had the, I had to take the, a fab test air force, basic aptitude battery. And they said, well, based on your score, your good, this, that, and the other. And, and I think Intel, it sounds like reading, writing, drinking coffee, and spending my mouth off, which was my four greatest skills. what I didn't know is I specifically wanted to be a, uh, um, now I can't remember the exact Moss N idiot, Shirley, a kind of geo politic. Collecting the information, looking at it and determining what it means guy. But somehow I got marked down to be, he looks like he might be good, a language let's make him a linguist. Hmm. So I got, um, against my will. You've never studied languages before. No, I'm I actually not very good at them. they sent me the language school and actually I raised a stink. Yeah. I said, this is not what I signed up for. And I went all the way to a, a sudden kernel level judge, not a judge lawyer. And, uh, they agreed that I had been enlisted in the wrong career field against my will. And I had been li and they said, we will let you change your career then. Okay. Except it'll be whatever the army tells you and you're gonna lose your college loan repayment. it's like, oh, well,

Curt:

alright. They can't make you, but they can have consequences. Yes. Well, I was just thinking to myself and, and please confirm, but to me the words that somebody chooses tell you a lot about the state of mind, even though it might almost sound like the same thing, uh, it really gives you a lot of clues about whether they're being aggressive or defensive or that kind of stuff.

james:

No. Yeah. Yes, yes. Um, so it prepared you. Yes. stop. Why actually remember that thought when we get to, if we talk about more about what I look for in a simulation, remember that thought later about watching people's reactions. Yeah. But the time being, I will note anyone who's prior military. Listening to this might go, oh, yep. Yep. You got law to this, that, and the other turns out I was a blessing in disguise. Right. Um, so I got picked for Persian firsti, which is Iranian and it's a sematic Lang should not a, I'm sorry, I can't believe. I just said that Arabic and is, and uh, um, Hebrew are somatic languages, right? Iranian or Persian firsty is an Indo-European language. So even though it's written in Arabic script, it's actually close to related to Latin, French and German. Oh, interesting. Like it's basically not related at all to Arabic. Huh. Um, so you realize that when you study it, as long as you know, the alphabet and you know, the grammar, it's just something about memorizing words. Huh. And what tripped me up learning languages before was gender like French? Sure. German I'd be like, is this AHI? Is this a she, but everything is an it in Persian. So you don't have to worry about that just, oh, now I wouldn't say graduated. I wasn't the most gifted linguist, but it kind of helped set me up with a, um, a, a focus if you will. So I spent more time than focusing on middle east, uh, politics, middle east intelligence issues carried over into when I switched to the air force. Um, I got picked up to be a, a middle east foreign officer name, change to international affairs specialist. Um, I didn't keep up with the language. The last time I officially tested with 2000, 2007 and I failed by one question. Okay. But then I got selected to go to Afghanistan for a year to train Afghans. Oh. And their, uh, language, the folks that I work with are TJI and uh, oh yeah. They spoke Darry, which was closely related to PCY and having that language background and that cultural background helped me, I guess you could say, do great things with the folks I was training. Yeah. Cause they trusted me more than the average

Curt:

American was Afghanistan and conflict at that time. Yes. Yeah.

james:

Yes. Oh, I was quite bitter. Um, last August. I felt like the, I was there for a year. I was there from October, 2013 to 2014. Don't regret that I went, got a nice medal out of it. Uh wouldn't want to go back. Yeah. But after the way things played out was like is the year of my life just thrown away. Yeah. Is now

Curt:

the way I look at it. Do you want, can we, can we talk about F Afghanistan? Sure. Like that was just current events. Not very long ago. Yes. It seemed to have forgotten, but, um, as you said, you know, a lot of people's efforts for, for 20 years were, were kind of just like throwing out the window. Um, how does, how did that make

james:

you feel? Um, on the one hand, terrible, on the other hand, they were still having the same problems. Almost

Curt:

better than another 20 years been doing it. Yeah. With

james:

it. So if anyone, I will say, um, if I was gonna dog out, uh, president Biden about anything, it would just be, I would've, if I could been a fly on the wall and gone back in time, I'd whispered in his ear and say, don't take any air assets out of Belo. Um, I'm sorry, Belo. That's an Iraq out of Bogram. Yeah. Until everyone's gone. Right. But you know, it is what it is. Uh, a lot of people don't realize also though, is it's unfortunate. We had, uh,

Curt:

yeah. Get your shit home first

james:

and then bail. Yes. Um, it's a shame that we had folks, uh, killed. Um, yeah, but the, um, ultimately we're glad we're out of there. Yeah. A, uh, the, a retrograde or pulling out of an area is one of the most dangerous military maneuvers. So I wouldn't, that's not something I would blame unpleasant president Biden. President Trump could have suffered from that president

Curt:

Obama, anybody get beat up leaving. Yeah. Yep. Yep. So what do you see? I guess, two questions. What is the, the cultural dynamic in Afghanistan? We talked about. Arabs and Israelis and you're kind of a middle Eastern expert. Yeah. There's quite a few different tribes. Are they like, are they Arab background or they they're not Persians right in Afghanistan or what is their like heritage

james:

culturally? Well, they are, um, let's see, they have a whole bunch of ethnic groups, but I'd say the biggest ones would be Pune. Oh yeah. Uh Tajis. And most of the air force was Taji and that's who I worked with. And then you has BICS ha's, um, collage, um, BKI, other groups that I, I mean, I could

Curt:

keep going and are they all like, like we know the Taliban are like the fundamentalist Muslims, you know, no education for girls and all that. Are those other groups, are they religiously all Muslim? And the Talibans are just more extreme or are they not even all Muslims?

james:

Oh, right. So yeah, this is where it gets complex. You have, you have first you have the ethnic differences, then you have the linguistic differences, like past and Dory are not closely related to each other. So I didn't know a lick of passion. So I couldn't talk, I couldn't effectively interact

Curt:

with a person in one country. You've got all these

james:

different mileages. Yeah. Right. Uh, then you had the Shia and Sunni. Oh, right. And, uh, the Hazara, most of the Shia, if not all the, she were Hazara. Okay. And there were persecuted heavily there.

Curt:

So they're a SUNY dominant. Yes. SUNY very Sunni, which is like, I.

james:

Uh, no, Ron

Curt:

Ashia oh, Iran, Ash. Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah. Okay.

james:

Um, but, but actually that's where there's more complication because then I have, um, Taji who identified very strongly with Afghanistan, even though the idea of an Afghanistan was still somewhat foreign to many of them. Right. But you'd had you did, would have Darry speakers who still felt, uh, especially if they were, um, I'm trying to remember what city I wanna say has, um, I can't remember the name of the city. This is embarrassing. Oh, I'll keep it simple and say you did have some Darry speakers who did have Iranian backgrounds. Like they had family who lived in Iran and so they felt a very close connection to, uh, Persia to Persia. Yeah. Um, and so historically the, the, uh, Taliban was predominantly pass nor the Alliance was predominantly everybody else. Okay. Um, and that carried over fairly closely up until even when I was there. Yeah. By the time I left Theban were recruiting all over the place. Yeah. They had a better 401k plan basically better than

Curt:

the, uh, they had revenues and food. Yes, yes, exactly. Everybody else. Didn't exactly. It's persuasive. Uh, when you can get paid from one thing and not to the other. Right,

james:

right. And yeah, you would actually, we would debrief, um, former Taliban and they'd be. And you could actually see this play out another, not just Afghani. So you'd see a play in, in a rock. You'd see a play in any other state and they say, I'm not here because I want to be a terrorist I'm here because it's getting me

paid.

Curt:

Right. Um, what do you think you can't predict it? I know, but yeah, like, do you see the Taliban just kind of maintaining a stranglehold on Afghanistan for the foreseeable future? Is that, and, and what does that look like? Is everybody basically, are you just under their thumb? Yeah.

james:

Um, that's, that's, I've been struggling with that because, uh, the modern Taliban has really set the country back. The economies in the toilet, the treatment of, of women is, is just disastrous, disastrous. And the recent earthquake. When was this last week that killed last I saw was about a, a thousand people. It's probably way more than that now. Um, and they actually had to make a plea for an international aid to help. Wow. I, so

Curt:

on the one hand, yeah, you win. Yes. But what do you win? Right. We've got a bunch of weapons, uh, that we don't have any reason to use now. Right. Promise.

james:

Maybe I could sell 'em to Ukraine. Yeah. Yeah, my goodness. Um, I can't see. So I know Iran had somewhat medaled in affairs while we were there, but because we were seen as a, as a threat without us. um, I don't see anyone filling a vacuum. Right? Like I can see the tele. Nobody wants to play that.

Curt:

Yes. Game Russia has tried it. We've tried it Irans played a little bit like nobody wants to play. Right, right. So there, we, I guess just leave them to their own devices.

james:

Right. The problem with that though is, and we can go back to the, our first go there in 2001, a failed state is one of the worst things you could have in, in international politics. Right, right. Because it's a magnet for right.

Curt:

Criminal activity. Yes. Like Germany leading up to world war II. Right. Like the rest of Europe punished Germany so hard for world war I, that they, you know, were a failed state. They were the Warner Republic and whatever. Right. And they became very dangerous and vulnerable cause of

that.

james:

Right. Right. Yeah. Weak institutions. Hitler seemed like

Curt:

a good idea at the time. Yeah. When you're that

james:

desperate. Yes. Yes. Oh yeah. You get a situation like that, where you have someone. And we study this in my comparative authoritarianism class, a situation where institutions are weak security is low, um, economies in the toilet and you get someone comes along and knows how to say the right words like

Curt:

Germany six months from now. Yeah. we'll see. sorry. Flash ahead. Um, so I wanna get back to your career path a little bit, but I've just always been really interested in, in the middle east, in general and in Afghanistan more recently. And so thanks for sharing. Oh insights, you know, it'ss complicated from any angle, right? So you progress along kind of in, uh, after you get back from Afghanistan, were there any major, like career turns that are worthy of, of note, um, were you already instructing at the air force before then?

james:

Oh, yes. So I, uh, um, I should actually explain how I got into that. Yeah, maybe so, um, and this is actually, if I may, this is actually related to what got me into gaming because I carried over into my instructing career. Okay. Yeah. So fast forward from just hobby gaming and playing video games to 1997. So there I was a specialist in the army being considered for Sergeant. So they given me more responsibilities. And one of the responsibilities was, can you lead training next week? Can you put together training exercise? And I said, sure. And we did it. And everyone, they said, not only was it useful, it was the best training ever. Yeah. They said it was really fun. Yeah. You get that stink on you. And it they'll just say, can you build more of it? Yeah. Um,

Curt:

people start believing in you and then you start believing in yourself. Yes. And then it makes a lot of things

james:

easier. Yes. And what helps in my case, having a long history of, again, keeping it with a human story made me, I'd say reasonably competent at thinking on my feet. Like if I saw people reacting a certain way, well, how can I respin the scenario. To either lighten up the load here, add a little more tension there and so on. Yeah. Interesting. And then, um, let's see, where was I going with this? Oh yeah. So fast forward then into, in 1999, I switched from the army to the air force. Yeah. You know, with a degree they paid off, paid off my loan, but I thought, yep. At this point, I think I wanna make a career, but I don't want to be in the army anymore. Yeah. And there was a night I was working shift late shift in the army and a friend of mine said, well, he was thinking about playing for the air force officer training school. I said, you could do that. So yeah. As long as the first Lieutenant Colonel in your chain of command approves, you can go to any officer program. You don't have to go to the army. And that opened up a, just

Curt:

a window. And since you had a college degree, you were qualified, right? Yeah. Like you could either go to the academy or you can go to reg traditional college and

james:

officer. Yes. Um, so with a degree, I went to, uh, officer shooting school in Maxwell air force base, Alabama. I was actually released for my army enlistment a few months early to do do it because I had a class open, literally three days, one day I signed outta the army, drove across the lines, signed the air force. And it was a huge culture shock, um, state Intel. They said, they told me that they said in the air, the way the army was gonna do it, they said are, if you go to officer Canada school, we're gonna make you infantry, Calvary or armor or artillery. I'm like, I don't wanna be a combat arms. I like killing people with my brain. Right. But air force was. Almost guaranteed if you're Intel,

Curt:

unless you're flying. Yes. You're not really in grave danger. right,

james:

right. And they said, yeah, they, they, they gave me some assurances that if you were already Intel, we're gonna make you Intel again, nice. Or a close basket of fields. And that's what happened. They said, yeah, we're gonna, they made me Intel. I went to Intel school for a year in the air force and then, uh, started my first assignment. And then yeah. Kept doing, yeah.

Curt:

I looked at your experience in the LinkedIn and it was like the few things that you've got listed and it's like click to show 25 more experiences. And you just kind of climb the ranks yes. With like annual promotions basically for 25 years in the airport. Yes,

james:

yes. Yeah. It was crazy. Um, uh, what's from, I call it, but I, you know, I, I crossed over still with that training experience. So now the air force is, Hey, could you run a training event? And I'm like, absolutely. And I kept doing it, kept enjoying it. And still to this date, the biggest one I've ever run was in the air force. And it was almost 20 years ago. No, not that long. Yeah. 2005, 5,000 people. I had to script the entire exercise, train all of the referees. Wow. Figure out how we're gonna collect all the data on it, how we're gonna present the data back, ran for a week involved. Uh, not just military personnel, but people from rapid city like police firefighters. Other medical facilities off base. Yeah. And, uh, basically I'm like, God, if I can run a training, exercise, this big, I can run one

Curt:

from anybody. So we I've described, if you've listened, I know you've listened to a few of the podcasts I've described. How else? Relational intelligence at times. And the there's, there's two types that strike me there for that kind of thing. There's the visionary that kind of is the, the, the, the thinker, the idea type. They can imagine things, but they usually aren't very good at the details. And then there's the planner organizer that doesn't usually have as many ideas. And then we, they also work in polarity. So most people have two essence. And I'm wondering to myself, if you're a white blue, which would have like the big ideas and the planning and organization brain to pull it off,

james:

uh, or who are you? What, that's a good question. Um, so yes, I do remember you talking about that? I would say I'm good at the visionary, a decent at the organization, but I'm not, I definitely you'll find joy in it. I need to find have somebody with me. Yeah. Who can that's MEMA. Yeah. So like, almost like I, I can get up and tell the story, but I might forget something. Right. I need somebody help me to remember what I forgot

Curt:

at that moment. Yes. Yes. Fair enough. So, um, so you, you really build a reputation. Oh, I wanted to ask another question because one of the things that has, has drawn me to this halos is, is it's building on my strengths. I think, I think I, so I was, uh, five foot one until I was through my sophomore year of high school. So I was, I was Kurt, the squirt for like, from fifth grade, until 10th through 10th grade, I really didn't grow. I grew like an inch or two inches or something. And then I got like a late puberty basically. Right. Um, but I credit that time, you know, I wouldn't take it back because I, because of, you know, what was frankly kind of a handicap in some ways in a, in a subject of being bullied and picked on and, and certainly not getting very many dates cause all the girls were eight inches taller than me. Um, but do you credit some of that time that struggle back in those middle school and high school days with giving you that interest in understanding people and building relation, maybe not building relationships as much as, as that understanding that what seemed like it was a challenge was something that made you stronger even then?

james:

Yes. A hundred percent. Absolutely. Um, cuz it hurt, it hurt to go from a place where I had a strong group of friends to somewhere where all of a sudden I'm being picked on. Right. Mercilessly. Right. Um, just because I was not from there. Yeah. And I'm like, it made me think, um, I mean, I'm sure there's other catalyst moments besides just that, but thinking that life is just too short to just hate people. Right. Um, and, and I can think in my entire life, there are only because of my viewpoint change that I generally like everybody, there's only two people that I found. So thoroughly distasteful that I just could not be around them no matter what,

Curt:

it's a pretty small list for me as well. Yeah. yeah. And when somebody doesn't like me or seems to not like me, which, which happens especially more modern days when your viewpoints is a reason to hate you, um, like it hurts my feelings. I'm like, well, why don't you like me? Like, I like everybody just about, you know, so, um, I guess let's talk, is there, is there other highlights, like I want to not spend too much time in the career cuz this is kind of a business and also ideas podcast and things. Yeah. So I actually wanna spend a lot of time in the, the area of business applicable crisis stuff. I wanna spend a lot of time in politics because I know that you've got some deep knowledge in there, those areas. Yeah. And I don't know much, but I like to talk a lot. And so like talk to me about that career progression. Like is, was there, there major moments along the way where you made big impacts? You said 5,000 people in one game that's like huge. Yeah. So

james:

many. See that was, uh, describe

Curt:

that to me a little bit. Can you, oh, it was just, uh,

james:

or are you loud? Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, cuz it. The broad shift of it. It was just, just a pleasant, mad house. Just all sorts of things going on. Oh. Because it's not just a, it wasn't just the game element. Like I E you know, I'm gonna put out the scenario, test somebody's response to it. It is people actually had to go out and do their job, like, right. Like, oh, we need to test a bomb, run a B one bomber had to go take off to a range and drop a bomb. Oh, interesting. Or a firefighter would actually have to go put out a fire on the training range, that sort of thing. So people were practicing their real, their real world skills. Um, and so that was,

Curt:

well, if you think about it, like the mass response, like things like firemen have enough to do and police have enough to do and stuff like that under normal circumstances. Yeah. And if like missiles start hitting apartment buildings, like is happening in Ukraine and things like that, like then what's the response who does what yeah. Right. And generally people will pick up and do what's necessary kind of, but that, that isn't the most efficient or the most effective way of managing

james:

that kind of situation. Yes, exactly. It's it helps in the initial stage, but at some point you have to have professionals take over. Otherwise you might be putting people at risks because you have, um, the whole, like, too many, uh, cooks in the kitchen kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. Um, um, I'm trying to, I want to expand on that a little bit.

Curt:

Well, people are bumping into each other kind of and stuff like that is that, so yeah, people,

james:

uh, yeah, people bumping into each other, um, uh, they might, you know, jump out of the car to pull someone from a building, but then accidentally their car is blocking the fire truck. That's coming down the road. Um, someone who's not trained to do a skill ends up hurting the myself or somebody else. Um, or in the case of actually just reading about this in Ukraine, the, uh, I'm volunteering to go support my country, which is great. And I'm certainly on the side of Ukraine, but they have a lot of people now getting killed Ukraine, average Ukrainian citizens, because they don't have the training. Right. They're getting thrown basically thrown into a meat grinder. Right. And they're not professional soldiers.

Curt:

right. So, so they're facing far more casualties than they should. Yes. Yes. Yeah. What's the answer to that though?

james:

Um, that's

Curt:

a great question. Well, here, I mean, let's talk about Ukraine. Can we talk about Russia, Ukraine, cuz I've been watching. I wrote a couple months ago actually in my blog about how basically because of its overreliance on wind, especially wind solar and then subsidized, well supplanted by rushing gas, Germany's been able to keep its energy costs relatively affordable, but it's not gonna stay that way. And like it's obvious now that it's like 300% of average. manufacturing areas. You know, whether it's heat or electricity, both of those things are necessary for almost all manufacturing, which is crucial to underpinning the German economy. Mm-hmm mm-hmm and Russia's shutting off their pipeline for 10 days for quote unquote maintenance here next week. And the theory was that, or the notion that, that this writer expressed was that either Europe needs to get in and go kick Ukraine's as, or slowly die as the stranglehold of this works out. Because right now there's a there's sanctions on Russian oil. Mm-hmm So India and China are buying the shit outta Russian oil at a discount, which enhances their ability for their manufacturing centers to compete for that energy intensive process against Europe, especially Germany in the us. Uh, so it, it doesn't play out very well. Like I'm not really liking the direction it's going, but it's in the rubles at seven year highs. Like you don't read that in the newspaper, but like it's, we're not strangling the Russian economy, but these sanctions, in fact, we're giving a competitive advantage to our enemies or our quasi. Not that Friendlys

james:

well, okay. So yeah, there's a couple layers here first. Yeah. Sanctions only work if basic there. Multi-lateral like everybody has everybody has to be on board. Yes. So, yeah. As long as there's now a market, if, if China and India can buy, then the sanctions, then they're screwed. Right.

Curt:

I mean, it can make things in more. It works on North Korea. Yeah. right. Like it works in that case if everybody's on board, but

james:

even with North Korea, the, um, um, well,

Curt:

China obviously rate them.

james:

That's all it takes. I mean, I remember, uh, Kim, um, Kim, Jon El, not the, the father of, of Kim Raban. Yeah. He, uh, he was, and he was able to import $400,000 worth of cognac every year. right. Despite sanctions. Right. So it really has to be a sanctions. Have to be, well, first it has to be multi lateral. You

Curt:

the people, well, which would only really be done through the UN in today's environment. Yes. Which I'm pretty sure Russia will vote veto that. Right. Right. And China's got eyes on Taiwan and so they probably might veto it too. Like everybody's scared to even bring it to the table because if Russia and China both veto it, then oh shit, we got real

james:

problems. Right. And it added the next layer. It has sanctions have to hurt the people that matter. I E right. If, if no one like

Curt:

North Korea, that's why seizing those yachts is actually probably more impactful than the oil price or the oil, uh, sale limits. Right.

james:

Right. So as long as if Putin is not directly threatened in any. Sanctions aren't gonna hurt. Aren't gonna hurt. 'em it's gonna hurt a lot of regular Russians. Yeah.

Curt:

But right. He don't care about that though. I mean, he does, but not that much. Yeah. so what would you do if you were like, so we're playing this game, we're in the European assembly in wherever Belgium, right? Is that where the headquarters is? Where the European union kind of meets and stuff? Oh,

james:

that's a, oh my goodness. Where does the

Curt:

European I'm pretty sure it's in Belgium somewhere. Okay. Uh, so anyway, yeah, so you're like, you're like there doing a, a game right. With, with Boris Johnson. If he's still there in three months, I get it with, with the new guy in Germany, whatever his name is. I forget. Right. Uh, yeah. How do, how do we respond? How does, how does the west respond to the current circumstances? Um,

james:

the, we, we have a, a catch here. The problem is, so if we don't do anything and Russia takes Ukraine, it's basically sending us signal to Russia that they can get away

Curt:

or whatever end of China, that they can take Taiwan on too. Yes

james:

but if we do something, I mean, we are, you know, providing material. Yeah. But there's that risk.

Curt:

Of like a real something yes. Becomes a nuclear incident potentially. Right.

james:

And it doesn't help that Putin has come out and hinted fairly strongly hinted his willingness to use nuclear weapons. Right. That's the, that kind of violated the nuclear taboo in many different ways. but like every scenario you run has to take that into consideration. Yeah.

Curt:

Um, so here's a scenario. Uh, what if Putin launches 17 nuclear weapons at Washington DC and only 15 of 'em get knocked down by star wars.

james:

Um, and then the same happens to us. Then we end up launching,

Curt:

we take it out. Yeah. Yeah. Um, but then what happens from there

james:

as both a political scientist and a private citizen, it's like, I don't even want to, I can't even

Curt:

fathom it can't happen, so let's not let it. Right.

james:

Um, but it could

Curt:

happen. It could, right? Like Putin's kind of on edge. He's not desperate anymore. It's almost better that he is not desperate. Like he can slow squeeze UNES and get it. Eventually if nobody acts a little more anymore, aggressively than they have so far.

james:

Right. And another layer here in this is something some people don't think about is that in the age of Intercontinental ballistic missiles, it doesn't have to be a nuclear weapon. You can put a conventional payload on it. and it'll do a world of hurt to a city, right? So you can put a plain, just a heavy metal slug on the end of it. and the kinetic impact is gonna have a world of hurt. Yeah. So this, if, if Russia just launched a single, um,

Curt:

yeah,

james:

non-nuclear missile non-curative missile on like say Seattle, right. And devastated heaven forbid the, the market where the fish are thrown. Right. It would be almost okay. Nuclear weapons is a lot, heck of a lot worse, but it's still sending a signal that we can reach out and hit the United States from

Curt:

anywhere. And do you think we can shoot down those missiles generally? Um,

james:

uh,

Curt:

not as well as we wish we could.

james:

That's probably not something I'm allowed to talk.

Curt:

Fair enough. like, that's my belief is like, yeah, I'm sure you could knock a lot of them down, but yeah. I don't think you can get 'em all, you know, anyway. Um, so that, I guess let's talk about other, like things that you studied in terms of intelligence. Mm-hmm like, what's the boots on the ground kind of stuff. Are you like, are you handling spies and things like that? Is that kind of part of that job? Oh, uh, honestly, are you just thinking about games and like understandings and describing scenarios and you're more of a backroom guy? I would say I

james:

would a. More of a, you could call it geo geopolitical guy. Yeah. I was interested in the grand narrative all the way down from tactical up to strategic level. Okay. So I was, you know, both, you know, what's happening in open source. IE, what do I see on the news? Yeah. Compared to then what's coming across in classified cables and I'm, so I'm trying to build this picture of like, basically behavior. Like why, why does Iran think the way they do, what does Russia think the way they do? Yeah. You know, and so when I get up to brief a commander, um, I become the leader of Iran. I become the leader of Russia.

Curt:

So I imagine of Vladimir Putin that has basically been like gleefully watching the climate change movement kind of play out led by Europe and the Paris Accords and Greta and things like that. And setting himself up for this moment. Do you, is that like what he's thinking? Uh,

james:

yes. Uh, so in some ways this invasion is a culmination of many, many years of preparation. Yeah. But at the same time, um, didn't play out as well as he thought, right?

Curt:

Like, yeah. He suffered some terrible losses. I'm not pretending that he's winning or that it's been easy or anything like that. I, I wrote in my blog a couple months ago that the seeds of this war were planted by the Fukushima, uh, title wave or whatever that was. What do they call him over. Oh sun, uh, tsunami. No, not tsunami. Yeah. Tsunami. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. You know that Germany almost immediately started shutting down their nuclear reactors mm-hmm and that was basically the, the, that plus the green effort at climate change is what has given Russia, all its leverage and given Germany, all its woes.

james:

See if you have an, a world comedy that economy that's dependent on a specific resource, the no amount of like, well, let me I'll clarify. I like the idea of moving away from dependence and fossil fuels mm-hmm but what I like doesn't matter if the world is being held hostage right.

Curt:

So we use too much energy to make that transition yet. Yeah. Yeah. And it's growing all the time, how much energy we need and I've been notioning that energy is basically money. Like more like money in some ways than money is because at least you can't just like print energy. Like you have to go dig something out or burn it. But energy consumption is highly highly correlated with standard of living. Yes mm-hmm And so that's part of my, my suffering and I, I don't wanna see the world go to hell a ham basket either. Right? Like I, I like the world where we have seasons and not too many tsunamis and stuff, but we have a whole bunch of poor people in India and Africa and China and. South America everywhere. Right. Even in the United States, like if energy is that highly correlated with standard of living, if you say we're gonna cap energy consumption per capita, right. Where we are, well, all the rich energy people are gonna have to give up a whole bunch of energy to all the poor energy people, or we're gonna have to develop a whole new paradigm or something's gonna break

james:

right. Or rethink about what wealth means, right. Like, yeah. Do you, I like, um, for example, Mike, actually my wife and I purposely live in us, you know, I retired, we just, we have a smaller house. Yeah. Um, it's easier to maintain easier to heat, easier, cheaper to cool. Yep. Um, so when I, if I see someone, uh, talk at me, I love a, I love a good cabin in the woods, but when, you know, I remember reading several years ago about, you know, someone that owned this nice cabin in Montana and they spent, I don't think I'm exaggerating by saying they spent like $4,000 a month on utilities just to maintain it. Right. And they only visited it twice a year. right. I'm like,

Curt:

yeah. At least utilities and maintenance or something like that. Yeah. Right. yeah. No, I, I feel you. Well, that's one of my notions lately is that there's no real, like there's no politically correct way to live. Hmm. And still, you know, just whittling things underneath the tree that you grew. Yeah by yourself, you know, if you like to travel, oh, that's terrible. You know, if you, like, if you'd like to have a boat, a wakeboard boat, you know, the resources that you're gonna burn with that thing, you know, whatever private planes, I'd love to have a private plane, but that's assassinating the economy or the, the greenhouse gases footprint. Right. so, anyway, I digress. Um, and I think it does start with culture, right? Either we have to use, you know, we can persuade with, with understanding, or we can persuade with iron fist, you know, right now the, like if we have, I, I really think the best way to deal with carbon is to put a, the carbon tax and dividend system into place. Have you heard what that's all about?

james:

Um, yes, but how should I say some how sanction its work. It needs to, like, there has to be some sort of, um, global adaptation. Yeah. Global adaptation and people have to come to the table. The sense of fairness or the sense of, yeah. Like, um,

Curt:

oh, we're gonna do, if you do the same tax on every industry, it's gonna really affect some people differently in the others or

james:

that, or let me think of a, let think of a better way of saying it. Um, let do fairness. Isn't that the right word, a sense of, of. Um, injustice or working like collaboration. Oh, okay. I like that better collaboration or a sense that we, we are working towards a goal. Like I, we want to reduce carbon emissions. So cap and trade is useful for broadly speaking, making sure that two different parties or three different parties are for don't reduce. Yeah. Don't produce too many. But if, basically, if I give up my emissions only for state

Curt:

B, it's too much control though. It's too much fixing cap trade is different than what I'm talking about. What I think would be better because it would affect. Yeah, please. Um, because it would affect people's behavior less is if you just had a per ton carbon tax, uh, okay. Every dollar. Got it. Yeah. That would, that, that country charge would go back to its citizens and dividends equally dispersed dividends for every person that was adult age. Okay. Gotcha. And that way you make carbon cost more the, for reducing demand for carbon, at least at some level mm-hmm but you don't like give an agency the power to be the decider of who gets juice or who doesn't get juice and who caps and who trades and right. That like, that just gives too much power to too terrible of people

james:

right. In my mind. Okay. Yes. So, um,

Curt:

not something you've studied maybe too much. Yeah. I'll admit that. How do we fix it? Like you said, I'm a fan of, I, oh, that's a bigger question, but like how do we fix the culture to be people. Care more about the quality of our relationships or the, you know, how many walks we take, you know, or, or whatever. Like it, it has to be pretty deep.

james:

Right. Contrast. So, yeah, first yeah, apologies so much to the listeners that I misunderstood. The, um, uh, so I've N this some in terms of a us context, and actually I have a couple of, you know, CSU department of political science has a heavy focus on environmental politics. Sure. Yeah. So I'm somewhat like the, the mascot that I'm not part of the environmental politics arm of it fair, but I certainly am part of the, the dis listening on the discourse of what they have to share. Sure. Um, the, uh, think in the us context, a, a culture of the car, right. And also then the tyranny of distance, uh, like for just two days ago, reading about what it would take to have a high speed rail, the United States. And it's like, you're talking about distance techno distances that make it very, um, very expensive compared to say Japan,

Curt:

well, you could get mass adaptation, then it'd be workable. Right. Have to be,

james:

um, I'm not into a car. So if it was a, let's say we had mass adaptation in cities or corridors, like, so like, um, I'll pick on Houston. I've never been to Houston, so I don't know any better. So let's improve the mass transit in Houston, like more light rail or. Awesome sauce. Okay. Now what it'll it take to get from Houston to new Orleans? Right. Okay. Now a distance is bigger. Um, what is it gonna take from Houston to Los Angeles with some sort of rail high speed rail, right. More tectonic, vast, uh, distances and techno tectonic issues. And then it's still a, um, now maybe somebody in the, the comments can for the show could say, uh, emissions for a rail aren't so bad. Um, but it still incurs a huge cost. Sure.

Curt:

Um, and actually, plus there's a taking of private property to build all these rails and things. Right. But, you know, railroads move heavy things around way cheaper than trucks do. If it's going that way, although trucks are capturing more and more market share because it's all about going that way tomorrow. Right. and that's what people want too. Right. And so that's, that's kind of the challenge and nobody wants to ride the bus you know, it's, it's, uh, I was just musing on the notion of drive till you qualify. I don't know. I was in banking for a long time. And so that was like, can't afford a house in Fort Collins. Well, you can move to Milliken. Uh, but now it's like, well actually the money I save in my mortgage, I spend on guests. Right. So how do we, you know, and certainly I think there's a benefit. Like one of the, there's been many benefits of this COVID thing. Mm-hmm certainly one is the ability to do remote work easier for many people,

james:

right? Yep. Oh yeah. That's actually been one of the, the, I feel bad. One of the blessings in disguise for me for the age of COVID has been the, the whole ization. I just made up a word of work. Yeah, for sure. How easy it is to run a class. How easy, easy to go to a conference, you know, from an office that is basically built to my specification in my

Curt:

little. Okay. So I'm gonna take a peak behind the curtain of planning a crisis response. Ooh game. Okay. Um, this is a totally imaginary crisis response. Uh, not really mm-hmm um, but let's say the recession doesn't or the inflation rate doesn't really get hampered by the interest rate raises just lately that supply chain disruptions energy cost increases continue to find inflation eating away at, uh, both expenditure abil, you know, expenditure ability of consumers, which then eat a way at business sales ability and all these things. Right. The economy has a major contraction. Let's call it a 10 to 20% contraction, uh, starting in the fall of 20, 22. We got a little contraction going on now. Yeah. Um, how does one build a game? And I know you're not really a numbers guy, right? Like, so some of this is finance and some of this is psychology. How does, how does one design a game to help my members, the local think tank local businesses like prepare for such a circumstance. Right?

james:

Well, the actually the very, very first step, like you've kind of described the,

Curt:

so lay the setting,

james:

the setting set the stage. Yes. You've set the stage, but I would have to go to a client and say, what is your objective? Like, why do you want to measure, um, inflation rates? So that's not a

Curt:

really good example. Oh no. It's,

james:

it's no, it's a fantastic, it's a fantastic setting, but to build it,

Curt:

to build, oh, why it matters for their business. Yeah. Why it

james:

matters for their business. Right. Because if I built, I can build a, so you

Curt:

can't do the same game for 10 different clients because it's gonna have a diff disparate impacts on each of their businesses. Correct. Just like COVID lockdowns did. Correct. Just like the war for labor does now. Correct.

james:

So the shape might look the same, but if I build a, the perfect sandbox, I I'm trying to measure all the things related to COVID related to inflation related to, um, um, supply chains and whatnot. Yeah. It's not it. Uh, it's not re still can't, it's not really readily tailored to any one. Um, organization. Yeah. So I might be able to have this kind of idea of a sandbox in the back of my mind, but before I run anything, I have to know what's the objective of your game.

Curt:

So when I was at the bank, um, early in my career, I moved here in July 99. And one of the first things we did was work on the disaster recovery plan because January 1st, 2000 or 2000 was coming, what was that called? Oh, Y2K Y2K.

james:

Oh, memories.

Curt:

Crisis. Yeah. Um, and so, you know, we had this disaster recovery plan. I'm thinking that in some ways a crisis response plan is somewhat the same mm-hmm and it, and as you have just alluded to, there's a lot of difference between different kinds of businesses. Yep. You know, with local think tank, like we could have remote meetings if coronavirus sets in, for example, or whatever. Right. Or hybrid things like that. Are there like principles of crisis response or even like, frankly, my members generally are pretty small businesses. They don't have the budget to hire you or your team to come out and do a, a workshop with them. But like, what are the things that they should be thinking about when they're thinking, I need to imagine a disaster, a crisis or circumstance, like, as you start with, like, what are the things that could happen or, or what are the things that could happen that could really

james:

hurt you? Oh yeah. So your objective could. um, we cannot, let's say we, um, we are gonna run a game to ensure that we maintain market share. That's kind of a, a broad objective there. Okay. It could be, we need a game to test our ability to respond to a major storm. Okay. Yeah. And like, and how quickly people could.

Curt:

Yeah. Well, in the bank it was like a tornado takes up the bank. Yeah. How do people get their money out of the bank?

james:

Right. Right. Um, and so it really depends. Yeah. So, yes, because you're right. I wanna go back to something, you just said someone who's, um, full remote work, like a game that's tests, your, um, supply chain issues probably isn't as useful as testing your, well, how do you, what do you do if the power goes up, right? Like I need to find a way to hurt. Like what's gonna hurt your business. We're remote only we need, we de we need access to the internet or some sort of telecommunication. Therefore that's our weak point. We're gonna test that weak point. That's

Curt:

what it comes down to. Yeah. Look thinking about the things that can hurt you. Yeah. So if you're a manufacturer or a supply chain might be one of the big things though. Yeah. Nothing in the door. Yes. There's nothing out the door.

james:

Right. Or if you're a, um, yeah. Manufacturing is multi-layered, it could be, are we getting the parts needed to make something? Can we get the employees in to actually build the product? Can we, right. There's all these different ways you could test it.

Curt:

Yeah. And service businesses are a little simpler because it's like. You know, go do the thing, try to capture some margin on it and whatever, but

james:

yeah. Yeah. Um, or for a, like, let's say a realtor, I might say, um,

Curt:

interest rates go way up and nobody's buying new homes. Yeah. So what do you do? And you're a first home homeowner guy. Yeah.

james:

yep. Yep,

Curt:

exactly. Okay. And so then you start going through that kind of analysis of that and like, what's your process? How do you, like we use the Socratic method basically in our local think tank chapter meetings, where we try to pull that situation apart and understand what the consequences might be and give ideas and suggestions. How do you like it's one thing to know that your business is gonna be heavily impacted by a rising interest rate environment. Therefore there's gonna be much lower mortgage activity or sales activity. So then what,

james:

all right. So, um, my free advice to all the small businesses out there is to be so basically look at is your, what is your core unique selling proposition? And let's take that, that unique selling proposition that let's make that your game objective. Like we do this, what is everything that's gonna threaten that? So this could be as simple as just have a brainstorming session where you draw your, write out your uniques selling proposition in the center of the board and just start writing around it. If this happens, that happens, that happens. That happens. We are in a world of hurt. Then the next question is, okay, knowing that, what processes do you have in place for preventive that? Yeah. Um, and you might find that you don't have any processes, which is your opportunity to build something. Um, you might find that this is a factor out of our control, knowing how can we work around it? Um, the worst case, and I run to this all the time is yes, we have standard operating diseases for it, but it's been on a shelf for three years and nobody knows what they are. Yes, yes. So you need to practice for it and then actually write down your lessons learned and then actually keep practicing it don't wait.

Curt:

Yeah. well in practicing costs money though. Well, that's the thing, right? Like I've, I've got, if I'm a bank from my past career and I've got 10 employees, you know, either have to have them come in before hours or after hours and I'm paying 'em all, but I guess that's better than failure.

james:

Yes. Um, I, I do wanna add, so this doesn't have to be expensive, so like I could sit three or four people around a table and just talk through something it's called a tabletop X. Oh, right. Just have a discussion.

Curt:

If this happened, what would we

james:

do? Right. What should we do? And it's actually a great way to tease.

Curt:

Processes. And so in some ways you're kind of a facilitator. Yes. Like you don't know enough about their business to really like, be like, here is your problem. Here is your solution. You're not that kind of a consultant. You're more of a facilitated conversation. Let's understand your business enough to know where your vulnerability are and then you guys' expertise and, and gals is gonna be what helps us build a plan. Right.

james:

Exactly. Yeah. That's interesting. Um, but in terms of like, it, we don't have time. We don't have the money. I, any, any CEO that's listening to this right now, remember those words and then repeat them to yourself, what an actual crisis happens and you have not planned for it. Yeah. And it's gonna cost you a lot more time and a lot more money at that point.

Curt:

So, um, I'm sure you're familiar with the term black Swan. Yes. Um, do you see any black swans flying around right now? Like we talked about some already, like, oops, we had to shut the Nord stream off for six weeks. Not 10 days. Right. Things like

james:

that. Um, well let's see first to define a black Swan.

Curt:

like something nobody can see coming. Yeah. No one can see,

james:

although I would argue against that. That's not true.

Curt:

No. Actually I created in the mortgage crisis and things like that. Yeah. Like they argue that those are black swans. Well, most people didn't see it coming.

james:

Yes. Um, the, uh, I actually created a, a mathematical model to describe a black Swan back in 2016 when I was working at the 25th air force. And it's not a remember, I'm not a skilled mathematician. Right. And it was a, um, it wasn't a mathematical model that was meant to solve. It was meant to illustrate. Yeah. And the mathematical model suggests all the black Swan is you have multiple games are even played simultaneously, but any given person is only watching one of those games. Someone has to know what all the layers look like. Yeah. So if you have a, uh, um, like a team of analysts or somebody who are like, you have somebody focusing on politics, someone focusing on energy, someone focusing on and they actually talk to each other, you're more likely to see if black someone coming where I've seen it fail before is like, you'll have like a, doesn't talk to B and B. Doesn't talk

Curt:

to C totally. Yeah. FBI guys all pretty much think the same. If you want to get some real intelligence in there interview some people that have different perspectives and right. Whatever. Yes. Yeah.

james:

That's an interesting thing. Oh. And actually, um, if I may sure that's actually, I'm gonna give out one of the best pieces of advice I ever received in Intel. And this is something I tell all my students. Okay. Um, when it comes. Forecasting event, thinking about a black Swan and thinking about the human element. Never ever think like yourself think like the other person, if you ever say, but I would never do it that way. You're right. You wouldn't. Yeah. But the other person would, and if you don't put yourself into the shoes of your target. Yeah. And when I say target, it could be both an opponent and a friend. Yeah. Like getting to know your friends better. Like when we work with our allies, mm-hmm we wanna know more about them. So we don't like accidentally cause an international incident talking to them. Right. You'll if you think about like yourself a hundred percent of the time, you'll constantly be caught off guard. Huh. And you'll constantly let yourself

Curt:

down. Well, and uh, I described myself, uh, a little bit as that thinker idea guy and was asking if you're more like that, the vision guy, the planner organizer. I think you're more what we call a brown, the intake integrator. Like that gets deep information from all the different areas and studies it and figures out how it's all working. Oh yeah. Okay. And that's at least part of your wiring. Yeah. So my wife and I she's, she's the organizer planner. And we had a thing where I have all these ideas and that really challenges her because she's got our plan world kind of planned and everything sorted. So if I bring new things into it, then she's got like organize that too. Right. Um, and so I was taking your advice. I was thinking, well, think like the. that I'm an antagonist against. And, and though I love her. Sometimes I'm an antagonist with my wife. You probably are too. You contend with one another is a better word. And so for her to really feel valued by me, in some respects, I might kind of honor her notions of thinking style mm-hmm and who she is in the way that I approach my interactions. You know, if I, if I actually take the trouble to plan something special for us, since I don't really plan nothing, like, that actually does make a difference. Like she likes that even though she's pretty much the planner for our family, but that's a value of hers. And so like I evidence something that she values by my behavior. Yes. Yeah. I think like the person that you're contending with and whether, and that's also like your boss too, right? Like if you're going to ask your boss for a raise, like your boss doesn't really care how hard you work, your boss cares what outcomes you get for the time that you put in and things like that. And so focusing on those positives of what your boss cares about is way more important than you not feeling valued in your job or whatever, right? Yeah. Yeah. Positive. Negative. Yeah. So we always talk about faith, family and politics in this show. Mm. You ready? And which one would you like to start with? Oh, family. Okay. Let's talk about your family. What's your wife's name? Kelly. And where we, we went through your kind of career progression, but we didn't really talk. Where you fell in love and stuff. Oh, wow. When was that?

james:

This was March of 1992. Whoa. My twin brother invited me to visit his college. He went to a little college called Seton hill. Hmm. Not Seton hall. Seton

Curt:

hill. Oh, gotcha. I was like, I think I've seen him play the NCAA tournament a few times. Yeah. yeah.

james:

This a it's a little, it's a little college at the time. It was, um, almost entirely women, 800 women and only 20 men. Oh boy. Men were only emitted to the theater program. This is I so only if they were gay, basically. Sorry, I don't know what, geez. I don't know what the, I don't know what the story was behind it, but anyway, I see being a young man. I thought that's a, I can't pass that up. That's rich hunting grounds right there. Yes. And he wanted to, um, he wanted to actually introduce me to my wife's roommate. Wouldn't you know, I met my wife first. He, she, during the introductions and he yeah. Says, and this is Kelly, so, ah, yeah, it was like a, well, oh, that's a kicker. I met her and I thought, oh, she seems really nice. She met me. She said the moment she saw me walk into the cafeteria and saw me walking towards them. She said, that's the man I'm gonna marry. Well, even though I said my twin brother and I aren't that

Curt:

first women are weird. Like, like my wife told her mom, like after our first date, I think I'm gonna marry this guy.

james:

Yeah. Yeah. So we, uh, the thing is, so she went to college in Pennsylvania. I went to college in, in, uh, North Carolina thought oh, long distance, but we kept in touch. Yeah. We liked each other that much. Yeah.

Curt:

Email was new. That was easy. Yeah.

james:

Oh, I didn't. Oh, 90, 92. This was still snail mail. Um, oh really? Oh yeah. So at least I couldn't afford emailed that point. I don't know, but we sent letters and here's the advantage. So we, for the next two years, we really only interacted through letters. Wow. So means we had, could only get to know each other through the word and phone calls, phone calls. Right. But not physical interaction. Right. So we got to know each other as people minus the whole 20 temptations

Curt:

and challenges and other opportunities and all

james:

that. Yes. And then, so what it came down to, we were joking around and playing a game just called mostly rated PG. They PG, I said, ask me a question. And she said, okay, will you marry me? And I hammed and hawed. And in the back of my mind, I realized, I, I can't think of a reason to say no, um, she doesn't like it when I put it that way, because it sounds like, oh, you're looking for alter, but I would like, I'm like, no, why would I not want to marry her? Right. And I think you're the most best. Yes. Yeah. Asbestos and wouldn't, that's cool. It blows my mind. Like she still has a photo. She keeps in her wallet of the weekend that she met me. and we've been through. Yeah. You know, I joined the military two months after. Wow. We got married. Wow. And then she's been with me the entire time that I got out and we're here and it's like, life was a huge, strange trip and we

Curt:

stayed together. So was Kelly from here in Fort Collins or what was it that wanted her to move you guys up to here when you were done with your military career? Oh,

james:

so, oh yes. So we, we just got moved all over. Most of the United States. I never yeah. Got permanently except for Afghanistan. Yeah. I never went to Germany or Korea or anything like that. Um, which was unusual. And, uh, she didn't really, she did not want to go back to the east coast with too expensive to crowded. Uh, the, um, and I even, I don't like I'm from originally from Maryland and I like, I'll be there in a few weeks for a business trip and I'm like, it's okay to visit for a few weeks and see my brother and my mother but I'm like, I can't imagine living here plus a humidity. What is that? I haven't felt humidity in like decade. So, um, we, uh, she said, I don't really want to go back to the east coast, but there's no place we've lived since we've been in that I want to really wanna go back to. Right. But, um, and she definitely didn't want to, uh, stay in either color of Springs or, uh, or, um, castle rock, which was the last place I lived. Mm-hmm um, before retiring. Short

Curt:

note, castle rock seems less bad, but yeah, kind

james:

of boring compared, so it was a 30 minute drive to YFA, but it was nice in the morning. All the traffic was going north in the evening, all the traffic's going south. Right? Yeah. So it was a pretty easy drive and beautiful. Yeah. Yeah. Very beautiful. Um, well anyway, I'm getting ready to retire and it was this probably maybe about a year away. And, um, it was, we always loved the Pacific Northwest. Mm. Like we love Eugene Portland, Seattle. Yep. Same. But uh, a friend of mine, we were, I was having a lunch at the academy with some colleagues and they, I, when I was describing the kind of place I wanted to live, I said, I wanna live in a, you know, college town, you know, nice, you know, a little bit of theater, some books, um, a, uh, um, a night life that it's that older people can enjoy. Right. You know, and actually I could talk more about that in terms of Fort Collins in a second. Um, and I'm, I lean left, but I like, you know, mixed opinions. So, yeah. Um, so I basically at college town, I wanna live in Collins town. Yeah. And I said, we've been looking at Eugene, Oregon university of Oregon. Yeah. And they said, have you ever thought about Fort Collins? And for whatever reason, we had never come up here. Yeah. We thought Fort Collins. Uh, Colorado state.

Curt:

I don't know. It's like Colorado Springs except for smaller. Yes. Well, I, it's not

james:

true at all. Yes, exactly. I took him up on his offer and it was actually my son and I came up here first. Coincidentally, two weeks after that conversation, there was a, uh, game convention in Loveland, VIN con it's a retro video game convention. So Hey, how's this we'll go up there for the weekend son and I we'll, uh, stand for a Collins. Let's go to the con, got it out. And it was, I was like, oh my God. Oh my God,

Curt:

this place it's so much better than Colorado spring. It is our castle rock.

james:

I'm sure. Yeah. It has everything we want. It's like everything we love in life, either lives is here or is in a short driving distance or a cheap flight from Denver. Yeah. Like if we want to get our Pacific Northwest folks. Yeah. Yep. Flight from Denver. The final kicker was that I'm probably taking out too much time here, but it's worth it. Cool. Um, the

Curt:

final kick visit Fort Collins, you owe. Yeah.

james:

we, um, we took one final trip to Eugene and before then we'd only gone in the summer fi we went towards a tail end the spring, but it's still very damp. My wife was sick the entire time. Oh. Because of the mold. Oh. And she's like, she got used to the lack of humidity and Colorado. And she said, I, I love it here, but I can't imagine living here if it's every winter is gonna be like this. Yeah. So. Picked for Collins. And here we

Curt:

are. So you mentioned your son already is, uh, do you guys have, do you and Kelly have multiple children's? Oh yeah,

james:

we, well, I have two, our daughter is 27, Kyla, Kyla, and she lives in, uh, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Okay. Uh, she, uh, moved there when we were stationed in Texas, cuz she had graduated high school. She kind of wanted to get out and do her own thing, but she found, um, uh, Texas in Colorado to be too dry. Yeah. Actually made her in the altitude. Yeah. Uh, so nose bleeds, altitude sickness. Yep. And uh, Ann Arbor, Michigan kept popping up on her quality of lifeless. Yeah. And I took a, a summer class there. Well, the beauty of

Curt:

the world is that there's different places for different people that are looking for different things. Yes. Yes. I was just up in North Dakota and hanging out at my brother's wife's aunt's lake house for the weekend over 4th of July. Right. It, it was a hoot and I loved it. It was so much fun and you know, I really wouldn't live there, but I get it. and uh, your, your son's name is penny. Penny, penny Oliver. Okay. Just like the currency. Yep. yep. Yep. Yep. And how old is penny? 24. And he's also in school. Outta school? Uh he's

james:

uh, or I should say he's non-binary there. Yeah. Okay. Um, Side note after 25 years in the military, I'm very, very, very open-minded about the struggle I have with, uh, getting to grips with my son, my son being non-binary first. We can't think of a better word. So we say son, because it's nice and snappy you my child. Yeah. Well, it's still, he's 24, you know, or they 24, excuse me. But also in the military, there are only five genders, sir. MA's Sergeant us and Hey you. Yeah. So that's like trying to get around that, but that's, he's a good kid. They're a good kid. Excuse me. He's a, they're um, a, uh, budding, when I say game designer, not like me where I do tables off, although they're working on tabletop stuff, but they actually have taken coursework and video game design, like 3d modeling, art, digital art C uh, C version in that world. Yes. So digital gaming and they're right now, uh, in, in a course for, uh, video editing and production.

Curt:

So, so I like to, uh, I like to ask parents to do a one word description of their children. You've probably heard that before in past episode. Would you like to give, is Kyla Kyla, and what's your wonder word? One word description. Curious. Yeah, it's a nice word. Yeah. How about for penny creative? Nice. I don't know. Quite know how to. That question, but like when you're non-binary, does that mean you can date both boys and girls? Uh, or is that like, not even allowed to ask that question? Um, well, are you only date other days? Uh,

james:

so, okay. Hopefully I'm not putting too many words in Penny's mouth and, but I'm, I should disclaimer from your understanding. Yes. And my disclaimer, I am, we've talked about this and I'm allowed to discuss okay. You know, as, as their dad, you know? Yeah. Um, so they're technically, they're asexual, they're basically not attracted to any gender. Interesting. So they have no, uh,

Curt:

no desire to be no desire, sexual creatures. Right. Is that normal for

james:

non-binary? Um, for non non-binary in general? I don't, I don't know. But in his case, their case, see, it's always been look

Curt:

at me. I'm terrible. Well, he was a boy for

james:

a long time. Yeah. It's it's he, he, they realize in early into high school when other boys were at, you know, like going on dates and he, they realized I'm not attracted to anybody and then he, it went through a, and they knew

Curt:

what gay was. Yes. Right. They knew what gay was. They said. And I'm not that either.

james:

Yeah. Um, at struggle with the depression. And, uh, it was actually only fairly recently in the last couple of years that they admitted, like I just

Curt:

could have lived this way instead.

james:

Right. So it's the, um, If you hear the term L G B Q LGBTQ plus. And the, the, I the plus yeah, the IA, the a is asexual. That's the fall. Um, oh yeah, that's fine. That's cool. Um, which I'm gonna call it. So, uh,

Curt:

that, you know, it's an interesting thing. Like something I've observed to friends and even coworkers and things is that it's fascinating that we go through all the work as humans to be like build large Hadron colliders and to have, you know, the UN and star lake satellites and all these things. And yet still so much of the average humans and especially frankly, the average man's thought process is all about, um, sex, you know, and the status and the things like that. And, you know, even not just the man's thought processes, but the internet, right? Like the Instagram reels and the, this and the that. Yes. And yes, yet, you know, even if you get into like, like Paul, the writer of most of the new Testament was arguably asexual. Like he was married to God. He. Marry a woman. He didn't like have any other interest. He presumably was probably would've called himself a, they if he

james:

was here today does that

Curt:

like take you outta left field or is that kind of observation of the way the world flies?

james:

Um, actually, no, I felt bad even thinking about how I made my wife and I couched it in terms of here. I was a young man and my brother said there's 800 women here. So it was all based on I wanna meet, I wanna meet a girl right now, but then fast forward to now. And our relationship is not based on that. Right.

Curt:

But it's still, you're still of intimacy and things I assume. Oh yeah. But yes, my, my actually it's funny how many parallels we have because I was totally just platonic friends with my wife for a year first. And then we had a year where we lost contact. And then when we started dating, I, I mentioned to you that she told her mom, but I also told my roommates like before, by second or third date with her, I sure if I should go out with this girl again, cause I'm not sure I'm gonna get to date any other girls, if I have one more date with Jill you know, and, and, and yeah. So anyway, I digress so anything else on the family topic that you'd care to talk about?

james:

Um, Actually, I wanna throw a shout out to my twin brother. Yeah. Do, uh, William, his nickname's winter. Uh, he lives in rock hall, Maryland, a small little oyster town on the Eastern shore. I love oysters. And so talk about a contrast. So here I have four degrees, right? Taught the air force academy. He never finished college, but he's self taught computer programmer and he, he ended up now he's a top level consultant in red hat. Oh wow. He flies all the United States like handling some of the red hat's thorn issues. Right. And, um, like to be like, I look at a programming language, it looks like gibberish right. And I'm like, I can't imagine doing his, like, we can't imagine doing each other's work. Right.

Curt:

well, that's the beauty of the diversity of life. Uh, in a lot of ways, my, my wife, Jill, I might have mentioned as a twin also. And she and her sister looked the same basically until they were like eight or nine years old. Like you can't almost tell 'em apart in any pictures. And now, you know, once they went through puberty and things like Jill is voluptuous and curvy and Aaron's a stick figure and, but yet their faces and their smiles, lot of you see that they're twins and they have different habits. And, and it's just beautiful. Even with that, I guess it shows how much of our humanness is created by. Whatever that is. God's special touch on your being or, you know, cuz you're genetically very close to the same, whether you're fraternal twins or you're identical, you're genetically pretty close. But yet you, you took far different paths and your brain's developed in far different ways.

james:

Yeah. Yeah. We sounded alike and we have some inter like, uh, social interests, like similar movies and fiction and whatever. Was he married

Curt:

with kids and stuff

james:

to you? Oh, that's he's married, but he, uh, never wanted children. Yeah. And so he went through a string of relationships where they ended because he said I'm, they would say, well, let's think about having a family. He said, that's not gonna happen. I don't want. Yeah. And he, he met a woman who turned out, graduated from our high school two years before we did. And we didn't remember her. Yeah. And she she's same thing. She, by the time they got married, public math, they're probably in their late thirties. They both realized she is like, I don't, I don't, I don't want kids either. Yeah. Yeah. My age, I don't want, I don't

Curt:

want kids. There's a couple in my rotary club. Both of them were like 55, like he's a little older. So he was like 60 and she was 55 when they met. And they were both previously unmarried and they been married for 20 years now. Wow. Yeah. and so anyway, you, sometimes you just takes that long to find your person. So, uh, holler William. Thanks for being cool. uh, we got faith politics. Which one would you prefer first? Politics. Okay. Um, and I know you're not an Americanist in terms of your political science. And so, um, let's talk about global affairs a little bit, like has world war II started, like when the history books were written 10 years or 20 years from now, will they say that this is world war II? Or are we gonna pull out of this,

james:

man? I hope not because I want my military to pension to last long enough for me to, to live through it. Um,

Curt:

because what if, if we do are in world war three, then our dollar is gonna fade so terribly that pension's not gonna be worth it, or we might not be

james:

dead. I think if we might be all be dead, if four oh war three happens, even if I'm trying to think of, you know, a conventional world Wari with modern weapons. Yeah. Um,

Curt:

it'll be a, and a lot of electronic warfare. Yes. I know you were involved in that area quite a bit. Yeah.

james:

And a world war three in my assessment would, uh, let's say we even just kept it conventional, even a non-nuclear yeah. Non-nuclear will affect the us mainland far more than likely any conflict we've ever had since the civil war. Wow. Um, cuz it'll, it'll hit every part of our daily lives like cyber warfare or cyber attacks, right. Uh, be you could be affecting, you know, banking system, power system of affecting. Something as simple as like having a, just in time supply chain system. Yeah. Any, anyway, if you can disrupt that in any way and we could see what happens, just having COVID affecting

Curt:

our supply. Yeah. That wasn't even like a planned attack. It was just kind of a thing. Yeah.

james:

Um, that's a nice hint of what to expect in my

Curt:

assessment. So everybody write your Congressman and say, don't get involved more than X. Uh, yes. Should we leave Ukraine to the wolves

james:

then? No, that's the problem. we that's, that's a big, that's a big, uh, razor here. If we leave Ukraine to the wolves, I think morally it'd be unjust and you would be,

Curt:

it just might be worse than the other. Yeah.

james:

Imper, I think irreparably damaging to the world order. Yeah, because again, setting a signal to Putin's Russia that, well, maybe we'll just invade Poland next.

Curt:

Does there need to be like a leader of the world order? Like to some extent after world war II Britain, past the Baton to the us saying this is too heavy, we don't want to carry it anymore.

james:

Well, historically, um, if, if the, the international order has a hegemon or a single a uni pole, a single dominant power yeah. Tends to be more peaceful. Right. Because that uni pole keeps everyone in line. Yeah. Keeps guarantees currency, guaranteed. Freedom of the seas. It basically provides all sorts of nice things.

Curt:

Without, without that you've got pirates and you've got this and that, or just

james:

more, more friction points.

Curt:

Right. Um, and nobody trusts each other and trust is Lu lubrication really, of economy.

james:

Right. So something as simple of say, the us dollars is no longer recognized as a, as a currency. It's a big deal. Big, huge. Yeah. Um, but I mean, there you'll have some theorists and I'm actually leaning more towards them. Now, seeing that there has, we haven't really been a hegemon since we invaded Iraq, we lost a lot of international Goodwill, not going into

Curt:

lateral. We've lost a lot of, and the rest of it in Afghanistan. Yes, yes. Basically, whatever we had left.

james:

Right. Um, so yeah, there's on the one hand, no one likes a bully. Other hand data suggests there's value added to having a dominant power yeah. To kind of grease the skids if you will.

Curt:

Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. Um, so you mentioned you, you lean left and I'm, I would describe myself as a small L libertarian, generally. Although much of it I'm told is because of my ignorance about how crazy the world actually is higher levels of power and what would happen if we really acted that way. Yeah. Um, but I do consider myself like a, a classical liberal. Mm. Um, and I think that the. Was probably had a strong composition of classical liberals. Um, and, but now they've got this infection of Wilm stuff going on. And I maybe that insults you just by my saying it that way, but like, I'm concerned about the willingness to call truth truth, um, in the world today. And I, and frankly, I'm happy to call your son, they, and I'm happy to call people that wanna be called, you know, a female's name ma'am or whatever, but, but truth is truth as well. And I feel like there's an infusion of, uh, a will willful blindness in the new progressivism. What would you say about

james:

that? We first, we, the Def define truth. I wanna actually send the question back to you. Yeah. Define truth.

Curt:

I think truth is those things that can be known. Those things that can be observed and understood by the vast majority of observers that, that have resonance, you know, is, is that tree green? Yes, that is true. It's green.

james:

All right. Um, This is where you edited a long period. I'll take that gap out of there. Yeah. Um,

Curt:

like it's concerning to me, honestly, I'm generally pretty I'm, you know, I'm the, I'm the loose libertarian, right? Like, I don't want to just ban all government, but I do think that people being free is better than people not being free

james:

to answer this question. Um,

Curt:

censorship, we can take it down or notch if you

james:

want. Oh, I was gonna leverage actually my, uh, crap. I'm gonna leverage, uh, both my academic background and my, uh, military background. Okay. To answer this question and it goes back to both times, I intended Intel school, both, uh, enlisted in the army, then commissioned the air force. Okay. Um, and this is something I actually get up and talk to my students about. Okay. And I assure you I'll be able to tie this together. The, um, the worst thing you can have. Is poverty. And I talked about a failed state and that's ties into poverty like anywhere, if you're gonna have some type of social crisis, poverty is often the root terrorism is rooted in poverty. Uh, a class warfare is rooted in poverty. Um, ideological differences can be worded on poverty. And, um, if you have a region with a lot of too many have nots and enough not enough haves yeah. That region is more likely to have physical conflict. Sure. Um, so if, I think if I take the term like woke, like everything, it, it, uh, it, it encapsulates, so I'm thinking in terms of more of a, maybe a classical liberal approach thinking of, uh, like different ethnic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds, gender identities, uh, whatnot. Um, it's broadly speaking easier if you have a very hetero heterogeneous society sure. With all these different, uh, social, uh, desires to work together, if you have wealth. Yeah. Um, if you're, um,

Curt:

yes. Although I would push back and say, no, it's more about shared values. Like even though the, I. Got the shit kicked out of him and were persecuted when they moved over here to America, if they incorporated shared American values kind of things, they were folded in over time and, and same with the Jews and same with et cetera.

james:

Uh, but I'd say that conversation is easier to happen when people are actually rolled into the fold. Right. So if there's a sense that someone is being left out marginalized. Yeah. So not having a marginalized experience over time, that's allowed to try sure.

Curt:

Fester the Palestinians would be a good example, right.

james:

Or, uh, let me cite. Even the, uh, Afghanistan example, I had to forecast the Afghan president election while I was there. And one of my findings was the past tunes were always gonna win the presidency that Tajis will never win. And I suggested that over time, because the Tajis are gonna start, are gonna feel marginalized. The likelihood of conflict is gonna win increase. You have to find a way to ensure, uh, equitability or at least if they have a voice at the table. Fair. Um, so, um,

Curt:

but are you not concerned really about that? I guess maybe you refute the accusation of not calling truth, truth, kind of, um, because I think that. Worst thing that you can have is poverty. Isn't a true statement. I think that Rogan makes a quote about this. He's like half the billionaires that I know are miserable. And when I've been to Africa, half of those poor peoples are super happy. Like, is poverty, the worst thing you can have? Um, or is it like more about to me, like MIS truth, like corruption and lack of opportunity and oh, no things like that.

james:

Yeah. Lack that. So I can re lawlessness, I can roll that into all of this. So you have endemic poverty, often results in laws, law insist. Yeah. It results in lack of opportunity. Okay. It results in, you know, that's fair, uh, weak institutions, um, and data suggests that. And then, and certainly in the military intelligence would say that taking area, that's two areas that are heterogeneous. One is, um, is, um, um, prosperous. The other is not for a long time. The one that is not conflict is more likely incur within that state. Sure. Uh,

Curt:

so I think that's obvious, right? Like conflict is more likely to occur. It is, but

james:

I, but so I think of, oh, it's more the poor, let me, let me bring vocalism into that whole idea of then okay. Opportunity. Okay. Um, opportunity equality before the. Um, non marginalization. Yeah. It ties back to like making a wider discourse about what it means to be American and how we see ourselves as a prosperous society. Yeah. Fair. Um, this does, I will say this does, I want to add a point that, uh, I sadly had to teach an American. I shouldn't put it that way. Edit that out. I, I did teach an American government course. Okay. This past spring, um, and something I remembered the most in material and I have taught American government before. Um, yeah. I have taught American government for, at the air force academy. This was the first time at CSU. Um, and I got my textbook largely on a recommendation and B I knew one of the authors. Yeah. Because I knew she was on my dissertation committee at university of Iowa. So her scholarship is like iron clad, but, um, something I, I, that has stuck with me from the course and it's aligned with other materials I've read even not being an Americanist. Yeah. Was that, um, the Republican party is basically divided into two. The democratic party is divided into six That sounds about right. So, um, it's hard to kind of come to some sort of consensus of what, uh, the de democratic party stands for. If you're trying to appeal to six different situations.

Curt:

Yeah. Well, I feel like that's one of their challenges right now. Like if you don't support Ukraine, then you're a terrible person. Um, and if you don't support LGBTQ plus and pronouns and et cetera, you're a terrible person. But if you're LGBTQ plus and you go to Ukraine at least a couple years ago, your likelihood of being thrown in jail is high. You know, so there's all these kind of irreconcilable platforms. And I guess that's the challenge of having six demographics,

james:

right? Um, I will, okay. I will admit something I have struggled with here. So a child that's, non-binary, you know, friends that are homosexual, um, the, but also then researching and being a middle east scholar. Yeah. So, um, I'm I am, I would like to say that in American context, I'm absolutely open minded. So, you know, you, do you wanna do this, that in the other? That's cool. Do you do, but when it, all I do is make one single mistake on someone's gender and I get a, a earful about it. I'm like, uh, after, you know, studying Iran, right. For so long, these people have real problems if you are executed. Yeah. There's no debate about it. And I'm like thinking. I'm I'm, I'm glad I live in a, a country where we can have these broader social debates. Um, but at the same time, I've been in begin to conditions where I've had to basically soak myself in blood in the behalf of the military to ensure that we can have these debates. Yeah. And so it sometimes gets

Curt:

it's messy. Yeah. it's messy and anybody that's too completely, a hundred percent convicted on the cause of their choice. I don't really trust them because it's hard. My opinion. Um, we haven't talked about faith yet, so yes. Uh, not a faith background much. I would gather from our conversation

james:

so far. Um,

Curt:

or maybe some, some escaped Catholic. Yeah.

james:

I'm uh, you already, this might be the, the, the, I don't wanna say shot fired across the ball, but you might either pour yourself both of us more. Well, we've been drinking

Curt:

tequila. Pretty steady pace here.

james:

Yeah. um, so I'm actually a, uh, practicing Druid. Oh, wow. I'm a, hence the ink on me. Okay.

Curt:

I was gonna ask actually about your tattoos on the inside of your arm, especially, I thought those were really interesting that eye with the hand.

james:

Oh, right. So this will be hard to describe without a visual to my, uh, to the listeners, but I'm a, um, Actually, I should probably tell the longer story, please. Yeah. So I grew up in the United church of Christ in, in, uh, the area Bethesda as a matter of fact. Okay. And, uh,

Curt:

so you know, the stuff at least a little bit, I was a congregational church background and I like to tell people, I didn't really hear the good news until I was 20 something. Yeah. but I knew that if I was baptized at our church, I was good.

james:

right. But my experience growing up, uh, basically my experience at the United church of Christ and having also attended, uh, Unitarian Universalist church mm-hmm the, uh, comparing the programs from the two services on they're almost identical. It was very liberal. Uh, lots of the members were like, you know, college degrees, uh, advanced degrees worked for like think tanks. Yep.

Curt:

Law firms, they recognized the need of community, but that whole Christian thing was kind of

james:

yeah. Well their approach then became very, uh, oh,

Curt:

inclusive, I

james:

guess. Yes. Right? Yes. So like feed the feed, the poor yep. Um, action based. Yeah. Act. Yeah. Action based. Yeah. Um, so boy, I was in a, kind of, a bit of a culture shock when I went to college in North Carolina when it was a little bit more practice and stuff. Yeah. And I'm like, I, they, the first they would ask if I was saved, I'm like,

Curt:

mm. Saved for what? Yes.

james:

What so on that led me down a long road in the wilderness where I'm like, I would say I was agnostic where I thought that there was something outside in the purvey of my perceptions, and this is coming from a, you know, a social scientist. Sure. So maybe I'm not a horror scientist, like a physicist. Yeah. But I'm like, I tend to trust what I can measure. Yeah. So if I can't measure religion then, is it true or is it not true? Fair, but I had too many just, well, there's a lot

Curt:

of cultural pressures. Yeah. Toward

james:

acceptance. Yeah. Yeah. And that kind of pushed me off. So

Curt:

although not as many of them Bethesda.

james:

Yeah. it was in a way maybe a cop out, just say agnostic, because then I could just say whatever I wanted. Right. Um, but then I, you know, reading other texts, one for pleasure and other for, for my job, like I read the Quran from the back. Yeah. Yeah.

Curt:

Because you had to, I mean,

james:

yeah, basically. Yeah. I had to, but I kept finding common themes across different texts. I could be monotheistic. It could be polytheistic. Sure.

Curt:

Um, yeah. The wisdom books have a high resonance is one of the things I like to say. Yeah.

james:

Um, and actually, if I may, a common theme I found across, um, books or religions is often the featuring a, a religious leader or a prophet that, um, The sense that they had, they had plenty in their lives, but it, that they had too much. Like, why do I, why am I lucky to have all this? Mm. Like why, um, um, basically feeling, feeling ashamed. Yeah.

Curt:

I think of, I think it's maybe in the, it's not the song song of Solomon, but it's actually his other book where he is like, it's all rubbish. you know, I've got all these things, I've got all this wealth, all this power, all this thing, it's all rubbish. It's not really useful.

james:

Yeah. So you saw that you find that with, um, uh, you know, the prophets in the, in Christianity, you find that in, uh, a prophet Muhammad, a successful merchant. And he is like, I don't, why did I deserve all this? Right. You find that with the Buddha, uh, basically a, a wealthy prince, right. Or, uh, the bugga Vada in Hinduism. My apologies to any Hindus listening that I can't remember the two major actors here. One is a warrior and the, whether one is a God, but it's right before the beginning of a battle and the, the warrior is supposed to be a master of his art. Hmm. But he lacks faith in himself. Hmm. And it takes the God to basically tell them why you kick ass, dude. Yeah. You'll kick it as dude. So I find a commonality of base, both. Um, A sense of shame on what they have, but also long term, they have discipline that average people don't Hmm. Like the discipline to say, and also the, the willingness, willingness to sacrifice. Hmm. Like,

Curt:

yeah. And I think I want not, I wanna talk about myself much, but I have that sense of shame because even though I grew up as a shortie, I got tall and I was always pretty smart. And I felt like over blessed with the knowledge that I was sinful. Right. And so I had like this shame of like, why did I have it so good when so many people, other people aren't so strikingly handsome and smart and funny and all these things. Not really, but whatever. And, and so then I decided, well kind of to, to whom much is given must much, must be expected kind of thing. And so I became really active in nonprofit causes and giving back in various ways and stuff. And so not that I'm a profit or anything like it, but I, but I, but I know that sense of shame, an obligation that I think you're alluding to a little bit. Mm. Yeah. Okay. So take me next step. Um,

james:

and actually I want actually put out a solid note that even if not Christian, one of my most, most powerful images of Jesus was actually from a movie, but it's always stuck with me. It was just a short clip of him actually doing carpentry work. Hmm. Showing him as a skilled laborer. Yeah. And thinking he. Man with a skill that was, and he walked away from it. Yeah. Yeah. And right. It wasn't discussed in the movie. Right. But I that's always stuck with me. Hmm. Um, so combination of wandering the wilderness, then being introduced to other cultures, reading the different texts, finding commonalities, um, and then looking inside myself, like, like I just, I can't, everyone thinks I'm an atheist, right. There's no way pigeons, not an atheist. Right. But I'm like, um,

Curt:

I just, well, at least agnostic is cover, right?

james:

Yeah. It's a, it sense that there's something there to I've had. And is there

Curt:

something there I like, what did Drew's believe, I guess would be where I would take this conversation next? Cause I don't really know. Ah, I know they built the stone henge. Right. You know, and the, the, like we're the, I've been watching some Viking series on Netflix and on Amazon prime and they've got Thor and right. Like a Pantheon of gods, not too dissimilar from the Greeks or the Romans in most respects. Right. Where they're, their gods are, have human type characteristics and failings. They're not perfect, like right. The Jews were the first ones to have kind of a perfect God.

james:

So, um, this is a lot to unpack here. So you

Curt:

do it.

james:

We have four minutes outstanding. So you have, yeah. You have the D. I mean, you have pagans who will have believe in different aspects. So you have somewhat ascribed to the old north gods and goddesses, the Celtic to Golish to, to even Egyptian

Curt:

African. Okay. So they're welcoming almost like a UCC or Unitarian kind of thing of bring us your tired. You're poor. You're confused about which of the old myths we should

james:

believe. Right. So my broadly speaking Doody is about appreciation for the earth. Oh. Um, however, my take is more of a, um, the, the, the academic side of it. Like also the dage tend to be the, the learn the, the professors, if you will. Yeah. Yeah. And so it's almost like a religion into my take is like,

Curt:

almost like the medicine man. Yeah. Or Socrates or Aristotle back in the Greek tradition. Uh, yeah.

james:

I, I encompass that. Yes. So I'm almost like, I dare say it, the active being a professor is like a religion, like the, the active pursuit of

Curt:

knowledge. Yeah. Someone who tries to learn. Yes. Yeah. Yes. And it doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with, so is there a creator, um, like, is this like a, what was they call it? The big bang or. Intelligent design. Did somebody did some UN, is there an UN unmoved mover as Aristotle would

james:

say so that in modern Dr. Where you would both ascribe the idea that you could have a physical phenomenon, like the big bang, but then par uh, um, spiritual phenomena, such as God's or goddesses that don't necessarily care about us. Like, we may not have been created by anybody. Hmm. Um, and that, so that the act of, of prayer or appealing to a spirit or a God, is like, you hope they listen. And if they do, it's like really cool. They actually do.

Curt:

Oh, but it's not, oh, that's, that's interesting because I compare prayer in a lot of ways to like, and even God to like the universal consciousness or whatever, and like people, uh, manifesting like that notion to me is a little bit like intentional prayer and whatever, but drew, its are a little bit more like kind of agnostic in that way. Like, I don't know what created us or if they care about us at all, we might as well prayer cuz it won't hurt us, but probably will be. But if I,

james:

if I show discipline and a willingness to work with a certain deity or mul that the odds of them listening to me are greater. Or are you familiar with

Curt:

stoicism at

james:

all? Um, yes. How much, but the above the fold version of it. Right? Fair

Curt:

and me too. I've only been starting to get intrigued and part of it's because of that same kind of notion. the effort of knowing is worth the effort in a way, but I don't know if they are, are, are the stoic theists.

james:

I don't know enough to know, to

Curt:

answer that question. Yeah. I kind of think of them as more like what's that, uh, like Thomas Jefferson I think is described as was, there is a God, a creator that he just kind of snapped and said it in motion. And he's like standoffish after that. What's that called? It's a de something. Oh, deist deist yeah. Yeah. So the DRS are a little bit in that vein where it's like, something happened here we are,

james:

and it could be physical, but there is still a spiritual

Curt:

world. Right, right. Interesting. Okay. Very cool. Thanks for taking the time to just cry. It's it's all hard, right? Yeah. Like it IST. Interesting if it's not hard. Uh, so I think we've covered faith, family politics, anything we've left out in those tough categories

james:

that you'd like to, oh, I never told you what. Oh yeah, please. So I have your tattoos by front of my, well, aside from the obligatory Welsh dragon and kilted cross, I have on my right forearm on the front, a modern interpretation of the tree of life. Basically the bottom swirl is the underworld. You might call it. Hell sure. Um,

Curt:

the sensor is spiral down into the net regions almost. Yes. And it, but it,

james:

but depending on you interpret, it might not be evil. It could be. Yeah. If, if. Journey. If I'm a UCA, I could say that's the bad path. Or I could say that's what you have to learn before you advance somewhere else. Yeah. The center, uh, represents the earth

Curt:

material. Like I was thinking, it looks like the maze that we're all traveling in right now. Yes. It's a good way of putting it the labyrinth. Yes. If you will, even though we don't have actual labyrinths, we're all traveling a maze of sorts. Yes

james:

And the top would be of the heavens or happy hunting grounds or that's like

Curt:

the rotary wheel to me. Have you ever been a part of rotary

james:

club? Um, I have not, but if you ever need a speaker about games, I'd

Curt:

be glad welcome. Come visit. We meet at on Thursday mornings and I'll introduce you to the programs person. Really? Yeah. Oh, Hey, it'll be fun. Sweet. at gingerbread baker. Uh, so every fourth week is bacon day. It's amazing. Oh my goodness. so as an inside, uh, so

james:

this is two different sets. It seems like the bottom set represents what we call the, the three kindred in the group. I belong to your ancestors, the honor dead. Mm-hmm the nature spirits, um, living or, or past. So even I go home and pet my cat represented by the, the serpent mm-hmm and then the shining ones, which could be God's spirits. Uh, so

Curt:

not just almost like aliens, it seems like to me.

james:

Well, yeah, but if I was gonna put this in Christian context, I would say this could represent both God and angels more the,

Curt:

yeah, yeah. Basically the non-physical manifestation. Yes, yes.

james:

Beings. And then this, uh, the top collection represents magic, which is another probably topic we,

Curt:

we could spend another

james:

hour there. Yes. Um, but I think of, in terms of the Allister Crowley version of magic, just being, um, if you do something that creates confidence in yourself and your willingness to move forward, then that's a form of magic. Yeah. So basically improving the will or improving your willpower.

Curt:

Yeah. Self determination in a way. Yeah. Yeah. Um, I was just thinking to myself on the the topic of, of magic that, what, like all of what happens in the world today feels like magic to most of us, like in a way, like all the computer signals and all of this and that, like, if like, if an electromagnetic pulse came through and wiped out all of our power and all of our internets and all of our digital files. Yeah. It wouldn't be long before we didn't know how to do

james:

shit. Yes. There's actually a science fiction author. I'm trying remember it was Hein or, uh, Clark who said any, any sophist. Sophisticated technologies you can't understand is basically magic.

Curt:

Yeah. I like it. Um, your local experience, the craziest experience that you're willing to describe to our listening audience, craziness of your lifetime could be a day, could be a moment, could be a year. What's crazy is crazy experience that you'd like to describe

james:

craziest experience. You think I would've prepared for this, um, this F Afghanistan, um, thanks to my combination of cultural language aptitude or, you know, lack of aptitude. At least I kept up with it. Right. You know, I would often inter interact with Afghans. I came across, you know, walking around base. Yeah. And so I had to build this kind of cabal of folks. I knew. Um, well, what, you know, one day there was a big, uh, meeting of all the senior level, Intel, Afghan marketing mux in Afghanistan. So whole bunch of Afghan officers, and this was circa, uh, this would've early 2014. Okay. And. they were meeting in a huge tent outside of my normal work area. And as I always want to do, I walked out of, uh, by, uh, my building to walk in another building, armed with nothing, but my pistol and no, no body armor, no nothing. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and I saw the guards standing outside the meeting and I said, Hey, Hey, want some water? And they basically said, Hey, this American dude has water. And before you knew it, I was surrounded by Afghan army personnel and air force personnel with my back to a wall. No, no armament told me whatsoever. And only a few of them understood English. And this sounds like funny, except we had a lot of cases of green on blue attacks where basically Afghans would kill Americans. And I was basically in the classic POS. I basically had no escape. You were defensive.

Curt:

Yeah. Back against wall.

james:

I was basically defenseless and I had to pull every like, who here speaks starry, who speaks English, got in a conversation. They were asking about America. They I'm asking about Afghanistan. They asked if I wanted to sit down. I'm like, not really. No, no, you really wanna sit down. So now I'm sitting down with my backing wall with dozens and dozens of AFG and soldiers

Curt:

looming water, but you only had a few bottles of water, right?

james:

Yes. Yes, I, um, so I was only gave about three or four and then all of a sudden I heard someone hollered, Hey, the meeting's over guys and they, Hey, great. Talk to you, man. See you later. And they, this all of a sudden was first and I just sat there and my, that chair, like that could have ended up really, really badly. And I went to tell that to my boss. He said, pigeon, that was one of the dumbest and most funniest things I've ever heard in my life. and that's, I guess you could say my

Curt:

craziest moment. Yeah. Well, I could imagine your reaction to that. And I was just reflecting on like, part of the difference between us, uh, is that you've been a, a lot behind the scene scenes and studying peoples and things. And, and in contrast, I don't really study, I don't really learn things like that, but I'm always on the front lines and I'm meeting with people every day. Yeah. And I'm in a lot of different random circumstances. I go to all these networking things and this and that, and I'm pretty much always at ease. I'm not saying I wouldn't have been tweaked out in that circumstance, but there's a contrast in, in the way that we've pursued our own strengths, I guess. And, uh, may you always be strong enough to ask the right questions when, uh, when the opportunities arise? Sweet. Thank you. Uh, if somebody wants to find you pigeon, where can they do that? Oh, let's see. Um, website's

james:

not up yet. Oh, my personal website's up. Okay. So. Uh, not pigeon, unfortunately it's JD fielder.com. Um, on Twitter, it's J underscore D underscore fielder, but honestly, if you look up pigeon yeah. I

Curt:

guarantee pigeon fielder, there aren't that many other pigeon fielders out there. So on the JD fielder.com is that if, like, I think for our listeners, that kind of crisis consulting is probably where they is that oh yeah. How you run that business is through that site kind of.

james:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually F if I may take a moment. Sure. Um, I actually had a separate business, uh, for consulting, but I found, I ran into two, I wanna say problems, but, uh, findings one, as soon as anyone found out that I was worked at CSU, they wanted to work with professor fielder and not pigeon fielder or not

Curt:

little operat

james:

operations. And then second, my boss at work was like, pigeon, if we have a whole office here dedicated to faculty who consult right. Just be you and charge people in arm and leg. So yes. Oh, so

Curt:

you dropped liminal operations or liminal. Yeah. I

james:

I'm just me now. Right. I represent makes sense myself. Yeah. So if you go to my website, you can find all my academics, some of my appearances, my CV, and a link where you can actually get a free consult with me. And I'm absolutely happy to work with. Businesses, tabletop exercise, couple people sitting around a table. He'll fit your budget.

Curt:

Yeah. cool. Yeah. Super giving guy. Yeah. And I've appreciated this time together. I hope you had a good time. Oh yeah. This has been great. Awesome. Yes. Well, thanks for listening everybody. James pigeon, you guys rock. Thanks. Been here. and, uh, have a great day.