Reading Rainbow, FounderQuest Style!

This week The Founders reveal some of their favorite books they've read this summer and what they learned about utopias, U.S. history, and Murderbots! They also talk about living their lives up in smoke as the forest fires continue to rage along the West Coast.

Show notes:
Links:
San Francisco Looking Like Blade Runner
The Federalist: A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States
Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, 1760-1791
The Radicalism of the American Revolution
A People's History of the United States
Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris
The Dispossessed
I, Robot
The Murderbot Diaries
Foundation
The Unicorn Project
Open Yale Courses - The American Revolution
My Brilliant Friend
Bona Fide Masks

Full transcription:
Starr:
I got to tell you guys, this was just... I don't know. This makes up for the rest of 2020 for me personally but when I took all this equipment that I had bought for the fiber optic link between my house and the new office, and I hooked it up to the cable that had been buried by electricians who didn't really know what they were doing. Regarding fiber. And I hooked everything up. It just all worked the first time.

Josh:
Wow.

Ben:
Wow.

Starr:
That was the most... This is the most amazing thing. I think that's what I need to get me through the rest of this year.

Josh:
For real.

Starr:
I'm just going to think back to that golden moment.

Josh:
Yeah. I still can't get anything but Comcast here and on top of that, we can barely breathe now because of the smoke outside.

Starr:
Oh yeah. I see the window behind you. It looks kind of apocalyptic.

Josh:
Can you see that?

Starr:
I can see it, yeah.

Josh:
It is daytime right now.

Starr:
I know. I know.

Josh:
It is so dark.

Starr:
Oh my gosh.

Ben:
I read that yesterday, it was so bad in San Francisco that the birds didn't even realize it was daytime.

Starr:
Really?

Ben:
Yep.

Starr:
Well, poor birds.

Josh:
Yeah, none of the roosters are crowing either.

Starr:
Yeah. I've just got to say though, Coit Tower in San Francisco was made for these apocalyptic red sky pictures. It's that really pointy tower.

Josh:
Yeah. Did you see the drone footage that someone did with the... Was it Blade Runner?

Ben:
Uh-huh.

Josh:
Yeah, the soundtrack.

Ben:
Yep.

Starr:
Oh, I need to find that.

Ben:
The air quality's been frustrating for me this week because I got my new kayak, and I was on vacation. I was like, "Yes, I'm going to paddle everyday all day long." And no. I did not paddle everyday all day long.

Starr:
Oh, that's frustrating.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, I was thinking about you this week. How is it up there anyway? Because I was like, if you all are dealing with any of the stuff that we have done here, I wouldn't want to be out on a river right now.

Ben:
Yeah. Well, earlier in the week, we were getting Easterly winds. So, we were getting smoke from the fires in Eastern Washington. And so, our air quality index was hovering in the low 100s. So, 100 to 120-ish in my neck of the woods. And then, as of last night, now we're getting Southernly winds, so now we're getting the California, and Oregon smoke. So, now it's gone up... I think we're around the 200ish neighborhood. So, everyday I was hoping the next day would be a little bit better and everyday, it wasn't. So, finally on Thursday I'm like, "I'm just going." So, I just went and luckily, I didn't get overwhelmed by all the smoke. I was able to successfully complete the maiden voyage of the kayak.

Josh:
Did you enjoy it?

Ben:
Yeah. It was nice.

Josh:
Was it a good paddle?

Ben:
Yeah, it was great.

Josh:
Nice.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
That's good.

Starr:
Yeah. It's hazy here and unpleasant to breathe the air but it's not... It doesn't have the same world is ending vibes that are in Oregon, and San Francisco.

Josh:
Yeah. Apparently, you know Mike Perum, he was telling me that the air quality index inside his house is over 300.

Ben:
Oh, wow.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
How's he measuring that?

Josh:
Yeah. They are headed North. Yeah, he's got a little... I don't know. A little meter. Yeah.

Starr:
Oh, that's so cool.

Josh:
Yeah, I want one now.

Ben:
I found that you can buy them from Purple Air.

Josh:
Oh, really?

Ben:
Purpleair.com. Yes, they have both internal and external monitors. And they have a crowd sourced map of your local neighborhood air quality. Assuming, that someone in your neighborhood has one of their devices.

Josh:
Interesting. Okay. Oh, that's cool.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
Oh, cool.

Josh:
Yeah. I didn't really know anything about air quality... Like majoring air quality before. We've never really... Our air has always been pristine.

Ben:
Yeah. When you live in Washington state, it's like, "Yeah, the air's good."

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Pretty much always.

Starr:
Yeah. It just comes in from the ocean, and it's always fresh. But apparently, if the air, or the ocean is full of smoke, then you're just... Yeah.

Starr:
Yes.

Josh:
The worst part about this is it could not stop raining this Spring when we were all stuck quarantined inside. It just would not stop raining. And now, we're stuck inside due to the smoke and we just wish it could rain because it would dampen everything and it just won't rain. It's really doing the opposite.

Starr:
Yeah. Well, fortunately, I bought a bunch of... A resperator type mask, not the cloth masks, and they actually... If you wear one of those, you can't actually smell smoke in the air outside.

Josh:
Oh.

Starr:
Yeah. So, we just ordered 100 more of those just to have stockpiled. Yeah. So, we got those masks.

Josh:
And you look really cool when you go for your daily walks.

Starr:
Yes. So, I wear the... I use a respiratory type mask. They're not N95, they're KN95.

Josh:
Oh.

Starr:
By, I guess a reputable company that's been approved for use by the FDA for medical stuff or something. And so, they're legit good masks. And I tend to wear them whenever I go into enclosed spaces.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Or anywhere outside now. I guess everywhere. But I always wonder, do people think I'm too bougie because of my masks that I special order? Do they think I'm putting on airs?

Josh:
Well, I mean, maybe if you lived outside of Seattle. Yeah, I don't know. There's got to be other... You got to have some fellow mask wearers that you meet on the street and just quietly nod to.

Starr:
Oh, totally.

Ben:
All you got to do is get some big baggie pants, some big old boots, strap a keyboard across your back and then you can be all like, "Yeah. I'm Blade Runner cyberpunk."

Josh:
2020 nomad.

Starr:
Yeah. So, I've read a lot of cyberpunk literature and I don't really want to live in any of those worlds. So, no thank you.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
But one thing I do like about these masks, and I'm putting the link to put in the show notes in case anybody wants them because it's hard to find a decent place that's selling masks for not $1,000,000. It's not really on topic for the podcast but one thing I like about these, so, the American masks, the N95 ones tend to be shaped like a clamshell. They are this little round... It's like wearing a bowl on your face.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
But these KN95 masks are much more pointy in the front, and it almost gives off a plague doctor vibe.

Josh:
Hmm. Yeah. I like that.

Starr:
A miniature version of that.

Josh:
You see, my problem with the normal N95 masks is that my face is already shaped like a bowl.

Starr:
Oh, yeah.

Josh:
So yeah, they just don't really fit very well.

Starr:
I mean, bowls stack.

Josh:
Right? Yeah, they just need to be the proper relative size and it's all off. I got a big head.

Starr:
Well, so, what do you y'all want to talk about? 

Josh:
I don't know. I was interested to see how Ben's vacation was going.

Ben:
Vacation's been awesome.

Josh:
Going good?

Ben:
Yeah. Aside from being locked indoors because of the smoke, it's been great. I think I need to take another week though. Do over thing, right?

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Oh yeah. When the air gets better, you should definitely do that.

Josh:
I mean, seriously.

Ben:
I actually managed to not do any work aside from one hour thing where I was just doing some research on something.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Oh, really?

Ben:
Yeah. It's been amazing.

Starr:
Have we just not done tickets? Because I've been checking the diligently and there's really haven't been any when I've logged in. Or, maybe Josh has been taking care of them all? I don't know.

Josh:
I've been knocking them out in the mornings but it hasn't been too bad. The ones that have come in... Yeah, it seems like it's been a slow week. I mean, I've done a number of tickets but it hasn't been... I don't know. I think I've probably done six to 10, something like that.

Ben:
Oh, well, thank you for managing that.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah. I've been doing a lot of reading, a lot of Sci-Fi. So, read I, Robot, and got started on Foundation.

Josh:
Awesome.

Starr:
Oh. How are you liking those?

Ben:
Yeah, I'm loving them. That's great stuff. I read the fourth book of the Murderbot series. Which is fantastic, you should definitely check that out. The first three are novellas, and the fourth is an actual novel.

Josh:
Hmm.

Ben:
So, they're quick reads, and they're fun. Basically, if you're not familiar with Murderbot, it's set in a future where this is sentient AI and Murder Bot is what's called a sec-unit, security unity. So, basically Murderbot is a hybrid robot human with some human organs and such. And basically, the job of the sec-unit is to guard colonists as they go and colonize planets. I don't want to give a lot of the story away but this sec-unit has adventures, and you get to follow along, and it's a lot of fun. So, you should definitely check it out.

Starr:
I was going to ask how they get past the first law of robotics?

Ben:
Ah, yes.

Starr:
Because bots aren't supposed to murder people but I guess by making a bot, human hybrid, it's the human parts that do the murder.

Ben:
Yeah. Well, their job is to defend other humans. So, if they have to kill a human to defend a human, well then it's okay, right?

Josh:
Oh, yeah.

Starr:
That's a slippery slope, Ben.

Josh:
This is where the FX really come in.

Starr:
That's a really slippery slope. Yeah. Okay. So, you've got a trolley, and...

Ben:
And that's the I, Robot. If you haven't read that, that's...These first laws... These laws of robotics and stuff, and that's where they were created, right?

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And the book does a great job of dealing with some of those interesting dilemmas that can come from these laws that they have to abide by, and interacting with them. And it's not a long read. So, if you haven't read it, it's a classic, and you should definitely check it out.

Josh:
iRobot, you mean?

Ben:
Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah. I haven't read that one. I'll have to do that. I finished the first book of The Expanse though, and that was fun.

Ben:
Yeah, those are fun.

Josh:
Yeah. I do wish I had read the book before watching the series. Even though the book was really... It had a lot more detail, so it was still a fun read but I hate having the picture... Picturing the characters in my head when you already know them. It's hard to get that image out.

Starr:
Oh yeah. That's why I still haven't watched the Magician series because I really like The Magicians book series and I saw the preview on Netflix and I'm just like, "No. That's not who those people are. I'm sorry."

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. I don't know how I feel about... Even the Lord of the Rings, as much as I liked those... As much as they were really well done, I still wonder sometimes if I wish that they had never been made just because I loved the book so much as a kid. I love the movies, they're awesome but yeah. You feel like you lose a little bit of... You lose something when someone else interprets it for you.

Starr:
I've got to ask y'all, do y'all ever when you're reading a book, do you ever in your minds eye cast different people from different parts of your life as a character in a book?

Josh:
No.

Ben:
No.

Starr:
No?

Josh:
No. Do you do this? That's... I kind of want to now.

Starr:
Yeah. I mean, it's unconscious but...

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
I was just thinking about because of The Magician's, there's this one character, Alice, and I realized as I was reading The Magician's, it's like, "Oh, Alice is this person I knew in high school." And it's not the same person but in terms of what she looks like, what her mannerisms are, her general vibe and background.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that's interesting. I don't know. I have trouble... I don't know, the way I visualize, it's like... It's not like... I have trouble visualizing things extremely clearly. So, I don't know if I'd relate it to someone specific like an image or something. 

Starr:
I learned recently that some people do not have an internal monologue.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Which is kind of cool. I'm assuming y'all have internal monologues, but if you don't no judgment. I don't know, you just assume everybody works like you and then it doesn't happen that way.

Josh:
I'm glad you said that, Starr because before that my internal monologue was judging you but you're good now.

Starr:
Oh, thank you. Thank you.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, I'm reading five history books right now for some reason. And it's getting...

Ben:
I believe that reason is because you're taking a history course.

Josh:
Well, that's a big part of it but I was also reading history books for fun before that, and those are still ongoing, so now I have... I don't know if you ever differentiate between week, and weekend reading. I'll have my... Not necessarily work books but books that are more for development of knowledge, or things that I want to have read that I'm making myself read, and then books that I'm really excited about. And sometimes I'll save those. So, I'll switch my books on the weekend and read whatever the fun books are. Well, they've converged. So, they're all the same at this point.

Ben:
It's good when you can enjoy your work.

Josh:
Yeah. But I am really enjoying the history class still and it's been a lot of fun. And it's also been nice being self-paced because... In a normal class, like college class, I don't know, I always... I was always intimidated by the pressure of having to get the work done by... You have to get it done by the deadline, and then move on, and there's no room... For instance, if you actually got interested in a topic, and wanted to go down a rabbit hole for a little while, you don't have the time but in a self-paced online course, if something really strikes you, you can pause for a week and go read some other book on it or something. So, I highly recommend it if you ever feel like taking a course but not actually taking a course.

Ben:
Yeah. I mean, that's how I could get my law degree. I'll do it all online.

Starr:
Oh, there you go.

Josh:
I don't know. For some reason, early this year I really started thinking about going back, or finishing my degree because I have a half-completed computer science degree. And I decided I wouldn't go back for computer science because for some reason, I'm just... I don't... I'm already doing well enough without a computer science degree, so there's other things I'm more interested in. And this would be purely for... I guess just for selfish fun reasons. But there's a lot of options online. Especially, this year things are shifting it seems to where... I think we're going to have a lot more options in the future. So, maybe you will get your law degree.

Josh:
Yeah. I did learn that history majors are common for pre-law though, Ben. So, if I did get a history degree, then we could both be lawyers some day. We could start a Honeybadger law practice.

Ben:
Well, when we start our Honeybadger commune, we're going to have to have politicians, right?

Starr:
Wait, what? Don't we just send all of them to the guillotine? What?

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
We're getting away from them, that's why I did the commune.

Ben:
So, that actually reminds me of another book,the Dispossessed, is a novel about a group of people that... They're humans that are on a planet orbiting Tau Ceti and they basically... Historical to this character, 170 years back or something, a splinter group left the main population and moved to the moon basically, this planet's moon. And started this communal living experiment where basically they're all anarchists. And I really enjoyed the books description of their society. Ursula K. Le Guin, I'm not sure how you pronounce the name. But she goes to, I think, great lengths to describe... It's a utopia but it's not perfect. So, it's not really a utopia, right? But the idea is like, "Oh, this is a utopia novel but it shows some of the downsides you might find in any society."

Ben:
And so, I liked... Because I think some of the utopian novels get a little tired after a while. It's like, "Oh yeah, everything's wonderful and blah, blah, blah." But this one is trying to bring some realism to the idea of, "Well, okay. What if we had this ideal community? What would it look like? Okay. And then, now what might be some of the problems?" And in this case, some of the problems are... My comment about needing a politician for a commune comes from this because one of the problems that arises in this community, even though they're anarchists and they're basically all looking out for just the welfare of the community, still that generates over time, that generates some habits, some bureaucracies even.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And the main character is basically the story is rebelling against this what has come to be a Government, even though they don't believe in Government.

Josh:
Yeah. That sounds plausible.

Ben:
Yeah. It's a fun read.

Starr:
That makes sense. It's interesting to think about this stuff for when our grandchildren are running Honeybadger. And they look up at those bronze statues of the three of us and think, "God, what would they do? They were so wise."

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Or, maybe as they're rising up from the ashes of the society that fell apart in 2020 due to climate change, and COVID.

Starr:
No, that stuff's real. Well, see, I'll chip in with my books. I recently finished The Neapolitan Quartet Of Novels by Elena Ferrante. These are really... These came out five or six years ago and were super... Everybody gushed over them. Rightfully, because they're super good. But yeah, the novels basically trace this friendship of these two girls who grew up to be women, and they're in Italy. And it traces their friendship throughout their lives. And it's really interesting. And as a side thing... It's not really a main... It's not really something that gets really discussed in a lot of detail but one of the women is basically, an early programmer of IBM mainframes, and starts a start up. And I didn't even know this going into it but that was interesting to see.

Josh:
So, it's a start up book? Is that what you're saying?

Starr:
Yeah. Totally start up book.

Josh:
Okay.

Starr:
Yeah. The first one's called My Brilliant Friend. Yeah, the first two books in the series are great, the third book I was like, "I've got to read this but I really am hating everything the characters are doing." And then, the fourth book it was like, "Argh." So, I don't know. Maybe the first two books I would recommend and then just dip your toe in the third and see if you like it.

Josh:
Nice.

Ben:
Speaking of start up books, so I also read recently The Unicorn Project.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that's a good one.

Ben:
Which is the... Yeah, the sequel to The Phoenix Project.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
I couldn't relate to it a whole lot because like The Phoenix Project, it's all about big business.

Starr:
Oh, yeah.

Ben:
And how IT and ops and stuff work inside very large organizations, which we are not. But it was a fun story anyway, just like The Phoenix Project was. It was... I really like how that particular author structures the lessons learned around a narrative.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And I don't typically want that in my business books. Usually, I want something that's a little drier and just to the point. Like The Tiny MBA that we talked about last week. But in this case, I think it works because the story is good enough.

Josh:
Yeah. And the story helps... I like how it helps put you... Because like you said, it's not relatable to us from experience. So, it gives you that experience of living through what it's like to work in a large enterprise like that. Because I don't ever... Well, I guess never say never but I don't expect to ever have that experience specifically. But it's important to understand, especially for our business obviously. You want to know... It puts us inside of our potential customers too. So, any kind of book that can put you in someone else's shoes in business or industry, I like those kind of books.

Ben:
Yeah.

Starr:
Maybe we should make that one is relatable to our size of business and we could call it The Jabberwocky Project.

Ben:
I like it. Or, The Lemur Project because everybody loves lemurs, right?

Josh:
You should totally write that book, Starr.

Starr:
I don't know lemurs were mythical.

Josh:
The Lemur Project.

Ben:
Oh, right. These are mythical creatures. I forgot about that. I kind of thought phoenix's and unicorns were real.

Starr:
Oh, okay. Yeah.

Ben:
My world view is crushed.

Starr:
Well, Phoenix, Arizona's real.

Josh:
True. I've been there. Yeah, I think the next business book I read will be... I haven't gone through Tiny MBA yet so I'll... Still got that on my desk. I'll be getting to that at some point. I think five to six books is definitely... I used to be one book, single threaded reader because I used to... Well, before that, I'd just have a bunch of books and read none of them. So, I decided, if I'm going to get through books, I have to just focus on one, get it done, and then not let myself start another one. And then, I got really good at that, so then, I went back to the older approach where I could have a couple different threads going. But I'm reaching the limit now. Yeah. Do you want to hear some history books that I'm reading?

Starr:
Of course, yeah.

Josh:
Because I don't think I've ever... I haven't actually named any of them. So, I've been reading The Federalist Papers for way too long. I've been trying to read that book my entire adult life, okay? And for a long time, I just wasn't... I don't know. I wasn't at the level of reader to have the patience to get through it, I think. But I'm on... This morning, I finished Federalist's 76 of 85. And so, I'm almost done. That one in particular, since it's a primary source... If you don't know what they are, they're papers written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay in 1788. In favor of gratifying the constitution of the United States. There's 85 of them and each one is like a paper... It was like a newspaper article. But they were published at the time, as like a...

Josh:
And I didn't actually know this until recently but it was really a pitcher to advertisement. So, there's a little bit of... You can't necessarily read them completely at face value. There's a little bit of propaganda going on in there too.

Ben:
They were hyping it up.

Josh:
Yeah, they were hyping the constitution basically. But it's really interesting because it goes through point by point, arguing the specific details of every little decision that went into the document. But it's a really good slow... I wouldn't want to sit down and read this cover to cover in a few weeks. I don't know. You could but it's... I found reading one... I read one a day, and just spread it out. But yeah, I'm almost through that. And then, this class I'm taking, there's a few book but one is Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood, which has been pretty interesting so far. I'm only five chapters in but the general idea is you think they're radicals but it's not necessarily for the same reasons that you thought. They were much more British than a lot of people think.

Josh:
So, the actual act of rebelling from Britain was almost a pretty English thing to do. So, that wasn't necessarily radical in itself but it was really like... You've heard the quote, "The Revolution happened in the minds of the people." It's kind of along those lines where it wasn't necessarily the actual act of the revolutionary war, it was the larger sea-change shift that happened in the people over the whatever years of... Interim years. So, that's interesting. And then, the textbook is actually really good that goes with this class which is called Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution and it has a lot of... It's a collection of primary sources. So, you get to read the perspective of all the different people at the time from the era. Even it might just be someone's diary, their day-to-day, like The Unicorn Project but for colonists. So, yeah.

Josh:
And I'm also reading a biography of Hitler because I mean, 2020, it just seems like a good... Demagoguery is a good thing to study right now. So, that's my weekend book. And I guess... Yeah. I'm surprised I'm not more depressed.

Josh:
If you haven't ever studied Hitler and the era, it is really interesting of how societies shift to embracing something that terrible and radical, and all the political and cultural trends that go along with it that aren't really specific to the era. There are definitely things that were specific to the era but then, there's also things that you can pull out and be like, "Oh. Okay, we have that going on today for sure." If you put it all together, you'd probably end up with some kind of similar result. Luckily, there are definitely things that are not happening... Other trends that are not happening currently which gives me some hope. But it gives you things to watch out for.

Ben:
That's cool.

Josh:
Yep.

Ben:
So, do you feel like this has been a good use of your time, taking this class?

Josh:
I mean, in times where you're not sure what the heck is going on, then nothing helps better than more perspective. It definitely beats reading the news.

Ben:
There's a quote, I don't know who said this but it's like... And I'm sure I'm butchering it because I don't remember it exactly but it's basically, "History doesn't necessarily repeat itself but it rhymes."

Josh:
Yeah. I love that quote.

Ben:
Yeah. So, I love studying these people, and their lives. I was reading the George Washington book by Ron Chernow recently.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
And covering all that same time period, and seeing as it progresses, these photoless papers, they dripped out, and they were responses to criticisms about, "We don't want a strong federal Government. We're afraid of having a strong, centralized Government." We just got away from that.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
And then, even Madison turned away from his support of the strong federal Government over time and came more aligned with Jefferson's views.

Josh:
Right. And that was the falling out with Hamilton I think, right?

Ben:
Yeah. Yeah.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
And as you read their experiences and their opinions as time went by, you get to see, "Oh yes, that does echo some of the things that we're seeing today in our environment." And you can definitely learn-

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Get some perspective from them.

Josh:
Yeah. That's one of the major shifts that has stuck out to me, is the idealized view that you get if you got American history in college... I mean, in high school, or took a college class or something. You get this image that it was an ideal time or something and things today are just completely... Things have shifted to be terrible today in politics. They were dealing with just as major issues back then, if not worse. They had to deal with monarchy on top of it. Yeah, it's very similar dynamics. And like you said it's not... It doesn't repeat but it's definitely similar themes, and similar... Well, people, humans put in similar situations tend to behave in similar ways. You have similar outcomes in some cases. Politics has not changed all that much.

Starr:
You can see pretty clear consequences too from those arguments because I mean, there are a couple of issues in America right now where a strong federal response would be quite helpful.

Josh:
Right.

Starr:
And we just haven't quite seen that. And we're suffering because of it. And that's not necessarily an argument one way or the other but it's definitely a consequence. A while ago, I read A History of Thinking, or finance or something like that for central banks and it was talking about how America around the turn of the century I think... I think that's the time we're talking about. The previous century, not the aughts, was just having... The economy was constantly in this boom bus cycle, it was very unstable.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
And European economies had, had this basically worked out. They didn't have these boom bust cycles. And the reason was is that they figured out, "Hey, we can make a central bank and set monetary policy and that will prevent these things." I think, if I'm remembering this correctly, I think... One of the things that spurred the creation of the fed, which isn't really a central bank in the way that other countries have, it's this weird...

Josh:
Sort of like a public private system?

Starr:
Yeah, it's a private sector made up of 20 different regional banks. That came about because essentially, there was a man-made famine in America and essentially, the reason for that was... Well, food production, it was all domestic back then pretty much. And when it was time to harvest the crops, what the farmers would do, was they would go to the bank, and they would take out a loan, and they would use the loan to pay their workers to pick the crops. And then, they would go and sell the crops, and then pay back the loan. But the thing is, they were on the gold standards, so the banks had to have gold in their vaults to equal the amounts of loans that were given or something like that. And they... Somebody... I don't know, something happened and they didn't distribute gold... The banks didn't have enough gold, so they couldn't give out the loans, so the crops rotted in the fields and people couldn't eat.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
And then, it took that sort of magnitude of events for American's to get over their reluctance to trust national systems. And even then, they were like, "Well, okay. But we've got to have... We can't just have a national bank. It's got to be this weird Rube Goldberg machine to convince ourselves it's not really a national bank."

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Yeah, the whole federal, non-federal debate has been happening since our founding, for sure. And maybe it will never end. I don't think it will ever end.

Ben:
Well, we have fresh water for that debate now. Like the whole managing elections. Like Starr said, a number of things recently could be better handled by having a more centralized, stronger federal Government even that we have today.

Josh:
Yeah. One of the things that does seem to be different today, and it might not be, it might just be that there's so much more noise and we literally have every piece of information that anyone... Anything anyone is saying at this moment is being dumped online, and shoveled into our brains or whatever. But I do appreciate some of the actual policy debates that you read from that era. And even, well, if you look... The early Presidents were the same people who wrote a lot of the constitution, they were lawyers a lot of them, and other similar professions. So, their ability to actually talk and work through issues logically, and speak about the actual policy instead of being politicians. There was definitely politicing but political campaigning was not really... It's not like it is today.

Josh:
I'd just be shocked today if for instance if we had a President of the United States who actually wrote a well-reasoned piece about constitutional law for example which did happen back then because they were capable of it, and it was... I guess it was a lot smaller society too so there were fewer people working on that stuff. But I do appreciate that from the time. And again, it might just be that those were the things that survived. And so, I'm assuming not everyone was reading these things necessarily. But it would be nice if people actually talked about the issues and kept the politics a little bit more to the side.

Starr:
Yeah. I mean, I think people's... They still can. I think Barack Obama, and I think Bill Clinton talked about constitutional laws. So, I'm sure they could talk about it.

Josh:
Yeah. But they didn't.

Starr:
Well, yeah but they wouldn't have got elected then because that's not how the system works.

Josh:
Right. Exactly, yeah. And that's what I'm saying.

Starr:
We put the founding... We put the people who made the constitution up on this pedestal without necessarily realizing that it's like, okay, well, they kind of invented the system that we're living in now. So, not saying I would have done any better but they created circumstances in which this thing that we have now evolved. So, they're not completely... I don't know. They're not completely blameless for the current situation.

Josh:
Oh. Yeah, I'm absolutely not... I'm not trying to talk them up at all. I'm just saying if more people wrote even today about major issues... Fine. If you give your whatever, stump speech or something, and you don't have to go through the finer points of public policy or something, or even major... I would hope you would cover major issues but that doesn't seem to be the case. But maybe you could write a medium article or something.

Ben:
This is one of the things that really impressed about was with Warren.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
One of the things I really liked about her, is that she took the time-

Josh:
Same.

Ben:
And thought out those kinds of things. And not that every politician has to be like Elizabeth Warren, and has to have this great resource of thought but more of that would I think definitely be useful. Or, at least, more evaluating of that would definitely be useful. George Washington wasn't a lawyer, right?

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ben:
Wasn't a great thinker necessarily as far as Hamilton was, or Madison was, or even Jefferson, right? But he appreciated all of those thoughts, all of those writings that came from those people. He had Hamilton, and Jefferson both in his cabinet, who went at each other's throats because they were ideologically on opposite sides of the issues, right? But he valued the exchange of ideas, and the effort, and the thought that went into those works that both Jefferson and Hamilton did. And I think if we had more people like that, that would definitely help us out.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah. And that's a good point. Like I said, they didn't have real political parties back then. I mean, they had the federalists, and republic, like the Jeffersonian Republicans. And it was started to evolve but it wasn't like the camps that we have today. And like you said, they both had to work together and argue it out in the President's office basically. I don't know. The other thing that is interesting about parties is they talked a lot about factions back then. If you read some of the writings, and what they say about factions, you're thinking, "Oh yeah, that's like political parties today. These different groups of people that grouped together and have a similar platform and stuff." But in a lot of cases, the faction that they were worried about was actually between the individual colonies themselves because the colonies all viewed themselves as individual... Almost like individual countries.

Josh:
And in some cases, like if you lived in one of the colonies, you would know more about England than you would know about some of your neighbors. And so, they're literally thinking, "Well, these foreigners down South... These are the factions that we have to worry about." So, that changed my thinking a little bit when you think about parties. It was such a different period. Everything almost meant something different than what we would take it to mean today. Like, party, liberty, all these words had completely different meanings to them than they do to us.

Starr:
Person.

Josh:
What? Yeah. Person. Right. And yeah, obviously. But I like... When you go deep studying it, it helps to understand how things evolved to where they are today and hopefully looking back helps to make things better in the future.

Starr:
One can hope.

Starr:
I guess that was our Summer reading episode.

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
This is our common sense with Honeybadger episode. Next time, I'll have to get back to actual technology and business.

Starr:
All right. Well, this has been Founder Quest. And if you want to... I don't know. I don't know if I should ask people to rate us after this one because it's kind of off topic. So, if you don't like the off topic thing, don't rate us. But if you do, go ahead and rate us at Apple Podcast. If you want to write for us, we still hire people to do blog posts and stuff. Go to honeybadger.io/blog and look for the Write For Us link to read the whole thing and get in touch with me. And yeah, it was great talking with y'all and I hope that you have a good apocalypse this week.

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