Kamal Ravikant on the Transformative Power of Failure

Failure teaches and it can be transformative --- if you let it.

Kamal Ravikant, author of Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart, joined The Glenn Beck Program on Friday for a riveting conversation about his life experiences and the most important lesson he's ever learned --- how to love himself.

"What was the turning point?" Glenn asked.

Ravikant --- a self-made tech icon who served in the US Army, lost everything, trekked to one of the highest base camps in the Himalayas and walked 550 miles across Spain --- described how a message from Pastor Rick Warren motivated him during a very bleak time.

"I made a vow to myself that I was just going to figure out a way to get out," Ravikant said.

Glenn then asked how Ravikant changed things, if he'd bet on an investment.

"No, no, I bet on myself, on my inner self. And I just sat and worked on my inner self and to get myself out of it because ultimately, it's all inside," Ravikant said.

Enjoy this complimentary clip from The Glenn Beck Program:

GLENN: I don't know why I'm having -- you're in Texas. We're going to call you Pete from here on out. Kamal is with us. Kamal is a friend of mine. We met about three years ago. I read a poem of yours on the air. I didn't remember this. You reminded me of this yesterday. Read a poem of yours on the air. And then, did you write to me or call?

KAMAL: No. Someone from your staff reached out.

GLENN: Really? So then you came town. Right?

KAMAL: Yes, sir.

GLENN: And you have a fascinating life. When you came down, did I know who your brother was or who you -- I don't think so.

KAMAL: I don't know.

GLENN: Yeah. Because you have -- if you're in Silicon Valley, you're very well-known. Your brother is very well-known. Like really well-known. And we'll talk about that here in a second. You've written a new book. It's called Rebirth, which is kind of your story.

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: I was telling guys when we first came in that, you know, your story is very much, in some ways my story. You know, you kind of go and you lose it all. And then -- what was it, Pat? What was the next part of the story? Oh, yeah. You get fat. He doesn't have the fat part of the story yet. So...

JEFFY: It's coming, my friend. It's coming.

GLENN: But your story is the quintessential American story because you came from India.

KAMAL: Yes, sir.

GLENN: Nine years old.

KAMAL: Uh-huh.

GLENN: Tell me about it.

KAMAL: Single mom. Came here with my brother --

GLENN: You were a single mom at the time?

KAMAL: Yeah, I started early.

Single mom. My brother and I, two little kids, left an abusive father.

GLENN: In India?

KAMAL: No.

GLENN: Here in America?

KAMAL: He was here. He was here. He was still abusive here. And she said, "You know, I'm not raising my boys with this example." And she took my brother and I and left.

And we went through everything: Homeless, food stamps, bouncing one place to the other, and her just working minimum wage jobs day in and day out.

And I got to see her go through some very hard stuff, and she raised my brother and I on nothing. In Jamaica, Queens. We had ten locks on our doors.

GLENN: Jamaica, Queens -- do you guys remember? Did you guys go to Jamaica, Queens, ever? Yeah, I mean that's --

KAMAL: I think Run-DMC and a lot of the original rappers came from there. That kind of place.

GLENN: That's a dicey, dicey place.

KAMAL: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, got jumped a bunch of times. You know, I was a skinny little shy kid.

And then when I graduated, I left and went to college for a year and then just said, "Screw this," and joined the Army, one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. I was a (inaudible) soldier and did that for three years. And then went to college after that. And moved out to Silicon Valley after that. Then started building companies.

GLENN: Would you join the Army now?

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: You would?

KAMAL: Yeah, of course.

GLENN: Without hesitation?

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: Would you have your son join the Army now?

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: Wow.

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: No hesitation.

KAMAL: Of course.

GLENN: We've had this conversation internally a lot of times. I'm not sure what we're doing anymore.

KAMAL: Oh, of course not. I mean, it's -- the mission is a mess, but the art -- the -- being a soldier is the best thing I ever gave myself as a boy to become a man.

GLENN: And what part of it made you a man?

KAMAL: Being challenged in boot camp every day. Most of my friends thought I wouldn't ever make it. You know, I didn't need to go to the Army. I had a scholarship to college. And I went on my own, and I was a skinny kid from the city. Like I never held a rifle, never shot at --

GLENN: You had never seen the woods before.

KAMAL: I had never seen the woods. You know, and all of a sudden, I'm with a shaped hat, different haircut than this.

GLENN: Yeah, I would imagine a lot different.

KAMAL: You know, like -- sharing bunks with guys from like gangbangers and basically guys who were from everywhere in the US.

And, you know, you had to gel together, to come together to serve one purpose. And there were a lot of -- we didn't get along well, but by the end, we were like a well-formed unit. We were on mission. So you really get to see what this country is about. That was a great gift.

GLENN: I think you were telling me yesterday that -- that the service -- we have -- how did you phrase it?

KAMAL: Gentleman soldiers.

GLENN: Gentleman soldiers. What do you mean by that?

KAMAL: Well, I'll give you an example. I have a friend of mine who is FA (inaudible). And he's getting out soon. So I'm kind of guiding him on an entrepreneurship. And he just came back from a tour. And he was -- you know, the guy was bombing ISIS. And he was actually showing me some of the unclassified footage of one of the major bombing runs he did. And he took out a lot of ISIS soldiers there. It was where their barracks were, in the middle of the city. And it was very surgical. In the middle of the city. And yet he was telling me, he thinks about the civilians around there, what they must go through. They're stuck with these guys. They have no choice. They're under terror rule. And all of a sudden, the whole place is blowing up. And so he went on YouTube, and so he could look and see the civilian's perspectives, the videos they took of his bombing.

But we have very thoughtful soldiers. You know, people -- you know, people talk about this cowboy -- we don't have that. We have people who really care.

GLENN: You're such an interesting guy. At nine years old, you come over -- you're here coming over to America. You've lived in some of the worst places in America for poverty and violence. You grew up in a violent home. Yet you are one of the most peaceful, gentle, kind men I know. I get the nicest emails from you. And you're so thoughtful.

I think the first time we met, I think one of the first things you said to me -- and it was genuine. Was something along the lines of, how can I serve you? How can I be helpful to you? Where did that come from? What happened?

KAMAL: Well, first of all, thank you. I'd say my mom. I think it comes from who raises you. You know, she was an example.

GLENN: You told me that you rarely saw -- I mean, there were times that your mom was gone because she was working all the time.

KAMAL: Commuted two hours a day.

GLENN: So how did she give you that example?

KAMAL: I think I saw what she had to go through to take care of my brother and I on nothing. And how strong she had to be, but I could see what she was going through and what it took. And she is the most loving, amazing human being.

GLENN: I'd love to meet her sometime.

KAMAL: She is. She volunteers for battered women's shelters. You know, she works with seniors. She just gives.

So like she was an example. I don't think she ever told me to be this way. But I watched her be that way. And ultimately, that's all we can be.

GLENN: Were you ever afraid you would be your dad?

KAMAL: Yeah, yeah. It's something I dealt with in my 20s, you know.

GLENN: Anger, or just the fear of anger?

KAMAL: Anger. The fear of anger. And, you know, honestly, when you take anger and you turn it in -- if you don't let it out and you -- it turns it into depression. You beat yourself up. So I dealt with that in my 20s.

And it was ultimately then coming to terms with his death, with him. I was able to just let it go and realize, I am not him. I will never be him. He was an example for me in ways of not to be. I also have other examples.

You know, I met amazing men in my life who have been mentors to me. Had a great mother. So use that and --

GLENN: You can have other examples. And it's amazing. My son-in-law grew up in a very -- with a very dicey situation with father figures. And to the point to where I hear some of the stories, and I was, you know, watching him very closely on --

KAMAL: Sure.

GLENN: Okay. So who are you? Because figure after figure after figure in his life was not good until recently. And then I came along and screwed it up.

But he is -- he made the choice, I'm not going to be that guy.

KAMAL: Yes. Yes, yes. That's ultimately what we come down to, who we want to be. And then we have to live it.

GLENN: Okay. So let's cut to the chase before the break because I want to talk to you about what you think America means, because you have a great perspective on it.

Are we losing it? Are we getting closer, farther away? What do we do? And then I want to talk to you a little bit about technology.

KAMAL: Sure.

GLENN: But -- so you -- you had this struggle. You gained everything. Then you lost everything.

You end up in Silicon Valley. Did you lose it in Silicon Valley the first time?

KAMAL: Yeah. I made -- built it in Silicon Valley, lost it in Silicon Valley, rebuilt.

GLENN: Okay. Okay. Tell us who -- you know, you and your brother are kind of royalty in Silicon Valley. Why?

KAMAL: Well, my brother is known as one of the most entrepreneur-friendly investors in Silicon Valley. So he's been a investor -- first investor in Uber. You know, one of the first investors in Twitter. And so forth. He's known for being a very, very helpful guy. And he knows what he's doing. Because at one point in his career, he got screwed over by VCs, and I was living with him then. And he had to go through a lawsuit to actually prove it, and he won. I remember him --

GLENN: Meaning that the venture capitalists are vultures -- they can be.

KAMAL: They used to be more. Yeah.

GLENN: Right. And they can come in and take you.

KAMAL: Yeah, they were the money guys. And you needed money. Entrepreneur, you're not thinking like that. You just want to build your business. You want to make your dream. You're not thinking what you just signed away, until it's time, and all of a sudden they come and they take it.

GLENN: Right. Right. Right.

KAMAL: So at that time, I remember when he was going through that, the genesis of what happened, he said, "I'm going to level the playing field. I'm going to give entrepreneurs a power."

So first he started by actually creating a blog called Venture Hacks, where he just shared everything. Deal terms. How to negotiate for entrepreneurs. Just how the whole things works.

And then an angle list for angels to sharing different ideas with them and then built this platform called AngelList, where any entrepreneur now raises money for startups. So you don't have to spend six months begging VCs. You can go there if it's a great thing -- individuals. You know, people with money will just jump in and fund you.

So, like, Uber raised their first round on AngelList.

GLENN: How much was it the first round?

KAMAL: Uber at that time was worth I think maybe less than 8 million dollars. And they raised maybe 1.2 or something.

GLENN: And how much are they worth now?

KAMAL: About 60 billion.

GLENN: Jeez. Holy cow. Did you get in on that first round?

KAMAL: You know, that's a whole different story.

(laughter)

But I have friends of mine who did.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: And, you know, that one -- a 25,000 on investment at that point in Uber probably results, by the time we go public, at like 30 million, $40 million.

GLENN: Oh, my gosh.

KAMAL: That's Silicon Valley math for you.

GLENN: Yeah. That's crazy.

STU: That's when you need a flux capacitor.

GLENN: Yeah. And they're working on one, I think.

STU: Okay. Good.

GLENN: Okay. So we're going to come back, and I want to talk to you a little bit about your book and how you view America. Because we're an idea. And we're not talking about the idea of America anymore.

KAMAL: I think it's an ideal more than an idea. An ideal is something you uphold. You know, it's a principle. You know, that's what America --

GLENN: And are we -- we'll get into it here in a second.

[break]

GLENN: Kamal Ravikant. A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and Following Your Heart. The name of the book is Rebirth.

I can't recommend it highly enough. Kamal has a way -- and I think I have read either Edgar Allan Poe, or what's his name? The other one? If. Rudyard Kipling on the air. I've read his. And his novel is, I believe -- and this is probably going to make you uncomfortable. But I believe it is as good anything McCormick McCarthy has ever written.

It's just -- to me at least, it's just -- there's an art to it that you have, that you rarely, rarely see. And the story is really, really great as well. And it's kind of -- it's kind of your story of -- when your dad died, you promised that you would take his ashes back to the Ganges. Right?

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: I mean, I don't know if you did this intentionally, but you brought him back --

KAMAL: No, it was given to me.

GLENN: Really?

KAMAL: In a red Marlboro lunchpack, which think of the irony on that, right?

GLENN: Right. It's just my dad's ashes in the Marlboro pack.

KAMAL: I mean, I don't know who thought of that.

GLENN: Right. So you went -- and you were supposed to be just gone for a couple of eight days. You spent eight months.

KAMAL: Spent eight months away.

GLENN: And you ended up doing a Christian pilgrimage in Spain.

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: And how?

KAMAL: It changed my life.

I -- first of all, walking -- it was 550 miles long from the French-Spanish Border, all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

GLENN: And then back?

KAMAL: No. I took a plane.

GLENN: You took -- you're supposed to go back.

KAMAL: Well, in the old days, right. In the 11th century, there were no planes. But like -- millions of people had walked this. And so, you know, no matter who you are, you stop following the footsteps of millions of people, from their hopes and dreams, and following their beliefs -- and, just, many people died along the way, originally.

And you walk this, so the kind of people who come and walk it are interesting people, people who are all resolving things in their lives. And you start to share with each other stories of your lives. And when you share stories is how you actually learn and grow.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: And so that's actually where I learned -- you know, I was in my mid-20s. I was lost. I was broke. My dad had died. I was trying to come to terms with the anger I had towards him. And I couldn't resolve it because he was gone. And so all these issues I was working through, actually got worked out by walking and being out in the middle of nowhere, sleeping in vineyards and wheat fields and castles and churches. And just talk about personal transformation.

GLENN: Were you religious or spiritual at the time? Because you went up to the Himalayas before this. And you did the thing with the Dalai Lama's monks, right?

KAMAL: Yes. Yes.

GLENN: He's -- have you ever met him?

KAMAL: I've listened to him, but I haven't shook hands with him or anything.

GLENN: Yeah, no, he is a really funny guy. In person, he's hysterical. But there's something about him. But, anyway --

KAMAL: There is.

I'm not religious, although when I was in the Army -- in boot camp, I was baptized Southern Baptist. Full-on immersion.

GLENN: Right. Right. Right. Okay.

KAMAL: So it's been a foundation of mine. But it's not something I talk much about. I just go live my own thing.

So -- and this was a Catholic pilgrimage too. And though these days pretty much anybody walks it.

GLENN: Right. The guy that you met -- or, the character meets in the book. Did that guy -- is he a collection of everybody that you met, or?

KAMAL: You know what I did was I took people I've known that I've loved and, like, created characters based on them. And some of them are based on people I met. But all served a story of the lessons he needs to learn. And so as he grows, he meets the right people.

GLENN: Biggest lesson from the book?

KAMAL: Forgiveness. Letting go. You know, that's where freedom is.

When we're hanging onto the past, we can't move forward. And in the story, moving forward, get up, walk west, day after day, towards Santiago de Compostela, which is the destination, where the tomb of St. James the apostle is. And you just get up, and you walk West.

And as you walk, you just -- there's growth that happens. And you got to -- you're leaving the past behind, literally. And so you learn to actually not just let it go physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. And so forgiveness is the biggest lesson. And that is the biggest lesson of this book.

GLENN: Did you crash before you went on that pilgrimage? You had not made your money yet?

KAMAL: No.

GLENN: Okay. When you crashed, did you have a hard the time letting go?

KAMAL: You know, I had no choice. I was incredibly sick. I was depressed. I was suicidal. I think if I had --

GLENN: It made you physically ill?

KAMAL: Yeah. I had been going two and a half years, no vacation. Lost everything. And, you know, thought I was a failure. And I swear like, if I had the strength, I would have walked and thrown myself off the Bay Bridge. Those days -- I'm actually glad I didn't have a firearm. You know, it worked in my favor there.

GLENN: It's funny because I've often said -- because I've gone through that -- you know, when I was younger, in my 20s, and I thought, "I'm glad I'm a coward." Because, you know, I could have pulled myself, you know, off of a bridge, but I know I would have gotten on the bridge and went, "Okay. All right. Okay. This is too -- you know, I'm not -- I'm too much of a scaredy cat to do that." And that, I think, is what saved my life.

KAMAL: I'm glad.

GLENN: Okay. So you pull yourself back from the brink.

What is the -- only got 30 seconds. So we'll come back. I want to know, what was the lesson you learned there? Because now you're about to turbo your life and change everybody's life. And I want to talk about that. And as somebody who came here with nothing, been homeless, and in one generation, you love America more than most Americans, what is the secret of America that maybe we're missing?

[break]

GLENN: Kamal Ravikant is with us. Rebirth: A Fable of Love, Forgiveness, and a Following of Your Heart.

A good friend of mine, a brilliant writer, and a brilliant man, and one of the more kind men I know as well. And really thoughtful on how you approach life.

So you bottomed out. You lost everything. You come over here -- for anybody who is joining us, you come over here from India at nine. Your father is abusive. Your mother says, "Not going to raise you here." You're homeless for a while. Tough, tough upbringing, but a loving mom.

You join the military. Your dad dies. You go over to India. You go to the Himalayas -- I mean, you're a movie.

(laughter)

You come back, you go to Silicon Valley, and you and your brother at the same time are hitting it?

KAMAL: My brother got their first.

GLENN: Okay.

And for anybody who doesn't know, Ravikant is kind of a royal name in Silicon Valley, if I can embarrass you a bit. And then you lose everything.

KAMAL: Uh-huh.

GLENN: You just said, "If I had the strength -- because you were so sick -- I would have thrown myself off the Bay Bridge."

KAMAL: Correct.

GLENN: What was the turning point?

KAMAL: Turning point was actually, I watched this talk -- TED talk by Rick Warren. I don't think I've told this publicly before.

And it's my favorite TED talk. And at the end, he goes -- he's sitting there, kind of just like giving a very casual talk, and he's talking about the purpose driven life, and he's talking about how -- he said, "You know, in the end, we're all betting on something. Find what you're betting on and go on." And I thought at that point, "Okay. I'm going to bet on something and either go all in or die trying." I was going to get better. I made a vow to myself that I was just going to figure out a way to get out.

GLENN: So did you bet on an investment?

KAMAL: No, no, I bet on myself. On my inner self. And I just sat and worked on my inner self and to get myself out of it. Because ultimately, it's all inside. You know, like everything, we're stuck in our head. So I just worked on this. And I got better.

But it was like the focus full-on vow. I'm a big believer in commitment. Because once you commit, the ships -- they don't burn, they explode behind you. Right? That's the only way.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.

Once you can get to a place to where you can see it finished, you've done so much work that you're like -- it's not convincing yourself. It's just, all of a sudden, it just rings true. It's done.

KAMAL: Yes.

GLENN: And then your life changes.

KAMAL: It transforms.

GLENN: Transforms.

KAMAL: It really does. And my life changed. And I built myself back up. And I started writing these books to share what I learned. And they started doing very well.

And me being the real me. Not trying to be some hotshot Silicon Valley guy. Me just talking about my failures. And it's been amazing.

GLENN: Yeah. Yeah. Most people who meet you, they have no idea you're a hotshot Silicon Valley kind of guy.

So let's talk a little bit about what is America. What is it? You say it's an ideal.

KAMAL: Uh-huh. I think ultimately, for me, you know, the gift Silicon Valley gave me is the fact that everyone there is doing something. Dreaming and building. Which is what America is for me. It's -- we're always trying to create something better and be better. And, you know, that's -- America was an experiment that could have very easily failed when it started. You know, the Founders could have been shot by the British, and that would have been it. You know, it's about taking risks. It's about falling flat on your face. And Silicon Valley, we don't punish failure. If you did your best, you really tried something, it didn't work, we'll invest in you again. That I think separates it. That's why Europe will never be able to create a Silicon Valley. Because every European entrepreneur I know is terrified of failing. They'll never be able to do anything ever again if they fail.

GLENN: Failure teaches -- if you're smart, failure teaches you really important lessons. Failure is just as important as success. In fact, success can be crippling.

KAMAL: Yeah. Having said, the worst thing that can happen to a writer is early success.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: You know, like, I was writing and obsessively writing that book for over a decade.

GLENN: Holy cow.

KAMAL: Eight full drafts. Sending them to agents and publishers. Getting rejection letters. And those rejection letters are the best gifts I ever got. Because it made me become a better writer.

You know, I was writing very clever drivel, not from the heart.

GLENN: Yeah, yours is really on it. There's something -- have you ever heard someone say that about your writing? There is something completely unique about your writing. And it's not pretentious, ostentatious. It's not like -- it's not like clever, like you're trying to do something. It's just so authentic. Your sentence structure is different. I mean, it's really good. Really good.

KAMAL: Thank you.

GLENN: So where are we on the American life cycle?

KAMAL: Oh, that's a great question. We're in some interesting times, that's for sure. You know, I get to meet -- because I run a fund -- I invest in entrepreneurs. Even in Silicon Valley, people come from all over the world to be entrepreneurs there. So the American dream is very much alive. It's a matter of choosing who you want to be.

GLENN: You and I were talking yesterday off-air about this concept of -- that Silicon Valley is in its own bubble. And it doesn't relate to the rest of the country, in some ways. You invested in a company -- what is it? The RV --

KAMAL: RV Share. It's my favorite.

GLENN: Yeah. And what is it?

KAMAL: It's Airbnb for RVs. It's amazing. It's brilliant. It's a 12-man team, and they built it from scratch. And 12-man meaning there's a couple -- a few women and men team --

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: -- in Cleveland, Ohio, in this little office park. And they're changing people's lives.

You have an RV, and all of a sudden, you can make a living off it by just renting it out just to individuals. And make it stupid simple. People come find your RV. They rent it --

GLENN: Silicon Valley would have never thought of that.

KAMAL: They thought of Airbnb, but they didn't think of RVs, which is outside of Silicon Valley.

GLENN: Right. Right. This is -- would you compare this time in history to the War of the Currents? Of the Industrial Revolution --

KAMAL: Industrial Revolution. There's changes coming that are just going to transform society.

GLENN: What are people -- and this is something we've talked about working together on. Because I -- I talk to the people in Silicon Valley, and I'm both energized and -- and in a way, horrified because no one is talking about what's coming. And the change is so -- it is the difference between living in -- on a farm, with no telephone, no electricity, no plumbing, and ten years later, you're living in a city. I mean, it's profound change that is coming.

And nobody is explaining this to the center of the country. It's exciting and exhilarating. But it's going to change the way we think -- everybody is -- for instance, education is still preparing us for the 1950s.

KAMAL: Oh, gosh. Yeah, it's terrible. It's actually terrible. I would never hire someone just straight out of a traditional education. The best people I've ever met, I've hired, barely graduated high school, but they were doers.

You know, like traditional education these days does not prepare you to start companies.

GLENN: It doesn't. It doesn't. I think it actually hurts.

KAMAL: It hinders you.

GLENN: Yeah, it does. Because you think in that box.

KAMAL: You think that everything is taken care of. Whereas, if you start something from scratch, as you know, you do everything. You mop the floors. You make the sales calls. You take all the risk. But that is the American dream.

GLENN: Most exciting thing that you have seen that maybe others have missed. What's the most exciting trend line or idea that you have heard that you think is game-changing?

KAMAL: Well, I think ultimately the nearest term stuff is going to be like augmented reality. People talk about virtual reality. Augmented reality is just here. Like all these things, all these beautiful things you have here -- they didn't have to be here, but they'll just be projections that you put on glass that you just see there.

So that's actually coming -- that's actually even more interesting than virtual reality. Because then you can --

GLENN: Because it interacts with real --

KAMAL: Carbon reality.

GLENN: You have to wear glasses?

KAMAL: Glasses. Maybe contacts after a while. It's really interesting. And no one really knows where this is going to go. People can guess. Because ultimately as we talked about, technology is a tool.

GLENN: Yeah.

KAMAL: It's up to -- you know, I think one of the things that you mentioned that people on this side versus that side don't understand -- like, here's Silicon Valley. Here's somewhere on a farm. There's no one speaking a common language.

GLENN: Yes.

KAMAL: We speak a very different language in Silicon Valley and a very different language here, which I think is what we need. Like a middle ground.

GLENN: People don't know -- nobody is talking to the people in the center of the country from Silicon Valley. And so they're just seeing these products roll out, but it's not. It's about fully changing the way you think about everything. And I think the people in the center of the country, A, are going to be thrilled when they see it.

And they will find -- you know, the guy who did the original radio tube. I'm trying to remember his name. But he -- he made the radio tube. The amplifying tube. He didn't even know what it was for. He didn't have any idea what it was for.

Another guy comes along years later, named Armstrong, and he says, "Oh, my gosh. I can amplify sound so you don't have to have headphones anymore." The guy who invented that didn't even see that as the application. And that's what's going to happen when you include the rest of the country.

KAMAL: Yes. And, you know, the best inventors are the guys in the garage and playing with stuff. So there are so many out there.

I think if there is a closer collaboration of it, just language, you're going to create all these new entrepreneurs and new inventors out there that don't exist yet.

GLENN: Scariest thing you see on the horizon?

KAMAL: Virtual reality.

We talked about this before as well. It's amazing what it can be, but also it can be an amazing drug that will just pull you away from reality, which is what a drug does.

You know, just escape reality. And then we lose the incentive to go and change -- I think ultimately, we are all responsible for our lives. And we have to step up and take control and make a choice. Right?

If we're always escaping, that doesn't happen. And we lose -- I think we lose something fundamental as a human being in that process. So that, I'm concerned about.

PAT: How far are we from perfecting that? The virtual reality?

KAMAL: It's here. I mean, it's a matter of --

PAT: I know we actually have it.

GLENN: How long do we have the suit where you can feel the pressure --

PAT: Yeah, the tactile version.

KAMAL: They have that.

PAT: They do have that already? Wow.

KAMAL: To make it mass market, years. A few years.

GLENN: Like three years, five years, ten years?

KAMAL: Five years.

GLENN: Five years.

KAMAL: There's all these interesting things coming out, that, yeah, you can just lose yourself, which is the scary part.

GLENN: Really scary. Because there's a lot of people that want to lose themselves.

KAMAL: Yeah. And I think that could hold us back as human beings and as a society.

PAT: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

GLENN: How concerned are you with the -- the gathering of so much information? Not that anybody is doing it in a nefarious way now, but all you need is an excuse. And all of a sudden, the government can take this --

KAMAL: Yeah. Civil liberties are very easy to take away. You know, very hard to get. You know, we have them, and we've lost some of them, and we're going to lose more.

Everyone in Silicon Valley -- like most people -- we were talking about earlier. People I know, Silicon Valley, they don't use SMS. They use these secure messaging apps that are just -- you know, not that we have anything to hide. But if it tells you that people at the forefront are thinking this way --

GLENN: I use Confide. Is that the kind of thing you're talking about?

KAMAL: I use Signal.

GLENN: Signal?

KAMAL: Yeah. And really, like whenever I go through TSA, I always get pulled aside. Get patted. I don't care. I have nothing to hide. But still, you start thinking, like, if these things are happening, where is it going to go next?

As long as I don't lose due process, I don't mind being frisked. If I lose due process, then I'm in trouble.

Same thing with collecting information. It's very innocuous. But then everyone is being passive that we're being spied on, and then basically you have control over everyone. You know what they're doing.

GLENN: I only have a couple seconds left with you. But let me ask you this -- you know, we were talking about fake news. And the answer to that is everyone needs to be more responsible. And we've done it before. I mean, fake news has been around since the town criers, you know.

Ancient Rome, they had fake news. You can count on it. We have to be more responsible as human beings and more engaged and discerning.

I've talked to -- even Ted Koppel said to me in an interview, he said, "Don't you think that we need to license people who have these websites and blogs, and journalism?" And I said no. But that's where a lot of people will start heading, as things, you know, continue down this --

JEFFY: Well, they already are.

GLENN: Yeah, they already are.

So can you shut -- can people shut the internet and information down? Do you think that's possible at this point?

KAMAL: When you say people, do you mean...?

GLENN: Do you think a government can come in and really shut down the freedoms we have online on the air.

KAMAL: Sure. Look at China. They have entire, you know, full-time job. They're shutting it down. They do a pretty decent job. And you do it -- you know, all of it is done step by step. That's the scary part. You know, it's like when you put a frog, and you boil it slowly. That's what scares me. Right? So that's why I'm a big believer in civil liberties and due process, is that, you know, at least we have the system of law, where you can challenge them. When you can no longer challenge the secret courts, that's when we have problems.

GLENN: The name of the book is Rebirth. Kamal Ravikant. I can't recommend it highly enough. Grab it, read it, you'll love it. Rebirth. Kamal Ravikant. Thank you, Kamal. We'll see you again soon.

He may not be a super hero like he plays in the movies, but Chris Pratt is proving once again why he's a hero to so many. The silver screen protector of the universe announced on his Instagram page a contest that will benefit the Brain Treatment Foundation, who is a partner of Mercury One that does amazing work with veterans. The Brain Treatment Foundation specializes in helping combat veterans who are suffering from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The contest asks fans to donate $10 to the foundation for a chance to win a trip to drop in on the Guardians of the Galaxy star on the set of his new film Tomorrow War.

Watch his video below to hear all the details.


Ryan: The Ascent of Kanye West

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Apollo, god of poetry, light, prophecy, dance. Star of Greek mythology, rivaled only by Zeus, his father. God of justice. God of purification, knowledge, healing. God of the Sun. But most of all, god of music. So they called him the Leader of the Muses.

And on a bright Sunday morning midway through November, at the tail end of a decade, Kanye West looked out at the congregation of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, a 16,000-seater originally built for the Houston Rockets, and said, "Jesus has won the victory: Now the greatest artist God ever created is now working for him."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye's newest album, Jesus Is King, had been out for three weeks, and like every Kanye album, it was controversial, as adored as it was unaccepted.

Critics had shown a mostly tepid response, but nobody could tell if their disinterest was genuine, or if it was politically motivated.

After all, for the past year, Kanye had once again managed to penetrate the epicenter of American society. The last two Presidents had literally shamed and cursed Kanye, but, still, who could've guessed he would befriend this one?

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The week after Kanye's Olsteen appearance, at the House impeachment hearings, as the entire country watched and listened, Congressmen and diplomats would mention longtime Kanye collaborator A$AP Rocky no less than five times, in casual reference to the Kardashians and the deal between Trump and Sweden, struck at the urging of Kanye West.

Meanwhile, Jesus is King became the ninth consecutive Kanye album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 — a feat he shares with Eminem and The Beatles — and the sixth time in the 2010s alone. And, to be fair, his only studio album not to debut at number one was The College Dropout, his first, which went triple platinum and earned the third-most Grammy nominations in one night, winning Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song with "Jesus Walks."

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Jesus is King was also the first record ever to top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, Rap Albums, Christian Albums, and Gospel Albums simultaneously. All eleven tracks charted on the US Billboard 100, joining the other 96 Kanye songs to have landed on the Top 100.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

This album was different, and not just because of Kenny G. For the first time, Kanye was not a god or a self-destructive fallen angel. He was a father, a husband, a son, and, most important, a man full of belief, with his hands outstretched, surrounded by a choir.

"I remember sitting in the hospital at UCLA after having a breakdown," he told the congregation, "and there's documentations of me drawing a church and writing about starting a church in the middle of Calabasas."

That night, following an afternoon of ice-skating at the Galleria, Kanye returned to Lakewood Church and performed a concert. Imagine hearing a his electro-gospel opera in an arena designed, acoustically, for professional basketball games. Only better, because everything had been padded. With LSD graphics on the swirly blue carpet.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When we experience art, it changes us.

So there I was, four rows from the stage, crying in front of FoxNews. Because Kanye had brought his Sunday Service choir with him, and they were singing "Ultralight Beam," one of the few perfect songs ever made, a song that played during my wedding ceremony, the song my daughter, God willing, will be born to, a song I have never once listened to without at least tearing up.

“Jesus Is King" A Sunday Service Experience at Lakewood Church with Kanye West youtu.be

"This is a God dream, this is a God dream. This is everything."

Kanye was the only person onstage dressed in his own clothing, a neatened blazer. The choir were draped in grey, like holy silhouettes.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

So who cares about FoxNews and their snotty reporters in their shoulder-padded blazers. The rest of us had drifted into the immediacy of it all. And I wasn't about to play stoic journalist here. I wasn't a reporter first and a human or an American later.

The choir zigzagged on the loft flanking the stage. Each of them had a headset microphone, like Garth Brooks.

God only knew how they sang so perfectly. How did they project their voices like that? More beautiful than anything we had ever heard, more beautiful than water.

After "Ultralight Beam," it was "Every Hour," the mesmeric opening track of Jesus Is King.

Sing every hour, Every minute, Every second, Sing each and every millisecond, We need you

Every Hour youtu.be

The performance felt all the more sacred because this was church, where people gathered to lose themselves, to sing as a chorus, to confront who they really are.

Across the street, one protestor stood hollering.

Meanwhile thousands of people waited at the entrance, giddy to get in. They would join us in no time. Soon, they would fill every seat in this church.

*

That morning, Kanye told Olsteen,

"It's like the devil stole all the good producers, all the good musicians, all the good artists, all the good designers, all the good business people and said, 'you gotta come over and work for me.' And now the trend, the shift, is going to change."

Jesus Is King was the result of a new cultural and artistic movement that more or less started with 2016's Life of Pablo, Kanye's closeted gospel album. Which was a surprising departure from 2013's Yeezus, with its tangled social commentary and fashionable solipsism. And that drum sound, the one every half-decent producer has spent the last six years failing to emulate.

The 2010's saw him grow more cerebral. He even teased a book of philosophy titled Break the Simulation.

Then, in 2018, he released Ye, the second of five albums in a Kanye-produced series, all recorded at his Wyoming studio. In keeping with the criticisms of hip-hop he voiced on "Ye vs. The People"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye eschewed many of the themes he'd embraced for so long, replacing them with meditations on mental illness, fatherhood, suicide, love, and addiction. The album's working title had been "LOVE EVERYONE."

On "I Thought About Killing You," he raps,

The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest.

The title "Ye" is not just the diminutive of "Kanye."

As he said in an interview

I believe 'ye' is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and, in the Bible, it means 'you,' so it's [saying] "I'm you, I'm us, it's us." It went from being Kanye, which means the only one, to just ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything, that I'm just more of a reflection of who we are, just as beings.

Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer wrote that

All individuality is a manifestation of universal life, and hence everyone carries a tiny bit of everyone else with him, so that divination is simulated by comparison with oneself.

In the months following the release of Ye, Kanye would live out this idea, and build his own movement, a reflection of who we are, then begin his church in Calabasas.

*

At 10:30 that morning, the three of us — Samantha Sullivan, my wife Caroline, and me —- strolled into the arena and claimed seats in the media section.

That place resembled the inside of an ant colony. We were three ants.

The service began with errorless music, then shifted into a quick, stirring message by Osteen, who always seemed to appear onstage from nowhere, privvy to the kind of big-money stage tricks you find at a Shania Twain concert.

The entire place and all the Jumbo-Trons and all the people, it all had a cinematic presence.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

A preliminary giddiness spread through the room. Then, Kanye emerged, there on the stage, and the place erupted.

A man in a "Jesus is King" shirt danced around his seat.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Everyone took their seats, but one man standing in the crowd shouted affirmations. "Speak truth my brother," he shouted.

The man shouted several more times, then Kanye politely told the guy to hold off on the support because it wasn't helping, because Kanye needed relative quiet to capture and release his flow.

The ceiling glowed in skittish purple.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Kanye described the corrupting force of the media. A chill came over the room. Behind him, the unapologetic blue of Jesus Is King.

It was my first encounter with Joel Osteen, and I was surprised and somewhat baffled to find him likeable, based on everything I'd ever heard about the man.

Kanye said as much, that Osteen is nothing like the version of Osteen many people have broadcast.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Osteen laughed, "When you've got Kanye defending you, you've made it, man."

Rays of light danced through the arena. I'm talking Pink Floyd light show levels.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

With 21 Grammys, Kanye is tied with Jay-Z as the most decorated hip-hop artist of all time.

Osteen asked Kanye what he would say to his younger self, if he could go back in time.

"You know, it's nothing I can say to the younger Kanye through words," he said. "I could speak to the younger Kanye through music."

*

Osteen played the middle section of "God Is," arguably the focal point of the album.

And Kanye danced and rapped along with it. And the surreality of the situation was daunting. Was that really Kanye West up there? with Joel Osteen? dancing to his gospel song?

Six or seven years ago, I saw Kanye a mile away at the Toyota Center — coincidentally, the current home of the Houston Rockets — for his and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne tour. It was a much different experience than this.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When Kanye finished, the media flooded out. As did a quarter of the people in the congregation. This bothered many of the regulars.

Security and ushers yanked big grey mop buckets from cabinets, and dispersed them down aisles, and money music played.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then the time for prayer. Prayer leaders lined the walls and pews. And anyone could walk over to them and pray. Men and women clung to strangers, crying sometimes, hugging. Holding hands, whispering phrases.

*

One of the media coordinators pulled us out of the sermon, led us through passageways and elevators, past classrooms and security guards, through a black sheet, then behind a barricade.

This is where all the media had rushed off to like old folks trying to get the best seat for bingo.

Each news outlet was allowed one question.

After 15 minutes, the energy changed and you could tell they were near.

Then, Kim Kardashian-West was walking our way, holding her daughter's hand, followed by Kanye, who was followed by Osteen.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

"Nice tags," Kanye said, referring to my "GOOD" necklace.

Then:

Brief interview with Kanye West and Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church, Nov. 17 in Houston, TX www.youtube.com

Some of the outlets asked more than one question, but that was on them. They were the ones sinning in church.

*

As Kanye and Olsteen shuffled away, down the line of journalists, I said hello to a small crew from FoxNews as they packed their equipment.

"We're from TheBlaze," I said, smiling. To which they sneered and glanced at one another then got back to their conversation.
Samantha rolled her eyes and the three of us wandered around for an exit.

"Did we just get stiff-armed by Fox News?" Said one of us. "I didn't think they were allowed to look down on anybody."
"I've had that with people from Fox on several occasions," one of us replied.

"I mean, I thought I was doing them a favor a favor by acknowledging them. Nobody else does."

Then it happened again, a few minutes later, this time with someone we had worked with, someone who knew us.
You bet we were salty.

Bad as it felt to be judged like that, it was good to be underestimated. A relief. It meant we could perform without anyone caring or watching.

They had no idea who we were or what we were really doing. Good.

*

In November 2007, Kanye's mother died during a routine surgery. He and his mom, Dr. Donda West, had always been incredibly close. She raised him alone, after Kanye's father left, when Kanye was three.

A few months later, his engagement with Alexis Phifer abruptly ended.

He was 30 at the time.

Oddly, this tragic sequence of events would cause the birth of auto-tune in rap. Broken-hearted, Kanye wanted to sing. So he ran his voice through a vocoder.

Kanye's album 808s & Heartbreak, which like Jesus is King has no curse words, shoved music ahead at least two decades, into a world of synth-driven robotic R&B/Rap love songs belted out in janky auto-tune. That description doesn't sound ridiculous today. But that's only because Kanye eschewed the stale hip-hop of the early 2000s and reinvented the genre, something he has accomplished with every album.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Then, he went on tour. But he never took off any time following his mother's death. And, by the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, he'd fallen to what he calls his sunken place.

He and then-girlfriend Amber Rose brought a bottle of Hennessy with them to the award show. They took slugs in the limo. Then on the red carpet.

When Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video, Kanye stormed the podium, sunglasses on, and grabbed the microphone, said "Imma let you finish," then let everyone know the award should've gone to Beyoncé, for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

He was kicked out immediately. He tweeted, "Everybody wanna booooo me but I'm a fan of real pop culture... I'm not crazy y'all, I'm just real."

Followed by an apology. Then a few days later, during an appearance on debut episode of "The Jay Leno Show"

Leno asked Kanye, "What do you think [your mom] would have said about this?"

That hit Kanyelike a punch to the jaw. He teared up, froze.

He publicly apologized to Swift. Several times.

But it did little to quell the blowback. Once again, it felt like the entire nation hated Kanye. Compounded by a hot-mic recording of Barack Obama — the country's first black President — calling Kanye a jackass.

So the embattled Kanye retreated to Hawaii to record a masterpiece, 2010's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

*

"We are a Christian country," Kanye said at one point, to uproarious applause.

The vast majority of Americans, 90 percent, believe in a higher power.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

And America has the largest number of Christians in the world, with roughly 167,000,000, comprising 65-to-70 percent of the population. But that's down from 80 percent, as part of a downward trend over the last two decades.

The percent of Americans who attend a religious service of any kind — church, synagogue, or mosque — is even lower, less than half.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

One political scientist blamed the public's growing distrust in institutions. Another blamed conservatives. A writer from New York Magazine took it a step further.

Meanwhile, David French.

As always, the issue is far more nuanced than either side will admit.

Somehow, in the last twenty years, church and religion had become not just uncool, but slightly villainous.

All day, every time I looked around — at people singing, at people dancing, at people crying in joy or in the relief and recognition of their pain — I thought, "How could this ever be a bad thing?"

Photo by Caroline Ryan

I had spent my life going to concerts, had seen Kanye West numerous times, and this was something other than a concert, and unlike anything I'd seen from Kanye. It was also more than just religious or spiritual.

A family of strangers in a city of 6 million, in a world of 7-and-a-half billion, broadcast live, led by a man who fought off the devil in front of us for years. Who struggled with life just like we do, only we could nitpick through the one-way mirrors of our phones and our TVs.

But, now, he had been baptized in public.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

Some people were still negative about Kanye's recent faith, especially Christians. As Kanye raps on "Hands On"

What have you been hearin' from the Christians?
They'll be the first one to judge me
Make it feel like nobody love me

Consensus was, they couldn't believe him. As a Kanye fan since I was 13, I can tell you that he is genuine. It's really his only setting. Plus, his spiritual transformation has been building for quite some time.

*

By the time we returned to Lakewood that evening, the sky had turned dark blue, and frantic with airplanes.

The sidewalks around the arena overflowed with people. Police cars jutted out in crooked lines to block entrances or exits, the strobe of red-white-blue whirling onto pedestrians' faces.

Across the street, facing the giant arena, a man with a bullhorn ranted about the evils of sinful music.

Earlier that day, sheepish protestors had occupied the spot, holding red poster-sized letters that spelled out "I M P E A C H." There were only four of them, though, so they had to double up and share, and sometimes the "H" slanted down or the "I" slipped loose.

"Impeach Kanye?" one of us said, laughing.

"Kanye 2020," shouted someone.

The air was electric. People bounced when they stepped, or walked faster than normal, or turned oddly as they spoke like a third-year professor.

They sang along as they passed traffic-jam cars, most of which were blasting Kanye.

A chorus of police whistles and the usual rumble of semi-trucks passing on US-59. Just down the street, porn shops and strip clubs and a Ferrari dealership. Immediately Southwest, the Mahatma Ghandi District. West, the Galleria, home of the opulent Galleria mall, where Kanye and Kim and family gone ice-skating earlier.

Inside the arena, a different world, low-lit and glowing. A dreamscape of lambent crimsons and violets, a deeper, warmer, slower take on the lights atop the police cars outside. Globular squares of blue were arrayed along the ceiling.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

When the musicians emerged to their instruments, the arena was still half-empty. The show had already been delayed 40 minutes. The demand to get in was so ferocious that the security gate was jammed up like a glass Ketchup jar.

Then, like spirits, men and women drifted onstage in all-grey uniforms and matching hats that looked like they should say "VIETNAM VETERAN" but actually said "Sunday Service."

Every single member wore brand-new grey YEEZY Boosts.

From the start, the performance was cinematic, a sort of new-world opera sung by a chorus of young American muses with nose rings or gold chains or dreadlocks or pink hair.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

From the huddle, a young man rose, and began reciting a poem. It was the invocation of the muse.

Gadamer wrote that poetry "becomes a test of what is true, in that the poem awakens a secret life in words that had seemed to be used up and worn out, and tells us of ourselves"

*

After a whirling rendition of Carl Orff's "O Fortuna," the choir began "Ultralight Beam."

They let the song spread. It grew enormous.

The air swirled as the song widened.

Kanye waited out of view, then appeared without ceremony.

A collective gasp when people recognized the melody of Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Which sounds like a dream already, with all that wilderness.

So it was even stranger when the song morphed into SWV's "Weak," a skating rink anthem written by Charlie Wilson of the GAP Band. A classic.

The choir were their own countervailing force. Yet they also connected us to the drama of the performance.
Looking back, I wish I could live in those moments forever.

*

Then came their cover of "Father Stretch My Hands" by Pastor T.L. Barrett And the Youth for Christ Choir.

Father Stretch My Hands www.youtube.com

Kanye has paid homage to Barrett's track on two different songs, from two different albums.

It was his prayer.

Pastor T.L. Barrett, a man who's lived an exciting and at times difficult life, only to become a Pentecostal preacher on Chicago's south side, and form a choir of 40 teenagers from his weekly choir practice.

If you dive into Barrett, you'll better understand what Kanye is doing.

*

Ten seats from Kim Kardashian-West, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX) stared ahead in a neat grey suit, occasionally poking at his phone and blasting people on Twitter.

Which means there were at least two people in the building who have appeared on Saturday Night Live.

There were other politicians, including Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick. And even more at the earlier service. You could tell they were politicians the same you can tell a vegan burger from a real Whopper. Several times, Kanye held up his phone up and read the words from his newer songs.

Like "Selah," which built into "Hallelujah"s at the end, intoxicating and perfect, like being sucked into an undertow. Which led into "Follow God," a continuation of "Father I Stretch My Hands."

Kanye uses the image of stretched hands to express his own submission and the process that leads to his healing. As a reference to John 21:18

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.

But the song is also about Kanye's literal father, and an argument they had. Then, under it all, he adds a sample of "Can You Lose By Following God" by Whole Truth. He ended the song with his Kanye shriek, somewhat confusing and abrasive with a choir present.

Then — something I did not expect. The thumping bass of Cajmere's "Brighter Days (Underground Goodie Mix)."

And now this was cosmic gospel.

It felt like a rave. Have you been to a rave? It's people dancing, taking MDMA. That is what it felt like.

Flourishes like that were part of Kanye's genius. No other gospel performance would dare. You won't find that kind of diversity at any other hip-hop show, either. The acoustic instruments, the choir. Maybe during a set by electronic musicians like Moodyman or DJ Koze. But, no choir. Yet here Kanye was, at Joel Osteen's church, blasting classic techno.

Oddly enough, though, the most popular song of the night was "Closed on Sunday," Kanye's ode to Chic-Fil-A.

Everyone in the arena knew the words. So then there were two choirs, in a dialogue. I didn't think it was possible, but the collective harmony got even more intense and engulfing than it had all night. So much so that the house speakers started to peak in one corner of the arena.

Photo by Caroline Ryan

The Ancient Greeks were the first to use a chorus. In the 5th Century B.C., 50 actors would gather in the orchestra pit and sing in unison, commenting on the action of the play, describing scenes to the audience. They were a collective force. They represented one character, who was able to connect the audience to the characters and events onstage.

Kim Kardashian was front and center filming with her phone, as two of the West kids jumped around on the trippy blue carpet.

The performance was nearing its end, and suddenly Kanye was dressed like everybody else in the choir. Grey Yeezy kit and the Sunday Service hat. His transformation. From Kanye West to Pastor Ye, stretching hands.

Then, he was gone.
One by one, the choir began fluttering off the stage, to the Clark Sisters' "You Brought the Sunshine."

Half were gone, when I noticed the singer with braided hair crying. With every exhale, she collapsed her hands into the floor. Let them fall like tired flowers. Arrayed in fitful blue. She gasped. She heaved her shoulders like a wingspan. For a moment it was like she would actually take flight.

A security guard peered over the railing from above the stage. He looked like God.Symbolically, he was.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com

Don't believe in time travel? Think it's just a wild conspiracy theory reserved for late night alien radio programs? Well, we have unearthed bombshell evidence that will blow you away and have you questioning everything!

A 120-year-old photo PROVES climate change activist teen Greta Thunberg is actually a time traveler warning all generations of the dangers of global warming.

Glenn did some exhaustive research and found several other photos and subjects in historical paintings. Check them out here and see if you are now a believer:

Warning Elvis fans

Ryan: Suction energy, pt. 1

Photo by Sean Ryan

After his speech at the Boone County fairgrounds, Joe Biden nodded and people engulfed him like he was their oxygen. Journalists shouted questions, photographers shoved people aside. Biden's bodyguards even drew closer. I found a good oak tree and hid out in the shade, 100 yards from the chaotic huddle.

Photo by Sean Ryan

They shoved closer and closer and closer, with a vacant urgency to their eyes. They had to get as close as possible. It was like some force of nature had taken control of everyone, and now their only goal was to merge their lifeforce with Biden's.

The frenzy of writhing arms and contorted bodies reminded me of Shark Week, when the hulking Great White breaks through the protective cage and how's the diver gonna make it out alive this time?

*

A need for convergence, often leading to upheaval.

Most of the Democratic candidates caused this effect. As did their opponent, to a far greater degree. Because he was the president, and he was Donald Trump, so, for the time being, he embodied this magnetism more fully than anyone else in the entire world.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Every time Trump entered a room or a building or a space of any kind, every person within a reasonable distance felt it. And they couldn't help but bob their head around, and arch up on their tiptoes, scouring till they saw him, and then all they could do was lean forward and wonder if it was actually him.

Some of the Democratic candidates had a stronger magnetism than others. Which meant the gravitational pull had laws that guided it. The term I started using for it was "suction energy."

It was something you could physically feel.

At the Iowa State Fair, Bernie Sanders' suction energy was so intense, so visceral that it reminded me of a hurricane.

Photo by Sean Ryan

People wanted to be as close to the man as possible. They wanted a picture. Proof that it happened—that they had actually seen someone that famous.

And they were perfectly right. And their reactions were understandable and lovely even, and altogether innocent. Encouraging. Because they were genuine.

Even journalists were susceptible to suction energy. In fact, they could spazz even harder. Unlike the public, they were there as workers.

*

Suction energy is an art, something you cultivate. But it's also a result of luck and reality. Some people will just never have an ounce of it.

Take, for instance, Jay Insleey, who was apparently a Democratic presidential candidate in the 2020 election. At some point in my travels, I wound up in the same place as him.

Maybe it was a couple times. A couple, two, three. I can't remember.

All I know is that I went to Clear Lake, Iowa for the Democratic Wing Ding, to see Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren and the 20 other candidates, and this guy Jay Insless ... sorry, I mean Inslee took the stage at some point. It's hard to say when exactly because, as I mentioned, he was impressively forgettable, like a human thumbtack.

Wing Ding featured Jay Insee?Photo by Sean Ryan

He was yammering about something, and, man, he looked and sounded like P.C. Principal, from South Park, and that was pretty funny.

I told my dad, and then we were both laughing. Then my dad did an imitation of P.C. Principal, and we were really hooting.
Then all I could think about was P.C. Principal. So I ducked out into the hall to watch a P.C. Principal clip compilation, and I laughed and laughed and nobody went "Shush!," because there were plenty of others like me.

Photo by Sean Ryan

And, boy, I laughed. I was actually a bit sad when the clip was over. I'd forgotten where I was, and when I caught a glimpse of the guy onstage, my sadness deepened into pity. The feeling you get when you realize that the amateur thinks he can beat the professional. When the replacements think they will know valor. When your dog thinks they're going to the park, but really it's the vet, and they wake up without balls.

Do we have an obligation, a moral imperative, to tell a Square when she's trying to shove into a Triangle hole? How much teeth-lettuce does a person lodge into their incisors before you are inclined to alert them?

Like, after this speech, that guy John Insley, would wander around the walkways of the Surf Ballroom, same as Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang, only he'd lack their glow.

Crowds flocking to Kamala HarrisPhoto by Sean Ryan

At one point, he'd clench his jaw into what must have been a smile, ready for any nearby journalists to sneak a candid photo or rush forward for a quote.

Photo by Sean Ryan

If any of the others noticed, they didn't let on. So here was this chubby kid in a costume knocking on the front door, and I know full well Halloween was weeks ago, but who's gonna feed the harmless lie if I don't?

Photo by Sean Ryan

Nobody, that's who.

So I groaned and shrugged and told my dad, "Let's give the tubby kid some Starburst."

"Wha?" he asked.

Then I asked would he get a picture of that candidate over there.

"Who," he replied. As in, "I can't see an important person over there, which one is running for president?"

In other words, Insleep had absolutely zero suction energy. To a near-magical extent.

Within a few weeks, he would announce the end of his campaign on The Rachel Maddow Show.

Yet there he was, somehow center stage, looking out at the packed Surf Ballroom, where, on February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly played his last show.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Buddy Holly, now there's a man with suction energy. So much suction energy that, when he died, music went with him.

*

When I saw Kamala during the week of the Iowa State Fair, she was at the height of her campaign, having climbed to second place, within nine points of Biden.

Everywhere I went, there was Harris, with her personalized KAMALA bus, and her chartered press pool, and her entourage of staff and fans and media.

Photo by Sean Ryan

On the first Saturday of the Fair, my dad and I wound up seeing Harris five times. Five times! In part because she could hustle. She wanted that job. But also because she understood power and optics.

Before her speech at Jasper Winery, (when she played savage 4D chess with Andrew Yang, she spoke to several hundred people packed into the atrium of Valley Southwoods Freshman High School in West Des Moines, her fourth rally of that day.

Photo by Sean Ryan

When she finished her speech, a horde surged straight for her, eighty or so.

Photo by Sean Ryan

Just a month earlier, The New Yorker had run a glowing profile on Harris. That was huge. As of the release of this story, Harris was the only 2020 presidential candidate that The New Yorker had featured.

Photo by Sean Ryan

At that point of the election, excitement for Harris was so intense that it seemed obvious she would get the nomination, or close to it. So I wrote five pieces about her.

But by the time I finished all five stories and added them to the publishing schedule, Harris had sunk 11 points to 4 percent, which put her in 8th place. In New Hampshire, the first state to hold primaries, she was polling at 1 percent. By comparison, Biden, Warren, and Sanders were locked at 19.

Now, the only headlines were about her foundering campaign and her dwindling cash and her downsized staff. In each case, the sentiment was the same, "Whatever happened to Kamala Harris?"

Which answer a question I posed in my first story. Would Harris "I got this one in the bag" attitude help her or ruin her? Turns out the ostentatious bus and the unnecessary press accommodations had been a premature move, and now she just seemed cocky.
Because suction energy can, and often does, vanish in an instant.

A Bernie can always become a Jay InslepInslee. Nobody is immune, no matter how powerful they appear. Look at Bill Cosby. Harvey Weistein. Both were godlike in their power. Both had a gravitational pull so intense that they raped women for decades and nobody did a thing. Cosby's suction energy was so intense that he collected honorary degrees like a vacuum collects dog hair. 70 of them. Then, off to prison to eat pudding in the dark.

By the time I saw Harris at the Democratic Debate in Houston, a month after she stormed Iowa, she'd begun transforming into Joe Biden, focused on all the wrong things, laughing at her own jokes, without realizing that nobody else was laughing.

New installments of this series on the 2020 elections come out every Monday and Thursday. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@mercurystudios.com