Dean Clough

January 9, 2023

Portico Darwin: Are You a Fool, Or What?


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Happy Monday, and let's begin the week with some Shakespeare.  Naturally.

"A fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool." 

While often this blog is little more than a personal trough of self-aggrandizement and documentation of my overly-charmed life, I do occasionally seek and then pass along wisdom from those far smarter than I. 

That's the case today.  I'm going to share some thoughts from a few of the fleet of brainiacs upon whom I rely for guidance and for refining my ethical compass.  These hit my radar screen recently and I found each interesting.  Which by definition means you will, too - right?

10 Seconds of Seriousness:  it's a wide-ranging list, but each struck a chord with this writer.

Sam Harris:  Musk's Free Speech Absolutism is a Lie
With my radical reduction in news and social media consumption came an equal and welcome reduction in the amount of noise I hear about and from Elon Musk.  My favorite genius Sam Harris recently shared on his must-listen podcast Making Sense the news he had deleted his own Twitter account, and that Musk being absolutely full of shit regarding free speech (among other things) being a factor.

Harris reminds us that Twitter, as a private company, has absolutely zero to do with our Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.  Before and after Musk's purchase, the company was and is free to platform or not whomever it chooses. 

Musk is learning what his predecessors did, and finding it necessary to boot off authentic assholes like Kanye West.  Despite Musk's heavy breathing over free speech, and that West's posting of images of swastikas, while disgusting, is protected under the First Amendment, Musk still had to suspend his account for "inciting violence".  Also:  no algorithmically-driven platform can ever be called "free".  Nor one moderated by humans, for that matter.

Pro Tip:  research and understand the complexities and nuance of a situation before losing billions on it.

So no:  Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, nor any other private company constitute the "public square", where we actually are guaranteed the freedom to say whatever we please. 

For the record, this is what that looks like.  It's Country Joe McDonald in the early 1970s, getting ready to say/sing his piece at one of SF's major public squares.  In fact, that's its name:  Union Square.  He and others can say whatever they want, for as long as they want, at Union Square and places like it.   

But a privately-owned media platform that can elevate particular speech and extend its reach in ways never dreamed by our founders is not remotely the same thing.

Scott Galloway: 
Men are Struggling
He remains my hero, despite his oozing ubiquity.  Regardless, I love how he keeps the spotlight on a problem that few want to hear about, especially in the current climate of Psycho Wokeness:  boys and men, up to and including us awful white men, are struggling.  This is occurring across all age groups, but it's younger men especially that now have far fewer friends, are dating and getting married less, are less healthy, and not getting educated at the same rate as girls and women.

Example:  did you know that 1 in 7 men in their 20s have NO friends?  Not a few or a couple - but none

There's more at the link above if you don't believe me.  While it's not as glamourous as bemoaning the plight of transexuals, it's a far bigger issue.  I completely agree white men used to be the problem, and perhaps to a degree, we still are.  But white male hegemony and its permanence, are mostly over. 

That's a good thing, but perhaps let's not throw the (boy) baby out with the bathwater?

Ezra Klein:  Equality of Outcome is More Feasible Than Equality of Opportunity
My man EK had a stunning podcast for his last of the year, when he throws the floor open and responds to reader questions.  This year's was so powerful, I actually took notes - no joke. 

You thus may be hearing more from me about things like "administrative burdens" and "the time tax" at a later date, but today, I want to highlight Ezra's take on the old conservative bromide that the correct approach is seeking Equality of Opportunity, not Equality of Outcome.  In other words, if everybody is on a level playing field, we don't need a social safety net.

In America, as mostly free citizens with agency, we have the opportunity to attain unlimited rewards.  But there are also unlimited punishments if things don't pan out - circumstances be damned. 

Mr. Klein's point is that is exactly backward.  His implication is that, because it is impossible to have Equality of Opportunity, taxation and public policy must be used to ensure a more balanced outcome. 

Do you think Equality of Opportunity is attainable, and would be less intrusive than Equality of Outcome?  Consider the following, and this is just a start:

  • Where you're born has a massive impact on your outcome - do we move everyone to Atherton and Pacific Palisades and Lincoln Park and The Upper West Side?
  • Race is still a huge determination of future success, despite decades of effort, and I really don't know how we can make everyone white?
  • Health!  If you're sick and stricken as a child and later, things likely aren't going to turn out as well for you as for others not afflicted.  But how do you make everyone mentally and physically healthy?  All at once?
  • And hello:  you're ready and have the resources at hand to make every educational experience the same for each student?  K-12 and collegiate educations?  Nationwide, in every town?  Sounds easy.

I think you get Ezra's point.  It would be better for society if everyone could live in dignity, or, put another way, if we had more Equality of Outcome.  We could do that by somewhat limiting society's rewards whilst simultaneously reducing its worst punishments.


Ray Dalio:  Pain + Reflection = Progress
I am actually not a massive fan of this über capitalist and thinker.  But it's hard to argue with his equation.

Yung Pueblo:  11 Relationship Goals for 2023
This is a good one upon which to wrap up today, and it even came in via my better half.  In all honesty, I'd never heard of Yung Pueblo, nor am I on Instagram, where he first posted this, and where Julie found it.  That doesn't make it any less worthy.

  1. Act as a team
  2. No manipulation
  3. Honest communication
  4. Handle conflict peacefully
  5. Make time to relax together
  6. Share decision making power
  7. Create space for vulnerability
  8. Find joy in each other's happiness
  9. Be open about your fears and goals
  10. Let your healing deepen your connection
  11. Try to understand each other's perspective

Other than #10 - which is a bit rich for this Albany kid - I think this is exactly correct. 

Yet, I don't know:  with Julie (and perhaps Weissβier), maybe I don't need those other intellectuals?


Was Wordle trying to tell me something, re:  my recent bitching about the weather where I grew up?  And about all my other rants, for that matter?
Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


Here, as it must be, is What a Fool Believes, by the Doobie Brothers.  This, easily one of the most Bogus songs ever to emerge from a recording studio, features the dulcet (many would say nauseating) tones of the crooner Michael McDonald.   

He should have stayed a backup singer in Steely Dan - we all would have been better off.

About Dean Clough