Dean Clough

June 12, 2024

Portico Darwin: Gambling, Indigenous Americans, and Nukes


<3 Minute Read

Happy Hump Day, and yes, that is an old photo that I've used here before. 

It is of a large General Electric home appliance and television factory, in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1960s.  For now, please keep it in mind as you read today's . . . creative post.

I've always had a distaste for gambling.  While that may be because I mostly suck at it (my nickname as a kid at the Saratoga harness and flat tracks:  Black Cloud), there are other, more salient reasons. 

From the Mafia-sponsored NFL "sheets" of my childhood in Albany to the tracks above, and on to the casinos of Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe (and Viña del Mar), I've consistently felt wagering in its various guises just to be somehow off

Singularly unproductive is too harsh, but yet?  And now, with gambling available seemingly everywhere - WTF are we doing? 

Full Disclosure:  I have zero zilch nada problem with anyone who chooses to gamble.  It is a legitimate form of entertainment and I pass no judgment on those who do it within their own financial and ethical constraints.  I further recognize the industry has or does employ close family and friends of mine, ranging from Nicki Vale and her mom Rhoda Fladgate, to the Brit Randy Shmee.  And heck, I myself have been known to lose at $10 blackjack tables when I can find one.

But.  But.  But.

Let me illustrate with what was my first fully-formed opinion on the matter.  It was during the dawn of Native American casinos, many years ago.  I remember vividly saying to myself and others, "Why don't they make consumer electronics in factories rather than building casinos?" 

Look, I openly acknowledge America's other original sin, that being the genocide and theft of the lands of the indigenous people of what is now the USA.  As such, I strongly believe in the autonomy of Native Americans and their right to do as they please on the scraps of land they've been given. 

But, being me and all, that doesn't mean I don't have an opinion, and that opinion is that they could do so much more

OK, I get that we're probably not going to have a Mohawk brand of flat-screen TVs any time soon, but still.  Call me naive (although I prefer optimistic) but I am still not clear why we can't have large microchip fabs on tribal lands?  Can we not educate and train people any longer? 

Or, and I could not be more serious:  What about small modular reactors?  Known as SMRs, reasonably-sized nuclear power plants could provide unlimited and free power to those on the reservation, and what could be done with that?  Or by selling it to nearby cities and towns?   

I can hear it now: Wait, Portico Darwin wants to f'ing nuke Native Americans? 

Not at all, and as above, any tribe in question calls the shots and must want what is proposed.  And if you've been reading this blog for a while, you also know I want to nuke Houston first.  Indeed, I hope you will read that post if you think I've lost it today.

Because I use this fantastical thinking as an extreme example of what I'd like to see. 

And it's not like there aren't enough people or land for these grand schemes to be justifiable; here are some data from

An estimated 5.6 million people in the US (1.7%) classify themselves as American Indian, Alaska Native, or a combination of native and one or more races.  They make up more than 10% of the population in Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Approximately 326 reservations, totaling 56 million acres, are held in trusts and administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These include reservations, pueblos, rancherias, missions, villages, and communities.

But whether it be making televisions, a tribe/NVIDIA/US government joint-venture chip fab, or a small factory that generates endless, clean power, most anything would be better than more of this.

This is on the freeway outside of Palm Springs.  Couldn't this be something else and employ many more Native Americans?  In something more productive and useful? 

It's kind of already been happening.   

And why doesn't it happen more?  I posed that question Anthropic's Claude 3 and published its comprehensive answer here.  

Preview:  While there are certainly hurdles, I'm not as crazy as you may think.


Thank you for reading this newsletter.


OMG I am queasy about this, and there's a reason this band has not graced the imaginary airwaves of KLUF previously.  But, alas, I have little self-control, and this is just too perfect, no matter how meh it may be to some.  Here is Bad Company and the Paleolithic Straight Shooter.

About Dean Clough