Dean Clough

September 15, 2021

Portico Darwin: Nudge-y McNudge

Let's go through midweek with a short post and some smart, fun stuff from two very smart people.  Plus, I've got a new feature I'll introduce in a special post tomorrow.  How exciting for you, I know.  

I read and pushed this book on friends early and often upon its initial publishing in 2008 and now it's back.  It was and is called "Nudge" and its genius authors, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, have basically done a total rewrite. 

Not that their original premises have or should have changed.  The fundamental concept of Nudge is that you make it easier for people to make smart choices, yet you prohibit or punish no choice.  If you can imagine an urban bodega with fresh fruit at eye-level but no extra tax on Big Gulps, you grasp the concept.  Or an "opt-out" policy for work 401k's - you must specifically opt-out of a retirement plan at work, otherwise, you're automatically enrolled (a good thing for most everyone). 

The original book also introduced the concepts of Libertarian Paternalism and Choice Architecture, among many othersIt is also considered a benchmark in the field of Behavioral Economics

One of my favorite podcasts (although somehow omitted from this), "Freakonomics," just featured one of the authors, the entertaining and brilliant Thaler, to discuss the new edition.  Here it is.  I definitely hope you'll give this a listen, as it points a way out of our national malaise - no kidding.  More Nudge, Less Sludge, is what I say.

More?  Here's the preface to the new edition. 

I promised I would print their (quite maudlin) plea for me to revisit my verdict on valid entries for The Contest.  Here are are the global Elizabeth "Polly" Michaels and Primo Harvey, PhD. on why International National Parks matter. 

"Subject: A Case for International Parks

America is rightly proud of its national parks.  We often tell each other the creation of our parks system is the best thing our government has ever done.  But to maintain that America has a monopoly on natural beauty is Nationalism taken to the absurd.

Instead of diluting the esteemed Portico Darwin National Park contest with American national park derivatives and such, the contest would be strengthened by including the parks of our brother and sister nations.  As you can see from the [previously published] pictures and videos from Croatia's Plitvicka Jezera and Krka National Parks, there is unique and awe-inspiring natural beauty outside our borders.  And, as you know in your heart, including parks from other nations is an appropriate step toward world peace.

Chalk up two more for 'Polly' and Primo."

Sorry, my verdict stands, but they do get points for their on-location reporting and tear-jerking Bono imitation.  A reminder the song is "America The Beautiful", not "America and Croatia The Beautiful", but saying so makes me an "absurd Nationalist"?  Just because I like Yosemite more than here?  10 seconds of seriousness:  welcome back, and I bet you'll both like how the contest ends.

Cousin Cyd Darwin thanked me as always for mentioning his work here, but more importantly, shared this link to an amazingly rich policy siteAmerica 3.0 is now my mancave reading project.

And my rant on Predatory Capitalism got some play, here and elsewhere, but the newsletter fanboy Hunter Deuce pointed out it was ground already covered by a slightly wittier guy:

"'What's the deal with toothpaste?'"


As I believe they say in show business:  if you're going to steal, steal from the best.  But I did mean what I wrote and I do believe capitalism in America and elsewhere is terribly broken.

But we'll end on an upbeat note with a belated thank you from the weekend.  This past Saturday, we had a long-overdue dinner out with two friends we've known among the longest here in SF, and that is the superlative Rikki and Andre Aurich.  We dined at the Textbook Angelino in Sausalito, and wow was it Chamber of Commerce there on the shores of the shimmering San Francisco Bay - it was an authentically magical night in the Bay Area.  Happy to see Angelino still going strong after at least 20 years of visits by us - it was as good as ever.

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Thank you to any one that is reading this blog newsletter.

No matter what, this absolutely has to be here.  (Fun fact:  Soul Asylum, opening for Cracker and Spin Doctors at the beyond-Diamond Certified Greek Theater in the early '90's, put on one of the most electric, raw-nerve shows of any I've personally witnessed.  True story.)

But for the main event, and just as fitting, is perhaps the most overlooked album of the David Lee Roth era.  Here is Van Halen with their searing "Fair Warning", in 96 kHz, 24 bit high resolution.

(Yes, both reference "shoving" vs. "nudging", but what the heck - America could use a shove?)

I also hereby nominate "Here About it Later" as amongst the finest of all Van Halen songs, from any era.  There's certainly no fucking way Wolfgang can come close to the harmonizing Michael Anthony does on the song, and it is, in some ways, the most complete Van Halen song - it has it all.

(Fun fact #2 [for literally me, and me alone]:  the fun and amazing Eddie riffs that open "Sinner's Swing" were used in a radio ad that played constantly for a nightclub in Daytona Beach when I first moved there in September of 1981.  So each and every time I hear that song, I time-travel back to America's )

About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.