Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Instructions for people who suck at everyday life

The major idea of Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom was identifying the way communities use processes like privatisation and “informal norms and cultural rules” to combat the Tragedy of the Commons. [Hat tip Anti Dismal]  It’s the same point made in Larry David’s lesson to Christian Slater (above) about eating all the caviar. (A principle he then embarrassingly breaks himself.)

At a party, Larry David spots Christian Slater, who, considering his career lately, is indulging a little too heavily in the caviar. As Slater goes over his "allotment," Larry David tells him: "We have unwritten laws in our society... You take a little bit, and then you step away for twenty minutes, see what kind of action there is. If nobody's taking any, maybe take a little bit more. Step away again. So forth and so on.

If this advice to a caviar hog sounds pretty basic, it is. That’s because it’s advice to someone who sucks at everyday life. Just like Larry himself. Just like all these Instructional Diagrams for People Who Suck at Everyday Life:

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