This is a forum for me to write down my assorted thoughts on politics, culture, society, policy, science, and so forth – the same stuff that I regularly enjoy conversing with so many of you about. My hope is that many of you will read and comment on these, and that this blog will start off as a forum for discussion among friends. I also hope that you will share my posts with others when you feel it appropriate, so that any particular novel insights generated will make it into the wider world.

Posts will generally take one of two formats: “insights” (e.g., why the US senate is so dysfunctional) and “ideas” (e.g. how we could structure the US senate so it would be moderately less dysfunctional). In both cases, I will try to only post things that, to my knowledge, are not already widely discussed, and thus have some potential to bring novelty to our social discourse. However, I will not take much time to research my posts (if I did, I’d never get around to publishing anything), so I risk being off base on some of my facts once in a while – please correct me!

Who am I? We North Americans love to define ourselves by our careers, and by that token I am a professor of medical statistics, or an epidemiologist, or an evolutionary biologist, or an aging scientist, depending on the day and my mood. I have a unique perspective coming from my eclectic background: growing up I was the only Jew at school in a small town in Michigan. I studied creative writing at an arts high school, and at age 18 I moved to Japan for two years, where I studied Aikido, learned Japanese, and taught English. I have also lived in Italy (6 months), Panama (1 month twice), Toronto (1.5 years), and in Quebec (since 2010), and speak about 4-5 languages, depending on how you count.

My particular interest is in systems, be they evolutionary, economic, political, linguistic, or even traffic or how science is funded. In all of these systems, there are pressures affecting the way they change, and there are constraints limiting the ability to respond to these pressures. Many of these systems are important in society, and so I am always trying to identify pressure points: places where a small change could have a large impact on the system and improve its functioning.

So, read, comment, and enjoy!