This summer I read a 2015 Mother Jones expose of privately run prisons in the United States. Three things I learned: 1. Private prisons may be the worst thing going in America. 2. Private prison stocks are probably included in your retirement fund, like they are in mine. 3. My IRA provider, Vanguard, doesn't care. I asked my Facebook friends for… Continue reading Who Owns Private Prisons? Part II: Learning about responsible investing
When I was a kid, I tried to like Choose Your Own Adventure Books, primarily because my brother had a bunch of them. I hated them. Every time I made a decision, I would stick a finger between the pages of the other choice so that I could go back and re-choose if I failed (which… Continue reading Today’s media environment is a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and not in a fun way.
I have an old high school friend whose college admissions essay argued that humans are incapable of altruism. It worked; apparently ivy league admissions staff are a cynical bunch. I think back to my friend's essay when I hear arguments about human nature. In the last few years I've been encouraged by the amount of research suggesting that humans do not, in fact, always… Continue reading Can humans be altruistic? Or are we all jerks?
In our public policy theory class, we began with a discussion about the absence of an overarching theory of public policy. I learned pretty quickly that other social science disciplines--economics perhaps excluded--lack one as well. Why? Three potential reasons: We tend to understand things atomistically/essentially, rather than relationally. Whereas I intuitively understand human behavior as a product of… Continue reading That’s all well and good in practice, but how do humans work in theory?
I have a pretty unhealthy relationship with my phone. I'm not alone, and that’s no surprise: The machines are designed not to make us happy, but to maximize the amount of time we spend on them. And I'm not the first person to complain about how the device sucks you in or how other people… Continue reading Your phone doesn’t have to make you crazy–hold on, lemme respond to this text
How do Presidents make big decisions in a complex, chaotic, ambiguous world? Not how we might expect, says LBJ School historian Jeremi Suri in a forthcoming book about US Presidents. We tend to see presidents as commanding, clear-sighted demigods--especially dead ones whom history has ranked highly. "But the presidents we are writing about are not the presidents that existed," argues Suri. President are compromisers,… Continue reading West Winging it: What do presidents and entrepreneurs have in common?
At a recent house party full of psychology PhDs, I saw something marvelous: an eight-inch tall tattoo of Sigmund Freud, the turn-of-the-twentieth century psychologist--an image whose origin I can't trace, but which the Internet seems to have titled "What is on a man's mind?" The tattoo's owner explained why she liked Freud so much, even… Continue reading Nice to meet (both of) you