The Hidden Danger to Public Servants: BLACKMAIL. It is not without some worry that we greet the young and hopeful new Congress. Will cynics prove right? While negotiating the ethical and political minefield that is Washington, always remain wary of a particular worst-case scenario... one that can systematically undermine even the most well-meaning politicians. That worst-case scenario is BLACKMAIL.
Gerrymandering American Democracy: More Fragile Than We Think. The practice of gerrymandering has transformed from a dismal-but-bearable tradition of occasional opportunism into a cancer eating at the heart of democracy itself, rendering our votes nearly meaningless in some states.
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (a review): History would seem to favor pessimists. In COLLAPSE, Jared Diamond shows how past cultures toppled, sometimes with little warning. He offers a guided tour of crashes and narrow escapes, ranging from Viking Greenland to the Anasazi peoples of America's southwest. Diamond surveys how modern societies are adapting to even greater perils. The lesson in a nutshell: learn from history, or risk repeating it.
The Electoral College: A Surprisingly Easy Fix. The Electoral College is not what distorts the system so badly. It is the winner-takes-all method of allocating each state's electors. Can we break the winner-takes-all habit? Why not take the next step by dropping it from the process of choosing electors?
Xenology: The Science of Asking Who's Out In the 1960s, Stellar astronomers faced unsettling data from new classes of objects called "quasars" and "radio galaxies."And now an abundance of exoplanets. Still, the greatest intellectual challenge to the worldview of modern astronomers came in the early sixties, not because of new space probes, telescopes, and computers but because of an idea.