Preparing for the challenge of 2018


At this writing, I’m halfway through a break to rest and recharge. It’s been quite pleasant.

I’ve had a lot of quiet time with family, playing games and such. I got through all of Theodore Rex, Edmund Morris’s account of Roosevelt’s almost-eight-years in office*, and now am well into Philip Pullman’s followup to His Dark Materials series, which is cracking. And spending time in a snowy place is a nice rarity for an Angeleno.

The last few months were a recalibration from my year-long sabbatical. I’m still finding my feet after getting back, as I adjust to new priorities, which has been slower than I’ve hoped for. But I see a bunch of manuscripts and new projects in the near future that reflect my new priorities.

2017 was a disaster for people in the United States and those affected by us, and there’s no sign that 2018 will be any better. We have to look to November 2018. When people show up at the polls, fundamentalists lose. Please organize now for November. Please give money and please give time. Please remember that effective politics involves compromise.

For 2018 I’m looking forward to doing a lot of great science, to working with energized and engaged students, and to making my community a better and more inclusive place.



*(As I was reading about Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, I gained a little more perspective on today. In hindsight, our history has identified TR as an emergent force of the Progressive Era, a trust-busting steamroller that broke up monopolies to give everybody a Square Deal. (And of course, we remember him as a conservation-oriented naturalist who set aside massive tracts of land for future generations.) This isn’t untrue, but if you look at the legislation that actually passed while he was in office, it was quite incremental and not a revolutionary exit from the Gilded Age whatsoever. I also found some parallels between TR’s administration and the past several years, in how incidents of violence and propaganda from white supremacists have shaped public policy.)