Much more recently I read Sherwin and Bird's monumental biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and that inspired
me to write down some thoughts about
the origins of the nuclear age. That essay is here,
as well as on the web site of "TruthOut."
One area where social concerns intersect with math and statistics
is investigating whether capital punishment in the United States
prevents murders through "deterrence." I first became interested in
this problem when the death-penalty issue arose in Vermont back
around 1975. It was a hot topic in New Hampshire in 1998, in 2000, and
again in 2009/10, while for the nation as a whole the log jam around
this issue may be breaking at last. Here
is a paper summarizing
the evidence about deterrence. I originally prepared testimony
for the Vermont Legislature several decades ago, and this version has been updated and
presented in NH in 2010.
Another important area for applied statistics is checking the results
and accuracy of elections. I wrote an article jointly with my
friend Arlene Ash (see the last section of this site) about one
election where vote counting went disasterously wrong; our paper
appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Chance magazine,
published by the American Statistical Association. You can read
it online; go here and then click on the title of our article.
(But in the magazine itself we were featured on the cover!)
More recently, Arlene and I studied the wave of new laws and rules making it harder to vote that were created in over 30 states.
She gave a talk about this at the annual meeting of the A.S.A., and we wrote a joint paper on the subject for the journal
Statistics, Politics and Policy. That's not the mass media,
so we tried to reach more people before the 2012 elections with a shorter version that appeared in TruthOut.
1985 one of my main interests and concerns has been Central America
and what the United States was doing there. People at the American
Friends Service Committee asked me to study the inroads of Communism
and the USSR in the region and the dangers, if any, which they
posed to this country. One result was a short book published in
1988 analyzing those alleged threats and comparing the reality
and rhetoric of U.S. policy. I also spent time in Costa Rica and
wrote about the U.S. impact on that beautiful country.
For nearly a decade my main project was to study the life of Enrique
Alvarez Córdova, a remarkable man from El Salvador who
gave his life for the people of his country. A short article about
Enrique is in this section, along with two photos, a chronology
and some appreciative quotes from Salvadoran writers. go
My full length biography of Enrique Alvarez was published by McFarland
in April 2006, and a flyer with a picture of the book is on the
publisher's website here; a
review of the book by Prof. Jack Spence is here,
and an article by a Salvadoran reader (in Spanish) is
The book has been translated and I hope it will be widely read in El Salvador, since one of its purposes
is to help the Salvadoran people remember and appreciate one
of their country's heroes. That actually seems to be happening, thanks in part to the election of Mauricio Funes as the country's president. In November 2009 the national agricultural research institute was officially renamed "CENTA -- Enrique Alvarez Córdova"!
My El Salvador pages also include a few non-fiction "short stories";
perhaps the most intriguing of these is
about the mysterious don Justo Armas who may, or may not, have
had some surprising family connections. Finally, please note the (recently revised)
story of El Salvador's Holocaust heroes, recalling a glorious moment in the nation's history.
I would be happy to correspond with anyone about Enrique Alvarez or anything else related
to El Salvador.
Of course life
is also about wonderful people. These pages introduce some of
the significant others who have helped me stay (largely) sane
and happy, and who help make it all worth while. My love and gratitude
go to the friends and family whose photos are here and also to
those not pictured on this site. New on this site in 2005: a pair
of small twins, plus my daughter Noelle and her husband Robert
Bushell. Even newer are my two grandsons, born to Noelle and Robert in 2007 and 2009. go
there And don't overlook the two short (and true) "stories" at the bottom of the page.