Memoirs of an 80s Nerd and His Literary Conspirators

Image for post
Image for post
Image by author

I am not a regular consumer of user-generated content, so I was tickled to learn of the latest trend on TikTok: sea shanties. When I first heard about it on NPR, I was immediately transported back to my youth. Neurons crackled to life and sent me not to my college sailing trip in the North Atlantic, nor to my earliest memories of my mother’s Clancy Brothers albums, but rather to a bizarre scene in between.

Four young men are crowded into a Honda Civic with the windows rolled down. I serve as the chanty man, singing a line, and the…

Radically Redefining the American Holiday Calendar

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by David Holifield on Unsplash

American Jews have many wonderful winter traditions. We light candles, sing songs, recite prayers, visit family, give gifts, fry foods savory and sweet, and kvetch about the December Dilemma. In fact, although candles, blessings, and songs all have the trappings of religion, hand wringing is the only practice tackled with true religious fervor.

The “December Dilemma” can best be defined as the feelings of isolation, invalidation, and deprivation experienced by those trying to observe a non-Christian religion in the midst of an overwhelming Christmas season. …

The Strange Reverse Politics of the Mississippi Alluvial Plain

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Peter Feghali on Unsplash

Any casual student of the American democratic experiment would be forgiven for believing that our country’s wacky electoral college system is an accurate description of state identity. Every four years, the TV networks depict the electoral college map with clearly defined blocks of bright blue and red. Although this shorthand, first utilized in 1976, provides a useful graphic for understanding election results, it also provides a false narrative about the connection between the popular vote and the electoral college.

This is not to say that the individual states do not have defined histories, symbolism, songs, stories, and pride. But our…

The Future Painted in Blues and Reds

Image for post
Image for post
“Blue Fluid Acrylic Painting” by markchadwickart is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

As I sit here only days away from the U.S. presidential election, wondering whether I will be drinking to celebrate or drinking to drown my sorrows (the drinking part is a given), I can’t help but wonder if elections are exercises in true indeterminism or simple predestination. In other words, does anything we do amount to a hill of beans? I suppose it depends on how one defines political momentum.

The Myth of Political Momentum

Political momentum is one of those handy terms overused and poorly defined by the media. Typically, it refers to short-term momentum, actions happening in the present tense, measured through political…

A Hot New TV Drama Coming to My Imagination Near You

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a scientist, mostly because both my parents were scientists, and I understood the career path. I loved science, I loved visiting their research labs, and I presented kick-ass projects at the local science fair.

At no time in my youth did I plan to become a Medical Science Liaison. It was never on my radar.

MSLs are non-sales pharmaceutical representatives that build scientific rapport with key medical opinion leaders, serve as scientific peers and resources within the medical community, provide internal and external training, and support clinical trials. The first…

Is there a better way to review vegan restaurants?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

I am done with black bean burgers. Over. Finished. Kaput.

Sure, early on in my vegetarian life, finding a black bean burger in a standard Americana restaurant was a coup. It was an actual vegetarian meal, not simply a weak combination of salads or sides. Black beans were almost exotic in the pinto-standard Midwest. But that was many decades ago. Now, every black bean burger I see, even a good one, reeks of tokenism. It tells me this is the best you’re going to find in our carnivore establishment.

I first became vegetarian in Boulder, Colorado, where ovo-lacto and vegan…

Using Data Visualization to Explain the Dangers of a COVID-19 Herd Immunity Approach

Image for post
Image for post
“Flu Genome Data Visualizer” by blprnt_van is licensed with CC BY 2.0.

Let’s face it, Data Overload has teamed up with Math Anxiety. These past six months have been exhausting, but on top of the sickness, death, poverty, and restrictions, I fear the American public is also tired of numbers. COVID-19 has brought us a non-stop onslaught of statistics: infection rates, mortality rates, case-fatality ratios, demographics, and prognostications. Even data enthusiasts like myself now hide under the bed every time we see the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard.

From the depths of this informational swamp, the Great Barrington Declaration reared its ugly head.

A Dangerous Permission Structure

The Great Barrington Declaration is an open letter written and…

Can old college traditions save romance?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

“Love is one of those bonds which enable people to function and societies to flourish.” — Thomas Sowell, 1996

I recently came across a disturbing statistic. Marriage rates have dropped for the last 40 years.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it wasn’t until I saw charts beautifully rendered by data science guru Dr. Randal Olson did I fully appreciated the danger. Olson compiled marriage and divorce rates from a century and a half of data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics. …

Your Perfect City is a Market Analysis Away

Image for post
Image for post

About three and a half years ago, as we were nearing the end of our fifth decade, my wife and I were discussing our retirement plans for the distant future. Indiana had been our home off and on for three-quarters of our lives, but this conservative Midwest state had started to feel stale despite a deep familiarity, memories of childhood, and proximity to friends and family. I reminded my wife that she once wanted to live in New Mexico. “That was when we were living in Colorado,” she said. “And then we moved to Minnesota, and I remembered that I…

Zev Winicur, PhD

Medical Science Liaison in the pharma industry. Former technical writer, science writer, and market research analyst. General data enthusiast.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store