Six things I was thinking about while on maternity leave:

1.       Does the success of cash transfers mean that poverty is a result of the capitalist system and instead of working for international development projects I should be an activist trying to change the global economy?

2.       Are we going to look back at 2011 as the year that climate change became obvious in US weather?

3.       Why is it so hard for people to understand breastfeeding? (I just had a woman at a convenience store tell me that she didn’t breastfeed because her milk didn’t come in because she didn’t drink much milk when she was pregnant. I was genuinely at a loss for words.)

4.       Behavior change efforts work best when we remove obstacles and help people do what they already want to do. Is it possible to frame all change programs that way? Or are we stuck always trying to change what people want to do?

5.       I agree with GiveWell’s conclusion that philanthropic money is better spent overseas than in the US (thus my career choice) but wow, the US is awfully bad off in some places.

6.       Premature babies are often born early because of difficult circumstances in the life of the mother: chaotic or abusive home life, poor nutrition, poor access to medical care. Then we sent these fragile babies home to the same situation that made them this way. It’s a vicious cycle.