E.O. Wilson, a Pioneer of Evolutionary Biology, Dies at 92 – The New York Times

“Edward O. Wilson, a biologist and author who conducted pioneering work on biodiversity, insects and human nature — and won two Pulitzer Prizes along the way — died on Sunday in Burlington, Mass. He was 92.

His death was announced on Monday by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation.

“Ed’s holy grail was the sheer delight of the pursuit of knowledge,” Paula J. Ehrlich, chief executive and president of the foundation, said in a statement. “A relentless synthesizer of ideas, his courageous scientific focus and poetic voice transformed our way of understanding ourselves and our planet.”

When Dr. Wilson began his career in evolutionary biology in the 1950s, the study of animals and plants seemed to many scientists like a quaint, obsolete hobby. Molecular biologists were getting their first glimpses of DNA, proteins and other invisible foundations of life. Dr. Wilson made it his life’s work to put evolution on an equal footing.”

David Lindsay:  One of my great heroes has passed. He is the author of “Half-Earth, Our planet’s fight for life,” which has become the most important book in my life. It is a gateway aphrodisiac into the passion of habitat and wildlife conservation. (If anyone can’t get to read the entire obit, send me a message, and I will repost in January, with full permissions.)

How a World War II Bomber Pilot Became ‘the King of Artificial Trees’ – The New York Times

“The B-17 he was piloting had lost two of its four engines to enemy fire, and as Si Spiegel surveyed the ruined landscape, he had one thought: We have to get behind the Russian front.

As part of the Allied raid on Berlin, his bomber had dropped its payload over the German capital, but he’d been hit with flak and would almost certainly not make it back to the base in England. No pilot wanted to get shot down over Nazi Germany, especially not a Jewish pilot.

Mr. Spiegel had essentially bluffed his way into the cockpit as a skinny teenager from Greenwich Village, trusting he’d figure it out as he went. This was no different. He told his crew they were headed for Poland; they could get their parachutes ready, but were not to bail out unless he gave the order. They would attempt an emergency landing.”

Bob Dole, Old Soldier and Stalwart of the Senate, Dies at 98 – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/05/us/politics/bob-dole-dead.html

Credit…Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

“Bob Dole, the plain-spoken son of the prairie who overcame Dust Bowl deprivation in Kansas and grievous battle wounds in Italy to become the Senate majority leader and the last of the World War II generation to win his party’s nomination for president, died on Sunday. He was 98.

His death was announced by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.

It did not say where he died. He had announced in February that he had Stage IV lung cancer and that he was beginning treatment.

A Republican, Mr. Dole was one of the most durable political figures in the last decades of the last century. He was nominated for vice president in 1976 and then for president a full 20 years later. He spent a quarter-century in the Senate, where he was his party’s longest-serving leader until Mitch McConnell of Kentucky surpassed that record in June 2018.”

Great obit, thank you. Dole was a great man and leader, who fought fascism in his youth in WW II, and then at near the end of his life, he helped Trump become president, twice, and thereby worked in support of fascism. Yet, he will be cherished as one of the great bipartisan deal-makers, and a man of enormous heart and wit.

Peter Coy | A Spirit of Gratitude Is Healthy for Society – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

“Greetings as we approach the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving celebration. The Pilgrims in 1621 had much to be thankful for. They had arrived a year earlier with “no friends to wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to seeke for succoure,” in the words of their leader, William Bradford. The Wampanoags, hoping the white settlers would help them fight other tribes, helped them survive the harsh winter. The wary allies celebrated that fall with a feast of turkeys, ducks and venison, although probably not cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.

What does giving thanks have to do with economics? A lot, actually. I apologize if this sounds like an imitation of a David Brooks column, but the truth is that a spirit of gratitude motivates precisely the behaviors that a successful economy requires, particularly patience and generosity. For this newsletter I interviewed David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University (about 35 miles from where the Pilgrims landed), who is one of the leading authorities on the social effects of gratitude.

DeSteno’s recent papers include “Gratitude Reduces Consumption of Depleting Resources,” completed last year with Shanyu Kates, and “The Grateful Don’t Cheat: Gratitude as a Fount of Virtue” written with Fred Duong, Daniel Lim and Kates and published in Psychological Science in 2019. He published a book this year titled “How God Works: The Science Behind the Benefits of Religion.” I also recommend a talk that he gave at Google in 2018 on the topic of gratitude.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Thank you Peter Coy. I just sent the following to your newsletter email:
I just turned 69 yesterday, and it is very tempting to say, What is there to be grateful for? I quickly smile, to communicate the intended humor, and my loving partner chirps back, Well, consider the alternative. I’m grateful for a beautiful partner, house, family, and friends. I’d like to include neighbors, but they refuse to speak to me, for not being just as Republican as they are, or something. I was never good at keeping my opinions to myself.
I am grateful for having Peter Coy in my life, first at Business Week, which I have subscribed to for decades, and now, at the New York Times. I deeply respect journalists who work hard to figure things out and explain them. That is what I aspire to do every day, as I read and write about climate change and the sixth extinction.
I’ve just added to my new manuscript, a joke reported the other day by Thomas Friedman, that he heard at the Cop 26 climate summit in Glasgow. Two planets are talking to each other, One looks like a beautiful blue marble, and the other a dirty brown ball. “What on earth happened to you?” the beautiful planet asks the brown one. “I had Homo Sapiens,” answers the brown planet. “Don’t worry,” says the blue planet. “They don’t last long.”
Yours, David
Author of: “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-Century Vietnam” Blogging at: InconvenientNews.Net,

Esau McCaulley | I Grew Up Poor. How Am I Supposed to Raise My Middle-Class Kids? – The New York Times

Contributing Opinion Writer

“Every year on Thanksgiving, my children experience something I rarely did when I was growing up. They see their father, mother and siblings all gathered around a family meal with plenty of food to spare. It is so utterly normal to them that they do not even note it. Thanksgiving is just another day of warmth and security.

I have many happy memories of the meals prepared by my single mother and my extended family during the holidays. I know well the debate between turkey and ham as the central dish. I was taught to recognize the difference between good and mediocre macaroni and cheese. I remember spades tournaments, games of dominoes and the rich tenor of Black male laughter. My family found happiness even when it was hard to come by.

The difference between my childhood Thanksgivings and those of my kids is the world that existed around the holiday. My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor when I was in elementary school; she couldn’t work full time, so we lived mostly on government assistance. Our home was in Huntsville, Ala., some 100 miles northeast of Birmingham, the site of so many pivotal events of the civil rights movement. My little corner of the city, Northwest Huntsville, still bears the scars from redlining and the inadequate desegregation of its schools during the civil rights era.”

Justus Rosenberg, Beloved Professor With a Heroic Past, Dies at 100 – The New York Times

“For nearly 60 years, Justus Rosenberg was a beloved literature professor at Bard College. Clad in his familiar tweed jacket, he taught French, German and Russian classics and was known for popular courses like “10 Plays That Shook the World.”

But on Bard’s leafy campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., Mr. Rosenberg also represented a remarkable living link to Holocaust history.

As a teenager in World War II, he served as a courier in the fabled rescue team of Varian Fry, an American journalist who launched a covert operation that provided safe passage to artists and intellectuals out of Vichy France. The mission aided luminaries like Hannah Arendt, Marcel Duchamp, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst and André Breton.

Mr. Rosenberg then fought in the French Resistance, lobbing grenades at German tanks, and aided the U.S. Army as a reconnaissance scout, earning a Bronze Star. He also received the Purple Heart: a jeep in which he was riding hit a land mine, badly wounding him and killing the soldier who had taken his usual seat.”

Miriam Pawel | Andrew Cuomo and How a Political Dynasty Dies – The New York Times

Ms. Pawel, a contributing Opinion writer, began reporting on Mario and Andrew Cuomo in 1983. She served as Newsday’s Albany bureau chief between 1984 and 1987.

“When I knew Andrew Cuomo, he was the 20-something top adviser to the governor he called Mario, and I was the 20-something Albany bureau chief for Newsday. I still remember how he ended our occasional phone calls: “Bye, hon,” hanging up immediately before I could protest. It was vintage Andrew — calculated and patronizing, a show of power.

Even in those early years after Mario Cuomo was first elected governor, in 1982, the differences between the two men were as apparent as their similarities. Both were ruthless competitors, prone to bullying. Both were control freaks, inclined to trust very few people outside a small circle of confidants.

But Mario Cuomo’s sharp elbows on the basketball court and pugilistic verbal gymnastics were wrapped in moral complexity, intellectual heft and Jesuitical questioning. His son exhibited none of those qualities. He had inherited his father’s fierce, win-at-any-cost competitive spirit without the humanity or introspection.”

David Brooks | What’s Ripping American Families Apart? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

At least 27 percent of Americans are estranged from a member of their own family, and research suggests about 40 percent of Americans have experienced estrangement at some point.

The most common form of estrangement is between adult children and one or both parents — a cut usually initiated by the child. A study published in 2010 found that parents in the U.S. are about twice as likely to be in a contentious relationship with their adult children as parents in Israel, Germany, England and Spain.

The Cornell sociologist Karl Pillemer, author of “Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them,” writes that the children in these cases often cite harsh parenting, parental favoritism, divorce and poor and increasingly hostile communication often culminating in a volcanic event. As one woman told Salon: “I have someone out to get me, and it’s my mother. My part of being a good mom has been getting my son away from mine.”

” . . .  I confess, I don’t understand what’s causing this. But social pain and vulnerability are affecting everything: our families, schools, politics and even our sports.

A friend notes that politics has begun to feel like an arena where many people can process and regulate their emotional turmoil indirectly. Anxiety, depression and anger are hard to deal with within the tangled intimacy of family life. But political tribalism becomes a mechanism with which people can shore themselves up, vanquish shame, fight for righteousness and find a sense of belonging.

People who feel betrayed will lash out at someone if there is no one there to help them process their underlying hurt. As the Franciscan friar Richard Rohr wisely wrote, if we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.”    -30-

David Lindsay:  Thank you David Brooks for this sad but helpful essay.  This is another of your masterful organizations of excellent sources. You ended it with, “People who feel betrayed will lash out at someone if there is no one there to help them process their underlying hurt. As the Franciscan friar Richard Rohr wisely wrote, if we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.”
I hope you now write just about the idea in the last sentence by Richard Rohr, who happens to be one of my most important teachers on religion. He helped me to return to Christianity, through the big tent and environmentally conscious teachings of Saint Francis of Assis in his book, “Eager to Love.”
David Lindsay Jr is a writer and author who blogs at InconvenientNews.Net

Opinion | I’m Visually Disabled, And I Want to Show You How Life Looks Through My Eyes – The New York Times

James Robinson is a filmmaker from Portland, Me.

“In the Opinion video above, James Robinson, a filmmaker from Maine, shows what it feels like to live with several disabling eye conditions that have defied an array of treatments and caused him countless humiliations. Using playful graphics and enlisting his family as subjects in a series of optical tests, he invites others to view the world through his eyes.”

Why Jane Goodall Still Has Hope for Us Humans – The New York Times

“Wherever the story of our natural world ultimately lands, Jane Goodall will have earned a proud place in its telling. Goodall, 87, first found fame in the early 1960s for her paradigm-busting work as a primatologist. Studying the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, she was the first to observe those entrancing animals eating meat and using tools, thus expanding our understanding of primate capabilities. While that work is likely to remain what the public primarily associates her with, Goodall’s career as an activist is arguably her more important legacy. She has spent 44 years leading conservation efforts through her Jane Goodall Institute and seeding the future with like-minded souls via the Roots & Shoots educational programs for young people, which can be found in more than 60 countries and have nurtured millions of students. “You just plod on and do what you can to make the world a better place,” said Goodall, speaking via Zoom from her childhood home in Bournemouth, England, and whose “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” will be published in October. “That’s all I can do. I can’t do more, I don’t think, than I’m doing.” “