Tracy Chevalier: Figuratively

“What do you believe, Aunt Elizabeth?’
‘I believe. . . I am comfortable with reading the Bible figuratively rather than literally. For instance, I think the six days in Genesis are not literal days, but different periods of creation, so that it took many thousands — or hundreds of thousands of years — to create. It does not demean God; it simply gives Him more time to build this extraordinary world.’
‘And the ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus?’
‘They are creatures from long, long ago. They remind us that the world is changing. Of course it is. I can see it change when there are landslips at Lyme that alter the shoreline. It changes when there are earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and floods. And why shouldn’t it?”
—Tracy Chevalier.

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Jessica Meir: Personality and technology

“The other big area now is personality and psychology. You may be good at what you do, but if you are not a pleasant and good person, you won’t get selected anymore. Being a good team player, having good skills in terms of leadership and followership, and knowing how to take care of yourself and others, are skills that are emphasized for these long duration missions.”
—Jessica Meir.

Abhijit V Banerjee: Information, alone, will not do the trick

“Aren’t we, those who live in the rich world, the constant
beneficiaries of a paternalism now so thoroughly embedded into the system that
we hardly notice it? It not only ensures that we take care of ourselves better than
we would if we had to be on top of every decision, but also, by freeing us from
having to think about these issues, it gives us the mental space we need to focus
on the rest of our lives. This does not absolve us of the responsibility of
educating people about public health. We do owe everyone, the poor included, as
clear an explanation as possible of why immunization is important and why they
have to complete their course of antibiotics. But we should recognize—indeed
assume—that information alone will not do the trick.”
—Abhijit V. Banerjee.

Kathy Fagan: At the Champion Avenue Low-Income Senior & Child Care Services Center

At the Champion Avenue Low-Income Senior & Child Care Services Center
—Kathy Fagan

When I told them it must be like dropping your
kid
off at school their first day, all my parent friends
nodded and smiled uncomfortably, meaning

what would I know. I won’t be taking
solace
in the many firsts ahead. Here among the gray,
spotted and brown heads of the seniors,
their soft flesh and angles, their obedience as
they
sit as uprightly as they are able at white, parallel
tables, nobody cries, and very few
speak.
When I seat dad beside her, one senior tells me
she’s ninety-four, presenting one hand, four
fingers in the air, just as she might have ninety
years ago with a stranger like me, now long gone.

Dad never liked me to talk:
Lower your voice, he’d say. If I was louder:
Put on your boxing gloves. Or: You’ll catch
more flies with honey than vinegar, as if some
day
I’d need the flies. I stopped talking, started
writing instead. I work full-time and dad wants to die,
so I dropped him at the Champion Avenue Low-income Senior & Child Care Services
Center,
a newish building, municipal and nondescript,
in a neighborhood that’s been razed and rebuilt
so often
it’s got no discernible character left. There was bingo,
men playing poker in a corner. Red sauce and
cheese
on white bread pizza for lunch. Dad, a big
talker,
was an instant hit, but refused to return. What
is the name of that animal, someone asked me.
Where is Philip, asked someone else, over and
over.
As if firsts and lasts were one and the same.”
—Kathy Fagan.