This is interesting and surprising: The Boston Globe has published a report called The Valedictorians Project, which looks at where 93 high school valedictorians from the Boston area are today. One out of four failed to get a college degree in six years. None became doctors despite nearly a quarter stating they wanted to study medicine, and 40% currently make less than $50,000 a year.

How Paris became Paris: “A journalist who moonlights as a writer of popular histories of modern France and Great Britain, Christiansen focuses his new book on the relatively short 20-year period, between 1851 and 1871, when Paris became, well, Paris. It was during this span of time, in other words, that what was still a city of blight was turned into the city of light, and what had been the capital of a mostly rural nation was transformed into the capital of the 19th century.”

Lionel Shriver lashes out at the stupidity of Twitter mob clauses in author contracts: “Enshrining mob rule in legal contracts can only further embolden the cranks, the kooks, the grumps — the sanctimonious, the embittered, the aggrieved. As word spreads that outrage on digital steroids can not only hound and intimidate writers, but can consign years of their hard work to the bin, the Twits are further motivated to crucify anyone who breaks their imaginary rules.”

At The Atlantic, Jeff Maysh tells the story of how a stroke turned a 63-year-old doctor into a rap legend.

Mark Glanville reviews two new translations of the Yiddish poetry of Avrom Sutzkever: “Sutzkever’s mature poetry is, as Cammy says, “inflected by the tension between loss and regeneration”. It is in later volumes such as The Fiddle RoseTwin Brother and Poems from my Diary that his finest work is perhaps to be found.”

A. M. Juster reviews Jennifer Reeser’s fifth book of poems, Indigenous: “Reeser is our indigenous poet following most closely in the footsteps of the great William Jay Smith. As the poetry of indigenous Americans receives overdue attention, it is important that we do not forget or ignore William Jay Smith, Jennifer Reeser, and other indigenous poets whose work does not conform to the postmodern esthetics of today’s rigid academics.”

Essay of the Day:

Dads are different than mothers. In Aeon, Anna Machin explains the unique and important role of human fathers in the care and development of children:

“Fathers and their children have evolved to carry out a developmentally crucial behaviour with each other: rough-and-tumble play. This is a form of play that we all recognise. It is highly physical with lots of throwing up in the air, jumping about and tickling, accompanied by loud shouts and laughter. It is crucial to the father-child bond and the child’s development for two reasons: first, the exuberant and extreme nature of this behaviour allows dads to build a bond with their children quickly; it is a time-efficient way to get the hits of neurochemicals required for a robust bond, crucial in our time-deprived Western lives where it is still the case that fathers are generally not the primary carer for their children. Second, due to the reciprocal nature of the play and its inherent riskiness, it begins to teach the child about the give and take of relationships, and how to judge and handle risk appropriately; even from a very young age, fathers are teaching their children these crucial life lessons.

“And how do we know that dads and kids prefer rough-and-tumble play with each other rather than, say, having a good cuddle? Because hormonal analysis has shown that, when it comes to interacting with each other, fathers and children get their peaks in oxytocin, indicating increased reward, from playing together. The corresponding peak for mothers and babies is when they are being affectionate. So, again, evolution has primed both fathers and children to carry out this developmentally important behaviour together.

“Likewise, a father’s attachment to his child has evolved to be crucially different than a mother’s. Attachment describes a psychological state that we enter when we are in an intense, bonded relationship with someone – think of lovers, parents and children, even some best friendships. In all cases, having a strong attachment relationship acts as a secure base from which we can strike out and explore the world, safe in the knowledge we can always return to the focus of our attachment for affection and help. Where parent-child attachment is concerned, the attachment between a mother and her child is best described as exclusive, an inward-looking dyad based on affection and care. In contrast, a father’s attachment to his child has elements of affection and care, but it is based on challenge.

“This crucial difference leads a father to turn his children’s faces outward, encouraging them to meet fellow humans, build relationships, and succeed in the world. And it is because of this special type of attachment that studies repeatedly show fathers in particular encouraging their offspring to get the most out of their learning. It is fathers who aid the development of appropriate social behaviour, and build a child’s sense of worth.

“Looking back at our pool of knowledge from 10 years ago and comparing it to what we know today, my conclusion is this: we need to change the conversations we have about fathers. Yes, some fathers are absent, as are some mothers, and some might be the inept characters of marketing ads or cartoons, struggling to work the washing machine or to look after the baby alone. But the majority of fathers are not these people. We need to broaden our spectrum of who we think dad is to include all the fathers who stick around, investing in their children’s emotional, physical and intellectual development, regardless of whether they live with their children or not. We need to discuss the dads who coach football, read bedtime stories, locate rogue school socks, and scare away the night-time monsters. Who encourage their children’s mental resilience, and scaffold their entry into our increasingly complex social world. Who are defined not by their genetic relatedness to their children but because they step up and do the job – the stepdads, social dads, grandfathers, friends, uncles and boyfriends.”

Read the rest.

Poem: Chad Abushanab, “The Dive”    

Photos: Pokut Highlands

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