We are in a season traditionally devoted to good will among people and to the renewal of hope in the face of hard times. As we seek to realize these lofty ideals, one of our greatest challenges is overcoming bitterness and divisiveness. We all struggle with the wrongs others have done to us as well as those we have done to others, and we recoil at the vast extent of injury humankind seems determined to inflict on itself. How to keep hope alive? Without a constructive answer to toxic anger, addictive cycles of revenge, and immobilizing guilt, we seem doomed to despair about chances for renewal. One answer to this despair lies in forgiveness.
In Saturday’s New York Times, Justin Gillis spoke with several scholars – including Cambridge authors Don Worster (co-editor of our Environmental History series) and Ted Steinberg – on the subject of where the Gulf Oil Spill places on a hierarchy of environmental disasters. Could it really be the worst yet?
The consensus seems to be that there is no definitive answer. The depth of our assessment appears to correlate more to a disaster’s impact on the lives and livelihood of those affected, and less to the environmental ramifications of the event. Read more over at the NYT for a fascinating take on the “shades and complexities” of natural and man-made environmental disasters.
While on the subject, here’s an excerpt from Myrna Santiago’s award-winning The Ecology of Oil: Environment, Labor, and the Mexican Revolution, 1900–1938 – discussing the disastrous social and environmental consequences of oil extraction. This detailed case study finds unique overlaps between labor and environmental concerns, taking a snapshot of history through the lens of the 1938 expropriation debate in Mexico. Santiago argues that oil production generated major historical and environmental transformations in systems of land use which, in turn, revolutionized the social organization of the country.
Word nerd alert! The New York Times announces the 50 Most Frequently Looked-up Words of 2010. Check out Philip Corbett’s observations on 50 Fancy Words…
“I’m strictly a journalist.”
– Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner had no formal mathematical training. A newspaper reporter, publicist, freelancer for Esquire, caseworker, magician, skeptic, Navy sailor, and most famously, “Mathematical Games” columnist for Scientific American, Gardner displayed a boundless energy and enthusiasm for intellectual inquiry. A tireless advocate for science, his popular books and articles painstakingly argue against the dangers of pseudoscience in all forms.
On Saturday, Gardner passed away at the age of 95 in Norman, OK. TSoTP takes a look back.
Marci Hamilton of the Cardozo School of Law has joined forces with the Stop Abuse Campaign to promote the passage of the Child Victims Act of New York (A02596) before the end of the state’s session in June.
A leading constitutional law scholar specializing in church/state issues, Hamilton sounds a clarion call for incest/family victims to organize in their push to raise awareness of the CVA. Her book, Justice Denied: What America Must Do To Protect Its Children, has proven a source of inspiration – providing a platform pushing to end arbitrary statutes of limitation for childhood sexual abuse, and allowing survivors past and present to have their day in court. Part of the problem, Hamilton argues, is the presence of formidable opponents to the bill – the insurance industry, the higher-ups of the Roman Catholic Church – as recently addressed in an editorial by the staff of the New York Times last Sunday.
What does the bill actually say and where does the Times Editorial stand and how can you find out more on the Stop Abuse Campaign?