Last Week’s Links

At 91, Clint Eastwood throws a punch and rides a horse in his new movie. And he’s not ready to quit

Eastwood’s first film behind the camera, “Play Misty for Me,” came out half a century ago, and he’s still at it. At age 91, with his new “Cry Macho” set for a Sept. 17 release in theaters and on HBO Max, Eastwood — whose acting credits date to 1955 — is perhaps the oldest American ever to both direct and star in a major motion picture.

Pandemic prompts more teachers to consider early retirement or new career

New research into how the pandemic has affected teachers found that “during the pandemic, teachers became less certain that they would work in the classroom until retirement. In March 2020, 74% of teachers said they expected to work as a teacher until retirement, but the figure fell to 69% in March 2021.”

The researchers discuss how such turnover in the profession can negatively affect students’ success and look at three areas in which teachers need support.

What Is Life?

“An astrobiologist finds the heart of his work in a new novel by Richard Powers.”

book cover: Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Caleb Scharf, director of astrobiology at Columbia University, writes that the “puzzle of ‘what life really is’ might be the ultimate goal of astrobiology—we don’t just want to know whether or not we’re alone in the universe, we want to understand what we really are.”

Here Scharf describes how “the profoundly interconnected goals of astrobiology form a central theme of Bewilderment, a new novel by Richard Powers.” He describes it as “an immersive and astonishing book, a novel where the state of our world, and others, is a central anxiety for its protagonists.”

Lost perspective? Try this linguistic trick to reset your view

Social psychologist Ariana Orvell, assistant professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, explains how distanced self-talk, the “process of reflecting on one’s self using parts of speech that are typically used to refer to other people,” can help us align “our thoughts, feelings and behaviour with our goals.”

The most common example of distanced self-talk occurs when we address ourself either by name or in the second person (“you”). This process produces psychological distancing that allows us to change perspective, to “move beyond our default, egocentric perspective, and consider our thoughts and feelings from the stance of a more objective observer.” Such a shift in perspective can help to promote reasoning, to increase willingness to search for compromise, and to recognize the limits of our own knowledge.

‘Imagine’ at 50: Why John Lennon’s ode to humanism still resonates

Sociology professor Phil Zuckerman writes:

As a scholar of secularism and a devout fan of the Beatles, I have always been fascinated by how “Imagine,” perhaps the first and only atheist anthem to be so enormously successful, has come to be so widely embraced in America. After all, the U.S. is a country that has – at least until recently – had a much more religious population than other Western industrialized democracies.

The Roe Baby

“Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, never had the abortion she was seeking. She gave her baby girl up for adoption, and now that baby is an adult. After decades of keeping her identity a secret, Jane Roe’s child has chosen to talk about her life.”

This deeply moving article by Joshua Prager is adapted from his recently published book The Family Roe: An American Story.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown