I got nothing today: bupkes. You people expect me to post all these items every day when I’m doing a book and teaching at the same time, as well as preparing a talk for the Imagine No Religion conference in Canada next week. Oy gewalt! I need either a vacation or the chance to rub the belly of a baby tiger—or both.
But thanks to the readers I have a few contributions. First is the clip of an appearance of famed biologist E. O. Wilson on Colbert two days ago. (This probably won’t be visible outside the U.S.)
Wilson, as expected if you know him, doesn’t engage in a lot of repartee with Colbert, though there is a funny bit when Colbert instructs Wilson that humans were put on earth to have dominion over the planet and exploit it for our needs). Rather, Wilson’s there to plug his new book, A Window on Eternity: A Biologist’s Walk through Gorongosa National Park. And Wilson’s eloquent and impressive, especially for a guy of 85. The park, in Mozambique, was once a dense haven for African wildlife, but has been severely damaged by human incursion. Now, though, several organizations are desperately trying to restore it.
If you’re wondering what’s up with Wilson’s right eye, he lost it in a childhood accident while fishing, as described in The Economist:
It all started with a poke in the eye for a seven-year-old boy, out fishing in Alabama. It was 1936, and Ed Wilson’s parents had just divorced, leaving him lonely and introspective. When he pulled up his rod, a pinfish swung into his face and its spine blinded him in one eye. The accident had lasting repercussions. If Wilson had been sighted in both eyes, he might have been drawn to the megafauna, or passed fit for the United States Army and killed in Korea, or otherwise diverted from being an exceptional young biologist. As it was, he came to be reliant on what he could see up close and through a microscope and so was ineluctably drawn to the microfauna.
Here’s part of the Amazon blurb on his new book, which I’m pleased to learn is illustrated by someone whose work has appeared here often: photographer/biologist Piotr Naskrecki:
A Window on Eternity is a stunning book of splendid prose and gorgeous photography about one of the biologically richest places in Africa and perhaps in the world. Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was nearly destroyed in a brutal civil war, then was reborn and is now evolving back to its original state. Edward O. Wilson’s personal, luminous description of the wonders of Gorongosa is beautifully complemented by Piotr Naskrecki’s extraordinary photographs of the park’s exquisite natural beauty. A bonus DVD of Academy Award–winning director Jessica Yu’s documentary, The Guide, is also included with the book.
Wilson takes readers to the summit of Mount Gorongosa, sacred to the local people and the park’s vital watershed. From the forests of the mountain he brings us to the deep gorges on the edge of the Rift Valley, previously unexplored by biologists, to search for new species and assess their ancient origins. He describes amazing animal encounters from huge colonies of agricultural termites to specialized raider ants that feed on them to giant spiders, a battle between an eagle and a black mamba, “conversations” with traumatized elephants that survived the slaughter of the park’s large animals, and more. He pleads for Gorongosa—and other wild places—to be allowed to exist and evolve in its timeless way uninterrupted into the future.
h/t: Stephen Q. Muth (one of Butter’s staff)