Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Red and Yellow, Black and White

When I hear charges of White racism, I think of the hymn that we children sang often in the early 1950s in the Sunday School I attended in Manhattan at the Protestant, Dutch Reformed Church, Ft. Washington Collegiate Church, affiliated with a group of churches headed by Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.

We were less than a mile (20 city blocks) from then-nearly-all-Black Harlem, and we did not have, to my recollection, any Blacks in the congregation, nor any who were “Red” or “Yellow,” if you’ll excuse me, and yet we were taught “all are precious in His sight.”

That lesson stuck with some of us, at least.   

Jesus Loves the Little Children Lyrics


Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow,
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow,
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow,
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.

Red and yellow,
Black and white
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world.



Tuesday, December 21, 2021

"You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby!"

 That old song could be Leo Cooper Chiang's song. Proof:

At five months of age, Leo has become progressively even more adorable, soon to be unleashed on the vast expanse of the floor of the Stuppler-Chiang apartment in Manhattan. Watch out, world!

"Brother" Luke will be nearby, don't doubt it. 

Luke was probably a beautiful puppy.

Monday, December 20, 2021

REVIEW of WORD WARS by Morgan Moore

 Safety vs. Freedom of Speech

REVIEW of WORD WARS: How Attacks on Meaning Rob You of Free Speech


This well-written, well-argued, well-documented short book discusses the importance of being able to speak our minds without excessive concern about the feelings of others who disagree with us.

P.S. I have submitted this review to Amazon (without post-script), keeping it short so as to be able to defend it from possible Amazon rejection. My much longer recent review of VIRAL received an Amazon rejection with the formulaic response that I should check their guidelines and resubmit if I wished. I saw no guideline I had violated. Their rejection seemed added evidence of this author's thesis.

To Amazon's credit, they have run this review:

Saturday, December 11, 2021

REVIEW of VIRAL: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19

 Wuhan Institute of Virology: China’s Ft. Detrick?


Review of Viral: The Search for the Origin of COVID-19,  by Chan and Ridley

This scholarly work presents an avalanche of evidence to allow its readers to decide whether the COVID-19 virus escaped from China's Wuhan Institute of Virology (or a nearby lab) or worked its way naturally 2000 kilometers (1200 miles) from bats in mines near Kunming to people in Wuhan. Its narrative, timeline, and notes are almost encyclopedic. It ends by presenting the arguments for a "natural" escape from the mines that are home to the bats harboring the disease's closest relative versus escape from the laboratories in Wuhan.

Having spent 1965 and 1966 as an army draftee at the U.S. biological warfare and defense laboratories at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, I learned a bit about the relevant biology and epidemiology and the difficulty of confining biological agents to the labs. If an epidemic today were to have Frederick, MD, as its epicenter, I would be unlikely to believe that the infection traveled from bat caves in our Southwest to Frederick, home of Ft. Detrick, home of the relatively few labs doing such work.

The authors expertly present a wealth of information to educate their readers and develop more informed views about this important topic.

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD



A more politically charged presentation, one skeptical of the prevailing media “narrative,” about the Covid-19 pandemic is Pandemia, an excellent and highly readable book by Alex Berenson:



I help people write and publish their books through my enterprise. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Don't Despair: "Christmas Bells" by Longfellow


Christmas Bells

 - 1807-1882

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
    "For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Be a Hedgehog or a Fox?

 Specialist or generalist?

A neighbor’s teenage son, Jayden, has become my surrogate grandson after about a year of getting paid for walking our dog, Colette, while my once-impaired hips minimized my mobility.  I’m healed, but the dog-walking gig continues, and we chat for several minutes three nights a week before The Walk.

Jayden is smart and athletic, and he became the second-string quarterback on the local high school junior varsity football team, likely to be the starter next year. He did well at the basketball try-outs that followed the football season, yet he was not selected for the team, as the coaches seemed to choose for height over most other qualities. When my younger son, Phil, faced this problem himself decades ago, I encouraged him to work on his jumping ability, already impressive, and assured him he was likely to grow taller, too. That all worked out as hoped and predicted, and Phil was one of the best players on their senior-year championship team.

I had discouraged Phil from going out for the football team. One reason was the risk of injury, another the value of specializing in basketball rather than pursuing other sports.

What to advise Jayden, who preferred football but also liked basketball?

We discussed two broad strategies, sometimes referred to as “the hedgehog and the fox.” The hedgehog (or “groundhog”) is a master at tunnel building, and this one exceptional talent serves him well. The fox has no such specialty but is clever in many ways, a mixed strategy, and it serves him well.

Specialization can be a winning strategy if you can perfect it. In much of human endeavor, the top 1% are highly rewarded and tend to be specialists. If you have a rare and desired talent, make the most of it.

“Jack of all trades, master of none” denigrates the person with many skills but no strong specialty, yet such broadly talented people are needed and rewarded in the running of various enterprises, where the narrow specialist might be lost.

I told Jayden that this relates to the two limiting evolutionary strategies: having many offspring and giving each little support versus having few offspring and providing each much support. These strategies reflect an evolution from the one-celled through many intermediaries, including insects and fish to birds and mammals and humankind. Societies, too, benefit from heavy, individualized investment, reflected in few children per family on average.  

So, if you have a particular and valuable talent, consider developing it fully, be a hedgehog.

Where you lack a particular advantage, treat your opportunities more like lottery tickets, acquire many useful skills, be a fox. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

"Are You Sad, Dearest Ting?"

A few days ago, my wife, Tina Su Cooper, and I spent an hour or so holding hands and watching a movie in our kitchen, as we do most afternoons.

We have been in love for 58 years and married for 37.

Due to multiple sclerosis, Tina (born Su Ting-ting) has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent, getting round-the-clock nursing at home for the past 17 years. She has weathered it heroically, appreciating the nursing care and almost never complaining.

Half a year ago, she had a stroke, reducing her damaged cognitive and communication abilities still further. After several hospitalizations over the past year, the doctors made it clear they thought she should get only minimal future care, as her prospects were grave. We disagreed, insisting on full medical care when appropriate and nursing care at home, which we did even after a period a few years ago when she was mistakenly diagnosed as being in a “vegetative state,” from which she “surprisingly” recovered.

We will give Tina the home and hospital care she can receive, not asking ourselves, “Are we there yet?” We don’t know where “there” will be.

Life includes the possibility of future pleasure. We hope that Tina finds some enjoyment, sleeping a great deal, watching television, and interacting with us for a few hours each day.

As we watched that movie together, I told her that she was our heroine, doing a very difficult thing, persevering despite the limitations, and I said I hope she was not unhappy.

I rephrased my comment into a question, “Are you sad, dearest Ting?”

I feared she would nod her head yes or remain immobile, an implied yes, but she did something she rarely does. She shook her head no.

Tina Su Cooper is not sad.

Even if her situation may make us cry, we are not sad, either.

Life is precious, and where there is life, there is hope. 

Monday, October 25, 2021


Fellow physicist Dr. Michael Guillen, whom I do not know personally,  turns the expression “seeing is believing” on its head to show the role worldview has on whether science seems to support or contradict Christianity. He succeeds in making the case that it is more rational to be a Christian than an atheist, reversing his initial worldview, which lawyers would call “reluctant testimony,” thus more credible.

Scientists like Guillen – who has a doctorate from Cornell in physics, astronomy, and math – rise in their profession by applying reason and “the scientific method,” as they understand it, to their investigations.

World-class scientist Guillen extended his passion for the truth to perform a prolonged and detailed analysis, in concert with the woman who became his wife, of both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which present two very different portrayals of the relationship of God to man.

In the New Testament especially, Dr. Guillen found much to support his scientific worldview, a viewpoint previously shaped by the seeming contradictions of quantum mechanics, the esoteric analysis physicists use with success even while admitting to being puzzled by it.

Guillen contrasts “trivial” truths, demonstrable from logic and evidence, with “profound” truths, supported by evidence and reason but unprovable. Profound truths can be both true and false in some senses simultaneously, such as whether Christ was man or God. Analogously, in quantum mechanics, for example, the electron can be both a particle but not a wave (photo-electric effect) and be a wave but not a particle (diffraction).

Truth is larger than proof, Dr. Guillan emphasizes. Imagine a Venn diagram, where the provable is a subset of the true. What can be proven is quite limited.

For example, eminent mathematicians in the early 20th century found that mathematics could not be put on an entirely logical foundation, as Euclidian geometry had been. Soon after, logician Kurt Godel went even farther and showed that there are propositions that cannot be proven or disproven within systems as complete as modern mathematics and that such systems are even capable of “proving” falsehoods. Truth extends beyond proof.

A classic example of the limitations of logic is determining the truth or falsity of “this statement is false,” a seemingly simple proposition. Is it true? Or false? Or indeterminate?

Another example of the difficulty in relying only on analysis is determining the truth of a statement as simple as “John is good.” Values become extremely hard to define and prove.

A third example is “fuzzy math,” where yes/no is usefully replaced by yes/somewhat/no.

In passing, the author notes the recent studies that demonstrated obvious shortcomings in majorities of samples of published scientific investigations. I would add that current controversies over global warming and vaccination mandates for Covid-19 have shown how some scientists selectively present only the part of the story supporting their worldview.

The author convinced me the case for science has been over-stated and the case for belief in God has been under-stated. His carefully argued and thoroughly researched work includes scores of pertinent citations.

Dr. Guillen keeps our interest and empathy with his narrative passages about himself, his colleagues, and his most significant others.

“Believing is seeing” is akin to “where you stand depends on where you sit,” as your worldview, knowledge, and your self-interest can make you highly aware of or nearly blind to the evidence for a Creator.

This statement is true: Dr. Guillen has put the case for belief in God and for Christianity on an even firmer footing.


This book by Dr. Guillen, whom I do not know, is available from


I am a semi-retired former physicist, now a coach and editor helping people write, finish, and publish their books, through my site:

Saturday, October 16, 2021


This novel by Gordon Smith reads like non-fiction, its strength and its weakness.

It opens with the central family’s reaction to the unfair accusation that got their young daughter expelled from school.

The last portion of the book is an engrossing, exciting, touching search and rescue operation in a hostile region Down Under.

In between these dramatic episodes, the earlier portions describe life on a ranch in the Outback, way out, and sketches the backgrounds and personalities of the main characters. There are events, but not much plot. Still, one gets a feeling for Australia, at least the rural life there.

I admire and like the Aussies, and I appreciate them as our ANZUS allies these past 70 years. As anglophones, we share much culture. As people, many of these, our “mates,” exude a hearty friendliness hard not to like.

We share a common language, but the editor of the book or the proofreader was not always on the alert, and too many grammatical mistakes mar the presentation. A shame.

Prepare to be educated, occasionally disappointed with the writing, and moved emotionally, besides geographically.


Monday, October 4, 2021



This link is to be a repository of Leo Cooper Chiang hit photos, sometimes accompanied by "brother" Luke. 

You cannot take too many baby pictures, right?

they will update this shared google photos album with pictures every so often:


Leo's Granddad

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Two Personal Milestones


Dear Family and Friends,


Tina was more alert than usual today, and so this afternoon, we got her out of bed and into her wheelchair to go to the kitchen to watch TV with me and get her teeth brushed.

Because she had tried to speak a week ago while in the hospital, we deflated the trach cuff,  to allow her to make sounds if she wished. We said, “Hello. Say ‘hello.’” And Tina said, “Hello,” in a raspy but understandable voice. On the way to the kitchen, I gave her some program choices, and she said, “Home and Garden.”  Then she added, “I love you with all my heart.” I was amazed and pleased, as this challenging year could easily have made her resent our inability to do more for her, and we seldom see her smile.

This afternoon, for the first time in several years, I was able to walk the one-mile road around the lake, courtesy of the skill of the Hospital for Special Surgery surgeons (Dr. Windsor and Dr. Gausden) who did my two hip replacements. (Colette accompanied me and protected me from possible assailants, none of whom dared show up.)

We persevere and advance.



Thursday, September 30, 2021

THINKING IT THROUGH: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers

After many years of work, two educator-administrator authors (Drs. Michael Hibbard and Patricia Cyganovich) have distilled decades of experience into publishing this extensive contribution to educating students to become systematic, effective problem-solvers.

The book publisher's short description:

Thinking It Through: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers guides educators in integrating creative and critical thinking to power the six phases of the Cycle of Problem-Solving: problem-finding and analyzing the audience, researching, generating ideas for solutions, selecting a solution, designing an implementation plan, and self-regulation and setting goals for improvement.

The authors draw from the works of Thomas Friedman, Bena Kallick, Ken Kay, Robert Marzano, Jay McTighe, Daniel Pink, Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Grant Wiggins, and Young Zhao in creating a coherent system for teaching to produce independent problem-solvers.

Thinking It Through provides guiding questions to focus on specific skills and attitudes needed to progress through the Cycle of Problem-Solving and four developmental levels of problem-solving.

This book is for classroom teachers, grade-level teams, content-area departments, pupil-service departments, whole schools, and school districts; the strategies are helpful in elementary, middle, and high school disciplines. It is recommended as a textbook for college undergraduate and graduate education programs.

Educators have found the Thinking It Through Cycle and System of Problem-Solving helpful in engaging a school, district, or institution in the life skill of problem-solving.

Creative and critical thinking, communication, collaboration, arts, basic skills, empathy, mindfulness, resilience, perseverance, and positive work habits are problem-solving tools. These are coherently and systematically included in the Cycle and System of Problem-Solving to give educators the theory and strategies needed to empower students to solve the problems of their lifetimes.

Ken Kay, the founding CEO of EdLeader21, concurs, "There will be nothing more essential for students in their personal, professional, and civic lives than to become self-directed, creative problem-solvers."

Noted consultant and co-author of 17 books, including the award-winning Understanding by Design series, Jay McTighe urges, "If you agree, as I do, that problem-solving should be considered a basic skill of a modern education, then this book is for you."

Martin G. Brooks, Executive Director of TriState Consortium, offers this praise for the authors: "I have seen first-hand the transformational work that Drs. Hibbard and Cyganovich initiated and oversaw as school administrators. Their focus on problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation encouraged teachers to do more profound and more meaningful work with students."

Jonathan P. Costa, Sr. Assistant Executive Director, EdAdvance, states: "I have never encountered a pair of leaders more qualified to share insights regarding student agency in problem-solving than Drs. Hibbard and Cyganovich. Thinking It Through is among the most in-depth and thoughtful examinations of the power of shifting the focus of learning to the student that I have encountered. The results represent a unique blend of theory and practice, grounded in the depth and power of the real-world examples they share and explain."

"This work is an incredible contribution to teaching problem-solving," concludes Professor Marcia Delcourt, Coordinator, Ed.D. Instructional Leadership at Western Connecticut State University.

My contribution was to coach the authors and edit the text through my enterprise.

This valuable work is available in paperback format through,, and its publisher, Amazon will be putting the book into Kindle e-reader format, as well.

Here, Amazon provides a substantial free sample  (10%) of the text, along with the opportunity to buy the book:

Thinking It Through: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers

Monday, September 20, 2021

Book Review/Endorsement: DEATHBED EXPERIENCES

 The basis of my endorsement of Dr. J. Steve Miller's exceptional study, a work that seems likely to become a classic.



Author: J. Steve Miller, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA


This extraordinary book, this scholarly tome, will set the agenda for future studies of the phenomena associated with “life after death” or “deathbed experiences,” happenings that indicate what happens to us as we pass from life to death and the hereafter. Prof. Miller’s 400-plus pages of closely argued text, with nearly 800 footnotes and approximately 1000 references, set a research standard hard to match, essential to those interested in the topic.

In the future, scholars unfamiliar with this work will be identifying themselves as producing analyses warranting little serious attention.

As a semi-retired scientist, a physicist/engineer with a long history of interest in not only science but also philosophy, I was privileged to receive a nearly final Advance Review Copy from Prof. Miller, an acquaintance through internet correspondence. I spent decades as an agnostic, only recently returning to the Christian faith, as a lapsed Protestant who views the Bible as history written by fallible mortals.

Prof. Miller’s book is so well-argued that it has moved me from hoping there is a life after death to expecting that there is, being only somewhat short of certain.

Here’s the book’s outline, in brief:


Part I: Examining DBE Phenomena

Chapter One. Phenomena Before Death

Chapter Two: Phenomena at Death

Chapter Three: Phenomena After Death

Chapter Four: Phenomena Throughout the Death Experience

Chapter Five: Conclusions from the Evidence


Part II: Challenges from Science and Naturalism

Chapter Six: Charges That the Evidence Isn’t Scientific

Chapter Seven: Challenges to the Afterlife Hypothesis


Part III: Deathbed Experiences and Christianity

Chapter Eight: Comparing DBE and NDE Research to Christian Teachings





The appendices include definitions of key terms, an example of a detailed DBE report, the math behind a major British Census study, application of Bayesian statistical analysis, a tabulation of scientific journals in which related work is found, and an extensive discussion of Rev. John MacArthur’s theological criticism of NDE.

The range and depth of this work are breathtaking, beyond this reviewer’s ken in several areas. Two areas raised questions for me: first, an early anecdote about Mark Twain’s detailed vision of the funeral arrangements for his younger, distant brother before the boy’s death…how do we have the effect (the vision) before we have the cause (the death)? Second, the correct application of Bayes’s theorem to improve our estimate of the probability of the existence of an afterlife, from new information, a topic for future research.

This profound and carefully researched book will encourage all who hope for a life after death in the presence of a just and benevolent God.


Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

Formerly, Associate Professor of Environmental Physics

Harvard (now, Chan) Graduate School of Public Health



Available from, among others,

Saturday, September 18, 2021

CALORIES DON'T COUNT? Diet and Weight Gain

 Good fifty-minute talk on diet and weight gain.

We process sugars so as to get all their calories, but get less available from fats and proteins. More details, but you still need to control "available calories" to help control your weight:

Sunday, September 12, 2021

WRITE YOUR BOOK Podcast with Russ Hedge

 It has never been easier to write and publish a book!

Russ Hedge discusses the ins and outs with Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD, a former Harvard professor who has helped others finish and publish over 40 books in the last ten years via his Write Your Book With Me

To view it, paste the link into your browser. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021


 My close friend, financial advisor (among other things) Jim Bakun, has just published this fine book, now available on

I helped him with it and wrote the following Foreword:



How important are money management and finances in marriage and family affairs? Tremendously. The American Bar Association recently indicated that 89 percent of all divorces could be traced to quarrels and accusations over money. Another study estimated that 75 percent of all divorces result from clashes over finances. Some professional counselors indicated that four out of every five families wrestle with serious money problems.”

Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland, formerly President of Brigham Young University


I chose a quotation about finance and marriage from a religious authority because this book combines all three of these elements. Marriage is a sacred agreement, a promise, and one of its greatest risks is the mismanagement of the couple’s money.


How you earn and how you spend your money reflects your talents, insights, tastes, priorities, generosity, and miserliness, and as a couple, newlyweds need to be in general agreement about money-management or they will be sailing into a sea of trouble.


During his former career as a Certified Financial Planner, Jim Bakun counseled over 16,000 clients about money management: getting it, spending it, saving it, investing it, and bequeathing it. And not getting cheated out of it!


I met Jim at a Toastmasters Club, where he was sharpening his skills as a public speaker in preparation for lecturing on the topic of prudent financial management for people of all ages and walks of life. A strong friendship soon developed, and when he decided to write a book, he asked for my help, and this book was conceived. He brings to his writing a special combination of common sense, financial expertise, and the wisdom of a life well-lived, including a happy marriage well-managed.


Financial Success for Newlyweds will teach you how to handle your finances so you can save your marriage, not an easy trick these days. The author spells it out, and all you have to do is pay attention to spare yourself the painful money lessons of the School of Hard Knocks, which is not a branch of Fort Knox where the U.S. Treasury has piled up more gold than financiers like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos combined.


Money is not the key to happiness, but a lack of money can open the door to lots of unhappiness.


Fortunately, you will learn a bundle from Jim’s book and enjoy the process, too.



Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

Walden, NY

Summer 2020

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Razib Khan Reviews Murray's FACING REALITY

This friendly review of a controversial book summarizes Murray's main points: a seemingly intractable difference between Black-White intelligence and crime statistics and performance. The topics are notoriously sensitive issues, and there are few policy options offered:

The Woke will ignore it if they cannot suppress it.

As for people's often-unspoken feelings, "watch the feet," observe migration patterns. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

LEO COOPER CHIANG, Welcome to the World!

Leo was born Sunday, July 11, 2021

to Lisa Stuppler and husband

Philip Chiang. 

"Brother" Luke is a bit puzzled.

Grandparents (Tina Su Cooper and I) are delighted.


You cannot take too many baby pictures, right?

they will update this shared google photos album with pictures every so often:


Leo's Granddad


 “Where’s the patient?” the physical therapist greeted me outside my home on the Thursday afternoon after the Monday morning I had my Total Hip Replacement [THR] performed at HSS. After our half-hour PT session, he commented that in 20 years, he had not seen such a rapid recovery from this operation.

 I told the therapist the credit belongs to the Hospital for Special Surgery, primarily to surgeon Elizabeth B. Gausden, and to all those involved pre-operatively and post-operatively.

 My May 24, 2021, operation, by Dr. Gausden et al., was very successful, as demonstrated by my rapid recovery and minimal pain. Dr. Gausden’s pre-op and post-op conversations with me were informative and reassuring; the nurses were skilled, caring, and trustworthy; my concerns were addressed by HSS personnel intelligently. The educational literature was clear and helpful. Pain management by Dr. Kahn et al. was successful. I came off opioids in a few days and managed residual soreness with OTC meds.

From the staff managing the entrance on my arrival to HSS to the nurses on the floor managing my departure the day after the surgery, an emphasis on quality, courtesy, and compassion was evident.

Even the food service excelled. That Tuesday, as I looked over the choices I would have had for dinner entrees that evening, I only half-joked that maybe I’d stay a bit longer so as not to miss that meal.

Within a week, I could walk my dog a half-mile, climb stairs, and drive my car, all with little or no pain. Success!

Thanks, HSS. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Romantic Writing Coach: Podcast with Luke Jean-Luis


Interview 07/19/21 on a podcast by Luke Jean-Louis, The Deep-Voice Man, 

A half-century inter-racial romance has led to 37 years (so far) of a special, loving marriage. For the last 17 years, Tina has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent, due to MS, receiving round-the-clock nursing at home. Issues include medical care, race, step-parenting, finances, and maintaining mutual love.

See also, TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. Available through,, 

See, too,

Saturday, June 26, 2021

A "Light Classical" Heroine Herself

My dear wife, Tina Su Cooper, my love for over half a century and my spouse for 37 years, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent, having skilled nursing care at home for 17 years, suffered a pair of strokes in mid-March, from which she is only very slowly recovering.

Before the strokes, Tina could verbally indicate her preferences only in short sentences, greet us, thank us, and enjoyed a narrow set of television programs and music, usually Classical, Light Classical, or Easy Listening. She would occasionally say, “I love you with all my heart.”

The first month after the strokes, she did not seem to know she was home or who we were. She slept most of the day. Was this all there would be?

The second month, Tina would sometimes follow us with her eyes and nod a “yes” if asked a question to which that was the correct answer. “Are you warm enough?” “Do you like this program?” “Do you want quiet?”

This third month, she does usually follow us with her gaze. She smiles when greeted. Her nod is more emphatic, and last week, she added shaking her head “no” to answer questions. I half-jokingly commented that she had doubled her vocabulary, as limited as it is.

This week, as usual, I reminded her who she is and who I am and how much I love her. She was watching a home-improvement or a house-hunting program, which she sometimes enjoys. When I asked her if she liked it, she did not answer, which I took for “no” or “not much.”

Puzzled, but knowing her love of music, I asked her whether she would like to listen to “Easy Listening” music or “Light Classical.” She had once been a gifted amateur pianist and still enjoys music. In asking this way, I had forgotten her limitations and had gone outside our “yes/no” set of answer options.

Tina’s recovery from her strokes has been slow, but our nurses and I agree that she has already progressed beyond what some medical professionals thought would be her limits. The hospital’s doctors seemed to favor “do not resuscitate” and “palliative care” or hospice care. None was so open as to urge, “pull the plug,” but that seemed the sub-text in two meetings I had with them. I told them to care for her medically, save her life, spare her pain, return her to us for nursing care at home.

Yes, only a few days ago, in response to my music-choice question, Tina looked at me, smiled a little smile, and silently mouthed two words, “Light Classical.”

Our heroine, recovering.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Starbuck




Robert F. Starbuck died a hero in Vietnam on February 4, 1967.  Only 25, he was a sergeant of an elite RECON Marine detachment holding a hill against overwhelming odds.  He was awarded the Silver Star, one of our armed forces’ highest decorations for bravery.


Bob and I were football teammates, high school classmates, and friends. He was very likeable and decent.  His death must have been shattering to his family. When I learned, much later than 1967, of his death, I pondered what I could do in his memory. Moving back to Walden, I found that our high school, Valley Central, held an annual awards ceremony for members of the athletic teams. I established the Robert F. Starbuck Captain’s Award in his honor, going each year to the captain of the football team, in recognition of Bob’s leadership, courage, strength, and service to our country.


Recently, a memorial ceremony was held in honor of our local servicemen who died. There is never enough we can do to thank such people.


The story of Bob’s last battle is one of those in the book, Honor the Warrior: The United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, by William L. Myers, published in 2000. Mr. Myers dedicates his book to the nearly 15,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps who died in Viet Nam. His dedication includes this excerpt from a poem by Laurence Binyon:


          But they shall not grow old

          As we who are left grow old.

          Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn,

          But at the going down of the sun and in the morning

          We will remember them.


We do remember.


 From my TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion 




Review of THE JOY OF CHEMISTRY: A Quick Study Guide for Kids and Beginners to Learn Chemistry

Author: Nervana Elkhadragy, Ph.D.


This charming little book is intended to introduce kids to chemistry. It does so partly by anthropomorphizing atoms in a fashion sometimes cuddly, sometimes wrong. Chapter 1 sets the tone, “How Are Particles Similar to People?” The book’s title is appealing, as are the chapter titles, despite their simplification.

Unfortunately, simplification runs the risk of error.

For example, the answer to a Chapter 2 question, “Which one is easier to smell from a distance, hot or iced coffee?” is given as, “Diffusion occurs faster at a warmer temperature because particles have more kinetic energy, and thus move faster. That’s why we all enjoy the smell of freshly brewed coffee.” More nearly correct is that the temperature of the hot coffee produces a higher vapor pressure in the aromatic constituents, which then diffuse in the air at the same rate due to the air temperature, as do the aromatic components from cool coffee. “Freshly brewed coffee” smells better than stale coffee for other reasons as well.

Even so, questions and answers at the end of each chapter are generally a plus for reinforcing the lessons. A shortcoming is that each answer is introduced with an exclamation about how well the student has already answered it, such as, “Nice explanation!” Condescending?

Dr. Elkhadragy’s making particles into people requires us to extend a poetic license to the author for sentences such as, “Particles are like individuals. They think and make wise decisions.” Too cute to be true.

Similarly, drawing an analogy between the solar system and an atom produces “electrons are tiny particles that orbit the nucleus at a very high speed.” Too simple by far. The discussion later becomes more sophisticated with the introduction of the concept of electron shells. All in all, the description of the atom is mostly true and informative.

Next, we have compounds, “in which two or more elements decide to make a deal, hold a contract, and stay together.” Too folksy for my taste. I awaited details of the divorce.

A former science teacher myself, I enjoyed the description of the periodic table, not an easy thing to describe clearly and succinctly. One can easily remember that the specific groups of atoms had particular characteristics, like people in certain neighborhoods.

The book has an excellent discussion of the relative reactivity of the various kinds (groups) of elements.

It is easier to understand compound formation once one knows that atoms have “goals,” one of which (except for hydrogen and lithium) is to have eight electrons in the outermost shell. Group VII elements will tend to gain single electrons and become negative ions. Groups I, II, and III metals tend to give up electrons and become positive ions. Figure 6 has an atom preparing part with an electron.

Ionic and covalent bonding are well described once one gets past the idea of an atom’s “wanting.”

In sum, this well-written and well-edited book makes a painless introduction to essential aspects of chemistry. However, before using it in one’s classroom, consider how suited it is to the age of one’s students. Perhaps middle school students are the appropriate cohort.

P.S. The author has informed me that an upcoming revision will be addressing some of these concerns, in which case I will likely be happy to add another star to this review.


Sunday, May 9, 2021



In an extensive article, science writer Nicholas Wade summarizes:

Where We Are So Far

Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached.

That said, the available evidence leans more strongly in one direction than the other. Readers will form their own opinion. But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.

It’s documented that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were doing gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells and humanized mice. This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged. The researchers were not vaccinated against the viruses under study, and they were working in the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 laboratory. So escape of a virus would not be at all surprising. In all of China, the pandemic broke out on the doorstep of the Wuhan institute. The virus was already well adapted to humans, as expected for a virus grown in humanized mice. It possessed an unusual enhancement, a furin cleavage site, which is not possessed by any other known SARS-related beta-coronavirus, and this site included a double arginine codon also unknown among beta-coronaviruses. What more evidence could you want, aside from the presently unobtainable lab records documenting SARS2’s creation?

Proponents of natural emergence have a rather harder story to tell. The plausibility of their case rests on a single surmise, the expected parallel between the emergence of SARS2 and that of SARS1 and MERS. But none of the evidence expected in support of such a parallel history has yet emerged. No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself, despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site, which no other SARS-related beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the site is composed of human-preferred codons. The natural emergence theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities.

To which I would add that regardless of the origin, the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for having allowed it to be transmitted worldwide while preventing its transmission within China, an act of biological warfare. 

Tina Su Cooper Is Recovering

Days before Tina was sent home from the hospital, I had THE TALK with two sets of doctors et al.: Tina was wholly unresponsive though clearly alive, and at this time, 45 days after her multiple strokes, there was little hope of cognitive improvement. "What do you want us to do?" The subtext was: is this life worth saving, or shall we minimize our efforts? 

I explained to both sets that Tina had recovered unexpectedly 17years ago when the choice was "home or hospice?" and again a few years ago when she was returned to us in "a vegetative state," later to recover some ability to communicate and appreciate, the classic "Come-back Kid." Though at 77,  Tina is not a kid, she is a person with possibly years of life ahead.

I instructed the doctors to do what they could medically to save her life and protect her from pain, and we would resume around-the-clock nursing for her at home. 

She returned home earlier this week, essentially unresponsive, virtually comatose, and we wondered what would result. For a grim few days, we saw a lot of sleeping, some looking around pointlessly, no response to any touch or sound.

Yesterday, that changed. Nurse Mary Wilkinson asked her, "Are you feeling better?" Tina gave a small, definite nod! This was repeated several times.

Subsequently, Nurses Mary and Heather Geib and I have asked Tina simple questions like, "Are you warm enough?" and have gotten small but definite nodding motions of her head and some change in facial expression, even a hint of a smile.

She even mouthed "hi" when encouraged to do so by Heather. 

Also new, she is moving her head to view various parts of the room. 

This was not the case just days ago.

We think that successful care of her physical health will be accompanied by some continued improvement of her cognition and communication. We are thrilled.

Our prayerful watch reminded me of a Frost poem, "Neither Far Out Nor in Deep,"

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be---
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

We have a limited view of our mysterious life, yet we persist in hoping,
and sometimes that hope is rewarded, as is prayer.