Extinct Cave Bear DNA Lives On in Brown Bears


Modern brown bears are carrying a bit of genetic material passed down from the cave bear, in a study that suggests extinction does not always vanquish a species’ genes.

ImageThe skull of a cave bear, which went extinct 25,000 years ago. The discovery is the first time species of mammals so far apart have been shown to carry each other’s DNA.CreditCreditAndrei Posmoanu

About 25,000 years ago in Western Europe, the last cave bear drew its final breath and the species went extinct.

But a study published on Monday in Nature Ecology & Evolution finds that some cave bear DNA lives on in modern brown bears, much like humans carry around a bit of Neanderthal.

The finding challenges our view of extinction, said Ludovic Orlando, a professor at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, who was not involved in the research.

“Extinction does not imply that genetic material is gone forever,” he said via email.

In the new study, researchers initially set out to learn more about the cave bear by studying its genetics. Almost as a lark they compared the genetic sequence they’d derived for the cave bear with an existing sequence of a brown bear, said Axel Barlow, the lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Potsdam in Germany. The results surprised them.

“There was a really quite obvious signal of hybridization between these species,” Dr. Barlow said.

Wondering whether their results were a fluke, the team then compared the cave bear genome to that of seven other brown bears — one ancient and six modern — and found the same genetic mixing. Cave bears contributed from just under one percent to 2.4 percent of the genomes of brown bears, the study showed.

“We did not expect to find this at all because they’re really quite diverse in terms of their evolution,” Dr. Barlow said.

The team was also able to determine that the genes flowed both ways between species, with the cave bears also carrying some brown bear DNA. The most recent transfer of genes came from the cave bear to the brown, the study found.

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Brown bears are more closely related to polar bears than they were to cave bears from whom they diverged more than a million years ago, he said. Cave bears were largely herbivores, while brown bears are meat-eaters and about 20 percent smaller than cave bears, with more delicate bones. A brown bear would probably have looked “wimpy” next to a cave bear, he said.

They both shared roughly the same territory until about 25,000 years ago in Europe, Dr. Barlow said. Two Alaskan brown bears also showed the presence of cave bear DNA, suggesting an unexpected diffusion of genes that needs to be investigated further, he said.

ImageA new study indicates brown bears may have interbred with ancient cave bears, and now carry some of the DNA of the extinct species.CreditLajos Berde

It’s not clear why cave bears went extinct, Dr. Barlow said, although the timing roughly followed the migration pattern of anatomically modern humans from Africa into Europe. The last cave bears lived in western Europe, and at least one skeleton has been found with fragments of a human-made spear embedded in its vertebrae.

Also unknown is whether the inbreeding between bear species provided any evolutionary advantage to the brown bears, something Dr. Barlow said he hoped to investigate. In people, it’s been found that a gene from another early hominin species called the Denisovans helped Tibetans adapt to the high altitudes in which they live.

Pontus Skoglund of the Francis Crick Institute’s Ancient Genomics Laboratory said in some ways it was not surprising that similar creatures who shared the same geography would intermingle and have overlapping genetics. But it does force scientists to change their definition of a “species,” as animals that don’t interbreed, he said.

“It confronts this idea of species that many people have in biology and emphasizes how we really need to take in this empirical data that gene flow does occur,” Dr. Skoglund said.

Dr. Orlando said he’s also interested in learning more about the genes that were preserved and those that may have led to the cave bear’s extinction. “Those cave bear genes that are never found in brown bears (as incompatible) might prove essential to understand the process of speciation,” he said.

The genetic mixing work has implications for how today’s endangered animals should be protected, Dr. Barlow said. He wondered whether animals that have DNA from other species should be preferentially conserved because they are likely to be hardier, or whether biologists should preferentially protect “purer” animals with less genetic mixing. A better understanding of species that have already gone extinct could also help conservationists provide optimal conditions for preserving today’s endangered species, he said.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/science/cave-bears-dna-extinction.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Books That Take Children Back to School

Miss Dearborn was inexperienced but essentially benign, and Mr. Phillips was inept and offended Anne gravely by making her sit next to a boy who had teased her (spoiler alert: reader, she married him, but not till several books later in the series). Miss Brownell, the teacher who greeted the newly orphaned 9-year-old “Emily of New Moon” (also by Lucy Maud Montgomery) in her new school, after she had also been taken in by her elderly aunts on Prince Edward Island, was known to be a strict disciplinarian, and she was truly bad news.

Emily is already excruciatingly embarrassed to be sent to school in a “terrible gingham apron and an equally terrible gingham sunbonnet,” and the other little girls are not nice about it — aah, the shame of the sunbonnet. “Why don’t you like me?” she asks, and one of the other girls says, “Because you ain’t a bit like us.” To which Emily responds, scornfully, “I wouldn’t want to be.”

Emily eventually cows her classmates through sheer force of personality, and actually comes to enjoy school, but the teacher, Miss Brownell, is no good, right from day one, when Emily “made up her mind that she did not like Miss Brownell and never would like her.” And Miss Brownell, over the course of the book, slaps Emily’s face and mocks her poetry.

My favorite old-fashioned first-day-of-school scene is in a book just over a hundred years old, “Understood Betsy,” by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The author was a strong proponent of Maria Montessori’s methods and translated her works into English, and much of Betsy’s school experience leads back to Montessori’s precepts of progressive education and the importance of giving children a chance to engage with the real world.

Betsy is a nervous urban third grader, being “scientifically” brought up by her Aunt Frances, who sympathizes with all her fears and anxieties and thereby encourages her to dwell on them; when Betsy goes to live with her Vermont cousins, she is deeply shocked to be sent off to school on her own. “Aunt Frances had never, no never, let her go to school alone, and on the first day of the year always took her to the new teacher and introduced her and told the teacher how sensitive she was and how hard to understand; and then she stayed there for an hour or two till Elizabeth Ann got used to things!”

But Betsy triumphs — she finds the little one-room country school, she takes her place, and then she is disconcerted to realize that she will work at different grade levels in her different subjects, reading in the seventh reader, doing arithmetic at the second-grade level, spelling at the third. In despair she asks the teacher, “What grade am I?” And the teacher tells her, “you aren’t any grade at all, no matter where you are in school …. what’s the use of your reading little baby things too easy for you just because you don’t know your multiplication table?”

Betsy is completely shocked at this, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher explains, “never before had she known what she was doing in school. She had always thought she was there to pass from one grade to another, and she was ever so startled to get a little glimpse of the fact that she was there to learn how to read and write and cipher and generally use her mind, so she could take care of herself when she came to be grown up.”

The narrative of life in school is important for every child, and reading the stories of other children in distant times and places can help children understand and shape their stories.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/well/family/books-that-take-children-back-to-school.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Gender Divide in Preschoolers’ Closets

“How adorable!” crooned the woman in line behind us at the department store. “And look at those lashes. How old is he?”

I looked down at my 3-year-old daughter, Lia, who was trying to scale the counter, and paused. It’s not unusual for strangers to think my little girl is a little boy. People are used to seeing boys with tumbles of curls like hers — but a girl wearing boxy olive-green pants and a sturdy space-motif T-shirt has a way of throwing off the gender radar.

Lia’s bucking of clothing stereotypes isn’t her choice (yet). When her older brother started outgrowing his clothing, I put a lot of it aside for Lia. The hand-me-downs saved money and let us squeeze a little more enjoyment out of those tiny jackets and sweet sailor shirts. While I was happy if they also happened to de-girlify her wardrobe, I didn’t set out to turn her into a pint-size fashion iconoclast.

But by the time Lia was a year old, I was buying most of her clothes in boys’ sections. When she started walking, then running and climbing and jumping, I looked for clothes that were as functional as my son’s: Pants that would buffer her knees against falls and have pockets to hold the rocks and leaves she picked up in the park. Substantial shirts that would shield her arms from the sun and mask grass stains and food smears.

Instead, I found girls’ sections filled with lightweight leggings, scoop-neck tops, and embellished shoes. I scoured the internet for girls’ pants with capacious pockets and reinforced knees, and found maddeningly few options.

I eventually realized that, even in an age of female fighter pilots and #MeToo, boys’ clothes are largely designed to be practical, while girls’ are designed to be pretty. Now when I shop for Lia, I hit the boys’ section first. It’s not just about avoiding skinned knees, but also the subtle and discouraging message that’s woven right into girls’ garments: you are dressed to decorate, not to do.

Some might think I’m being sartorially oversensitive. But what we wear matters — and not just as a projection of our personalities and priorities. An abundance of research has shown that our clothes affect how other people perceive us, as well as how we see ourselves.

A 2012 study by researchers at Kenyon College showed that adults thought fifth-grade girls who wore more sexualized outfits were less intelligent and capable than girls who wore more childish clothes. In another study, published in the journal Social Behavior and Personality, ballerinas who wore tights and leotards felt worse about their bodies and their performances than those who wore loose get-ups.

How we dress can even change the way we act. Studies have found that wearing more formal work clothes can get people thinking in a more abstract, big-picture way, and that adults become more focused when they put on lab coats — even if they’re not scientists. It’s not a stretch to think that putting our girls in tighter, frillier, flimsier clothes can imprint them with outdated notions about what they can and should do.

Though designs obviously vary from brand to brand, experts say that overall, the gender discrepancies in kids’ clothes are very real.

“Especially in the toddler years, the boys have more pockets, they have more fun active clothes than the girls,” said Francesca Sammaritano, a children’s wear designer and assistant professor of fashion at Parsons School of Design. “There’s leg room for bending your knees.”

The differences in cut — boxier for boys, narrower and more revealing for girls — have nothing to do with differences in children’s frames. Designers even use the same dress forms for both genders, Ms. Sammaritano said. “The body is the same, size-wise. You’re growing and developing in the same way until you reach six years, more or less.”

The gender divisions are a relatively new thing, said Jo Paoletti, a fashion scholar and author of “Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys From the Girls in America.”

“All you have to do is look at the last 30 years of consumer culture for children to see these stereotypes coming out more and more,” she told me. One reason, she said, is the rise in the 1990s of third-wave feminism, which embraced traditionally feminine looks; another is the prevalence of tests that let parents find out a child’s sex before birth, and have led to the trend of holding gender-reveal parties in pregnancy.

“Parents started reacting to that,” Ms. Paoletti said. “But all it means is, it prepares you to buy all the stuff — and prepares you mentally to be able to raise a human being — according to cultural stereotypes.”

A more insidious reason: With declining birthrates, clothing manufacturers have been hungry for ways to keep sales up. “If you can figure out a way to make it harder for people to share or hand down clothes, you’re going to do it,” Ms. Paoletti said.

To be sure, a few companies have made efforts to break gender ranks. There are unisex lines from new brands such as Primary and Svaha, and traditional ones like Carter’s. Lands’ End started selling girls’ leggings with the same reinforced knees its boys’ pants have; Girls Will Be makes shorts and pants with pockets.

But much of the industry still seems to be engaged in a color war.

I haven’t enlisted. Pink isn’t banned from our house; neither are flowery dresses. And Lia loves both — though she also recently asked me to replace the blue tee with a train engine on the front that she had outgrown. And I’ve begun mixing “girlie” colors into my son’s drawers.

Increasingly, I find it silly that we have “boys’” and “girls’” clothes at all. I’d much rather buy my children clothes that speak to their actual interests rather than the interests they are presumed to have because of their genders. Why should girls be confined to pastels and kittens, boys to navy blue and construction-equipment motifs?

My 5-year-old son finds joy in rainbows, flowers and things that glitter. I’ve been scouring the girls’ sections for a shirt for him — let me know if you see one without puffed sleeves.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/well/family/the-gender-divide-in-preschoolers-closets.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

‘Lopping,’ ‘Tips’ and the ‘Z-List’: Bias Lawsuit Explores Harvard’s Admissions Secrets

The case has been orchestrated by Edward Blum, a longtime crusader against affirmative action and voting rights laws, and it may yield him a fresh chance to get the issue before the Supreme Court. The court turned away his last major challenge to university admissions, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in 2016.

[Read: How other Ivy League schools are coming to Harvard’s defense.]

The debate goes back to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 was a turning point, pushing colleges to redouble their efforts to be more representative of American society.

But Asians were an overlooked minority despite a long history of discrimination. As late as 1976, Harvard did not recognize them as a minority group and barred them from a freshman minority orientation banquet. They had a kind of neither-nor identity, denied both the solidarity of other students of color and the social standing of white people.

“There’s even a tendency to stay away from each other because you know how, in college, status and prestige are important,” said T.K. Chang, who was at Harvard in the mid-70s. Mr. Chang said he found his niche in The Harvard Lampoon, the campus humor magazine.

Since then the stakes in the admissions game have grown. About 40,000 students apply each year, and about 2,000 are admitted for some 1,600 seats in the freshman class. The chances of admission this year were under 5 percent. Of the 26,000 domestic applicants for the Class of 2019 (the lawsuit is not concerned with international students), about 3,500 had perfect SAT math scores, 2,700 had perfect SAT verbal scores, and more than 8,000 had straight A’s.

The sorting begins right away. The country is divided into about 20 geographic “dockets,” each of which is assigned to a subcommittee of admissions officers with intimate knowledge of that region and its high schools.

Generally two or three admissions officers, or readers, rate applications in five categories: academic, extracurricular, athletic, personal and “overall.” They also rate teachers’ and guidance counselors’ recommendations. And an alumni interviewer also rates the candidates.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/29/us/harvard-admissions-asian-americans.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Breast-Feeding Mothers Should Avoid Marijuana, Pediatricians Say

Marijuana is more widely available than ever, but what does it do to babies?

There’s no answer to that yet, but nursing mothers are being warned to avoid it: Traces of the drug can show up in breast milk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets people high, can be detected in breast milk up to six days after use of the drug, according to a study published on Monday by the journal Pediatrics.

The study found that tetrahydrocannabinol was detectable in 63 percent of 54 samples of breast milk from women who said they had used marijuana before pumping.

In response to evidence that babies are being exposed to marijuana, the A.A.P. recommends that women avoid the drug altogether when they are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Research into the potential effects of marijuana has become particularly relevant as more states have moved toward legalization and expectant mothers have taken up the drug in increasing numbers. Recreational use is legal in eight states and Washington, and 30 states allow for some form of medical use. New York recently took a step toward allowing recreational marijuana.

The move toward legalization has gained momentum in countries like Canada and Britain, while attracting big dollars from investors looking to take advantage of growth in the industry. The parent company of Corona beer recently plunged $4 billion into a cannabis producer.

But the A.A.P. warned that in spite of loosening restrictions, it isn’t necessarily safe for the baby.

“The fact that marijuana is legal in many states may give the impression the drug is harmless during pregnancy, especially with stories swirling on social media about using it for nausea with morning sickness,” said Sheryl A. Ryan, chairwoman of the A.A.P. Committee on Substance Use and Prevention. “But in fact, this is still a big question.”

Preliminary research has suggested that THC can cross the placenta and reach the fetus, potentially harming brain development, cognition and birth weight. But studies on the effects of marijuana on pregnancy and lactation are relatively rare.

The A.A.P. study, which tested breast milk rather than the babies, does not provide evidence of how or if children are affected. It also noted that the amount ingested by infants could vary significantly.

Work on the topic is all the more important now as pot has become more potent, said Christina D. Chambers, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, and one of the authors of the study. “We needed current-day use of currently available products to really understand exposure levels and to look at outcomes that are relevant to today,” she said in an email.

More research is needed so doctors can provide evidence-based advice, Dr. Chambers added. “This creates a dilemma for pediatricians who want their patients to be breast-fed and worry that some mothers, if told not to use cannabis, may not breast-feed.”

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/27/health/marijuana-breast-milk-mothers.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

When a Pregnant Pipefish Dad Spots an Alluring Female, Things Get Weird


This is not a happy love story.

ImageA robust ghost pipefish in waters off Indonesia. With some species of pipefish, fathers are susceptible to what scientists call the Bruce effect.CreditCreditBrook Peterson/Stocktrek Images, via Science Source

Pipefish, along with their cousins sea horses and sea dragons, defy convention in love and fertility. In a striking role reversal, fathers give birth instead of mothers.

During courtship, females pursue males with flashy ornaments or elaborate dances, and males tend to be choosy about which females’ eggs they’ll accept. Once pregnant, these gender-bending fathers invest heavily in their young, supplying embryos with nutrients and oxygen through a setup similar to the mammalian placenta.

But this investment may also be cruelly conditional, according to a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Studying pipefish, scientists found evidence that pregnant fathers spontaneously abort or divert fewer resources to their embryos when faced with the prospects of a superior mate — in this case, an exceptionally large female.

The researchers named their finding the “woman in red” effect, after the eponymous 1984 Gene Wilder film about a married man’s obsession with a woman in a red dress that becomes damaging to his family life.

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The reported effect is an interesting instance of sexual conflict, which is ubiquitous among animals, said Sarah Flanagan, a pipefish expert at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

If you’re a romantic, you might think of mating as harmonious. But in nature, reproduction is more often a vicious power struggle between mothers and fathers with competing interests.

A maternal analogue to the “woman in red” effect occurs among mice. Males are willing to kill a female’s offspring, if they are unrelated to him, before mating with her.

In anticipation, a pregnant mother may terminate her pregnancy when exposed to a new male, rather than spending resources on doomed offspring.

ImageBlack-striped male pipefish, which were used in the experiment, at bottom, and female pipefish at the top. CreditSara Mendes

This behavior, named the Bruce effect (for Hilda Bruce, the British zoologist), has been documented in lions, horses and monkeys, too, but a similar strategy has never been reported apart from mammals until now, said Nuno Monteiro, a researcher at the CIBIO Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources in Portugal and an author of the new study.

Though pipefish don’t commit infanticide, Dr. Monteiro wondered whether they experienced something similar to the Bruce effect because pregnancies are so costly for males. Previous research had found that pipefish fathers invest less in pregnancies from small females if they have bred with larger females before.

At the risk of anthropomorphizing, Dr. Flanagan said, it’s as if male pipefish are thinking, “I’ve done better in the past.”

In their study, Dr. Monteiro and his collaborators bred male black-striped pipefish with large females, then kept each father-to-be in a tank partitioned from a new female of equal size, a new female much larger in size (the woman in red), or its original mate.

Males in the “woman in red” group — exposed to the new, “sexier” female — had the highest rates of abortion and shortest pregnancies. They also birthed smaller offspring, some of which had abnormalities.

It seems that these fathers stopped investing in existing offspring to save up for a better brood, said Jacinta Beehner, an associate professor of psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan who studies reproductive strategies in primates.

In fact, because pipefish fathers are known to absorb nutrients from aborted embryos (essentially cannibalizing their young), they should be able to reallocate energy from abandoned pregnancies toward future ones, Dr. Monteiro said.

Earlier reporting on nature’s reproductive surprises

This fish-eat-fish explanation is a temptingly Machiavellian one, he added, but exactly how the “woman in red” effect occurs remains unknown.

For instance, are male pipefish the ones deciding to hold out for a more appealing mate? Or are dominant females short-circuiting male pregnancies through some type of cue?

For now, Dr. Beehner said, “This study offers insight into the dark side of paternal care in pipefish and sea horses that probably won’t find its way into many children’s books.”

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: Hard to Fathom: For Pregnant Dads Who Stray, Plenty of Other Pipefish in the Sea. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/24/science/pipefish-abort-pregnancies.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Flying With Dietary Restrictions? Increasingly, That’s Not a Problem

Historically, fliers have ordered special meals because of religious or medical reasons. So why are they asking for them more today than they did before?

Airline experts say that it now may be a matter of personal taste and also because the current generation of travelers adhere to diets that have proliferated in popularity.

Michael Holtz, the owner of SmartFlyer, a global travel consultancy specializing in airlines and airfare, said that many of his clients follow diet plans such as no-carb, gluten-free, low-carb and vegan and want to stick to these plans when they’re in the air. “I even have one person who prefers to drink only green juices and tried to order a green juice meal for a recent flight,” he said. “Needless to say, that wasn’t an option.”

SmartFlyer sells around 25,000 tickets each year, and in 2017, a few thousand of these came with special meal requests, Mr. Holtz said, compared with a few hundred in previous years.

There’s also a perception that special meals taste better, according to Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and the founder of Atmosphere Research Group. “People think, especially those in economy class, that special meals are fresher, healthier and tastier,” he said.

Ben Schlapping, the founder of the online travel site One Mile at a Time, certainly thinks that this is true. He flies more than a dozen times a month, usually in first or business class, and almost always orders an Asian vegetarian meal, even though he is not a vegetarian. “I get to eat a delicious meal, which is usually Indian food,” he said. “The regular food is so bad, even in first class.”

But one flight attendant, who has worked for a major United States airline for more than three decades and requested anonymity to protect her job, said that special meals aren’t a step up from regular meals and are definitely not healthier.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/travel/airlines-special-dietary-meals.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fatherhood Through the Lens of Steve Jobs

What research tells us about father-daughter relationships.

ImageLisa Brennan-JobsCreditCreditFrances F. Denny for The New York Times

In a new memoir, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, a daughter of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, maintains that what some might see as cruel treatment by her father was his way of building strength in her, and she forgives him. In nearly 1,500 comments on a profile of her last week, many readers struggled with that.

What do our reactions to Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s story tell us about ourselves?

I have spent decades studying father-daughter relationships, and my own research and that of others offers several insights.

It’s important to remember that our childhood memories are not always accurate representations of what actually happened, as the work of the cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus established. What we forget or remember and the meaning we give to those selected memories is colored by the “life story” that we create for ourselves. We feel more comfortable creating a consistent, coherent story than trying to make sense of or make peace with erratic, inconsistent memories and contradictory facts — regardless of whether our story is more negative or more positive than the facts warrant.

As family members, this leaves us with no agreed-upon picture of dads, moms or stepparents. (Indeed, in a statement to The Times, Mr. Jobs’s widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, her children and Mr. Jobs’s sister, Mona Simpson, said that “the portrayal of Steve is not the husband and father we knew.”)

According to leading experts on fatherhood research, compared to mothers, fathers are usually more blunt and tend to expect and require more from their children. Dads are less likely to indulge or acquiesce to their children’s immature behavior. Dads promote more self-reliance, more maturity, and more resilience. Most fathers also communicate more directly and more honestly with children about their flaws. Ask daughters which parent is more likely to help them confront the unpleasant truths about themselves and most will say “Dad.”

ImageThe book will be out on Sept. 4.CreditPatricia Wall/The New York Times

Adults who love their children and whose children love them can be lousy parents. To be clear, “lousy” parenting does not mean being physically or sexually abusive, or having serious mental health or substance abuse problems that endanger the children. It means that a father who loves his daughter can be self-absorbed, insensitive, hot-tempered, and inept in communicating with her. Parenting is a learned skill that some parents never master. This is not to excuse poor parenting. It is simply a reminder that, as they both age, a father and daughter can acknowledge their love for one another without ignoring or denying his failures as a parent.

Research also teaches us that we cannot always know the motives or intentions behind another person’s behavior. We know when someone’s behavior or comments hurt, belittle or embarrass us. But we don’t necessarily know if that was the person’s intent.

As to whether a brilliant, successful man can be embarrassing, awkward, rude and insensitive in communicating with his daughter, the research answer is clear: yes. Highly intelligent, successful people can have very little of what is known as emotional intelligence. They may be terrible at reading and responding to other’s feelings and social cues. This does not necessarily mean these fathers don’t love or care about their daughters — or that they are self-absorbed narcissistic men. They are simply inept communicators.

When considering our personal reactions to Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s memoir, we might also ask ourselves whether our feelings are more a reflection of our own family relationships than of hers. Whether we are applauding or criticizing how she came to terms with her relationship with her father or how she views her mother, stepmother, and half siblings, our vision is affected by the reflections in our own family mirrors.

Forgiving her father is a gift a daughter gives, not just to her father, but to herself. In choosing not to allow her bitterness about his failings as a father to consume her, a daughter is choosing not to deprive herself of whatever pleasure she can still derive from their relationship. She does not deny the past. But she does not dwell in it. Forgiving does not mean forgetting.

Ms. Brennan-Jobs’s memoir may provide a comforting message for parents who fear that their mistakes and missteps inevitably will lead to irreparable damage — and for daughters who are grappling with their father’s failures as a parent. Adult children can choose to focus on the dearness or the darkness of their childhood relationships with their parents. Ms. Brennan-Jobs chose dearness. Will we?

Linda Nielsen is a professor of educational and adolescent psychology at Wake Forest University and author of “Between Fathers and Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship” and “Father-Daughter Relationships: Contemporary Research and Issues.”

The Perspective of Steve Jobs’s Daughter

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/28/well/family/steve-jobs-lisa-brennan-jobs-father-parenting.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

What to Cook This Week

Morning! Today I had a hankering for a pile of tender surnoli (above), the subject of my “Eat” column in this weekend’s magazine. Surnoli are tangy Konkani pancakes, about the size of a diner’s silver dollars, and the batter is made from rice and coconut, fermented with yogurt.

These pancakes are fat and puffy and full of holes, cooked only on one side. And if you eat them hot, they’ll still be filled with a sweet coconut-scented steam.

This gets us to Monday. Eggplant happens to be really good right now, and there are so many varieties at the market. You could mix it up with any of those, or go with reliable Italian eggplant to make Sarah Jampel’s silky eggplant salad with almond salsa. It’s one of those salads that’s sturdy enough to be a meal, with little pieces of crisp cheese, and a big smear of garlicky yogurt.

Tuesday I’m on a deadline, and that means rice for dinner. Specifically, I’m looking at Genevieve Ko’s quick toasted coconut rice with greens and fried eggs, the yolks still nice and runny, seasoned simply with sesame seeds, soy sauce and sriracha.

It’s been a few days since I’ve had pasta, and that’s too long. On Wednesday, how about David Tanis’s summery pasta with zucchini, ricotta and basil? A flash in the pan gets everything juicy, and almost creamy, and a rough paste of basil does a better job of spreading the flavor than chopped leaves.

I’ve been craving a big bowl of mee goreng, the spicy fried noodles, ever since reading Natalie Pattillo’s story about sambal. In preparation, you could make a big batch of nuanced, deeply flavored homemade sambal tumis over the weekend, using anchovies, chiles and shallots, and it’ll keep in the freezer for three months!

Friday, I want to make something special, but I know I won’t be home until late so I’m planning for Alison Roman’s beautiful slow-roasted salmon with citrus and herbs (slow = 35 minutes). And if you’re eating salmon, read Julia O’Malley reporting from Anchorage on the red salmon catch.

And one more thought: Tiramisù! It almost doesn’t matter which day you make this, or even what you use to build it in (a cake pan works just fine, you know?). Do it, and you’ll have a cold, dreamy dessert in the fridge for days.

There are thousands more recipes over on NYT Cooking to get you through the week, though please keep in mind that you’ll have to subscribe to access them all, all the time. Our team is there to help you out if anything should go wrong. We’re standing by at cookingcare@nytimes.com, and we’ll get right back to you.

The U.S. Open starts soon, and I highly recommend preparing with Max Falkowitz’s story on how immigrant communities in New York have created all kinds of deliciousness along the 7 train line, so you can eat well on your way to the courts and back.

Over on Civil Eats, Spencer Robins takes a look at the ways that diners are creating better working conditions for restaurant workers, from voluntarily paying “health care surcharges” to advocating for higher minimum wages.

I loved Eater’s new video series about Filipino food, hosted by Francesca Manto. Pay attention to Amy Besa, the owner of Purple Yam in Brooklyn, who moved me when speaking about how deviating from tradition doesn’t equate with inauthenticity.

See you on Monday!

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/26/dining/what-to-cook-this-week.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Your Spit Might Help You Learn to Eat Your Greens

It is not uncommon for children to despise kale, broccoli or the bitter taste of brussels sprouts. By the time we become adults, many of us have learned to eat our greens. But it wasn’t just willpower that helped you develop a taste for foods that once made you grimace. New research shows that proteins in our saliva may adapt and bind to bitter compounds, making them more palatable.

The study, presented at an American Chemical Society meeting this week, found that when people were repeatedly exposed to bitter compounds in cocoa, their saliva changed to produce proteins that rendered the flavor of those compounds less bitter.

“Bitter taste tends to be rejected,” said Cordelia A. Running, an assistant professor in food and nutrition science at Purdue University in Indiana, and the study’s lead researcher. But, “this is something you might actually be able to change about yourself biologically.”

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Over the course of six weeks, the researchers had 64 study participants drink three eight-ounce glasses of almond or cow’s milk with cocoa a day on alternate weeks, each time rating the drink’s flavor. While chocolate milk might not sound like a bitter thing to swallow, it contained only four percent added sugar — a fraction of the added sugar in most chocolatey drinks found at the grocery store.

As the participants’ bitterness ratings decreased, the researchers saw changes in their saliva “reasonably quickly,” Dr. Running said. But those changes did not last; a person would need to continue eating bitter foods to maintain their tolerance, she added.

The commonly accepted theory of why humans instinctively dislike bitter foods is evolutionary: Bitterness is often a sign of toxicity, and in some cases, extremely high quantities of otherwise healthy bitter foods, like leafy greens, may be harmful. But for similar reasons, bitter foods can also promote health, Dr. Running said. These in-vogue plants “seem to stimulate systems in the body that help us respond to threats because they are themselves — in really high doses — threats,” she said.

She and her colleagues think that by binding to the bitter compounds, the salivary proteins may not only make the food taste better, but may also prevent your body from absorbing them fully — whether this is protective or diminishes the foods’ nutritional value, however, is unknown.

John Glendinning, a professor of biology at Barnard College who was not involved in the study, said it was exciting to see the research — which had previously only been conducted with rodents — extended to humans.

“This is a novel mechanism for adapting to a mildly aversive-tasting substance,” he said.

But, he added, just because proteins bind to the bitter compounds in chocolate, for example, that does not necessarily mean the same will occur for cruciferous vegetables.

While taste is often thought of as a psychological experience, Dr. Glendinning said, it is important to remember that our ability to develop tolerance for specific foods involves physical changes in both the mouth and brain. In that sense, he added, “all adaptations are probably biological.” Dr. Running’s study was exciting, he said, because it revealed a new tolerance mechanism.

The researchers hope to try future studies with something even less tasty to drink. Eventually, Dr. Running said, the idea would be to study of whether the effect crosses over to other foods: could regular doses of cocoa, for example, “make a really bitter terrible-tasting tea taste better? Could we use less sugar in cranberry juice?”

While diet choice is complicated, with many social and economic factors, the researchers said they hoped their work might also help lead to some people making healthier eating choices.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/science/saliva-bitter-tastes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss