“I don’t particularly care about the usual. If you want to get an idea of a friend’s temperament, ethics, and personal elegance, you need to look at him under the tests of severe circumstances, not under the regular rosy glow of daily life. Can you assess the danger a criminal poses by examining only what he does on an ordinary day? Can we understand health without considering wild diseases and epidemics?
Indeed the normal is often irrelevant. Almost everything in social life is produced by rare but consequential shocks and jumps; all the while almost everything studied about social life focuses on the ‘normal,’ particularly with ‘bell curve’ methods of inference that tell you close to nothing. Why? Because the bell curve ignores large deviations, cannot handle them, yet makes us confident that we have tamed uncertainty. Its nickname in this book is GIF, Great Intellectual Fraud.”
—Nassim Nicholas Taleb, on the black swan theory.
“It’s a competitive world I guess, but all we can do is feel our best. I’m not a competitive person, I love women, I’m intrigued by them. I think women are fascinating and complex.”
“I asked Yuri, ‘How do I do this? How do I live a political life with motherhood?’ I was exhausted, but Yuri made it seem so easy. ‘This,’ she said, gesturing to my daughter in her lap, ‘is what you do. You just take your daughter everywhere, like I did with my kids — protests, rallies, long late-night planning meetings. We take our children with us and they grow up to be good people, people who care about the community. And she will learn what kind of woman her mother is by watching you work in the movement.’”
“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot—it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”
—Dr. Maya Angelou. Rest in peace, beautiful soul.
I was thrilled to attend the Healthy Cities: Healthy Women conference at the University of Pennsylvania. Several women whom I admire greatly for their contributions to the field of global health spoke, including Dr. Afaf I. Meleis and Edna Adan Ismail. Ms. Edna was the recipient of the Penn Nursing Renfield Foundation Award for Global Women’s Health, and gave a moving lecture on Somaliland and maternal health care. Today — because of her work — the region has 97 maternal and child health centers, 200 health posts, and seven midwife schools.
I was also moved by Dr. Bridgette M. Brawner’s lecture on the influence of geography in exposure to HIV. Dr. Brawner presented community-based participatory research findings, and emphasized the importance of shifting humankind’s apathetic and stigmatic thinking in order to fight the urban epidemic.
The empathy of those not afflicted is the most importance factor in creating momentum for change.
Notes from the conference can be found here.
“… A mother enables you to realize that there are different levels of beauty and therein lie the sources of pleasure, some of which are popular and ordinary, and thus of brief value, and others of which are difficult and rare, and hence worth pursuing.”
—From Amy Tan’s Saving Fish from Drowning.