friday five 4.14.17

friday five(3).jpg


1. life after death

I've always been fascinated with Sheryl Sandberg because, well, who wouldn't be? Smart, amazingly accomplished, gracefully articulate, fierce women's rights advocate, and one of the few women in the C-suite at a major tech company. But her new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, strikes a much different tone than the high-powered, fearlessly empowering battle cry of Lean In. It's about rearranging your priorities after a devastating loss, about realigning your perspective of life when everything feels like it's falling apart.

Her UC Berkeley Commencement Keynote last year, just a year after the death of her husband, was one of the most moving things I've ever seen. This quote still echoes in my mind, and I have it written down in several places, because I simultaneously believe strongly in the power of resilience, and am always amazed by the amount of resilience humans can have:

You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

It was a very raw, very honest, very human moment. One in which she wasn't COO of a Fortune 500 company or a Superwoman. She was a woman and a mother who had suffered an unexpected loss, who had struggled with recovering from a world-shattering event. I admire her because she isn't afraid to display vulnerability; she has never needed to act like a man to be a successful businesswoman. And I like the focus of this Time article: that death is not a "technical glitch of the human operating system; it's a feature." We need to think about what's going to happen after, because life goes on. We need to be more comfortable talking about death, because the truth is, it's the only real way to heal.

2. a meditation on 'evil'

I like that he calls this a meditation. As in, reflecting. Thinking not only at the surface level, but really thoughtfully about what this means within a given context.

3. 'nabokov's favorite word is mauve' crunches the literary numbers

Ugh, I love this. Welcome to another episode of Data For People That Don't Like Data. The space for statistical analysis of literature is so untapped and so fascinating, in my opinion. This journalist/statistician actually studied different works of literature to uncover patters. For example, male authors overwhelmingly talk about men. Shocking, right? But as the author of the NPR piece notes, that's the point. Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve takes all the wishy-washy "I feel like" out of literary critique, and produces data and cold, hard facts. And it's very revealing about the authors themselves (check out the "favorite words" section of the article, and tell me if Dan Brown's surprises you at all).

This topic is especially dear to me, because I actually wrote a paper on this in one of my literature classes senior year, about the implications of word choice in "The Importance of Being Earnest." I'm just going to copy-paste part of it here, because I think it's pretty cool:

While Gwendolen is arguably a more central character than the young, naïve Cecily, “Gwendolen” appears only 157 times in contrast to “Cecily,” which appears 254 times [as in speaking roles]. This ostensibly trivial piece of information reveals a surprising amount about the two women’s characters. Gwendolen is portrayed as vain, shallow, and rather vapid, with little to contribute to conversation, while Cecily is sharp-tongued and largely self-important, which can be attributed to her desire to be heard and taken seriously. After using the scrubbing tool in Lexos, the most frequently-used word was “am,” which is almost always used in conjunction with “I,” used 110 times, which accurately reflects the nature of the characters of the play: self-centered and concerned only with their own social status and public image. The absurdity of the characters, along with the title of the play itself (“A Trivial Comedy for Serious People”), is true to Wilde’s tongue-in-cheek style of mockery and acknowledgement of the hypocrisy and arrogance of the aristocracy.

4. the quiet strength of julia, the first muppet with autism

So important and very relevant to inclusivity.

5. check this box if you're a good person

A contemplation on what being a "good" person means, and whether or not you are a good person for the right reasons. It's difficult to quantify goodness, or to decide which intangible factors are most indicative of a person's character. But the best people are those who consistently do the right thing even when there is no benefit to them, even when it doesn't really "count." I think everyone can agree that that's when it means the most.