You Should Be Reading Octavia Butler.

So, I’m currently reading “Kindred” by Octavia Butler. I don’t know how I’ve never heard of her until a couple of months ago as I deep dived into Sci-Fi… and Oh My God, you should be reading her. If you like sci-fi, it’s amazing.  She most definitely belongs up there with Philip K. Dick (but less crazy and drug-fuelled) and Isaac Asimov.

Here’s some simple background info on her…

Octavia Butler. Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947- February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of very few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards.Biblio.com

It’s not only for sci-fi fans either, if you’re into human rights, anti-racism, and just being a good human being this is for you. She wrote “Kindred” in the 70’s and being an African-American woman her work does what great sci-fi does so well, comment and exxagerate aspects of society and humanity (racism, classism, politics, the economy, the refugee crisis, etc. etc.) in order to highlight them, break them apart and make you actually think about them deeply, shine a light on different aspects you didn’t realise before. Also, while most sci-fi looks forward to dystopia, “Kindred” looks back at slavery and juxtaposes it with the modern era.  It’s also written amazingly, the can’t-put-it-down type of writing.  I can’t wait to finish it and get to her other work.

That being said, the reason I’m highlighting this and feel the need to highlight this is because women, and in particular african women, regardless of Geography, are ignored in so many aspects of society and culture.  We are missing out on a gold mine of genius and creativity and we need to widen our bloody cultural references and influences. Get  a wide variety of perspectives.  Open your damn mind.

Here’s a few other links you should look into:

15 Fascinating Facts About Octavia Butler

Take a look at the Book Club at Well-Read Black Girl.  (support them too if you can)

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The Art of Disagreeing

We’re smack bang in the middle of Holiday Season. Which means we’re going to be interacting with a lot of family and friends… and we don’t agree with some of them on a few things. Thing is, how do we avoid the awkward spiral of…
“I’m right!”
“No! I’m right!”
“I Hate you!”
“We only invited you ‘cos Mom said so. Everybody hates you. Even the dog.”
*bangs mug on table*

Cue awkward family reactions, some picking sides, some apathetic. Holiday Ruined.

So, since this is my blog, I’m going to write up how I kind of deal with these situations and a lot of it is mindset.

1. Don’t be an asshole – By this I mean, stick to the argument. No ad hominem attacks, even if they are really ugly and stupid, don’t do it. Be focused on what you’re trying to get across or understand.

2. Know Your Logical Fallacies – related to ad hominem attacks above… brush up on all the Logical Fallacies. Train yourself to get your thinking right (never a wasted pursuit).

3. Focus on understanding rather than being right – You’re a human being. You’re occasionally wrong. So, in an argument, the best way to always proceed is to get the person you’re arguing with to explain their position and you focus on listening and trying to understand their perspective.  This also means you have to get used to admitting you’re wrong if you do have the wrong end of the stick.

4. Pay attention to who you’re arguing with – Please don’t try and persuade someone the of some strongly held opinion of yours in an area where they have expertise e.g. arguing about chemotherapy with an oncologist. Recognise when you’re out of your depth and don’t argue at all. Smile and nod.

That’s it. The above guides me when I’m confronted in any way or form with this type of situation.

I hope it’s helpful.

 

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What Makes a Great Pizza?

It’s subjective, but there’s definitely a few elements which, if you get them right, makes it all come together.

So let’s start… (This is describing a Margherita… naturally)

  1. The Base – It MUST be thin… and crispy.
  2. Sauce – The tomato sauce needs to be high quality, tasty. Which means it stays away from being sour or too sharp.  Secret ingredient here is a little bit of brown sugar (kinda the same as pasta sauce), adding basil also adds a great dimension to the taste.
  3. The Cheese. – A nice melty cheese is key here, and nothing with too strong a taste on its own.  Gouda, Cheddar, Mozzarella are good options. Better if all three together.
  4. Garnish with other mixed herbs.

That’s what makes a great pizza. To me anyway, as I said… it’s subjective.

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Fiction and Non-Fiction: The How and What of Consuming Literature


Have you ever noticed the way you actually “read” books? A thought struck me the other day about the actual act of “reading”. I, for example, read off a kindle, consume audiobooks and now and again pick up an actual paperback.

Given these three different reading mediums (granted listening to an audiobook isn’t exactly reading), I’ve noticed that there is some interaction with the way we prefer to learn.

I can only read fiction while I prefer to listen to non-fiction in audiobook format. Non-fiction just can’t seem to keep my attention long enough on a page, my mind kind of gets heavy with the reading and I struggle to focus while listening to it passively, provides no problem. Fiction, however, I can consume in both formats equally. It’s most probably the entertainment factor, but it’s also the writing. A book of any kind, badly written, would irritate me to no end.

There are exceptions, ofcourse. I was able to read Malcolm Gladwell’s books pretty easily which makes me think the hypothesis of reading fiction alone merely because of it’s entertainment value doesn’t holdany water. It’s the writer and the writing that’s important, along with the ideas and the way they’re conveyed. Above all it has to be relevant.

I’ve noticed that with a lot of non-fiction books, there is a LOT of filler. Either saying the same thing over and over in different words or taking a long time to get to the point. I honestly believe that most non-fiction books can be easily cut down to 15 minute reads covering the main ideas. Apps like Blinkist prove my point easily, but even Blinkist has a lot of extra in it which doesn’t need to be there.

There’s a definite gap in the market for consuming these books and merely getting the main ideas out.  If any explanation is needed, analogies work the best to make people grasp foreign concepts.  There’s a real nugget here.

Anyway… wherever it ends up… keep reading.

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How Many Times Am I Going To Start This Damn Blog?


I’ve started and re-started this blog about 4 or 5 times over the last 10 years. Lost all the previous content. But that’s life. I have to begin again. So here it is.

Let’s hope I can actually start writing consistently again. I need a routine for this writing thing otherwise it’s just not going to work. Another dead end blog in the sea of dead end blogs.

I need to get my shit in order.

Peace.

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