Bookishness

[Book Review] Incarceration Nations

dreisinger_incarcerationnationsI don’t know how much time the average person spends thinking about prisons. It usually crosses my mind when I have a patient who is brought from prison – which happens a lot less now that I’m working only with kids. Every once in a while there will be a report of a jail break, and in high school we had a few debate topics around prisons (This House Supports The Right To Vote For Prisoners, etc). Every year at the anniversary of my aunt’s murder I think about prison, and wonder whether her murderer is still incarcerated.

Besides that, prison doesn’t cross my mind too often, and I’d wager it’s the same for those who don’t work with inmates, or don’t have a close relative currently imprisoned.

Baz Dreisinger’s Incarceration Nations dares to coax us from this comfort in a multi-national exposé of prisons around the world, and the justice/punitive systems within which they function. Continue reading “[Book Review] Incarceration Nations”

Getting to know me, Real Medicine

Doctors and Piercings: Part 3

It’s been nearly five years since I decided to get a nose piercing. I mused about the decision on the blog both before and after the fact.

Since becoming a “real” doctor, I’ve never had a patient refer to my piercing. As mentioned before, it really isn’t that conspicuous. I’ve also noticed more and more doctors who have nose piercings, so it probably isn’t so strange in South African healthcare workers as it was in 2011.

This year, after working with a certain doctor for three months, he finally noticed the piercing. His response was, “Well that’s atypical,” then he laughed and we moved on with our ward round.

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You can see it, but just barely.

I removed my nose jewellery recently, and in many ways that decision was as difficult as getting it in the first place. Continue reading “Doctors and Piercings: Part 3”

Bookishness, Current Affairs

What If Slavery Never Fell: Underground Airlines [Book Review]

I’ve been on a bit of an alternate-history kick recently, which has led me to believe that it is possibly one of the most challenging genres an author might tackle. Call it the Butterfly Effect or Domino Effect or just plain Jenga, but changing a single event in history causes a cascade of changes, and if the author misses even one of those, the book loses its believability.

23208397Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters is an alternate reality in the present day where slavery was never outlawed in the USA, and is still practiced in four major states. It is a horrifying thought and an important topic in light of current race-relations in the USA and much of the world.

World-building is important in alternative-history fiction, but must be subtle. If the world is different to the way we know it, the reader must be able to understand why that is. Winters did this fairly well, in referring to trading sanctions which, for example, result in CDs not yet reaching American markets. Continue reading “What If Slavery Never Fell: Underground Airlines [Book Review]”

Campus Life, Getting to know me

Weekly Whine: Small Luxuries

In Afrikaans* there is a saying, “It’s the small foxes that ruin the vineyard,” referring to the tendency of many tiny problems to cause the biggest drama.

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Never before have I understood it so clearly as now that I am in the thick of South African public healthcare. We work daily in a hospital that is overcrowded and understaffed, with too many things on the CEO’s plate and too little theatre time for our patients. Continue reading “Weekly Whine: Small Luxuries”

Travelbug

What I See In Your Photos With “Poor African Children”

1. I see someone who was lucky enough to travel to a magnificent continent

And we welcome you. We welcome you to feel in your bones the wealth of our loam soil. Listen to the stories whispered by our winds. Immerse yourself in our skies. We welcome you to open your heart – and your eyes – to see that our narrative is more than one of suffering.

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Base image by Stephen and Melanie Murdoch, click for their Flickr Photostream.

Continue reading “What I See In Your Photos With “Poor African Children””

Campus Life, Studying Medicine

The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like”

Last week, I wrote about how the idea of “passion” can overwhelm us into unrealistic future prospects. I actually got some good feedback from readers, which leads me to believe that I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

But if you’re a high school student – or otherwise at the threshold of choosing a career – you might wonder, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? If you have been told your whole life that you need simply to do what you love (and you’ll “never work a day in your life”, yada yada yada), you might not know HOW else to choose a path forward.

My suggestion? Ye ole’ trusty mindmap.

Many of ours (mine included) may have looked something like this:

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When in reality, it probably should have looked something like this: Continue reading “The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like””

Current Affairs, Getting to know me

The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough

I had the pleasure of visiting my old high school recently to talk to some of the Matrics about life, their final year of school and their future plans in general. I spoke at length about what I call the Passion Deception. It sounds like a bit of a downer but to be honest, it’s real talk and the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

passion deception

I feel like many talented youngsters have a pressing desire to do a job that makes them “tick”, and they are taught (myself included) from a young age that the profession you choose should be one you feel passionate about. I can understand why we tell people that too: talented youngsters can often do anything they want to, so “passion” becomes a good indicator of what to leave and what to dive into. Continue reading “The Passion Deception: Why Passion Is Not Enough”