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“Elon Musk Takes on Far More at One Time than Anyone Else” – Biographer Ashlee Vance

Elon MuskAshlee Vance, author of Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping Our Future, chatted to The Economic Times about his most recent subject.

Musk, who was born in South Africa and graduated from Pretoria Boys High School before moving to Canada, is the founder of PayPal and current CEO SpaceX and Tesla Motors. In Vance’s biography, Musk reveals that he wishes to establish a Mars colony by 2040.

Vance says Musk is different to other tech visionaries like Larry Page, Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos: “Elon takes on far more at one time than anyone else.”

Read the interview:

You quote Musk as saying Bezos is not much fun. But then Musk is not much fun himself, according to your book. People like Musk, Jobs, Bezos and Uber’s Travis Kalanick have earned a reputation for not being particularly affable. An Uber investor said of Kalanick, “It’s hard to be a disruptor and not be an a**hole.” Do you agree with that?

Elon can, in fact, be a lot of fun. He’s the first Hollywood-style CEO we’ve seen in a long time and tends to like to hang out with movie stars and be where the action is — a big party, the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby. In that respect, I do think he’s different to his more sedate peers in Silicon Valley. That said, he obviously pushes himself and his workers very hard and has become a slave to his work in many ways. I don’t think you have to be an a**hole to accomplish great, disruptive things, but it seems to help at times.

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Mathews Phosa on Rediscovering His Exile Poems: “I Thought They Were Lost Forever!” (Podcast)

Chants of FreedomTamara LePine-Williams recently spoke to legendary poet, freedom fighter, lawyer and politician, Mathews Phosa, on Classic FM about his newly published Chants of Freedom: Poems Written in Exile.

LePine-Williams asks Phosa why it is that it took so long for this collection of poetry to be published, as they were written between 1985 and 1990. Phosa says that although he “always believed these poems would see the light of day”, he was in exile when he wrote them and so he could not focus on getting his poetry published.

When he went back home, Phosa did not pack his own luggage, and he lost track of the poems he had written in exile. The poems were uncovered recently when work on his biography began. He says “I thought they were lost forever!”

Listen to the podcast:


Related links:


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In Oscar Pistorius’s Defense: Legal Expert Explains Why the Court’s Ruling to Release Him is Fair and Just

Chase Your ShadowKelly Phelps, a Senior Lecturer in Criminal Justice at the University of Cape Town, recently wrote an article for The Conversation in which she explains why the court’s decision to release Oscar Pistorius on correctional supervision is within the bounds of the rule of law.

The subject of John Carlin’s book, Chase Your Shadow: The Trials of Oscar Pistorius, is set to be released in August this year after having served 10 months of his five-year sentence for culpable homicide in prison. Pistorius was sentenced to five years in prison, and three years suspended, in 2014 after killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

Phelps writes that Pistorius’ early release “was a virtual certainty from the day he was sentenced”, explains the concept of “correctional supervision” and provides a list of similar cases which show that Pistorius actually got a harsher punishment than most.

Read the article:

Viewed alongside these cases, Pistorius has been sentenced on the harsher end of the spectrum. It appears that the public discontent with his sentence is connected to the fact that many people still believe he murdered Steenkamp. However, after engaging with the evidence presented, that was not the finding of the court.

Pistorius was convicted of culpable homicide for what was essentially deemed a tragic accident. In light of that verdict, Pistorius has not been subject to any special treatment in terms of his sentence. He has been treated the same as anyone else sentenced under the same provision.

Related links:


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20 Years Since the Boks’ Rugby World Cup Triumph: Take a Trip Down Memory Lane with PJ Powers

Here I AmExactly 20 years ago, on June 24, 1995, the Springboks beat the All Blacks at Ellis Park to win the Rugby World Cup.

For most South Africans, the sound of PJ Powers singing “The World in Union” will be all it takes to be instantly transported back to that day.

Powers’ recording of the Rugby World Cup official song, which also features Ladysmith Black Mambazo, reached no. 47 on the UK Singles Chart. She performed the song live at the opening ceremony in Cape Town for a worldwide television audience.

Have a listen:

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“Thandeka”, as Powers is affectionately known, launched her autobiography late last year, and says performing the song at the opening ceremony was one of the highlights of her life.

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PJ Powers Takes Offense at the Use of Her Name for a Tops at SPAR Advertising Campaign

Here I AmEarlier this week PJ Powers, musician and co-author of the autobiographical Here I Am, announced her displeasure about a series of Tops at SPAR advertisements that have used her name without her permission.

Powers struggled seriously with alcoholism in the past, and so the ads for the liquor store are particularly offensive.

Jean-Marie Korff wrote an article about the advertising campaign for Channel24:

On Monday morning PJ Powers, who has publicly admitted to being sober for the last five-and-a-half years, revealed on her Facebook page that Spar is using her name without her permission in an advertising campaign for their liquor store, TOPS.

View the post on PJ Powers’ Facebook page:

PJ's Manager here writing on behalf of PJ: As many of you know PJ is a recovered alcoholic. She has not drunk for five…

Posted by PJ Powers on Monday, 22 June 2015


In response, Tops at SPAR apologised for the offense the advert caused, explaining the word play of their Pajama Party theme:

In response to the complaints on My SPAR regarding the phrase PJ Powers being used as part of the TOPS at SPAR…

Posted by TOPS at SPAR on Monday, 22 June 2015


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Podcast: Christopher Hope Speaks About the Strange, Odd, Dark and Terrifyingly Funny World of Jimfish

JimfishChristopher Hope, author of Jimfish, was recently interviewed by Nancy Richards for SAfm.

In the interview, Hope tells Richards about where the title character of his latest novel comes from and what he hoped to do with the character. Jimfish, Hope says, emerges out of the sea and is a kind of fairytale Everyman. “I wanted a boy that was human, but at the same time slightly mysterious, and who could set off on this series of travels.”

No-one knows quite what to do with Jimfish in any of the places he visits “up through Africa.” Jimfish is, in turn, astonished “that the world could be so strange, so odd, so dark and in some ways so terrifyingly funny.” Richards says that this is part of what makes the novel feel very close to home.

Listen to the podcast:

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Understanding Mathews Phosa’s Poetry and Essays – Muxe Nkondo at the Launch of Chants of Freedom

Chants of FreedomProfessor Muxe Nkondo delivered a moving speech recently at the launch of Mathews Phosa’s first English poetry anthology, Chants of Freedom: Poems Written in Exile.

Nkondo’s speech, entitled “The Self in Political Space and the Future of Fundamental Change: Understanding Mathews Phosa’s Poetry and Essays”, focuses on the poet’s enduring conviction that all human beings are worthy of respect and dignity.

Nkondo provides the reader with a glimpse at the convictions that frame the poet’s political and moral life through a discussion of a selection of Phosa’s poetry, including the stirring Afrikaans poem, “Wie is ek”.

“The preccupation with dignity, work, and public action reveals in Mathews Phosa’s sensibility a double endowment,” Nkondo writes. “There is an urge towards individuality, towards the realisation of the independent self; and there is an impulse to belong, to contribute to the public good.”

Read the speech for brilliant insight into one of the greatest minds of our time:


Also read:

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Video: Elon Musk Reveals His Favourite Fictional Spacecraft

Elon Muskio9 recently shared a video in which South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk revealed his favourite fictional space ship.

The innovator behind PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla and SolarCity has one vision in mind: To save our planet. The entrepreneur’s biography, Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of Spacex and Tesla is Shaping Our Future by Ashlee Vance, will be published by Penguin Random House this month.

In the video Musk talks about a future mission to Mars, what he would do if he was the head of NASA and where his passion for space comes from. “I was always a big fan of science fiction movies and books,” Musk says, adding that his favourite fictional spacecraft is the Heart of Gold from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Watch the video:

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io9’s Charlie Jane Anders shared a passage from a previous interview in which Musk talks about the impact that Douglas Adams’ book had on his life and his career:

I guess when I was around 12 or 15…I had an existential crisis, and I was reading various books on trying to figure out the meaning of life and what does it all mean? It all seemed quite meaningless and then we happened to have some books by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer in the house, which you should not read at age 14

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Mathews Phosa Launches Chants of Freedom in the Company of Kgalema Motlanthe and Julius Malema

Chants of FreedomLegendary freedom fighter and poet, Mathews Phosa, recently launched his first English poetry anthology, Chants of Freedom: Poems Written in Exile, in the Senate Room at the University of the Witwatersrand.

The event took place on Tuesday, 2 June, and was hosted by the Wits History Project. The Wits University Senate House was filled with Phosa’s family, friends and colleagues who came to listen to him read from his new collection. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe and professors Phil Bonner and Muxe Nkondo provided insight into Phosa’s work, while the people’s poet Mzwake Mbuli gave a stirring performance, accompanied by praise singers.

Indelible Media shared a video from the event in which Motlanthe said: “We who live in the post-apartheid South Africa are afforded the unique way of looking into our pre-democratic past. Let us therefore be thankful that we had poets such as Dr Phosa to reflect back to us the highs and lows of the Struggle in ways only poets can.”

Phosa’s friend and EFF leader Julius Malema was also in attendance: “I am here to receive wisdom from an elder who was in exile who stood the test of time. Most of the time we have very good messages, but the problem is that we speak to ourselves. His capacity to speak and write in different languages puts him in a better position to speak to different constituencies, different people and even people who may not be interested in political poetry.”

Watch the video:


City Buzz attended the launch and shared an article and photographs on their website. Read Racine Edwardes’s report of the poetry event:

Chants of Freedom is Phosa’s first book written in English and is a compilation of the poems he wrote while in exile during apartheid.

After giving thanks to all the people who contributed towards publishing the book, Phosa read a poem, Comrade Your Are Not a Traitor. “It’s very difficult for me to read this – I get very emotional,” he said.

Highly respected by the country’s citizens, Phosa is a struggle icon, and his work speaks volumes about what he has done for the country and, furthermore, provides insight into the oppression of the past.

For more images of the event, visit Penguin Books South Africa on Pinterest:


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Podcast: Christopher Hope Talks About His Charmed and Incorrigibly Serene Hero in Jimfish

JimfishJenny Crwys-Williams recently interviewed Christopher Hope about his new book, Jimfish, for her CapeTalk/702 radio show.

Crwys-Williams asked Hope five questions about the novel and the ideas that inform it. The author explained the origin of the title Jimfish, and how the slightly derogatory term relates to his slippery, fairy-tale character.

Jimfish, Hope says, is a character who “appears to be charmed” because he faces improbable quantities of trouble, and “somehow or another he emerges on the other side serene, and on he goes.”

Listen to the podcast (the interview starts at 25:40):


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