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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Egypt On The Precipice

For the past few days, the mass media has been awash with reports of the current civil unrest going on in Egypt. Despite the undemocratic actions of Hosni Mubarak’s government in shutting down the internet as well as the telecommunications sector, Egyptians have found ways, and are still finding ways to convey the scenes and events going on in Egypt to a captivated global audience. The clip above is just one of the videos filtering out of Cairo showing what appears to be a massive populist uprising against Mubarak and his government.

When Obama gave his speech, in Cairo, to the Arab world, shortly after assuming office, there were many people who underestimated the power and import of that speech. I remember that when I saw the passionate, rousing and warm welcome he received from the youths gathered in that auditorium, that Obama may have unwittingly ignited fires that would soon capture the hearts and minds of the Arab world. It was just the perfect message to the Arab world—tired and discontented as they were with Bush’s unilateralist interventionism. The skeptical wing of American punditocracy mocked Obama’s speech and his efforts. How indeed could he hope to reverse decades of misrule, governmental non-transparency, and a generalized distrust of the US with one overly-optimistic speech? Well, the chicken has come home to roost.

If you can remember, it wasn’t long ago that the world witnessed another populist revolution in Tunisia. The masses revolted and overthrew their government. I’ll also invite you to cast your mind back to 2009 when there was another powerful people-backed uprising in Iran against the rule of Iran’s Shiite clerics. The seasonal clashes between Israel and the Palestinians seem to have toned down in favor of a more peaceful path towards the solution. Here and there, you read about the increasing boldness of pro-democracy opposition groups throughout most parts of the Arab world including Saudi Arabia. I’ll make bold to say, (some may well write it off as an immature or wishful analysis) that there seems to be a crystallizing narrative in the world of Arab politics: we are beginning to witness an increasing and more determined push by Arab people for transparency and accountability in government; a sustained demand for a pro-citizen government that would show by their actions a real commitment and dedication to alleviate the problems and injustices suffered by the average Arab at the hands of a corrupt and sometimes dictatorial elite class.

So, here we are, watching amazing scenes from Egypt as thousands of protesters take to the streets to demand the ouster of Hosni Mubarak’s government. How should all peace-loving citizens of the world situate and analyze these current happenings? More importantly, what should the Obama administration be doing with regards to these events? Needless to say, Egypt is a critical force to reckon with in Arab geopolitics, and so the statements of the US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, as well as that of other Western diplomats would be examined carefully. What message could the Obama administration (after full consultation with her Middle East allies) give so as to de-escalate the tensions there?

Hosni Mubarak, and his government, it must be pointed out, enjoy the support of the United States and Israel. This was because Mubarak chose to continue and maintain the peace treaty that his predecessor  President Anwar Sadat signed with the Israelis—a move that much infuriated the rest of the Arab World, and one for which Egypt was temporarily suspended from the Arab League. It should also be recalled that when the US sought allies in the Middle East for the Gulf War of 1991, Hosni’s Egypt was there.

From the foregoing, you might be led to think that since successive US presidents and their administrations have dealt favorably with Hosni Mubarak, there must be something respectable or even mildly democratic about the government of Mr. Mubarak. Think about it: Egypt receives billions of dollars in aid every year from the United States. The bilateral relation between the two countries is in such good shape that the US also routinely sells arms or military technology to Mubarak’s Egypt. Thirty years of diplomatic relations with Israel is enough to convince many Israelis of Hosni’s commitment to that treaty—so, it really cannot be overemphasized how necessary it was for the US and Israel to have Mr. Mubarak cling tenaciously to power.

Nevertheless, it has become imperative to dispassionately assess Mr. Mubarak and his government; it has become of utmost importance to read the handwriting on the wall. Egypt, contrary to what you might have expected, from its coddling by Western powers, is very far from being a democratic state. A dispassionate analysis would indict the Egyptian government of gross negligence with respect to human and civil rights; it would decry the repressive police state and its penchant for marshalling the state’s instruments of force and aggression against pro-democracy activists as well as Islamic opposition forces; it would castigate the government’s shambolic efforts at boosting the Egyptian economy despite the massive influx of US dollars in aid or the nullification of around $20 billion-worth of debt; it would excoriate the government’s unwillingness to usher in democratic reforms; and finally lambaste Mr. Mubarak for his corrupt meddling with the electoral process and his abject refusal to relinquish power. This is exactly the way the average Egyptian sees this government—an incompetent, repressive, anti-democratic lackey for foreign interests. It is therefore hardly surprising to witness the vehemence and doggedness of this nascent revolution.

At any rate, anyone can see that the US and her allies in the region, while recognizing the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people, are not too eager to call for the resignation of Mubarak. Mr. ElBaradei, a Nobel Laureate and many opposition groups have clearly called for a regime change. Their wishes are unmistakable—they want a regime change by all means necessary. They want Mubarak gone and fresh elections to determine the future government of Egypt. However, the US and her friends in the region are wary of a scenario in which honoring the wishes of the masses results in an Islamic hard-line, perhaps extremist faction of Mubarak’s opposition to gain prominence or to snatch the seat of power. A delicate international situation thus begins to unfold.

It is not clear that Mubarak plans on vacating his office any time soon; also it doesn’t appear that this popular uprising is losing steam—at least, as far as I can tell, the army and the police have not yet been instructed to forcefully beat back the protestors. Washington wants a scenario where demonstrations would be non-violent; where Mubarak would conduct free and fair elections or to cosmetically brush up and change aspects of his regime. If that proves impossible, Washington wants a scenario where Mubarak could be persuaded to step aside only if the US could reasonably influence the process so as not to facilitate the ascension into power of anti-Western, anti-Israeli, and anti-American hardliners.

Will the democratic yearnings of the Egyptian people to be free of the repressive boots of Mubarak’s government eventually triumph? Will Mubarak’s 30-year rule come to an end? That remains to be seen.  It is the height of hypocrisy to sing the praises and merits of democracy to the Arab world and then turn away if there are indications that such transparent obedience to the true aspirations of sections of the Arab world would germinate leadership that is intransigently opposed to America’s self-interests. All genuine lovers of freedom and democracy should stand shoulder to shoulder with the Egyptian people at this time at this time. If the Egyptians succeed in divesting themselves of the shackles of a corrupt and repressive government, it will significantly mark the birth pangs of democracy; yes it will usher in a wave of progressive hysteria and a populist government which will be copied in other parts of the Middle East.

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State Of The Union

Here is the 2011 state of the union address given by President Barack Obama.

And here is the full text of the video

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner.
(Applause.) And as we mark this occasion, we’re also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber, and we pray for the health of our
colleague — and our friend — Gabby Giffords. (Applause.)

It’s no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there’s a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passion and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater — something more consequential than party or political preference.

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Olbermann Says Buh-bye!

The media world is buzzing about the sudden exit of Keith Olbermann from MSNBC. It seems to have been the natural result of a stiff and stormy relationship between Olbermann and his NBC bosses. Or so they speculate since one of the terms of the negotiated separation from Olbermann’s contract was that mum was going to be word on any personal inquiries into the cause of Olbermann’s sudden departure.

It cannot really be overemphasized how Countdown with Keith Olbermann helped to lift the cable network making it the liberal answer to Fox News. I suspect that he will be back somewhere in some form or fashion later on. I wonder what MSNBC will look like now that their slugger-in-chief is gone. Is he going to open an online media powerhouse of his own? Is he going to land another gig on television—preferably one that doesn’t exert too much editorial control over his style and content? Is he going to get a wild hair up his ass and go run for Senate? The House of Representatives? What exactly will he do?

Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

I’ll leave you with a vintage Keith Olbermann clip so that you can see the caliber of firepower that liberals and MSNBC in particular just lost.

Who Designed The Designer?

Have you ever tried to debate or discuss with an atheist on the existence of God? Have you ever tried to present the Cosmological Argument for the existence of God and immediately encountered this classic Dawkinsian objection: “Who designed the designer?”  I am willing to wager that you must have. It is one of the major conversational retorts of the converts to this so-called New Atheism. I must confess that I find the logic behind this atheist argument to be unconvincing. According to Richard Dawkins you cannot infer a designer of the universe based on the complexity of the universe because this raises a further question namely “Who designed the designer?” But like Dr. William Lane Craig aptly demonstrates in the video above, contrary to Dawkins’ postulations, you do not need to have an explanation for your explanation to realize that the explanation you’ve got is the best explanation.

This is where it gets really interesting. In a debate with a theist, an atheist is likely to accuse a theist of using the “god of the gaps” argument—a charge which has the unfortunate effect of paralyzing the resolve of many a theist debater. The atheist charges that if the theist is going to claim that God created the universe, then the theist has to also answer “Who created God?”, and if that were to be ever answered, the next question would ensue “Who created that thing you said that created God?” The aim of this series of questions is to invite an infinite regress which would seem to show that the theist argument is unsound. Unfortunately, the problem with this atheist assumption is the ignorance of what the theist conception of God really is. Have you ever noticed how exasperated and dismissive an atheist usually gets when you properly demonstrate the atheist misunderstanding of the God concept?

Here is a short discussion between a theist and an atheist on this philosophically rich issue.

The theist:

The problem I have with atheistic opposition to the simple theistic inference that the cause of the universe is not and could not be physical is that using Dawkins’ own criteria, at best what we can reasonably deduce is a naturalistic explanation to some aspect or substructure of the universe. There cannot be any naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe, which when defined properly is the entirety of the physical, natural realm. Any explanation that seeks to validate that claim (the claim that one can adduce a proper and meaningful naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe) will invariably turn out to be mind-shatteringly complex, highly implausible and I might even add non-testable. The ongoing research into multiverses readily comes to mind.

If Dawkins wants to make the argument that all explanations must be simple (I suppose the term “simple” invites a bit of subjectivity) or else we should disregard them as explanations, then he should be getting slapped down by theoretical physicists. This is not biological evolution and I wonder why he appeals too strongly to an evolutionary model. Just think, the field of quantum physics is already driving the most intelligent insane how much more when we begin to talk about 11 dimensional hysperspace and all the academic jargon of brane cosmology.

In the end, even if we never settle the issue of whether a god created the universe out of nothing at the cosmological singularity, one needs to realize that this is an issue that will never be satisfactorily resolved or explained with our current understanding of physics. The best we can do is deal with physical reality AFTER a universe has mysteriously appeared. If this realization proves to be intellectual dissatisfying for the atheist, he simply has to hope that sometime in the future, some theory of cosmological beginnings can be shown to be infinite in the past. It is a position he has to hang his faith on if he doesn’t want to face the seeming unreasonableness of his atheistic commitments.

After the theist’s opening comments, the atheist starts deconstructing the opening salvo.


The Atheist:

There cannot be any naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe…will invariably turn out to be mind-shatteringly complex, highly implausible and I might even add non-testable.

I’m sorry, but the above is simply nonsense.

1) We live in a complex universe, so not too surprisingly science describing it is also complex. But complex does not mean wrong, or impossible. Its beyond our computing capacity to model the gravitation interactions of the planets in our solar system; and yet, strangely enough, they somehow get by.

2) Implausible, by whose definition? Once something has been shown to occur it is no longer implausible – its fact. Atoms were once considered to be impossible – good thing we didn’t listen to those nay-sayers.

3) Current origin (cosmological) models make very specific and testable predictions about our own universe, meaning that they are to some extent testable. I posted a link to a video earlier in this thread that deals with this very issue. The classic example is the curvature of space-time – most cosmological models demand certain curvatures. We have measured the curvature of space, and thus have already been able to invalidate some models, and support other. Likewise, various cosmological models make other testable predictions – in regards to nature of vacuum energy, the interaction between gravity and the other fundamental forces, quantum entanglement, and so forth. As we become able to test those aspects of our universe we can further develop our cosmological models.

4) Not testable now does not equal not testable in the future. Until about two decade ago we had never directly imaged atoms; now, that tech is available in most unis. Until nine years ago it wasn’t possible to image below the diffraction limit of light – today myself and dozens of other scientists do it daily. Today, there are thousands of untestable questions. Tomorrow there will be a few less…

Theist:

We live in a complex universe, so not too surprisingly science describing it is also complex. But complex does not mean wrong, or impossible. Its beyond our computing capacity to model the gravitation interactions of the planets in our solar system; and yet, strangely enough, they somehow get by.

Unfortunately, your refutations seem to be missing the point. Of course, the science describing an existing complex universe is/can be very complex indeed. The point however, if you’ve noticed, is that scientifically describing an existing universe is quite different from scientifically describing the origin of the universe. To contextualize therefore: if Dawkins’ reason for rejecting the God hypothesis for the origin of the universe is erected on the grounds that in doing so, one is positing something very complex, it would appear that he imagines that acceptable explanations must be simple. Nevertheless, as you have noted, simplicity need not be the main/the only/ or the most important criterion for accepting or refusing explanations. Therefore, objecting to God as the reason or cause for the universe, on the basis of complexity or simplicity seems neither here nor there. In any case, the scientific explanations for many things in the universe are quite complex (not simple or intuitively apparent. I am not sure why many atheists seem satisfied with this pretension to simplicity. It is rather the case that as we progress in science, we would settle for explanations that are increasingly more complex than what we currently have. The difference would be that they’d have greater explanatory scope and power.

Implausible, by whose definition? Once something has been shown to occur it is no longer implausible – its fact. Atoms were once considered to be impossible – good thing we didn’t listen to those nay-sayers.

You are treating the word “implausible” as if it means “impossible”. They have different meanings and so I am not exactly sure what your objection is here. Explanations can be implausible and yet very possible; or plausible and unfortunately impossible. Once again, any attempt to give a naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe would run afoul of Dawkins’ rigid devotion to simplicity. In attempting to provide such an explanation for the origin of the universe, one would invariably have to tender explanations that are not only non-observable, but non-testable and highly implausible as well.

Current origin (cosmological) models make very specific and testable predictions about our own universe, meaning that they are to some extent testable. I posted a link to a video earlier in this thread that deals with this very issue. The classic example is the curvature of space-time – most cosmological models demand certain curvatures. We have measured the curvature of space, and thus have already been able to invalidate some models, and support other. Likewise, various cosmological models make other testable predictions – in regards to nature of vacuum energy, the interaction between gravity and the other fundamental forces, quantum entanglement, and so forth. As we become able to test those aspects of our universe we can further develop our cosmological models.

This is beside the point. Like I noted earlier, we can have reliable, reasonable and verifiable naturalistic explanations for some aspects of the universe. No one has posited that we can’t make specific and testable predictions about some phenomena in the universe. The problem lies in having a naturalistic explanation for the universe as a whole. Here, I am not saying that we are incapable of offering explanations for anything including the universe, but to assume there’s a naturalistic explanation for nature (the universe as a whole in its grandest scale) is to assume what you are trying to explain; it is assuming the prior existence of something that you are trying to show its origins. To think there is some naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe is not to have understood what the universe properly means. All the talk about quantum entanglement, vacuum energy, gravity, space-time curvature and fundamental forces amply illustrates my point—we are merely investigating aspects of an already existing universe. When you happen on a genuine observable, testable and predictive naturalistic explanation for the very origin of the universe as a whole, I’ll be more than eager to hear it. Just don’t serve up another one of these many discredited theories out there.

Not testable now does not equal not testable in the future. Until about two decade ago we had never directly imaged atoms; now, that tech is available in most unis. Until nine years ago it wasn’t possible to image below the diffraction limit of light – today myself and dozens of other scientists do it daily. Today, there are thousands of untestable questions. Tomorrow there will be a few less…

It would appear that you have failed to understand my position. I am not in the least bit interested in examples showing that human beings have improved their knowledge with time; Or that things once thought impossible or difficult to answer or understand have been successfully resolved. To me, that is quite obvious as not to merit some sort of argument or debate. Nevertheless, in all of these, we have concerned ourselves with learning more about the intricacies of phenomena in the universe. In the already existing universe, it is very plausible that with time, we’ll discover and experimentally verify (test) many things we have a poor understanding of today. It leaves untouched though the very question of the origin of the whole shebang known as the universe. How can any naturalistic hypothesis to that end be testable? It is one thing to test an explanation of some aspect or phenomena inherent in this or any kind of possible universes, but it is another thing altogether to test an explanation purporting to show the origins of this or any other universes. It is not a surprise therefore that astrophysics and cosmology is an observational science not an experimental one. I can be charitable for example, and grant that the current research in brane cosmology/multiverses may yet yield some interesting fruit and produce some deeper and relevant understanding of our own universe. If it wants to pretend an answer to the origins of the universe, testable or non-testable sub-universal phenomena will not suffice. We will need to test and experimentally verify that any such explanations lead to the actual birth of an entire universe—I suppose, with its own variegated and stunning physical laws and constants. This is a challenge that cannot be realistically met.

Be that as it may, you are free to hang your faith on some highly implausible, non-testable and non-actualizable future state of affairs—if it helps your world-view.

Au Revoir Monsieur Lieberman!

When news reached me that Joe Lieberman had decided not to seek re-election next year, I distinctly remember feeling sorry for him.  Now, I am not always sure I understand the way Joe Lieberman thinks or what motivates him, but the general antipathy directed towards him by liberals and conservatives alike might lead one to wonder why he is so reviled. The stubbornness with which he  clung to his positions—caring little if democrats were incensed by his positions or not—leads me to appreciate his courage. It seemed that in Joe, we witnessed a politician who was not going to be beholden to party politics; a man who was going to fight for what he believed was the right thing even if his democratic colleagues felt differently.

That’s all changed now, hasn’t it?

Here was a man that came close to being the vice president of the country when he ran with John Kerry. Frankly, it is difficult to say at this stage, but I am sure that not a few democrats might have had cause to wonder in recent times, if the choice of Lieberman did not cost them much-needed votes. And why, you may ask? The answer is simple. Joe Lieberman, fairly or unfairly, is portrayed as a lackey for Big Pharma and Big Energy companies.  His patriotism was also questioned by people who see in him nothing but a shrill mouthpiece for Israeli interests. Worse, he is viewed as being a neo-con on financial and security issues. For a self-styled democrat, he sure sounded like a conservative on many issues.

Should that quality be considered a liability? Well, it depends. When he faced a primaries challenge for the office of Connecticut’s senator, he cleverly switched and became an independent. That was his saving grace I suppose. But I’d like to say that with Joe running as an independent, his actions tend to be more accepted unlike when he was operating like a traitor to the liberal cause. Therein lies the rub: media outlets can cry and whine for bipartisanship till the cows come home; Americans can complain and decry the gridlock in Washington till they are blue in the face; pundits can say whatever they damn well please, the fact remains that when push comes to shove, the same people or institutions that are expressing their revulsion at partisanship will DEMAND partisanship if it is going to significantly further their political agenda.

So I am not particularly surprised to see that over the years, Joe Lieberman has greatly irked the liberal-progressive base he was once part of. And he has paid for it with a deafening roar of disapproval and even disgust not only from the Democrats but from his very own home state of Connecticut.  How for example, were liberals going to forget his role in the 2008 presidential campaign? –you remember, don’t you, how he followed McCain all over the place, campaigning with and for him when his own party was trying their best to get everyone to consider the democratic alternative?

Be that as it may, we should not forget the pivotal roles Joe Lieberman played in the waning days of his career. His was the 60th vote that was needed to pass Obama’s health care reform. Had he not voted with the liberals, that legislative packaged would have died. Furthermore, one can’t ignore his pivotal role in the passing of the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repeal which exceedingly gladdened the hearts of many liberals. So it seems like whatever way you slice it, Mr. Lieberman has his fair share of republican and democratic critics. The sad thing is that despite the shrill calls for bipartisanship, it seems the political climate in Washington forbids such. Just take a look at the last election cycle in November of last year and you would notice how the middle-stream, blue-dog, moderately-conservative democrats were swept out. Lieberman may not be a democrat any longer; he may have grown weary of the endless partisanship; he may feel that he lived out his full convictions on Capitol Hill—the thorny truth is that with his departure next year, a long curtain will finally be drawn over non-partisanship in today’s congress.

Joe, you announced your exit too soon. Let’s hope you’ll find a way to withdraw yourself from the political limelight till you settle back in the private sector. Au revoir Monsieur Lieberman!

Naija’s 50 Cent?

Ladies and Gentlemen, its my pleasure to introduce you to the latest Nigerian rap sensation–Naija’s very own 50cent– who goes by the name Vic.O. This guy has been creating waves on FacebookYouTube or basically any video-sharing platform ever since he took the Naija hip-hop scene by force. And he is not looking back; he is not letting up. I hope you take time away from your busy schedule to satisfy your hunger for raw, unvarnished rising talent.

Here are a few more videos from him.

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Her Name Is Bethel

She walked over to her bed, climbed in and pulled the covers up to her waist. I was sitting at a considerable distance watching her and trying my best to understand this young woman. She lay on her side facing my direction, and then she flashed a smile as if she understood the quandary that I faced as I tried to understand her in greater detail. She wasn’t going to make this easy for me—she wasn’t going to make it uninteresting as well.

Her name is Bethel.

Who exactly is Bethel? Well that is the million dollar question isn’t it? That is the question that I wanted to discover an answer to. Outwardly, she was beautiful. She had a nice set of teeth and her smile lit up a room. Her large seductive eyes were set in a round face with lips that suggested it had uttered many strange things. She was soft-spoken (most of the time), and carried herself with an innocence that could deceive. She was sweet, friendly and kind. Above all, she loved to help people in need and nurse or attend to people that are injured. She was by all outward appearances an angel in human form—tender, gentle, caring, beautiful, sweet and charming.

But there was also something very fearful about Bethel. The first time I noticed it, I was horrified beyond words. It was the reason why I came closer to her, to study her so that I can fully understand her better.

Bethel had a dual personality. She was the classic Jekyll and Hyde. Behind the gracious, kind and well-behaved outward exterior lies the soul of something cold and sinister; behind the nice, tender appearance is the rugged imprint of a fierce character; behind her angelic nature lies a monster of horrifying proportions. How could a vessel be possessed of such conflicting and contrasting attributes? How can one explain the strange cohabitation of light with darkness? How indeed can I unravel and understand this mysterious woman who lay before me—filled as she is with genuine simplicity and at the same time seductive mischief? What sort of battles does her mind wage on a constant basis to balance the good with the bad—her aim of being a presentable lady of virtues with her deeper, lustful desires?

She lay there winking at me seductively, her eyes smiling in mischief as she spoke in very soft tones. She dared me to take a peek at her wild side. There was something strangely fascinating and terrifying about that smile. You could not tell what thoughts she was thinking. Was she setting a trap for me as she lay there inviting me to come and take a peek? Or was she just trying to allow me to take a simple journey with her perhaps to see how much the discovery would change all my previous perceptions? What is that mysteriously dark subtext that gives greater meaning to the mental and behavioral struggles of a split-personality like Bethel?

She beckoned me closer. I drew closer to her as if propelled by some strange magnetism. Then she closed her eyes dreamily and became silent for a moment. When she opened her mouth to speak again, it was as if some dark entity had overtaken and captured her faculties. The tender angelic and innocent young woman before me had disappeared. In her place was a seductive temptress filled with fierce carnal passions; what lay before me was animated, petulant, violent, tempestuous and burning with flickering memories, emotions and desires. I watched the transformation with great curiosity.

Her serpentine eyes opened presently and she looked at me and smiled. I smiled back in return. Then suddenly, as if overcome by her emotions, she covered her face with her palms. She dropped her palms and her countenance and mood fell. She looked away distractedly. I stared at her intently; very curious to understand what had helped to shape her.

Bethel began by telling me of her wishes. She was not craving for a relationship immediately, but that she was willing to date because she loved to meet new people. She was open to dating anyone from any ethnic background except her own. For some weird reason, she considers the eligible men from her ethnic group to be nothing more than greedy, uncaring bastards. She volunteered that if she is to marry, she would much prefer a man who is also friendly and easygoing as she is; a man who is faithful and respects his wife; but above all, a man who is in her own words a “freak in the sheets”.  I pressed on, clutching my pen and paper and drawing my chair ever closer to the woman lying on the bed. By this time she was chatting rather excitedly even though her voice was still scarcely above a whisper.

Did she have any hobbies? Well, it turns out, she says, that she is usually too busy to carve out meaningful time for recreation. Then she chuckled and informed me that she loved to dance. She loved music from different genres: Hip-hop, Nigerian music, Ivorian music, reggae, etc. She loved to meet and discuss with new people. Occasionally, she loved to watch interesting romance movies.

Suddenly, she raised her eyes and caught mine. The excitement was gone. Her eyes searched mine; it was as if she was unsure as to whether she should continue her revelations. I smiled weakly and then laughed; pretending to be amused by her sudden change in mood or temperament. Her voice became even fainter. Her voice was husky and tinged with deep emotions now. She spoke of having been raped at a tender age and how that killed whatever innocence she had and filled her with some vile revulsion for men. It helped me understand why she had practically lost faith in the men-folk and treated all male entreaties with disdain. It helped me understand why her eyes dazzled with deceit as she laughed and flirted with men on the numerous occasions that I have observed her—for I knew that she only thought of men as disposable walking pieces of skin that should be milked for whatever good they can temporarily provide and discarded when they cease to be useful. Herein, lies the dark soul of a partially damaged woman—beautiful, well-mannered and alluring until you interact with her to draw out the demons of her haunted past—demons which have indeed made her into a formidable femme fatale.

She spoke of having gone to an all-girl boarding school when she was much younger and how she found out that she was also bisexual. She told of graphic sexual intercourse with several young women in her boarding school. It was in boarding school she revealed to me, that she found out that she was extremely good at cunnilingus. She looked at me when she said that expecting to see disdain. I knew that I had to affect a total air of indifference if I did not want the darker side of this split personality to quickly disappear behind the angelic façade that I was used to seeing. Seeing nothing but empathy from me, she continued. She spoke of her sexual exploits. She laughed hysterically when she narrated how she used to date 4 men at once. She would talk to one on the phone, then go out and visit another, and while there, she would talk to a third; when she was done with the second, she would waltz over to the 4th—all in the course of one evening! There she was in all her beguiling glory, burning with lusts and full of dark fearsome passions. It was terrifying to behold but you just couldn’t pull away.

She also spoke of her threesomes with the latest man in her life as she laughed gently. Then she spoke with fire in her eyes of the fights she had gotten into; how she brooked no nonsense and could very well stab a person to death if push came to shove. On and on she continued with the strange and incredible aspects of her deeper darker nature. After a while, I was utterly silent as I watched her go back down memory lane; her face and appearance was a curious blend of happiness, excitement, sorrow, confusion, sadness and sometimes rage. All in all, it was more than amazing.

How indeed could such a tender, soft-spoken and gracious creature be capable of such things? How was it possible that such raw sexual passions, such mind-blowing violence, such wanton disregard for the feelings of men, such forcefulness of speech, such repressed rage, such blinding fits of jealousy, such cold reptilian calculations of vengeance, such laughing deceit, such haughtiness, and such seductiveness could be packaged into that delicate angelic form? How could she be so kind, so friendly, so easygoing, so sweet, so caring, so affable and yet in a manner of seconds, as if a switch was flipped, go from these endearing attributes to something dark and sinister?

When she was done, she looked at me again as if to make sure I had not completely fallen apart at the seams. She smiled again and wondered why I had gotten very quiet. I told her that I was breathless at her revelation. Then I stood up and stretched. Sensing that I was getting ready to leave, she licked her lips and she looked at me. I stopped dead in my tracks and looked at her wondering what she meant. Then her eyes gradually went from my eyes and trailed downwards to my nether regions. Then she smiled. I knew exactly what she was hinting at.

“You know, I am very tight” she said huskily.

“Really? Okay. Why should I know this?” I asked puzzled.

“Don’t you want to find out? Come on, you seem like someone who can take care of a lady” she replied.

“You are bad, Bethel. You know I am already taken” I replied laughing. The truth is that she knew that I wasn’t going to yield to such temptation. I suppose she wanted to know how far she could go when turning on her sexual charms before I would jump back in shock and horror by her brazenness.

“Don’t blame me. I’ve been on a dry spell for 3 months now. Besides the men in this city are nothing to write home about” she said.

“But you have a new man in your life. You told me so” I replied calmly.

“Well, I am beginning to see that I can’t describe him as my man any longer. He is just a close friend to me and he has helped me in many countless ways. It is just a friend-with-benefits kind of arrangement” she explained.

“In that case, why don’t you try and reap the so-called benefits of that friendship arrangement? Why go on a dry spell for 3 months?” I asked.

“He traveled” she returned flatly.

“Hmmm…okay. Well, I’ll see if I can help pair you up with a good guy because I think you deserve a good man” I replied.

We both laughed at my last comment. With that, I got up, waved goodbye at Bethel and disappeared from her room.

I know that I will yet spot her again in that virtual place of concourse as she smiles and charms her way into the hearts of many a guy who may not yet be privy to her dark secret—the fact that behind the smiling and adorable angelic face, behind her congeniality lies the soul of a damsel pavilioned in deception and girded with vice.

PDP Presidential Primaries

As you probably know today is the PDP primary election held in Abuja, and a lot of people are anxious to know the outcome of that race. Who is going to win between Goodluck Jonathan, Atiku Abubakar and Mrs. Sarah Jubril?

Well, here is an update culled from Sahara Reporters:

02:22am: It should be noted that, with an estimated 5000 delegate voters, whoever reaches between 2500 and 3000 votes will have an unassailable lead. Early projections suggest that Goodluck Jonathan will reach the magic figure

02:20am: Jonathan leads the race to be PDP presidential flagbearer. He has 1184votes so far and Atiku has 328. Jubril has o votes.

I guess this is not brain surgery. Like I suggested elsewhere, Jonathan Goodluck will win this with a landslide. It looks like another PDP anointing has taken place and they have decided to go with Goodluck  Jonathan at this time.

Let me make some predictions:

A) Atiku’s camp will come out to condemn the process charging that there were a lot of election malpractices that took place. Some may even ask for a do over

B) We’ll continue to hear about more destabilizing violence in the North.

C) In the foreseeable future, Atiku will decamp from the PDP, and seek the highest office on another party’s platform.

Let me stop here for now pending further updates.

For Nigerian Men: Tips For A Successful Marriage

Husband and Wife feuding

Look around you. Look at the Nigerian marriages here in the US. Look at the Nigerian couples found in many communities here in the US.  Have you noticed the increasing rate of divorce and separation between Nigerian men and women? What is responsible for this rising trend? Is there anything that can be done to remedy the situation? This is a huge topic so I am going to limit myself to discussing just a few things. I am going to offer a few suggestions on how men and women (potential spouses) can better understand each other so that relationships may continue to survive.

For the Men:

A)  Nigerian men in the US need to understand that by living and operating in the US, they cannot claim to be insulated from, immune to or unaware of the effects of decades of a sustained push for gender equality and women empowerment. This means that even though the Nigerian cultural practices and norms are a guiding principle for many Nigerians in the US, one cannot completely ignore the altering effects of the American society ideals on the perceptions and actions of Nigerian men and women who dwell there in. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise to Nigerian men, if Nigerian women in the US, seem to be more assertive of their rights; Nigerian men should not be flabbergasted when their wives demand for equality in all things pertaining to the marriage. This is usually a tougher pill for men to swallow—the very idea that their wives would have equal and sometimes greater say in how the marriage ought to proceed, or how the home should be run. From a Nigerian man’s point of view, it is tantamount to losing his natural position as the head of the household, but it doesn’t need to be so. It is time to drop the authoritarian or dictatorial mindset. Your wife is not chattel—she is not your property for you to talk to or treat anyhow you deem fit. A little flexibility coupled to an attitude that listens to and considers the opinion and contribution of the woman would go a long way in fixing many broken Nigerian homes.

B)  Nigerian men ought to appreciate their wives especially if such wives are also working to take care of the family. I cannot understand why some men feel particularly threatened by the possibility or the fact that their wives might be earning more than they do. Granted, when this happens, it is often the case that the wife becomes more impatient and sometimes disrespectful to the man, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Any self-respecting man who cherishes and respects his wife’s commitment and contribution, and moreover shows by his own actions and efforts that he is also doing the best he can to provide for the family, will usually compel a loving and respectful wife even if the wife earns more. Nigerian men therefore have to show in words and deed that they appreciate and love the woman for bringing something to the table no matter how big or how small. A little appreciation for a wife can go a very long way. Buy her something of sentimental value—doesn’t have to be expensive; just something that shows that you really care. These things are not much, but it is these little gestures that cumulatively form the bulk of her fond memories and feelings for her husband.

C)  It is true that times are hard and that people have to work perhaps longer hours these days to make ends meet. It is also true that the job of providing for the family falls squarely on the man’s shoulders even if it the case that in most families the man and woman are working. However, that should not turn men into work slaves. It should not detract from the commitment given to the marriage or to the family. Sometimes, Nigerian men fall into the trap of thinking that just by working insanely long hours to put food on the table and to put a roof over the family’s head, he has fulfilled his duties and thus he ought to be congratulated. He forgets that he also has to make time for his wife (or for the family if the man already has some children). Take her out every now and then. Make time from your busy schedule for you and your wife to spend quality time together. Take a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of daily living. Find a recreation, sports or exercise you can do together with your wife. The benefits really cannot be overemphasized. This is not asking for too much, is it?

D)  In Nigeria, or in Nigerian circles, sex and bedroom matters between couples are usually not discussed publicly—or if there’d be discussions to that effect, they’d have to be done ever so discreetly and with a lot of pretend decorum. Now that is good: we wouldn’t want any discussion of marital sexual relations to spiral into a most obscene and tasteless display of carnal lechery. But this is a double-edged sword in that sometimes, men and women are denied the opportunity to truly learn what works. It is no secret that for a marriage to thrive, a man and his wife also have to be very intimate sexually—and this means that it is very important that they be able to truly stimulate and satisfy each other sexually. This view is sanctioned by most schools of thought, including most rational religions. Now, many Nigerian men will quickly and eagerly boast of their virility and stamina or perhaps of their previous sexual conquests. For them, sex is never a problem; they are quick to make you recognize their libido. But I want to suggest that wholly separate from having the urge to have carnal relations with your wife, is the dexterity or skill with which you execute it. This means that what is worth doing is worth doing well. Nigerian men have to be sincere and humble enough to actually listen to their wives if their wives have suggestions about what the men could be doing to make the sex more enjoyable for them. If you are the easily-provoked type of guy, or the easily-suspicious, you run the risk of having a sexually-frustrated wife who is just too scared or too resigned to let you know how you could be a better lover. If need be, buy and read some books about the female anatomy and how you can truly please her. Fantastic stories recounted in pepper-soup joints, men’s locker rooms and other all-male gatherings are hardly ideal if you really want to know what makes your woman tick. Learn to listen to her. Sometimes, it is the simple soft touches, the kisses, the petting and caressing that will ignite the fire in her—not your caveman’s exaggerated emphasis on the frequency or forcefulness of your penile thrusts.

E)  Effective communication in marriages is very important. Whenever there is a misunderstanding or a disagreement, the mature and adult thing to do is to approach each other and TALK about it. There is no wisdom in a man deciding to keep his feelings and emotions bottled up in him as he continues to burn inwardly from rage and frustration. Already, men know that by nature, women love to talk especially when it concerns their feelings, relationship or well-being; frankly some women talk entirely too much. However, just because your wife always wants to have “the talk”, that should not mean that you should begin to disregard the importance of these talk sessions. Therefore, it is very crucial for Nigerian men to talk (no matter how sparingly) whenever an issue needs to be discussed and resolved. She is not a mind-reader and so you cannot expect her to automatically know how badly you felt about a certain issue or how some of her actions or words annoyed the living daylights out of you. You have to tell her and at the same time listen to her as she also expresses her concerns. No slamming of doors please; no running off to sleep on the couch while leaving the bedroom to her; no running off to go sleep in your single male friend’s house; no sleeping on the same bed but turned the opposite way; no codes of silence until you feel like you can talk to that “annoying wench” again; no refusing to eat the food she cooked; no temper tantrums. Be a MAN. That means that you have to confront or face the situation and be humble and considerate enough to understand your role in the misunderstanding so that you and your wife can resolve your differences. This is not rocket science—this is just commonsense.

F) Finally, do not allow others to dictate what should be done in your home. It does not matter how close a person is to you. Only your wife should count in any decision you want to make regarding your home. This means that you shouldn’t be listening to the suggestions of friends, colleagues or associates with regards to your family at all. You should also not have meddlesome brothers, sisters or your mother coming in to dictate or suggest what should be done in your family. Nigerian men tend to love and cherish their mothers to the point that they may often invite their mothers to come and stay/live in their own houses. This is usually seen in cases where the man (and his wife) has a new child or have children that may need the services of a nanny. Unfortunately, in many cases, these mothers-in-law or sisters-in-law needlessly undermine, berate, harass or annoy the wives in these families to the point that separation or divorce begins to look desirable. While you may get suggestions on other peripheral relationship issues, you should jealously guard the secrets of your marriage with your wife. Your best male buddy has no need for the details of your relationship and should never be told any confidential information that pertains to your wife no matter how hard they pry. If there is a personal husband-wife misunderstanding that is so huge as to make you require a second opinion, then together with your wife you should make an appointment with your pastor or see your marriage counselor—of course, the pastor or the marriage counselor in question has to be married and be seen to be living harmoniously with the spouse. If the pastor or marriage counselor is unmarried, divorced or separated then do not bother taking your problems to him or her! Yes, because “Nemo dat quod non habet” meaning that you cannot give what you don’t have. You may additionally seek parental advice on general matters, but never on specific and intimately detailed issues concerning your wife and marriage. They have lived their lives and made of their marriage what they wanted; now you are a man, learn to deal with your own problems on your own without running to daddy and mommy for every single issue. I say this because I realize that a lot of people value and cherish their parents, but if it were left to me, under absolutely no situations would parents be consulted for any personal problems at all!  By all means invite them over on special days to eat and celebrate with you but never to come and settle intimate marriage problems or vexing husband-wife misunderstandings.

Later on, I’ll give tips to women for a successful marriage.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

If you were carefully paying attention to this televised tumult, I want to believe that like me, you would have found it difficult to believe that these sounding boards for their respective philosophical positions, could be so full of sound and fury signifying nothing. This is a clear example of when two wrongs don’t make a right.

Take Bill O’Reilly for example. In this exchange, he appears to be vastly ignorant of the subtleties and the complicated nature of the debates between theists and atheists. He also seemed to be more interested in extracting an apology from an unwilling interlocutor for a statement that he (O’Reilly) could just as easily have made were the circumstances different. If this was supposed to be a rational discussion, or an attempt to tame the verbal or rhetorical excesses of his guest by a dispassionate presentation of facts or logical argument, O’Reilly failed miserably to do so.

Nevertheless, to be fair to this guy and the rest of the O’Reilly Factor team, they seem by comparison to the rest of the talking heads on Fox News, to be more serious about the commitment to fairness and balance in their news reporting—even if O’Reilly’s personal views hew heavily to the right. At least there is the pretension [one can’t ask for any less] that different views are entertained or at least given an opportunity to be aired. Personally, I would prefer a non-confrontational and discussional ambience to O’Reilly’s interviews, but hey, how is he going to stay ahead of the curve in a 24-hour news cycle dominated by sound bites, twitter journalism, and the attention-seeking antics of the Glenn Beck-Rush Limbaugh-Sarah Palin trinity? It is no wonder that broadcast journalism has become like sport—one better find a way to quickly grab the short attention span of the average American or wither into insignificance. But I digress.

Then there is Dave Silverman, president of the American Atheists group. I am sure he must have been reliably informed of Bill O’Reilly’s notorious and annoying penchant for cutting people off as they are trying to make a point, and so he came prepared as it were, to out-O’Reilly his host on that particular segment. That came at a cost: he didn’t seem so much different from or even more informed than O’Reilly or the millions of Americans that his group would fain accuse of feckless God-worship.

Let us examine this noisy spectacle, shall we?

A)  O’Reilly insistence that the billboards are an insult to theists is inconsequential. Freedom of Speech, mate. Atheists have every right to denounce whatever they want to denounce. This will be similar to the way that theists also have the right to believe and state their convictions; or to denounce whatever they are convinced to denounce. It will amount to nothing more than the tyranny of the majority for atheists, or other minorities to be required to recant their beliefs or identity to please or blend in with majority opinion.

B)  Mr. Silverman’s assertion that “everybody knows that religion is a scam” is both logically incoherent and factually inaccurate. How can he defend this pointless assertion? If everyone knows that religion is a scam, then you would expect, by human actions and utterances, that every human being realizes this. It wouldn’t matter if anyone still chose to profess a faith; everybody’s words and deeds will show unmistakably that everyone knows religion to be a mere flight of fancy. This is highly incongruent with the real world for we find that in many cases, belief in God is seldom based on human knowledge or mentation but is deeply rooted in personal experiences, revelations, and a keen sense of affinity or oneness with the transcendental.

C) The so-called New Atheists of today are so intellectually inferior to the atheists of yesteryears that one just can’t help but feel nostalgic for the sort of robust but intellectually-stimulating challenges the former atheists offered to theism. In its place, we have a bunch of rather amateurish rabble-rousers who often do not take the time to fully understand the informed Christian positions on the issues they are so adamantly opposed to. For example, Mr. Silverman’s conception of the Christian God seems to be the oft-caricatured depiction of “an invisible man in the sky”. Is it any wonder that he runs around informing people that God-belief is a myth?  How tiresome this atheist objection really is! If he genuinely believes that the theist conception of God is akin to some unseen human hovering somewhere in the stratosphere, he ought to be congratulated for his evangelical atheism.  At this point in the interview, both men were consumed with upstaging the other that they really had no time to weigh the other’s comments carefully.

D) O’Reilly then oversteps his boundary as a mere journalist, in trying to establish a rational basis for a belief in a supernatural existence. His example? Tides—yes, sea tides! Of all the things begging for at least the mild suspicion that there may be a non-physical realm or a non-physical being, O’ Reilly chooses to talk about tides! O’Reilly needs to read a science book sometime; or at least do a little Google-based research into the subject of tides. He would have found out that tides are easy to understand and can be easily explained to a 3rd-grader: the rise and fall of sea-levels are simply caused by the combined forces of the gravitational forces exerted by the moon and the sun as well as the rotation of the earth. O’Reilly’s unfamiliarity with tides hardly rises to an existential question in my opinion, and thus wouldn’t qualify as food-for-thought to anyone seriously contemplating the larger questions in life.

E)  If O’Reilly’s ignorance of basic science was disappointing, it was even more disappointing to notice that Mr. Silverman didn’t know this either. For one saddled with the task of badgering the supposedly intellectually-complacent body of willful God-believers to drop their “tiresome God-belief”, Silverman displays an astonishing lack of depth. How effective an advocate for his world-view is he going to be if he cannot even attempt to answer simple posers like this? Perhaps, this is because he did not have enough time with a combative talk-show host to attempt a halfway decent reply. But his insistence that he does not need to know the legitimate answer to O’Reilly’s quandary or his satirical reference to “Thor on top of Mount Olympus making the tides go in and out” negates or belies this suspicion. Pray tell, who would want to take this guy’s atheist preachments seriously when he does not even seem to know that the Norse god Thor does not belong with the Greek Olympian pantheon?

In the end, this is just another made-for-television charade pitting two fulminating blowhards. What they lack in sophistication or carefully thought out answers, they make up excellently in sound and needless histrionics. Atheists can put up as many billboards as they choose denouncing whatever theist belief they deem constipatory; they have the constitutionally-protected right to such actions. There should have been no reason for O’Reilly to haul in a specimen of this atheist worldview for an afternoon of half-witted hounding.

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