Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Few Irritating Things

By nature, I am the sort of person that deeply respects people’s personal space; one that likes for people to live their lives how they see fit—provided that such choices on their part do not in principle disrupt or needlessly interfere with mine. In many aspects, I am somewhat introverted: albeit public speaking or social interactions have never been a problem of mine. As a matter of fact, in social settings, I can freely interact and have as much fun as the next guy. I say these things beforehand because I am about to list a few things that I do not particularly care for; things which may, if interpreted wrongly, be fodder for some muddleheaded simplistic misrepresentation of my character or disposition.

You can call these things my pet peeves or whatever names you fancy—and I guarantee you that as often as I remember more of these things, I’ll add to this list. I am also willing to bet that you may find some points on which you and I are in agreement. Now, if after reading this, you are convinced that these annoying things are completely baseless and without merit, or that I am due for some psychiatric evaluation, do yourself a favor—take a long walk off a short pier. Got it? Good! Now that all the self-righteous turd-buckets have left this page, feel free to enjoy, or not enjoy: I didn’t ask you to read this anyway, did I? Of course I didn’t—you are reading at your own risk. There, I have given you fair warning.

Inane Generalizations: When people generalize, they usually extrapolate an observation or experience or deduction far beyond its necessary reach. This is without question, an example of fallacious or erroneous thinking. All too often many people employ inane generalizations in either written or oral conversations because they are deceptively easy leaps that people make without bothering to investigate their far-reaching conclusions. For example, suppose you are talking to some lady who might have been heartbroken because of the infidelity of her husband or boyfriend. So she narrates how that jerk used and abused her until she finally broke it off. Let’s also say that this woman has also previously dated or married four guys before the last one and indeed it turned out that all these guys were likewise men of dishonorable character. It is deceptively easy and common to hear such women decide never to date or marry again for the foreseeable future. Do you want to know the common reason adduced to explain their reticence? Because: Men are dishonest, dishonorable, lying pigs.  Now, do you notice here that this woman has condemned practically all men (or if you like most men) based on her previous experience with 5 men? How is her interaction with 5 or 10, or 50 men enough to qualitatively or morally analyze all the men or most of the men out there? Suppose, she decides to play a numbers game and thus asserts that all her female friends, and most of the women she had interacted with, or read about, have expressed the same sentiment? Suppose she argues for instance that she has about 100 unique examples to buttress her argument? Does that therefore imply that most or all men deserve her withering condescension and blame? The answer is clearly NO. The fact is that there are still millions upon millions of decent and respectable men who she had never interacted with and would never ever get to interact with in the first place. Her generalization is unfounded and thus unnecessary.

The alarming thing is that there are very many examples of this if you bother to listen attentively to many people. I am not talking about those cases where a person generalizing might just be trying to rile people up or get people to discuss a matter. I am talking of all those cases where people substitute generalizations for sound arguments and argue strenuously that these generalizations are indeed not only observable but demonstrably true. For example: “Americans are generally dumb and overweight yokels”,  “Nigerians are scammers”,  “Women who marry rich men are simply gold-diggers”, “Black people are generally lazy” ,  “Most Muslims are terrorists or terrorist-sympathizers” etc. Many seem to think that by merely narrating a few cases of some negative experience, they have adequately erected a foundation upon which to cast blanket or generalized blame. In all these, the culprit is taking the actions or observations about a few and tarring the whole with it. This works in the reverse as well namely to positively assess or praise a whole based on the actions of a few. It goes without saying that the better thing to do is to judge things on their own individual merits or demerits; and if for any reason one wants to characterize a whole, one should take special care to adequately qualify such extrapolations.

B) Driving slowly on the speed lane: For my readers who are not in the United States, let me explain this first. Most of the standard US highways (expressway, freeway, whatever you call it) have about 3 or more lanes. American roads are built such that they are all interconnected—especially by ramps located on the right. Therefore, for the most part, when people want to exit a highway to get on to other secondary roads they would get to the extreme right lane and then take the approaching exit ramp. Therefore, it is not surprising for cars on the extreme right lane of major highways to proceed at a relatively slower pace; nor indeed is it surprising for slower or older drivers to be on this slower lane. Conversely, the extreme left lane is considered the ‘speed lane’. This is because people on this lane have quite a distance to drive before they get to their respective exits.  Because of this, people on this lane tend to proceed at a relatively faster pace than people on all the other adjacent lanes. It is even illegal for big trucks and trailers to get on this extreme right lane. No matter how fast a truck or trailer driver is (and at night with fewer drivers on the road, these truck drivers really go fast), he is required by law to not enter this ‘speed lane’.

 Therefore, I consider it the height of rudeness and incivility for slow drivers (drivers that are so slow that tortoises would give them a run for their money) to get on the speed lane and back it up for miles. The more annoying part of it is that when you tap your horn gently behind these creeping wastes of skin, signaling your request for them to move over to the next relatively slower lane, you are merely making the matter worse. They’ll respond by reducing their speed even further forcing you to pass them on the other lane. Of course if you are in a police vehicle, these lumbering meatheads will quickly get out of your way. This hypocrisy gets my goat every time. It is just inexcusable. While on the highway, if you insist on driving like you are terrified of the accelerator, have the common decency to move your trudging automobile to the slower side of the road. You may have all day to slither along to your final destination, but the rest of us don’t have that kind of time. Personally, I would suggest that you get yourself a driver or sit your slow-driving hind parts at home and spare us all the grief.

 C) Small  items with Credit Cards: Have you ever come across these bozos that run into a convenience store to grab one piece of chewing gum and then have to hold up the line fumbling in their pockets for loose change? From a customer point of view, I absolutely hate that. I feel that you should have your money ready at hand to pay for whatever single, less-than-$5 item you want to buy. I can understand if you have a trolley-full of consumer items and in the general disorder of trying to get every item accounted for, you took some time to retrieve the money tucked into some corner of your purse or hand bag as the cashier continues to ring you up. That is understandable. Also, I can understand that you might not have as much cash as you might have thought you needed and so you may have to dig inside your wallet or purse to find your credit/debit card to pay for big ticket item/items. What I have failed to understand are these inbreds who walk into a convenience store with the sole aim of buying a 99-cents item (or for that matter anything less than 5 bucks) approaching the cashier to pay for them with credit/debit cards and/or possibly holding up the line in the process! From a retailer’s point of view, it doesn’t even make that much sense to have to constantly pay a fraction of a customer’s deferred costs so that they can skip on out with some gummyworms or some fresh-breath mints! If you want to pop in for a stick of candy, or a pack of gum, or one miserable doughnut, get some cash to pay for it even if it means using an ATM machine. Let’s not all stand in line waiting for some bank to approve your miserable purchase! It is even worse when the bank declines the card. Now, this rotund doughnut-craving retard will waste more of my time arguing with the cashier and demanding that the card be swiped an indefinite number of times in the vain hope that the purchase would be made. If you are one of such people, let me tell you what every other person in line behind you is possibly thinking: You are a laughable ninny and the sooner you bundled yourself out of the store, the sooner you would stop your embarrassment and the better for us all!

D) Talking or texting in movie theatres: There is a group of people that deserve to beaten over the head with a bag of hammers. This is putting it mildly.  They are these simpletons who think that the best time to call or text the acquaintances in their miserable existence are precisely when they are in a movie theatre watching a movie! These people really deserve to have a hot smoldering piece of iron forced up their rectums. Why, in the name of all that is sacred, can these urchins NOT resist the urge to disrupt others’ movie-going experience? What is absolutely so important that you cannot respond to or text back after the movie? If it was so important, why can you not do the courteous thing and walk out of the theatre to pick your call? It doesn’t even help matters when these miscreants are loud and obnoxious: as if daring anyone within earshot to cast a disapproving glance their way or worse to politely ask them to refrain! It is either that these numbskulls do not realize that the LED lights from their mobile devices disturb or interfere with the desirable completely dark background of the movie theatre, or they probably think that with the theatre’s acoustic surround sound, other people would not hear them cackling away on their phones! And lest I forget, talking in theatres is not limited to phone discussions. I shall not forget the jumpy and noisy folks who talk about the movie whilst watching the movie! Look here mongrel, this is not your living room. As you can see, you are in a public space and you should try as much as lies within you to live up to the acceptable bounds of decorum. If you are in your room, feel free to howl your head off as you watch a movie, but since you are not there, please allow us to hear and digest the movie without your unnecessary verbal ticks—in other words, please shut your pie-hole, turn off the bloody cellphone and allow us to get through this hour-and-a-half movie in peace!

(To be continued)

P.S—Feel free to add your own pet peeves in the comments section.

Tired Of The Debates Yet?

The Republican Presidential Candidates

Am I the only one who is increasingly tired of these endless republican primary debates? I am convinced I cannot be the only one—the reasons seem fairly obvious to a great many. It just seems like every few days there is another debate on TV pitting these 8 or 9 presidential contenders in some unfortunate American auditorium, and the same boring and predictable talking points are rehashed ad nauseam. Why do they continue to bring us these televised borefests? Your guess is as good as mine, but I am dangerously close to tuning them all out.

The problem, as I have come to discover it, is that despite the shrill calls for Obama’s removal from power, coming from conservative quarters, the GOP has simply not found the perfect (or reasonably close to perfect) candidate that would energize their base and pose a great challenge to Obama. The candidate that would embody all the lofty ideals of the Republican Party (including the Tea Party of course) has just not materialized, even if we agree that the series of economically depressing news have so conspired to make the current incumbent look far weaker than he ordinarily should.

But why is it proving very difficult to find a candidate that would handily command the zeal and hope of the right wing? Why has Obama continued to enjoy a much higher nation-wide poll rating than any of the current contenders even in the midst of sobering economic news? Why is there still a significant degree of hesitation to join the ranks of those who are now thoroughly disillusioned by Obama? – Or by his spectacular incapacity to make good on all the promises and hopes that catapulted him to the White House?

The fact is that despite what we have seen in recent times on the economic front, there is a palpable dissatisfaction with the seeming inability of these GOP campaigns to enunciate a plan that is significantly better than what is currently obtainable under Obama. Obama may not be the ideal president, and he may have gotten a few things wrong with his policies, but the people seeking to replace him have not credibly laid out serious plans that would get the country out of the economic backwoods. It is not enough for these candidates to shout campaign trail slogans and afterwards direct interested persons to some obscure website where the full details of their plan might have been spelled out.

It is in this regard that I must commend Herman Cain for at least attempting to present something for people to mull over (albeit that upon close examination, his plan falls to pieces). Perhaps, rather than bring us the same boring debates where all we hear is “Obama is bad, Obama is worse than bad. Elect me and I’ll fix everything. You just trust me because I sincerely believe in Reagan and his policies”, these candidates should start speaking more robustly about the ways they really hope to be better than Obama at fixing this ailing economy. The time for the talking points are now gone. In case they haven’t noticed, anyone that has listened to a few of these boring presidential debates will unfailing point out that at this stage they all sound hopelessly the same.

But if the problem of the Republicans was merely the lack of a coherent central message, or the inability to present a credible alternative, I daresay that would have perhaps been more forgivable. Sadly, with each passing day, the current cast of contenders (by their own unique actions or inactions) continues to mesmerize the traumatized public with their unique self-combustion. From questions about Newt Gingrich’s injudicious and perhaps unscrupulous spending of campaign funds to Michele Bachmann’s ill-advised anti-vaccine rants and her unique campaign staffing troubles, the people are treated to severely embarrassing and unflattering gaffes that ought to give anyone pause.

What shall we say then of all these women that are now boldly accusing Herman Cain of sexual harassment? What shall we say of his bumbling, unpersuasive, gaffe-ridden attempts at damage control? Little more need be said about his utter inability or unpreparedness to give some coherent answer on a foreign policy question concerning Libya. Or should one assume that he was so preoccupied with stopping the sexual allegation steam roller that he had devoted all his energies into presenting answers that were as plausible as they are non-contradictory—to the point that he forgot to prepare himself for questions of a different sort? Or what indeed can anyone say of Rick Perry’s unfortunate but complete memory meltdown in a debate? In fact, the more you looked at the speeches and debate performances of the Texas governor in recent times, the more you wondered why anyone thought he was capable of independently expressing a thoughtful answer to any pressing national questions. You got the impression, if I am not mistaken, that all he was good at is reciting the lines he had been coached by his staffers, hoping that he still had a bit of southern charm and charisma to command your vote.

These unfortunate campaign fiascos detract from the overall appeal of the GOP candidates. At once, it presents a tale of disorganization and indiscipline; it makes people hesitate and ponder on the wisdom of trading Obama for people who have so-far proven themselves incapable of managing a campaign. As a sidebar, you have to wonder loudly why Ron Paul continues to labor under the illusion that he’d ever be nominated the Party’s flag-bearer despite his glaring libertarian preachments. He may ideologically be more conservative than liberal, but his position on a number of issues are undoubtedly frightening to the GOP faithful. You have to imagine that the only way Ron Paul gets the nod is if the current cast of GOP contenders woke up tomorrow and all evolved positions and talking points that lie ideologically left of his position—a remote possibility indeed. Also, it doesn’t take much to see that Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum simply do not have the name recognition, gravitas or the campaign size and funds to effectively compete and as such can only hope to be selected for the VP spot.

In the end, it may be that the only candidate that realistically stands the chance of being nominated, barring any future spontaneous act of self-destruction, is Mitt Romney. Yes, he may have that healthcare issue to explain over and over; yes he may be a Mormon (i.e. not an evangelical Christian); yes he may sound somewhat unconvincing when touting his conservative credentials (precisely because he doesn’t come across as Tea Party material); –  but his discipline and consistency may be his greatest asset. In the end, it just may be that despite the fact that Romney doesn’t overwhelmingly excite the Republican field, he is the only one with the consistency, discipline, debating skills, foreign policy mastery, and the sufficient chops on the economy to mount a convincing challenge to Obama—thus necessitating that the GOP faithful hold their noses as it were to nominate him. This is of course based on the presumption that the GOP hopes to beat Obama next year by any means necessary.  However, the 2012 November presidential election is still a long way from now; indeed anything can happen before then to alter the present configurations. In any case, we are sure that Sarah Palin and Donald Trump are never going to be part of any future reconfigurations.

Stephanie and Josh: Love’s Growing Pains III

Stephanie and Josh: Love’s Growing Pains

Stephanie and Josh: Love’s Growing Pains II

“Hey Steph,” Josh began, jolting Stephanie back to reality away from her flurry of thoughts; “I want to tell you that I am actually happy to see you again.  You are looking very stunning by the way” Josh said in a soft measured tone. It was as if in the stillness of that evening’s drive, Josh had begun to think seriously about his future with Stephanie. He took a sideways glance at her and smiled.

“Thanks, you are not bad-looking yourself. All you need is to take a shower after and you’d be as radiant as I used to remember” Stephanie said smiling.

The discussions flowed from there as they began to talk in somber and serious tones about their present lives. Stephanie spoke about her company dramatically downsizing and letting a significant number of former employees leave. She spoke about how her drive and work ethic were the only things that helped to persuade her employers to keep her even though she took a little pay cut to retain her position. She also wasn’t too happy with the fact that they moved her away from New York City. But with the spate of firings going on around her as businesses began to crumble and disappear, she thought it best to remain with a guaranteed job until she could find something better. After all, it wasn’t as though she was not earning enough money to be very comfortable. She suggested rather comically, while looking at Josh, that it was providence that brought her back to Indiana, for she queried, if she hadn’t returned, how indeed they could be having this date.

Josh listened attentively and smiled whenever Stephanie chuckled. In his mind, he was remembering the spontaneous and free-spirited woman he used to love. As the discussions carried on, it became clearer to Josh that she was still fun to hang out with.

He looked sideways again at Stephanie who had strangely fallen silent, staring intently, as he began to talk about himself. This was because the cute smile on his face had disappeared and was replaced with a sad, somewhat pained expression. It was as if he was having great difficulty expressing himself. That keen expression struck a familiar chord in her. It was that same dazed, innocent and painfully-obvious look that he had when she first met him in New York.

He began by narrating about the loss of his mother to cancer the year before and how it completely devastated him and his only sister. Then he recounted the stress of his job, and how it severely impinged on his social life. He talked about his desire to leave Indiana for one of the really big cities out there where he could actually get to enjoy life in between the hectic hours at his current job of saving lives. Then he spoke of a recent heart surgery that he and his medical crew performed which failed to save a young girl—how the loss of that poor girl’s life sent him into throes of sadness and guilt for many days. It didn’t even help matters that he did not have a serious dedicated woman in his life at that time to help him out in his time of great emotional distress.

As he spoke in such soft earnest tones, he struck a sympathetic figure that Stephanie’s heart went out to him. She fell in love all over again. Here was a man who is loved and respected amongst his colleagues, adored by many, and who could probably boast of having accomplished quite a lot in his life; here was a man who had many beautiful young women eager to date him—so eager in fact that they could practically do anything to curry his favor. Here was a man that was always full of smiles and laughter and an easy-going disposition as though he had no cares in the world! But despite all that anyone could have said about him positively, he was altogether vulnerable—behind the laughter and the chuckles was a man who had deep worries and concerns, and who was clearly in need of a good woman to love and support him when it mattered.

That at least was the impression that Stephanie got as she watched the keen face talking at length about his personal life. Suddenly overcome with great feeling, she gently placed a hand on Josh’s hand which was resting on the car’s gear.

“Look Josh, I have no right to suddenly appear out of nowhere to tell you what you should do with your life. However, I think you need a woman who cares for you to be by your side when it counts; someone to reassure you that everything is going to be okay” Stephanie said slowly trying to mask the depth of feeling she was experiencing.

“Thanks sweetheart” Josh began. What? He called her sweetheart? Stephanie’s heart skipped a beat because it was the first time Josh had used such an affectionate term to address her since she came back to home. As a matter of fact, Stephanie felt the sincerity in his voice at the moment, for it sounded not like those casual terms of endearment that people might regularly bounce around their supposed paramours.

“I agree with you Steph. I don’t know what I could have done if Katie was not around all this while” Josh said emphatically.

“Katie? Who is Katie?” Stephanie shot back quickly, slyly moving her hand away to her forehead as if trying to scratch an imaginary itch.

“What do you mean? Don’t you remember Katie? I was merely agreeing to the sentiment that I needed someone around when times were rough. Katie was there for me” Josh answered with an air of aloofness as though he did not realize what Stephanie was getting at.

“You must forgive me, but I don’t quite remember that you’ve ever mentioned this Katie to me. What, is she your girlfriend or something?” Stephanie asked trying to sound somewhat amused.

“Catherine—my younger sister Katie. She’s been living with me for a while” Josh replied with a smile.

“Ohh, you cheeky devil!” Stephanie shot back in relief as she playfully smacked his arm.

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Iwe – Flavour’s Tribute to MC Loph

Obiajulu Kenneth Nwaozor a.k.a MC Loph

Obiajulu Kenneth Nwaozor popularly known as MC Loph—one of Nigeria’s rising indigenous crooners, and a dear friend to Flavour N’Abania—was returning to his hometown of Ugwuaro in Anambra state from Lagos State, in the company of his only sister and sibling Chinwe, and his fiancée on September 14 of this year, when he crashed his newly acquired SUV at Benin-Ore road. He died with his sister before help came. He was returning home to his parents in order that they could go about the normal Igbo traditional marriage rites to be fully married to his fiancée when this most unfortunate thing happened to rob some grieving parents of their only children.

This is a very tragic loss to the Nigerian music industry, and it represents yet another example of precious lives that are lost on Nigeria’s dangerous roads—roads which are in dire need of serious repair, but which have consistently been ignored by the state and federal government.  How many lives would be swallowed by Nigeria’s ugly death traps pretending to be highways before a tough-minded dedication towards road rehabilitation occurs?

At any rate, MC Loph and his sister were buried on October 28, 2011. It wasn’t surprising therefore that Flavour dropped a soul-stirring and emotional farewell tribute to a dearly beloved friend. Here, I’ll try to translate the song as faithfully as I can, and in as much detail as is required to help any non-Igbo speakers understand what’s being said. The original words of the song are in bold; I’ll underline the direct translation of the original lyrics into English. To further expand, I’ll give a background or contextual deeper explanation in curly brackets. You may discover that you’d have to listen to this song several times while you read the translations for it to adequately sink in.

MC Loph is fondly remembered for his hit song ‘Osondi Owendi’ which was itself a remixed tribute to the late great king of highlife music Chief Stephen Osadebe.

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Just like D’banj’s OLiver Twist song has gone viral in Nigerian circles, prompting an avalanche of youtube videos of Nigerians spontaneously getting jiggy with the beat, there is a song which has also gone viral in Ghanaian circles. It is called the Azonto song.  All over the place you can see people eagerly stepping or dancing to this gripping song and dance.

Try to dance to that song and see how well you can replicate those dance steps, if you dare! Ok, let me get my dancing shoes and do the Azonto!

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