Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Origin of Man....?

My first foray into personal development was at the tender age of seven (I still remember my soft page, black and red text Bible that I won in Church); researching and reading the Holy Bible (by self motivation). This journey of course naturally began at the ancient Jewish Mosaic Text of Genesis that supposedly defined the origin of man as iterated to most kids from Christian homes around the world- year in, year out. At that tender age however, I had important questions that basically stood Genesis on top of its head. 

Map of Early Human Migration

Clearly, I knew then that incest would have to be accepted for the story of the Garden of Eden to make sense (now I know that the human race will long be extinct via genetic degradation due to inbreeding if this were the case); something inside me also told me without doubt that I shared no existential close resemblance to an Asian, European and/or Indian to warrant common ancestry from one man and woman (supposedly Adam & Eve). I guess while I was inquisitive however, I never felt the urge to investigate further lest I get stuck in my quest to approach revelation by midyear 1991. 
It was not until secondary school that I got exposed to the science of genetics, DNA and evolution. Straight up, I rejected the evolutionary theory of man evolving from lower beings because even to this day it didn't make as much sense (at least not any more sense than the Jewish myth of Adam and Eve). However, I found a backward realization to the plethora of origin stories out there during my inquisitive teenage years. I dabbled into Yoruba nationalism, and at some point swore by the Orunmila/Oduduwa Yoruba origin story even though I knew it was laughable. Quite interestingly, it was this experience that made me make peace between my faith (Christianity creationism), Science (evolution & DNA) and my ancestry (the Yoruba-Ife creation story).

First, I theorized quickly on exposure to other "my ethnic group is superior or was the first man" theory of Yorubas, Gas and Hausas that nearly every old world culture had one of these stories. Hence, it made sense that Moses had his story with the Jewish people smack at the center of it all. Indeed, my follow-up research on the history of the compilation of the Holy Bible also gave credence to this "origin bias" , and confirmed my already formed notion that as a Christian I must make distinction between the Torah (mainly the Old testaments), the Gospel (basically the biography of my Savior, Jesus Christ) and the epistles (the doctrinal foundation of the modern church). My conclusion of course removed my dogmatic adherence to a non-Christian (really Judaical) story of Adam & Eve. 

A second conclusion which I must credit to my open minded upbringing (thanks Dad & Mom, for those late night discussions) was that doubting the creation story as written in Genesis was not and is not blasphemous. Indeed, believing the Adam and Eve story is not central to being a good Christian. Indeed, the only thing I was told I'd need to believe was that Jesus died for my sins and saved me..heck, I was fine with that, and am still cool with it...thank you very much. This second conclusion, however made me open to external influences and investigation of new hypothesis and theories.

The two questions I sought to answer were:

1. How did mankind achieve diverse physical characteristics and ethnic (racial) characteristics?

2. What is the origin of man?

Clearly, the first question will be easily answered than the second. The first has underpinning theories including pure evolution, mutation and in some cases discrete creationism. None of them made sense to me. One that was always interesting was that of migration and interbreeding to closely related species, which man then outcompeted and go distinct. The theory was that man as a specie somehow originated in Africa, moved outwards and as he bred with related species like the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon and recently Denisovans. The resulting interbreeding with these species found in wide regions, yielded the different races depending on what was bred with..according to this hypothesis. Which makes sense.

recent report by  BBC on likely interbreeding with the Denisovans (and their abundance in Asia) bolstered the "migration/interbreeding hypothesis" of the origin of diverse nationality of mankind. Clearly the original sociological Negroid, Mongoloid and Caucasoid discreet race groups seem to have been accounted for with the Negroid leading the human divergence from Africa. And that appears to solve my quest for answers to question number 1, supported of course by science and common sense. Why do I have a feeling that faith will solve question number 2? 

For example, An estimated 1 to 4 percent of the DNA in Europeans and Asians (i.e. French, Chinese and Papua probands) is non-modern, and shared with ancient Neanderthal DNA rather than with Sub-Saharan Africans (i.e. Yoruba and San probands).[64] The cause of this is unclear. It has been suggested it is due to interbreeding between Neanderthals and the ancestors of non-Africans after they left Africa, but this is not certain. 

Map of Genetic Divergence -
Sampling human mitochondrial DNA Scientifically 

Furthermore, aside from human migration maps produced based on archeological finds and duration of habitation that proves the migration/interbreeding theory, the theory gains further credibility with more recent DNA maps reconstructed, based on the human family tree and the study of maternal inherited Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which have led to the identification of the Mitochondrial Eve (L) . This of course is not to be confused with the origin story; as it reveals just statistical frequency of occurrence of the most ancient commonly traceable matrilineal ancestor. Not to say prior ancestors don't exist. How? Of course, that is the search that is still on. 

I guess a further study of the human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup tree perhaps will help scientists and sociologists investigate diseases, and development issues with modern man respectively. I will be interested in investigating of course, no matter how cynical or distasteful it might be, the correlation between being evolved on the DNA tree or being with fairly primitive DNA and how that correlates to the human development index. Heck, all the developing countries seem to have high frequency of L0 to L6 just from a quick glance at the DNA evolution tree. More developed nations, except those in Americas, have the later evolved genes. Hmm, explains why USA can't get to keep it together? Too many under evolved genes in Texas perhaps.  

May be it explains why Gbagbo cannot just relinquish power...an under evolved African perhaps. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thankful for the Year that Is

As we all get ready for the season of gift, thanks and appreciation, it is often the case that we focus on those things that are ephemeral. In the middle of the materialism of this season, I reflect back on a year that is and will soon be over...year 2010.

I have truly been blessed in 2010. A year when dreams were fulfilled, paths previously envisioned were conquered, contacts previously fantasized were made and ultimately when the rubber hit the road. I am grateful for love, for family and for friendship. 2010 indeed was a stuff of dreams. It is the year of growth...or rather growing up.

As we approach the New Year 2011, I am reminded that every year has its own unique offering. I will forever be grateful to 2010 for being the year of laying foundations for an eternity of giving and building. Happy Holidays folks!

PS: Spending New Year in New York..how appropriate. Working on the book, "The Bottom Billion" by Paul Collier...and preparing for my Adjunct Professorship gig at the Monterey Institute in California for January. Looking forward to my first professorship experience. Trust me, "Professor Oluwagbemi" in an email sounded absolutely weird. Welcome, 2011. 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Right Reid Response by Obama is to Discredit the Tea Party

One bright spot stood out in yesterday's rout of Democrats in the congressional elections, it was the election of senate majority leader Harry Reid against all odds. Polls had predicted he was set to lose against tea party backed Sharon Angle. Well, that was one loss announced too early. No doubt Reid's win showed the way to (I hope) a strategy  for the White House seeking to navigate the way through a diminished Senate majority and lost House of Representatives.

Clearly, the GOP Tsunami did not materialize. Democrats may well end up with 53 or 52 Senate seats, and did not do that badly in the Governorship races. This has been due largely to tea party candidates faltering when their rhetoric has been critically examined against their records. They don't hold up, and Harry Reid proved it. Indeed, the best defense is a great offense and it is this reality that Obama has to bear in mind going up to 2012. He must realize that discrediting and rubbishing the reputation of Tea Party by staring them down like Clinton did Gingrich (during the government shut down) is critically important to his second term project.

The way to do this is to focus on one issue, where clearly the Tea Party has rhetoric but frankly have lacked details i.e. issue of deficit and  national debt. Two things can happen very quickly before spring to assist this process:

1. Focus on Bush Tax Cut as a deficit issue. It is important that Obama and Harry Reid find 41 good Senators that will filibuster the hell out of any bill that includes tax cut for the wealthiest and insist (until GOP blinks and propose a compromise) it as an issue of fiscal discipline (basically borrowing money from China to give Warren Buffet) and do so until the tea party acolytes now taking the politically incongruous position of tax cut and reduce deficit are forced to budge in the face of such inconsistency. Can someone say, "scale fall off their eyes". Just 41 good liberal senators can get the job done...go Reid...find them.

2. Force Republicans to put the global economy in a tail spin by denying GOP controlled House of Rep the votes to raise the debt ceiling. This is a job for Pelosi or whoever the new minority leader in the House. A Party discipline vote of "NO" to raising the debt ceiling will be the sharpest contrast between new debt seeking GOP that would have to do it or force the global economy into a depression (if America defaults on her debt) or go against their tea party nonsense and vote for it. Plan B: Once tea party house pass such ceiling raise, force a 60 vote in Senate that will ensure some republicans tea party type vote for it or are forced to filibuster along with democrats. Rand Paul, will you vote to increase the debt limit or destroy the global economy? It is a "either-or" proposition. I can't wait.

In the mean time, the President will have to focus on small business and jobs. Interestingly, a grid-locked legislature is exactly what the business community (to put some of their cash to work and start hiring again) has been waiting for and the natural ebb and flow of the economy gives me confidence the economy will come back faster than expected. Add the quantitative easing by the Fed, and you get every reason to wager in on the stock market (an approximation for the rest of the economy) in the next few years. 

Indeed, the right course correction for the President once the two fights highlighted above have forced a compromise (and resulting disillusionment) of the right is to work with their wounded leadership on entitlement program reforms; much like Bill worked on Welfare reform with a wounded Newt (post shut down). That is the only free lunch in town. And perhaps try again for immigration reform, which the business wing of the GOP clearly still supports.

In the end what will ensure BHO's reelection will be a disillusioned and disenchanted tea party base faced with the hard reality of governing and being made to compromise every single time (and their alienation from establishment GOP leadership that will have to compromise...very quickly). It is this base that is now energized that need to be dis-energized by Democratic Party legislative unity and refusal to play ball and produce the votes that gives cover to rhetoric that will never be backed with action.  

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Behind on Reviews: Dead Aid

Done quite a bit of reading lately - through the summer and the travels, but am desperately  posting reviews because the pace of jumping off and on the globe trotting train. Nothing allows for more reading than getting on a 13 hrs international trip, and ending up in a walking urban city with trains that encourage reading, or a  beach. The former was exactly what I got when I headed to Stockholm in May to attend a World Bank Development Conference and pick up an award.

For one, the theme of the conference meant I had to read up very quickly on global development and social intervention. I had purchased three books related to this topic, advocating radical solutions to a pending problem of escalating poverty in the face of increasing aid. This nagging dilemna had exposed me to interviews by author Dambisa Moyo, hence her book Dead Aid readily was my choice for the trip.

Dead Aid really in the first part did an excellent job of identifying the problem of aid. External driven solutions, no local relevance, inability for local economy and capacity to allocate and digest aid and ultimately grinding poverty in the face of donor fatigue. Dr. Moyo's pure market solution however falls short clearly off the mark. The idea of obtaining commercial debt to invest in social infrastructure with no market return is clearly nonsensical. Clearly, in accusing the current donor state of using outworn ideas of state driven solutions, Dr. Moyo missed an opportunity to recommend a framework that is people centric, focusing on innovation and the individual entrepreneur rather than the state.

Dr. Moyo's insistent focus on the aid givers modifying the behavior clearly misses the point. Who is to tell the aid givers don't seek continuous relevance by insisting on giving aid wrongly? She clearly ignores the politics of aid giving (read, Confessions of Economic Hitman and Predator State). The emphasis then must be on the response of the aid recipients, whose life have not improved regardless of the aid...and not even the giver or the leaders of the recipients. The recipient in this instance will be the African on the street...the right response will be :

  • Insist on good governance, and real representation
  • Reject enslaving external debt: be they concessional or commercial
  • Insist on local priorities relating to projects etc.
  • Commit to education, innovation and self-help versus hand-outs
  • Consolidate aid, and direct resources to area of most need.
  • Embrace Public Private Partnership 
  • Insist on local production, and eschew importation 
These are seven step responses that Africans, the aid recipients, can take rather than quite frankly waiting on dead donors of dead aid. It is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches the most.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Patton: A Story Worth Retelling

For history, and more especially military history buffs, this book is worth picking up. Essentially a chronological retell of the life story of one of the most storied Generals of the last century, the authors put a scalpel in a history often bereft with half tales, luscious gerrymandering and flourishes and attempts to bring some dose of reality to the man, the story and the legend.

The book was an easy read..taking less than forty eight hours to devour at a sitting. The authors while seemingly not making excuses for the General, did attempt in many cases to explain away his weakness which they themselves highlight. No doubt, readers were steered in the direction of coming away with a fond recollection of the man..which essentially all, perhaps except a few purist or antagonist, would find easily anyway.

The book gets a A+ for honesty, B for literary flourish and C for objectivity. Four stars from me.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Brothers on Spice Isle

Smack in the middle of East Caribbean, at Grenada, am enjoying a vacation of a lifetime. It has been a thrill thus far savoring this beautiful Island of peaceful people and diverse vegetation and wildlife. From the beaches to the mountain ranges, my brother and I hiked to the fresh water of the lake formed by the twin waterfalls we swam in or the indelible lake Antoine a mile or so to the ocean, at a depression in the middle of mountain ranges that disappear into that ocean, or even to Grand Etang Lake formed as a back drop the rain forest mountains...this has been a thrill.

If nature was all that I connected with on this trip, after a year travelling to the pacific coast twice, to the south east coast of Miami once, then it would be a wasted trip. This trip however have afforded me an even greater appreciation of the human connection and how small our world is. Here I met our immediate neighbor in Ibadan working on Island as a medical instructor, a friend of a friend that have seen over and over in Houston also is here and we plan to meet tomorrow. The daughter of our host, an uncle to my brother, lives fifteen minutes off my home in Houston...what a coincidence unh? Small world.

What else? Yes my brother..that guy. This has been a journey of discovery and bonding for both of us, Aside for affording us an opportunity to rub minds of pending family issues and make key decisions, it also offered us an opportunity to bond and explore his matrilineal heritage together. Of course, we ran into doubters of our blood relationship, and we occasionally had to fake who was older (yes, he is..by many years..lol). But in all, we have had a good bonding experience together.

For one, my feeling around my elder brother that I never really grew up with (guessed, I longed for that), was one which freed me of the responsibility of leadership and moral precepts that such forces when say holding court in Nigeria with my two sisters, younger cousins or even friends..which invariably always mean I always took the higher road of leadership. This time around, I could be irresponsible and daring (like at  St. Margaret Falls or at Grand Anse beach, St. Georges beach).  and I could cheat him, or play dirty like at the Bathway Beach, St. Andrews. In it all, I stoically enjoyed my little brother role; knowing fully well this would last only about a week or so, and that cascading responsibility that seem never to dodge my footsteps will come all over again.

For now am enjoying myself..three more nights to go; and am already missing Grenada and the joys of brotherly bonding...see complete pictures here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reevaluating & Reassessing Life's Priorities...

Guess as next year marks a new year in my life, I have been thinking lately what matters in life. My thought process in the last few hours may have indeed been muddled up beyond comprehension (actually scared me a little bit- sorry my peeps that got the panic call - much love! lol) when I begin to capture the ramification of the life I am potentially living and if truly, am living it to the optimum.

No doubt my short time on earth, I have met with my own fair share of triumphs, losses and discontent. I have seen trials, I have tasted victory and I have relished love, pain, loss and contentment. However, even those experiences won't possibly substitute for what I am yet to experience as I enter a new phase in my life. Life so far have largely been lived on my own terms. I do what I like, when I like to do it and with whom I so choose. That will change. That should change.

This for me presents a potential dilemma, only that I am now realizing that it truly is not about me. These past few months have been the ultimate "me" moment. At times I have been careless (and yes, may be I am just being too hard on myself), other times I have been self absorbed, and sometimes gloating. Call it the height of epic selfishness or self aggrandizement. At times like this, one one reflects what truly matters after the crowning achievements, the display of gallantry, the acceptance of accolades, the conquests of all things material and mortal, the unwarranted adulations from peers, strangers and acquaintances alike...when is it just enough?

Don't get me wrong, fundamentally we all seek a basic need to be accepted. But acceptance in itself can only be materially useful to society when one transcends self. It is for this reason even the most selfish of us will still seek communal explanations for advancing our self-interests be it in business, relationships or spiritually. The only check on this mental state of "the man" I believe is the divine. Which brings me to the subject of my faith.

In the middle of my muddled thoughts, and in the midst of the confusions that have been swirling around my head and heart in the past twenty four hours (for no discernible reason(s)), I have come to rediscover the power of my Christian faith. It is faith, in juncture with family and friends that brings these moments together and shows to one what truly matters. What matters is the divine, what matters is others. Yourself last, as that gospel song said..."JOY this is what it means: Jesus first, yourself last and others in between"

May the Lord comfort those that need comfort, and grant Joy to us all that pass all understanding. Amen.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Blogging for the World

I have joined Nahla and other co-finalists of the Global Writers Award of the World Bank in contributing to the Youthink! Blog. My focus will be on employment, technology and entrepreneurship . You can read me here

P.S: Happy Labor Day! Enjoying Houston after whiles away...preparing for my trip to the islands..will be sharing pics...

Friday, August 06, 2010

Black Agenda or Inaction? C'mon Tavis

The round-table discussion of The Black Agenda in Spring held in Chicago offers some insight and possible food for thought both in what the speakers had to say and what they did not say. Here is my take....

First, the session as usual was full of polemics and elegant language which in my opinion the African American community never lacked. The oratorical excellence and the heart of the people around that table can never and should not be questioned. They mean well, doesn't necessarily translate into "they do well" though. High on history, but short on actionable points can define the Tavis Smiley gathering. Heavy on Obama-centrism, and over focus on the new found connection to the presidency is the ultimate undoing and the death by Obama stance that brother Smiley took.

Indeed, one thing the entire table seem to agree on is that since the election of Obama, the Black Agenda has somewhat stalled - with the the African American community in an unusual quandary as to how to deal with the new President- Pharaoh, Joseph or Moses? I think Joseph (sorry, Eric Dyson). And to get Joseph to act, his brothers had to leave the land of famine and ask of him to do right by his folks..and make it impossible for him to refuse them. Therein lay the crux of the discussions. What is being asked of Obama? Have we or we are just hoping? While the panel members identified the need for continued pressure on the White House (thank your Minister Farrakhan), they fail to identify how, and put such in actionable point.

The fact is, President Obama has very little incentive with sky high ratings to sign on to the Black Agenda without being pushed. But don't be deceived, that push will never come with protests and demonstrations like the Tea Party- for given the near unanimous votes by Blacks for the man- they own the President and his successes, failures and would hate to be the fodder for seeming problems with his base. The only available option  thus appear is for the Black Community to elect legislators that can stand up to Obama, and Pelosi and Harry Reid. The way to ensure that is to guarantee a compromise free, corruption free, Black Agenda conscious congress people as represented in the Congressional Black Caucus.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. CBC members are by far some of the oldest in the non-term limited congress. Some are actively under ethics investigation, and have basically no leverage over legislation and leadership even though by pure virtue of seniority they may be committee chairmen or congress leaders. In short, the black community have substituted position for real power. For in certain instances, real power is wielded by being in opposition and pressing and getting your agenda. The corruption ridden, ideas bankrupt CBC represents the greatest albatross on the black agenda. From Congressman Rangel and Jefferson, to Congresswomen Walters and Kilpatrick- the embarrassing cases of abuse of power by black congress leaders that then weaken the agenda is bad for business and one too many. The result like in Louisiana and Detroit, is the black Agenda not just losing but getting foreclosed on, when non-Black congressmen then ride such discontent to represent AA districts. Shame.  This fact, the panel basically fails to pin point.

Perhaps, the right action item for the AA community would have been that since that spring there should be a focus on the Democratic Party primary with the mission being to throw out a vast majority of incumbents- especially those in CBC. This is especially important if the black community generally votes democratic- the most important election then is not the General Election but the Primary Election where they can effect change and ensure true representation.This should have been the message: Tavis Smiley, missed an opportunity. 

The second message which obviously came by way of near unanimous identification is the lack of singular focus on the most important black Agenda- getting the black male back to work. One do not need to be an economist to see how tackling this singular issue with a targeted jobs program, easy to implement since this population is localized around urban areas, and with more bang for the buck is not being taken up in Congress. An employed black male population will radically reduce overall unemployment rate which is good for Obama & Congress poll numbers. It is also good for crime statistics, increase birthrate invariably and boost the economic power of the black family and woman. Indeed, when President Obama talks of the "tide lifting all boats", it is the tide of eradicating Black Male Unemployment that does just that. Not giving bail out to Wall Street and Auto Companies- and hoping it trickles down. 

In failing to create an actionable item to focus on this issue, Tavis Smiley also fails the community. Why for instance did Tavis not require every primary contender for democratic seat this November sign a covenant to support an Urban Jobs Program with multi-facet focus on infrastructure, community revitalization, technology enabled jobs and entrepreneurship (small business, government contracts) as part of next year's budget? Republicans use this tact on abortion, same sex marriage and their funny social agendas all the time. Why is the new CBC (usually a minimum of 40 congress people- far greater than Tea Part reps or Blue Dogs that wag the Congress) members not told to simply force the government to shut down if this program is not part of the budget? "Hey, refuse to vote for the budget cos if you do- Tavis Smiley will make you lose next time". Is that not a better message than whining every year at this summit?

It is amply clear that the new discrimination and social agenda for African Americans today is the economic one. Economic disparity is a different mammal from pure social interactive disparities that are obvious and glaringly immoral like Jim Crow laws. Hence, the tact must change. I think only Minister Farrakhan - self evident from his life work, gets this point. Forget about jobs by the way- focus on entrepreneurship. With 40 million people, and a trillion dollar in GDP- the AA community is an economic powerhouse that is asleep. If she were a nation by the way, she will be among the top 8 economies in the world! To even the field of this disparity, the AA community need a combination of political force and personal responsibility (more on that).

Nothing illustrates my point about economic disparity and political force (and how Tavis could have helped advance this) than the near unanimous complain about the State focus stimulus program (versus it being city targeted). Granted, the bad design of the program is obvious and indefensible. But wait a minute. Where was the CBC when this law was being passed? Why would the CBC cede the representation of their Agenda and their community to an inexperienced President often surrounded by the "boys"? Would Obama and Pelosi not have compromised and have a significant and targeted urban component to the bill had the CBC refused to vote for it in January last year? But no, half of them where high on having a black president and handing him his first legislative victory and now Tavis is complaining? Legislating is what legislators are paid to do! Not aping the President. I believe every CBC member should lose their job for the badly designed (as far as the black community is concerned) stimulus; we need some fresh blood in Washington! Take my Representative Sheila Jackson out first. I volunteer her. But too late- the primary season is over now..locked in Tavis!

Speaking of personal responsibility, it is why I perceive that Minister Farrakhan's life's work best illustrate the right response to the economic disparity the community faces. One one hand, work to hold the feet of the fire that be to fire- on the other, advance economic self empowerment by focusing on business ownership, entrepreneurship, building generational wealth etc. Jobs will last until the next recession, but a well focused enterprise will last three generations. In any case, it is a fact that when the staff cutting programs, it is brothers and then sisters, that tend to get the pink slip first. So why bother with jobs? I say give us business people, entrepreneurs, clusters etc. Screw the jobs. (Caveat: to get this going though- Unlike Minister Farrakhan-the community must face the reality of how Black-Jewish partnership can help strengthen the arm of economic empowerment: Heck, Mr. Taylor Lewis (of TLC Beatrice Corp)- late Billionaire and Author of "Why should white men have all the fun"- illustrates what Jewish-Black partnerships can do to create wealth). 

In being personally responsible for our economic success, one may note that following figures: the median wealth for single black mothers in their prime is $5. That is an astounding figure. Even most mothers  in dirt poor sub-sahara African countries are far richer than that- when one factors in their natural land assets by inheritance. Now, the far reaching unanswered question is why are these women "single black mothers"? It is clear that Black Men by far are a major contributor to the poverty of our race. Our penchant to create single black mothers either by not taking responsibility for our sex lives, or for the product (children) of such when it bears us is strikingly playing into the hands of poverty. Clearly- wealth in America is better sustained when the family unit is strong. And herein lies the elephant in the room of this panel. Why was their a refusal to raise that point? That we Black men , can singlehandedly reverse the poverty of our race in America by:

a. Taking care of our credit and all records (basically, avoid the prison house and debts)
b. Going to school, and getting that education as far as it can take us (you earn more)
c. Saving and investing in hard (not depreciable) assets (homes, land and perhaps equity not cars)
d. Owning our own business and focusing on entrepreneurship (not mere jobs)
e. Have protected sex and/or stay married to the mothers of our children 

These simple five rules of life will go farther than any government program in turning around the fortunes of our community. Granted we all make mistakes, but the great thing is that we are talking about  here are personal responsibilities. So even if we screw up occasionally, only us can still fix it. Here, Tavis just went dead silent on us. Where are the actionable items?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What am Watching...

Original PBS Link:

The Ascent of Money Episode 1: From Bullion to Bubbles | The Ascent of Money | PBS

The Ascent of money was supposed to be a historical background on money and capitalism by British Historian, and Rothschild specialist- Niall Ferguson. The first two episodes did just that. First two episodes was informative. Like the Godfather series, it should have stopped there. Time and time again, Mr. Ferguson fails to stick to what he does best- history. His delving into contemporary economics and  political economics was a disaster.

How he blatantly refuses to connect the dots between no regulation of the era of Reagan, Thatcher and Friedman (now dead, we hope) and the explosion of the market in boom-bursts, and the seeming insecurity of privatized pensions (undermining the very notion of a pension) smacks of willful ignorance. And how can his frontal attack on the welfare state willfully leave out the most successful ones of all? That is, the Nordic countries. I guess their seeming ability to be welfarist, yet not experience stagflation or be dormant does not fit into his half thesis.

Pray tell, is Japanese welfare state a disaster simply because it got stymied at number two economy behind the USA with just 120 million people, no resources and just the ingenuity of the Japanese people aptly helped by the security of mind in place to out innovate and out manufacture the US of A? When is growth enough? Won't every country or society at some point reach its elastic limit, where it can no more grow (due to various constraints including but not limited to demographics, resources etc.)?

I hope the sponsors (all from Wall Street- yeah, Templeton your would be privatized social security manager under GWB plan) dollars were worth it...at least for the last two episodes. The first two were masterpiece befitting of a historian. Niall is better when his focus is the Rothschilds

On a lighter note...

I also Watched Charlie Rose show (on Bloomberg TV ) at this link

This evening, he had 6 neuro surgeons discuss some advances in treatment of brain disease. Amazing stuff. In one instance, a totally paralyzed man had a tiny computer chip connected to his motor lobe in the front of his brain. The chip is then wirelessly connected (much like your computer to internet) to a chip in a wheelchair.  And just by thinking, he is able to move the wheel chair around

Again, just by thinking it - one actually can create motion. Well this is literally what we already know spiritually, the thought is powerful. Lesson number one..think positive, and it will happen positive.

Oyinbo wizardry amazes me o!

Reading: Dead Aid by Dr. Dambisa Moyo...Finished:  The Last of the Pirates....reviews will follow..

Waiting on (in the mail): Patton, the Miseducation of the Negro and It is our turn to Eat...

Queued: The White Man's Burden and the Bottom Billion (how they live)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Real Consequences of Starving the Beast

Just reading the ever insightful OPED piece of Professor Krugman on Voodoo economics and the conservatives peddling it. He makes a good point about the real motives of the perennial tax cut peddlers: they want to starve the beast, and force feed small government ingrained purely as an ideological proposition. But here I for one will accuse Prof. Krugman of an incomplete thought (very rare of his insightful pieces).

For one, why will republicans or conservatives for that matter hue to this "starve the beast" mentality? What do republicans gain by force feeding cuts in social security? What political or economic benefits flow from a smaller "beast" (as the government is perceived on the right)?

First the economic. The GOP hews closely to a pro-business line. It is all about the  money. A leaner beast, is a weakened government that cannot pay its bills, enforce regulations or make new ones. Business loves this. They can pollute your rivers, feed you paint and poison your toys- no questions asked. They can monopolize, cheat, price gouge and then feedback the money via Supreme Court judgement to their republican lilliputians and win by drowning the progressive message out with money. Get it? It makes sense

Second, the politics. Need I say more? Economic power begets political power..the republicans are only seeking to strengthen their message. A strong effective government, which provide social safety nets that encourage entrepreneurship, is bad for republican-conservative ideas. It dies a natural death. Check out Europe, where this small government nonsense simply don't fly. And you read me right- no single policy is more responsible for entrepreneurship in America as much as the Social Security Program. An assurance that you'll never die in penury is directly connected to your decision to strike out and take a bite at creating a business especially when you are younger. Go figure, and they say welfare is bad for capitalism?

It is left for the democrats , the liberals and the progressives to communicate the true intentions and the real life effect of starving the beast. Starving the best means leaner and meander social safety nets, a return to pre-depression era social construct where the super-rich and super-poor abound side by side. Where crime were through the roof because of social disparity. Where social inequality starved consumer spending and economic growth. Where economic speculation, and get-rich-quick schemes were rife, and where stability was substituted for gun-sling economic theories. Where few monopolists held the nation hostage, and permanently financed a politically conservative faction (sometimes, then the Democratic Party-imagine Prez Teddy a republican was the Trust buster!) in power and ensured no light of day for progressive policies. The height of this era was the Great Depression. Want another great depression?

Well my questions for Republics, what will Teddy think? And yes speaking of deficits, guess who piles them? You guessed right! Republicans!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hand of Fa(ith)te?

A lame attempt at faith based ideological approach to fictional writing. If you desire to read a book that reinforces you own right wing ideological underpinnings about abortions (prohibited even after rape), government & politicians (not to be trusted) environmentalists (as terrorists and violent) and immigration (to be considered in family oriented terms), then Lis Wiehl's missive is the perfect read. For me, it was **yawn. Okay, after a few pages, the didactic melo-dramatic effects of who picked what, and what dropped and how and when gives way to the perfect reality that Lis was pushing a point of view.

Few chapters are worth reading, and perhaps the book could be two-thirds shorter if it were written with those chapters alone. The unnecessary dramatization of law, order and jury was one of such boring moments I wished Liz had saved her reader. No wonder it took me three months to finish reading this. Keep this at the bottom of your pile. One star.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, July 12, 2010

The most ridiculous award yet..GCFR

Just when I was fuming about his allocation of ten billion naira to celebrate some independence in London, as well as the ridiculous jumbo pay for FG Senators making the email rounds, I was greeted with this picture

Yes, you guessed it right..the President self-awarded himself the highest honor in the land i.e. GCFR! Grand Commander of the Federal Republic it should read, but definitely Grand Commander of Federal Rogues it actually is! For if a revolution takes place today, and we need to identify the first criminals to take to the guillotine , the National Honors Lists especially the GCFR and GCON section will be a great go-by! People who actually have done something in Nigeria don't ever get GCFR and GCON..they will be lucky to get OON or MON. Criminals, political jobbers and thieves like IBB, and Abacha occupy this list.

The ridiculous spectacle of a sitting President bowing to an old one- and an inept one for that matter just to justify his rather immoral conflict of interest in awarding himself this honor was the height of the ridiculousness of it all! Granted, it was legal (even though a now an extant law would have nullified such). Guess even in the face of the moral double standard of awarding yourself a honor, the President sought to moralize this by gathering his band of thieving brethren aka. political jobbers and former heads of states to award him the honor. Who gave Shagari the power? Under which constitution? By the way, is Gowon not a former coupists? does he still pick a pension? Our nation is long overdue..for a thorough house cleaning!

In any case, if you are not mad enough..here is how much your 109 Senators each make...in a nation notedL where two-thirds live below one dollar a day! Criminal!


Senator Earnings - N29, 479, 749.00 (  $193,945 ) Per Year.

Basic Salary - N2, 484, 245.50.

Hardship Allowance  @ 50% of Basic Salary - N1, 242, 122.70  ( I love this kind of hardship)

Consistuency allowance @ 200% of BS  -  N4, 968, 509.00

Furniture Allowance @ 300% of BS - N7, 452, 736.50

Newspaper allowance @  50% - N1, 242, 122.70 ( Which kind newspaper be this shey na online or hard copy).

Wardrobe allowance @ 25%  - N621, 061.37

Recess Allowance@ 10%: - N248, 424.55

Accommodation @ 200%  - N4, 968, 509.00.

Utilities @ 30%  - N828, 081.83.

Domestic Staff @ 35%  - N863, 184.12.

Entertainment @ 30% - N828, 081.83.

Personal Assistance @ 25%   - N621, 061.37.

Vehicle Maintenance Allowance @ 75%  - N1, 863, 184.12.     

Leave Allowance @10% - N248, 424.55.

One off payments (As advised by SagamiteSeverance gratuit)y @ 300%  - N7, 452, 736.50   (Once they get fired.)               

Motor Vehicle Allowance @ 400% of BS - N9, 936, 982.00  - Every Four Years

Senators Salary per month.                - N2, 456, 647.7

Total  = N29, 479, 749.00         i.e.  $193,945

* 109 Senators  Grand Total  = N 3, 264, 329, 264.10
                                                     i.e.  $21,475,850

A feeding frenzy!!!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Jobs, Odds & Polls

Just been thinking lately of the general turmoil in the economy. Never in a long time since have been in the US have I known so many people out of jobs at the same time. And yes, I live in Texas..one of the states with a better economy. It is kinda weird. One friend is been on the job hunt for one and a half years, another for four months..another is just about starting. No one seem to be safe.

As this plays out, it is quite interesting to note the truism of the general wisdom. Men (especially black men) seem to be out of their work quicker than the women. In fact, I know at least three home girls that found a newer , better jobs in the midst of all this turmoil. Must be something about the genders unh? I guess it is how you treat your job when the going was good that determine how it treats you when it gets tough. Black men still have whiles to go when it comes to work ethic- and I speak as one who see this struggle everyday.

 And forget the ethic, they just tend to not play in the mainstream of workplace politics. They are more likely to be at the edges of such power plays, and outside the circle where such decisions on whom to keep or lay off is taken. I have learned practically that the most effective workplace attitude is "dynamism", especially when the going is good. It was better to move into better and more stable places when it was hot. The most unstable position in any company is the one they just hired for...gba o. So find a better place within the group. Move up, move higher..move sideways. Just move...

On the other hand, sisters arrive at the workplace with a "can do" attitude. Willing to muscle their way into these important places. And they are less threatening, and tend to play coy with the natural feminine mien that hides the struggle of the outside world beyond the office (which they also contend with..heck, they are married or her dating these black men that are struggling too). Speaking of unemployed husbands, two of my friends are one. One called me the other day expressing his feeling of worthlessness and frustration; must be hard for a man: especially the proud ones who value taking care of his family. God help us...I hope.

Even the fellas that are still with their jobs, are still struggling with the bills. The economic conditions just seem to be crushing everything on its path. And here we have the politics playing out. The democrat's timid stimulus did not have the big bang effect, and the republicans that shamed them into timidity is hoping to cash in on this effect and blame democrats; hoping to seize congress and get back to doing what they did in the first place: screw the country up. The dems are learning fast though; hope they do a good job of highlighting who is holding up the unemployment checks...because that seem like dumb politics if you ask me. Unemployed people vote; and they will know who denied them those checks.

Speaking about the checks, is it not time the deficit hawks pick up "Predator State" and get re-tutored on the myths of deficit spending and why it makes no sense to cut now. Hope we don't cut our nose, to spite our face..this world...and who is going to poll that?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Predator State & Getting Screwed

Enormously good read from Liberal Economist and former Obama Advisor and son of another Keynesian Legend, James Galbraith. One cannot but have a feeling though that the book deserves more than its divisive title ("How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market, and why Liberals should too")

The books pace readers through the history of neo-con economic theory and the rise of Reaganism, and death of Keynesian economics. No doubt, the writer feels a need to defend his enterprise (and his father's). But he unveils the truth about neo-con economics which can be summarized as "High on Rhetoric, Low on evidence", and ultimately reveals the fact that even the practitioners hardly believe in what they profess in the face of mounting evidence that it does not work. 

The later part of the book focuses on debunking economic myths ranging from inflation, deficit spending (of which he agrees with Dick Cheney is no big deal..yeah Cheney) , deregulation to free trade, and ultimately examines the premise of the "market". He profers central planning as an effective tool in the kit of a proactive government wanting to act in the best interest of the "most". Indeed, James assumes that his altruistic readers were for more equity and less disparity...this may or may not be true ambition or goal of everyone. If that is the case however, this book shows how best to achieve what the Nordic countries achieved in post-world war economy. A sort of compromise between socialism and capitalism. 

This is a must-read submission for anyone interested in contemporary economic theories and their practical real life effects and responses. You cannot but be amazed by the amount of media garbage you've been fed all this while, and how untrue most of those are.

Well free market, that is for those doing the screwing. Don't get screwed. 

UP GHANA! I guess now  Ghana and Brazil (lol) are Africa's best hope...stop laughing at the Brazil thing, it is the second largest black nation on earth. lol

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Aloha Sweden! Nordia, Awo & Socio-Economic Musings

In front of the Swedish Parliament Building at Stockholm

The conference ended yesterday, but I have stayed behind to tour and see Sweden the country. Stockholm is a beautiful city as you can imagine. I am staying at a nice little hostel (after checking out from the 5-Star expensive hotel World Bank paid for until yesterday) behind their Royal Palace

The city epitomizes everything about the Nordic/Scandinavian economic model or miracle as some in Western Europe and America like to say. With some of the highest standards of living in the world, these high tax, low inflation, big but effective government, strong social protection but high employment states defy conventional economic models used by the West or even the Eastern Bloc nations. In a careful melding of capitalism and communism, they've created a society that is open enough but walled off from the troubles of the rest of the world. 

I tell you this Nordic socioeconomic model is interesting. Now I see why Pa Awolowo wanted to model the Western Region of Nigeria after their system, and I also see why he failed. 

Speaking about social, the Swedish or Nordic generally have been able to preserve their language/culture, while using English effectively as a tool to reach the world. Their streets are labeled in Swedish, everyone speak Swedish generally (unless they realize you are a foreigner) but also English. 

Also, their women are so Yoruba-women like it is crazy. They like putting up a "front" even though it is just that: “a front”. Open and pervasive sexuality is still largely frown upon in this society, while people tend to be self conscious and speak from two sides of their mouth (tact, and foxy in the same vein). It appears their basic social structure of cohesiveness and communality has been intact for generations due to the natural separation by geography from the rest of Europe.

Also, if their women want to tell you thank you, they will kneel like we do when greeting. Respect is at the center of their culture much like ours. Also, don't mistake the timidity of the Swedic/Nordic woman for submissiveness. Much like the Yoruba woman, she will get you in trouble in a heart beat (my Swedish male friends I made told me as much, and shared horror stories). Their women like (the Yoruba) can be notoriously unpredictable, high maintenance and devious. That is where the difference stops; because Swedish women are gorgeous, and you know what I think of the beauty of an average Yoruba girl.

Speaking about departures and differences, Awo's model failed principally because the social cohesion and sense of communality that is central to the Scandinavian model was preserved, while that of Yoruba land has been lost due basically to Geography. The moment a bridge could cross both sides of the Niger, those ethos that holds up the Nordic countries have been breached by other cultural elements and most especially by colonization by the British 
Indeed, the Yorubas & the Nordic countries share similar history of intra-tribal warfare, shared or borrowed royal families between constituent states/tribes (Danes gave Norway their Royal Family), assimilation of foreign groups by royal lending (Finnish for Nordic, Edo for the Yorubas) as well as periodic domination by one or more of the constituent states (Swedes, then Danes, then Swedes much like Oyo then Ibadan in Yoruba history) . 

However, they as a group never got colonized (avoiding the Napoleon, the Czars and Hitler in that order).

In all, am enjoying Stockholm; it is a beautiful city with gorgeous but complicated people with complicated sensibilities but well evolved economic model of high taxes, expensive goods and tastes and full employment! And it doesn't even ever get dark here. Well there you go, all nighters!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Big Short & the Big Apple

I have refrained from picking up any of the Monday morning quarterbacking books that invaded the market after the global financial crisis of 2008 fall. However, author Michael Lewis is hard to resist for the very same reasons I have sought to resist the rest. A compelling story teller, his tell all tale focuses on the "good" shorts and the characters that pulled it off.

There was no John Paulson, widely featured in another amateurish tale I learn (Called the Greatest Trade Ever) or their likes in this tale. Rather, the author focused on roughly four groups characters- Steve Eisman and his motley crew of fatalists, Greg Lippmann the propagator , Michael Burry- medical doctor turned hedge fund guy and unlikely originator, and the motley crew of Charlie & Jamie and their pro helper in Cornwell Mgmt. that basically made it big by betting big and acting big. In all these four were right...and America was wrong, AIG was wrong, Wall Street was even wronger and damn the bond market too!

It is a tale of Wall Street gone crazy, conflicts of interests (double plural mine for emphasis), belly churning risks, Goldman Sachs will screw you (check out how they quickly figured the trade and froze the market), and why firms going public basically set us all up for this disaster. Too big to fail? Well why are they public? Too small to help? Well, that is the suckers like Lehman Brothers. That angle was less explored.

No doubt, in a combination of the mastery of the underlying instruments with good story telling, Author Lewis beats the competition out there who rushed to the stable with their half baked stories thereafter. A compelling read that validates my theory of screwing and getting screwed. Wonder why Lehman go screwed, and the rest of the street made out like a bandits. Anyone? Long Term Capital? I betcha you didn't know that...

Spent time in NYC this weekend ..always a good time in the big apple...Went to Broadway to see Fela! My reviews are in...and AIG was correctly yabbed at the event! LOL..


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