Tuesday 29 January 2013

Thought Picnic: The other complements and compliments

The significant others
I have had two significant relationships amongst the many others altogether coming to just about 11 years. The first which was for love lasted 7 years, the second, some 6 years later was out of necessity for companionship.
In chatting to a friend just over a week ago, I reviewed elements of mine in relation to his. In his case, a one-time quite fervent partnership suddenly took an unfortunate turn that in terms affected most of us that knew them, maybe not as much as the parties involved but nonetheless it was quite unsettling.
A love unmade
Then there was one other in-between those two that was intense in its spark but never ignited a fire, it was one where my head was never engaged in the affairs of the heart that it brought much hurt and heartache, we made plans we never saw through, we made promises we never kept and in the end we parted company too long that when I thought to rekindle it, the kindling had gone – death had whisked my love away.
Somehow, that break-up of a relationship that barely existed over a span of 6 years of somewhat unrequited love affected me the most, I had to get well before I had the time to grieve and that took the best part of a year before I made peace with myself and my loss, but for the memories that could have been if we did work at it.
The foibles we suffer
That last relationship was as unequal as they come in background, means and status but it brought with it amazing insight, exposure to things I never before considered important and adventure that brought a smile every time.
We parted company in the pique of unnecessary jealousy, I might have been a tad insensitive but everything I did to convey assurances where the offence was more of the other than myself just seemed to accentuate a sense of lower self-esteem in the other – there wasn’t much we could do.
I have striven to keep the friendship of all those I have met, but it is their prerogative to withdraw their friendship if they so wish, I will not hold it against them – life is just too short to live it in grudge.
Just like that
A year after that break-up, the friendship was rekindled, not for a relationship but just for that good company we once had and it came in very useful when in my greatest time of need, there was help, there was company and there was presence.
However, one evening without notice, the door slammed and it was 8 months before we saw each other again, people can only be what they want to be. I am not perfect and though I have lived a good deal of my life a single man, the much I have learnt about relationships, the need for them and the lack of need for them leaves me with the conviction that they are needed and needed so much.
Definitely maybe
There will be a time when the stories of each relationship will be told in the detail that each deserves from the fleeting to the involved, the ones that connected and the others that brought me to people I will rather not be in company of, all ensconced in my memory where every time we’ve said goodbye I have either died a little or lived a little more.
In the midst of learning much of what I do not want in the next relationship that the list has literally obliterated what I should need in a relationship, the bigger lesson of relationships and companionships that matters to all social beings and has been studied in primates that it got me even more concerned about my singleness is – all good companionships have a complementing and complimenting effect that you can never create for yourself out of singular means or access.
Therein comes my desire to cultivate something new, the reality is, it is not you might think, even I should be allowed an element of mystique whilst matchmakers can keep their matches in the matchbox, I know the kind of fires I want to light. Thank you.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Thought Picnic: Seeing like our spirit does

Wealth in knowing
Discovering the wealth we possess is sometimes the most difficult knowledge to come about in the lifelong quest of knowing oneself.
Even those who appear to be so self-assured and self-confident to the point of being self-conceited bordering of nauseating arrogance may just be wearing a mask of extraversion that is hardly emblematic of who they really are or should be portraying of themselves.
Wealth is not just money in the bank even though it matters, however it should matter because it allows one to stretch and reach rather than just hoard for some fear of poverty suddenly mowing down our ramparts and laying us bare. We are blessed to be a blessing for an open hand is a hand that is open to receive.
Driven to succeed
The greatest wealth however is insight, knowledge that fuels expectation, that undergirds hopes and fills you with the kind of purposeful resolve that where you are at is transient and the journey ahead, adventurous and fraught as it might be, leads to a destination that will make it all worthwhile.
It is what gives joy to living well and strengthens the will to latch on to the affirmative in the midst of the negative and the uncomfortable, it drives you through that valley of the shadow of death assured of the fact that you will not faint but arrive at the summit to bask in the light of being an overcomer.
The amazing spirit in us
Time and again, I see people draw strength from deep within to do things that look like the miraculous, all because they believed and believed themselves enough to dare.
Fighting adversity with a tenacity that tells a thrilling story that sometimes never gets told, the spirit of man is amazing to behold, it takes him to places his senses are yet to fathom or his mind is yet to fully comprehend, but like the engine of a vehicle; take the breaks off, put it in gear and depress the accelerator – and where you are becomes where you were as where you want to be gets to become where you’ll eventually be.
In difficulty, we once again find the simplicity to completely understand things so easily.

Monday 21 January 2013

Thought Picnic: In difficulty find simplicity

Stranger in strange places
Hostile environments are not places where he feels comfortable especially when  more the stranger dependent on the friendliness of others around you.
Though it might not appear as if they are being hostile, the subtlety between willingness and unwillingness, responsiveness and indifference, needing but hardly giving or even hearing but not listening makes him think he is an interloper upsetting some equilibrium or norm.
Now, he should not take these things to heart, his natural disposition is still to be calm, gentle, considerate, understanding and engaging, it is necessary that this helps keep perspective.
Dialling back the scales
The first few weeks can be difficult, finding his feet along with the privations of company, comfort and the essential nutrition that he should by means pay attention to, it is unsafe to do without, yet he beds most nights without supper where that critically helps the medicine go down but the means are scarce as other priorities matter.
He did seek help, some came but not really enough that the stealth of worry is just about to become a rather itchy pillowcase, no antihistamines for a bed so uncomfortable – beware of the baggage of lack.
It is a matter of days, he comforts himself things will soon turn and if he does not fret, it might well be good for the figure; an unspoken resolution has used the conspiracy of circumstance to deliver a trimmer Adonis – many hunger for that, out of hunger or in hunger.
In every difficulty, he tries to find some simplicity.

Friday 18 January 2013

Thought Picnic: The many umbilical cords to cut

Cutting the cord means survival
The first umbilical cord by nature and for the preservation of life needs to be cut at birth; it is the time when the newly born baby has to begin a life of reflexive independence to breathe on its own and to take in food usually in form of milk to thrive.
However, that umbilical cord is the easiest to cut, there are many more that bind us to our parents or guardians, our communities, our societies, our beliefs and much else which should when the fullness of time is come be cut or the birthed will suffer a form of death – a death of freedom, a death of expression, a death of happiness, a death of ambition, a death of hope – too many deaths whilst still alive and it might breed resentment, despair, rebellion or depression – it mimics the cycle of life.
The point in time
At the point when a baby stops being a foetus, that umbilical cord is cut; just as when a child stops being a baby, when an adolescent stops being a child or when an adult stops being an adolescent – that is would be the ideal path of growing up but it is rarely the case.
The responsibility relationship between guardian and ward is dynamic, between them the cutting of the umbilical cord is a function of age, individuality, expression, responsibility and sometimes success which could determine the leeway one will give the other to be better at what they are on the way to becoming.
The last cut
The most difficult umbilical cord to cut is that where the guardian has to accept that their ward has come of age, where the parent appreciates their child has become an adult and should be given the opportunity to learn their own lessons, live their own lives and chart their own courses.
Obviously, guidance and advice is useful but instruction and diktat is unhelpful; the atmosphere in which the child has been schooled in the home will however become the foundation of the confidence, the self-esteem, the determination and the drive that child has like it did when it ventured its first breath at birth and performed the first suckling reflex to take in food.
Taking places
At a point in time, the parent or guardian will have to be put in their place, not so much to be put down but to be respectfully made to understand that certain decisions are now out of their hands and their influence is at best advisory and nothing more.
Along the line, between agreement and conflict whilst growing up we also encounter the more difficult elements of gaining our individuality. Expectations are high, criticisms are rife and praise is rare, punishment is severe sometimes to the point of brutalisation and power is wielded with deathly omnipotence that it feels easier to walk through prison walls than extricate oneself from parental overreach.
Parents do overreach and in the process attempt to blackmail their children thinking their parental responsibility required of them by society to provide the basics of protection, food, shelter, clothing, education and good example is the fullest expression of love without accounting for the deeper emotional needs of the child which will never be met with things.
Tough love facts
We did not ask to be born, but we have been born and there should be more times in our lives that we are grateful to have been born, to have the parents we have had and to have had the care and affection that they have showered on us from when we were hopefully bundles of joy at birth through when they patiently tolerated with exasperation their inability to control the child who is still under their roofs.
However, we return to the matter of umbilical cords or in other parlance apron strings. Children are not clones they are unique personalities moulded by the environments in which they grow, interact, find safety, experience abuse, feel love, witness hate, find acceptance and know rejection – we are moulds of situation and circumstance that are subject to the casts provided by those whose responsibilities we were in our formative years.
The path to acceptance
The healthiest relationships between parent and child will only find fulfilment when they all channel the Kübler-Ross model, which first studied the five stages of grief.
Denial comes with the guardian not believing that the child has come of age, there is anger that the child is not conforming to expected norms, there is bargaining as to how to regain the best control and influence over the child, then depression coming with unfulfilled promise or sadness that a situation might have become a lost cause and then finally, acceptance – accepting who the child has become; an adult with their lives, their goals, their purpose and their own decisions.
The point of acceptance is when the parent begins to respect that child and honour that child with guidance and advice rather than instruction, coercion and blackmail – the healthiest relationships will bring better communication, deeper interaction, more happiness and a glad heart for that parent as they approach their waning years.
It’s you or them
If the parent will not wise up to that necessity, then the child will at a certain point in time have to be respectfully forthright, frank, direct, honest and true – they will eventually have to find words to say, “I want to be able to live my live as a person, unique, independent, fulfilled and appreciative of you out of recognition of who you have been in my life.”
Acceptance or frank expression on the side of the either the guardian or the ward is that umbilical cord cut for the relationship to thrive. If you have not cut it yet, consider how better things can be if that realisation first dawns on you and then you make them see the light.

Thought Picnic: The molds of bureaucracy

A mold
Bureaucracies are a strange life form, a system of well laid out processes that never seem to engage clockwork efficiency of alacrity or urgency.
Like mold, it takes away fervency or freshness leaving a footprint of lethargy, inertia and boredom as time ticks away as if it has no function of measurement than an abyss of nothingness clawing in darkness.
Those who people it
Yet, agents and agencies desire the omnipresence of bureaucracy to ensure that those who depend on it are introduced to the fact that they are powerful, they have responsibilities and they move on a whim except when coerced from above to do what could have been done long before without fuss.
Yet, we wait, almost helpless, almost hopeless and almost listless that a time will come when bureaucracy moving as it might be at a speed that makes drying paint look instantaneous, bureaucracy will finally respond to why it was put in place to fulfil all righteousness and to give the needlessly engaged a sense of purpose.
Complicate the simple with ease
You have to ask why what is seemingly easy to do is made unnecessarily complicated, inscrutable and impossible to action immediately, if not for each little person in the bureaucratic workflow to engage in the power-play of self-importance to the detriment of the organisation at large.
Nowhere was it self-evident than when I visited two banks to open accounts. In the first, I had to book an appointment for the next day, go through tens of questions, sign forms to the point that my fingers bled ink into the cuneiform of my signature and yet will wait days to be able to access the account for business.
The second just required a walk-in on a Saturday afternoon, I was seeing an advisor in 10 minutes and within 30 minutes, I had a bank card and my account was live for transactions, just like that.
It goes without saying that there is probably a century of history between the first and the second bank which is nimble, modern and streamlined to eliminate the encumbrance of bureaucratic time-wasting pretending to back-office operations.
Times change but not for that
What seems well-oiled to whoever set up that system does not really fit into the generally instantaneous gratification that we all have acquired through the shortness of attention spans that has become our way of life by reason of competition for our skill and subservience to some greater or lesser cause.
There might be use for mold as there is use for bureaucracy if you are part of it rather than depending on it.
One learns patience before aggravation, calm before disquiet and acquiescence before complaint when faced with immotile bureaucracy, we are forced to find the kind of inducement that will set a bureaucracy off like an avalanche towards the solution – by which time, a lesson is learnt, no improvements are made and the next person down the line succumbs to the throes of that wonderfully tortuous wringer called bureaucracy – it is just the way we have always done things, you are told.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Opinion: Finding Against The Gospel of NOT - That EHRC Judgement

The rise of religious politics
Each time I think about the ministry of Jesus Christ when he trod the lands of Judea and Samaria as depicted in the gospels I am at times wont to channel Mahatma Gandhi when he was purported to say, “I like your Christ but dislike your Christians.”
Over the last few decades or so, a brand of this religion has emerged which looks very much like modern-day expressions of other Abrahamic faiths, political Judaism with its cauldron in Israel has held the world to ransom with Gentile guilt for the Holocaust and other pogroms that go back centuries, political Islam first expressed in Saudi Arabia, then radicalised in Iran before it was hijacked to be become a potent terrorist movement once spearheaded that the Al Qaeda crusade and political Christianity.
This, I dare say is more widespread and finds expression in social issues that polarise, attempt to ostracise and in terms can be quite discriminatory in a world that is tending more towards secularity than the Dark Ages of moralising sententiousness.
The Christian right and wrongs
In America, it started with the abortion wars, then the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage and stem cell research. God or at least the Christian God is inserted into every debate of the right to have slaves then to prayer, to bear arms, to limit opportunity where a majority of Americans are not by any stretch of the imagination native to the land they have colonised corralling the Native Americans into reservations with money-making casinos and attendant mental issues.
In Africa, they have not rallied round the cross Jesus so succinctly said they should bear and follow him but around an obsession with homosexuality as observed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a gullible flock of bees feasting on the narcotic pollen of the prosperity gospel.
The activist Christian
In Europe, homosexuality and gay marriage and aggression secularism taking hold in our societies have become the gospel of Not as preached by the Holy Padre in the Vatican, who without much distraction cannot have been oblivious of the clergy who have said mass in the name of the Catholic Church whilst satisfying their lascivious tendencies with the innocence of the small – much prosecuted for redress and justice in North America and Europe but no one has lifted the lid on possible heinous deeds in Africa, Latin America or Asia.
The issue of women having titular roles in the Anglican Church is as engaging as it is disheartening much as gay marriage, abortion issues, reverse missionary journeys – where Africans are coming to Europe to open churches along with pervasive issues of financial impropriety or excess – our televisions have become the means of intruding on our lives without necessarily affecting our lives.
It isn’t Christians in the love for humanity
The most compassionate of our humanity campaigning against grinding poverty, debilitating disease, bad governance or war are hardly religious, they are pop stars and billionaires who openly shame the many followers who have long departed from the ideals of the founders of their systems of faith and have become activists portraying a sense of being under siege from the world around them and being discriminated against.
That many have conflated persecution which comes from adherence to faith with discrimination which is borne of taking social positions against secular norms that allows for diverse strands of humanity to live in some semblance of communal bliss is most interesting and it is exemplified in symbols and beliefs that seek to discriminate and differentiate, ostracising those who in a secular setting have a right to service denied them by those paid in public service to be professional about their vocations.
The cross and the belief
Four Christians having exhausted all legal process in the UK when to Europe to seek redress and a judgement on the matter was pronounced on Tuesday.
Two of them were challenging the decision of their employers to exclude and sanction them for wearing crosses and the other two working for social service organisations put their beliefs before the interests of people who presumably have lifestyles they disagree with.
I am glad that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) proffered arguments that came out in support of one and against the other three.
Christian identity most morose
On the matter of wearing a cross, whilst it might well be symbolic of Christian faith, it is not mandated as an expression by law or doctrine that practitioners of the faith should wear a cross to portray what some have called a Christian identity.
Christian identity in my view is political-speak and if what that means is wearing jewellery moulded as a cross and a representation of the amazing gospel of the man that walked the roads of Judea and Galilee two millennia ago, then we are much poorer for what it really represents apart from the fact that it has patently lost its power to affect people’s lives.
Christianity is supposed to be a light and lamp, a light to gain perspective of beauty and a lamp to show the path when one walks in the dark. That same light when shone brightly into the eye for all the goodness and pleasure it bring to sight and vision, risks blinding the person – In other words, it should never be in-your-face whilst at the same time efficacious.
Reasonableness always wins
I can very when agree that it is reasonable to wear a cross in the workplace as long as there are no requirements for sterility in a controlled environment like a hospital. It would be trite to bring up the matter of whether cross wearers do sterilise their crosses and that is beside the point that there are many who wear crosses that are hardly Christian in belief or in practice.
In the case of the other two, one with professional duties of conducting marriages on behalf of the state and the other trained to provide relationship counselling, in a society comprised of diverse belief systems and governed by a compromise of secularity that seeks to get everyone to co-exist, it is antithetical to professional conduct to refuse to despatch services you paid to provide because of a sentiment.
Our secularity is paramount
The need to separate church and state cannot be more pertinent than to have individuals arrogate to themselves rights that conflict with community in order to prove a religious point – we do not live a theocracy and we do not believe the same.
It goes without saying that I am of the opinion that if such people intend to place their beliefs above secular co-existence, they should seek employment where only their beliefs are paramount.
The moment we engage with the public we become subject to the norms that promote societal cohesion as is necessary for the compromise of secularity we have adopted in our somewhat mature civilisations that confers the freedom to religion but not that right to use it to discriminate and contemn the lives of other members of our diverse humanity.
Where I stand
I take no positions on any of the matters I have raised apart from these reasonable views, we should protect our children from sexual exploitation and pursue to the ends of the earth anyone who have abused and violated children for any ends.
The matter of abortion should be between the woman, her doctor and her conscience, if health issues are of significance, then the law should support the safety of the female over the consequences for the unborn.
That the Israeli-Palestinian issue should be brought to a resolution that allows Israel to exist safely whilst restoring a greater sense of dignity to the Palestinians in their land with all that rightfully belongs to them.
To reason to all
That the separation of religion and state must be inviolable, Christians do not own the institution of marriage and whilst their beliefs are widespread their views cannot be allowed to denigrate the beliefs and lives of others – we need to reach an accommodation and that is mostly on the side of religionists than on the side of secularists.
I applaud the judgement of the ECHR, there was no discrimination in the case of the three that lost; they tried to assume victim status to excuse their unprofessional obstinacy that many including the judges saw through.
The Gospel of Not has lost against the fight to live and let live – long may it be so.

Monday 14 January 2013

Thought Picnic: Composing elements of life and work

Counting down the sheep
I was up too early as I was trying to adjust my sleep patterns for the regularity of a work day. Getting to bed earlier and putting in more hours of sleep might mean I have to learn to count sheep better.
Some might say because I am in Wales, the matter of sheep is easy, but I will not subscribe to ridiculous stereotypes, I have not once seen a specimen of such since I arrived here.
Ironing smooth blogs
Between getting a blog up and the usual morning chores that had me ironing a shirt using a full-sized iron on a miniature ironing board, I could not help but wonder why irons do not have automatic sensors to determine the material being pressed and adjust the temperature accordingly.
Now, I know to turn the dial, but too many times the ironing surface needs high heat to attempt to rub off the material that had welded or should I say melted on the surface before you indelibly stain your cotton shirts.
Picture to see
My taxi to the office arrived 10 minutes early and by the time I was ready to leave, there wasn’t enough time for breakfast as I climbed in the cab for the 10 minute journey to work.
Greeted by soft rain, I arrived at reception and for my visitor’s pass I had to pose for a picture with no make-up on, then my hosts at the office had not yet arrived as I waited a while, catching up on my emails and other events on my tablet in the lobby.
Life comes up
Later the receptionist came to tell me that my host will soon be down to get me. Greetings, pleasantries and a visit to one of the offices presaged a meeting in the café for the mandatory morning coffee or was it a latte I had and it was nothing like Starbucks.
We had a general chat about things, where things were going and well about life, for whatever happens to us, either good or bad or somewhere in between comes under the broadest definition of life – that makes it easy to understand – questions get asked about my cane.
Then we went to meet other members of my team, 7 firm handshakes later, I began to make notes, read documentation and got my first access to the environment; the all-important wireless internet connectivity.
We are good to go, my first day has begun.

Battling Against Institutionalised Intimidation

Prosecutorial Overreach
Reading of Aaron Swartz this weekend left me mournful of the way as people have suggested of what might have led to his suicide. The tribute from his family [Published within an article on CNET] included a line that read thus: “Aaron's death is not simply a personal tragedy. It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”
Intimidation and prosecutorial overreach are the key words there, the young man was only 26, he was involved in creating the RSS 1.0 Specification, at 15, he was at the launch party of Creative Commons and one of the co-owners of Reddit – all his life he worked to make freely accessible information and data that apparently was collected at public expense and then charged for.
Beyond that, he could have become atrociously rich for all his talents and exploits but did not tread that path.
Queen bee parasitism
Another interesting development in social media is so well articulated by Max Keiser in Keiser Report: Lunatics & Lubricants (E392) [YouTube] where he used the term “Insectual” that explained as Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook being the queen bee and the 1 billion or so users of Facebook being the drones – the work of the drones creates the honey that the queen bee apparently creams off to make eye-watering profits. You need to watch the video to get the full context.
However after the Instagram [A Facebook acquisition] Terms of Use debacle and I will use Wikipedia’s words here – “The controversial policy changes were widely interpreted to allow for businesses or other entities to pay Instagram to display users' photos and other details in connection with sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation or notification to the user that posted the photo. There was no apparent option to opt out of the changed terms of use.” – We can safely assume that there is a parasitic culture developing where institutions arrogate rights to use your data without compensation and are ready to intimidate, persecute, prosecute or harass you if you seek any recognition.
My own run-in
I recently had such a situation, since the 8th of December, 2010, my blog was cited by Accredited Online Colleges (AOC) as one of 40 Best Blogs for African Studies Students, mine appearing at 12, I wrote about this at the time and then on a page called Blogging Trophies.
Just over a week ago, I got an email from a Compliance Officer working for AOC suggesting I remove links to their website because they might be in breach of some “red herring” Google webmaster guidelines to do with linking building practices for which they might be penalised.
I replied explaining why there were links to AOC, then I reviewed Google’s link building terms before suggesting I might consider taking a capture of the page to signify I was once cited (That is a PDF already, just in case I need it.) but I thought I had appealed to the reasonableness of the compliance apparatchik, I hadn’t. Her reply promptly asked me to remove the links whilst I was been patronised as cooperative, at which point I decided to sweat it out.
This is harassment
A week after, I got an slightly more tersely worded email with the same body of text as the first, to which I responded almost too cross for words but my push-back paid off, I received an apologise and undertaking never to be bothered again.
Besides, the citation remains but the situation remains people are out there using our data for their advantage and they are ready to bully, intimidate, harass, persecute or even prosecute you for exercising your fair usage rights.
My basic premise
As you will note from this blog, I have included no links to the said citations apart from the pre-existing ones referenced on the blog and the page, it has also made me aware of issues to do with maintaining context when linking to other sites.
I am not trying to build following through unscrupulous methods, the growth in readership of my blog has come from content I have posted, mostly my opinion on issues and where necessary I have provided links to help make my writing or the context better understood.
In my original response to AOC, I intimated I will write about this and publish on my blog, I received no direct request not to do so. Enjoy!
AOC to me
Dear Akin Akintayo,
It has come to our attention that our website AccreditedOnlineColleges.com has been penalized by Google for some link building practices undertaken in the past. In an effort to improve our site, we are focusing on adhering to Google's webmaster guidelines and improving the quality of our site's content and design.
As part of these efforts, we respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the links located here: [Two links provided as I indicated in my blog.]
These links may violate Google's webmaster guidelines and could harm both of our sites. We understand that this requires extra effort on your end, but we sincerely appreciate your help as we try to improve our website. We hope to keep in touch with you as we unveil our new and improved website.
Signed for the Compliance Team
My first response
Dear …,
Thank you for your email.
I don't know if you took time to recognise why my blog which also happens to be hosted by Google was linking to your website.
On the 8th of December 2010 your organisation cited my blog at No. 12 in the 40 Best Blogs for African Studies Students.
I have myself studied the Google Link Building guidelines and cannot see how this particular relationship has violated the guidelines in that you as part of your academic referencing and information service have cited websites your students might find useful and I in turn have simply acknowledged your citation on my blog on pages that are relevant and related to the issue.
However, if you still do insist without cause for negotiation that I remove the links, I will at least capture the page and still put up a blog that I was once cited by Accredited Online Colleges along with the email you sent me to remove the links.
Thank you for your understanding.
With the kindest regards,
The response from AOC
Mr. Akintayo, [Note that the dear is missing.]
You can go ahead and remove the link as you suggested while leaving a screenshot to the article up on your blog. Please let us know once the link has been removed, and thank you so much for your prompt reply and cooperation!
[Signed personally, this time.]
AOC’s Second attempt to intimidate me [Slightly reworded]
The subject: Second Attempt to Reach You with Regards to Your Site
Dear Akin Akintayo,
We reached out to you about a week ago, and this is our second attempt.
It has come to our attention that our website AccreditedOnlineColleges.com has been penalized by Google for some link building practices undertaken in the past. In an effort to improve our site, we are focusing on adhering to Google's webmaster guidelines and improving the quality of our site's content and design.
As part of these efforts, we respectfully request that you remove all links to our site including the links located here: [Links provided]
These links may violate Google's webmaster guidelines and could harm both of our sites. We understand that this requires extra effort on your end, but we sincerely appreciate your help as we try to improve our website. We hope to keep in touch with you as we unveil our new and improved website.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
My response
Dear …,
When you first sent me a notice, I took the time to send you a well-reasoned response as to why on earth any link to your site will appear on my blog.
From the way your response to my email appeared to me, you took no consideration of the reasons why we have the situation we have which has been in place for over 2 years.
Honestly, I acted in good faith, without prejudice, I have broken no rules and for all intents and purposes I am under no obligation to give your pestering via email any consideration than to ignore it or have your correspondence blacklisted as spam.
In due course, I will act on this, if you cannot find more likeable ways of persuasion to meet whatever quotas you need to with the pseudo-legal stuff you are sending about - that is unfortunate.
Have a good weekend.
Yours sincerely,
Akin Akintayo
An apology from AOC
Dear Akin,
I sincerely apologize. The prior message was sent to you in error. You will not receive correspondence from us in the future, and I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience our email messages have caused you.
Probably, the end of that story.

Thought Picnic: Chance, stories, life and hope

Rivers flow where trains stop
Chance, some will say brought us together like a confluence of rivers that have trailed the geography of nature from source bringing life and wealth borne of banks, of depths, of creatures and of weathers long gone.
We were being smart taking the fast train to two stations north of where we were going to hop on the slower train back; a gain of almost 30 minutes but this night presented no such savings.
There were no trains in the sidings, after waiting a long while, I checked my Android and what should have been green for District Line trains had grey and a question mark, so I made for the ticket office where the disinterested lady flippantly said I need to get a bus without telling me where.
Irked and quite so
I loitered a bit outside the station, the usually present London Underground staff when there is a bus replacement were nowhere to be seen, this was looking like the typical London blunder-ground.
I was returning to the ticket office to tell the lady off when another lady, call her Jane asking if I was looking for the bus stop; she had obtained some information from the obstreperous ticket office about the fact that the District Line was not running from Upminster because of engineering works.
What was incredulous was knowing there was one service unavailable from a station she was manning she did not think it was helpful to announce that underground trains were not running because she worked just for C2C.
Lacking basic intuitiveness
Everyone and the village dolt knows passengers use and interchange between London Underground and C2C, we hear announcements at train stops telling us of services available, the tickets are accepted between these two companies. As far as customers are concerned we just want to get to our destinations, safely, comfortably and be treated with an element of consideration.
Such staff are a nightmare for any public service company, they have the wrong attitude, project the wrong image and give the company a rather bad name just from being unnecessarily obnoxious.
O Jane
So, Jane and I made for the bus stop and got talking, the best thing that had happened in her long and stressful day was the bus arrived as we got to the stop.
We got on the bus and sat together, she had a story, 2012 was annus horribilis for her, a marriage of 20 years that broke up, a mental breakdown and debts piling up like insurmountable mountains, it was woe upon woe, she has lost her ability to smile, talk less of laugh – what sadness.
We all have stories and I am alive today with gratitude and with lessons, coming from the depths of despair that has had losses, not as great as many have had but enough to give perspective on live, hope and seeing beyond our dark clouds.
My ordinary story
When I told her where I had been, jobs, cancer, debts, foreclosure, new job and amazing adventure ahead, I hoped that at least she had learnt one thing, the resilience of the human spirit that faces desperate adversity and comes through it given the great gift of a story that it is never over until you draw your last breath, but as long as you are living, there is much to hope for and whatever you might have been through, you are neither alone nor unique, just human.
You may not know where to get determination from and sometimes you might think you have no strength to see the day through but think about your story, how you want to tell it or have it told about you.
Work for your story
With gratitude to God, to friends, to compassionate strangers, helping hands from far and near, not to forget the miracle of medicine, I still have a story, one I do hope can encourage, inspire and kindle hope.
She smiled, we wished each other well, I hugged her and said, she should begin to think of how she wants to tell her story.
A chance encounter, it was, but one necessary to reaffirm the fact that I have been more than fortunate and one to say people have walked through the valley of shadow of death and come to rolling hills of lavender, a spring in their step, the sun shining at its most radiant, caring for nothing more than the joy of living. 

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Thought Picnic: Be mindful your heart does not turn to stone

Words are lost
Numbness to handle the hurt but the hurt lingers longer than it is comfortable to bear that one is lost for words. So I find a jumble of letters to throw together in the hope that clarity will come, not out of luck but of determination to think it through. Confused.
For words do go a long way but I encountered a hermetically sealed organ impervious to the penetrative efficacy of words that I balked – This is not normal. Scared.
The code is cryptic, the words knotted into a conundrum that the writer alone can decipher – my ROTAS Square. Obfuscated.
Never before
My peace deserted me as I sought what I thought will help for I am a man who has seen what life can throw to unravel the sturdiest of dispositions and the most determined of characters. Perplexed.
As I learnt of my limitations to my shock one could only resort to inquiry, determine the cause and engage the knowledgeable to arrest a possible breakdown. Concerned.
Strong voices of those who could bring about change lent their wisdom and there seemed to be hope in the horizon but not far enough to see the desired outcome. Encouraged.
Don’t be nasty
However, on observing the impulsive bordering on the irrational, the genius of madness and the madness of genius has with maddening ingenuity deprived itself of its staunchest ally in an expression of irascible truculence; I am blown away. Befuddled.
Why do we compound hurt to maximise self-centred megalomania? Unimpressed.
No man is an island, but if you burn your boat before you have acquired all the supplies to live on your desert island, when your thirst comes and delirium sets in, not for the euphoria of the rescue from being a castaway but the rescue of an avoidable end, only the bones will tell the tale that footsteps once trod those sands. Marooned.
The message in a bottle might tell of who it was. Revealed.
Be mindful not heartless
My disappointment is palpable but I will hold my peace, the offence is great to many beyond the little world of self-satisfied resolution that exemplifies the many flaws we have overlooked, for a greater being exists that has so suddenly gone to ground. Displeased.
In a world where hearts and minds matter, be mindful that your once tender and loving heart does not turn to stone. Admonished.

Friday 4 January 2013

Nigeria: No Country for Vulnerable Children

The regularity is inuring
Pastor accused of raping 12-year-old girl, I have read too many headlines like this in Nigerian newspapers that I have no more bothered to read the story, as if it is so commonplace, I am almost dangerously inured to it.
Something about this story was striking, in fact, too many things in this story meant a good 12 hours after reading it, I had this nagging feeling that I had to comment on the issue.
A vulnerable young girl had been brought over from the village, vulnerable in the sense that she was only two weeks in the city, she could speak neither the local language nor English and she was staying with her aunt besides the fact that she was just 12.
That a 12-year old could not speak a word of English in Nigeria in 2012 is the subject of another day, but it calls for serious discussion.
Groomed and raped
This was an Igbo girl in Yorubaland and besides her aunt, there was this neighbour, a Pastor who apparently is Yoruba who could also speak Igbo and so the conversation started where the Pastor began grooming the girl, lured her into the detached communal toilet, covered her mouth and raped her; by first sodomising her and then taking away her virginity.
Her aunt almost caught them in the act and upon inquiring of the girl, she learnt of what had happened and apparently immediately rushed the girl to hospital where she was examined and it was found that she had bruises to both her anal and virginal regions with sperm residue found in the vagina.
A victim to exculpate the criminal
The Pastor had however fled and in the process commenced an unconscionable damage limitation exercise that included stigmatising a vulnerable 6-year old girl who was labelled a witch by his church members; she was brutalised and paraded in public having been accused of bewitching the Pastor leading to his helplessly falling prey to being a rapist. This is no sarcasm; this is what the people really did believe.
This poor 6-year old girl was then left under the exorcist ministry of this rotten paedophile to be delivered of her witchcraft powers – the tale reads like a Steven King horror novel, only that there are real victims involved.
Interminable days
Meanwhile, it took two days after the rape of that child for her aunt to report the crime to the police and it took another two days for the Pastor to be apprehended. A couple of days later, the Pastor was released without charge into the community as if absolved because the courts were not in session to charge the man with any offence.
In fact, the charges were dropped by the police as they are wont to in cases like this, the most the perpetrator suffers is the demand that he defrays the hospital costs of the victim and the rotten paedophile is granted bail to return to the scene of the crime amongst other vulnerable persons where he can intimidate the witnesses and pervert the course of justice.
Now, the police are taking the heat for their lackadaisical attitude to this heinous paedophile criminality that they have suggested when the courts are back in session the paedophile pastor will be charged.
The dread of Syncretism
The spokesperson for the state police command is Ngozi Braide, a lady and I cannot say if she is a mother too, who was filled with as much indignation and rage as to acknowledge that the girl was raped and concluded with - “The pastor is in charge of a white garment church in the area. He will be charged with sodomy. He was released on bail because courts are not sitting but once courts resume, he will be charged.” Really? Just sodomy?
Herein is the big problem, African-initiated white garment churches have a brand of Syncretism that melds elements of animist and Shamanist belief systems with Christianity and it derives most of its doctrinal teachings from the Pentateuch, reciting the Psalms with the fieriness of people under altered states of consciousness, given to mass hysteria whilst believing in demonic possession, witchcraft and voodoo relieving people of their free moral agency.
The unpalatable sway the leaders of these sects hold over the community literally gives them criminal impunity and even in the face of compelling evidence, they are able to operate outside the ambit of the law for the fact that people fear them and whatever powers they might abuse to extricate themselves from criminal sanction.
We are embarrassed
The society at large is scandalised and embarrassed by incidents of paedophile criminality that they will rather sweep the matter under the carpet than agitate to have it prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
The victims however receive no psychological help beyond medical examination to prove that the child has been violated and medical establishments do not take on the social responsibility burden of addressing the long term consequences of the sexual violation of minorities, we generally assume time eventually heals the pain and wipes out the memories of such events from the mind of the child.
Witchcraft stigmatisation
The poor child who was stigmatised as a witch might probably have had learning difficulties which the illiterate and ignorant may not understand, these helpless children especially if orphaned are ready brutalisation fodder for unscrupulously rotten religious leaders to mesmerise their flock into believing incredibly atrocious tales.
Injustice is compounded by evil under the guise of religion leaving child victims in their wake as if this is no country for children.
A grave injustice lingers
We need to re-school ourselves and begin to give the vulnerable a voice, the cause for justice for the victim must be paramount and above all allegiances no matter how deep – when a child is raped or stigmatised, it must become a compelling priority to see to it that all perpetrators, conspirators and accessories to that criminality are corralled and charged accordingly to ensure no other children suffer at the hands of these purveyors of reprehensible evil.
We can no more pretend that child sexual abuse does not occur amongst us and we should not be embarrassed to expose all those who tolerate it amongst us.
At the same time, we should be discerning of the fact that when a child is stigmatised as a witch, it is usually a distraction from other unspeakable evils and a smokescreen for contemptible deeds.
No child should ever be sacrificed on the altar of any belief system, no good can come out of brutalising the child either to save it or the community within which it lives, our dread for the supernatural must stop long before a hand is lifted against the child and reason prevail always.
It is time for children to feel safer in Nigeria.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Give Your Voice To Rights That Don't Matter To You In 2013

Harmony from afar
The old song goes, “I’ll like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony …” We all know that the world is singing many songs and mostly never the same words, or the same tempo and harmony is so distant that we hold hands and sway our heads into a dreamland of Utopia hoping it signifies peace and harmony.
To sing we need a voice and to that voice we need the words, lyrics that represent our humanity, our struggles, our victories, our losses, our pains, the quest for justice, the call for war, the identities we have or the differences we want to project – there is much for song and much to do.
A world riven
The voice is important, it is critical to producing the sound we need all to hear to bring people to listen so that they can reason and then hopefully they can agree.
We live in an unequal world riven with great injustices, wars, disease, poverty, dispute and much else with people populating the broadest spectrum of extremes between palatial comfort and atrocious discomfort – we cannot stand still and watch the world go by.
Lend your voice
I challenge you to lend your voices this year to that which is just, that which is fair, that which lifts and confers rights on the least amongst us and the most different from us.
We should extricate ourselves from rules, creeds, customs, beliefs, traditions and cultures that bind us to age-old systems that persecute and prosecute others needlessly and become the Good Samaritan of humanity setting people free to be the best they can be because of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity we all belong to.
Let colour, tribe, language, region become insignificant and enter the global village of what allows us to laugh together rather than cry in anguish, what makes us shout in unison than shoot at each other and what lets us embrace those we once saw as lepers rather than ostracise them.
There is much to stand up and be counted for in the quest for human rights and the protection of the same, the campaigning against abuse; the abuse of children, of women, of the vulnerable and of the powerless, rolling back the cloudy pall of sententiousness for the fresh air of acceptance and the fight against institutionalised corruption, racism, rape, victimisation and oppression.
Your voice, the seed
This is not a call to forsake your values but to use your values better to give value to others that you might once have been tempted if only in the slightest to deem worthless.
The voice amongst our friends, in our communities, in our societies, in our countries and well beyond that into the world is what will make the difference to both your lives and those of others around you.
Appeal to reason and reasonableness, persuade but do not dismiss, disagree but refuse to be disagreeable, you are allowed to be irreverent without being disrespectful – call out the hypocrites and expose falsehood – stand with the honest, just and true always because they will always matter.
Know yourself, know others
There is no shelter in excuses and using moral equivalences to justify your position stop you having the essentially critical self-examination and self-scrutiny you need to adapt and change for the better.
There is a voice in you that needs to be heard, in your experiences, your intellect, your unique thinking unclouded by indoctrination, and the better world you want to see – Speak up, stand out, make waves – for when your voice is heard for the least amongst you, you protect both yourselves and others from future oppression that could be overwhelming and unassailable if in your silence you lost those who would have done everything to stand with you and for you.
Make it a year where you fight for rights that mean nothing to you but mean the most to those whose lives and the pursuit of happiness depend on it.
Happy New Year!