Who am I?Where am I?

28 December 2009

I'm upset with the Indianapolis Colts

Many of this blog's readers do not understand nor follow American football (I'm not talking about soccer). They have one of the greatest players in American football history (Peyton Manning) and have been a model of success for the past decade or so.

This season, which only has one game remaining, they had gone through 14 games (there are 16 in a season) undefeated. They had not lost a single game. Yesterday, they were leading the New York Jets and then decided to substitute most of their best players. They lost. Their reason? They wanted to rest their best players for the playoffs and a chance to win the Super Bowl.

I have a serious problem with this logic. Only two teams in the history of American football have ever gone through a regular season undefeated. The 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went on to win the Super Bowl, and the 2006 New England Patriots, who lost the Super Bowl. Thus, the Colts had a chance to do something rarely done. Yet, they decided to forgo that opportunity for a chance to win the Super Bowl. Every year, someone wins the Super Bowl. Rarely does a team go undefeated. In short, the Colts passed on a chance to be one of the greatest teams in history to help their chances of being the best team this year.

I don't understand this logic. I thought the object of sports was to win. I thought the object was to win every game. The Colts logic was flawed! While I am not saying I won't root for them, I am saying that I won't be sad if they lose in the playoffs or Super Bowl. Not that it really matters...as it's just a game anyway! :-)


09 November 2009


Ever wanted to know more about snails? Me either! But one of my former students loves the creatures!

She loves them so much that she has created a web page devoted to snails! Feel free to support her and her new project...publicizing snails! Her website is here! Happy reading!


Nomadic Richard


31 October 2009

‘This Is It’

Yesterday afternoon, I managed to watch ‘This Is It’ in Abu Dhabi’s Marina Mall. I was eagerly anticipating the show, and had been since the previous weekend, when I had purchased tickets. As I entered the theatre listening to some of Michael Jackson’s classics I was filled with a sense of nostalgia. The man was, quite simply, the most talented artist to ever grace the stage. Being a child of the mid-70s, I am old enough to remember many of Michael’s albums getting love on the radio stations. Sitting there yesterday watching the man do his thing during rehearsals just took me back.

As a documentary, ‘This Is It’ falls short. It doesn’t document anything. It’s a collection of videos showing various rehearsals for the O2 Arena shows. As my boy Ed said (yeah, I’m giving you a shot out in my blog), “It was more concert than movie.” However, maybe that’s all it had to be. Maybe the film just needed to let us watch MJ, the man, operate in his element.

Whether you loved Michael Jackson or hated him, he was no ordinary human being. This film allowed the extraordinary person he was to shine through. There were several times during this movie where I just sat back and thought to myself, “Wow!” The first such occurrence happened when I saw Michael dance. He had hand selected a group of extraordinary dancers to have on stage. These dancers were all young, extremely buff, and all can flat out dance. What I found amazing was that even at 50, MJ not only could hang with these guys, but in a lot of instances, he was just flat out better. Extraordinary!

The second time I sat back in amazement was during rehearsal for one particular segment involving laser lights. MJ stopped the set, and made a recommendation. Once this recommendation was incorporated into the scene, the scene improved markedly. Seeing MJ slightly adjust what a musician was doing was expected. He was a musical genius. Seeing him dance, while maybe surprising given his age, was not unexpected. Realizing how well MJ understood the nuances and theatrics of live entertainment was a revelation. I seriously doubt that any artist will ever again possess the same combination of talents possessed by MJ. He was a brilliant choreographer, song writer, musician, dancer, performer, and understood the theater of his trade.

At the end of the film, I found myself wishing for two things. First, I really wished that people had just left him alone during his life. Admittedly, MJ was eccentric. Yet this eccentricity never merited the treatment he received from the press and society in general. If instead of thinking MJ was a freak, we had appreciated his genius, to how much more of this genius would we have had the privilege of being exposed? Secondly, I was really sad that the film was over and wishing it would continue. I wanted to Condite those 2+ hours and appreciate MJ some more! MJ’s Delphian song “Gone Too Soon” gracing the airwaves as the credits played would have summed up my melancholy feelings at the realization that a great man is no longer among the living.


16 October 2009

Mango Envy

I received an email about a month ago that I had full intentions of sharing. It was a true story from a man who had a major impact on my life as a student at Howard University. "Dean" Keene was one of the first people I met upon arriving at Howard. Over the years, I had many interactions with him. None of them were ever negative. Even though he was very busy, he always took time to speak with me and was supportive of initiatives taken to improve student life. He has since retired with his wife and lives in Panama where in retirement he runs a travel agency. Thus if you ever need any help with your travel plans, feel free to contact him! Here is his story....

Amigos and Vecinos (Friends and Neighbors),

Some of you, no doubt, have grown tired of me telling my mournful tale.
My wife and I, at Sunset Dreams, have had three, count 'em 3, mango trees and not one single mango in the almost 5 years we've been here.

Might not seem serious to you, but the only reason I wanted to buy this house in the first place ;-) was because it had mango trees. LOL!! I love the flavor of mango. It's a unique and sensuous flavor that tickles the palate and incites the imagination. It is also, for me, a comfort food. For most North American people of my generation, 'comfort foods' are meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, etc. or some ethnic delight that your Mom would cook. So how'd a New York City kid get mangoes on that list? Well, because I remember my Jamaican-born dad bringing home from the market - or perhaps a street vendor in Harlem - a mango (or an "alligator pear" - avocado) like it was pirate treasure. I can only imagine how much he paid for these rare tropical treats back in those days.

Dad would huddle over it at the kitchen table, knife at the ready, split it open, and peel it back, all the while appearing to protect it from prying eyes or as if anyone might want more than just a little taste. Dad had a wide range of exotic tastes in food. However, Dad did not relate to "soul food delicacies", like chitlins, that my Mom liked (I didn't and don't). But Dad did like anything "out of the sea", as he put it, including smoked eel, which only Chips, our omnivorous pet dog, would enjoy with him. More precisely, Chips got what was left - the skin. Because I was then a very picky eater, Dad didn't have to worry about me with most of his more interesting choices, but I DID enjoy mango. It was an unusual taste that, for some reason, I liked, though I remember I didn't like the slipperiness of the mango slices. (My wife, Ife, reminds me that she, too, was/is omnivorous and that Dad would joyfully share his treasures with her when we were newlyweds.)

Well, anyway, that is how mango became a comfort food for me, despite how infrequently I ate it.

So, we come to our little slice of mountain paradise in 2004 and wait for mangoes to sprout from our trees - count 'em 3 trees. I'm a city kid and don't know a thing about fruit trees. This is a semi-tropical paradise, so I have no idea when mango season comes. All I know is that everybody else has mangoes at certain times and we don't have any - not even one. Friends and strangers have mangoes on their trees and I try to hide my jealousy and envy. I hint that maybe, just maybe, they might have some extra ones and to my great surprise they are all very generous. Only later, did I discover that people with mango trees - which actually bear fruit -consider the mangoes a mixed blessing. They must be picked up before they start stinking up the neighborhood. The mangoes high in a large tree are difficult to pick, etc. But let them walk a mile in my sandals, I say!!!

Mango trees with no mangoes! Now, that is not a mixed blessing; that is a curse. And this curse - with its accompanying jealousies and envy (which I have successfully hidden from my wife, Ife, who will be surprised to read this) - has haunted me, lo, these many years. Each and every mango season I have waited in vain with bated breath for a sign of a mango fruit. I even asked around. A couple of people told us that we needed a male and female mango tree in proximity to cross pollinate. Heck, I majored in psychology not agriculture - or mangology. How do you tell a female mango from male mango, anyway? Just in case, we bought a mango sapling and planted it hoping it was of the opposite gender of the mango tree a couple of meters away. One person told me that perhaps we had a type of tree which might take 7 or 8 years to yield fruit. Our gardener, Luis, agreed with that theory. This is the eighth year of the trees that were planted by the previous owners.

Well, GLORY BE!!!! Yesterday, in one of our 4 - now, count 'em 4 - mango trees, I saw a single, solitary, lonely but absolutely beautiful and perfect MANGO!!!! Just the right shape & right color of the good-eating type of mango I have yearned for and been envious about for all these years. Luis says it is a 'criollla mango.' It could a 'Batman and Robin mango' for all I care, as long as I can harvest that sucker, use our mango slicer to remove the seed and eat that same pirate treasure that so enthralled my Dad fifty and more years ago. Plus, they say food grown on your own finca tastes better than any other. It was true of the peppers, plantain, mandarina and papaya (not so much the naranja), so my expectations are quite high for this one, singular mango. Neighbors, your mangoes are - as my Dad would say, at last and at length -safe!

And....I promise not to complain if the trees don't produce even one other one.

After all, it is better to have mango'd and lost than never to have mango'd at all.



13 September 2009

Funny Email

$5.37. That's what the kid behind the counter at Taco Bell said to me.. I
dug into my pocket and pulled out some lint and two dimes and something
that used to be a Jolly Rancher. Having already handed the kid a five-spot,
I started to head back out to the truck to grab some change when the kid
with the Elmo hairdo said the harshest thing anyone has ever said to me. He
said, "It's OK. I'll just give you the senior citizen discount."

I turned to see who he was talking to and then heard the sound of change hitting the counter in front of me. "Only $4.68" he said cheerfully. I stood there stupefied. I am 48, not even 50 yet a mere child! Senior citizen?

I took my burrito and walked out to the truck wondering what was wrong with
Elmo. Was he blind? As I sat in the truck, my blood began to boil. Old? Me?

I'll show him, I thought. I opened the door and headed back inside. I strode to the counter, and there he was waiting with a smile. Before I could say a word, he held up something and jingled it in front of me, like I could be that easily distracted!

What am I now? A toddler?

"Dude! Can't get too far without your car keys, eh?" I stared with utter disdain at the keys.. I began to rationalize in my mind. "Leaving keys behind hardly makes a man elderly! It could happen to anyone!" I turned and headed back to the truck. I slipped the key into the ignition, but it wouldn't turn. What now? I checked my keys and tried another. Still nothing. That's when I noticed the purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror. I had no purple beads hanging from my rearview mirror.

Then, a few other objects came into focus. The car seat in the back seat. Happy Meal toys spread all over the floorboard. A partially eaten doughnut on the dashboard. Faster than you can say ginkgo biloba, I flew out of the alien vehicle.

Moments later I was speeding out of the parking lot, relieved to finally be leaving this nightmarish stop in my life. That is when I felt it, deep in the bowels of my stomach: hunger! My stomach growled and churned, and I reached to grab my burrito, only it was nowhere to be found. I swung the truck around, gathered my courage, and strode back into the restaurant one final time. There Elmo stood, draped in youth and black nail polish. All I could think was, "What is the world coming to?" All I could say was, "Did I leave my food and drink in here?" At this point I was ready to ask a Boy Scout to help me back to my vehicle, and then go straight home and apply for Social Security benefits.

Elmo had no clue. I walked back out to the truck, and suddenly a young lad came up and tugged on my jeans to get my attention. He was holding up a drink and a bag. His mother explained, "I think you left this in my truck by mistake." I took the food and drink from the little boy and sheepishly apologized. She offered these kind words: "It's OK. My grandfather does stuff like this all the time. "All of this is to explain how I got a ticket doing 85 in a 40.

Yes, I was racing some punk kid in a Toyota Prius. And no, I told the officer, I'm not too old to be driving this fast. As I walked in the front door, I opened the bag of cold food and a look at the $300 speeding ticket. I promptly sat in my rocking chair and covered up my legs with a blanky.

The good news was I had successfully found my way home!


11 September 2009

Health Care Reform

I have watched President Obama's speech and have to comment.

First, I just called my Congressman and Senators (from the UAE) to let them know that I support health care reform that includes a public option. You can use this site to get the phone numbers for both of your Senators and your Representative. I urge you to do the same or write a letter/e-mail to them. We need to let our voices be heard on this issue. Talk to the staffers manning the phones. If your Representative does not agree with President Obama's plan, you will likely hear several examples of malapropism and a total obfuscation of the issue. I just called Representative Wittman. Patrick answered my call. He was very helpful. He informed me that Representative Wittman "supported cheaper health care, health care for all who do not have it, and support a safe and secure health care system using the established system." Barack Obama has said on his website that his plan will provide stability to the system, lessen the cost of health care, and provide insurance to those who do not currently have it. So in short, Rep. Wittman supports President Obama's plan as long as the established system is kept intact. In other words, health care reform is fine as long as big health insurance companies, the pharmaceuticals, the medical equipment companies that charge a ridiculous amount of money for their products, and the doctor's who are getting rich off of the current system all continue to benefit. Thanks, but no thanks.

I also made a contribution to a Political Action Committee that is trying to unseat Joe Wilson...the noisome Representative who yelled "liar" during last night's speech. How anyone who voted for Bush could call Obama a liar (can you say weapons of mass destruction) is beyond me. I am urging everyone to do the same and try to unseat Representatives such this. For more information you can check out ACT Blue and click on the link for Rob Miller. Help Rob Miller defeat Joe Wilson!

Nomadic Richard


31 August 2009

Russian Racism

This just blew my mind. I was watching the BBC earlier this afternoon when I saw a report on racism in Russia. The story led off with the candidacy of an African immigrant who is running for political office. This was followed up with an astounding statistic.

According to the BBC, 60% of all Africans living in Moscow have been attacked in racially motivated attacks. SIXTY PERCENT! These are figures that would make the Ku Klux Klan proud. The Klan did not pull that off that kind of statistic in their heyday in the United States.

This statistic is absolutely mind-boggling. There are at least 10,000 African immigrants living in Moscow. Thus, if this is accurate, then approximately 6,000 have been assaulted. So much for the socialist spirit that permeated Russia during the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution. To be honest, this story gives me the megrims. There goes my desire to see and explore the capital city of Russia!

For the entire story, check out BBC


28 August 2009

Today's Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us

So one of my former students sent me a message about this website that creates diapers...

...for chickens. That's right folks, chicken diapers. If you ever wanted to have ch
ickens running around your house laying eggs and are tired of the chickens defecating on your carpet, then this website is definitely for you! If you have never had this desire, please disregard this post


Kiva Loan

Hi Blog Readers!

I just made a loan to someone in Uganda using a revolutionary new website called Kiva. You can find the link under causes I support.

You can go to Kiva's website and lend to someone across the globe who needs a loan for their business - like raising goats, selling vegetables at market or making bricks. Each loan has a picture of the entrepreneur, a description of their business and how they plan to use the loan so you know exactly how your money is being spent - and you get updates letting you know how the entrepreneur is going.

The best part is, when the entrepreneur pays back their loan you get your money back - and Kiva's loans are managed by microfinance institutions on the ground who have a lot of experience doing this, so you can trust that your money is being handled responsibly.

I just made a loan to an entrepreneur named Isiah Kakuba's Group in Uganda. They still need another $700.00 to complete their loan request of $4,750.00 (you can loan as little as $25.00!). Help me get this entrepreneur off the ground by clicking on the link to make a loan to Isiah Kakuba's Group too!

It's finally easy to actually do something about poverty - using Kiva I know exactly who my money is loaned to and what they're using it for. And most of all, I know that I'm helping them build a sustainable business that will provide income to feed, clothe, house and educate their family long after my loan is paid back.

Join me in changing the world - one loan at a time.


Nomadic Richard


27 August 2009

Dream Chaser

I just read this article and started sobbing. This love story is very moving and deserves to be shared. I have posted the first two paragraphs of the article but in the interest of giving full credit to the author and the site, I have posted the link below. Enjoy!

Nomadic Richard

Dreams were her gift. Every morning, she'd wake up and tell her husband, Al, how she'd dreamed about angels or daughters or catastrophe. Good or bad, she'd always wake up with a story to tell -- until the day she never woke up at all.

Al never had that gift. His dreams were vague, or they'd escape him 20 seconds into his day. He had nothing to jot down like she did, nothing to file away for a conversation over dinner. Even after she died some 11 years ago, he never dreamt of her, could never summon her back into his subconscious. This frustrated him to no end, because, once he was awake, all he did was daydream about her.

But then, about 10 weeks ago, in the middle of his deepest sleep, Al Joyner finally saw Flo Jo. She had driven up in a car, smiling, and strolled casually toward him. She was stunning, as always, and wore her hair in a bun, just the way he'd always adored it. He asked her, "What are you doing here?" And her response was, "I'm just coming to check on you." He didn't know what to say next. Their daughter, Mary, was about to graduate from high school, and he wanted to ask, "Are you here for graduation?" But before he could speak, his alarm clock went off.

For the rest of this article by Tom Friend visit ESPN.com and check out the article in Outside the Lines


26 August 2009

Health Care Reform

During the Democratic Primaries and the General Election campaign last year, the need for progressive reform within the United States became clear. What became equally clear was that, finally, we as a nation had woken up and realized that we did not want more of the same. As such, we elected Barack Obama to elect and implement this progressive agenda. The majority of the people who supported Barack Obama in the election need to make their voices heard immediately on the health care issue. This is part of the progressive agenda that we elected him to implement. Furthermore, this health care needs to include a public option. This option can easily be financed by evaginating the Bush era tax cuts, which enabled corporate fat cats to get rich. This too was part of the reason we elected Barack last year. This was a major plank of the Barack Obama's election platform and if this effort at reforming the health care system fails, it will be a giant step backwards for the Obama administration and for working people who helped get Mr. Obama elected.

Several years ago, I read the book What's the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank. This book details how right-wing Republicans have manipulated the masses by obfuscating the issues and have been successful in getting the masses to vote against their own financial interests by using issues of values. The Republicans have played up their "Christian" values by using white fear as tool to get elected and then proceeded to rob the middle and lower-classes blind. A similar thing is occurring now on the issue of health care.

This is a key time. Most members of the House of Representatives and Senators are home for summer recess. During this recess they will be attempting to gauge the mood of their constituency on this bill. The right-wing is trying to demoralize public debate by using disruptive tactics to browbeat the public into accepting that health care reform is wrong. The right-wing is using these disruptive tactics on a quotidian basis to affect the effectiveness of town hall meetings, and push for taxing the benefits of lower and middle class workers and oppose any public option. Unfortunately, so moderate Democrats and Republicans have been sucked into this vortex and are also trying to slow down this process. This is unacceptable and will only allow the pharmaceutical and medical industries to continue reaping the huge profits that they already earn.

Let me be clear: the alternative, nonprofit co-ops, is not feasible. You want to know who else shares my opinion? The markets. Stocks of health insurance companies went through the roof when news that the group of senators trying to negotiate a bipartisan approach to health reform were dropping the public plan. Obviously, investors believe that co-ops offer little competition to private insurers.

For years Democrats viewed any option that did not have a Medicare-for-all reform as a waste of time. The public option allowed for the difference of opinion amongst Democrats to be reconciled. The public option, which would force insurance companies to prove their usefulness or fade away into oblivion, settled some of those worries amongst Democrats and promised a path towards meaningful reform.

Claims by right-wing mouthpieces like Rush Limbaugh that the majority of Americans are happy with the current system of health care and the costs associated are highly questionable. The majority has either too little health care or none at all. Still more are in danger of losing what they have won through their unions as companies try to curb their benefits during the economic crisis. Therefore, the majority of Americans want Medicare improved and expanded.

HR 3200 will come to the floor in September according to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Senate finance committee continues to dally back and forth weighing the options available and listening to us...the people. The health committee has also put its legislation forward. These three bills will have to be melded together.

Among the biggest points of contention are:

* Will there be a public option?
* Will the funding come from taxing the rich or from taxing working peoples health care benefits?
* Will immigrants and women's reproductive services, etc. be included?

The Republicans and right-wing groups are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on media ads and hired thugs who are depicting Barack Obama as Hitler when in fact these groups are using the very tactics of intimidation employed Die Fuhrer in the 1920s and 1930s. These groups want to shift the focus of the debate and create confusion to undermine the current overwhelming support for the public option.

There is currently a Klan-like mentality that exists. Look at the spate of recent racist cartoons, the challenge to Sonia Sotomayors confirmation to the Supreme Court, and the depictions of Barack Obama as Hitler as proof of this. This is yet another example of what Frank talked about in his book. The right-wing is trying to break apart the coalition crafted by Obama during the election and get the masses to support something that is not in their best interests. Obama's agenda has been labeled a socialist agenda. Is there anything wrong with a socialist agenda that benefits the majority of the people?

Americans need to educate ourselves about this issue and the write our Senators and Representatives voicing support for this health reform bill. There are numerous sites where one can find out the true facts. This issue is but just one of many critical issues to come. A defeat on this issue could signal a defeat on many other important planks in the progressive platform.

For more information on this critical issue check out the following sites:

Impact of H.R.3200 according to the House of Energy and Commerce

White House Facts on Health Care

City of Los Angeles Resolution on President Obama's Health Care Plan

Health Care for America Now!(Letter to Blue Dog Democrats)

Health Care for America Now!

Barack Obama's Arguments for Health Care

Working America

Alliance for Retired Americans

ALF-CIO (look for the Health Care Town Hall section)

NPR on Canada's Health Care System


21 August 2009

PETA Hypocrisy and Michael Vick

Over the past several months, I have engaged in a debate, at times fierce, with friends over what should happen to Michael Vick. For those that do not know, Mr. Vick was convicted of running a dog fighting ring. He personally killed dogs that were not deemed to be championship material. Dogs were summarily drowned, electrocuted, etc. Dog fighting is illegal in the USA. Vick was convicted and served a two-year prison sentence.

The crux of the issue is that Vick, as a professional football player is viewed as a role model. As such, some feel that he should not be allowed to play because he this “sends the wrong message”. Furthermore, there are dog lovers who are appalled that he has been reinstated into the National Football League (NFL) and have vowed to protest. Many of these protestors are members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and are in a pother citing their love of animals as their reason for disliking Michael Vick.

I grew up watching Michael Vick playing. As a native Virginian, I watched Vick almost single handedly win Virginia Tech University a national championship. His electrifying play captivated the nation. As a professional quarterback, I rooted for Vick, even though I am not a fan of the Atlanta Falcons. I was a fan of Michael Vick the player. However, I have never viewed him as a role model. Therefore, I find the argument that reinstating Vick “sends the wrong message” utterly ridiculous. How many other athletes are not people we would want our sisters and daughters to date? Yet we continue to root for them. What kind of hypocrisy is this?

PETA is another issue. Generally, I support animal rights. I am a vegetarian. My main reason for choosing this lifestyle is because I believe it to be a far healthier lifestyle. (Vegetarians have a longer life expectancy and are far less susceptible to myriad diseases.) However, I have also read the book Fast Food Nation. This book, by Eric Schlosser, portrays how American society has been fundamentally altered by fast food restaurants. No longer are Americans abstemious about what we eat and drink. Rather, we spend half of our budget for food in restaurants, mainly fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, etc. Schlosser also graphically details how slaughterhouses operate:

“The animals keep strolling up, oblivious to what comes next, and he stands over them and shoots. For eight-and-a-half hours, he just shoots. As I stand there, he misses a few times and shoots the same animal twice. As soon as the steer falls, a worker grabs one of its hind legs, shackles it to a chain, and the chain lifts the huge animal into the air. I watch the knocker knock cattle for a couple of minutes. The animals are powerful and imposing one moment and then gone in an instant, suspended from a rail, ready for carving. A steer slips from its chain, falls to the ground, and gets its head caught in one end of a conveyor belt. The production line stops as workers struggle to free the steer, stunned but alive, from the machinery. I've seen enough.”

How many of these verdant PETA protesters are vegetarians? How many are religious. The Bible, Quran, and Torah all have passages referring to caring for all of God’s creatures. The horrors of a slaughterhouse do not live up this high ideal. Essentially, these protesters have a double standard. Many of these verdant protesters eat meat and could not care less how chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, and goats are slaughtered, but woe to the person who kills a dog. Asian countries where dogs are eaten for their meat are seen by these protesters as barbaric and backwards as is Michael Vick. PETA’s organizational mores dictate that they fight cruelty to animals. The organization has seemingly experienced a a tergiversation by waging a battle against a high-profile athlete who engaged in a criminal action and subsequently served a two-year prison sentence. PETA should instead be focusing its efforts on large businesses that make a huge profit from being cruel to animals.

The beauty of Michael Vick is that if you do not like him as a person, you have the right to root against him because he is an athlete. Make no mistake, Michael Vick does not represent a paragon of virtue. It just irritates me that so many are now saying they will not root for him because of high minded ideals, which are in essence hypocritical. I am not a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but I am more inclined to be one this year. I actually hope that Michael Vick has learned something from this experience and is a better person for it. I hope that he finds redemption on the football field and can make a positive contribution to society for the rest of his life as a result of these life experiences. So while some may hide their beagles because Vick is an Eagle, I say kudos to the Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance and unless the Eagles are playing my beloved Seahawks, I will be rooting for Michael Vick and hoping he is successful.


17 August 2009

You Thought You Had a Bad Day

Have you ever had a really good day? I'm sure you have. Have you ever had a really great day while all of those around you have had a horrible day?

Spare a thought for Charles Coventry. Who is he? Until yesterday, he was a man very few people had heard of. Charles Coventry is a Zimbabwean cricketer. Yesterday, he came in to bat at number 3 against Bangladesh in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He proceeded to score 194 runs in a one-day international (ODI) match, which equals the most runs ever scored by a single player. Unlike the player whose record he equaled, Charles Coventry was 194 not out.

Then Bangladesh batted. Unfortunately for Charles Coventry, though he scored 194 runs by himself, Zimbabwe as a team amassed only 312 on a placid wicket. Bangladesh, led by Tamim Iqbal's career best 154 runs, easily chased down the 312 runs needed to win with 13 balls remaining.

So in short, Charles Coventry sat a world record, and his team still lost! And you thought you had a bad day.

Charles Coventry


31 May 2009


Here are some updates on my previous blogs.

Delara Darabi was executed in what was a complete travesty of justice. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8030437.stm

My colleague is back here at work. It is such a tragedy that he lost his wife.

Jacob Zuma is still President of South Africa and the world has not ended! So relax South Africans, you will be ok. Plus the Bulls just won the Super 14!

That's the last of the updates


The Mick and Limey Show Part 1

In 1999, when I was at Howard University, Alex, one of my best friends, and I decided to host our own radio show. It was on the AM Howard University student radio station. For several months we did a morning show. We called it the Mick and Limey show since I have Irish ancestry and he has English roots. It was a hilarious exercise that ended when we became sick of waking up before 6am each morning.

Well, the Mick and Limey show is back on air, except this time we are on-line. Alex and I exchange e-mails all the time. I've decided to post some of those exchanges! Here is our latest. Enjoy

From Limey to Mick:

Are we beginning to see the sun setting on the US empire or am I missing something? Gone seem to be the days when the US said something and people would fall into line or powers would fall eg. Chile. Today, even the banana republics are beginning to talk smack without much fear. Piracy is rampant on the high seas, Isreal will not listen, North Korea, Burma and Zim are like whatever. My question would be what happened to weight of the US? Where did it go and when did it leave?

Was it after Vietnam with Panama and Grenada simple sideshows to fool us into thinking the US still had real power. Shoot, the UK fought and won the falklands war but no one with any real sense would consider us to have any power but there are still some crackpots. Sadly we call them the media.

Yes we all know the US has the largest most powerful army but what good is it if you can't use due to the political and economic ramifications? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying your 15 mins is about up just yet and I'm no neo-con...shoot I'm not even an American all I'm saying is these are interesting times which we live.



From Mick to Limey:


I think you are spot on on many points. Let's hope the sun is setting to some degree. (Though I'd still rather see the USA in the lead than China or Russia.) Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The US financial meltdown is evidence of that. How a few bankers managed to rip off the world and screw up the entire financial sector...eish. That's another story.

Here's the problem. The US is the world's largest debtor. It owes the world in its own currency. So if the $ falls to precipitously, it makes that debt owed worthless. The US just prints more money, and voila...it's out of debt, it's economy has taken a hit, but not a non-recoverable one. What's crazy is that despite all the anti-Americanism, frustration with foreign policy, etc., nobody wants to see the US economy fall because with it, then so too goes the world economy.

Politically, Bush messed it up. Full stop. I said this in 2004. On September 12, 2001, George W. Bush woke up as the most powerful man in world history. He was the leader of the most powerful empire and he had the entire world's sympathy. Imagine that..the whole world felt sorry for the big guy. How often has that happened? Over the next seven plus years, he managed to successfully erode that sympathy to the point where it had switched to loathing. Nice job there Bubba.

We are not safer. We are far poorer (from a balanced budget Clinton to the world's biggest debtor in 8 years). And US prestige has been eroded, perhaps beyond repair. Translation: Osama accomplished his goal of bringing down the US empire!

It's been frustrating to watch if you believe in America. If you believe the US had too much power, it's been a thing of beauty. I do think little countries such as Chile, etc., won't get too carried away because they need the US. But you are 100% correct that the days of Uncle Sam saying something and the rest of the world kowtowing are gone.




10 May 2009

My Friend

Last night at 00h59, I was awakened by my telephone. I normally sleep through phone calls as my phone is on silent. However, this one awakened me.

I looked at the phone. It was one of the teachers from my school, who is a dear colleague, and very good friend, Lutfi. Mr. Lutfi is a coruscating educator who has really excelled this year. He proceeded to inform me that he was at the airport about to leave the country. His wife had just died a few hours before in Sudan. He was flying home since, because he is a devout Muslim, the funeral will be today. He has seven kids and the youngest was born only recently. Stunned, in shock, somnolent, and half asleep, I offered my condolences. I then woke up and tried to phone him back but could not reach him on his mobile.

When I awoke this morning to go running, I thought I had had a nightmare. I had to double check my phone to see if the calls had really happened. Unfortunately, these calls were all too real.

My friend Lutfi is a man's man. He is gentle soul whom I count as one of my closest friends, though we have only known each other for nine months. This is just a tragedy. It serves to remind me how short and precarious this life is. I am taking this as a lesson to try to let those close to me know as often as I can how special each of my friends and family members are to me. We are each in a state of senescence and only on this planet for a finite amount of time. There is a saying in SePedi: Motho ke motho ka batho. (Loosely translated, it means a person is a person because of other people.) So to all my family and friends, just know that at this moment, you are in my thoughts. You are valued, treasured, and loved.

P.S. This picture is of Lutfi doing extra work with two students and teaching them to use a dictionary. It was taken on Thursday.


09 May 2009

The Inauguration of Jacob Zuma

I am sitting here at the moment watching Al-Jazeera. Unlike BBC and CNN, Al-Jazeera is covering the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as the fourth President of South Africa (third elected) of post-apartheid South Africa.

While I am sure my good friend Hlengani is not a man of his word, since he has not emigrated from South Africa as he promised to do if Zuma was ever elected, I am sure he, like many, are bemoaning the fact that Zuma is now leading the most influential country on the continent. While Jacob Zuma clearly does not have the pulchritude of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, as I have watched events unfold from afar over the past few months, I have become more and more convinced that the emergence and election of Jacob Zuma is a good thing

Before you throw a shoe at your computer screen hear me out on this. There are four reasons I feel this way. First, personally, as an American who lived in South Africa from 2002-2008, I had to endure nearly seven years of listening to South Africans denigrate Americans for electing such an incompetent nitwit as President. To be honest, I had no answer. I detested and still detest George W. Bush as a human. It will be up to history to judge him but I digress. However, as of today, I can now proudly smile at all of the South Africans who over the years derided Americans for our voting record. We have Barack Obama. You have JZ, and I do not mean the rapper! Enjoy the next five years of my derision.

My belief that Zuma's election is a good thing extend beyond my own personal relationships though. The second reason I believe Zuma's election is a good thing is that he has weakened the ANC. Although I am not a South African, it should be obvious to everyone that the country needs a legitimate opposition party that is not merely a metamorphosis of an apartheid era party. This has not happened.After the 2004 election, the African National Congress received enough of the vote that it could have legitimately Though this has not occurred, the fact that during this election the ANC received less than 67% of the vote and can not change the Constitution on its own represents real progress. There is hope that legitimate multiracial opposition can emerge over the next five to ten years.

The third reason I am in favor of Zuma's election is that believe it or not, I feel that Zuma's election shows the vibrancy of the young South African democracy. Thabo Mbeki sought a third term, which though technically not in violation of the Constitution, effectively tried to undermine the Constitutional stipulation that a President only serve two terms. The fact that Zuma was elected at the ANC conference in Polokwane shows that many South Africans within the ANC do understand the issues that are affecting the nation.

Zuma ran as the anti-Mbeki. While I supported Mbeki and feel that he is a visionary and has a fantastic Pan-Africanist view, Mbeki missed the boat on four critical issues: Aids, Zimbabwe, crime, and corruption. Mbeki's policies on each of these issues left a lot to be desired. His failures to effectively implement a nationwide AIDS policy to combat AIDS, statements that crime was the figment of white South Africans' minds, lack of ability to pressure Robert Mugabe into real reform, and the rampant corruption within the ANC during his term all contributed to his political demise. Zuma has portended that he plans to change these policies by tackling crime, formulating an AIDS policy, fixing government corruption, and facilitating Mugabe's removal from power. If he can achieve any of these changes, he will have achieved a great feat.

I personally doubt whether Jacob Zuma will be able to deliver on his promises. It would take a tremendous amount of thaumaturgy for Zuma to accomplish this goals and deliver on his promises. Yet I am willing to give him a try, since his presidency is the will of the people. I also believe that the ANC is in fact the best party to rule the country. (Though I would have voted for another party for the sake of trying to reduce the ANC to below 66%). In the meantime, Zuma will have to be re-elected in five years and if the South African public is not happy with what he achieves, he can be replaced. Despite what many say, this election proves that democracy is alive and well in South Africa. So let's all enjoy the moment of frisson when the South African national anthem is played momentarily. Nkosi sikilel' iAfrika!


18 April 2009

Delara Darabi

While researching the case of the American journalist who has been accused of spying by the Iranian government, Roxana Saberi, I came across the case of Delara Darabi. Rarely has a case moved me the way this one has.

Delara Darabi was only 17 at the time. Her boyfriend broke into a home and committed a murder. Delara was apparently with him and as an accomplice to the robbery was sentenced to among other things, 50 lashes. However, believing that her boyfriend, was 20, would be sentenced to death, she was convinced to plead guilty to the murders. Her logic was that since Iran is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which prohibit the execution of minors for crimes committed before they are 18, she would be spared execution. Sadly, this has not been the case. Her execution has been set for 20 April, less than two days from the time I write this.

As of this writing, it is not to late. One can log onto a website created to help put public pressure on the Iranian government. I would urge every reader of this blog to sign a petition and write to as many people as you can write to during the next 36 hours in an effort to save Delara's life. The website is www.savedelara.com.


13 April 2009

Being Content

'...I have learned the secret of being content...' Philippians 4:12

Sometimes contentment means: 1) Learning to be happy with less. A
hard-charging executive decided to spend a few days in a monastery.

'I hope your stay is a blessed one,' said the monk who showed him to his
cell. 'If you need anything let us know. We'll teach you how to live
without it.' Happiness isn't getting what you want, it's enjoying what
God's given you. Paul said he had learned to be content, '...whether
well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or want. I can do
everything through him who gives me strength.' (Philippians 4:12-13 NIV)
2) Reminding yourself things could be worse. Snoopy was lying in his dog
house one Thanksgiving Day, mumbling about being stuck with dog food
while all those humans got to be inside with the turkey and gravy and
pumpkin pie. 'Of course, it could have been worse,' he finally
reflected, 'I could have been born a turkey.' Reminding yourself 'It
could be worse' can be a powerful developer of contentment. 3)
Understanding that what you seek is spiritual, not material. Paul says
to beware of '...greed, which is idolatry' (Colossians 3:5 NIV). Our
problem isn't just that we want more, it's that the condition which
underlies all our wanting is that we really want God. As Augustine said,
'Our souls will never rest, until they rest in Thee.' Why would God let
us feel at home, when this world is not our home? Our dissatisfaction,
if we let it, can sharpen our spiritual hunger and cause us to pray,
'your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'
(Matthew 6:10 NIV).


09 April 2009

Photos of the Rain Storms in Dubai

We had a lot of stormy weather last week here in the Gulf. The storms triggered sand storms here and a bit of rain. But in Dubai, there was a lot of rain as well lightning. Below are some of the pics of the lightning that struck the Burj Dubai Tower, the tallest building in the world.

I hope you enjoy these amazing photographs!


Nomadic Richard


In Celebration of Easter

Irish Lent

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone.

An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. This happens yet again. The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers?"

"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies. "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America, and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues for the rest of the evening. He orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all.

The man ponders this for a moment, then replies,"You' ll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."


07 April 2009


Okay this will show hold old I actually am. I generally hate video games and have not owned a single video game console since the original Nintendo came out. In fact, I still have that game console somewhere in my Mom's attic! It is rare that I get into a game and really enjoy playing it.

Despite this aversion for video games, and my feeling that day spent gaming is an otiose day, I love Pac-Man! Pac-Man is a cult icon. How many other video games have shirts limned with the game frame on it? It defined a generation at the video arcades when I used to play for a quarter a game when my parents were nice enough to give me that quarter. Admittedly, I didn't play that often at the arcade because a quarter could also buy me a pack of baseball cards. I usually choose the baseball cards. But Pac-Man was the one game that could sometimes make me spend some of my quarters and play a video game.

I never got into Centipede, Space Invaders, or many of the other games of that era, but Pac-Man...I loved that game. So when I heard that there is going to be a new 30-Year Anniversary edition of Pac-Man coming out, it had me considering buying a new gaming console if only to relive my childhood. I'll have to debate the merits of this, but I am really considering it.

I wonder if they can develop a version for the Nintendo WII that allows you to actually run from the four ghosts. (That way my friend Henry, who by the way is responsible for designing this website, could actually get some exercise! Alas, I digress!) Think of the possibilities! Even cricket video games haven't made me actually want to buy a gaming console this badly! (See, I got cricket into this blog!)

Just to show what a Pac-Man nerd I am, I will leave you with these statistics and interesting facts that I was able to find about Pac-Man:

  • The original name for Pac-Man was Puck-Man. It was changed when the game was released in the USA.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the first perfect game of Pac-Man was recorded on July 3, 1999 by infamous gamer Billy Mitchell, who was also featured in the critically-acclaimed documentary, The King of Kong. He scored a mind-numbing 3,333,360 in six hours.
  • Though it theoretically doesn't end, a bug in the original game's code makes in unplayable past the 255th level, otherwise known as Pac-Man's "kill screen."
  • 94 percent of American consumers recognize Pac-Man, giving him the highest brand awareness of any video game character in the country.

If you didn't know before, now you know!


06 April 2009

Iran and Nuclear Energy

Over this past weekend, I listened to Barack Obama address a European audience and say that a missile defense shield was necessary as long as Iran was pursuing a nuclear energy programme. I was extremely disappointed by this feckless statement and the the fear-mongering this statment pandered to. It was very reminiscent of Obama's predecessor and as illogical as many of Bush's ill-timed thought out utterances.

The fact that Iran has pursued nuclear energy for the past several years is not news. Neither is the United States position on this issue. While this issue has been discussed at length from one view point, that of the American government, I do not believe that it has been dealt with in any objective manner. I am going to attempt to address the issue of Iran's nucluear programme from a slightly different perspective.

That Iran is pursuing a programme designed to give it nuclear energy isnot in dispute. Iran's nuclear energy programme goes back to the 1970s when the United States backed the Shah's efforts to make nuclear energy a staple source of energy for a quickly developing Iran. The United States trained Iranian nuclear scientists, helped the Iranians purchase the parts of necessary to build their first nuclear power station, and supported the Iranians in their quest to procure alternate sources of energy. Despite the Americans seemingly supporting the Shah's government, the Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations all sought to limit the possibility of nuclear proliferation and maintain American hegemony by imposing severe restrictions on how the Shah's government could use its newly aquired technology.

Not surprisingly, the Shah's government did not like the the restrictions imposed upon it. Equally not suprisingly, the American government did sanction nor support the continuation of the Iranian nuclear programme under the Islamic Revolution. However the programme was eventually continued. Thus, the current controversy.

My personal opinion is that Iran needs to be commended for trying to build a nuclear power plant. My arugement for this opinion is complex. Yet it boils down to several key points. First, if Iran was to try to wholly rely on the burning of fossil fuels, it would contribute significantly to pollution and environmental catastrophe. Next, Iran is trying to develop itself and needs alternatives to fossil fuel. Lastly, Iran has not violated any international laws and must be allowed that right to determine its own energy policy.

When the Islamic Revolution occurred in 1979, the Iranian population was around 32 million. Today, Iran's population is close to 70 million. This population explosion has increased Iran's energy needs. The Iranian government has sought to expand the number of villages that have access to electricity, which has served to further raise the energy demands of the country. To compound matters, the Iranian economy is growing at around 6% per annum. With this growth comes an increased need for energy.

One would think that Iran could simply turn on the tap and open up the pipelines to its oil reserves and provide the country with more energy. However, since the 1970s, Iran's oil production has actually decreased! This is due to Western sanctions and the fact that Iran's petroleum industry needs a massive amount of upgrading and modernization, which it cannot easily procure due to the Western blockade. This, coupled with the fact that Iran's energy needs have increased, has forced the Iranians to become a net oil importer. As astounding as it may be to consider, one of the leading members of OPEC actually imports oil. When one considers the implications of this fact, it is easy to see why the Iranian government wants to explore nuclear energy as an alternative form of energy.

The last point is probably the most controversial, yet it remains true. Iran has in fact complied with requests from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). Furthermore, Iran signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968 and ratified it in 1970. While this was done under the Shah's government, the Islamic Revolution has not overturned this treaty. Therefore, Iran has a right, as recognized by international law, to develop nuclear energy as long as this is monitored by the IAEA.

The Rush Limbaugh's of the world love to point out that Iran may have the capability to enrich uranium. Yet so far, Iran has in fact complied with all IAEA requests. Furthermore, if one reads the wording of the non-proliferation treaty, it allows for uranium enrichment as long as this is done for peaceful purposes. Therefore, Iran is commiting no violation of any treaty, to which it is a party, by simply enriching uranium.

Add this to the fact that Iran's current known uranium deposits can produce the same amount of electricity as 45 Billion barrels of oil. Iran has just over 90 billion barrels of known oil reserves. However, some are in locations difficult to extract. Therefore, it is unlikely that all of their oil will ever be extracted. Thus, the Iranians could theoretically supply their own energy needs from nuclear energy and export all of their oil for profit, thereby improving the standard of living.

The United States and western governments assume that simply because Iran has a nuclear energy programme, this programme will be used to develop nuclear weapons. It is hypocritical to deny Iran this right. It is also cynical to force Iran to burn a non-renewable energy source when it can save this valuable resource and position itself to be an even larger player in the oil industry in years to come. Furthermore, the west did not protest too vehemently when Pakistan, another Islamic country that is far less stable than Iran, developed nuclear capabilities. Furthermore, Iran has repeatedly sought to eliminate nuclear weapons in the entire region (including in Israel). While this is obviously a political move designed to embarrass Israel, one must consider the brutal usage of weapons of mass destruction that Sadam Hussein's Iraqi forces hurled against the Iranians. The propinquity of the Iran-Iraq War has not allowed the Iranians to forget the destructive nature of these weapons. Could it not be possible that they simply want to eliminate these weapons in the region to protect themselves from the possibility that they could again be victimized by such weapons?

It is my hope that the Obama administration develops a velleity to help Iran develop its energy capabilities in a safe manner. If the Americans feel as though Iran is an enemy, then perhaps the old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer should hold true and the Iranians should be brought into the family of nations rather than ostracized like a criminal step-child.


30 March 2009

Sand Storms

I have been asked recently what a sandstorm is like. For those that want an idea of what a sandstorm is like, here it is.

While the sandstorms here in Al-Ain are not quite this bad, they are insidious. The sky is blotted out. The sun is virtually invisible and everything is just covered in dust...including this keyboard I'm typing on. Enjoy the pics.