First, let's start with the heart-warming

I absolutely love family photos...well not necessarily that of my own. Don't get me wrong, I adore my family, but we just never "got it." The youngest one would look mildly sedated, while another brother would stare off into the distance, contrived smiles or priceless expressions such as that of this young lad.

So when the family photos of the Johnathan family came out on ThisDay Style magazine (H/T Jide Salu), I couldn't help shelf my critical eye and let out an unnecessarily drawn out "Awwwwwwww...."

Let's not be naive here, family photos can be deceiving, but it was a long weekend, the weather was lovely, and a well-taken family photo makes me exceedingly happy.

I'll save my Obama wanna-be references for another post - you know, like this one. Oops, yeah, that one slipped.

And besides, I needed something to cheer me up after reading the disgraceful account of brutal domestic violence in the household of Nigerian Ambassador to Kenya, Dr. Chijioke Nwigwe. Warning, the pictures of his wife's bloodied face are graphic. I believe he is now being recalled from his post - but to me it is all a charade. Let's not be fooled, this was not the first time he battered his wife, and will not be the last. Some have claimed to have received his side of the story, in which the wife attacked him first and then in the process, fell down the stairs. Really? Do batterers and abusive parents have some sort of worldwide convention and make a list of alternative scenarios to be distributed to their card carrying members? The fell-down-the-stairs excuse has to be the oldest in the book.

Upon seeing the pictures, the first questions that came to bear - and mind, you, these were immediate visceral reactions - what would possess a man to attack someone's grandmother to that extent and what would keep an educated woman in such a situation? Like seriously, unu abuo kwesiri kwanyere onwe unu ugwu. I choro igwa m na unu ka na-akpa agwa nzuzu n'agadi?* But, on further introspection I knew that the first question was inappropriate - because I believe that her status as grandmother, mother, saint or devil really has no bearing on his brutality. And if one were to trot down that road further, as we are wont to do in our culture, we find ourselves on the slippery slopes of justifying situations amenable to physical punishment of an adult or ranking the deserved-ness (there must be another word for that) of one's respect on the basis on how active one's womb is/has been. And simply put, I hate that.

The second question, I danced around a bit on a previous post from several years ago in which I made remarks on a study on Igbo women's attitudes towards domestic violence - which yielded results that at first glance, may seem atypical, but track well with some of my personal experiences. The couple at the center of this tragedy, the Nwigwe's, are well-heeled, educated and the wife possesses dual British-Nigerian citizenship. I have witnessed a number of married women stay in emotionally and physically abusive relationships, despite lives that on the outside, seem relatively put together - in fact, envious.

*you two need to respect yourselves...you want to tell me that you still behave foolishly in old age?


No more menthols

I hate cigarettes and the tobacco industry as much as the next non-smoker - however, I am concerned about recent talks to urge the FDA to ban mentholated cigarettes exclusively. (The link is a year old, but for some reason, a number of articles have come out from American Journal of Public Health this month and last about menthols)

African Americans are most likely to consume mentholated cigarettes and a ban would affect 90% of black smokers. If I could wave a magic wand, I would like to get rid of cigarettes, but sadly, reality is not so convenient. I still wish to look more into this topic, but I made some other preliminary comments elsewhere (link also presents related articles to the ban of menthols - seriously, haven't seen lazier public health/policy papers in quite a while).

...the fact that the majority of menthol smokers, if facing a ban, will turn to regular cigarettes presents another problem. It promotes the erroneous message that non-mentholated cigarettes, consumed by non-Blacks, are inherently safer than menthols – which is not true when you look at long-term outcomes – like lung cancer and even short-term outcomes like various biomarker loads...
But more importantly, a conversation about banning menthol cigarettes without a discussion on the inadvertent consequences of such a ban on minority communities, who are disproportionately harshly penalized by America's war against illicit drugs is a reckless one. LinkSee Warehousing of African Americans in prisons due to crack cocaine (and not the more affluent powder cocaine).


Camping and Kanazawa

Yes, this used to be an unpublished half-post. Decided to run with it an publish it anyway before it gets too irrelevant. Urgghh, everything's moving too fast.

Evolutionary psychologist, Santoshi Kanazawa has perhaps set himself to be the Harold Camping of Darwinism. Both men, in recent weeks, have single-handedly shamed their bases and have become the poster children of all that is wrong with "these" sorts of people.

Long after May 21st rapture deadline, we're all here, save for the unfortunate events occurring in the Midwest. Never mind his failed 1994 predictions of the end of the world, nor Christ stating, and I quote "no one knows neither the date nor the time," the fact that the proclamation was a surprise to many in Nigeria, a country which hosts perhaps some of the most zealous Christians on the planet, should have convinced everyone of where they'd be after the weekend. And another thing about that, the idea that rapture central was in some random community in Florida - or was it California - highlights the pervasiveness of the idea of 'American exceptionalism," not only in politics, but also in religion. But, I digress.

Sadly, many have used the eccentricities of this senile radio host to point out their views on fundamental flaws of religion. Somewhat of an over-reach considering that many, within Christiansdom, including myself, dismissed Camping and those of his ilk a long time ago. I would have rather, people pay attention to news such as this, which begs for a face-palm.

Yes, I let out a chuckle or two at the Savage Mind's dismissal of evolutionary psychology and Kanazawa's, Why Black Women are Ugly piece (H/T Loomnie). I can't really imagine who in science-dom would take the article seriously. Anyone who provides an argument stating someone has a "higher mutation load," deserves a serious side-eye. Really, Kanazawa - you could think of any other way to make that sound more science-y? I kid. While I am suspicious of some of the goals of evolutionary psychology, I am not in a hurry to dismiss the field, yet. It could use a bit of help with PR. Kanazawa represents its wacky extremes, who unfortunately, speak louder than its moderate majority and severely threaten the field's credibility. In the words of Sex and the City's Steve Brady, "there's some good stuff here."**

My understanding of Darwin is largely limited to a few undergraduate courses here and there (I must admit, my interest in science primarily centers on its application, i.e. not basic science), but it does not seem as if Darwin's intent was to birth a religion - that is to give meaning and a purpose to just about everything - to provide a unifying principle by which everything has its being (or perhaps, I tell myself this, in order to reconcile my faith and my science...my clinical background allows me to comfortably stay away from such debates). But some elements of evolutionary psychology have made the mistake of, as Savage Minds points out, of using basic biology to explain behavior - but, to the ignorance of other very real and tangible forces at play.

I’ve yet to come across an evolutionary psychological explanation that doesn’t have a corresponding – and often more plausible – cultural explanation; while the cultural explanation might not ultimately be right, if you’re going to build a science on the primacy of the biological over the cultural, you’re going to have to at least consider the cultural as an alternative hypothesis!

**I'd figure that to understand the above, you would have to be a dedicated follower of the TV series, of which, sadly, I am. Quote comes from some earlier episode where Steve Brady, Miranda's love interest, makes one of many pleas to save their relationship...


Four years later...

...Well, not quite, but couldn't think of alternative title for this post.

I believe I am among the 95% or so of bloggers who don't blog - meaning, bloggers who haven't touched their blog in ages. I am currently running about an average of less than one post a month...or perhaps every two months. Life likes to get in the way, but then there is also the convenience of Twitter and there was the time that I used to, from time to time, update my Facebook status. Used to. Way too many "Friends" who, at best, are mere acquaintances. Never thought I would say this, since I am not terribly private with my online identity, but Facebook is getting a bit too nose-y for my liking.

I've often found myself killing a blog post idea mid-thought because there just wasn't enough "there," to warrant a post and, unfortunately, 140 character Twitter limit just wouldn't do it justice. Yes, I am aware that there are avenues by which to defy the 140 character post limit, but I fancy myself a social media purist - if Twitter says 140 characters, I'll abide by 140 characters...if Facebook says, link up with old friends - I will...no posting of birthday presents, planting of flowers, nor indulging in anonymous "Ask Me Anything" apps. I guess, in the realm of blogging, I set out to adhere to certain rules - such as the idea that a blogpost must have a beginning, and end, and most importantly, a point - but it seems like such standards are more stifling then ever. My Blogger list of posts hosts a number of unpublished thoughts that didn't make it to daylight, because the post simply didn't have much of a point (much like this one) or didn't fit with the overall "theme" of the blog.

Well, I guess all this is to say, that, hopefully, in the future, I will slowly begin to tear myself away from these rules I created and thus imposed on myself. Pyoo wata is getting on in years - This November will make it four years. I am gradually coming to terms with the fact that after four years, there is still no unifying theme to this blog and perhaps will never be.