Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sani Abacha Pikin Don Die!

Dear All,
I am Aziz M. Hossein, a legal practitioner in Malaysia with many years of practice. I was an attorney to a deceased client of mine, who died in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia of a heart related condition in 2001. My reason of sending you this email is to help secure the funds left behind by my client before it is confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank where this fund valued at $4.7 million was deposited.

Since you do have the same surname with my late client, I would want to present you as the legitimate beneficiary with all legal documents required to back the claim up. The holding bank has issued me a notice to contact the next of kin, or the account will be confiscated, and so far, all my efforts to get hold of someone related to this man has proved abortive.

This is my proposal; I am asking for your consent to present you to the bank as the next-of-kin and beneficiary of my late client, since you have the same last name, so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to you. Then we can share the amount on a mutually agreed-upon percentage. I do have a good standing in Malaysia it is my assurance that this transaction will be successful and that I will make sure that the transaction is done within the applicable laws to guarantee full legitimacy.

All legal documents to back up your claim as my client's next-of-kin will be provided by me.All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us see this transaction through. This will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law. However, if this business proposition offends your moral values, do accept my apology.

Please contact me at once to indicate your interest. Do understand that this transaction do require utmost confidence and you should keep this mail to yourself not with standing if you are rejecting the transaction or accepting it.

Note that I reserve the right to reject your acceptance of this proposal if I have reasons to believe that you may not be honest or discreet as it concerns this proposal.

Further details will be giving as soon as your interest is indicated.

Yours Sincerely,
Bar Aziz M. Hossein.
Attorney at Law

Disclaimer: Oh, the irony! This is an exact copy of an email I came across a few days ago. I thought it would be interesting to share it with you all. All those interested please contact Mr. Aziz Hossein. Seriously.

The Harriet Project does not endorse Mr. Hussein and therefore is not responsible for any unfortunate circumstances that might occur if he is indeed contacted.

Happy April Fools Day!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Networking for Girls

The battle begins the day the girl is born, but then it really depends on geography. Females conceived in some countries are not lucky enough to be born. Think India, China, and some parts of Africa and other parts of the world, where a female child is seen more as a curse than a blessing. So, the battle is fought and won before the girl is born.

If the government allows families only a child or if an expensive dowry has to be paid why then would any logical thinking family want one with two X chromosomes?

So, from the play ground to the boardroom girls are bullied by those of the other sex, but sometimes too the cruelty is from within. Sure there's that part about kissing in a tree and a baby carriage on the journey from play ground to boardroom. But, even what society has come to refer to as the dating game is some sort of trick to make women really believe they are some priced jewel. It's not uncommon for men to talk about their women over drinks like they are bison or buffalo. Whoever came up with the concept of the trophy wife must have had dinner with Socrates at some point; there's no other appropriate term for spoils from a hunt than of course a trophy.

But these days, it's not so much about being hunted. Some women really love to believe they are deer or maybe warthogs. Now, now this is not meant to offend but walk into any dance club on Saturday night and if you stare long enough, you'll notice you're standing on grass. Some deer might walk by and make an attempt to brush against the male. She might have that deer in the headlights look on her face. And a guffaw that in between teeth if listened to long enough sounds like a plea to be taken home. Home to the slaughter or maybe for Easter brunch, but just wants to be taken home.

It's like the Trojan commercial where the men look like pigs, but now the joke is on the ladies. With eyes as big as possums they stare at these men. Dance with me their eyes seem to say...and then take me home.

But really it's not the hunt neither is it the chance of being born or not being born. Those were an aside. How is a girl supposed to move up in the world when she is only supposed to just be deer? She's talked about like she's a priced moose or bison, but really all she is is deer.

There are countless of those events. The swanky networking shindigs. It's always open bar and the cheeses are so exquisite. This girl doesn't care about the cheese or the nicely arranged Ritz crackers, she wants some business cards...a lead to something. But remember she is but deer.

So now the cards are all stacked. Or maybe they are in a fancy card case from Tiffany's. Remember the gentleman who works for Random House? Nice Armani suit, really great shoes...smelled good too but wore the dreaded band, going south on his anatomy, on an appendage, on one of his phalanges. Yes that guy. He talked to you about how he climbed his way up the ladder at the company. And of course he mentioned that he had to play tooth fairy that night to some grubby monster with play dough up his ears and brocolli underneath his bed.

But the man has connections, connections the girl needs. The key word is network! Network! Network! But how does she call him and start a conversation about a potential lead?

It's easy to tell women to network but then it's not so easy to make things happen once the hangover from all that good wine is gone. So a good girl keeps his number for weeks while it burns a hole in her card case. She's not even remotely attracted to the guy, but what if she calls and he gets the wrong signal?

"Hey, I remember you...red lipstick...ahhh yes was it a magenta suit?" he quips. "They call them power suits these days my secretary tells me..." Now why didn't he make reference to junior with the missing tooth's Mom? Doesn't she have an opinon on power suits? If he had mentioned junior's Mom and not secretary it would signal that although he remembers the suit and lip rouge he still wants to make it clear that the ring on his finger is doing things other than cutting off his circulation. "Okay, bring your resume and we can brainstorm opportunities for you at the company over lunch." Now this is starting to look not so good. He remembererd the red lipstick. Sure it was worn so it would be remembered, but he remembered it. Surely he's a family man. He rambled about junior all night long...but I could easily email the resume. And he could Twitter a response to me. Why do we have to do lunch?

Or maybe it's not the Armani suit wearing executive from the publishing house. Maybe it's the older gentleman who is well connected. He calls her dear. Now is that dear as in you're just like my grandchild dear, deer or what is it really?

Soon, there are all these invites to do lunch, meet at Gallery X, Museum Y, and Bar Z. But the girl only wants to network and connect with the power brokers. She doesn't want to be your mistress or rescue you from your unhappy matrimonial contract. She just wants to be your friend and maybe someday your co-worker or your friend's co-worker.

And then in the midst of all this, there's inspiring news about alpha females like Sarah Palin and Nadya Suleman who got to the top sans business card from Armani wearing dude or Grandpa-well-connected and girl wonders what she's doing wrong. Maybe she'll call Hugh Hefner tomorrow. He's always taking applications she's told. He'll take her home, he'll be good for networking, and definitely he'll give her a job. She won't be deer no more. Now she'll be a bunny.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Outing Meghan McCain

From her appearance on "The View" to her most recent on the Larry King Show last night, the oldest McCain daughter and recent Columbia Universtiy graduate didn't spend too much time picking out an outfit reflective of a change in the season. She's turned down nice pastels and colorful frocks in favor of black. Black hair bands, black blouses with mathching black pants and jacket. Maybe Meghan is still mourning her father's failure to win the Presidency or maybe she's smart enough to know that black is every fashionable woman's first defense in the battle of the bulge. Black makes you look slim. It streamlines those love handles and although black done right can have a strong appeal it also has that blah factor that steals from any further interest in the subject.

A few days ago Meghan made headlines for asking conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham to kiss her fat Arizona ass after Ingraham made an acerbic joke about Meghan's weight. Since then she has gone on a tirade letting the world know she is comfortable with her weight. So comfortable that she still continues to wear black even though it's spring. I wish I had her kind of confidence...Oh the places I would go. But Meghan didn't just spend the past week battling Ingraham and others on a weight witch hunt. She's also followed in mine and her Dad's footsteps by joining Twitter and currently has a record 11,000 people following her every mindless thoughts on the social network. But that's not all, Meghan McCain has a lot more on her mind.

For starters she is quite patriotic and unlike the elephant in the fat man suit, she doesn't want the President to fail. She wants the President to succeed so badly that she's willing to admit that she loves gay people, doesn't care what people do with their bodies, and importantly she told Larry King that she's a progressive Republican. That sounds like a synonym for Democrat doesn't it? I'm still waiting for Meghan to come out. Give or take, she'll make that decision soon and I'll be heading to Hallmark to buy her a card. They now have one to celebrate that. She'll be the the director of the Obama campaign in Arizona or maybe she'll choose New York.

Her Dad already seems to be warming up to that one and it won't be long before Meghan does the same. It's sexy to be a Democrat now. Meghan would know. She's quite the self proclaimed pop culture nut, so it doesn't come as a surprise that inspite of her Ivy League education and world class exposure she still manages to channel what comes off as a chimera of Nicole Ritchie and Paris Hilton. Ditsy yet confident in ways only known to one who's John McCain's offspring. She is quite an interesting girl that Meghan McCain. Every time I hear her speak it's like watching an episode of The Hills and I sometimes fall asleep waking up to the fear that the teeth, yes Audrina's are biting my toes, and I don't know why. To follow the young maverick visit her blog, McCainBlogette. It'll explain things a whole lot better.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Homelessness in America

It was 2009. Historians will have a ball of many sorts when the history of the Second Great Depression is written. Mostly, they will document the housing crisis and how it was the start of what would become the most challenging financial crisis in the history of the United States of America. But, long before the housing crisis, the United States has always had issues with housing; finding a house, affording one, or simply the lack thereof of housing. A few years ago, I worked with a number of coalitions in the city of Atlanta devoted to managing the problem of homelessness. I was alarmed at the number of homeless individuals in the city. Homeless in the United States seems paradoxical at first. The United States hasn't had a major war, not since Sherman's army marched on the South, yet homelessness still continues to pervade the fabric of this nation. Over the next couple of days and perhaps weeks I will write some articles addressing the issue. The first installment is an article I wrote in 2004 as part of my application for a so called unamed Ivy League School. Inspite of the housing crisis in the United States and considering that none of Americas homeless are victims of a domestic war why is homelessness still a problem in this country?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Top Guns: When Bare Arms Were in Vogue

Michelle Obama has been taking some heat lately for showing too much skin. From the campaign trail to the Inaugural balls and in her portiat for the White House website, the first lady has defended her right to bare arms. In a recent cover for Vogue magazine, the first lady sported a sleeveless magenta silk dress by designer Jason Wu, who also designed her Inaugural ball gown. The backlash is quite alarming, as though baring ones arms is a new and unchaste fashion concept. The critics who want her arms covered are trying to deflect the wrath of the Taliban, since bare arms are the new erotica. Besides Americans just hate to see well toned arms, it's inappropriate, but we'd rather watch naked celebrities on our networks.

The sleeveless frock is a staple in the closet of many American women adorning the pencil thin frame of Audrey Hepburn and the voluptuous curves of Marilyn Monroe. Beginning with the late fifties and the early sixties, long sleeves gave way for frocks that were sleeveless, in a style that is reminiscent of Jackie O. While some outfits were still made with sleeves it was fashionable to bare arms. If the 1920s granted women suffrage rights, the right to bare arms was achieved in the 1960s. Arms are not objects of eroticism, just as toes aren't, but there's room for debate. Michelle is not going around the White House or making public appearances without appropriate undergarments. She is not wearing sheer blouses with no underwear or sporting a visible panty line. She is a woman who looks great for her age and has a pair of perfectly toned arms to go along with the rest of the package.

There's nothing shocking about Michelle's trend. It's a revival of an old trend. In the late fifties and early sixties popular styles for women were fitted sleeveless dresses with full skirts that hit slightly below the knees. Michelle is definitely a different kind of fashionista and first lady. She is world's away from the frailty that was Nancy Reagan or the stoic Eleanor Roosevelt. Michelle cannot be likened to Hillary Clinton either. While Hillary possesed a unique sense of self and an almost unrivaled intelligence, she missed the memo consistently when it came to style, first in the Arkansas White House and then on Pennsylvania Avenue. Her recent stylish rebirth has only come with age and years of enduring her husband's infidelity. If I were to compare Michelle to a former first lady, it would be Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The self described queen of Camelot, Kennedy Onassis had a style that was oft described as timeless, classic and modern. These same flowery descriptions have been used to describe Michelle's style as well.

Had she been the first to stake a claim to the right to bare arms then there might be room for an arguemnt. But, this is 2009, and if Jacqueline Kennedy could in the sixties why can't Michelle do so now? Jacqueline Kennedy did not live in this century if we need to be reminded yet she showed off her arms not only in private moments but publicly. Bare arms, where acceptable then and still are now. Those who want to pick a bone with Michelle will be welcome to do so if their complaint was that her bare arms were either too hairy or flabby. Her arms are neither. If change has come to Washington, shouldn't we expect that it pervade the style there as well? I doubt that Michelle Obama will back down and become more conservative with regards to her style. She's favored the sleeveless frock even before she met and married the President. Her job title is first lady, she's not training for the convent. If France can deal with Mrs. Sarkozy why can't Americans handle Michelle's bare arms? So, it's Michelle Obama's party and no one is invited.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


In an earlier post, I wrote about a Georgia man who committed suicide at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building across from the State Capitol. At the time of the post, no information was available on the victim. However, new information shows that the victim, Richard Areingdale a 42-year-old state employee and Cobb County resident, was wanted on eight felony child molestation charges.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he was charged with one count each of rape, statutory rape and incest, two counts of child molestation, aggravated sodomy, and three counts of child molestation. The charges occurred between January 2001 and March 2009. Reports notes that the police had gone to his house the previous night to serve him a warrant. Apparently, he may have already committed suicide while the police were at his house attempting to serve the warrant for his arrest. Inspite of the charges against him, his decision to take his own life is still quite unfortunate and could have been prevented.

How to Commit Career Suicide

Sleeping on the job, stealing from your boss, or lying on your resume are so 1940s. When it comes to the ultimate method to giving your career the final farewell, consider getting into a fight with your slightly not so teenage girlfriend just hours before you are both scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards. But you say you don't have a girlfriend and you have no singing talent. To fix the first problem, post an ad on Craigslist. It should read something like this, "single guy seeks a 21 year old female for a long-term relationship. Female should be preferably Bajan who is insecure and thinks getting a beating is a true expression of love." To fix the second, I'd suggest talking to Kanye West or maybe T-Pain. They have perfected the art of singing without a hint of talent.

Since the Chris Brown-Rihanna alleged report of domestic violence became public, there have been speculations about what truly happened that night. From blogs, to radio personalities, major television networks and even on the Oprah Winfrey Show, many concerned Americans have tried to understand with almost little to no information the reason Chris Brown attacked his lover turned unnamed female companion just hours before they were to perform at the Grammy's. For a while, all most people relied on to make their judgments was just plain hear say, and reports from Chris Brown's camp and Rihanna's. However, when the photographs of a badly battered Rihanna leaked from the Los Angeles Police Department archives into the claws of tabloid site TMZ, it was clear that regardless of what may have taken place that night that Rihanna did indeed suffer a brutal beating at the hands of Chris Brown.

In the past weeks, Chris Brown has been kicked off some major deals, including one for Wrigley's chewing gum. Some radio stations have stopped playing his songs altogether and he has become the poster boy for domestic abuse dons across the United States. In spite of the allegations against him, the young man over the weekend vacationed in Miami on the property of Sean Combs and defiantly flexed his muscles and smiled with glee as the paparazzi swarmed to get his pictures as he rode on a jet ski. After all, he had done his part. He already issued an apology and claimed that he was in counseling to ensure that his abusive behavior would not be repeated. Then he hired top defense attorney, Mark Geragos who helped both Winona Ryder and Michael Jackson get just what probably amounts to a slap on the wrist when they should otherwise be behind the slammer.

Earlier today, Chris Brown appeared in court in a somber looking and terribly ill fitting three piece suit with a tie that looked like a giant Chinese kite. His attorney, Geragos appeared very upbeat, and laughed a couple of times before the proceedings. Despite being arraigned in court earlier today on two felony counts, Chris Brown's attorneys have managed to get his hearing moved to April 6. So with the time lapse, they will get their own witnesses, testimony will get badly screwed up, Rihanna will be deeper in love with her abuser -hence there will be more reason not to press charges- and their spawn if rumors are true will be incubating as the two lovebirds plan their future together. Maybe Chris Brown will get the axe and be sent to a state facility or maybe he'll be sent off to his studio to work on some songs his fans badly need to hear. He'll probably get more deals, just ask Kobe Bryant. Or maybe he'll play stab Rihanna next time and go to jail for real like O.J. Simpson. I really don't have the formula for career suicide. When you are young and rich and have the word "celebrity" used in the same sentence as your name the lines become blurred and it's all about rolling dice.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Suicide on the Fifth Floor

Like most days, my work day started at 9:00am with a Democratic Caucus Meeting. Before the meeting I had the most eventful ride on the state transit from the suburbs into the city. Some middle-aged Caucasian woman was on the phone all 50 minutes of the ride on the bus, cutting through the usually quiet route. She literally was having a board meeting and we were all attendees without a stake, so we all sat in silence as she bellowed loudly for the full stretch. Other bus riders were whispering and complaining. Some were laughing uncontrollably as she discussed strategies and even considered what I'd call a cruel delegation plan all within our hearing. As the bus pulled into the downtown area, she finally ended her conversation to thunderous applause that shook the entire bus.

As the bus got close to the Capitol, we had to make several stops to make way for police cars and ambulances. I came off the bus as usual in front of the Coverdell Legislative Building across from the Capitol, to my surprise all the ambulances were parked in front of the Capitol. I walked across the street, and sat down with the other aides at the meeting. As the leader gave instructions, Senator Emmanuel Jones received a call that a young black male who worked in the Legislative Building had committed suicide overnight, hanging himself somewhere on the fifth floor. The silence in the room was eerie for moments, as we all privately pondered, wondering if we knew this young man.

Death is always quite a difficult issue to deal with, more so when the cause of death is suicide. It is hard to understand why some people are driven down that path. There are lots of reasons, and I will not try to understand or even judge a suicidal person because their struggles are not mine. I am again reminded of the suicides of two prominent individuals who took their lives in the wake of the Madoff scandal. Madoff who is at the center of the entire debacle is not thinking of outing himself any time soon. He still believes he has many good years ahead of him, or he wouldn't be bargaining to keep his $7 million penthouse and other assets valued at almost $69 million. So what makes Madoff different from these individuals?

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide is a preventable public health problem and was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States in 2004 accounting for 32,439 deaths. Suicidal behavior is complex and the risk factors for suicide include depression and mental disorder, prior suicide attempt, family history of suicide, firearms in the home, incarceration, family violence and stressful life events. Besides these factors, suicide has been linked to levels of certain neurotransmitters and serotonin levels in the brain. Suicidal individuals and victims of suicide usually have decreased levels of serotonin in their brains. Further, age and gender affect suicidal rates with males being more likely to commit suicide.

Another important factor affecting the rates of suicide include ethnicity. When race is used to evaluate susceptibility to suicide, African-American males fall into the category of individuals more likely to commit suicide. They are more likely to be homeless due to reasons not limited to poverty and military service, are disproportionately exposed to violence and the welfare system and are more likely to be incarcerated. Hence, these social factors along with a biological predisposition to suicide disproportionately put black men at risk for suicide.

Unfortunately, mental health issues have and still continue to be taboo topics in the African-American community. Certain crimes or certain behaviors are often perceived through the lens of race. Hence, when told about the occurrence of a crime there is a tendency to guess the race of the perpetrator based on the nature of the crime. As a result, suicide is not termed a "black" behavior. Nonetheless, the mentality that suicide only occurs in certain communities has not prevented suicide from been one of the major causes of death among African-American males. But there is still a huge stigma surrounding mental health in the African-American community and an unwillingness to discuss the issue. Erratic behavior that may be signs of suicide are often dismissed as a case of the blues or merely "acting out," when in reality the behavior may be a sign of impending doom.

We need to let our boys cry and do away with the mentality of homophobia that has crippled so many men who would otherwise get help for mental illness issues. Crying does not make a man a sissy. It is part of being human and is a necessary expression of humanity. The stigma associated with mental illness needs to be done away with, so affected individuals are empowered to seek help. Suicide should not be a cause of death, there are other options and life really could be worse.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In This Season

I have been blogging for almost a year now even though my profile shows that I have been on Blogger since February of 2008. Long before I became familiar with blogs, I would periodically write short articles, little nuggets of encouragement I called them, and send them to a list of friends via email. At the time, I always wished there were some means I could use, a personal website of some sort to send out these pieces I often poured my heart into writing. Mostly, I wrote about my faith. I talked about my relationship and experiences with God, something I realize I've never done since the concept of blogging became an answer to my prayer for a a medium of some sort to share my writing.

It's almost surreal, but 2009 is almost fast becoming all but a blur. I like to see the glass as half full but I realize that the year is almost ending, just as quickly as it began. It's already the first day in the month of March. For a while now, I have been on a spiritual journey, a journey back to where it all began, the heart of God. Our world is changing so fast and with the changes, a measure of uncertainty has gripped the hearts of many. Last night, I was at the airport and as I circled around the deck trying to find parking, I thought about my light affliction and was tempted to complain. Then I was reminded about the mother who was been evicted as I looked for a parking spot. The children somewhere in this great nation of ours who would go to bed hungry, veterans and retirees who have served this great nation and are now in dire straits, their hopes for a future dashed because of the greedy ambition of a few.

Then I realized that I had so much to be thankful for. I am always reminded that hope springs eternal and that if we only wait and trust God, life is never as bad as we sometimes imagine it. I know for some people, there is never that light at the end of the tunnel. For there are some who struggle all their lives and go without a reward. Some people are never going to have it good in life jsut ask the Walker family from the sitcom, "Good Times." It doesn't matter how many charities there are to support them. Some people will always have a so called hellish experience for reasons we may never understand.

Nonetheless, in the midst of these trying economic times I am reminded that God is not bound by the limitations we face. He is God and will do just what he wants to do. As I considered these things, I perused You Tube looking for a song and came upon a clip from the Pastor of Greater Saint Stephens Full Gospel Baptist Church, Bishop Paul S. Morton. Paul Morton pastored one of the largest congregations in New Orleans, Louisiana until the flood waters of Hurricane Katrina dealt the Big Easy a blow. Despite losing almost all he owned including the church builidng, he has pulled through remarkably. As I watched, he sang this song that had just one line, "God whatever you're doing in this season, please don't do it without me." I believe that inspite of it all, God is moving and I pray that I be a part of what God plans to do in this season. Times may be hard and the future uncertain, but God still moves stones!