Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Monday, December 14, 2015

The relationship between crime and poverty

Disclaimer: this is not justification for, excusing, or condoning crime in anyway. I am just pointing out that perhaps our focus is on the wrong things.

Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Memphis, Tucson, Baltimore, Fresno, El Paso, Indianapolis, Boston, San Bernardino. What do these cities have in common? They struggle with extreme poverty. There is also extreme wealth in these cities, but the gap between the two is huge!

“Poverty and crime have a very "intimate" relationship that has been described by experts from all fields, from sociologists to economists. The UN and the World Bank both rank crime high on the list of obstacles to a country’s development. This means that governments trying to deal with poverty often also have to face the issue of crime as they try to develop their country's economy and society”.
“Crime prevents businesses from thriving by generating instability and uncertainty (at micro and macroeconomic levels). This is true in markets of all sizes, national, regional, municipal and even neighborhood-al (okay the word doesn’t exist)”.

“That's why having a business in a ghetto is rarely a good idea”.

Political topics in this election cycle:
  • 1.      Abortion
  • 2.      Women and minorities
  • 3.      Same sex marriage
  • 4.      Public faith
  • 5.      Environment
  • 6.      Campaign finance
  • 7.      Crime
  • 8.      Guns
  • 9.      Obamacare
  • 10.  Schools
  • 11.  Energy
  • 12.  Drugs
  • 13.  Stimulus
  • 14.  Taxes
  • 15.  Immigration
  • 16.  Social security
  • 17.  Trade
  • 18.  Military
  • 19.  America
  • 20.  Foreign policy

I am curious but why are most of these topics are even a political discussion? Some of topics do not belong in a public forum, have already been settled, or are just distractions; yet politicians in both major parties keep rehashing some these things as if they are important. Quite a few of the issues are actually tied together and should not be separated.

“According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (pdf), more than 49 million Americans lived in households struggling against hunger in 2012. Of them, 15.7 million were children (21.4 percent of all children). Previously, in 2012, 48.9 million Americans lived in food insecure households”. So more than 15% of the population of the richest, largest food producing country in the world struggle to eat every day?

Back to crime; we have this habit of approaching crime or perception of crime with a hammer:

·         “‘Not justified, but not criminal’: No charges for Paradise cop who shot motorist in the neck”

·         “Teen in jail for months over 'sarcastic' Facebook threat”


·         “From 1980 to 2008, the number of people incarcerated in America quadrupled-from roughly 500,000 to 2.3 million people. Today, the US is 5% of the World population and has 25% of world prisoners. Combining the number of people in prison and jail with those under parole or probation supervision, 1 in ever y 31 adults, or 3.2 percent of the population is under some form of correctional control”. http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=11

Here is my proposal, it is nothing new, nothing innovative, and it is just based upon educated ideas and common sense. Let’s make a war on poverty, I mean a real war because these numbers would actually be considered an epidemic according to the CDC. Let us bring the full weight, might of all branches or government, of the military, police, and citizens, and let’s eradicate poverty once and for all. No I am not talking about a handout, no I am not talking about socialism or communism (for those who love to argue). What I am suggesting is some simple changes.

1.      Fix our infrastructure, not patch it but fix it. Fix the buildings, roads, bridges, etc. Not only will that put a lot of people to work for a long time (because you have to give people jobs), but it will instill a sense of pride in where people are.

2.      Get rid of private prisons immediately, take those profits and actual create opportunities for prisoners to better themselves, teach them real skills, and set them up for jobs so that when they come out they can make a living wage. While you are at it, stop exploiting their labor, pay them minimum wage and put their money in a savings account for them so they can live when they come out and not go back to crime.

3.      Criminal justice system needs revamping now. By create a criminal class you are taking away economic opportunity, voting rights, and keeping the cycle going. Jail should not be the end of your life; it should be just a time in your life.

4.      There are pockets of extreme poor in this country and we know where they are. Do not forget those communities!

5.      We have warehouses of food rotting and we are paying farmers to keep it there: why is that? Need I say more on this? Let us stop wasting food on so many levels

Erasing poverty means people are eating, have homes, they are working, paying taxes, and just generally contributing to society. We have had the ability to do this for a long time; can we now develop the will?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele

The ETeam

Monday, December 7, 2015

Refugees Not Wanted…Again

Here is a little history lesson for those who have forgotten, this lesson is also for those “want to be” politicians who have apparently lost their minds:

“When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, Americans were struggling to survive the greatest economic depression the country had ever seen. Many Americans feared that needy immigrants would take precious jobs or place an added strain on an already burdened economy”.

“America's immigration laws placed quotas on the number of people allowed to enter the United States from other countries. In 1939, the quota allowed for 27,370 German citizens to immigrate to the United States. In 1938, more than 300,000 Germans-mostly Jewish refugees-had applied for U.S. visas (entry permits). A little over 20,000 applications were approved. Beyond the strict national quotas, the United States openly denied visas to any immigrant "likely to become a public charge." This ruling proved to be a serious problem for many Jewish refugees. Most had lost everything when the Nazis took power, and they might need government assistance after they immigrated to the United States”.

“In September 1935, Nazi Germany passed laws that deprived German Jews of their citizenship. Without citizenship, Jews were legally defenseless. Many lost their jobs and property. Hitler also targeted with violence and persecution countless thousands of gypsies, Catholics, homosexuals, and even the physically and mentally impaired. With so many Germans fleeing their homeland, the State Department temporarily eased immigration quotas. In 1936, the State Department approved visas for about 7,000 German refugees. By 1938, that number had increased to more than 20,000. But an opinion poll revealed that 82 percent of Americans still opposed admitting large numbers of Jewish refugees into the United States. Despite pleas by American human-rights organizations, the U.S. State Department refused to increase the German quota any further”.

“On the eve of World War II, a bill that would have admitted Jewish refugee children above the regular quota limits was introduced in Congress. President Roosevelt took no position on the bill, and it died in committee in the summer of 1939. Polls at the time indicated that two-thirds of Americans opposed taking in Jewish refugee children”.

The events that have been happening around the world, including the most recent act of terrorism in San Bernardino, CA cannot truly be explained with words because these events were designed to crush souls and make us live in fear. Fear has this habit of changing into anger and hate very quickly, and even if that anger is justified, it often has no proper direction. When anger has no proper direction, the bottom feeders in our world are often the first to take advantage of this state of mind and fan the flames. They do not do it out of a true sense of honor or outrage, they do it simply because they can, and it benefits them.

These bottom feeders have the loudest voices and do not necessarily dwell in the shadows; rather they mask themselves as angels and saviors. We do remember that Satan was an angel right?

There is a war going on in the world, and it is both physical and ideological, and unfortunately Islam is being used as tool during this war. Yes we are at war with Islamic criminals, that cannot be hidden, but not all people who practice Islam are criminals, and if you pause in your hate for one moment, you will see this for yourself.

Brief look at Christianity

Christianity does not have a stellar history either:

“The Inquisition was a permanent institution in the Catholic Church charged with the eradication of heresies. Unlike many other religions (e.g., Buddhism, Judaism), the Catholic Church has a hierarchical structure with a central bureaucracy. In the early years of the church, there were several competing sects that called themselves Christian. But after the Emperor Constantine I (280?-337 CE) made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire and the local administrative structures were pulled together into one hierarchy centered in Rome, doctrinal arguments were settled by Church Councils, beginning with the Council of Nicea in 325 (which formulated the Nicean Creed). Those whose beliefs or practices deviated sufficiently from the orthodoxy of the councils now became the objects of efforts to bring them into the fold. Resistance often led to persecution”.

“The judge, or inquisitor, could bring suit against anyone. The accused had to testify against himself/herself and not have the right to face and question his/her accuser. It was acceptable to take testimony from criminals, persons of bad reputation, excommunicated people, and heretics. The accused did not have right to counsel, and blood relationship did not exempt one from the duty to testify against the accused. Sentences could not be appealed Sometimes inquisitors interrogated entire populations in their jurisdiction. The inquisitor questioned the accused in the presence of at least two witnesses. The accused was given a summary of the charges and had to take an oath to tell the truth. Various means were used to get the cooperation of the accused. Although there was no tradition of torture in Christian canon law, this method came into use by the middle of the 13th century. The findings of the Inquisition were read before a large audience; the penitents abjured on their knees with one hand on a bible held by the inquisitor. Penalties went from visits to churches, pilgrimages, and wearing the cross of infamy to imprisonment (usually for life but the sentences were often commuted) and (if the accused would not abjure) death. Death was by burning at the stake, and it was carried out by the secular authorities. In some serious cases when the accused had died before proceedings could be instituted, his or her remains could be exhumed and burned. Death or life imprisonment was always accompanied by the confiscation of all the accused's property”.

More reading:

My point is this: blame the people not the religion, because we human beings have this habit of destroying things and each other when we start wars in the name of religion. It seems a natural human state of being to want to blame someone or hate someone, and we are all capable of it, but history shows it does not actually help anything except the bottom feeders.

By all means we should be vigilant; we should protect ourselves, our families, and our communities; but there is a fine line with between protection and persecution. You cannot assume someone is Muslim because of how they dress as we can see from the hate crimes perpetrated against the Sikh community in recent times http://bluenationreview.com/14-years-after-911-racists-still-target-sikhs-for-violent-revenge/.  Sikhs are not Muslims, not even close, but once again this country is built on freedom of religion anyway, so no religion should be attacked because of the actions of a few. No person should be set upon by armed thugs because are being told to hate them. http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/roehm.htm

I conclude with this fact: people vying for the highest office in the land have recently called for closing our borders, excluding a group from society, and also having this group register! The last time this happened in resulted in the death of millions!

We are better than this and we need to show the world we are better than this. By reacting the way the bottom feeders are trying to direct us, we are playing into the terrorists hands.
I am not preaching kumbaya, it is difficult to find love in the midst of slaughter, what I am simply saying is learn from our past mistakes, and find a better solution before it is too late.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why we have not learned from the past

Just before, during, and after world war two, the Jewish people were having a hard time everywhere. Europe did not protect them, United States did not want them, and both Germany and Russia (yes Russia our allies at the time) were actively jailing them, confiscating property, and killing them. We all know the numbers, or you can look it up yourself, but the death toll was genocide. Let me also add that Romani, also known as Gypsies were almost wiped out because they were confused with Jews and because Europe did not like them for the perceived way they lived.

Fast Forward 60 years later, it seems like religious intolerance is making a comeback when we have elected officials, some of them vying for the highest office in the nation, advocating discrimination, deportation, and registration of Muslims. Sound familiar? Islam is a religion not a people fools! Religion does not kill, people kill.

The world swore “never again”, but how quickly we forget. Innocents are dying in wars that are intertwined with our country; people are being attacked and killed in the street because they are perceived to be of a particular religion. Some of these folks such as the Sikhs are further away from Islam than Christianity is, but because of ignorance, they are being killed.

Are you paying attention? It is happening again!

Yes there are some very bad people who want to harm us, of this we agree, but before we make the mistakes of the past, perhaps we can forget the politics and remember that we are human beings first, and that United States is a country founded on freedom, of all kinds, and that the constitution is not something we pick and choose depending on who we like.

Take a deep breath America and step back, all politicians, if you truly believe in that hate you are spreading, please quit right now because we do not need that or want it. While you might unify everyone, it is your job to try.

We are better than this

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The internet age and the age of gimme: an education issue

I find myself talking about “back in my day” sometimes; this is scary because I am only middle aged, but things seem to have changed in education so quickly. The tools students have at their disposal can do so much, but they also seem to take away a lot as well.

Social media has also allowed students to publicly vent about a perceived injustices, and what is worse (in my opinion) is that they can do anonymously. I am not a fan of anonymous feedback, especially in the professional world.

Rate my professor, I am sure started off as a good idea because after all, it helps to know what you are getting in to; or so we thought…

End of course evaluations are never the best way to evaluate professors because not only are they usually highly subjective, but you usually only here from the angry students, and their feedback is rarely constructive in nature. Rate my professor, is 100 times worse.

I was recently told a story by a colleague about how he was approached by two students at the end of his first class, and the student said to him “hey professor we feel you went a little too fast, so I hope this will not affect our grade. We would hate for your really good rating on rate my professor to go down”. Sounds like a threat doesn’t it? That’s because it is and there is no other way to take this. In the street these would have bee fighting words, but in academia, it can apparently mean the difference between a job and no job.

Since when did we use social media to rate professionals? Since when did teaching become a popularity contest? Do you realize that on rate my professor they can also rate the attractiveness or “hotness” of a teacher? How is this remotely objective and what does any of that have to do with learning?

Great teaching is an art form, and every teacher can always improve, but at what point do we hold students accountable for their lack of participation in the teaching process? At what point do we treat students like adults and value the teacher for the job they do, and not for their rating?

If you are fortunate to teach in a place that values the evidence of your scholarship and teaching, feel blessed; if you work in place that actually takes rate my professor seriously, well I am sorry.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Are you a unifier or divider? An education question

I am going to pick on Chris Christie today, and for the simple reason that I needed some fodder and he gave it to me on a platter.  I will also say I have no party affiliations, I am simply interested in logical and sane politics, and this is in very short supply in this very early political campaign.
Here is some basic information and terms of presentations:
·         Ethos: An appeal based on character and credibility
·         Logos: An appeal based on logic and reasoning
·         Pathos: An appeal based on emotion

Emotional fallacies unfairly appeal to the audience’s emotions.
Ethical fallacies unreasonably advance the writer’s own authority or character.
Logical fallacies depend upon faulty logic
  • Ad Hominem arguments attack a person’s character rather than that person’s reasoning

These are typical campaign parlor tricks, and we are seeing it in droves right now, especially on the republican side because there are so many candidates and they are all running to the extreme for popularity reasons (it is happening on the democratic side as well but there are not as many candidates).

At some point all candidates have to decide whether they want to be a unifier or a divider, because like it or not you will be running the whole country not just the parts you like. It is a popular tactic to bash the previous president, but when is it enough?

Here are to gems from Chris Christie today:

“Chris Christie to Black Lives Matter: "Don't Call and Ask Me for a Meeting"

Why wouldn’t you talk with them? How will you learn what they are truly about if you do not talk with them? You say all live matter; than here are some lives you can talk about? You support law enforcement? Great, so give them the tools and training  they need to protect citizen’s lives as is the job description. The death penalty is supposed to be applied after a fair trial, for all lives. Do you believe that jaywalking or an no turn signal deserves deah?

“Chris Christie Says Obama's 'Lawlessness' Contributed To College Unrest”


You might not like the president, and that is your right, but since when has the president ever said he did not want to bring people together? The president is not a king; laws are made and enforced by congress, the states, and the courts, not the president. When has the president ever supported a group (proven group not an opinion about a group) that supported the death of police officers?

I am educator, so I like to educate and point out things that are obviously wrong. I am not a slick politician who can talk fast and sell you a three legged horse; I am a simple citizen who would like to see a clean, decent, and logical political process. That is not too much to ask.

I know there are going to be some who are going to want to rant, rave against me, try to call me out, etc. Save your breath because I am not playing with you, I am not playing this game, I am too blunt for that.

Governor Christie, I am disappointed, I know you do not care about my opinion, but remember, you are campaigning for all out votes, and I vote.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Educators please remember how you can affect a child’s future

I am fiercely protective of my children; I am that dad that you do not want on campus when my kids do not feel safe, when they feel threatened, belittled or demeaned as a student. This not to say I am violent because I am not, this is not to say that I start shouting at teachers because I do not, especially since I am an educator myself.

What it does mean is I believe the school and the profession of teaching owes my kids (all our kids) the right to succeed. They owe my kids the right to feel safe, appreciated, and encouraged.

As educators, we have to watch our words, are methods, and the message we are sending to kids. If you send them home because you do not like their haircut what does that tell them except how they look is more important than their education (not to mention it is 100% subjective). It can be worse for young ladies because they are being judged it seems on so many things.

If you tell a child that they will never be good at math, guess what is going to happen? If you tell a child they are disruptive simply because you do not like them, guess what is going to happen? If you put a kid in handcuffs at school for being defiant guess what is going to happen? What we do can affect how they feel and perform in school; and this can be a lifelong affect.

My kids are fortunate because my wife and I advocate fiercely for our kids, we were brought up in educated families and we never settle for mediocre if we know you can do better. We know how to navigate the sometimes murky waters. But what happens if you are a parent that does not? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amy-aves-challenger/when-elementary-school-cr_b_8507610.html?utm_hp_ref=education&ir=Education

Educators remember the power you possess, remember the responsibility you have been bestowed with, and remember that it is all about the kids not us.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Saturday, October 31, 2015

How do you treat candidates for a professional job interview?

A common interview failure companies have is to not treat candidates correctly, to be arrogant in their process, or maybe the company does not have a consistent process.

A high level position is going attract high level talent, people who are used to commanding respect, leading, basically it is going to attract true professionals.

Why then do so many institutions and organizations treat these folks as simple job applicants? How do you expect to get the quality candidate you want when your hiring practices are perceived as disrespectful and condescending? That kind of reputation follows you and then you have the audacity to complain that you are not receiving quality resumes!

There are certain organizations that always seem to have the same job vacant: why is this? Why is it you cannot fill the position, or worse why is it people keep leaving that position.

It does not take much to fix this and here some easy steps:

1.      Treat all candidates as valuable commodities
2.      Communicate with them in a timely manner in all things
3.      Ask meaningful questions that allows the candidate to showcase the skills they have to do the job
4.      Make sure the people doing the interviewing are qualified to do so
5.      Please check your rejection letters carefully. Use the correct name, spelling, title, and make sure they understand that how much you valued their time. A rejection letter should not be dismissive of the time and effort the candidate put in

Remember, they are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. A good candidate will have choices, so what are you going to do to make them choose you?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First world problems are actually real problems for our children

The Problem With Perfection: There's a thin line between wanting to look pretty and becoming obsessed with perfection
South Korean Photographer Shows Costs Of Plastic Surgery”, “South Korea's obsession with plastic surgery”

“Redshirting in the Age of Academic Kindergarten: Should You Hold Your Child Back?

“‘Redshirting’ Kindergarten-Age Kids Can Lead to Regrets” http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/07/redshirting-kindergarten-age-kids-can-lead-to-regrets/?_r=0 

“Veteran Star Helps Shine Light On Elder Abuse” http://www.npr.org/2011/03/08/134363396/Veteran-Star-Helps-Shine-Light-On-Elder-Abuse

“Stories about eating disorders” http://www.npr.org/tags/141716010/eating-disorders


These are things that our kids have to see and witnessed as part of the privilege of living in a “first world” country, these are the issues our children are going to have to deal with in the future.

We have 9 year old girls who are super obese, and we have 9 year old girls who panic about being called fat even though they are not. We have kids obsessed with how they look in order to secure a better future. We are holding little boys back a year because we want them to “have dates and be a leader”. We treat our elderly with disdain instead of valuing their wisdom and experience. There are people in other countries who are struggling to get one meal a day and yet we waste food like nobody’s business

When does it become too much?

What message do we want to send our kids? What legacy do we want to leave them? Being a kid is not supposed to be this complicated, so let us not make it so.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III
The ETeam

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Nile Perch

“The Nile perch (Lates niloticus) is an important food fish in Africa and a prized catch for sport fishermen, but the species is also a massive environmental nightmare. In fact, the Nile perch is massive in more ways than one. It's a giant among fishes, reaching a length of up to 6 feet and a weight of more than 500 pounds. Anything that big eats a lot, and when misguided humans have introduced the Nile perch into new aquatic ecosystems (most notably, Lake Victoria in East Africa), it has caused catastrophic declines among native fish populations. The Nile perch is now common in the Nile, Chad, Senegal, Volta and Congo river basins, and has been ranked by conservationists as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species” http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/river-monsters/fish-guide/nile-perch/

Nile Perch is not an important food fish in Africa, it is important to the foreign investors who set up the system and sell the fish, the locals do not and in most cases are not allowed to eat it because of its value.

If you have never seen it before I recommend watching “Darwin’s Nightemare”

Sometimes we have really bad ideas.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The importance of handwriting

There is enough documented evidence out there that shows students who take hand-written notes retain more than those who use a computer.

There are also enough studies out there that suggest student’s ability to spell is getting worse because of reliance on spellcheck versus simply learning to spell.

Imagine you see your favorite movie star or sports hero, and you want an autograph: can your tablet or smartphone be used as a pen? What happens if you need to write something down quickly and your electronic device is powered down or out of power?

Now back to the problem of education; my personal experience with students note taking on a computer is that their notes are often lousy, or worse they did not take them but instead had a friend send them a copy of the notes.

There is a phenomenon I see that is very prevalent amongst graduate students, and the result is they are not able to pass simple tests or exams because they have no notes to study. I have even allowed students to use handwritten notes during tests, and it is amazing how many students do not know how to take efficient handwritten notes, or try and pass off someone else’s photocopied notes as their own.

Do you remember receiving letters? Do you remember how pleasurable it was to get that envelope and read what was inside? How many of you now look forward to receiving emails? Not many I would guess.

How many of you memorize phone numbers now? How many of you have been in a position where you needed a number but your device was gone?

Now I am not saying a computer is bad, I am not saying typing is bad (my handwriting is terrible to read, doctors writing), but a computer is simply a tool, and like all tools if they are used incorrectly the results are also going to be incorrect.

Do we have to have the extremes we have right now where we are always plugged in, where everything has to be electronic? Your kids become zombies in video games and tablets due to screen addiction?

Young people on a date spend more time taking selfies and pictures of their food than talking and eating their food it seems.

Here are some things to try:

1.      Turn your phone off for a whole day and have fun (motorcycle rides can guarantee no phones)

2.      Carry a pen and paper

3.      Write phone numbers down first then put them in your phone

4.      If you are a student try handwritten notes for a semester and compare your grades

These are just thoughts, but I am sure others will add to this. I wish us all luck in this rapidly changing world, and I hope we never forget the basics.

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam