Thursday, June 27, 2013

Did They Actually Pass the Bar Exam?

Reposting this from Facebook :).

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?
WITNESS: July 18th.
ATTORNEY: What year?
WITNESS: Every year.
ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?
WITNESS: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can't remember which.
ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?
WITNESS: Forty-five years.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's 20, much like your IQ.
ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shitting me?
ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Getting laid

ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death..
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Take a guess.

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town I'm going with male.
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
WITNESS: Oral...
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Points to Ponder About Genetic Testing and Disability

I saw this thought-provoking suspense movie a while back titled GATTACA starring Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman with Jude Law and Gore Vidal in supporting roles.

The background was “a not so distant future, when DNA will play the major role in determining social class. At birth, following the result of a comprehensive genetic testing, a person’s future health is determined on a scale of 1-10.
10 for the human with a superior genetic profile. 1 for – your guess is as good as mine.
To escape producing doomed offspring, parents succumbed to the use of IVF and genetic selection to conceive ‘valid’ children with superior genetic profiles.
In this environ is born the main star Vincent who was conceived naturally by loving parents. A high probability to develop shortsightedness/mental disorders, have a short life span, ascribed him a low genetic profile which translated to a future doing menial labour.
But his dream was to be an astronaut. A job reserved for the best.

The only way he can achieve this dream is to become a "borrowed ladder", a person who impersonates a "valid". Vincent "buys" the identity of Jerome,  a former swimming star with a genetic profile “second to none", who had been injured in a car accident, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
He used Jerome’s "valid" DNA in blood, hair, tissue, and urine samples to pass screening, gained acceptance into the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation, the most prestigious spaceflight conglomerate, and went on to become Gattaca's top celestial navigator.

After watching this movie, I questioned again my ideas of how genetic testing should be used and became fearful of how society is already directly/indirectly supporting these discriminating ideals of “perfect and not perfect” now.

Points to ponder

It is important to test, important to know
Genetic testing is important to enable us predict/diagnose/manage a potential disease. WHAT IT IS NOT is a means to label and discriminate. Efforts to promote healthy populations need not lead to a systematic segregation/second class treatment/ of the members of our society who do not meet our typical understanding of health.

Genetic testing does not solve health problems
In the future, technology might be able to detect a predisposition to diabetes, forms of depression, Alzheimer disease, heart disease, arthritis, or back (problems which are more prevalent in the population than many of the currently detectable conditions)- What will we do then?
Shall we be picking and choosing spouses – “I don’t want a partner with a potential for diabetes. Too much stress to cook unripe plantain porridge daily” etc etc.
I would wish that we focus our energies on finding lasting treatment and making life comfortable for others.

The life/future of a person with a chronic illness or disability is not defined by their condition
Most people with conditions such as spina bifida, achondroplasia, Down syndrome, and many other mobility and sensory impairments perceive themselves as healthy, not sick, and describe their conditions as givens of their lives – the equipment with which they meet the world.
The same is true for people with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, hemophilia, sickle cell, and muscular dystrophy. These conditions include intermittent flare-ups requiring medical care and adjustments in daily living, but they do not render the person as unhealthy as most of the public-and members of the health profession-imagine.
People with disabilities are thinking about a traffic jam, boyfriends, a disagreement with a friend, which movie to attend, or which team will win the World Cup-not just about their diagnosis.

External factors affect people with disabilities more than the condition itself
We wrongly assume that gaps in education, unemployment, poverty, isolation or low social status are inevitable consequences of disability because the impairment prevents study or limits work. But when you take a look around Nigeria for instance – characteristics of buildings (no disability access in schools, workplaces), transport systems, road systems (traffic lights, tarred roads), means of communication, you realize that societal arrangements preclude them.
The parents of this little boy protested about the unfairness of this class picture.
I remember this Entrepreneur and bank customer of mine who used to carry out most of his transactions over the phone with me. One day he decided to visit the bank and I was quite curious to see him for the first time. His jeep drove up, and a wheelchair was brought out by the chauffeur. But alas, the bank security door was not wide enough to allow the wheelchair in unless it was folded. Rather than face the indignity of being “carried in”, my manager and I had to come meet him in the car and have the business meeting there. He kept his business with the bank but never came back. I don’t blame him.

Life with disability is worthwhile
Several prominent bioethicists claim (and many of us agree) that to knowingly bring into the world a child who will live with an impairment
(whether it be a "withered arm," cystic fibrosis, deafness, or Down syndrome) is unfair to the child because it deprives the child of the "right to an open future" by limiting some options.
Yet, there is abundant evidence that people with disabilities do not merely take from others but they contribute as well-to families, to friends, to the economy. They contribute neither in spite of nor because of their disabilities, but because along with their disabilities come other characteristics of personality, intelligence, talent, and humanity that render them full members of the community.
Oscar Pistorious? Jack Carroll (the second runner up of Britain’s got talent 2013), Paralympic athletes, Andrea (winner of the Voice UK), Franklin Roosevelt anyone??!! and lots of other politicians.

For Prospective Parents
This was written by a Disability activist Adrienne Asch - In order to imagine bringing a child with a disability into the world even when abortion is possible, prospective parents must be able to imagine saying to a child, "I wanted you enough and believed enough in who you could be that I felt you could have a life you would appreciate even with the difficulties your disability would bring”.
Instead of thinking of avoiding the life itself, why not think of how the expected problems could be reduced or avoided.

Burden vs Benefits of raising a child with disability
If we assume that there are "extra burdens" associated with certain aspects of raising children with disabilities, consider the "extra burdens" associated with raising children with “extraordinary aptitude” for athletics, art, music, or mathematics.
In a book on gifted children Ellen Winner writes, “All the family's energy becomes focused on this child’s development in two ways: either one or both parents spend a great deal of time stimulating and teaching the child themselves, or parents make sacrifices so that the child gets high-level training from the best available teachers. 

They perceive that all the extra work and rearrangement associated with raising such children will provide what people seek in parenthood: the opportunity to give ourselves to a new being who starts out with the best we can give, who will enrich us, gladden others, contribute to the world, and make us proud”.
Can we think the same of a child with a disability, that the benefits of raising this child outweighs the ‘burdens’? Yes, we can.                                                                                                                                                  

Closeness brings Understanding
The closer people are to someone with genetic disease the more unacceptable it is to evaluate the worth of the person’s existence solely in terms of their genetic disease.
I will even broaden that. The more you see those with disabilities, the more you accept that they have the right to share the public space.
Personally, it was an eye opener to me when I first came to UK. Saw all modes of people with disability going about their personal business. I was the one gawking. 
Coming from a society where disability is heard not seen, pitied not accepted, it took me awhile to understand. To learn not to always rush in to open a door, carry an extra bag - cause the person wants her/his independence.
So make an effort today. Reach out to that disabled person in your place of work, the crippled asking for money in front of Mr. Biggs…not out of pity please. But because they are persons of worth. Say “hello, how are you?”. Look them in the eye as you say it and mean it.

What do you think? What are we doing well, what can we improve about disability in our society?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

10 things You Need to Know About Sickle Cell

Yesterday was World Sickle Cell Day. A day set aside to raise Sickle cell awareness worldwide.

Here are 10 things you need to know about Sickle cell:

1. Genetic testing is important to know your genotype. Saying “I’ve never been sick” doesn’t make it impossible that you have the Sickle cell gene. People have found out they had Sickle cell disease in their 20s/30s.

2. Sickle Cell disease does not only occur among African Americans or in African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone. It is common in Hispanics and in people from Greece, and Middle East countries like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia.

3. There are variations in the genotype. An individual can have Sickle cell disease and have the genotype SS, SC or Sβ thalassemia.

4. The different variants can affect the severity of pain and longevity of the individual with Sickle Cell.
The Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease (1991) focused on the natural history of 3,578 individuals with SCD age newborn to 66 years, and found that the average pain rate in SCD-SS was twice that of individuals with SCD-SC, while the median age** of death was 42 - 48 years for individuals with SCD-SS and 60-68 years for individuals with SCD-SC.

**Note that the ages are median meaning middle in statistics, not average. Hence earlier and older deaths do occur across the range.
Ernestine Diamond, 86, is the oldest American known to be living with SCD
5. These are the faces of sickle cell in the millennium below. Kindly delete those images of yellow eyed, pot bellied, sickly looking under achievers you have been told about.

T-Boz of TLC
Tosin Coker, Author
Akimie, Runway model
Having sickle cell does not mean you cannot be what you want to be (maybe not an athlete), but there are so many career options available for you just like everyone else. In the pictures above, Akimie is a model, Tosin is an Author, T-boz of TLC a singer, Larenz Tate etc

6. Scared about love and relationships? Don’t be. People with SCD have found love just like everyone else, married had babies and are living normal everyday lives. I promise you, there are men and women out there who see you beyond your genes.

7. Self care activities are critical to decrease health care costs as well as improve the health status and quality of life for persons living with SCD. This includes drinking lots of water and eating a balanced diet, taking your folic acid.

8. Self care activities also includes listening to your body and knowing your limits. “Your body is going to tell you before you get sick. Your body is going to tell you that it’s tired. Listen to it”. Great tip for everyone too!!

9. Arm yourself with knowledge about your condition. Read, read, read some more - about treatments available, about reproductive choices. Ask questions of your doctors. Join support forums. Don’t isolate yourself.

10. There’s a lot of physical pain and psycho-social problems associated with Sickle cell disease, the former comes from the disease while most of the psychological pain and depression comes from the attitude of the society. 
Dear person with SCD, Surround yourself with positive, respecting and supportive friends and family.
Dear person without SCD, stop being shortsighted. See the person behind the disease.

Sickle cell disease can only limit you if you let it. Choose to be a Warrior not a victim of Sickle cell disease. 

Sickle Cell Warriors 
Celebrities with SCD

Friday, June 14, 2013

Sex Scandals and Public Officials

Famous Quotes

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman” Bill Clinton

“I cannot say with certitude that the photo of that erect penis is mine” Congressman Weiner

So, I’m just reading about the brouhaha over the alleged love affair between the CBN governor and a certain Madam Yaro. I noted that denials have come from CBN directorate but none from the CBN governor. Interesting.
Reading all the arguments for and against why this affair should be of interest to the public, reminded me of America's Bill Clinton’s very public extramarital penkelemesi also Congressman Weiner.

"A public official can be impeached when they commit a crime whether it is a misdemeanor or  a felony. Impeachment does  not necessarily mean a dismissal from office. It is a formal charge of wrong doing against the person and the accused is tried by the Senate (Senate acts as court)".

Bill Clinton was not impeached because he had an affair (oops was it? scratches head)…rather it was cause he had lied under oath (perjury) and obstructed the course of justice during the investigation of the scandal and sexual harassment lawsuit by Paula Jones.

Why was the scandal being investigated if it wasn’t government business then?

Well, they had investigate to find out if any official resources were used to further the affair and if any house rules had been violated i.e. if the affair had been sponsored by public funds (expensed lunches, hotel bills, carrying affair instead of official duties etc).

In Congressman Weiner's case, he had also lied, though not under oath when he was asked about the naughty pictures he had tweeted. Though he later recapitulated, his constituency as polls showed were not impressed. The fact is if ‘you a man of honor and can lie boldly in public, how about in other situations”.
There was no reason to impeach him per se as investigations had shown no proof of abuse of office. He was just a man who thought it was fun to sext with women other than his wife. Unethical but not illegal.

Why did he resign then? 

His hitherto private affairs were causing a distraction even disrespect of an office which should be above reproach. Then Obama weighed in, ”if I were Weiner I would resign”. He did.

Why didn't Clinton resign back then?
Higher stakes? Tougher skin? lol. (personally, I am happy he didn't).

So back to our dear Samson of the banking sector, Sanusi Lamido.

Is it our business if he had an affair with a woman not his wife? No
Is it our business if they exchanged texts messages saying “You make me feel brand new, Come and kiss me, Ahmadillah I love you”? No
Is it our business if he misappropriated public funds/expense accounts to support this affair? Yes
Is it our business if he abused his power to get her a position she neither merited or is qualified for (if that was the case)? Yes
Or if she is under coercion because of his position to start/continue the affair (it does happen you know)? Yes

That's my two kobo worth of opinion. So far I can see the matter is dying a natural death. Bigger dailies have not carried the news. Shakes head. Naija! All smoke and no fire!! 

Sources of News
Premium News report
CBN responds
Legal opinion about the affair

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review - 26A

So in my new love for African Themed books, I snagged up this book from my local Oxfam shop. The book being a winner of a prestigious award made it all the more attractive.
Judges can’t be wrong eh?

Plot: The book focuses on the lives of the Hunters, an inter-racial couple made up of a Nigerian Mom and British Dad and their 5 girls in a London suburb.
There is Ida the Mom who deals with homesickness by having regular but imaginary discussions with her mother in her head. Aubrey, the alcoholic husband whose childhood involved humiliating episodes by a domineering father and doting mother and who had in turn become an abusive father
Of the children, the author focuses on the twins, Georgia and Bessi, exaggerating the different personalities yet emphasizing that intangible but unique connection that is said to exist between twins. And when tragedy in the form of sexual assault happens in the life of one, the confusion and festering impact it has on their mental and sexual development.

From growing up in the family house in Neasden, to a 3 year adventure living in Lagos, From flapjack dreams to boyfriends, Childhood to adulthood, the writers makes us passive observers in the dynamics of this largely dysfunctional family alternating between minutiae details to broad sweeps.

Wow – Diana’s distinctive writing style - alternatively descriptive and poetic - which imbued otherwise brilliance to this laidback story.
Not so wow – I must confess, I wasn’t enamored by the plot. It was a like traveling on the district line tube train (wink wink – slow and tortuous). 
The interracial dynamics which I had looked forward to were lost on me.
Ida was not a Nigerian woman I recognized. An Edo woman who called her mother Nne-nne and father Baba?? did not sound right (I've been told that the dialect of the Igbanke speaking part of Edo is borrowed from Igbo language). 
A Nigerian woman without friends (except her imaginary mother), A Nigerian mother who lived on the fringes of the lives of her 5 daughters. A Nigerian woman whose only flash of culture was adding cayenne spice to Yorkshire pudding. haba!!
Even the description of Lagos where they temporarily lived bore little semblance to the Lagos I know.
I came to the conclusion that either the author’s geography hadn’t been comprehensive or she'd written the book through a white prism.

Despite the tragic events that run through its thread (abuse, depression, suicide) at the end, it hinted at happy beginnings for the Hunter family and i was comforted.  

Do tell me what you thought of 26A....

Book Review: Room by Emma Donaghue

Hey Blogfam, 2013 is flying!! Happy June days to y'all!!

I  started reading the book “Room” by Emma Donaghue iin December but put it aside when my Ereader started misbehaving.

Following recent news about the discovery of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight who were incarcerated for 10yrs by their abductors in Cleveland, US, I quickly restored my faulty Ereader to working order to resume reading. I imagined there might be parallels in their experience to that of the occupants of Room.
It didn’t seem far-fetched anymore.

Room was written through the eyes, vocabulary and thinking of a 5yr old boy called Jack. Don’t knock it yet. It’s not about ‘Fireman Sam”. It was a more than average 5 year old, raised in unusual circumstances.
The book engaged me from the beginning. I am always fascinated about cognition in children - how do kids make sense of the world around them.

For Jack, room was the only home/haven he knew and it was adequate. There was Ma, Bed, Rug, Wall, Wardrobe, Snake -  all treated as equal animate playmates. 
His mother had tried her best to create a lively and happy regimen which included rhymes, TV, exercise, singing, reading. The concept of ‘bored’ was alien to him.
But as we go along we realize that despite Jack’s happy patter, the circumstances were not normal. 
Room had no exit for its occupants.
I won’t give away the plot, as much as I want to, cause it was simple really - Life in room, Life outside room. Yet it was more than that. It was a plot rich in psychological, sociological and political undertones.

The lives of Jack and Ma outside room was interestingly as terrifying as the one indoors. You would think freedom automatically makes everything it didn’t.
They had to deal with questions which judged the mother's choices (Why didn’t you give your child up for adoption rather than let him suffer in abduction with you? Why do you still breastfeed your 5 year old son?)
Physiologically, they had to deal with skin that burns in the sun because they had not been out in the Sun for years, with Vit d deficiencies, with under-developed immune systems.
They had to deal with spatial cognition – as simple as being unable to automatically judge/measure distance as you move around – which didn’t come automatically to a child who was born/bred in an 11ft by 11ft room.
They had to deal with a child who had serious social adjustments to make having known only 2 people. One good. The other bad.

Much of the grim impact on the mother – the adult - was only implied. The routine rape, depression, raising a child as normally as you can under difficult circumstances, keeping your hope alive and alert for escape opportunities. It was up to you the reader to read between the lines and marvel at human resourcefulness, resilience and maternal love.

I have since found that the author drew inspiration partly from her 5 year old son and the infamous Josef Fritzl case.   
Monsters walk among us.


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