Be Yourself: A Simple But Powerful Message

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Enjoying Life

(Photo Credit: The Stress Relief Program)

Be yourself.  In the postmodern epoch, too many people in the United States and across the globe are focused on being “people-pleasers” and aren’t focused on simply being who they are.  When you exercise the freedom you have to be yourself, you open up a world of new possibilities for yourself.  People who don’t have the courage to be themselves are being dominated by the bondage of fear.  You can make a decision today to liberate yourself from the bondage of fear.  Fear arrests your development.

Never be afraid to chart your own course in life.  Don’t worry about not seeing a model of who you would like to become—be the person and change you desire to see.

It’s never too late to start living a life of true freedom.  You’re not really liberated until you make the decision to live your life on your own terms.

Give yourself the chance to be the best you.  This is only possible by releasing yourself from the pressure to be someone who you aren’t.

Live your best life.  Muster the courage to be yourself.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Why Arkansas Lost to Auburn in the Second Half in Week One

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Arkansas Razorback Football 2014

(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

Although several of the Arkansas coaches, including offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, got stuck in the elevator during the entire halftime period and didn’t have a chance to meet with the players, it was the failure of Jim Chaney to stay committed to the running game that resulted in Arkansas losing in the second half of the game.  Chaney had to send text messages with his instructions for players to the coaches who were present with them during halftime.  As a coach, I understand how important it is to be physically present with your team during halftime, considering you have a chance to make key adjustments.  Chaney foolishly decided to abandon the power running game, featuring Arkansas’ huge offensive line, and a power running game that Auburn couldn’t handle in the first half, for a greater focus on passing.  While Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen had a good game, the strength of the team lies in its great stable of running backs, led by Jonathan Williams, Alex Collins and Korliss Marshall.

Arkansas has one of the biggest and most athletic offensive lines in the nation.  For Jim Chaney to fail to remain committed to the running game in the second half defies all logic.  Yes, Arkansas did run the ball in the second half, but passing the ball so much in the second half resulted in Arkansas not being able to wear down the Auburn defense as it did in the first half.  When Jim Chaney decides to neglect the power running game, which made Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema one of the winningest active coaches and such a success at Wisconsin, Bielema must step in and refocus Chaney on the running game.

Without question, Arkansas is a much improved team than last year, and the team is going to surprise some teams this year.  Arkansas’ coaches, however, must stay true to who the team is, a power running football team; a team designed to play physical on both sides of the ball.  The NCAA has determined that Arkansas has the toughest schedule in the country.  It will, therefore, be essential for the Arkansas coaching staff to make wise decisions throughout this season.  Arkansas has some really great coaches, including Bret Bielema and Randy Shannon, and those coaches will need to evince their great coaching prowess this season to maximize the team’s success and make it to a bowl game.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

4 Benefits of Joining the Military

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Military Men

(Photo Credit: Soda Head)

Some people join the military to serve their country, while others do so to travel the world.  But a 2014 RAND Corporation study revealed that most enlistees today do so for economic reasons.  Older recruits (those who enlist well after high school graduation and into their mid-20s) comprised 56% of cadets in 2009, the latest data available.  That number is well above the 1992 level, when only 35% of cadets enlisted in their mid to late 20s.  One-third of those who joined in 2009 said they did so because there were no other jobs they could find at home.

Regardless of the reason you join, there are many benefits available to veterans when they return home from their deployment.

Here are four of the most useful benefits:

Educational Benefits

No matter what branch you join, veterans will have a plethora of options to help finance their college education.  Most service members can take advantage of the Military Tuition Assistance Program.  Each branch has it own eligibility requirements.  For instance, the Air Force covers all active duty and reserve personnel up to $250 per semester hour, or $166 per quarter hour.  The Army makes the benefit available to reservists as well.

The Montgomery GI Bill is available for up to 10 years after discharge.  Most veterans today must reduce their military pay by $100 per month for the first year of service, which is their contribution to the fund.  Veterans are then eligible for up to $1,368 per month in benefits for four school years.  The Post 9/11 GI Bill is another option for all veterans who have served at least 90 days since September 10, 2001.  The best part about the latter is that the benefit can be transferred to a spouse or child if you do not use it yourself.

Retirement Savings

All active duty personnel and reservists are eligible for the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).  It’s one of the most economical savings plans available.  The typical 401(k) charges annual fees totaling up to 0.63% of assets, according to the Investment Company Institute.  The average net expense ratio for the TSP program was 0.029% in 2013.

Veterans have a choice of five different mutual or target-date funds, with a maximum annual investment of $17,500 in 2014.  A ROTH TSP is also available.

Discounts

Your peers will hold you in high regard when you return from deployment.  A 2013 Pew Research survey found that 78% of Americans believe members of the military make a significant contribution to society. Businesses also respect veterans and show their respect by offering discounts on their products and services to them.

Harley-Davidson offers a 5% discount on merchandise purchased through its military exchange. Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members get a 10% discount on Lifelock Identity Theft Protection. Motel 6, the Jacksonville Jaguars, Disney World, Avis, and thousands of other businesses offer discounts as well.  Though most companies make their discounts known, you may have to ask a representative about military discounts in some cases.

Tax Breaks

Federal law allows military personnel to maintain residence in one state even if orders move them somewhere else.  This means you can be shielded from state taxes even if you are deployed to a high-tax state.

For instance, if your permanent residence (domicile) is in Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, or another state with no state income tax, you are obligated only to that state’s tax laws and not the state’s laws where you are deployed.  Your spouse is also covered by this statute.  If the state you’re deployed to has more favorable tax laws, you may claim that state as your domicile and be obligated only to its tax laws.

Of course, tax laws are quite complicated, so check with legal assistance on base for further details.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

David Perdue is Making a Huge Romney Mistake

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David Perdue

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Michelle Nunn, daughter of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, has a more than legitimate chance to win the Georgia U.S. Senate seat.  As Republicans are passionately committed to taking back the U.S. Senate, and maintaining control of the U.S. House in the November 2014 elections, this would be a disappointing loss. Why disappointing?  Georgia is a slightly Republican-leaning state and a state that Republicans have already determined they will win.  If David Perdue, the Republican candidate for Senate and cousin of former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, does not do a better job of defending his business record, he will lose to Nunn.  In the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, Mitt Romney did a poor job of defending his business record against the attacks of President Obama, contributing significantly to his defeat.  Romney highly touted his business experience as the primary evidence he knew how to ameliorate the U.S. economy and do a far better job of handling the economy than President Obama.  Romney never, however, seemed to respond adequately to President Obama’s attacks on his management of Bain Capital, and never appeared to provide a sufficient response to Obama’s general attacks on his business experience.

David Perdue is in danger of making the same huge mistake Romney made; he’s failing to defend his business experience adequately.  Perdue’s business experience is even more important to his candidacy than Romney’s was to his candidacy in 2012.  Business experience is the only substantive leadership Perdue has.

Former Senator Nunn is highly respected across the state among Democrats and Republicans.  It’s possible that his daughter will be able to benefit from his name recognition and earn enough votes to defeat Perdue. Michelle Nunn is running a highly effective television advertisement about a company, Pillowtex, Perdue once led.  It shares the anger of some former employees of the company who were negatively impacted by Perdue’s management of the company.  If Perdue wants to stop the adverse impact this advertisement is having on his campaign, then he must run a television advertisement that directly counters Nunn’s Pillowtex advertisement.

Although Republicans are targeting open Senate seats where incumbent Democrats are vulnerable, it’s time for them to send David Perdue some much needed support in Georgia.  Some polls show Perdue leading Nunn and some show Nunn leading Perdue, with an average of the polls giving Perdue a slight edge.  This race will go right down to the finish.

Perdue is doing an excellent job of casting Nunn as being a rubberstamp vote for President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  He says that she will be a “proxy for both Obama and Reid,” and she will be “Obama’s Senator” and “not Georgia’s Senator.”  Nunn leadership experience is fairly limited but Perdue has not really done an effective job of exposing it.  To win, Perdue must become more aggressive in defending his business record and in exposing Nunn’s limited leadership experience.  His current campaign strategy will not be enough to win him the Senate seat.  Perdue cannot simply rely on the fact that Georgia is a Republican-leaning state, considering demographics have constantly been moving in favor of Georgia Democrats.  He needs to take an honest look at how much of a fight incumbent Governor Nathan Deal is in with Jason Carter, son of former President Jimmy Carter, as evidence of how tough it’s going to be to defeat Nunn.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

10 Ways to Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery

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Bob Marley Emancipate Yourself from Mental Slavery

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If you desire to emancipate yourself from mental slavery, then the following is a list of ten ways that will lead you to liberating yourself from mental slavery:

  1. Never be a “people-pleaser.”
  2. Give yourself the freedom to think for yourself.
  3. Never worry about the judgments of others.
  4. Always be yourself.
  5. Benefit from learning from revolutionaries. Observe them directly and/or read about them. Learn what makes/made them distinctive and truly liberated.
  6. Enjoy the beauty of everyday life.
  7. Don’t fall in love with tradition of any kind.
  8. Bloom where you’re planted. Be great and a leader in the areas and gifts you naturally have and/or have worked to obtain.
  9. Read and learn something new every day.
  10. Learn how to see things from the perspectives of others and not just your own perspective.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dispel the False Allure of the “Facebook Fire Challenge”

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Facebook Fire Challenge

(Photo Credit: Forward Times Online)

Recently, there has been a burgeoning interest in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” where mostly young guys, are sharing via Facebook their acts of self-immolation. This phenomenon is one of the strongest examples of how destructive this willingness to do almost anything to gain fame has become.  As someone who has devoted his academic and social justice work to ameliorating the lives of Black boys and men, it’s disheartening to witness a disproportionate number of these self-immolations being committed by young Black males.  This is why we have to continue to promote strengthening the Black male educational pipeline. Ensuring that Black males are receiving a high quality education, regardless of their backgrounds, is the key to combating a nihilistic spirit that’s running rampant throughout America, including in many impoverished Black communities.  Authentic, selfless and quality mentoring of young Black males is one of the most powerful tools of resistance we have at our disposal against this growing nihilistic spirit in America, especially in many Black communities.

Our young Black males need people around them who will tell and show them they love them and that they matter.  Nihilism is imbuing the psyches of too many young Black males.  We have to stay actively involved in their lives to help them avoid doing damaging and unproductive things.  While many may assert that one of the central reasons why many Black males are involving themselves in the “Facebook Fire Challenge” is the absence of numerous Black fathers in the home, we can no longer allow this to be the oversimplified conclusion of the narrative.  We have to identify homes where there are young Black males with absent fathers, and when we locate these homes, we need community leaders to partner those young guys with quality mentors.  How can we practically accomplish this?

Well, we’re always taking about starting a movement and/or being part of a movement.  Why don’t we start a national movement to take back our Black boys from the manacles of despondency and nihilism?  One of the best ways to prevent our Black boys from being destroyed by despondency and nihilism is to create mentoring programs in every community where Black boys are present.  We need to partner every Black boy with a mentor, especially those boys with absent fathers.  These programs don’t have to cost any money to form.  It does not cost any money to be willing to accept the role of a true mentor.  If community leaders would like to develop mentoring programs that are highly sophisticated and well-financed, this, of course, is absolutely fine.  Regardless of the approach taken in each community, what’s most important is for the community to act.  Young Black boys need to see more examples of success in their communities.  Successful individuals within their communities can aid in modeling success for them.

Have you endorsed the “Facebook Fire Challenge”?  You have if you’ve shared one video of these acts of self-immolation.  Stop sharing these videos.  When these young people begin to see that they don’t have a large audience for their foolish acts, they will realize self-immolation is an act that will not gain them the attention they desire.  Instead of sharing videos of acts of self-immolation, let’s use various social media platforms to oppose participation in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” and let’s provide substantive education about the dangers of involving one’s self in such risky behavior.  Too many young people believe they will earn respect from millions of people across the country and world by posting videos of themselves participating in the “Facebook Fire Challenge,” but when more young folks hear and read a significant number of fervid protests against involvement in this phenomenon, we will have made a noble effort to encourage them to come off of a metaphorical bridge to disaster.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

4 Ways Mobile Technology is Improving Your Motorcycle Ride

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Motorcyclist using cellphone

(Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

Whether you’re a casual motorcycle rider or a hardcore biker, your smartphone can make your riding experience even better.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 93,000 people were injured in a motorcycle-related accident in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011.  Texting while driving demonstrates a lack of responsibility, but using a smartphone to enhance the safety of your motorcycle? Smart move.

High-Tech Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are quickly becoming more high-tech.  Recently, Reevu, Skully and Nuviz revealed modern helmets that have GPS, cell phone, rear-view camera and music player capabilities.  The Skully Operating System integrated in the Skully AR-1 connects to an iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing drivers to send texts and take calls through voice commands—no need to take your eyes off the road. Skully announced that the AR-1 will be released sometime in 2014.  However, if you just can’t wait for the release of the AR-1, BikeBandit carries Bluetooth communications systems and other helmets with advanced technology, including advanced ventilation systems and carbon fiber construction.

Tap2Pass

Current technology enables smartphones to help keep us safe from the moment we start our engines to the moment we’re back home.  It’s now possible to turn a smartphone into an automatic garage door opener.  The company Flash2Pass created the Tap2Pass receiver.  This receiver communicates with a smartphone through the Tap2Pass app.  The system can be installed on up to 7 phones, essentially giving every member of your family with a smartphone his or her own garage door remote.  The four digit PIN offers an extra layer of security in case the smartphone is lost or stolen.  Tap2Pass works with both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle Safety Technologies

Although still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle technologies will soon become a possibility, thanks to Honda.  With dedicated short-range communications technology, a smartphone can detect nearby pedestrians and motorcycles and alert both parties of a possible collision using auditory and visual warnings.  In other words, the driver’s smartphone communicates with the pedestrian’s smartphone to predict the chance of an accident.  An app specifically designed for V2P technology will be able to determine a pedestrian’s position, direction and speed.  And get this: the app will even tell drivers if a pedestrian is texting, listening to music or on a phone call.

Spot Connect

This handy little device turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator, something that comes in handy when you’ve lost all cell phone connection and are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Spot Connect assists you in reaching friends, family, service providers, and, of course, emergency personnel. Notable functions include SOS mode, which discloses your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, and a Help Mode that sends custom or predefined messages to your chosen contact group.  Spot Connect isn’t just for emergency situations, however.  It also enables you to share your motorcycle adventures with family and friends on Google Maps.  They’ll be able to see your ride progress and know exactly where you’re located.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison