Saturday, August 16, 2008

Keith Henning joke of the day

"You know what a man with a one-inch penis has for breakfast?
This morning I had ….
... Keith Henning told me that joke."

Ahhh. Just feeling a little "Mo' Money" today, I guess. Continue Reading »

Some light reading

Sample line from the nation's top-selling "nonfiction" hardcover book: Obama "wants to will all the white blood out of himself so he can become pure black."

Really? It's tough to take anything Jerome Corsi writes with much seriousness (not that I was in the first place). That sounds like a line borrowed from a 5th-grade special ed student.

Seriously, who are these people buying copy after copy of "Obama Nation"? Even Levar Burton thinks the book is too childish to be recommended.

A few other notes about Corsi's latest contribution to conservative "scholarship":

1. The "Obama Nation" publisher is Mary Matalin, wife of dogged Democratic operative James Carville. And I actually like Carville, a passionate Democrat and devoted LSU football fan. One can only imagine the pillow talk that goes on in that bedroom.

2. John McCain catches a little flak for a seemingly off-handed remark directed at a reporter who asked a question about the book. I can believe his flak's contention that he misheard the question. McCain should crank up that hearing aid in the future.

3. Peter Wehner on how Corsi and Co. could prove destructive to both the political process and the Republican Party. In short, appealing to idiocy is not necessarily a smart tactic. Continue Reading »

A Bolt of lightning

This is unbelievable.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt, the newly crowned "world's fastest human," has made me seriously reconsider the potential of the athlete. Perhaps the only limitations are the ones we place on ourselves.
Twenty years ago, when Ben Johnson ran a stunning - but steroid-fueled - 9.79 in the 100-meter finals of the Seoul Games, I assumed there wasn't much more advancement in store for the next generation or so. To legitimately break such a mark would require someone more machine than muscle, I thought.
Or maybe not.
Because of Johnson and a laundry list of others, I don't want to be naive here - I'm sure Bolt's post-race urine test will be the subject of much interest. But until proven otherwise, the 21-year-old Bolt (way out front in the picture above from the New York Times) has just shattered - perhaps forever - my perception of the speed limit for humans. There really might not be a ceiling here.
And that puts Michael Johnson's otherworldly 200-meter world record of 19.32 into play, too. Supposedly, the 200 is Bolt's best race.
What's possible here? 19.2? 19.1? 18.9? My mind reels at the potential. Bolt has made the unbelievable seem believable again.
Continue Reading »

Sports Saturday

This Sports Saturday feels like a Beijing Games wrap-up of sorts but here 'tis:

Will Leitch, in his predictably snarky way, takes pains to explain why the Olympics are more reality TV than sports. In a way, he's sort of right: "After the Olympics are over, you’ll never think of Michael Phelps again. I’m gonna be stuck with my Arizona Cardinals forever." Leitch has a point ... we only really hear from Mark Spitz and Carl Lewis every four years or so.

I feel obligated to post the counterpoint to Leitch's essay. Since I'm not really into Michael Phelps' abs or checking out preteen Chinese gymnasts, it's sorta hard to feel Jessica Coen's argument.

More Olympics chatter, this time from the good folks at The Big Lead. They make a great point about the hypocrisy of the American reaction to the Spanish "slant-eyed" picture gaffe. Absolutely. It's awkward to be too critical when a racial slur adorns the name of the pro football team in our nation's capital. Concludes the Lead: "The Spanish basketball team’s picture exposed a problem rooted in ignorance. The last thing the situation needed was a generous dollop of our own."

Chinese officials are struggling to deal with the demands and expectations of the Western media, according to the WSJ. Big surprise there. A Columbia Law School professor says, "The Chinese government's idea of how you impress people is that everything is perfect, even if that means a little bit of deception. And that's exactly the thing that drives the Western media crazy, because it seems sneaky."

An extremely interesting blog post at Newsweek's spot about research that puts merit to the theory that great basketball players simply "feel" the game better than others. Apparently, the guy who yells "buckets" or "and one" before the shot even drops through the net at your pickup game is even better than you thought.

A high school buddy of mine who lives in New Jersey brought it to my attention that "Mike & Mad Dog" wrapped up their final radio show Friday after 19 years on the air. I never really had a chance to listen to those guys but it's tough to imagine the New York sports landscape without them. First the Fat Boys break up. Now this.

Somehow, it seems absolutely appropriate that John Lynch will be playing for the Patriots. And that's not a compliment. (As you'll come to know through football season, I detest the Belichick Boys).

Jason Whitlock is back, writing the only column of his that I'm really and truly a big fan of (we're just total ideological opposites): NFL Truths. But Whitlock has got to be delusional if he thinks Ball State is sniffing any part of the BCS.

I know this is old but I've been meaning to comment on it for awhile: kudos to UT (that's University of Texas for the uninitiated) for deciding to retire Vince Young's No. 10 at the season opener in Austin. Young, believe it or not, might be the most important player in UT's history since Earl Campbell. And, for me, VY will always be the most dynamic athlete I've ever seen with the ball in his hands.

And another set of kudos for Shreveport native Kendrick Farris, who finished eighth in his weightlifting event in Beijing. I had the pleasure of meeting Farris when he came to accept a certificate of some sort at City Hall during my time back in Louisiana. It's always nice to see great things happen to great people. Also, it's somewhat amazing that Farris could set two American records and still not medal. How weak is the U.S. weightlifting team really? Continue Reading »

Friday, August 15, 2008

Edwards' BFF

Andrew Young: The Ultimate Fall Guy.

Without a paternity test to settle this once and for all, John Edwards will always be subject to these sorts of suspicions and innuendo.

And Young, who is 42 and married, has apparently not demanded one to clear up the confusion.

Egads. Something seems amiss here, no? Continue Reading »

Engineering abstinence

This brilliant bit of abstinence advocacy has been making the rounds through the blogosphere today.

I must say, if I ever had any serious thoughts about becoming an engineer, this advertisement pretty much ended that. I mean, is it not possible to pursue both sex and an engineering degree?

I seem to remember several people in college who were remarkably successful at doing both.
Continue Reading »

Oh, Canada

After seven days of competition in Beijing, Canada's national team was locked in a 153-way tie for 53rd place in medals at the Olympics.

Which is essentially a convoluted way of saying dead-last.

Canada, one of the world's largest and wealthiest countries, brought 332 athletes to China and has - literally - nothing to show for it but jet lag and some neat scrapbooks. Canadian swimmer Mike Brown has come the closest to bring home the bronze, finishing fourth in the 200-meter breaststroke. Meanwhile, countries like Togo, Tajikistan, Vietnam and Denmark had already produced at least one medal-stand moment.

Naturally, Canada performs much better during the Winter Games (which they will host in 2010 in Vancouver) than during the quadrennial summer version. But no medals? In anything? What gives?

This ineptitude hasn't escaped the notice of Canada journalists and other Olympic observers. This guy, for instance, considers this medal shutout a symptom of some larger societal decline. He refers to a "particular incestuous culture, that chooses mediocrity over pursuing excellence." That seems like a bit of hyperbole but there's got to be a kernel of truth in there, somewhere.

Maybe the problems all started in 1988 with Ben Johnson, who once raced to the title of "world's fastest man" and now is renowned as the man at the center of the largest Olympic doping scandal in history.

Johnson seems to have never really recovered from that swift fall from grace. Canada, too. Continue Reading »

The e-mails Obama doesn't want you to see

More great reporting from The Atlantic. First, it was the release of a series of e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign that show a "candidate in crisis."

This time, Jeffrey Goldberg unveils the secret Obama campaign e-mails. Continue Reading »

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Happy 73rd!

Let's celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the Social Security Act with some perspective on the significance of the law.

Franklin Roosevelt said of the measure: "We can never insure one hundred percent of the population against one hundred percent of the hazards and vicissitudes of life, but we have tried to frame a law which will give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age."

John McCain, himself 71 but having the good fortune to marry a heiress, calls this a "disgrace."

I think of it as a social contract that ensures the financial security of all the old people you love. And even a few you dislike.

I think that's a fair tradeoff, given that their efforts made it possible for us to enjoy our society as presently constituted. And I'll expect the future generations to do the same for me. Continue Reading »

Sharks 1, Bears 0

These sorts of animal debates are fascinating to me: polar bear or shark?

Looks like the shark seizes the early advantage - in its powerful jaws. But the victory must be put into context since the shark apparently went after a young bear. And possibly a dead one at that.

Still, that's an impressive win. Who even knew that sharks scavenged for bears?

Now, if you'll pardon me, I need to go watch "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou." I need some questions answered.
Continue Reading »

Saban is No. 1.

According to Forbes magazine, Alabama's Nick Saban is the most powerful coach in sports.

Makes me wonder if Forbes knows that the Crimson Tide lost to Louisiana-Monroe last season?

But seriously, Forbes contends in the article that no other coach boasts Saban's "combination of money, control and influence." That's mostly due to the $32-million, eight-year contract Saban was given to come to Tuscaloosa.

Saban will be the first college football coach to grace the Forbes cover since the magazine was started in 1917. The magazine hits newsstands Friday.

Should be an interesting read. As a fellow Southern-fried football fan, I only hope Forbes doesn't make Alabamans appear to be Neanderthals who have ceded control of their state's flagship university to an aloof egomaniac. But, hey, it is what it is.

Also, there's no No. 2 or No. 3 or Top 10 in this issue. Just Saban.

Without thinking too deeply about this, I've gotta figure Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and, say, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski figure somewhere in the top 10. Maybe Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden should be considered.

Makes for some interesting conjecture, no? Continue Reading »

Stop fighting and fold

There's a fine line between being a fighter and being foolish. So, which side does Kwame Kilpatrick think he represents at this point?

Kilpatrick, once dubbed the "Hip Hop Mayor," should, at this embarrassing point, take his cue from a country music standard: "Know when to hold'em, and know when to fold'em."

For goodness' sake, even Obama and Co. don't want Kilpatrick to bring his circus to Denver. Continue Reading »

Take heart, Rocket

Rusty Hardin still seems to have his touch in the courtroom. But I doubt he had to break much of a sweat over this case.

It's been tough to explain to folks outside of Texas how successful and well-regarded an attorney Hardin is in Houston, given the early results from his work with Roger Clemens. Many observers have wondered if the Rocket wouldn't be better off without Hardin and have questioned some of his legal manueverings in the case.

But, make no mistake, Hardin is no rube. Check out this description from a New York Times profile of Hardin (taken from a profile in Texas Monthly magazine) in December: "He is all things a great defender must be — raconteur, showman, charmer, tactician, egotist — and he has a ferocious charisma that a rival once described as ‘slicker ’n deer guts on a doorknob.'"

And that, in part, is why I wonder if Clemens will somehow be able to work himself out of this whole mess. Make no mistake, Clemens has suffered almost irreparable damage to his rep and still remains in a world of trouble. But Hardin ain't no joke. Ask Warren Moon, Calvin Murphy or any other professional athlete who ran afoul of the law in Houston.

Disclosure: I'm good friends and a former high school classmate of one of Hardin's sons. I know Hardin pretty well from my high school days in Houston and later as a sports writer in my hometown, writing about more than a handful of guys whom Hardin represented.

That said, if I were in serious legal trouble, the first lawyer that I'd call would be Hardin. And Clemens probably felt the same way.
Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck...

I'm really, really behind on my to-do list today. What else is new, right?

At least I've got a banging soundtrack to get me through:

1. Morris Brown by Outkast
2. The Bird by Morris Day and The Time
3. U Send Me Swingin' by Mint Condition
4. Sex Appeal by Ray Cash
5. Paisley Darts by Ghostface Killah feat. Raekwon, Sun God, Trife Da God, Method Man and Cappadonna.

It might be awhile before I post again today. But I'll definitely have a something to say. There's too much going on - the 73rd birthday of Social Security, more scuttlebutt about affirmative action, the US men's hoop teams disposes of Greece - to leave this space blank today. Continue Reading »

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Closing their eyes

Not surprisingly, Spain's Olympic basketball team seems not the least bit repentant about appearing in a photo (above) using their fingers to make the offensive Chinese "slant eyes."

Point guard Jose Calderon told Yahoo! Sports that "we did it because we thought it was going to be something nice, something with no problem. But somebody wants to talk about it. It is too much of a big deal with you guys (the media) and everybody talking about that."

See? You don't even have to be American to know that, when you must answer for bad behavior, it's easier to blame the media.

Anyway, I wasn't surprised by the team's reaction - star Pau Gasol called it "absurd" that the gesture was considered racist - because, as Yahoo! Sports notes, "Spain is no stranger to racial controversy."

In previous incidents, Spain's athletes have been remarkably remorseless in the face of criticism about their racial attitudes. A sample quote from the story: "In Spain, when they make fun about the colour of your skin, it is not necessarily racism."

Sports are generally more engaging when you can root against a villain, you know? I'm glad Spain has figured out its role for these Games.
Continue Reading »

Ocho Cinco might be loco

A piece of video gold from Kissing Suzy Kolber, showing Chad Johnson's bizarre sideline interview with Suzy Kolber during the Green Bay-Cincinnati preseason game Monday.

There's no way to know if Johnson, aka Ocho Cinco, meant the following as a threat or a promise: "The world is gonna get every bit of Dade County I got in me. If you don’t understand what that means, watch the Hurricanes of the '90s.”

I was a huge fan of those old Hurricane teams and I'm not quite sure where Johnson was going with this one.

As KSK points out, this could mean "Chad Johnson will, like those Hurricanes, start off well, only to gradually fall into a horrible state of disrepair, culminating in an SI cover asking him to drop football entirely. And then he’ll get arrested on multiple gun charges. Maybe even stab two people in a nightclub."

We can only hope.
UPDATE: You can't make this stuff up. And, from this point forward, I'm going to promise to give you all every bit of Fort Bend County that I got in me.
Continue Reading »

Cutting out the lights on the lies

In a rare moment of honesty and candor, Jerome Corsi copped to his true aspiration for his latest best-selling book, "The Obama Nation," in an interview with the New York Times.

"The goal is to defeat Obama. I don’t want Obama to be in office,” Corsi said.

Corsi is certainly doing his part to make it happen, picking up where he left off after his book "Unfit for Command" helped to sink Senator John Kerry's campaign during the 2004 election. "Obama Nation" is poised make its first appearance on The New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction hardcovers this Sunday — at No. 1.

But calling Corsi's latest release "nonfiction" might be a serious stretch. Here's how The Times describes the book: "(Corsi paints Obama) as a stealth radical liberal who has tried to cover up 'extensive connections to Islam' — Mr. Obama is Christian — and questioning whether his admitted experimentation with drugs in high school and college ever ceased."

According to Media Matters, Corsi cites conservative bloggers, right-wing Web sites, discredited news stories and outright lies and distortions to cobble together "Obama Nation."

This sounds a lot like "truthiness" to me. Or something worse.

But, in an ironic and appropriate twist, John Kerry is leading the counterpunch effort against Corsi and his slimy ilk, proving - once again - that it's never too late to make things right.

Despite the early sales for "Obama Nation," I have faith that Americans won't be suckered again by an unrepentant liar like Corsi. I really need to believe this. And I'm willing to help where I can because as my mother once told me, the truth is the light and the only thing that endures.

UPDATE: Obama's campaign issues a 40-page response to Corsi's best-seller. And not to moment too soon. Continue Reading »

Get your Games on

It's a wonder the Olympic athletes have enough energy to actually compete in their respective events, given the number of condoms passed out during the Beijing Games.

Olympic organizers are providing 100,000 condoms for roughly 10,500 athletes, according to Reuters. That's about 10 condoms per person (pictured above is an Olympic-themed ad from Chinese condom manufacturer Elasun).

Who knew the Games were a virtual Freaknik?

This, from UNAIDS China spokesman Ole Hansen: "There are many young, strong, single people in the athletes' village and, like everywhere, some will fall in love or other things so we need to make condoms available."

I don't know about falling in love. But given that there are athletes like this running around the Olympic Village, having a healthy supply of condoms is a probably a good idea.
Continue Reading »

A golden opportunity

In a way, the best thing that ever happened to Olympic speedskater Joey Cheek was being denied entry into China and, thus, the Beijing Games.

Cheek, who won a gold medal in Turin in 2006, was rebuffed in his attempt to attend the Olympics after Chinese officials decided to revoke his visa. China offered no explanation for the decision but it's most likely because of Cheek's work with Team Darfur, an international coalition of athletes who have called attention to China's economic ties to the bloody conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

I watched Cheek, 29, make an appearance on The Colbert Report last night and couldn't help but think I was looking at the birth of a political celebrity. Cheek was self-assured, articulate and played a very good straight man to the wacky Colbert. In short, Cheek endured the Colbert treatment and come out looking golden.

The Chinese haven't heard the last of Cheek. In fact, they gave Cheek the perfect podium from which to deliver his message and launch his run to the White House in, say, 2028 or 2032. An Olympic gold medalist, Ivy League student, social activist, humanitarian (Cheek donated his $40K in Olympic prize money to charity) and outspoken critic of a Communist regime and America's largest threat to world supremacy. You tellin' me that's not the biography of a political superstar?

At the moment, Cheek is studying economics and Chinese at Princeton University and using his newfound platform to promote Team Darfur. But that's just the start.

Cheek can't rival Phelps for Olympic medals, not now and not ever. But when it's all said and done, Cheek's denial will be the enduring memory from these Games. What a golden opportunity.
Continue Reading »

It's all academic

Newsweek somewhat soberly submits its list of the top 12 college rivalries in the country.

Obviously, the rankings are not based solely on what happens on the playing fields. Unless I've vastly underrated the football programs at Cal Tech and MIT, or the field hockey teams at Smith and Wellesley.

That said, just a couple of (not-so serious) complaints: I've always assumed Hampton was a more important rival to Howard than Morehouse and Spelman, and under any circumstance, I can't imagine why anyone outside of the alums would care about Guilford vs. Oberlin and Indiana vs. Purdue.

A few notable rivalries that came to me, just off top: Texas and Texas A&M, a rivalry steeped not only in football but in their tremendous campus lifestyle differences; North Carolina vs. Duke, almost entirely based on hoops and the whole public-private thing; and Grambling vs. Southern, which boasts a more sibling-like animosity than Howard-Hampton in my opinion.

As a note, TCU and SMU isn't a rivalry. SMU would have to win every now and again for us to really care. Continue Reading »

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Opening his mouth, removing all doubt

"It just seems to me that (John) Edwards might be attracted to a woman whose mouth did something other than talk."

If there was ever any doubt about this before, let me assure you: Rush Limbaugh is a buffoon.

Limbaugh would be advised to do something productive with his mouth. Shut it.

UPDATE: Speaking of the Edwards fam, here's a link from The Root's Marc Lamont Hill. Adding that Big Boi sample was a stroke of genius.

UPDATE 2: Actually, UBM gets off the best line I've seen about this whole Edwards ordeal: "I can only assume Rielle Hunter is better at sex than she is at shooting video." Classic. Continue Reading »

Will the real Rays stand up?

Maybe this isn't quite fair to the Tampa Bay Rays but I have this theory that bad things happen to bad teams. Whether it's injuries, erratic officiating or, simply, the errant bounce of the ball.

Teams that are bad or getting worse or struggling to overcome their ineptitude usually face an inordinate amount of obstacles before they can turn the corner. On the flip side, contending teams usually catch all the breaks and benefit from a certain about of providence along the way - good and lucky are usually one in the same. Good teams make their own luck.

That's why I'm curious to see how the upstart Rays, holding a four-game lead in the AL East as of today, will deal with the recent losses of Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

The baseball season, of all pro sports, has the longest, most grueling race to the finish line. Things that happen in April don't necessarily have anything to do with what happens in the final week of September. Ask the Mets.

So we'll figure out what kind of team the Rays really are over the next couple weeks. Will they remain baseball's darlings and feel-good summer story? Or will they sink back to the bottom of the standings, where they've made themselves comfortable for the past decade? Continue Reading »

Love for the Tyler Rose

Ta-Nehisi shows some much-appreciated love for one of my childhood football heroes, Earl Campbell.

I'm seriously struggling to think of a football player who resonates more with the great state of Texas. Campbell led John Tyler High School to a high school state championship, won the Heisman Trophy at the University of Texas and literally gave up his body for the Houston Oilers for six grueling seasons.

Every bit of Campbell's back-breaking prime was spent in his home state, and to this day, he remains the standard by which all Texas prep running backs are measured against. That's quite a legacy, considering Texas has produced schoolboy legends like Eric Dickerson, Thurman Thomas, LaDainian Tomlinson and, now, Adrian Peterson.

There's never been a guy quite like him. And, for a number of reasons, I hope that remains true for a long time.
Continue Reading »

A little snazz

Well, we have a different look here today - and for the foreseeable future - at False Hustle. And, for that, I have J.P. to thank.

J.P., a talented "toonist" and blogger extraordinaire, offered last week to spruce up the blog's banner and I eagerly accepted. Glad that I did. We could use a little more snazz around this place.

Thanks again, man.

And, real quick before I move on, a few short notes:

1. I really, really will have to give up my lifelong love affair with milk. It's becoming apparent that my innards can't handle it. (Sorry if that was TMI. But I'm hurting here).

2. Glad to see that Russia and Georgia seem to be moving toward a resolution. But who really knows? I'm listening to the Russian foreign ministry on CNN and he's being very evasive about whether or not Russia is honoring its own call for a cease-fire. (As another note, the LA Times story is written by one of the three best writers I know in person. Megan Stack is simply brilliant).

3. Also, Barack is to blame even when he's not around. I think Obama should have returned home, only to prevent these sort of silly attacks. But, to be honest, even that wouldn't have saved him from criticism in some quarters. He's being arrogant. He's acting presidential before he's even been elected. Some people are so predictable.

4. Madden '09 was released today. Somehow, someway, I need to get my hands on a copy.
5. I figured out the answer to a question no one was asking: Blanca Soto is the actress in those commercials. Soto (pictured above) is a model and a former Miss Mexico World. I'd think even Lou Dobbs would be down with Miss Soto.
Continue Reading »

Monday, August 11, 2008

Linked Up

Let's boil down some of the news of the day, shall we?

I'm reading this tonight. Here's a sample: "Above all, this irony emerges: Clinton ran on the basis of managerial competence—on her capacity, as she liked to put it, to 'do the job from Day One.' In fact, she never behaved like a chief executive, and her own staff proved to be her Achilles’ heel."

But there's yet another reason Hillary Clinton was bounced out of the presidential race, according to her former communications director. John Edwards. Some of us consider this an excuse rather than a reason. And, really, Howard Wolfson ignored the available evidence to come up with this one.

Don't look to me for many foreign policy discussions. You'd be better off trying Matthew Yglesias. But on the way home I overheard Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili tell CNN that his country "would never, ever surrender. We're willing to fight to the end." Looks like the time for compromise between Russia and Georgia might have already elapsed; Russia continues to advance and attack despite Georgia's retreat from South Ossetia. Now, I think, would be a good time for Obama to come back to the mainland.

Speaking of Obama, I think some people tend to forget that he's in the lead in every reputable poll taken on presidential contest. Some people like Glenn Thursh at Politico. To expect a blowout victory by any Democrat in any year is silly, given the deep political divisions in this country. The race is destined to be tight because of the simple math of the Electoral College. People should chill out. We've got a loooong way to go.

I had once hoped to cover a cockfight for my old news shop. But it looks like them days are over in Louisiana. I'm sure, however, the bloodsport will live on forever in some corners of the state. And others.

Ever heard of the "Preppy Killer"? Well, he's in the news again. Reminds me that Ralph Wiley once noted the nickname was shockingly inappropriate: "Not the murderer, the beast, the animal but a preppie who let sexual horseplay get a little rough. What power the prisms have!"

It occurred to me that Bernie Mac and the word "motherf*cker" will forever be inextricably linked. Thanks to him, I'll never be ashamed of the word again. Sorry, mom.

And, to commemorate the upcoming football season: the top 20 touchdown celebrations. Continue Reading »

What's juice?

Something random from Dave Chappelle. This always kills me.

(Sigh). Someday, I'll figure out what's wrong with my browser. Continue Reading »

Can I Live?

As far as I know, I'm a relatively healthy 30-year-old man. I work out about three times a week, try not to consume more than 2,000 calories in a day and I've since stopped engaging in any behaviors that might endanger my well-being since moving in with my girlfriend.

But as we've seen with Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes in recent days, there's only so much control that you can have over your health. And that's when, as a black man, I begin to worry.

The statistics are daunting: black men in America are at an increased risk for about every single health problem. The average life expectancy for black men is 70, six years behind white men, seven behind black women and 11 behind white women.

The anecdotal evidence is troublesome, too: for example, my childhood idol, Ralph Wiley, died of heart failure at age 52 despite a relatively clean bill of health. Not to mention tales of other black men in my life - and others - who died too soon.

I've got a fighting chance to make it into my 70s since I come from relatively healthy stock - both my grandfathers surpassed the age of 80 and my father is 61 but could easily pass for someone 15 years younger.

But I wonder if something else is at work besides my genes and mere lifestyle choices. I often joke with family members and friends that I'm cutting years off my life by worrying about run-of-the-mill discrimination. And it seems funny until I read this in the LA Times: "For a black man, a stress response to discrimination can be triggered by something as subjective as feeling suspicious eyes on him in a department store."

Considered me stressed out.

Example: I was stopped by the cops last weekend. No traffic infraction or anything. Just, you know, Officer Bruce was running my plates because "I have that right," as he told me later. As I waited on the shoulder of the road, another officer pulled up behind my car. The officers commiserated for about 15 minutes before deciding to ticket me for failing to register my vehicle in a timely manner. I asked him, "how did you pick me out - of all people - on such a busy street?" Officer Bruce and Office Pigu didn't have an answer for me other than it was their right to run my plates.

And this was the second time something like this had happened in the past month.

All told, I've probably been stopped by cops about 40-50 times in the 14 years that I've been driving. I don't think I'm a particularly bad driver - I've had two accidents that were the fault of other motorists and I'm no speed demon. Over that time, I've had officers ask to search my car (they were surprised when I told them no), for looking lost while driving through the neighborhood (only a block from my mother's home) and for trailing a white female co-worker too closely after midnight (this happened in somewhat notorious Jasper, Texas).

To perceived slights - why didn't anyone say hi at the party? - to outright insults like being called "nigger" at an IHOP in Bossier City, the incidents add up in some imperceptible way. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. But my body eventually pays the price.

So, what's a brotha to do? As Jay-Z might ask, can I live? Continue Reading »

In search of civility in sports talk

There was little chance that Sunday viewers of CNN's "Reliable Sources" were going to learn anything new from the short segment about that week's media coverage of Brett Favre.

Hardly anyone should be turning to host Howard Kurtz for nuanced NFL talk. But things promised to be interesting with popular sports media personalities Will Leitch and Gregg Doyel as panelists on the segment.

Leitch and Doyel were certainly interesting. But for all the wrong reasons.

Both men seemed intent on cramming as many insults and snarky remarks as possible in their brief appearance on Kurtz's show. Elevating the discourse or providing honest critique about the media coverage, they were not.

Doyel made several references to Favre's low Wunderlic score (a general test of problem-solving ability given to prospective NFL draftees) from the long-ago days of 1991. Doyel neatly summed up his complaint about Favre's offseason flip-flop thusly: "I really get sick of people that behave like losers."

Ok. Thanks for coming. I'm sure Howie had some nice parting gifts.

Leitch was a tad more coherent in his appearance but went out of his way to take a shot at ESPN on a question that was about, specifically, the Tampa Tribune's embarrassing gaffe. It's important to note that in Leitch's most recent book, "God Save The Fan," there are at least four chapters about how much ESPN sucks, including one titled "Ten Examples of How ESPN Is Ruining Sports."

Kurtz, somewhat predictably, failed to gain control of his guests. No one could have possibly learned anything about Favre or the Green Bay Packers or the media coverage of both. It was a disappointing effort all the way around.

All things considered, I have a lot - a lot - of respect for Leitch and Doyel. But they missed a great chance to go beyond the snark and crude soundbite that the new sports media leaders are sometimes renowned for. Instead they came off looking small and petty and mean.

And I really hope that's not the lesson that "Reliable Sources" viewers took from the show. Continue Reading »

The last days of Hayes

Being that I work and live only 30 minutes from the Clearwater headquarters of the Church of Scientology, I'd be remiss if I didn't note that - as far as I can tell - Isaac Hayes was probably the most prominent black member of the group.

A black Scientologist? Almost unheard of.

That said, Fox News reporter Roger Friedman offers some insight in the last couple years of Hayes' life, his relationship with Scientologists and why his death Sunday may not have been so surprising.

Here's a passage from the story about a Hayes concert in January 2007: "The show was abomination. Isaac was plunked down at a keyboard, where he pretended to front his band. He spoke-sang, and his words were halting. He was not the Isaac Hayes of the past." Continue Reading »

By request

False Hustle. Now with more anonymity.

In a sign of my utter cluelessness when it comes to computers, I had no idea that the settings on the blog didn't allow comments from readers who wouldn't register with Blogger. So I've now corrected that oversight. I don't know if this means there will be more comments in the future but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Also, there's a couple of changes in store for my spot. Hopefully, positive changes. We'll see how things play out over the next week.

Ciao. Continue Reading »

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sports Sunday

This is virtually a "Sports Monday" but, hey, when you've set expectations for yourself, you might as well live up to them.

I'm starting from scratch tonight - I've misplaced the notebook where I make notes about interesting items I've read throughout the week. Hopefully, it'll turn up at my desk tomorrow.

Long story short, I'm not working with much at the moment. Anyhow:

As the ill-named "Redeem Team" rolled to a tougher-than-expected victory over host China this morning, I couldn't help but think the NBA is seriously overestimating its sway with the next generation of hoopers. Earl Boykins continued the march of NBA veteran role players overseas, signing a contract this week that will make him the highest-paid player in Italy. Kobe and LeBron openly mused this week about the possibility of someday playing in Europe. And why not? The U.S. team's struggles in international play since 2000 have shown the gap between Americans and the rest of the world in James Naismith's game has nearly been erased. At that point, then, it would make sense for a top-flight NBA star to pursue the most money possible. Maybe I'm naive. But I like the speculation about this sort of shift. I believe in maximizing your options, folks.

Zen passed this item along from Fortune about an ambitious attempt to merge Facebook with fantasy football. I might be the last holdout in the male 18-34 age bracket when it comes to fantasy football. For years, I've had friends and co-workers attempt to lure me into a league and I've rebuffed their efforts each time. I just can't see how tracking the touchdown count of, say, LenDale White, is going to make the games more interesting for me. But I'm addicted to Facebook and football and for the first time, I'm open to becoming a statistical nerd this fall.

There are some quarterback troubles in Los Angeles. First, USC. Now UCLA. As the LA Times notes, UCLA really has nowhere to go from here. But the Trojans, they'll be fine. Mitch Mustain is next in line after Mark Sanchez. He was 8-0 as a freshman starter at Arkansas and certainly won't face tougher defenses out West than he did in the SEC. And, really, that's the difference between USC and almost everyone else in college football. I stand by the Trojans as my national-champ choice.

If this is true, I think Tyson Gay is running for third place in the Olympic 100-meter showdown against Jamaican speedsters Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell. Maybe fourth if you throw Walter Dix into the mix. And that might have been the case had Gay been at 100 percent. The Olympics can be cruel in that way.

Damn. I hate to read stories like this about kids on the cusp of NFL riches. Keep your spirits up and get well, Cornelius Ingram. It's the reason why I always lean toward advising guys to leave school early, given that the move makes sense.

Brock Lesnar is a beast. He might fully convert me to a MMA fan. Might.

Ok. That's plenty. And, really, I can't express in words (bad for a paid professional) how excited I am about the dawn of football season. I've spent nearly $100 on preseason annuals, including my beloved Texas Football magazine, to study up for the fall. I'm not gonna be caught sleeping come September.

UPDATE: I had to mention that Ahman Green is hobbled again, after only one play in the Houston Texans' preseason opener. Doesn't look good for the Texans' perenially porous running game. In early August. But if it makes them feel better, Reggie Bush wouldn't have helped much either. Continue Reading »

Bye, Black Moses

What a terrible weekend for black celebrities and two of the three men set to star in the upcoming film "Soul Men."
First Bernie Mac, now Isaac Hayes.

I'll admit that Hayes' heyday, for me, came well before I was able to appreciate his gifts as a hot-buttered soul man. But I'd lose my hood pass if I didn't show some love for the man who created the theme to "Shaft."

The Official Mother of False Hustle, a music-lover herself, said: "Isaac Hayes was the '60s and '70s." I'll most certainly defer to her on this one.

Most folks are familiar with Hayes because he lent his deep baritone voice to the Chef on "South Park." However, I probably got my first bit of exposure to Hayes from his underappreciated acting role as Hammer in "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka."

A musician, an actor, a trendsetter, a civil-rights activist, a man of principle, a father of 12 children.

R.I.P., Black Moses.
Continue Reading »

What's playing in my deck... I figure out what to do next: read, blog or watch "Reliable Sources" on the DVR. Maybe I can mix in a little of all three over the next two hours.

We'll see.

1. Hey, Lookaway by Questionmark Asylum
2. In My House by The Mary Jane Girls
3. Fu-Gee-La by The Fugees (God, what happened to Lauryn Hill?)
4. Thief's Theme by Nas
5. Mr. Telephone Man by New Edition Continue Reading »

A little weird...

... that Rielle Hunter.

Hunter on Elizabeth Edwards: "I've only met her once. She does not give off good energy. She didn't make eye contact with me."

Wonder why?

UPDATE: I'm not normally one for fanning the flames but this link was pretty good. I mean, if you're going to go down (so to speak), make it count. And, no, Hunter doesn't make the cut. Continue Reading »

The fall of the front-runner

Things might get a little awkward in Denver.

This absolutely heightens my anticipation for the The Atlantic's upcoming take-down of the Clinton campaign. Politico's headine pretty much sums it up: "Clinton told to portray Obama as foreign."

Mark Penn = Karl Rove? Maybe.

Continue Reading »