Thursday, August 9, 2007 at 12:00 PMWhen men’s fashion magazines crowned Michael Jordan as the man who made bald beautiful in the 1990s, this honor was every bit as fatuous as when women’s magazines crowned Bo Derek as the woman who made cornrows beautiful.After all, I vaguely remember my big sisters swooning over actor Yul Brynner and his chrome dome – as Rameses II in The Ten Commandments and King Mongkut of Siam in The King and I – way back in the 1960s.But if bald is beautiful (or even fashionable), why is the hair club for men thriving so much? And why, pray tell, is a “leading man” like John Travolta wearing a toupée that has nothing to do with a movie role?
This latter question (in fact, this post) arises from a recent debate I had with a female friend, in which she argued that men are as insecure about losing hair as women are about gaining weight.
But I argued that the transformation of consciousness that men like Brynner and Jordan led – from harboring anxieties about male pattern baldness to flaunting bald heads as erogenous zones – belied her contention. And I cited the shining example former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani set by finally shearing his comb-over strands as dispositive in this respect.
Nevertheless, since wanting to appeal to women is the root cause of whatever insecurities most men suffer over going bald, I beg them to help disabuse my follically-challenged brethren of this hang-up by doing the following:
Reassure any guy you know – who sports a Donald Trump comb-over or, God forbid, a Sam Donaldson toupée – that he would look ten times better if he were to go all the way bald!
And if you help convince enough of them that bald is indeed beautiful, then I’ll redouble my efforts to convince even more women that (a little) fat is where it’s at….
Wednesday, August 8, 2007 at 12:01 PMForget all of the talk about taking steroids or putting an asterisk next to his name, Barry Bonds is the new home-run king of Baseball today – having blasted his 756th homer last night on his own field of dreams in San Francisco. And nothing made this fact more indisputable than seeing the man he dethroned, Hank Aaron, personally confer legitimacy on his title as the new reigning king.
(Recall that Aaron began his reign by dethroning Babe Ruth with his 715th home run on 8 April 1974 as a player with the Atlanta Braves.)
That said, I appreciate that bashing Bonds about steroids has become a national sport. Never mind that if all players suspected of using steroids were similarly pilloried and summarily discredited, there would be few players deserving of cheers left in the game.
Indeed, it is instructive to know that many of the sports writers now criticizing Bonds, are the same ones who chastised Jose Canseco as a heretic two years ago – after he published an insider’s account of the pervasive use of steroids in Baseball in a book entitled Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big.
But the heresy was not Canseco’s revelations (and accusations); rather, it is the collective hypocrisy of all who refuse to admit that cheating to get ahead in sports (and in life) is as American as, well, Baseball and apple pie.
In fact, steroid use has flourished in Baseball (and other professional sports) pursuant to an open conspiracy amongst players and team owners to feed the gladiatorial lust of fans who want to see bigger, stronger and faster cyborgs perform for their atavistic enjoyment. And, naturally, the more fans revel in their steroid-fuel feats of athleticism, the richer players, and even richer team owners, become.
Meanwhile, to his credit (and for the record), Bonds has declared repeatedly that “they can test me everyday if they like“. And, so far, he’s batting “1000” against Baseball’s steroid-testing pitches. Therefore, despite all of the circumstantial evidence of his steroid use, Commissioner Bud Selig and the barons of Baseball are now precluded from doing or saying anything to disqualify or taint Bonds’ historic accomplishment.
Nevertheless, apropos setting the record straight, I’ve been quite unabashed in proffering my reasonable suspicion that Bonds has cheated his way to Baseball superstardom by enhancing his performance with an apothecary of steroids that would make Dr. Frankenstein green with envy. And my suspicions were only confirmed last year when his steroids regimen was chronicled in the book Game of Shadows.
But, where it’s quite acceptable to express schadenfreude over the public ridicule Bonds has been subjected to (including having steroid-size syringes thrown at him during games); it’s simply juvenile to whine over his dissembling about using steroids.
Mind you, I do not condone cheating. I just abhor the self-evident fact that fans and self-appointed Baseball purists are holding Bonds to an unequal and unfair standard.
Of course, I’m aware that this kind of discrimination (and hypocrisy) figures prominently in every facet of American life. Moreover, I appreciate that nothing defines the American character quite like sports, and that no sport is more central to that character than Baseball.
The irony is not lost on me, however, that it was Baseball – not schools, churches or places of public accommodation – that led the desegregation of American society. Yet is is Baseball that is now festering with inherently-racist calls to blackball Bonds.
But, just as the achievements of players like Babe Ruth have not been diminished even though they drank alcohol during prohibition, the achievements of players like Barry Bonds should not be diminished even though they’re taking steroids today. Besides, the following pithy observation by comedian Chris Rock brings this debate on recognizing Bonds into stark relief:
Babe Ruth didn’t play with no brothers. What is more of an advantage: steroids or racism?
So, asterisk this!!!
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 10:51 AMConsidering how Gallic imperiousness kept Franco-American relations on ice during the presidency of Jacques Chirac, I thought it augured well for a rapprochement between these begrudging old allies that the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, chose America as one of the first vacation destinations of his tenure.
Therefore, I was a little dismayed when I read about the international incident he caused on Sunday afternoon. Because Sarkozy launched a Napoleonic assault on two photographers from the Associated Press who were trying to capture money shots of him sun bathing on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
The AP reports that when Sarkozy spotted their photographers off in the distance, he commanded the captain of his boat to charge after them. And, one can only imagine the paralyzing shock they experienced when the French president boarded their boat like an overzealous coast guard patrolman. But here’s how they explained it:
…He climbed onto our boat…Quite agitated….Was yelling at us in French …started pointing at me.
They added that he ranted and raved despite their efforts to explain that they were AP photographers, not tabloid paparazzi, and, moreover, that neither one of them could understand a word of his French….
Of course, most Americans would understand this kind of outrage if he were charging after them for taking topless photos of his wife (or mistress as the case might well be…). But the notion of any man (except a young Sean Penn) throwing this kind of hissy fit over being photographed is as unseemly as it is incomprehensible.
Although, to be fair, perhaps Sarkozy assumed the entire lake was his private reserve; after all, he was staying at the country estate of Microsoft billionaire Michael Appe. No matter his mistaken assumptions, however, international reports of Sarkozy behaving more like a rabid Hollywood celebutante than a refined French president must have all Frenchmen rolling their eyes with embarrassment.
Meanwhile, he’s lucky these photographers weren’t members of the pugnacious paparazzi who routinely stalk American celebrities. Because I have no doubt that they would have knocked this wannabe Napoleon flat on his ass or thrown all 5’2″ of him overboard before his secret service bodyguards could handcuff (or shoot) them.
NOTE: This episode vindicates just one of the many reasons why I endorsed his opponent, Segoelene Royal, to win the French presidential election a few months ago. But, c’est la vie!
Sarkozy defeats Royal to become president of France
Monday, August 6, 2007 at 10:41 AMSomething stinks in the Spice Isle of Grenada, which is quite extraordinary considering that it’s one of the world’s leading producers of exotic nutmeg, clove, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.
But this stench stems entirely from the alleged political and financial machinations of its prime minister, Dr Keith Claudius Mitchell. (Indeed, that is his name. And even Shakespeare could not have written a more tragic farce than the tangled web Mitchell seems to have woven himself into.)
Dr Mitchell has fought battles with just about everyone in the country including lawyers, teachers, religious leaders, bus drivers and calypsonians among others….and he is not showing any signs of being battle weary….[Editorial, Grenada Today, 28 July 2007]His latest battle, however, reeks of desperation far more than it smacks of his predilection for picking fights. And nothing betrays this fact quite like his attempt to cast himself as a victim in a case where he may prove to be the perpetrator of an egregious (constitutional) fraud.
Because last Thursday, Dr Mitchell filed a defamation lawsuit against Grenadian lawyer and fellow columnist Lloyd Noel. And in it he alleges that Noel libeled him – by insinuating in a recent article published by Caribbean Net News (CNN) that he is a citizen of the United States. But Noel maintains that he got the information from an unimpeachable source at the Department of US Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, given the axiom that “the best defense is a good offense”, the following suggests Dr Mitchell’s motivation for filing this lawsuit as surely as indicates why he has just cause to be so desperate:
The issue [of Mitchell’s citizenship] raised its ugly head in the pleadings filed in the New York case by the Boston businessman, against Dr Mitchell, his wife and Resteiner [a reputed con man], in which the claimant [Charles Howland of South Dartmouth, Massachusetts] is seeking to recover one million US dollars allegedly paid by Resteiner to Dr Mitchell for a diplomatic posting. [Lloyd Noel]But, frankly, I suspect Dr Mitchell is betting that he could dare Grenadians to believe him or their lying eyes when he swears that any videotape of him taking a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with $1 million from Resteiner is a fake. And I, for one, would not bet against him. Never mind that this claimant stands a snowball’s chance in hell of ever recovering that cash.
Dr Mitchell faces a far more doubtful prospect, however, when it comes to the question of his citizenship. And, the gamble he’s taking by filing this lawsuit may plunge Grenada into a constitutional crisis that harkens back to one of its coups d’état or the invasion by US forces in 1983.
Of course, Dr Mitchell would have to be not only congenitally bellicose, but also positively suicidal to file this lawsuit knowing full well that he IS a US citizen. Therefore, since Noel claims that “the certificate that evidences the prime minister’s registration as a US citizen has been published”, the only legal issue is whether or not Dr Mitchell effectively renounced it before being sworn in as Grenada’s prime minister in 1995.
1. Appeared in person before a US consular or diplomatic officer to renounce his citizenship;
2. Appeared in a foreign country (at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and
3. Signed an oath of renunciation.
Otherwise, this battle will end with him being hoisted by his own petard (i.e. having to resign or being impeached).
But even if Dr Mitchell properly renounced his US citizenship, Noel has such cognizable legal defenses that this case would still amount to nothing more than a spiteful and self-indulgent waste of the time and resources of Grenada’s Attorney General. Moreover, it is self-evident that Noel wrote, and CNN published, the article in good faith – with an entirely reasonable belief in the truth of the allegedly libelous statement.
Therefore, I urge Dr Mitchell to honour his office by publicly addressing the clearly suspicious circumstances of his US citizenship forthwith – instead of dishonoring it by pursuing this uncivil action. After all, Grenadians are the ones who are most aggrieved. And, like any good statesman, he should be eager to do anything to alleviate the extreme national distress this matter has already inflicted upon his people.
Sunday, August 5, 2007 at 2:02 PMDespite rabid and inherently-hypocritical speculation about his use of steroids, Bonds accomplished what even Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig conceded is a “noteworthy and remarkable achievement” when he blasted his 755th home run yesterday in the 2nd inning against the Padres in San Diego.
But I hereby offer Barry UNQUALIFIED CONGRATULATIONS!!!
However, I shall reserve further comment until he actually dethrones Aaron, which I fully expect will be later this week….
Saturday, August 4, 2007 at 12:02 PMWhether to meet or not to meet rogue dictators and genocidal maniacs “without preconditions”?
Whether to use or not use nuclear weapons “under any circumstances”?
These were the questions – both established no-brainers – that had the purportedly articulate Barack Obama fumbling over his words this week – as if he had a hot potato in his mouth; and then naively begging reporters to “scratch that”?!
‘I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance’ Obama said, with a pause, ‘involving civilians.’ Then he quickly added, ‘Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.’ [Obama - as reported by the Associated Press]
Unfortunately, no matter their nuanced merit, these equivocal and apparently simplistic statements have subjected him to the same kind of nightmarish ridicule and political lampooning that befell Dan Quayle in the 1988 presidential campaign. And who can forget the pathetic image of Quayle – in a staged photo-op no less – fumbling over the spelling of the word “potato(e)” in front of a classroom filled with kindergartners…?
More importantly, however, these political gaffes beg the terminal question: Is Obama really ready for prime time?
The objective answer, of course, is yes. After all, Obama is easily one of the most educated and, heretofore, the most charismatic of the Democratic candidates.
Alas, Americans invariably elect the candidate who “acts” more presidential; i.e. like a news anchor reading a teleprompter or an actor channeling John Wayne, which makes Fred Thompson from Law and Order so appealing. Indeed, this is why Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, and why George W defeated John Kerry – after Kerry’s fumbling over answers to questions about his military service and Senate voting record Quayled his 2004 campaign.
Therefore, I fear Obama may never recover from these self-inflicted political wounds….
I wonder where Dennis Kucinich stands on the Caribbean Basin Initiative…?
Friday, August 3, 2007 at 10:44 AMEver since the former Yugoslavia began to disintegrate in 1990, Serbian leaders – like current nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica – have declared that the predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo would always be a part of what little remains of “Greater Serbia”.
But, even with my pedestrian knowledge about the simmering political, historical and ethnic conflicts that made the Balkans such a perennial powder keg, I never found such declarations viable or politically sensible. Indeed, such was my conviction in this respect that earlier this year – in an article entitled Kosovo: wither Serbia’s Alamo – I wrote the following:
…international military and political forces aligned against the Serbs are such that they would be well-advised to have their religious leaders lead them in serene prayers of acceptance instead of having their political leaders lead them in jingoistic cries of defiance over Kosovo. Because it will take a miracle for them to retain any control over this province when all is said and done.
Therefore, I was not at all surprised this week when Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic declared that Serbia is now “prepared to give up a lot [including] some of its sovereign prerogatives” to accommodate Kosovo’s demands for independence.
Although I suspect Serb leaders were moved to make this about face by a keen sense that international frustration (especially within the EU) with their intransigence in negotiations on Kosovo’s final status had finally reached a tipping point – with grave political consequences for Serbia.
After all, as much as they cherish historic religious ties with Kosovo, Serbs clearly covet future economic ties with Europe much more. By contrast, no matter how much their Slav brothers in Russia are prepared to abet their pipe dream for Kosovo (but only with political, not military, support), Serbs appear no more interested in being the political and economic bedfellows of Russians today than they were during the height of the Cold War.
Meanwhile, one also wonders how much the political feint Kosovo Prime Minister Agim Ceku orchestrated two weeks ago might have concentrated Serb minds in this respect. Because Ceku announced that the province would declare independence on November 28, unilaterally, if Serbia and Russia persist in blocking UN negotiations toward this end….
At some point in time – sooner rather than later – you have got to say ‘Enough is enough. Kosovo is independent’ and that is the position we have taken. [US President George W Bush in Tirana, Albania 10 June 2007]
At any rate, all that remains is for the UN to figure out how to appease Serbia’s terminally-afflicted pride by recognizing Kosovo as an independent nation without calling it an independent state – a naval-gazing task for which it is uniquely suited.
And all of this despite the hackneyed rhetoric of irrepressible nationalists in the Serbian government who insist that there will be:
…an ‘energetic response’ against the United States and EU countries which might recognize Kosovo’s independence without U.N. consent.
In fact, Serbia’s parliament passed a resolution last week that threatens to cut ties with any country that recognizes an independent Kosovo. Which, of course, seems (pathologically?) self-defeating, if not laughable, for a country desperately seeking political and economic ties…no?
NOTE: Many of my compatriots down in The Bahamas are complaining about a wave of violent crime that has them wondering if they’re living in paradise or purgatory. But I hope my article today at CNN not only calms their fears but also counsels national leaders on how to calm the tide of these violent crimes.
Click here to read that article.
Kosovo: wither Serbia’s Alamo
Thursday, August 2, 2007 at 10:17 AMAbout 3 hours ago, I received a news flash on my computer about a bridge over the Mississippi that had collapsed during rush hour, sending an estimated 50 cars into the water below. And such is the nature of life in this age of Muslim terrorism that my first thought was of an al Qaeda strike….
But before reading further details about the story, I recalled the sensational collapse of a huge chunk of Boston’s “Big Dig” tunnel last year, which killed one commuter. Then my thoughts moved immediately from terrorism to cynicism – as I lamented the crumbling state of America’s infrastructure.
And, sure enough, reports are that this “horrible disaster” was caused by the accidental rupture of a seemingly sturdy Minneapolis bridge (namely, Interstate 35W, which was built 64 feet above the river in 1967) – not unlike so many others that span rivers, lakes and highways all over the United States.
What is so troubling, however, is that, notwithstanding construction to resurface the snow-cracked pavement of the bridge, there were no apparent structural flaws that would explain why this mass of concrete just snapped like a twig.
But, just as the Big Dig prompted federal investigators to launch a nationwide search for other flawed tunnels, this collapse will no doubt launch a similar inspection of all freeway bridges to see if they too might collapse at any moment.
We’re still trying to get a count on how many, but a lot of people went into the river. There are no indications of a nexus to terrorism at this time. [Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security]As of this posting, there are seven dead and over 60 injured, with many still unaccounted for….
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the dead and wounded. And may God be with the rest of us who cross similar bridges every day….
* Published originally yesterday, Wednesday, at 10pm
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 at 11:37 AMNothing humbles an arrogant SOB quite like a dry run with the Grim Reaper. And, evidently, VP Dick Cheney had such an experience during surgery last week to repair his defective heart. After all, only this explains why he rushed from his recovery room – scared straight – to his father confessor, Larry King.
But yesterday is a date which will live in infamy. Because, in retracting his infamous declaration in 2005 that the Iraqi insurgents were in their last throes of death, here’s what Cheney said last night on Larry King Live:
My estimate at the time — and it was wrong, it turned out to be incorrect.
No shit, Sherlock!
Moreover, juxtaposing his heart condition with the way things are going in Iraq makes it morbidly clear that it’s Cheney who’s in the last throes of death….