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In the News 06.06.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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In the News 06.06.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 06.06.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
In the News 06.06.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

How Muhammad Ali’s Iconic ‘Esquire’ Cover Helped Cement a Legend

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In early 1968, Muhammad Ali was suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Stripped of his heavyweight title and banned from boxing because he refused to be inducted into the U.S. military due to his opposition to the Vietnam War, the world’s most famous athlete was smeared as a draft-dodger and was battling to stay out of prison. (It would be three years until the Supreme Court heard his case.) Plus, his 1964 conversion to Islam, which prompted him to change his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali, drew additional ire during a time when the Civil Rights movement roiled America. So when Esquire art director George Lois began thinking of how best to portray the embattled boxer on the magazine’s cover, which would become one of the most famous of the 1960s, he hit upon the idea of having his subject be struck by actual arrows.

Read the rest of this article at RollingStone

Unless You’re Oprah, ‘Be Yourself’ Is Terrible Advice.

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IT was going to be the biggest presentation of my life — my first appearance on the TED Conference main stage — and I had already thrown out seven drafts. Searching for a new direction, I asked colleagues and friends for suggestions. “The most important thing,” the first one said, “is to be yourself.” The next six people I asked gave me the same tip.

We are in the Age of Authenticity, where “be yourself” is the defining advice in life, love and career. Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. As BrenéBrown, a research professor at the University of Houston, defines it, authenticity is “the choice to let our true selves be seen.”

We want to live authentic lives, marry authentic partners, work for an authentic boss, vote for an authentic president. In university commencement speeches, “Be true to yourself” is one of the most common themes (behind “Expand your horizons,” and just ahead of “Never give up”).

“I certainly had no idea that being your authentic self could get you as rich as I have become,” Oprah Winfrey said jokingly a few years ago. ”If I’d known that, I’d have tried it a lot earlier.”

But for most people, “be yourself” is actually terrible advice.

If I can be authentic for a moment: Nobody wants to see your true self. We all have thoughts and feelings that we believe are fundamental to our lives, but that are better left unspoken.

A decade ago, the author A. J. Jacobs spent a few weeks trying to be totally authentic. He announced to an editor that he would try to sleep with her if he were single and informed his nanny that he would like to go on a date with her if his wife left him. He informed a friend’s 5-year-old daughter that the beetle in her hands was not napping but dead. He told his in-laws that their conversation was boring. You can imagine how his experiment worked out.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

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Life After Life

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On December 19, 2013, after a groundbreaking ACLU report that detailed the harsh realities for inmates sentenced to life without parole for nonviolent offenses, President Barack Obama granted clemency to eight federal inmates now known as “Obama’s Eight.” The group was the first wave of inmates to have their sentences commuted by Obama.

Jason Hernandez was one of them. Hernandez was once a prominent crack dealer from McKinney. He started out on the street corners of East McKinney at the age of fifteen, learning from his brother J.J., whose escalating crack addiction would propel Hernandez deeper into the drug game.

In 1998, Hernandez was convicted on fifteen charges related to running a major drug conspiracy. He wasn’t part of a gang or cartel, and he had never been linked to violence. Still, he received life in prison without parole. He’d just turned 21, and his life in the free world was effectively over.

Read the rest of this article at TexasMonthly

Dope and Glory: the Rise of Cheating in Amateur Sport

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A man in his 40s called Graham was cycling up a mountain in Mallorca this spring when he heard a strange whirring noise. It became immediately clear what it was when another rider breezed past, apparently without much effort. She had a tiny, performance-enhancing motor hidden in the frame of her bike. “I was livid!” Graham recalls. “She might as well have been riding a moped.”

The amateur cyclist wasn’t cheating because she wasn’t racing, but, in a small way, she was part of a growing problem. Because, while it is harder for professionals to dope and get away with it, amateurs at all levels of sport appear to be redrawing the line between the fair and the dishonest – or just motoring right across it.

“Right now, I imagine there are a lot of cyclists out there Googling ‘motor doping’ and thinking about doing it,” says Peter Flax, a racer and journalist in Los Angeles who has investigated cheating in amateur cycling. “There are lots of totally honest amateur racers devoted to doing it right, but there are enough out there who have other ideas.”

Read the rest of this article at The Guardian

Muhammad Ali Evolved From a Blockbuster Fighter to a Country’s Conscience

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“Jaws,” they say, invented the blockbuster. But damn if Muhammad Alididn’t get there first. From 1971 to 1974, he starred in two of the greatest events in the history of American sports, fights with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden and George Foreman in Kinshasa that had names that belonged on a movie studio’s release schedule: “The Fight of the Century” and “The Rumble in the Jungle.”

In October 1975 came a rematch with Frazier. They called that one “The Thrilla in Manila.” But with all due respect to Francis Ford Coppola, everyone who saw Ali and Frazier nearly kill each other that oppressively sticky Manila morning knew it was the original “Apocalypse Now.”

In 1965, the photographer Neil Leifer captured Ali after he had knocked out Sonny Liston two minutes into their match — Ali stands over a laid-out Liston, roaring in conquest, making you think the man is playing a totally different sport. To stick with the “Jaws” comparison, he was the shark, the ocean and the boat captain, and if he was fighting, you were going to need a bigger bout — the biggest.

It wasn’t just the matches that were blockbusters. It was Ali himself. He was the most important political-cultural figure to survive the deadly tumult of the 1960s and flourish in the 1970s. Ali licked Liston, Frazier, Foreman and dozens of other men. But he was at the center of American culture in part because he had turned boxing into a condition of the American self: Punch or be punched. With him, boxing wasn’t just a sport but a referendum on the state of the country.

He had become larger than life, but without forgetting how much black lives matter. The legacy of his bodacious charisma was built to last well beyond his death on Friday. Ali was telegenic, funny, clever, blunt, fearless and, above all, politically principled. His beliefs transfixed and polarized the country: What would he say next; where would he take us? The short answer to that second question is “on a public journey.”

Ali was a politically black Zelig, but instead of merely lurking within the times, he shaped them. He was complicated and contradictory as both a man and an African-American, embracing and shedding radical black Islam, wielding racist imagery to rile opponents, refusing to play the black clown for the press.

The journey led the baddest boxer in the world to shake hands with Gerald R. Ford, one of the blander presidents. He acted on Broadway and wrote braggadocio raps that we called poetry because, at the time, we didn’t know what rap was. By the time he lit the Olympic torch for the Atlanta Games in 1996, he was an elder statesman, visibly shuddering with signs of Parkinson’s disease, a powerful, poignant distance from his 1960s self but still media-ready.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @georgiannalane, @isabelsacher, @brooklynblonde