Saturday, July 19, 2008

Boxing Blogging: 7/19/08

We're back! Sorry for the long hiatus. I was watching fights, I just couldn't think of anything good to write about them. But this week's action seemed to reinspire the muse. Unfortunately, part of that has to do with the tragic events on Wednesday, where Texas-based Oscar Diaz collapsed in his corner and is currently comatose after suffering severe brain swelling. The doctor has said Diaz is "likely to survive", which is good news but also underscores the gravity of the injury he suffered.


Terrance Cauthen (33-4, 9 KOs) UD8 Alexis Camacho (16-1, 15 KOs)

The last time I saw Cauthen fight, it was in a title eliminator against the superbly talented Sechew Powell. Cauthen, as his record indicates, is not a brawler, but for some reason he decided to mix it up with Powell and was rewarded with a knockout loss (admittedly in an entertaining fight). Powell, for his part, blew his title shot by smoking pot before a tune-up fight, getting knocked out and getting suspended for the drug use. Oops.

But anyway, back to this week. Cauthen, a former Olympic bronze medalist, was a huge step up for Camacho, who (after a close win in his first fight) had rattled off 15 straight knockouts against limited opposition. The Powell fight apparently convinced Cauthen to stick with what he knows, because there was no brawling or mixing it up in this fight. The first round was indicative: the total punch landed stats totaled Cauthan 1, Camacho 0. Cauthen pot-shotted, used his speed and movement, and counter-punched effectively, frustrating the slow and limited Camacho. The decision win was deserved, but promoters have to know that this is what you get when you put Cauthen in the ring: a very capable fighter who does not make interesting fights.

Delvin Rodriguez (23-2-1, 14 KOs) KO11 Oscar Diaz (26-3, 12 KOs)

This was a back-and-forth fight for most of the evening, though Rodriguez was beginning to take over in the later rounds. But at no point did Diaz look battered or severely injured. Until, of course, he wailed in pain and collapsed in his corner prior to the start of the 11th. He was immediately attended to by medical personal, and when they couldn't even get him to sit upright in his stool, they put him on oxygen, got him on a stretcher, and rushed him to the hospital.

When I told a friend of mine what happened, he was incredulous: "Stop fighting before your brain swells up." But I have to say, while there may have been an element of "too tough for his own good" in Diaz's injury, as I said there was no time I saw prior to him collapsing where he looked seriously injured. He was still attacking Rodriguez and still winging solid shots throughout the fight. The referee saw something we didn't in the corner, because he was all over Diaz and probably insured that medical help got there as quickly as it did.

Everyone's thoughts and prayers are with Oscar Diaz, who is still comatose as far as I know.

James Toney (71-6-3, 44 KOs) TKO3 Hasim Rahman (45-6-2, 36 KOs)

Don't let the result fool you: this was not an exciting fight. How could it be, with these two plodding, over the hill fighters in the ring together. A clash of heads opened a cut over Rahman, who then quit after the third round. Then it was ruled the clash came from a punch (false, but that's boxing), and so Toney came out with a TKO victory.

The third round had some decent action, I guess, but in general heavyweights are not worth your time. And these two fighters are particularly suspect: Rahman is a serious underachiever who, aside from his cinderella knockout of Lennox Lewis, has never really done anything of note in the division. Toney actually was an all-time great at middleweight, but in his campaigns at heavyweight looks doughy and slow.

I actually have a lot of respect for Toney (aside from the doping), because he's someone who -- like Chris Byrd, Floyd Mayweather, and now Manny Pacquiao -- can fight effectively well above his natural weight class because he's so skilled and so talented he can take down much bigger opponents. But Toney is well past his prime, and has not looked good since his first fight against Sam Peter. Rahman struggled against Zuri Lawrence for God's sake -- he is no longer an elite echelon fighter either.

That networks still believe these are the types of fights we want to see, when folks like the sensastional Yuriorkis Gamboa are fighting down in the lower weight-classes, is utterly bizarre to me.


Richar(d) Gutierrez (24-2-1, 14 KOs) D8 Jerome Ellis (11-8-2, 10 KOs)

Didn't HBO tell us that this guy's name had no "d" at the end of it? I'm pretty sure they did. But BoxRec still has the "d", hence my confusion.

At first glance, Teddy Atlas was right when he briefly questioned why the commission would sanction this fight. Guiterrez is a legitimate title contender whose only losses have come to Joshua Clottey, and a (possibly early stoppage) knockout loss to super-prospect Alfredo Angulo in his last fight. Ellis is a journeyman who had lost four fights in a row coming in tonight, and took the fight on three days notice.

But dig a little deeper into Ellis' record. The combined record of those last four opponents? 86-15-1. Okay, but there are lots of journeymen who consistently fight and lose to top level opposition. However, prior to that streak, he had three straight wins, all by knockout. Combined record of those opponents? 49-9. The point being, Ellis has only fought good fighters throughout his career. He hasn't been stopped since 2004, and all but one of his wins (a split decision over the quite capable Ed Parades) have been by KO. Ellis' clearly has nobody taking care of him: he takes fights on short notice, he's been matched way too aggressively, and this is the record that results. If he had fought the standard assortment of schlubs along the way, his record would be more in the 25-8-2 range.

And so, far from being a mismatch, last night's fight was exciting, action-packed, and relatively even. When Gutierrez was able to get inside (and, importantly, elected to work) he landed some gorgeous ripping body shots. But Ellis was often able to use his superior speed and movement to keep Gutierrez on the outside, or duck in, land a fast combination of his own, and get out before the Columbian could counter. It was a war of wills, and at the end of the day Ellis certainly earned his draw. But for the love of God, can somebody get him a promoter that will get him some easier fights after this?

Yuriorkis Gamboa (11-0, 9 KOs) TKO1 Al Seeger (27-4, 21 KOs)

Gamboa continues his trend of making mincemeat of extremely capable fighters who normally would be considered huge steps up for a fighter of his age and professional ring experience. Tonight, it was a highlight reel one round KO of former title challenger Al Seeger, who has now lost three straight. Seeger did take the fight on short notice, but I don't want anything to take away from the tremendous skill set that Gamboa displayed tonight.

Everybody talks about Gamboa's power and speed, and they were in abundent display tonight. But what impresses me most is that Gamboa does not allow himself to get tied up. You try and grab him, and he will go to war to get his arms free and keep socking you. It's what gave him his knockout tonight: Seeger was trying to hold, Gamboa ripped his arms free and launched a beautiful downstairs/upstairs combination that left Seeger flat on his back. The referee didn't even bother to count.

It was a good performance from Gamboa, coming off the toughest fight of his career against Darling Jiminez. That's not saying that much -- Gamboa dominated most of that fight too -- but he was on floor and Jiminez was really the first fighter not to completely wilt before his dominating skill set (so props to Jiminez for that). Anyway, with Gamboa, it's just a matter of time. He has the skills and the resume to fight anyone in the division. You just don't see brighter prospects than this.

Special bonus coverage!

A little while ago, Humberto Soto was handed one of the clearest quotation mark "losses" seen in boxing, a disqualification in a fight where he was pummelling a clearly out matched Francisco Lorenzo. Referee Joe Cortez kept moving like he was going to jump in and stop it, but never pulled the trigger, so Soto kept punching. When Lorenzo finally went down, Soto (still in the motion of punching) landed a single grazing shot to the back of the head. Lorenzo -- whose face was a bloody mess -- acted as if that was the punch that did him in, and Cortez bought it. It was an utterly bogus move, a terrible decision, and a robbery for Soto, who again fell just short of winning a world title.

The WBC, for its part, reacted harshly: it refused to award Lorenzo the title, ordered an immediate rematch (Soto: "he won't take it, because he knows I'll rip his head off next time."), symbolically labeled the fight a no contest (it still officially goes in the books as a win for Lorenzo unless the Nevada commision overturns the result -- which I think they should), and recently fined Lorenzo $2,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

This last bit Tim Starks thinks goes a bit too far. Fighters fake all the time, he says, so why start handing out fines now?

I think Starks is dead wrong on this though. First of all, fighters faking injuries in a sport where (as Oscar Diaz just frighteningly showed us) real injuries can be deathly serious is very dangerous. Referees need to know for sure that when a fighter acts severely injured, he's severely injured. What if Diaz had been cut earlier in the fight, and the referee assumed he was faking his injuries to get the fight to go to the cards (given that he was beginning to lose momentum as the bout progressed)? Even a couple seconds delay could have been literally lethal for him. This sort of behavior needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand.

As for the "everyone is doing it, so why not fine everyone" defense, I think that it makes perfect sense to give a mostly symbolic $2,000 fine in this particularly flagrant case of unsportsmanlike conduct, as a sign that the sanctioning bodies are on notice and are growing less likely to tolerate this BS. It'd be one thing if the WBC docked Lorenzo's whole purse, but $2,000 strikes me as a good "opening bid" to start checking this sort of behavior. Nobody is going to go after the borderline cases anyway, but these extreme examples of unsportsmanlike conduct are bad for the sport, unfair to the contestants, and dangerous for the health of the fighters.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Duh Headline

I'm doing some research into Yuma, Arizona for my job. One thing I found is that summer temperatures regularly exceed 105 degrees. Another thing I found was this headline: "Breaking: Excessive Heat Warning in Yuma".

Heat becomes "excessive", apparently, when it breaks 110 degrees. Good to know.

They're Everywhere!

Matt Yglesias pulls out some interesting poll results: Both Black and White Americans significantly overestimate the number of Black people there are in America.

As Matt says, segregation can explain half of this phenomenon: Blacks who are disproportionately housed in segregated locales would understandably overstate the proportion of the Black population.

But what about Whites? Residential segregation would predict that they would understate the Black population. Yet they go over as well. What gives?

Unfortunately, my first thought by way of explanation is the "horde of brown people" hypothesis: Whites view Blacks as threatening, and build that threat into to something sufficiently large and scary to mobilize against. This is actually made easier by the fact of segregation: one can construct the image of a vast, teeming army of Black folks "over there", in "that part of town", which one never actually visits or hears about outside the crime section of the local paper.

Slightly more benignly, the psychological view that Blacks are everywhere makes it easier to dismiss claims that they're a vulnerable minority. In this view, the need to justify continued racial inequality is the tail wagging the dog: the more Blacks can be said to be mainstreamed, the less that needs to be done to account for their actual differential social standing.

Finally, because White people are the norm in American society, Blacks standout and are likely to be more memorable as a result; Whites misinterpret that to think that there are more Black people than there are, rather than correctly surmising that they're just less likely to notice all the White folks floating around their lives.

Burn This City Down!

I went to my first rally today, on pay equity. Lilly Ledbetter was there, as were Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Unfortunately, we arrived late thanks to some ill-placed road closures (our taxi actually made negative progress -- we were dropped off further away from the event from where we started), so we missed most of the speakers. But I can tell that Barbara Mikulski, who closed the show, is first-class, grade A BAMF. She was in full war-path mode, telling everybody to put on their armor "and your lipstick" and win this fight. She is so hard-core, I half-expected her to start passing out Molotov cocktails and march on the NAM.

Also, I got to shake Sen. Clinton's hand. So exciting!

Civil Rights Roundup: 07/17/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news. I'm going to New York this afternoon and won't be back until late tomorrow, so the roundup will be off until Monday

What is the world coming to when hippies attack the homeless?

An Arizona sheriff is being accused of racial profiling in his aggressive efforts to roundup undocumented immigrants.

The University of Texas is working to make sure websites which document human rights atrocities don't disappear.

Prison guard fired for wearing a beard in accordance with his religious obligations.

Missouri ordered to bolster efforts at registering low-income residents to vote.

ACLU will defend Amish in suit over how to label their horse-drawn buggies.

Census won't count gay marriages.

Latino squad earns respect at Watts basketball tournament.

A 3rd Circuit panel held that removing disruptive Christian protesters from a gay pride event was constitutionally permissible. In an opinion joined by the third justice on the panel, Judge Dolores K. Sloviter justified the removal because the protesters went beyond distributing literature and waving signs, and actively attempted to drown out the proceedings. A concurring opinion also would have upheld the removal, but on the grounds that the protesters used "fighting words" when they referred to a transgender woman as a "she-male" and told her she would be going to hell.

The NAACP was cordial but not exactly warm when John McCain came visiting.

One oft-repeated (by me as much as anyone) refrain about racism is that overt racist sentiment is not really expressed or actively believed much in modern America. Some 2004 survey data seems to indicate we're too optimistic about that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

If Arbitration is so Great, People Will Choose it Willingly

Two days ago the Wall Street Journal published an editorial opposing the Arbitration Fairness Act (AFA). The article, written by former FTC commissioner Christine Varney, alleges that the AFA would eliminate arbitration as an option for employees and customers in disputes with corporations.

It is, to put it mildly, a bizarre argument. Most of the article spends its time talking up the virtues of arbitration as a superior alternative to litigation for all parties. And undoubtedly, sometimes it is. But the AFA would do nothing to stymie arbitration as an option for dispute resolution. All it prohibits is mandatory, pre-dispute arbitration: that is, contracts which require any future disputes – regardless of what they may be – to be submitted to arbitration, regardless of whether it is the best option for both parties. Right now, those sorts of clauses are placed deep in the fine print of standard employment or consumer contracts: situations in which individuals have virtually no ability to bargain or refuse them (did you even think to check if your car purchase contained a mandatory arbitration clause? If it had one, would you have refused to buy the car?). Under no reasonable interpretation can that be considered an "agreement" by the company and the employee or consumer. The AFA would bar these pre-dispute clauses, but once a dispute has started, both parties can still agree to submit it arbitration if they view it as the best possible forum.

Ms. Varney's only argument as to why the AFA threatens arbitration is the “inconvenient reality” that “it is very difficult to get two sides of a dispute to agree to much of anything once a dispute has started.” But this is contradicted by nearly every paragraph in her own article. If arbitration truly offers the many benefits for individuals in terms of efficiency and reduced cost that she claims it does, it should not be difficult to secure an arbitration agreement even after a dispute has been filed.

The true inconvenient reality, however, is that in many cases arbitration is neither cheapest nor fairest route to resolve disputes. Arbitration prevents the development of class action lawsuits, which are important tools when companies engage in small illegal practices affecting large numbers of people. They also can deter individuals with small claims who have to pay all expenses up front, with no guarantee that they'll receive any settlement at all. Yet mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses, agreed to by consumers and employees with little say in the matter, force any case to go arbitration no matter what the individual circumstances are.

The whole reason arbitration was created as an alternative to the court system was Congress' recognition that different types of proceedings work best for different types of cases. But it is impossible to predict which cases belong in arbitration and which belong in the courts in advance.

The Arbitration Fairness Act restores the original purpose of arbitration: to arbitrate when it makes sense to arbitrate, and go to court when it makes sense to go to court. If Ms. Varney is convinced that arbitration is the superior route most of the time, she should have confidence that consumers and employees will select it most of the time. But giving employees and consumers a true choice will help insure that the right forum is available for each and every case.

Civil Rights Roundup: 07/16/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news

Is our natural inclination when seeing others in distress indifference?

Montgomery County, Maryland just became America's first jurisdiction to pass a law protecting the workplace rights of nannies.

Immigrant students in college (here legally, I might add), face severe harassment and discrimination on campus. The focus, unfortunately (since I rather like the state), is on Somali students at the University of Minnesota.

The US might finally lift its ban on HIV-positive immigrants.

The Wall Street Journal has another one of those really dumb editorials trying to claim the GOP is the better party on race because it historically was anti-slavery. Everyone knows the facts on this: In the 19th and early 20th century, Republicans were primarily the civil rights party, and Democrats were primarily against it. Starting with FDR, the Democrats began moving left-ward on race issues, causing a division with the southern, Jim Crow wing of the party. Eventually, those people left for the GOP, who welcomed them with open arms. And that's where we're at today. This is not that complicated.

McCain waffles clarifies his stance on gay adoptions.

Massachusetts will allow out of state gay couples to marry after repealing a 1913 law originally designed to limit interracial marriages.

Black and Hispanic state troopers are suing the state police force, alleging discrimination and cronyism.

Facebook ads for women basically just tell them they're fat and ugly. My girlfriend noticed this, which is why I'm currently "in a relationship" with a person of indeterminate gender.

Women, take note: You wouldn't want your employer think about your vast amounts of experience if that means keeping your hair gray.

BBC: Muslim woman denied citizenship in France, on the grounds that she is insufficiently assimilated (actually, that does strike me as very French).

The Justice Department has filed a discrimination suit against a condo association accused of refusing to sell to a Black couple with children.

I blogged on this topic once before, but now the NYT takes it on: child brides resisting their forced marriages in Yemen (and winning too!).

Finally, who told this "joke"?
Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, ‘Where is that marvelous ape?’

Why, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, that's who!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Hairy Situations

A controversy in rural Texas is brewing over a Native American child who, in accordance with his religious beliefs, wishes to wear his hair long. The local school district refuses to allow males to wear their hair below the collar, and is refusing an exemption. The family is digging in its heels as well:
Meanwhile, Betenbaugh said she is ready to fight the Needville rule and has not considered moving to another school district with a less stringent hair code.

"It would just teach our son that it is easier to roll over and do what you're told and not stand up for your rights," she said.

As I've expressed in other posts, the application of these rules strikes me as simply mean-spirited, and I think a renewed focus on what a just policy would like, rather than arrogant assertions of what a school board has a "right" to do, would improve things all around.

Amazingly, this will be my third post on hair as an element of discrimination law and minority rights. But the incongruity of it, I suspect, stems from the fact that hair just isn't that important to the identity of White Christians -- or perhaps, that to the extent we do care about our hair, any regulations that are passed comfortably encompass the type of stylings White people care about (which helps explain why the hair length restriction applies only to boys, not girls).

Civil Rights Roundup: 07/15/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news

This is a theme I've been seeing a lot of lately: Immigrants being mistreated at detention centers.

Obama continued to hit the responsibility theme in his speech before the NAACP. It was a message met with "loud applause" by the influential civil rights groups.

On that point, Ta-Nehisi Coates (who is a strong supporter of the "responsibility" meme) is sick of media coverage that acts as if this message is something new and transgressive for the Black community.

Though I doubt Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) is actually in any serious electoral peril, I do expect the new wave of African-American politics to start flexing its muscle against the old guard shortly.

The NAACP will continue to push to have South Carolina remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the statehouse grounds.

IUPUI has finally apologized for disciplining an employee for reading a historical book about the KKK in his break room. At one point, the university said his actions constituted "racial harassment".

The DREAM Act is really in my opinion a no-brainer piece of legislation. John McCain, on the other hand, appears to be of many minds on the subject.

A White talk show host called Barack Obama an "oreo" the other day. Is it just me, or are Whites as much if not more invested in the view of Black culture as anti-achievement than the stereotypical arbiters of "authentic Blackness" are?

The Chicago Police Department has failed in its bid to fire an officer who beat a man handcuffed to a wheelchair.

Some federal agencies are looking to expand Title IX beyond sports, and into an even more macho realm: Science (Carleton College can show you how it's done).

A growing set of discrimination claims are centered around employers' beliefs that women with young families can't be good workers.

Italian driver forced to re-take road test because he's gay.

A Chicago Tribune editorial responds to the question: Why are there "Black" groups out there like the NAACP or the Black fraternities and sororities, but no comparable White groups? The answer: Because Blacks historically weren't allowed to join the "just-plain-American" groups.

In related news, my review of the upcoming movie "Bama Girl" is up on the LCCR's website. I say related because anybody who thinks there are no all-White sororities anymore has no experience with the University of Alabama.

An affirmative action success story responds to Stephen Carter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Song

The world's "oldest blogger" has died at age 108. Her last posting is exactly the sort of story that would make my girlfriend and I sap out:
"Penny, who's in the next bed to mine, had a visit one day this week from her daughter, who's a professional singer. Guess what happened! She and I sang a happy song, as I do every day, and before long we were joined by several nurses, who sang along too. It was quite a concert!"


Obama up in Arizona?!?!

I wish I could get excited about this. But there's just no way. Even with Bob Barr siphoning support. Even with Obama's disproportionate popularity out west. Even with popular Gov. Janet Napolitano as one of his key supporters. There is no way that Obama is leading in Arizona.

Seriously, I'm not even feeling a glimmer of hope here (the best explanation I've come up with so far is that it's a Zogby poll, and Zogby polls are of sketchy quality). But I do think that Obama may help Democrats in several close down-ticket races in McCain's home states.

And that, by itself, is far more than I could have hoped for.

In a Nutshell

Ta-Nehisi Coates, giving a great example of what I've grouped as the Black Conservative critique of liberal/leftist Black politics:
[T]he black nationalist in me gets pissed at the implicit message of the hard-core black left--that the only change worth discussing is changes in the law. Given that we live in a majority white country, which never has shown any great willingness to do the right thing in regards to race, except when utterly embarrassed, given the response to Katrina,I find that outlook as unacceptable and irresponsible as people who say go to school, get married and everything will be fine.

This idea that the only real change comes from convincing a majority of white voters is poison, and ultimately fraudulent. The cultural transformation Malcolm X initiated in the way black people think about themselves--being unashamed of our skin color, our hair, our culture, who we are--was just as important as desegregation. We didn't need government for that. I'm sorry folks, I'm on that Marcus Garvey "Up ye mighty race" shit when it comes to this. I see nothing wrong with creating in environment in which black fathers are embarrassed when they don't perform [their] basic parental duties.

This is not trusting White people. But is it really a sentiment my conservative friends want to undermine?

Civil Rights Roundup: 07/14/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news

In today's no kidding file: NAACP head: Obama win won't solve racial injustice.

The Washington Post has an article about out gay youth.

The nation's oldest Black sorority is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Historians to judges: Stop pretending to be historians. You suck at it.

Seattle is settling its third excessive force case in less than a year.

The Seattle Times opines: "Dump Don't Ask Don't Tell".

A translator gives an inside account of a massive ICE raid.

The Cincinnati Enquirer interviews local Black residents and finds they've got more on their mind than just the high-profile civil rights issues. Cincinnati is hosting this years NAACP conference.

Teens attacked a shelter for gay and trans youth -- fortunately it looks like the assault was broken up before it got too far out of hand.

The San Francisco Chronicle comes out in favor of reforming the juvenile justice system.

Georgia's residency restrictions for sex offenders (including, in this case, a woman who had oral sex at 17 with a 15 year old) really lead to absurd results.

Strip-searching a 13 year old girl to look for Advil not okay, says the 9th Circuit (in a 6-5 ruling, amazingly enough).

Hill Trip Delays Civil Rights

Another trip to the Hill this morning, hence, another delay in the civil rights roundup.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Overhead on the Phone

My girlfriend: "David and I went out to lunch today...."

Yes, I suppose technically our two block walk to Wendy's qualifies as "going out", but I wouldn't have been so bold as to say it.

Overhead on the Phone

My girlfriend: "David and I went out to lunch today...."

Yes, I suppose technically our two block walk to Wendy's qualifies as "going out", but I wouldn't have been so bold as to say it.