THE GREATEST: Born Today, January 17, 1942: Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali 

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Jerry Mitchell  writes: January 17, 1942: Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Muhammad Ali broke through racial barriers in the segregated South and became the best boxer in history, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1960 and the heavyweight championship in 1964. Three years, he was stripped of his title after he refused to be drafted into military service. In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction, and Ali fought again, winning back the heavyweight crown in 1974 when he defeated George Foreman. But the boxer formerly known as Cassius Clay is probably best remembered for his three matches against Joe Frazier. His boxing and his words became poetry, “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” Read the rest of this entry »


Fractal Analysis: Famous Works by Artists Like Dali Showed Early Signs of Disease

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Brushstrokes in paintings could help early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases, according to a study published on Thursday of works by famous sufferers such as Salvador Dali and Willem De Kooning.

The analysis was carried out on 2,092 paintings, including those of two artists with Parkinson’s disease, Dali and Norval Morrisseau, and two with Alzheimer’s disease, De Kooning and James Brooks.

Works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, who were not know to suffer from any such disease, were also included for comparison.

“Knowing that you have a problem sooner rather than later is always going to be an important medical breakthrough,” said Alex Forsythe from the University of Liverpool, one of the authors of the study.

Fractal analysis — a way to study patterns that is already used to spot fake paintings — was used to gauge the relative complexity of the works.

Fractals are often described as “fingerprints of nature.”

For De Kooning and Brooks, the study showed a sharp decrease in the complexity starting around the age of 40 — long before their Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

De Kooning received an official diagnosis in 1989 — the year he turned 85 — and Brooks when he turned 79. Read the rest of this entry »


‘The Greatest’: Muhammad Ali Dead at 74

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Acclaimed for his quick, dancing style as a fighter, Ali also blended a unique mix of political activism and personal conviction that won him international recognition outside of the ring.

Three-time heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, who charmed millions with his wit and confidence in the ring and inspired many more with his commitment to humanitarian causes has died, according to the family spokesman. He was 74.

Ali had been hospitalized for a respiratory issue June 2. At the time, a rep said he was in fair condition.

One of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing, Ali retired in 1981 after losing to Trevor Berbick in his 61st career bout.

Soon thereafter, Ali — who doctors said had begun showing signs of sluggishness and neurological damage in the 1970s — began receiving treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

Ali, who called himself “The Greatest,” was married four times and had nine children, including daughter Laila, who also became a professional boxer. Ali and his fourth wife, Yolanda “Lonnie” Williams, had been married since 1986.

Born Cassius Clay on Jan. 17, 1942, Ali first stepped in the ring at age 12 in his hometown of Louisville, Ky., after his bicycle was stolen and a police officer suggested he learn how to box. Ali went on to become one of the most successful athletes and revered public figures in history.

Acclaimed for his quick, dancing style as a fighter, Ali also blended a unique mix of political activism and personal conviction that won him international recognition outside of the ring.

After winning 100 of 108 amateur fights, Ali took home an Olympic gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. He later allegedly chucked the medal into a river after a waitress at a soda fountain in Louisville refused to serve him because he was black.

Weeks after the Olympics, Ali signed a lucrative contract and won his first pro bout on Oct. 29, 1960, against Tunney Hunsaker. Ali quickly ingratiated himself with the media with his boastful claims and fresh, stylish way of speaking. He told Sports Illustrated in 1961: “Most of them [other boxers] … can fight almost as good as I can. I’m just saying you never heard of them. And the reason for that is because they cannot throw the jive. Cassius Clay is a boxer who can throw the jive better than anybody.”

The brash, underdog Ali promised boxing fans he’d “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” against Sonny Liston.

At age 22, he stunned the larger Liston, beating the champ in seven rounds in Miami to win his first heavyweight title. In their next match in 1965, Ali floored Liston with a hard, quick blow minutes into the bout and retained his crown when the referee stopped the fight. Read the rest of this entry »


Man Designs Flame-Throwing Wheelchair

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GLENDALE, AZ – When Lance Greathouse’s brother developed Parkinson’s, Lance decided the wheelchair to which he would be restricted, would be like no other.

“The way people treated him [his brother] when they saw him in the scooter wasn’t the guy I knew. The guy I knew was a motorcycle rider, racquetball player, real strong guy, but when they saw him in the chair, they treated him very different,” said Greathouse, a dental equipment repairman by trade.  So he developed something a little bit “cooler” so that “people would see him, and they would start talking about the chair, not what happened to you and say ‘hey, that’s an awesome chair man!'”

Lance’s latest model is fully adjustable with a revolving turret, lights, horns, fake guns, and a working flame thrower. Read the rest of this entry »