Videos I Love: The ‘Ali’ movie trailer

Love it or hate it, no one can deny Will Smith’s evident determination to at least evoke ‘The Greatest’ in all his cultural and egomaniacal glory, standing up to the Vietnam-era war machine, ravishing beautiful women and inspiring millions of fans.

I’m occasionally sharing some light thoughts on a few videos that make me smile, make me think, or preferably do both. Read more from this special series here.

Michael Mann’s thrilling 2001 docudrama on world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali was celebrated by many for the accuracy of its fight scenes and criticized by many more for its vivid portrayal of its complicated hero. I tend to forgive some its historical flaws out of admiration and respect for the film’s overall accomplishment: powerfully illustrating Ali and his era for younger Americans to ponder.

“Ali” carries extra favor with me because it introduced me to incredible music from Sam Cooke, Mighty Joe Young, and Johnny Farmer.

Love it or hate it, no one can deny Will Smith’s evident determination to at least evoke “The Greatest” in all his cultural and egomaniacal glory, standing up to the Vietnam-era war machine, ravishing beautiful women and inspiring millions of fans.

Smith can also be commended, if nothing else, for refusing to be eclipsed by the dazzling constellation of movie stars from one end of the film to the other — without a doubt the best cast Michael Mann ever assembled, an assertion this trailer beautifully confirms.

Full disclosure: I’m easily entranced by anything that includes Michael Michele.

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Ron Paul’s worldview / History of the glitter bomb / Women in combat / Cuba’s young boxers / Huge science achievement

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Ron Paul’s Flinty Worldview Was Forged in Early Family Life
By David M Halbfinger | The New York Times | Feb. 5
“His parents married two days before the crash of 1929. He was reared on nightmarish stories of currency that proved worthless, told by relatives whose patriarch had fled Germany in the dark of night when his debts were about to ruin him.”

2. The West’s First War with China
By Tonio Andrade | China Power :: The Diplomat | Feb. 8
“Westerners still tend to underestimate Chinese military prowess, viewing China as a historically peaceful nation frequently invaded by bellicose neighbors: Huns, Mongols, Manchus, and, of course, Japanese.”

3. Mysterious sounds reported around the world
By Benjamin Radford | DiscoveryNews | Feb. 8
“The explanations are almost as varied as the sounds themselves.”

4. A Brief Photographic History of Glitter-Bombs
By Tara Godvin | Swampland :: Time | Feb. 8
“Receiving a shower of sparkles from gay rights activists has become something of a rite of passage for Republican candidates this year.”

5. Women in combat policy could change
By Barbara Starr | Security Clearance :: CNN | Feb. 8
“The current policy, in place since 1994, effectively restricts women from serving in small infantry or other ground units directly involved in combat.”

6. Women More Attracted To Green Behavior
By Tara Kelly | The Huffington Post | Feb. 8
“While the findings are encouraging for eco-singles looking for love, Timberland probably has some financial incentive to sponsor such a survey, especially since they sell outdoor clothes and to customers with a green conscious.”

7. Black Hole Eats Asteroids, Burps Out X-Rays
By Adam Mann | Wired | Feb. 8
“A new study finds that asteroids at least 12 miles wide falling into the black hole would account for the regular bright x-ray flares seen through telescopes.”

8. Cuba looks to kids to recover faded boxing glory
By Anne-Marie Garcia | Associated Press | Feb. 8
“Boxing-mad Cuba is putting its athletes in the ring earlier than ever. The idea is that those who start young will have a critical edge in the sport’s motions and techniques when they start competing more seriously down the road.”

9. In scientific coup, Russians reach Antarctic lake
By Vladimir Isachenkov and Seth Borenstein | Associated Press | Feb. 8
“Opening a scientific frontier miles under the Antarctic ice, Russian experts drilled down and finally reached the surface of a gigantic freshwater lake, an achievement the mission chief likened to placing a man on the moon.”

10. Crossing Antarctica
Witness :: BBC News | January 18
“The Norwegian polar explorer Borge Ousland spent more than two months skiing alone across the continent of Antarctica.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Racism and IQ / Strokes and apnea / Facebook’s stock listing / Celebrating Dundee / Wisdom from Christopher Plummer

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Latino congressional candidate fundraising figures
By Sara Ines Calderon | NewsTaco | Feb. 2
“We compiled a list of fundraising for Latino congressional candidates using the Federal Election Commission’s 2012 House and Senate Campaign Finance database.”

2. Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism
By Rebecca Searles | The Huffington Post | Feb. 2
“Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes.”

3. For Facebook, exchange choice is a matter of image
By Matthew Craft | Associated Press | Feb. 2
“When Facebook goes public in a few months, will its stock appear on the New York Stock Exchange or the Nasdaq? Depends what its billionaire founder prefers for a backdrop – a trading floor on Wall Street or towering video screens in Times Square.”

4. Dundee was an ambassador for boxing
By Tim Dahlberg | Associated Press | Feb. 2
“He saved a young Cassius Clay when he was in trouble in England, convinced Sugar Ray Leonard that he could somehow overcome the fearsome Tommy Hearns. Angelo Dundee worked thousands of corners, and had just as many stories about fighters and the games they played in the ring.”

5. Sleep apnea may make people more prone to silent strokes
By Jeannine Stein | Booster Shots :: The Los Angeles Times | Feb. 1
“Silent strokes show no obvious symptoms, despite causing damage to the brain. White matter lesions, small patches of dead cells, can affect cognitive function.”

6. Federal Government Opens More Ocean to Wind Projects
By Diane Cardwell | Green :: The New York Times | Feb. 2
“Enthusiasm for offshore wind projects may have cooled among developers in the United States these days, but the Obama administration is still trying to make a ribbon of wind farms off the Atlantic Coast a reality.”

7. What’s a man?
The Economist | Feb. 4
“Studies of brain genetics are starting to reveal what makes humans human”

8. English ‘Til I Die
Al Jazeera World | October 2011
“Al Jazeera investigates the rise of the English Defence League.”

9. This much I know: Christopher Plummer
By Paul Harris | The Observer | May 2011
“The actor, 81, on having to leave Canada, picking his nose, and thinking he’d been sired by a dog”

10. Frequent Fliers
By C. Claiborne Ray | Q&A :: The New York Times | October 2011
“I know fruit doesn’t actually generate fruit flies, but how do they find out about a piece of fruit on the counter so quickly?”