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Thursday Bullets

  • Elena Della Donne, one of the finest female basketball players in the county, shocked everyone by announcing that she would be giving up the game before even playing a single college game. An in-depth feature story about her from the SLAM archives, and links to the latest news.

  • A little graph that might be hard for Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph to appreciate.

  • Jason Friedman for Rockets.com talks to Chuck Hayes who explains something any parent understands -- doing nothing but parenting is an all-consuming job. Hayes' son is 16 months' old: "My son has no kind of body control at all. He runs into the wall while he's looking at it. He'll fall over his own shoes or his toys and come down and hit his head on something. You just gotta watch him, so I've just been a father this whole summer."

  • Steve Campbell of the Houston Chronicle: "To Artest's detractors, his name on the back of the jersey will always be a warning label. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander suggests that Artest is ready, at 28, to change his erratic ways for the better. [Houston GM Daryl] Morey, for his part, isn't sure Artest has to change in any meaningful way to fit in with the Rockets. Adelman, after all, coached Artest for the final 40 games of the 2005-06 season and signed off on the trade. 'The Ron that Rick had in Sacramento and we'd do the trade just for that Ron,' Morey said."

  • More on Lindsey Hunter's troublesome mortgage program.

  • The psychological weight of being Yao Ming -- having failed to win a medal in the contest for which, in his words, he has been training almost his entire life.

  • If there is an Olympic gold for making pie charts, this guy should win.

  • They say the truth hurts. When Jason Maxiell tells the truth, it doesn't hurt all that much. Unless you're his fiancee.

  • The New Yorker's Anthony Lane has a second long and funny report from Beijing, that concludes like this: "'The Olympic victor, I said, is deemed happy in receiving a part only of the blessedness which is secured to our citizens, who have won a more glorious victory and have a more complete maintenance at the public cost. For the victory which they have won is the salvation of the whole State.' Thus Socrates says to Glaucon, in the fifth book of the Republic. Plato, one of the great wrestling philosophers, could be describing the official Chinese attitude to these Games, wherein the individual is swallowed up by the team performance of a nation. On the other hand, the one aspect of victory that Plato could not have foreseen is the television camera, which, in its sentimental aggression, has made the masses anything but faceless. Does our behavior change when we find ourselves being watched? I looked at the badminton winner, Zhang Ning, when she stood to receive her medal; as the tears fell, the camera crept in close. That focus, like the double air-punch-or, indeed, like the screams of the fabulous fencer Ni Hong, who celebrated almost every hit with an uninhibited yowl, crouching down and going, 'Yeaah! Yeaah! Yeaah!' -- is a pure invention of the wicked West, plundered by China for its own state-sponsored highs. Ni, at such moments, seemed less Chinese than any Chinese person I have ever seen; she looked, if anything, like a Beatles groupie in the final number of 'A Hard Day's Night.' China has taken the gamble of seeking to make people rich before it has made them free. By the standards of the Enlightenment, that is either an illusion or a cruel con, though a free marketeer might argue that the liberties bestowed by trade and consumption-the strange half-freedom of the television commercial, for example, which enslaves us even as it promises the wealth of the world-are not to be sniffed at, and may, indeed, be what most of us ponder and pursue. (We shouldn't worry more about the price of gas than about human rights in China, but we do.) As I dined, one day, on a Big Mac in a thunderstorm, seeking and failing to find refuge in a packed McDonald's beside the Olympic Green subway station, I heard the Olympic theme song, playing on a tape loop inside, and watched a Chinese teen-ager in the doorway. She sucked on her milkshake and then sang along, swaying; she was, at once, everything that the capitalist corporation could hope for, and everything that the Communist Party had planned. I tried to talk to her, but she spoke no English; besides, what young person wants to be asked if he or she feels free? What kind of question is that? I thought of the sign I had seen on the first full day of the Games, in the Forbidden City, as I headed back from the cycling. 'Hall of Earthly Tranquillity,' it read, and then, at the bottom, in smaller letters, 'Made Possible by the American Express Company.' One world. One dream."

  • Team USA eating in a gas station.