Land-o-Links – 5/8/2006

I'm extremely disappointed in Kobe and Company for completely blowing their momentum from this past week. This isn't because I have any affinity for the Lakers – in fact, I can't stand them. I just wanted to see a Lakers-Clippers playoff series. To me, the gap between the Lakers and Clippers is the greatest disparity in terms of history and cachet in any pro intra-city rivalry. It would have been magnificent to see all of those pent-up emotions boil over in the playoffs with all of the games being played in the same building. Unfortunately, this second round of the NBA Playoffs is the biggest letdown in terms of a "what-could-have-been" sports matchup since the prospect of a Cubs-Red Sox World Series in 2003. Anyway, on to today's links:

1) Freakonomics: A Star is Made – Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, the authors of "Freakonomics," put together this short examination of how much natural talent really plays into performing at high levels in any profession. They also look at a statistical quirk as to how a disproportionate number of top soccer players are born in the earliest months of the year. By the way, if you haven't read "Freakonomics" yet, I suggest that you go pick it up ASAP – it's absolutely one of the most fascinating books I've ever read.

2) Homer No. 713 a Super-Sized Blast – Is there anything I care less about? I'm sick of it.

3) Conan O'Brien Speaks: 'Chicago is in our DNA' – Conan's in town this week.

And finally…

4) McNally Smith College of Music Announces 'Ice Cube Scholarship' – I thought all of us at Illinois were cool for going to a school that awards the Hugh Hefner Scholarships. However, at this point, I don't believe anything can beat being called an "Ice Cube Scholar."