Saturday, March 25, 2017

SATURDAY POLITICS: Analyzing the #CA34 Special Election for Becerra's Replacement

Jimmy Gomez is my representative in the California Assembly (51st District). Xavier Becerra used to be my representative in the United States Congress (until he became Attorney General of California). I live in the 34th Congressional District of California, so now this is a rare open congressional seat.

The race to replace Becerra has become as crowded as I expected. This is what the actual ballot looks like for the April 4, 2017 special election:

The Top 2 vote getters (as long as no one gets a majority of votes) will face off June 6, 2017. The Los Angeles Times editorial board has endorsed Maria Cabildo but the dozens of mailers I have piling up around the house show that Gomez has garnered the most impressive endorsements:  the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, Xavier Becerra, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. However, the person who has raised the most money is Robert Lee Ahn, the only Korean American in a race for a congressional seat which contains Koreatown.

I have already voted (by absentee ballot) but watch this space for the official results in just about 11 days from now!

Friday, March 24, 2017

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Bobby Brooks Is First Openly Gay Texas A&M Student President

Bobby Brooks is a 21-year-old junior at Texas A&M University at College Station, TX majoring in Economics and French. He is also the first openly gay person to be elected student body president at the conservative campus (it was formerly an all-white and all-male school for over a century). His election is controversial, not only because of his sexuality, but because the person who actually received the most votes, Robert McIntosh,who also happens to be the son of a prominent Republican fundraiser,  was disqualified by the student election board. McIntosh has hired a lawyer and intends to appeal the result. Somehow Energy Secretary (and former Governor of Texas) felt the need to comment that Brooks stole the election from McIntosh because "diversity."

Anyway, Bobby Brooks is today's subject of Celebrity Friday! I will leave you with this quote from Brooks:
"I believe in every human’s capability to change the world and I decided it was my time to try that."

Thursday, March 23, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I'm excited that I have finally finished my first Stephen King book (speed reading my sister's copy of Carrie when we were both teenagers doesn't count).

Anyway, I'm not a big fan of horror so I have generally stayed away from Mr. King's work previously.

However the premise of 11/22/63 fascinated me (someone goes back in time to try and stop the John F. Kennedy assassination) and even though I was a bit daunted by the size of the book I put it on my amazon wish list around Christmas time and was happy when it arrived.

11/22/63 is about a lot more than just time travel, but as a time travel novel it succeeds quite extraordinarily.

But 11/22/63 also succeeds as a love story, a thriller and as social commentary (about the 1950s and 1960s in America). I appreciated the fact that the protagonist gets sent back to 1958 and although there is a lot he likes, he also notices that for people who are not cis heterosexual white males like him, life in the 1950s was not so great (racism, antisemitism, homophobia, antediluvian attitudes about contraception and sexual activity are all brought up during the course of the novel). Maybe since a lot of the story takes place as the main character works as a teacher and I'm a teacher it strongly appealed to me, but I don't think so. I think this book has a pretty universal appeal.

It's definitely a bit slower than it needs to be but it also succeeds on its own terms and it totally deserves its excellent ratings by oodles and oodles of people on Goodreads. If someone understands the ending could they please explain it to me, especially the stuff about the various (Yellow, Red, Green and Ochre) card-carrying guys at the time portal. Even without that, I am glad that I read the book. I'm aware that Hulu has made a series based on the book starring James Franco but I don't feel like I need to see another version of the book.

This was the first Stephen King book I had read but is certainly not be my last! I don't think I'm going to run out and read The Dark Tower stuff (which is supposed to be a tale of epic fantasy). I have already read the Bill Hodges trilogy (Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch), which I enjoyed tremendously since it is in the mystery-thriller genre. I look forward to reading books by Mr. King in some of my other favorite genres.

Title: 11/22/63.
Stephen King.
Paperback: 880 pages.
 Gallery Books.
Date Published: July 24, 2012.
Date Read: July 2, 2015.

GOODREADS RATING: **** (4.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Most Religious Groups Oppose Anti-LGBT Discrimination

The PRRI (formerly known as the Public Religion Research Institute) has released research demonstrating that most religious groups oppose allowing a small business owner to refuse service to gay o lesbian people if doing so violates their religious belief. In fact, the only Christian denomination that supports such invidious discrimination is White evangelical Protestants.

PRRI summarizes:
White evangelical Protestants (56%) stand out as the only major religious group that favors allowing small business owners to refuse goods or services to gay and lesbian people on religious grounds. Fewer than one-third of white mainline Protestants (32%), Catholics (28%), black Protestants (24%), religiously unaffiliated Americans (21%), and members of non-Christian traditions (18%) support a religious exemption for small business owners. Notably, despite opposition to same-sex marriage, more than seven in ten (73%) black Protestants oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people.
I would just note that the "unaffiliated" (which is the typical term used to describe the agnostic, atheist or "godless") oppose allowing anti-LGBT discrimination at a rate of 75% which is far above the 64% of all Americans that oppose this anti-LGBT discrimination based on religious belief.

This is another reason why I say it is very possible to be good without god.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

TENNIS TUESDAY: Federer Wins Title #90; Vesnina Shocks; Kerber Regains #1; Miami Draw Decimated

The first important (non-major) tournament of the year is the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Last year Novak Djokovic and Vika Azarenka won the title. This year Roger Federer defeated Stan Wawrinka and Elena Vesnina outlasted Svetlana Kuznetsova (in just over 3 hours) to win the titles.

35-year-old Roger Federer has reached his pre-Wimbledon goal of reaching the Top 8 in the world 3 months early by reaching World #6 this week. After a 6-month absence from the tour to recuperate after knee surgery, Federer has won 13 of his first 14 matches played in 2017. His only loss this year came to Evgeny Donskoy in a 3rd set tiebreak in Dubai. By winning Indian Wells for the 5th time, Federer won his 90th ATP tour title and record 49th "big title" of his career (18 Grand slams, 6 ATP Tour finals and 25 Masters shields).

The "Sunshine Double" is a rare feat in tennis that occurs when a player wins the Indian Wells tournament and then the Miami tournament which follows it; last year both Azarenka and Djokovic completed the sunshine double. The draw at this year's Miami Open will have reduced firepower because 8-time champion Serena Williams, 6-time champion Novak Djokovic and 2-time champion Andy Murray all have withdrawn from the tournament.

 As expected, the World #1 ranking on the women's side changed from Serena Williams to Angelique Kerber due to Serena Williams' withdrawal from the Indian Wells and Key Biscayne tournaments.

Monday, March 20, 2017

EYE CANDY: Tyson Bettis

Tyson Bettis is a 6-foot-6 model from Los Angeles who I discovered thanks to Pop Glitz. He has tens of thousands of followers on social media, including Facebook and Instagram. His Model Mayhem profile lists him as 30 years old (and 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds).

He's today's Eye Candy model!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

2017 INDIAN WELLS: Federer-Wawrinka, Kuznetsova-Vesnina Finals

The finals of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open are now set. On the men's side it will be an all-Swiss affair, with Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer. The two last met in the semifinals of the 2017 Australian Open, where Federer defeated the higher ranked Wawrinka in 5 tough sets on his way to winning his long-sought 18th major title. Federer is playing in his 43rd Masters final (now tied with Novak Djokovic) while Wawrinka is playing in his 4th. The two compatriots have played 22 times before and Federer has only lost 3 times, all on clay. I expect Federer will win this match tomorrow.

On the women's side the WTA tour has been devastated with World #1 Serena Williams' withdrawal from the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments. New World #1 Angelique Kerber lost early to Elena Vesnina, and although Venus Williams took the momentum from her first-round escape against Jelena Jankovic to reach the quarterfinals, she lost against Vesnina who is now playing the best tennis of her careers in her first Premier Mandatory final. The Russian will face another compatriot, 2-time major champion Sveta Kuznetsova, who last reached the final here twice before (2007 l. Daniela Hantuchova and 2008 l. Ana Ivanovic). For the second time this year, a final will be contested between two female players over age 30. Kuznetova is 31 and Vesnina is 30. The two are tied 1-all in their head-to-head. I'm rooting for Kuznetsova to win!

Back Home in Los Angeles

Got this pretty cool shot of downtown Los Angeles from the air.


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