Monday, October 23, 2017

2017 WTA YEC: 7 of 8 Players Can End Year At #1; Muguruza,Pliskova,Wozniacki,Halep Have Wins



The 2017 WTA Tour Year-End Championships, i.e. "the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global" began in Singapore over the weekend. It is a big deal to qualify for this tournament, as only the 8 players with best record for the year are allowed to compete. They are put into two groups and after 3 round-robin matches, the Top 2 players in each group go forward to the semifinals where the winners advance to the last match of the year.

Interestingly, although Halep is the current #1 player in the world, 7 of the 8 players could end up with the #1 ranking since the winner of the tournament gets 1500 points and Halep's lead over Muguruza is a mere 40 points.

This year the two groups are:


WHITE GROUP

  • Jelena Ostapenko
  • Venus Williams
  • Karolina Pliskova
  • Garbine Muguruza


RED GROUP

  • Simona Halep
  • Elina Svitolina 
  • Caroline Wozniacki
  • Caroline Garcia 
So far one round-robin round has been completed in both groups and Muguruza beat Ostapenko, Pliskova beat Venus in the White group on Sunday and on Monday Halep beat Garcia and  Wozniacki beat Svitolina. 

Play continues tomorrow with White Group competition: Venus versus Ostapenko and Pliskova versus Muguruza.

I really think they should switch the names of the groups to classic champions. Would the "Graf" group versus the "Evert" group be more interesting?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

QUEER QUOTE: California Enacts Law To Provide Nonbinary Gender Option In Official Documents

Wow! The state of California completed its 2017 legislative session recently and there are some fascinating new laws on the books thanks to Democratic supermajorities in both Houses and a Democratic governor in Jerry Brown.

One of the important bills Governor Brown signed into law was SB179, the Gender Recognition Act, which provides the option of "nonbinary" on official identity documents issued by the state of California which ask about the gender or sex of an individual.

USA Today reports:
The state of California will now legally recognize non-binary as a third gender on official state identification documents.  
Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB179 on Sunday night. The bill, dubbed the Gender Recognition Act, will allow a third gender choice on driver's licenses, state identification cards, and make it easier for people to change their gender and name on state identification papers.  
Non-binary, is a catch-all term for people who do not identify as exclusively male or female, and has been slowly acknowledged by some states as a gender option. 
In June, the District of Columbia followed Oregon's lead and began offering the gender-neutral choice of "X" on driver licenses and identification cards, and similar legislation is currently pending in New York.
The bill was authored by Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Toni Atkins (D-San Diego),  who are two of the many openly LGBT members of the Legislature. Equality California (an organization MadProfessah used to be a Board Member of) issued a statement on the occasion of the enactment of the bill into law.

Today's Queer Quote is an excerpt from this press release:
SB 179 makes it easier for transgender, intersex and non-binary people to get official identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity. In addition to recognizing a nonbinary gender, this bill streamlines the process to change the gender marker or name on state-issued identification documents. Previously, individuals faced difficult and burdensome obstacles to change their identification documents, such as requirements that a person obtain a physician’s verification or that they appear in court, which ultimately made the process intimidating and added expenses that an individual might not have. 
“Gov. Brown’s signature today has put California at the forefront of ensuring the dignity and safety of its transgender, non-binary and gender-non-conforming residents,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “When your ID doesn’t match your gender identity or expression, it can expose you to potentially dangerous situations. SB 179 eliminates unnecessary obstacles from the process of getting state-issued identification documents for thousands of Californians.” 
“With this simple change, California has made daily life infinitely safer and easier for many gender nonbinary and transgender people,” said Kris Hayashi, executive director of Transgender Law Center. “We’re asked for identification everywhere from banks to bars to airports, and it can be devastating and even dangerous for nonbinary and transgender people to navigate life with an I.D. that doesn’t reflect who they truly are.” 
According to a 2015 national survey of 25,000 transgender people, only 11 percent reported that all their identification documents had their name and gender that is consistent with their gender identity, and one-third of respondents who showed an ID with a gender marker that did not match their appearance reported being verbally harassed, denied services or assaulted.
 Congratulations to California!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

SATURDAY POLITICS: Republicans (Finally) Say Homosexuality Should Be Accepted


There's a new poll out from Pew and the Press which shows that societal acceptance of homosexuality is continuing to grow, with the latest numbers showing that 70% of respondents say "homosexuality should be accepted by society" while only 24% of responded says "homosexuality should be discouraged by society."

However, in this week's episode of Saturday Politics I want to call attention to the partisan differences on this question. 83% of Democrats support societal acceptance of homosexuality. A majority of Democrats have been supportive of homosexuality since (at least) 1994 while a majority of Republicans have not ever been supportive of homosexuality until this year. In the latest poll, 54% of Republicans now say they are supportive of homosexuality.

Pew summarizes the results:
While there has been an increase in acceptance of homosexuality across all partisan and demographic groups, Democrats remain more likely than Republicans to say homosexuality should be accepted by society. 
Overall, 83% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say homosexuality should be accepted by society, while only 13% say it should be discouraged. The share of Democrats who say homosexuality should be accepted by society is up 20 points since 2006 and up from 54% who held this view in 1994. 
Among Republicans and Republican leaners, more say homosexuality should be accepted (54%) than discouraged (37%) by society. This is the first time a majority of Republicans have said homosexuality should be accepted by society in Pew Research Center surveys dating to 1994. Ten years ago, just 35% of Republicans held this view, little different than the 38% who said this in 1994.

Friday, October 20, 2017

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Kevin de León Announces Challenge to Dianne Feinstein's Re-election Bid


Whoa! Kevin de León is my State Senator and is the head of the California State Senate. The 50-year-old Latino politician from Los Angeles is termed out of the legislature next year and many people have been wondering what higher office he would seek next. This week he announced that he is running to become a U.S. Senator from California. Currently, California's Senators are Dianne Feinstein (who was elected in 1992) and Kamala Harris, who was elected in 2016. Feinstein recently announced that she would be trying to win a 6th 6-year term in 2018.

de León has announced that he will try to stop that from happening.

Since both are Democrats and California has a top 2 primary it is very likely this race will not e decided in the primary, but almost certainly go the distance to November 2018.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Age of Swords


Age of Swords is the second book in Michael J. Sullivan's new series set thousands of years before the Riyria Revelations trilogy he is most well-known for (Theft of Swords, Rise of Empire, and Heir of Novron).

I was not that impressed overall with the first book in the new series (Age of Myth) when I read it last year but remained intrigued enough about the setting to definitely be interested in reading the second book in the series when it came out. 

There are many new characters to get used to in the Legends of the First Empire series and the setting is very different from the amusing adventures featuring Royce and Hadrian, the thieves with hearts of gold around which the deservedly popular Riyria books are based.

However, the new characters are extremely memorable as well. I really feel like we get a better understanding of Persephone, Arion, Raithe and Suri in Age of Swords then we did in Age of Myth. In fact, it's interesting that even though Mawyndule and the political intrigue in the Fhrey capital are an important plot thread in this book it is almost completely overshadowed by the quest Persephone and her companions take to the land of the Dhergs (dwarves) to try and find a way to save her people (and all humans) from the imminent genocide at the hands of the substantially more powerful Fhrey. The Fhrey are basically elves who have access to almost limitless power which makes them appear to be gods to the other species. One problem I have with the series is that there is a little bit of a "Clan of the Cave Bear" vibe because the humans are at so undeveloped that it is astonishing how many basic objects that they currently exist without. (The wheel is something that is "invented" at some point during Age of Swords.) They also still worship a number of different gods, and even perform animal sacrifice to curry favor with them.

Another complaint about Age of Swords  I have is that Malcolm and Raithe, who had such a huge role in the first book, have much smaller roles in the story the second book. That being said, I'm happy to see Roan and Moya are more prominently featured this time. In fact, vast swathes of the plot are moved forward by the female characters, with the males mostly sidelined. This is not a bad thing!

Overall, I am very encouraged about where this story is going and I am excited to read the next three books in this ongoing series from one of the best fantasy writers regularly publishing new work in the genre.

Title: Age of Swords (Legends of the First Empire, #2).
Author: 
Michael J. Sullivan.
Paperback: 496 pages.
Publisher:
 Del Rey.
Date Published: July 25, 2017.
Date Read: September 25, 2017.


GOODREADS RATING: 
 (5.0/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.83/4.0).

PLOT: A.
IMAGERY: A-.
IMPACT:A-.
WRITING: A.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: More Americans Identify As "Spiritual" Than "Religious"

The Pew Research Center regular conducts polls about religious identity of the American population. They asked people to put themselves into four categories: "religious and spiritual," "neither religious nor spiritual," "religious but not spiritual" and "spiritual but not religious."

In the 5 years since they last conducted the poll in 2012 the number of people who said spiritual but not religious jumped from 19% to 27% and the number who said religious and spiritual dropped from 59% to 48%.

Sadly, the group I would have identified with, Neither religious not spiritual only marginally increased from 16% to 18%.

Regardless, the fact that more Americans as "spiritual" (75%) than as religious (54%) is a pretty big deal, and is the key takeaway of today's Godless Wednesday.

Monday, October 16, 2017

EYE CANDY: Maxs Souza





Maxs Souza is a Brazilian model who has a popular Instagram page (@maxs_souza_92). From his screenname one can assume that he was born in 1992 which would mean that he is 25 years old. If anyone has more information, please let me know!

I love Brazilian eye candy!

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