Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SHOCK! Serena Retires In 1st Set With Cornet For 3rd Loss Against Frenchwoman in 2014

Serena Williams retired from her 2nd round match against Alize Cornet up a service break 6-5 when she complained of dizziness and nausea on the changeover and was helped off the court by a trainer after she told the umpire she could not continue to play.

Her retirement from the match means that for the first time since 2007 Serena has lost to the same player three times in a calendar year. Earlier this year, Serena lost to Cornet in the semifinals of Dubai and then she lost to her again in the 3rd round of Wimbledon in 3 sets.

Some players just do not match-up well together and perhaps Cornet is Serena's kryptonite. Hopefully, Serena will recover from whatever ails her in time for her birthday on Friday and the China Open which begins in Beijing on Monday.

TENNIS TUESDAY: Li Na Retires, Ivanovic Wins 4th 2014 Title, Davis Cup Final Set For Lille

Li Na Retires
The big news this week (confirms the rumors from last week) is the official retirement of China's Li Na, which somewhat bizarrely, happened on the eve of the WTA holding a  $2-million tournament in her hometown of Wuhan with almost the entirety of the Top 20 making an appearance, including both Williams sisters, Maria Sharapova and many more top WTA stars.

Ivanovic Keeps Winning
Ana Ivanovic won her biggest (and fourth)  title of the year by defeating 2014 US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 7-6(2) to win the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. Ivanovic has now won 52 matches in 2014, the most of her career and one of the best records on tour this year.

Location Of Davis Cup Final
The location of the Davis Cup Final showdown between Switzerland (featuring ATP Top 5 players Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka) and France (featuring Gael Monfils, J-Wilfried Tsonga Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon) will happen in Lille, France November 21-23 in a stadium that holds 27,000 fans. The record for a Davis Cup match is the 2004 final between Spain and United States in 2004 (27,200). I suspect that record may fall!

Monday, September 22, 2014

EYE CANDY: Philip Baiano from MundoMais (black/white)

MundoMais.Com.br is one of my favorite websites for finding potential Eye Candy models. Phillip Baiano (also known as "Filipe from Bahia") has appeared here twice before (October 24, 2011 and January 23, 2012).

This week he is here again, this time in black and white. The website lists his age as 27 years old in 2013 but that's the only information I have. But I think you can see why he is definitely colírio para os olhos!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Multiple Posters For Christopher Nolan's Interstellar

Longtime followers of this blog will know that I am a big time fanboy of director Christopher Nolan. I named Inception my favorite film of 2010 and greatly enjoyed his take on the Batman mythos. The fact that he has a brand new original film coming out on November 7th starring Matthew McConnaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Sr Michael Caine is incredibly exciting to me and I have been blogging about developments such as the release of the first and second official trailers for the film. Interstellar is my most anticipated film release of 2014, followed by David Fincher's Gone Girl (October 3rd) and then probably The Imitation Game (November 21) followed closely by The Theory of Everything (November 7). I'm sure it's just a coincidence these last centered around the lives of heroic mathematicians!

With less than 6 weeks before the film comes out, not one but three new official posters for the film were released late last week! I have posted them above. They all look amazing, to me, although I think I have a slight preference for the one with the water. What about you?

REPORT: Lifting Ban On MSM Blood Donation Would Increase Supply By 2-4%

The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School has released a report that analyzes the impact of changing the current lifetime ban on blood donation by any man who has had sex with another man (MSM) since 1977.

In "UPDATE: Effects of Lifting Blood Donation Bans on Men who Have Sex with Men" authors Ayako Miyashita and Dr. Gary Gates estimate the number of men who would donate blood if the "gay blood ban" was relaxed at over 300,000 leading to an increase in the blood supply of 2-4%  (600,000 pints) per year which could potentially save the lives of 1.8 million people.

The way the estimate is done is that Miyashita and Gates look at three different scenarios in which the current lifetime ban is changed in three ways: removed entirely, changed to a "deferral" lasting 12-months after sexual contact with another man and changed to a 5-year deferral.
In the US, 8.5% of men (10 million) say that they have had at least one male sexual partner since age 18. GSS data show that 4.1% of men (4.8 million) have had a male sex partner in the last five years, and 3.8% of men (4.5 million men) reported having a male sex partner in the last twelve months.

If the current MSM ban were completely lifted, we estimate that an additional 360,600 men would likely donate 615,300 additional pints of blood each year. If MSM who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past twelve months were permitted to donate, we estimate that 185,800 additional men are likely to donate 317,000 additional pints of blood each year. If MSM who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past five years were permitted to donate, we estimate that 172,000 additional men would make an additional 293,400 blood donations.
To me it appears as if the report buries the lead! 8.5% of American men say they have had sex with another man since age 18 (i.e. as an adult). Does that mean that this percentage of the population is "gay"? Not really, since being gay is a complicated combination of identity, self-realization and  resistance to social stigma. However, in my mind the significance of this figure is the demonstration that same-sex sexual attraction among men is more common than is usually reported to the general public.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

SATURDAY POLITICS: Speaker Pérez Passes On Joining Huizar-Molina Race

Oh well, it would have made many Los Angeles political junkies salivate, but former Assembly Speaker John Pérez has decided not to join the Jose Huizar-Gloria Molina battle royale for the right to represent District  14 on the Los Angeles City Council.

Last weekend on Saturday Politics we got the news that the long-serving Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina had decided to challenge the incumbent instead of retiring peacefully after more than 3 decades in elective office.

It's doubtful that Pérez, who is in his mid-40s is thinking about retirement either, could he maybe be eyeing the United States Senate seat currently occupied by Barbara Boxer which could conceivably be an open seat in 2016 if the now-73-year-old junior senator decided to call it a career. Surely his cousin Antonio Villaraigosa, 2-term Mayor of Los Angeles, former Speaker of the Assembly and former 14th District Los Angeles City Councilman would have a better claim to Boxer's seat.

In another interesting twist, Huizar apparently asked Pérez for his endorsement for re-election and Pérez declined to do so.

David Zahniser of the Los Angeles Times quotes Pérez as saying:
“He wasn’t able to convince me to endorse him. He didn’t make a persuasive case,” said Pérez, adding: “I’m happy to do another meeting, with any and all of the candidates.” 
Hmmm, could it be conceivable that Pérez could endorse Molina over Huizar? The mind boggles....

Friday, September 19, 2014

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Li Na Officially Announces Retirement From Tennis

The rumors of Li Na's retirement from tennis have been confirmed when the 2-time major champion posted the following letter to Facebook on Thursday night:
My dear friends,
For close to fifteen years, we’ve been a part of each other’s lives. As a tennis player representing China on the global stage, I’ve trekked around the world playing hundreds of matches on the WTA tour, for China’s Fed Cup team, at the National Games and at several Olympic Games. You’ve always been there for me, supporting me, cheering me on, and encouraging me to reach my potential.
Representing China on the tennis court was an extraordinary privilege and a true honor. Having the unique opportunity to effectively bring more attention to the sport of tennis in China and all over Asia is something I will cherish forever. But in sport, just like in life, all great things must come to an end.
2014 has become one of the most significant years in my career and my life. This year was full of amazing highlights, which included winning my second Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open and sharing the extraordinary experience with my country, my team, my husband and my fans. It was also a year filled with difficult moments, such as having to deal with the inevitable - making the decision to end my professional tennis career.
The amazing moment in Australia was filled with joy, happiness and extraordinary sense of accomplishment. The task of finally making a decision to hang up my racquet felt a lot more difficult than winning seven matches in a row in the Australian heat. It took me several agonizing months to finally come to the decision that my chronic injuries will never again let me be the tennis player that I can be. Walking away from the sport, effective immediately, is the right decision for me and my family.
Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee. The black brace I wear over it when I step on the court has become my tennis birth mark. And while the brace completes my tennis look, the knee problems have at times overtaken my life.
After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding. My previous three surgeries were on my right knee. My most recent knee surgery took place this July and was on my left knee. After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court.
While I’ve come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different. One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown of Wuhan. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100%, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100%.
Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No.2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis. As hard as it’s been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets. I was not supposed to be here in the first place, remember? Not many people believed in my talent and my abilities, yet I found a way to persevere, to prove them (and sometimes myself!) wrong.
I’ve succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China. What I’ve accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams. What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements.
In 2008, there were two professional women’s tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary! Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams – with thirty Grand Slam singles titles among them - are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China! Just as I didn’t think I could ever be a Grand Slam champion, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that some of the best female athletes in the world could play tennis in Wuhan, in my backyard.
My contributions to the growth of the sport in China are very special to me. But I don’t want to stop here. Together with IMG, my management company, we are putting together various plans on how we will continue to grow the sport of tennis in China. These plans include opening the Li Na Tennis Academy, which will provide scholarships for the future generation of Chinese tennis stars. I will also stay involved in the Right to Play, an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children overcome challenges through sport. My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality.
On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing. I can’t wait to revisit all the amazing places I played tennis in and see the world through a new set of eyes. I look forward to slowing down and living my life at a new, slower, relaxed pace.
Tennis is an individual sport and as players, our job is to spend a lot of time focusing on ourselves. But no player can ever become a champion alone and nobody knows this better than me. There isn’t enough space here to thank everyone who has travelled on my journey with me and contributed to my success. But I must thank those that have stuck with me through the highs and the lows and have helped me become the person that I am today.

Very sad news :(

Thursday, September 18, 2014

QUEER QUOTE: Justice Ginsburg Gives Hints On How SCOTUS May Act In Pending Marriage Cases

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave some hints at apublic forum recently about how the U.S. Supreme Court may deal with the pending petitions from the 4th, 7th and 10th U.S. Circuits to resolve the question of marriage equality: Look to the 6th Circuit!

Generally, the Supreme Court resolves splits between the Circuits. If the 6th Circuit rules, like all other appellate courts that have reviewed state bans on marriage equality in the last year and  a half that these laws violate the federal constitution then there would be no split to resolve and even though it's an important question, Justice Ginsburg said the Court would feel no urgency to resolve the matter in an absence of a circuit split.

The comments Justice Ginsburg gave  at the University of Minnesota are today's Queer Quote:
Ginsburg said cases pending before the circuit covering Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee would probably play a role in the high court’s timing. She said “there will be some urgency” if that appeals court allows same-sex marriage bans to stand. Such a decision would run contrary to a legal trend favoring gay marriage and force the Supreme Court to step in sooner, she predicted. 
She said if the appeals panel falls in line with other rulings there is “no need for us to rush.”
The Sixth Circuit has heard oral arguments and observes say it could be a 2-1 decision either way. The losing side could then appeal to the full 6th Circuit which has  a majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents. If Justice Ginsburg is right and the Court will wait until the 6th Circuit finally rules, then it is possible after all for marriage equality not to be decided nationwide in the 2014-15 term.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: Bobby Jindal Gives Evasive Answers To Questions On Evolution

Not sure if this belongs in Godless Wednesday category but it is something I feel like I need to blog about to alert my fellow godless heathens! Governor Bobby Jindal, currently "praying about whether he will run for President in 2016" and former Rhodes Scholar (to study biology and public policy) refused multiple opportunities from reporters to say whether he believes in evolution or not.

Instead, this is what Jindal said:
"I'm not an evolutionary biologist"
"I will tell you, as a father, I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their schools, but secondly, I think local school districts should make the decision."
"I told you what I think. I think that local school districts, not the federal government, should make the decision about how they teach science, biology, economics. I want my kids to be taught about evolution; I want my kids to be taught about other theories."
This is the same politician who exhorted his fellow Republicans to "stop being the stupid party"! Until ambitious GOP politicians like Jindal stop issuing dog-whistle messages instead of acknowledging scientific truths ("Evolution is a real biological phenomenon. The climate of the earth is being impacted by man-made activity. A blastocyst is not a human being.") they will continue to be thought of as the group of people who puts faith before fact.

And that is just stupid.

Mary Bonauto Wins 2014 MacArthur "Genius" Grant Of $625K

Mary Bonauto, one of the primary architects of the LGBT equality revolution in the courts for the last two decades in her long association with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, has been awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grant.
Bonauto is a civil rights lawyer whose powerful arguments and long-term legal strategies have led to historic strides in the effort to achieve marriage equality for same-sex couples across the United States. The Civil Rights Project Director at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) since 1990, much of her early work focused on adoption and parenting, censorship, hate crimes, and discrimination in jobs and public accommodations. 
Mindful of the risks of loss and political backlash when social reform litigation advances ahead of public understanding, Bonauto and her GLAD colleagues initially pursued an incremental, state-based strategy to secure government marriage licenses for same-sex couples in the New England states. Bonauto and Vermont colleagues formed a critical partnership in 1997, which is widely acknowledged as a pivotal time and place to challenge a state's exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from marriage. The Vermont Supreme Court's ruling in Baker v. Vermont (1999) was the first to hold that same-sex couples must be provided all of the same protections and obligations provided to married couples, and the state legislature established the first civil union law in the nation in 2000 to comply with that ruling. GLAD's subsequent filing of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health in Massachusetts, relying again on state constitutional guarantees of equality and liberty, resulted in the 2003 landmark decision that made that state the first to extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. Bonauto's constitutional arguments in Goodridge articulated the breadth of the practical and social harms imposed by the state's exclusion on real families and their children. In defending the marriage ruling from attempts to substitute civil unions, she drew on painful lessons from our nation's past, most notably the history of unjust "separate but equal" doctrines as substitutes for racial and gender equality, and the Massachusetts high court was the first to reject civil unions as a substitute for marriage. The Goodridge ruling, the transformative effect of same-sex couples marrying on the public's views, and subsequent legal (in Connecticut), legislative (in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire), and ballot-based (in Maine) victories all provided a solid foundation and roadmap for future strategies across the nation, including at the federal level. 
In 2009, Bonauto led a team from GLAD and private law firms in the first strategic challenge to section three of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and argued that the federal government's non-recognition of the lawful and rapidly growing number of marriages unconstitutionally denied same-sex couples more than 1,000 federal protections and obligations usually available to married persons. Her case--Gill v. Office of Personnel Management--provided the first federal court wins in challenges to DOMA (in 2010 and 2012 rulings), and served as an important model for United States v. Windsor, the landmark case that ultimately resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down DOMA in 2013 and on which she served as a strategist and external coordinator of friend-of-the-court briefs. In the name of equal treatment and dignity for all people, and in concert with other litigators and advocates across the country, Bonauto is breaking down legal barriers based on sexual orientation and influencing debates about the relationship between the law and momentous social change more broadly. 
Mary L. Bonauto received a B.A. (1983) from Hamilton College and a J.D. (1987) from Northeastern University School of Law. She has been the Civil Rights Project Director at the Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) since 1990. Since 2013, she has been the Shikes Fellow in Civil Liberties and Civil Rights and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.
This is amazing news. Two other openly LGBT people also won MacArthur Genius grants this year: Alison Bechdel, the creator of the comic strip "Dykes To Watch Out For" and Samuel Hunter, a playwright.


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