Monday, August 31, 2015

EYE CANDY: Michael Thurston

Michael Thurston is an amazing fitness model I just discovered recently. He is popular on Instagram (175,000+ followers at @mikethurston), Facebook (30,000 likes at mikethurstonofficial and Twitter (15,000 followers @TheThurstonator). According to multiple interview online, he is currently around 24 years old, weighs 198 pounds and is 6-feet tall.

In addition to his amazing physique and stunning good looks, Mr. Thurston has his own company, Aurora Athletic, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England.

Hawt is hawt!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015 US OPEN: Men's and Women's Draw Analysed

The last major tennis tournament of the year starts on Monday August 31. I'll be at the U.S. Open next weekend (Sunday and Monday) to watch the tennis live and maybe run into Serena Williams on her quest to win the first calendar slam since 1988. The draw was released on Thursday and in this post I will analyze the highlights.

Men's Draw
The potential men's quarterfinal match ups are:

Novak Djokovic (1) versus Rafael Nadal (8) or Milos Raonic (10)
Kei Nishikori (4) versus David Ferrer (7) or Marin Cilic (9)
Andy Murray (3)  versus Stan Wawrinka (5)
Roger Federer (2) versus Tomas Berdych (6)

There are basically three main contenders to win the title (Djokovic, Federer and Murray) and although he has Murray and Wawrinka in his half Federer generally has a pretty gentle draw in the early going while Djokovic has both 2014 finalists in his half, although he will likely only have to face one of them (in the semifinals). If Federer and Djokovic do make the final, I like Federer's chances to win his record 18th major.

Women's Draw
The potential women's quarterfinal match ups are:

Serena Williams (1) versus Karolina Pliskova (8) or Venus Williams (23)
Maria Sharapova (3) or Ekaterina Makarova (13) versus Ana Ivanovic (7)
Petra Kvitova (5) or Garbine Muguruza (9) versus Carolina Wozniacki (4)
Simona Halep (2) versus Lucie Safarova (6) or Angelique Kerber (11)

The entire tournament is revolving around whether Serena can win her record 7th U.S. Open (4th in a row) and clinch the calendar Grand Slam. She does have a pretty rough draw, potentially facing Sloane Stephens (or Coco Vandweghe) in the 3rd round, Madison Keys (or Aga Radwanska) in the 4th round and her sister Venus or Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, Sharapova, Makarova or Ivanovic in the semifinals and Halep, Safarova, Kvitova, Kerber or Muguruza in the final! Despite all that, O am fairly confident she will get through. The danger is in those 3rd and 4th round matches versus the young Americans. If she gets past those, I'm very certain she won't crack later in the tournament. And if not, she can always go for Steffi Graf's 22-major record in 2016!

First Round Matches To Watch
Dominika Cibulkova vs Ana Ivanovic
Coco VandeWedghe vs Sloane Stephens
Andy Murray vs Nick Kyrgios
Fernando Verdasco vs Tommy Haas
Jarkko Nieminen vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Friday, August 28, 2015

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Vester Lee Flanagan, a Black Gay Man, Was The Live TV Shooter

On Wednesday August 26th Vester Lee Flanagan, 41, shot to death on-air reporter Alison Parker and her cameraman Adam Ward while they were conducting an interview on live television. Flanagan, who previously worked for the same television station (WDBJ in Roanoake, VA) as Bryce Williams, was apparently openly gay and was let go by the station more than a year ago because of his irascible personality. He sued his former employer for racial and sex discrimination seeking damages of $25,000 but the suit was thrown out for lack of evidence.

Right-wing websites are making a big deal of the fact that Flanagan was openly gay, as if that was te cause of his murderous rampage.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today is Women's Equality Day! 95th Anniversary of Women's Right To Vote!

Celebrate! Today is August 26th, also known as Women's Equality Day, celebrating the 95th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which expanded the franchise to include women.

The measure was actually ratified on August 20, 1920, and reads:
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Oh, happy day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

TENNIS TUESDAY: Serena & Roger Defend Cincy Titles; Mauresmo A Mommy; Serena Gets SI Cover

Serena Williams defeated Simona Halep 6-3 7-6(5) to defend her 2014 Cincinnati title just hours after Roger Federer defeated World #1 Novak Djokovic 7-6(1) 6-3 to win his 7th title in Cincinnati, his 87th career title and 24th ATP masters shield.

As I blogged about last Friday, Andy Murray's coach, 2-time major champion Amelie Mauresmo gave birth to her son Aaron on August 16.

Serena Williams will be on next week's cover of Sports Illustrated; she was last on the cover in 1999 after winning her first major title at the precocious age of 17. Tennis players have apparently only been on the cover of the important weekly sports magazine 8 times in the last twenty years, so this cover is a big deal. The reason is another big deal: Serena's attempt at winning her 5th consecutive major, which would give her a rare calendar year slam. The last player to do this was Steffi Graf, whose career total of 22 major titles Serena would match if she won her fourth consecutive U.S. Open title.

Monday, August 24, 2015

2015 HUGO AWARDS: The Puppy Slates Are Overwhelmingly Rejected!

The 2015 Hugo Awards were given out on Saturday evening in Spokane Washington and the results were eye-opening, to say the least. Because of the Puppy kerfuffle (where two different cohorts of "fans" successfully coordinated efforts to place on the final Hugo ballot works and people using criteria different from mere merit and quality) I discovered that I could register and vote for the 2015 Hugo winners myself and did so.

In the end, even though there were only a few hundred ballots to nominate works, there ended up being 5,950 voters for the award winners.

The biggest news was that in five categories where the Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies had successfully managed to completely fill all 5 slots on the ballot, the option of NO AWARD was deployed by a significant majority of voters. In the history of the Hugo awards there had been previously been a rand total o five NO AWARD winners and in one evening that tally was matched. The categories in which this occurred were: Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor (Short Form), and Best Editor (Long Form).

The second biggest story was that the Best Novel was won by Cixin Liu for The Three-Body Problem, which was my vote for the winner of this most important category. This was historic, because it was the first time an Asian man had won the Best Novel AND it was the first time a translated work had received this honor. Additionally, the two nominees associated with the Puppies, Skin Game by Jim Butcher and The Dark Between The Stars by Kevin J. Anderson both ended up below NO AWARD in the final tally (which is where I had placed them on my ballot, along with the 2nd place finisher The Goblin Emperor).

Best Novel (5653 final ballots, 1827 nominating ballots, 587 entries, range 212-387)
  • The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)
  • The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
  • Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
  • No Award
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
  • The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)
What lots of fans and observers are trying to figure out is exactly what are the relative sizes of the four groups who participated in the Hugo voting: Rabid Puppy supporters, Sad Puppy supporters, Anti-Puppies (like myself) or neutral voters. Right now the estimates seem to have the two Puppies groups at about 10% of the total each with the anti-Puppies roughly at 50%.

Also, since the Hugo award administrators release the vote counts for the Top 15 nominees in each category, we can also know exactly which works and people were left off the ballot because of the Puppy slates from this winter. Author Tobias Buckell has released the list of what the Hugo ballot would have looked like without the intervention of the Puppies. Here's the alternative history Best Novel category
Best NovelAncillary Sword by Ann Leckie
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
Lock In by John Scalzi
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet
City of Stairs is a very interesting urban fantasy novel (which I haven;t yet reviewed but I intend to, as well as rad the upcoming sequel, City of Blades when it is released in 2016.) For some reason the Puppies hate John Scalzi with the passion of a thousand dying suns (probably because he's smarter, makes more money and is more popular than any of them) so they are probably pleased they denied him another Hugo nomination. (Scalzi's win of the 2013 Hugo for Best Novel for Redshirts is often cited by some of the "head Puppies" as What Is Wrong With Science Fiction.)

Another point people have noticed is that the Puppies prevented Andy Weir, the author of the best-selling science fiction book of the year (The Martian, soon to be a major motion picture starring Matt Damon directed by Ridley Scott) from being nominated for the non-Hugo for best New Writer called the John W. Campbell award. Instead that went to my choice Wesley Chu!

There were a whole bunch of word written about the Hugo awards before they happened, K'm sure there will be a whole lot written now that they have happened. It is likely that the Puppies will try to repeat their domination of the award nominations in January 2016 but there are now nearly 6,000 people (like myself) who are empowered to make our own nominations and try to blunt their desire to blow up science fiction's most prestigious award.

Happily, it is likely that technical changes to how the nominations are calculated will go into effect for 2017 year, since two proposals were passed at the recent Worldcon business meeting that are designed to blunt the impact of slates on the Hugo nominations. But until then, the fight will go on.

However, in the fight between the forces of good and evil, Saturday's results at the Hugo awards was a big win for the good guys who support inclusion and diversity (and playing by the rules).

EYE CANDY: Chris Matteis

Chris Matteis is a smoking hot bodybuilder/model. He is on twitter/facebook/snapchat as @CMatteis46 and Instagram as chrismatteis. I think you can see why he is today's Eye Candy model!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

2015 CINCY: Federer Claims 87th ATP Title; 7th Here; Reclaims World #2 Ranking

As I predicted yesterday, Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic to win the 2015 Cincinnati Masters. Federer won his 87th career ATP title, 7th in Cincinnati and 24th ATP Masters title of his career. Federer won 7-6(1) 6-3, never getting his serve broken for the entire tournament.


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