Monday, June 18, 2018

EYE CANDY: Roly Vizcay (reprise)





Roly Vizcay is an underwear model with a large (45k) following on Instagram (@rolyvizcayofficial) who has appeared as Eye Candy here once before (April 23, 2018). As you can see, it's clear he looks good wearing underwear or even less!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

2018 STUTTGART: Federer Wins 98th Title (Defeating Raonic), Will Return To World #1


Roger Federer resumed his presence on the ATP tour as the grass season began with a first-ever title in Stuttgart. In two consecutive rounds, Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios (in the semifinal) and Milos Raonic (in the final).

Both of these matches were quite significant. The 6-7(2) 6-2 7-6(5) win over Kyrgios resulted in a return to the top of the ATP rankings by Federer. For the third time in three meetings their match was decided by a 3rd set tiebreak, this time won by Federer; he now leads the head-to-head 2-1.

The final was also significant, and was a 6-4 7-6(3) win, extending Federer's win streak on grass to 16 (including wins at Halle and Wimbledon in 2017). It was Federer's 148th ATP tour final, and he now has a 98-50 record, with an 18-6 record in grass finals. This was Federer's 98th final win (65 of which he won in straight sets) and 3rd title of the year. The all-time record is held by Jimmy Connors at 109. Can Federer reach or exceed this number? It's more likely now than it was last week.

Friday, June 15, 2018

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: London Breed Elected First Black Female Mayor of San Francisco


London Breed will become the first African-American female mayor of San Francisco when her main rival for the position, openly gay former State Senator Mark Leno conceded defeat. San Francisco is California's 4th largest city (behind Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose) and the nation's 13th largest. Breed, 43, is the President of the Board of Supervisors and will become the only women of color to currently lead a major American city.

Breed will serve out the rest of Mayor Ed Lee's term (until January 2020) and has not said whether she will run for re-election in November 2019. It is worth noting that te next Governor of California is likely to be Gavin Newsom, who became known to voters as the Mayor of San Francisco. Breed will be the second woman to serve as Mayor; the first is Dianne Feinstein, who is now California's senior U.S. Senator.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

QUEER QUOTE: Heterosexual Supremacist Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Says Something Nice About #LGBT Youth For #Pride


Today's Queer Quote is from Senator Orrin Hatch, who has announced his retirement (after 42 years!) and will not be seeking re-election to the United States Senate. His seat is likely to be filled by Mitt Romney (2012 GOP nominee for President).

On Thursday, in celebration(!) of LGBT pride month, Sen. Hatch tried to support LGBT youth by saying on the Senate floor:
“No one should ever feel less because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. LGBT youth deserve our unwavering love and support. They deserve our validation and the assurance that not only is there a place for them in this society, but that it is far better off because of them. These young people need us—and we desperately need them. We need their light to illuminate the richness and diversity of God’s creations. We need the grace, beauty and brilliance they bring to the world.”
This is the same guy who said (in 1977):
“I wouldn't want to see homosexuals teaching school anymore than I'd want to see members of the American Nazi Party teaching school."
As the Washington Post put it. "The Times, they are a changin'"!

BOOK REVIEW: The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster #2) by Robert Bryndza



The Night Stalker is the second book in Robert Bryndza‘s DCI Erika Foster series. Although the central plot of The Night Stalker is very different from The Girl in the Ice there are several common elements between the two books. First among these is Erika herself, of course. There are multiple other characters that reappear as well.

I don’t really have a problem that Erika is an intriguingly damaged character (her husband was also a police officer and he was killed in the line of duty on a drug raid that Erika was leading). The main problem I have with Erika is that she’s literally a vigilante and she doesn’t respect the chain of authority of the British Constabulary. This was my main drawback of the first book because I believed that it strained credulity to believe someone as “half-cocked” as Erika would still have a job as a police officer.

But in the second book, again Erika gets suspended from the investigation that she was leading by her boss and ignores direct orders not to continue specific theories of the case in her investigation. But she does this even though the perpetrator contacts her directly, violates her personal space and threatens her life. In both books, Erika downplays the seriousness of these events and eventually ends up in a 1-on-1 dangerous confrontation with a multiple murderer. This situation is a direct result of her unwillingness to follow orders and her eagerness to solve the case “by whatever means necessary.” The fact that it happened twice in the first two books greatly diminishes the verisimilitude of these books as police procedurals, in my humble opinion.

But, overall, I enjoyed this book and the series as a whole. I love Erika's sidekicks, DI Moss (pudgy lesbian with a tart sense of humor), DI Peterson (handsome straight Black guy with excellent interpersonal skills) and Dr. Strong (openly gay, tall white forensic pathologist). I look forwarding to reading the next books in the series and hope that Bryndza switches things up so Erika becomes more professional.

3.5 Stars.

Title: The Night Stalker.
Author: 
Robert Bryndza.
Paperback: 382 pages.
Publisher:
 Bookouture.
Date Published: June 2, 2016.
Date Read: May 30, 2018.


GOODREADS RATING: 
★★½☆  (3.5/5.0).

OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.4/4.0).

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

Sunday, June 10, 2018

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Nadal Wins 17th Major (11th French Open) By Beating Dominic Thiem






As I predicted, Spaniard Rafael Nadal won his 11th French Open title in Paris on Sunday, his 17th major overall by defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria by the score of 6-4 6-3 6-2. Nadal won the tournament by only dropping a single set (in the quarterfinals of Diego Schwartzman of Argentina).

HOW THE FINAL WAS WON
Thiem started off the match very badly, losing the first 6 points in a row and was broken immediately. However, quite surprisingly he was able to break back and even the score at 2-all. Games went on sere until Thiem was serving at 4-5 when suddenly he payed a horrible game, going down 0-40 (triple set point for Nadal) and lost the next point to lose the first set. He also got broken almost immediately in the second set ad it was basically all down hill from there, with another straight sets win for Nadal.

ANALYSIS OF THE RESULT
Amazingly, Federer and Nadal have won the last 6 major titles, both over the age of 30. It means that Nadal, 32, is still only 3 major titles behind Federer's 20, and is 5 years younger (Federer tuns 37 in August). Today's win also means Nadal maintains the possibility (perhaps even the likelihood) of eventually evening and perhaps surpassing Federer's total of major singles titles. I would argue that the fact that Nadal is clearly the best on clay ever and has won 11 of his 17 titles on clay actually is an argument AGAINST the claim that Nadal is te G.O.A.T. It demonstrates that the source of his greatness is his dominance of clay (which is amazing) but the same cannot be said for either Grass (where he has 2 Wimbledon titles to Federer's 8) or hardcourts (where he has 4 major titles: 3 US Open and 1 Australian to Federer's 11: 5 US Open and 6 Australian).

The baton now switches to Federer to see if he can raise the G.O.A.T stakes again by winning Wimbledon, like he did last year. Only time will tell.

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Men's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [4] vs. Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7].
Here are my predictions for the men's final at the 2018 French Open. Last year I correctly predicted Rafael Nadal would defeat Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 final. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals2 of 2 women's semifinals, 2 of 2 men's seminfinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.


MEN'S FINAL PREVIEW

Rafael Nadal (ESP) [1] d. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) [5] 6-4 6-1 6-2.  Surprisingly, this match was less competitive than the match Nadal played against a different Argentine, the diminutive Diego Schwartzman, in the previous round. Del Potro apparently suffered a hip injury midway through the first set and the ruthless Spaniard took advantage of the diminished mobility to punish and pummel Del Potro into submission.


Dominic Thiem (AUT) [7] d. Marco Cecchinato (ITA) 7-5 7-6(10) 6-1. nThis was a surprisingly competitive match between the #8 player in the world and someone barely into the Top 100. That is a strong statement in support of the play of the Italian, who had an almost magical run here in Paris which was just barely stopped before he could reach the final, but not before he has won several hundred thousamd Euros as an unseeded 2018 Roland Garros finalist.

MEN'S FINAL PREVIEW

Thiem is the only player to have won 2 sets on clay against Nadal in the same match in the last three years. He did it twice (2018 Madrid quarterfinals and 2017 Rome quarterfinal) and is clearly the second best clay court player in the world. However, the distance between the best player and the second best is huge, as Nadal has demonstrated time and time again. Nadal joins his nemesis/frenemy Roger Federer in the record books as the second man to play in 11 major finals on the same surface. (Federer has done it at Wimbledon, of course and is 8-3 with 1 loss to Nadal in 2008 and 2 losses to Novak Djkokovic in 2015 and 2016). Nadal is 11-0 in finals (and semifinals!) at Roland Garros and has only ever lost two matches there: 4th round to Robin Soderling in 2009 and in the quarterfinal of 2015.) It's hard to imagine  a more prohibitive favorite than Nadal. Amazingly, it would mean that for the second year n a row Federer and Nadal would have split the first two majors of the year between them.

MadProfessah's pick: Nadal.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

2018 FRENCH OPEN: Simona Halep Wins 1st Major (Over Sloane Stephens)







As I predicted, World #1 Simona Halep of Romania won her first major title today, defeating American Sloane Stephens 3-6 6-4 6-1. This was a seesaw match that resembled last year's final with Jelena Ostaphenko but this time Halep was the one who came back from a set and break down to even the match and then ran away with the deciding set as Stephens seemed to tire and lose focus as she lost the first five games and then avoided the bagel by holding once but lost the match when Halep easily served it out to win the championship.

Halep joins great players like Chris Evert and Kim Clijsters who lost their first 3 major finals and then went on to win multiple majors. She strengthens her case as the best player in the world, having been ranked #1 for most of the last year and is now also a major champion.

HOW THE FINAL WAS WON
The match began with Halep looking extremely tight and making several unforced errors in the first game. One of Stephens' strengths is her metal equanimity and she calmly broke early and consolidated it to go up 3-1. Play stayed on serve with Sloane making very few errors and Halep pressing and overhitting; she lost the set 6-3. She then had the worst possible start to the second set by losing her serve and Sloane again consolidated and went up 2-0. Then, amazingly in the 4th game, serving 2-1 up, Sloane appeared to get nervous and and started making errors to lose the next three games and go down 2-4. However, the plot twists continued because now Halep was unable to maintain her lead and was broken while serving up 4-3 and the score was tied all up at 4-all. Halep then held her serve and in the 10th game earned a breakpoint which was a set point. She won the point and the match was dead even. Stephens definitely looked shaken and Hlep looked determined. She got behind in the first service game of the third set but was able to hold and after that really didn't look back, racing out to a 5-0 lead and eventually won the match 6-1 in the 3rd.


2018 FRENCH OPEN: Women's Final Preview (and Semifinals Review)

Simona Halep (ROU) [1] vs Sloane Stephens (USA) [10]
Here is my predictions post for the women's final at the 2018 French Open. Last year I incorrectly predicted that Simona Halep would defeat Jelena Ostapenko. This year I correctly predicted 4 of 4 women's quarterfinals2 of 2 women's semifinals, 2 of 2 men's semifinals and 3 of 4 men's quarterfinals.

WOMEN'S SEMIFINALS REVIEW

Simona Halep (ROU) [1] dGarbiñe Muguruza (ESP) [3] 6-1 6-4.  This was expected to be a tough 3-setter but the World #1 ran away with the first set, doing to Muguruza what she did to Sharapova in her quarterfinal match. The second set was far more competitive, with Muguruza earning an early break but then was unable to maintain the advantage to the end of the set and was broken in the 8th game. The key turning point of the match was the epic 9th game with Halep serving. Muguruza had multiple breakpoints but was unable to convert, despite the fact Halep was missing more than two-thirds of her first serves. However eventually (after 13 minutes) she was able to hold and serving to stay in the match Muguruza faded quickly, succumbing to a love break to lose the set and the match.

Sloane Stephens (USA) [10] d. Madison Keys (USA) [13] 6-4 6-4This was a closer match than their match at the 2017 US Open final, because this time Madison could actually control some of her emotions and was able to show the hard-hitting tennis that makes her one of the most feared opponents on the WTA tour. But her good friend Sloane, who is just two years older (25 instead of 23) appears to be more than 2 year more mature than Madison and this shows in how they treat big matches. Sloane has only lost 1 set in her 6 tour finals she has appeared in, while Madison has only won 3 titles. Despite all that the match score line ended up being relatively close, even if the result of the match never felt much in doubt primarily due to the lack of unforced errors coming off the Sloane racquet compared to the large number Madison was hitting.


WOMEN'S FINAL PREVIEW

For the second time in the last three major tournaments both of these players will be appearing in their secod major final. Sloane at  the 2017 US Open while Halep's was at the 2018 Australian Open. (Halep is also appearing in her 3rd Roland-Garros final). Sloane is definitely the mentally tougher of the two, sporting a perfect 6-0 in WTA tour finals while Halep has a less than stellar 16-14 record in finals. However the two have played 7 times before and Halep leads 5-2. Interestingly, most pundits seem to be giving Stephens the edge in this match up but I'm not so sure. I'll be happy with either player winning, but I think I would be happier if Halep were to finally get that inaugural slam win and cement her standing at the top of the women's game. After all, if she loses her first four major finals that may start reducing the belief that she will actually win one of these eventually. Last year Halep was the prohibitive favorite against Jelena Ostapenko and played like it for a set and a half but when thing started to get tight Halep crumbled and lost after being up a set and a break ahead. I do believe she has learned from these experiences and the fact that Sloane is a known quantity should assist Halep in treating this like a regular tour match, in which case she would win easily. The problem is that it's not just a tour match and as the end of the match approaches I think Halep will have even more difficulty handling the pressure. However, with all that being said, I still give her the edge to (finally) win her first major title. PREDICTION: Halep. 

Friday, June 08, 2018

GRAPHIC: Per Capita Spending on Education in the United States

Education Week released its analysis of per capita spending on education by the various states in the Union. The national average is $12,526 but Utah spend $7,207 per student while Vermont ($20,795) and Alaska ($20,640) are at the very top. At this link you can mouse over the map and see how your state compares.

California is at $9,417.

Hat/tip to Education Week.

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