Wednesday, September 20, 2017

GODLESS WEDNESDAY: 24% Of Americans Are Religiously Unaffiliated

For today's Godlesss Wednesday post I want to return to the topic of how the demographics of religious identity are changing in the United States. A report from the PRRI (Public Religion Research Institute) titled "America's Changing Religious Identity"  released on September 6 2017 chronicles these changes. Some of the findings are:



  • White Christians, 81 percent of the population in 1976, now account for less than half the public — 43 percent of Americans identify as white Christians, and 30 percent as white Protestants.
  • 92 percent of Lutherans are white, more than in any other denomination.
  • White Christians are aging. About 1 in 10 white Catholics, evangelicals and mainline Protestants are under 30, compared with one-third of all Hindus and Buddhists.
  • Muslims and Mormons are the youngest faith groups in the U.S., with 42 percent of all Muslims under 3o, and nearly a quarter of all Mormons.
The PRRI report is based on a survey of 101,000 Americans in all 50 states and has a margin of error of 0.5 percentage points. Another big take-away from the report is that no single religious group in the United States is larger than the group of "religiously unaffiliated," which makes up 24% of the population.

This is awesome news!

Monday, September 18, 2017

EYE CANDY: Juan Esteban Berri (3rd time!)





Juan Esteban Berri is a model and actor from Colombia who has appeared as Eye Candy twice before (October 22, 2012 and January14, 2013). He has been listed as 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds and was born in 1980, so he is 37 now. Juan has an Instagram account (@juanesberrio) and is on Facebook (juanesberrio).

Enjoy!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

2017 EMMYS: My Predictions in Major Categories


The Primetime Emmy awards will be given out tonight in Los Angeles. The show will be aired live on CBS at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT. This is the post where I discuss my predictions in the most prestigious categories. The one that I would vote for is in blue and the one I think will win is in red.

Outstanding drama series

  • “The Crown” (Netflix)
  • “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  • “Westworld” (HBO)
  • “Stranger Things” (Netflix)
  • “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
  • “House of Cards” (Netflix)

This is the first season of Westworld, The Crown, This Is Us, Stranger Things and The Handmaid's Tale.  I have watched all of these shows but I am a season behind  Better Call Saul and House of Cards. To me, the show that had the most impact on my emotionally was The Handmaid's Tale, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to get through an episode of This Is Us without weeping. The most creative of the shows on this list is Stranger Things while The Crown is the guiltiest pleasure. The show I am most looking forward to seeing the next season of is Westworld. What I'm trying to say is that basically every show on this list has a good reason to win.

SHOULD WIN: The Handmaid's Tale.
WILL WIN: This Is Us.

Outstanding lead actor in a drama series

  • Sterling K. Brown, “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • Matthew Rhys, “The Americans” (FX)
  • Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
  • Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan” (Showtime)
  • Anthony Hopkins, “Westworld” (HBO)
  • Milo Ventimiglia, “This Is Us” (NBC)
  • Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul” (AMC)
Milo Ventimiglia has garnered most of the attention of the actors on This Is Us but Sterling Brown is the character that I most identify with (he plays a nerdy Black guy adopted by white parents whose primary story arc on the show involves his connection with his birth father.

SHOULD WIN: Sterling K. Brown.
WILL WIN: Sterling K. Brown.

Outstanding lead actress in a drama series

  • Claire Foy, “The Crown” (Netflix)
  • Keri Russell, “The Americans” (FX)
  • Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
  • Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC)
  • Robin Wright, “House of Cards” (Netflix)
  • Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld” (HBO)
Last year, Tatiana Masliany won for her amazing portrayal of multiple clones on Orphan Black. This year Claire Foy has been getting plaudits for playing Queen Elizabeth. Oscar winner Viola Davis won this category 2 years ago.  Robin Wright has been nominated for every season of House of Cards and has never won.

SHOULD WIN: Elisabeth Moss.
WILL WIN: Viola Davis.

Outstanding comedy series
  • “Black-ish” (ABC)
  • “Atlanta” (FX)
  • “Veep” (HBO)
  • “Master of None” (Netflix)
  • “Silicon Valley” (HBO)
  • “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
  • “Modern Family” (ABC)
The nominees in this category are Atlanta and Master of None, two comedies helmed by two comedians of color, Donald Glover and Aziz Ansari. I have never seen an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt but I know that Tina Fey is an executive producer and people rave about it. I have seen Veep, Silicon Valley, Black-ish and Modern Family but have not seen all of the latest season of each of these shows. Veep ended the dominance of Modern Family last year and  is expected to do so again. I have been watching episodes of Black-ish on flights and have gained grudging respect for the show.

SHOULD WIN: Black-ish.
WILL WIN: Veep.

Outstanding lead actor in a comedy series  
  • Donald Glover, “Atlanta” (FX)
  • Anthony Anderson, “Blackish” (ABC)
  • Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent” (Amazon)
  • Aziz Ansari, “Master of None” (Netflix)
  • William H. Macy, “Shameless” (Showtime)
  • Zach Galifianakis, “Baskets” (FX)

SHOULD WIN: Donald Glover.
WILL WIN: Jeffrey Tambor.

Outstanding lead actress in a comedy series
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” (HBO)
  • Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish” (ABC)
  • Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix)
  • Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie” (Netflix)
  • Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)
  • Allison Janney, “Mom” (CBS)
  • Pamela Adlon, “Better Things” (FX)
SHOULD WIN: Tracee Ellis Ross.
WILL WIN: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Outstanding limited series
  • “The Night Of” (HBO)
  • “Big Little Lies” (HBO)
  • “Fargo” (FX)
  • “Feud: Bette and Joan” (FX)
  • “Genius” (National Geographic)
I quite enjoyed watching The Night Of  last fall and Riz Ahmed and John Turturro were riveting. But Big Little Lies was quite compelling and fascinating to watch Oscar-calibre performances from Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley. Fargo's 3rd season was well below the extremely high level set by the first two seasons.

SHOULD WIN: The Night Of.
WILL WIN: Big Little Lies.

Friday, September 15, 2017

CELEBRITY FRIDAY: Edie Windsor, 88, Is Dead


Edith Windsor was the named plaintiff in the landmark civil rights lawsuit, Windsor v. United States, which challenged the constitutionality of the 1996 "Defense of Marriage Act." In 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down DOMA and two years later marriage equality was the law of the land following another high court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Windsor died this week at age 88, and President Barack Obama issued a statement in memoriam:
America’s long journey towards equality has been guided by countless small acts of persistence, and fueled by the stubborn willingness of quiet heroes to speak out for what’s right.  
Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America. 
I had the privilege to speak with Edie a few days ago, and to tell her one more time what a difference she made to this country we love.  She was engaged to her partner, Thea, for forty years.  After a wedding in Canada, they were married for less than two.  But federal law didn’t recognize a marriage like theirs as valid – which meant that they were denied certain federal rights and benefits that other married couples enjoyed.  And when Thea passed away, Edie spoke up – not for special treatment, but for equal treatment – so that other legally married same-sex couples could enjoy the same federal rights and benefits as anyone else. 
In my second inaugural address, I said that if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.  And because people like Edie stood up, my administration stopped defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in the courts.  The day that the Supreme Court issued its 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor was a great day for Edie, and a great day for America – a victory for human decency, equality, freedom, and justice.  And I called Edie that day to congratulate her. 
Two years later, to the day, we took another step forward on our journey as the Supreme Court recognized a Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality.  It was a victory for families, and for the principle that all of us should be treated equally, regardless of who we are or who we love. 
I thought about Edie that day.  I thought about all the millions of quiet heroes across the decades whose countless small acts of courage slowly made an entire country realize that love is love – and who, in the process, made us all more free.  They deserve our gratitude.  And so does Edie.  
Michelle and I offer our condolences to her wife, Judith, and to all who loved and looked up to Edie Windsor.
Hat/tip to Talking Points Memo

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

TUESDAY TENNIS: Nadal,Federer Top 2 Again; Two #1's from Spain; Two Young Black Phenoms Advance



NADAL & FEDERER BACK AT #1 AND #2 IN ATP RANKINGS
Look at the calendar. It's 2017, but look at the ATP rankings. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are at the top of the rankings again, although this time it is Nadal at #1 and Federer at #2. Federer was briefly at #2 last year in May 2016 but the two have not been in this particular position since 2009. Nadal and Federer have played the fewest tournaments of any player in the Top 10, but they have the most points, since both have won 2 majors and 2 Masters shields this year. Novak Djokovic is out of the Top 5 for the first time since 2007! 2017 U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta makes his debut in the Top 10 at #10.

SPANISH PLAYERS LEAD ATP (NADAL) AND WTA (MUGURUZA) RANKINGS
With Nadal at the top of the ATP rankings and Garbine Muguruza the new #1 on the WTA tour (thanks to Karolina Pliskova failing to repeat her U.S. Open final appearance in 2017) Spain has the top players in the world. The last country to do this was the United States, way back in 2003, when Andre Agassi and Serena Williams were #1 simultaneously. Muguruza is the 24th woman to head the WTA rankings since they began in the mid 1970s.

STEPHENS BECOMES SECOND UNSEEDED PLAYER IN 2017 TO WIN MAJOR
Following in the footsteps of Jelena Ostapenko at the 2017 French Open, Sloane Stephens became the second unseeded player to win a major tournament in 2017 when she beat Madison Keys in the U.S. Open final. Stephens will move up to #17 (up from 957 at the beginning of the year) while Keys is at #12. Venus Williams is at #5, while Serena Williams is down to #2.

FELIX JOINS ELITE GROUP OF YOUNG PHENOMS TO REACH TOP 200 BEFORE 18
17-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, who shares a birthday with Roger Federer (19 years later) has made history by wining his second ATP challenger title and rising to #168 in the rankings. Only rafael Nadal, Rihcard Gasquet and JuanMartin del Potro have achieved a similar feat. That's a nice list to be on. Canada now has two teenage phenoms to be proud of, Felix and Denis Shapovalov, who beat Nadal earlier this summer and reaches the 3rd round of the U.S. Open after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

AFRICAN-AMERICAN CORI GAUFF REACHES U.S. OPEN GIRLS FINAL AT AGE 13!
In other phenomenal Black youth tennis news, American Cori ('CoCo") Gauff reached the U.S. Open girls final at age 13, where she lost to another American, Amanda Anisimova. The future (of American tennis) is so bright, we gotta wear shades!

Monday, September 11, 2017

2017 US OPEN: Nadal Wins 16th Major



As I expected, Rafael Nadal defeated Kevin Anderson 6-3 6-4 6-4 to win the 2017 U.S. Open, claiming his 16th major title and 3rd in New York. He improved to 16-7 in major finals and reached the finals of 3 of the four majors in 2017, thus cementing his hold on the World #1 ranking for the year. Only Gilles Muller was able to beat him before the final round of a major this year, and that took an extraordinary 28-game final set. Roger Federer  and Nadal split the majors this year, with Federer winning the Australia Open (d. Nadal) and Wimbledon (d. Marin Cilic), and Nadal winning the French (d. Stan Wawrinka) and the U.S. Open. The other members of the big four, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray failed to reach a major final in 2017 and have basically ceded the rest of the season to their older rivals.

Nadal's win means that just like this point last year, Nadal, 31, and Federer, 36, are again 3 major titles apart, but instead of being at 17 and 14 they have both separated themselves from the previous greats of the sport (Pete Sampras at 14) and now they are at 19 and 16 with the very real possibility they will both reach the once-inconceivable number of 20 singles slams each. Who will be the G.OA.T.?

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