Friday, September 30, 2005
Arnold also signed 4 pro-gay rights pieces of legislation into law while he vetoed "the big enchilada." He enacted AB 1400 (sexual orientation and marital status categories added to the Unruh Civil Rights Act), AB 1586 (antidiscrimination based on gender and gender identity in health insurance plans), SB 973 (allows public employees who retired before January 1 2005 to receive death benefits available to them under the state's comprehensive domestic partnership bill) and SB 565 (insures domestic partners are treated the same as spouses under California property tax law). He had previously vetoed AB 866 (which included sexual orientation in the categories that those who sign the voluntary pledge provided for in the Code of Fair Campaign Practices could not use negative appeals).
The LGBT community in Los Angeles is planning a rally to protest the Governor's actions on Friday Sept 30 at 7pm in Hollywood, starting at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and walking to Arnold's star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Arnold also signed Assemblymember Dymally's bill AB 1142, which attempts to set up a statewide response to the HIV/AIDS crisis among African Americans. It's a confusing bill but it will be interesting to follow it now that it has been enacted into law.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Attention now moves to Bush's pick to replace O'Connor. The names of "crazy persons" like Priscilla Owens and Janice Rogers Brown are apparently on the short list. It could get very very interesting...
The only reason I have cable (after switching from Rupert Murdoch's DirecTV) is becaise Adelphia has a very cool TIVO-like feature built into its cable boxes called Moxi and includes both the Viacom queer channel "LOGO" as well as The Tennis Channel.
What's your beef with cable?
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
My question is, don't the exit numbers that are visible now seem sort of haphazard and confusing? On my way home up the 110 North, the exit to Avenue 52 is labelled "Exit 28A" but neither the exit before or after it has an exit number.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
However, I am still qualified to predict the final standings
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I would have liked to see "One and Only" (featuring Twista) although if they felt they needed to go with a really up tempo track I could live with "Your Girl."
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Apparently the meeting with Equality California and the Governor's office did not go well, since no public commitments on other pending legislation or the discriminatory anti-gay ballot measures were released.
BoifromTroy and others are claiming that EQCA is endangering other pro-gay legislation which the Governor will be considering soon. The question the strategy of putting pressure on the Governor by airing a television ad which compares his to notorious racist and civil rights foe George Wallace. However, as I have said, it's a more complicated issue than "EQCA did the wrong thing and Log Cabin did the right thing."
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Equality California has launched an entire campaign, called "Twelve Days Of Action" to mobilize the community to express its opinion on the pending legislation. In addition, they used a parliamentary procedure to delay the appearance of the passed legislation from the House to the Governor's Desk, thus giving Equality California more time to put pressure on the Governor.
The question is often framed as one of "realists" versus "activists." The realists take the position that one accepts the "facts on the ground" or the current version of reality. The activists believe that if one agitates enough, one can effect change in the current situation to produce more acceptable "facts."
If one believes that "politics is the art of the possible" it seems to me that the activists have the more persuasive position. However, this doesn't mean that all activism will be successful. Regardless of how much input activists provide to the Senate in the next few days, John Roberts will be the next Chief Justice of the United States. But this doesn't mean that activism is useless or that realists have a better grasp on reality. As usual, what it means is that this is not a binary proposition. One can be part-realist and part-activist.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The execrable Clarence Thomas holds the record (48) for votes cast in opposition to a nomination which passed the Senate, which had a clear majority of Democrats at the time.
I think Roberts will get thirty-one votes in opposition to his nomination.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
There are reports that "the Governator's people" have asked for a meeting with "our people" to discuss the ramification of his announced intention to veto AB 849 (Leno), the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2005. Wisely, Assembly Democrats have delayed delivery of the bill to the Governor's desk, allowing for a full 12 days of public comment before the Governor has the opportunity to make good on his threat. Before then, Geoffrey Kors the Executive Director and two members of the Board of Directors of Equality California (a board I served on for two years) will meet with the Governor next week.
What do you think they should tell the Governor?
Friday, September 16, 2005
The interesting aspect about the vote was that the same measure had previously passed 105-92 failed 39-157 this time. This is because opponents of same-sex marriage did not want to even allow same-sex couples the second class status of civil unions. In order to present a constitutional amendment it needs to pass two consecutive sessions of the state legislature sitting as a constitutional convention. By failing to pass the compromise amendment, opponents of equal marriage rights are hoping to end gay marriage in Massachusetts by getting 66, 000 voters to sign petitions, have 25% of the state legislature pass the measure in two consecutive sessions and thus vote on their constitutional marriage to enshrine heterosexual supremacist language in the state constitution in November 2008.
The summary is: gay marriages will be legal in Massachusetts until at least late 2008!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Clearly, Karl Rove knows things are not going well. Bush is going to speak to the nation from Louisiana this evening at 6pm PDT. What can he possibly say to make up for the federal government's incompetent actions?
Monday, September 12, 2005
It's taken me a long time to get around to do a full review of The Emancipation of Mimi.
- It's Like That. A killer beat provided by JD combined with ghetto fresh slang and catchy vocal arrangements.
- We Belong Together. Some of her best vocal stylings ever with a killer hook and coupled with a pitch perfect video.
- Shake It Off. A nondescript mid-tempo single with a slightly too-repetitive structure. At least one or two hooks away from being a hit.
- Mine Again. A nicely written jazzy ballad infused with a powerful vocal performance.
- Say Something (featuring Snoop Dogg). A mediocre up-tempo track.
- Stay The Night. A somewhat repetitive track with an interesting sonic texture, supported by a heartfelt vocal performance but negatively impacted by trite lyrics.
- Get Your Number (featuring Jermaine Dupri). An attempt at a light up tempo pop-dance hit single with a very fun spoken word bridge by Mariah and an unfortunate vocal contribution by JD which veers on self-parody.
- One And Only (featuring Twista). A very nice track which garners its strength from the successful blend of the vocal styles of Twista (supersonic rap) and Mariah (mellifluous singing).
- Circles. Very strong lyrically and vocally, but seems a bit too frothy and catchy for its own good.
- Your Girl. A faux old-school mid-tempo track with a very catchy vocal hook and not much else.
- I Wish You Knew. Mariah pulls out all the stops on this power ballad: spoken bridge, audience samples, whistle voice. The overall impact is somewhat less than the sum of the parts would suggest.
- To The Floor. An absolutely wretched up-tempo track with the only boring beat ever conceived by the Neptunes.
- Joy Ride. A very strong slow song with a deceptively simple structure but a compelling emotional impact powered by one of her strongest vocal performances on this CD.
- Fly Like A Bird. For the final track, Mariah wants to end on a high note (literally) but thankfully she leaves it to her backing choir to do the honors. The song is a nice combination of elements: jazzy vocals, gospel choir, simple song structure and inspirational lyrics
I should put this review in context by saying that I have been and continue to be a huge Mariah Carey fan. I think that Charmbracelet was an under-rated CD ("Clown" and "Through The Rain" are two of her best-written songs in her oeuvre). On Emancipation of Mimi I would say the stand out tracks are "We Belong Together," "Joy Ride," "Fly Like A Bird," "Circles," "One and Only" and "It's Like That."
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Kim Clijsters got the largest paycheck in women's sports: $2.2 million for winning the US Open and placing first in the US Open Series of tournaments leading up to it. She beat Mary Pierce very convincingly, 6-3, 6-1 in 65 minutes. Kim silenced the critics who said that she was "too nice" to win a Grand Slam title. Her win leaves Amelie Mauresmo as the only Number 1 player in the world never to have won a major championship.
Roger Federer showed everyone just what an amazing player he is in today's final. Despite not playing his best tennis (he was down 4-2 in the 3rd set before breaking back and holding serve to reach at tie-breaker which he clinched by winning the last seven points in a row). He did this while playing against Andre Agassi, one of the few men ever to win every single major championship in a career, eventually winning 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-1. This is Federer's 6th major title (2005 US, 2005 Wimbledon, 2004 US, 2004 Wimbledon, 2004 Australian, and 2003 Wimbledon) and 23rd consecutive win in a tournament final. He is now tied with Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker and one behind Mats Wilander and John McEnroe for most major titles won. Pete Sampras has 14, but Federer is 24 years old.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Pierce vs Dementieva, surprisingly was NOT a blow-out. Dementieva served surprisingly well and demonstrated exactly how important good movement can blunt extreme power. In the end, Pierce won 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
In today's Women's Final I predict that Pierce will not disintegrate like she did in the French Opem final versus Justine Henin-Hardenne a few months ago. She will still lose to the resurgent Clijsters in 3 sets, though. Kim will finally win her first Grand Slam title, before she retires at the end of 2007.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Finally, 10 days into the final grand slam of the year the upsets begin: Mary Pierce defeats Amèlie Mauresmo in straight sets (6-4, 6-1). But the upset of the year is Elena Dementieva defeating Lindsay Davenport 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(6) after facing a match point on Lindsay's serve at 6-5 in the tie-break! Lindsay looked slow, confused and uninspired. Elena showed how mentally tough and what an incredible mover she is. Despite her truly pathetic serve, her forehand and backhand can be hit as hard or harder than Davenport, whose hitting of the ball is legendary.
I didn't see the Mauresmo-Pierce match, but that appears to have been relatively high quality with few errors and few winners.
Otherwise reasonable people seem to lose their mind and grip on rationality when this issue comes up. Take for example, members of the California Legislature. My own State Senator, a former College President, Jack Scott did not vote with 21 of his other Democratic colleagues to support AB 849.
Less than 24 hours after the historic passage of a bill to legalize gay marriage, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he would veto the bill:
"In Governor Schwarzenegger's personal life and work in public service, he has considered no undertaking to be more noble than the cause of civil rights. He believes that gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship. He is proud that California provides the most rigorous protections in the nation for domestic partners.
"Five years ago the matter of same-sex marriage was placed before the people of California. The people voted and the issue is now before the courts. The Governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action - which would be unconstitutional - but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state. We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote. Out of respect for the will of the people, the Governor will veto AB 849."
Of course, this is just intellectually dishonest! Even if Arnold allowed AB 849 to become law without his signature the "people of California" would still have the opportunity to vote on the question of whether the state will recognize same-sex relationships equivalently to heterosexual marriage, probably by June 2006.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
These results follow my previous predictions, and I expect to see a Clijsters-Davenport final on Saturday night. More details later on whom I expect to win that match.
In Wednesday's Quarterfinals Davenport will beat Dementieva in 2 sets and Mauresmo will beat Pierce in 3. Agassi will beat Blake in a classic Men's Quarterfinal.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
During the day was a very good looking men's match. Both James Blake and Tommy Robredo are two of the most handsome players on the tour. They have similar styles: big forehands, good serves and amazing mobility and speed around the court. However, in the end Blake won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2,6-3. He plays Agassi on Wednesday in his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
On the women's side the quarterfinals are set: Davenport vs Dementieva, Mauresmo vs Pierce, Sharapova vs Petrova and Venus Williams vs Clijsters.
Of the 8 quarterfinalists, I predicted 7 of them (Dementieva is the only surprise). The semi-finals will be Davenports vs Mauresmo and Sharpova vs Clijsters. I'm not ready to call it yet, but I think it might be a Clijsters vs Davenport final. I'll say more after Day 9.
Monday, September 05, 2005
The Line of Beauty. The first gay-themed novel written by an openly gay author to win the most prestigious book prize behind the Nobel Prize: the Man Booker Prize. Hollinghurst's The Swimming-Pool Library is a classic of 8o's gay fiction. I read it years ago and recalled it to be a engagingly prurient romp. Unfortunately The Line of Beauty, although prurient is decidely not engaging. It is the story of an ambitious, over-educated gay graduate of Oxford who finagles his fascination with his schoolmate who is the hunky scion of a Conservative Member of Parliament to a complicated pseudo-familial association with the entire kinship network of his object of desire. The book is set in Thatcherite England, which coincided with the height of the AIDS epidemic. The overall plot of the book is engrossing but the protagonist, Nick Guest is quite unlikeable and the effect is quite distancing. I found myself unpleasantly drained after finishing the novel.
Saturday. A couple of years ago I read Ian Mcewan's novel Atonement and enjoyed it very much. He really is a great writer, as many many people agree. I read an excerpt of his latest work, Saturday in the New Yorker earlier this year and asked for the book for my birthday. While stuck in Denver International Airport for an extra 5 hours due to summer thunderstorms I made great headway through the book. It is about one day in the life of Henry Perowne, a London brain surgeon who waes up very early and sees a 747 jet on fire as it approaches Heathrow airport on a significant Saturday in Spring 2003: there's a huge peace rally scheduled for London that day. Perowne has a small circle of relationships: his wife, his teen-aged son, his aneasthetist, his daughter, his wife's father, his Alzheimer-afflicted mother. McEwan works his magic with this limited cast of characters to present what seems like a stunningly real set of interactions and feelings that the reader loses the sense of reading fiction and becomes immersed in the story. When I finally reached my destination I could not put the book down and by the time I left a few days later I left the book with my partner so he could get a better sense of what I had been regaling him with for days. McEwan won his Booker Prize for Amsterdam, which I haven't read yet, but definitely intend to!
The Kite Runner. It seemed like everyone had a copy of this book. I didn't really know what it was about, but then a friend said that the relationship between two pre-pubescent boys in 1970s Afghanistan was at the core of the novel and I became interested. Khaled Hossein does an excellent job of portraying the complex and multi-layered nature of not only the relationship between the boys, but also between their fathers and between the fathers and sons. Father-son tensions, expectations and responsibilities are the real center of the novel. They provide a powerful emotional connection to any reader. In the end the plot heads to a harrowing climax, which seems a bit far-fetched but still leaves a lingering impression.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. This is a very fun book for anyone who is interested in mathematics and/or mysteries. It starts with the appearance of a dead dog with a garden fork sticking out of it. The story is told from the viewpoint of a probably autistic 15 year old boy living in the suburbs of London. The boy, named Christopher, is very interested and good at mathematics, so for example the chapters are numbered using prime numbers instead of regular ordinal numbers. It's surprisingly compelling to view a number of important events which happen to Christopher through his eyes and empathize with his experience. I liked the book so much that I gave my copy of the book to my niece, which is what I think one should do with art that one likes--recommend and share it with others.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.The sixth Harry Potter novel is another huge book of adventures of the petulant, teenaged wizard. It is also a much darker story than the other books in the series, with the death of an incredibly significant character. It does leave a lot of questions unanswered for the seventh and last book, like "Is Snape good or bad?", "Can Harry beat Voldemort?", "Will Hermione and Ron become a couple?" and "What will happen to the Weasleys and Hogwarts?" Overall the book was a fun read, but it did seem somewhat similar to the two previous books.
Venus broke first in the opening set but then when she served for the set at 5-4 played a completely horrible service and lost it at love. Venus saved two set points against her in her service game with some good first serves. In the tiebreak Venus was the more aggressive of the two, coming to the net behind powerful groundstrokes to Serena's backhand and won on her first set point.
In the second set, Serena's reduced mobility either due to fitness or her left knee injury was exposed as more errors flew off her racket. The story can be told through the match statistics: Venus has 29 errors, 19 winners and Serena had 30 errors, 17 winners. They both approached the net 11 times, Venus won 9 of those points, Serena only won 5.
On Monday there will be a classic match: Henin-Hardenne versus Pierce along with two other interesting matches: Mauresmo vs Likhovtseva and Schnyder versus Dementieva.
Tuesday will be Women's Quarterfinals Day, and I'll have a longer analysis of the matches to see if they follow my pre-tournament predictions.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Thanks to Chris at MyDD you can see how our unpopular president's poll numbers have tanked recently. And this is before his criminal mismanagement of the Katrina Disaster.
I just saw Senator Schumer (D-NY) suggest that Bush nominate former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for Chief Justice. It is an intriguing idea and could probably be done before the start of the term. However, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) demurred and mentioned O'Connor's ailing husband, which was the announced rationale for her July retirement from the nation's top court.
Day 6's highlight was James Blake's convincing victory over World #2 Rafael Nadal. The score was 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, with 4 sets of thrilling tennis.
On the women's side, the results have followed the seeding, except for Myskina losing to Likhovtseva. Somehow, Dementieva is still in the tournament, winning a final set tiebreaker against Chakvetadze. However, she's in Davenport's quarter of the draw, so it's doubtful she'll even get past her 4th round match against Schnyder.
Other good looking 4th round matches are Sharapova vs Mirza and Henin-Hardenne vs Pierce.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Black Tennis Report. Both Serena and Venus got through their second round matches. Serena looked improved, winning 6-2, 6-2 against Catalina Castano. Tellingly, she had an equal number of winners and errors: 25. Those are good numbers for her. Venus had a tougher opponent in Maria Kirilenko but still dispatched her 6-1, 6-3. She was hitting amazing winners from all over the court, regardless of the difficult conditions. I predict they will meet in the fourth round, with Venus winning a sloppy match in three sets.
19 year old Scoville Jenkins from Atlanta (pictured above) played an admirable match against World #2 Rafael Nadal, losing in three tough sets 7-5, 6-4, 6-4. He showed vast improvement from his beatdown last year in the first round against Andy Roddick, where he looked like a deer in the headlights of the Arthur Ashe Stadium. This year he was in the tournament longer than Andy!
Shenay Perry won a tough first set against Marion Bartoli, but then seemed to run out of gas, winning only one more game. The final score was 4-6, 6-1, 6-0. James Blake plays Thursday against Igor Andreeb of Russia.
With anti-discrimination having been shepherded through the legislature, the state's 6-member LGBT Caucus turns its attention to reviving the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act (AB 849, formerly AB 19) by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco).