Wednesday, May 31, 2006

FOOD: Yang Chow Slippery Shrimp

Wow! I think I have a new favorite food! Last night, to celebrate my return to the gym after a near 2-month hiatus I went to Yang Chow restaurant in Pasadena. I had heard from that Yang Chow's Slippery Shrimp was the worst kept secret in Los Angeles and have been looking for cheap and excellent Chinese food for awhile. Previously I had enjoyed Oak Tree Inn on Fair Oaks Avenue in nearby South Pasadena but I think they have diminished in quality recently. I'm still looking for a really good cheap and excellent Indian restaurant, and of course my long quest for decent (East) Caribbean/West Indian food in Los Angeles has been well-documented on this blog. Anyway, I ordered the slippery shrimp (seen in the picture) and the braised string beans with steamed rice. The shrimp is succulent, slightly spicy and slightly sweet simultaeneously while the beans are crunchy and slightly salty with a savoury sauce--a fantastic counterpoint.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Musical Chairs On The California Ballot June 6

The Insurance Commissioner is running for Lieutenant Governor.
The Lieutenant Governor is running for Insurance Commissioner.
The Controller and the Treasurer are running for Governor.
The Attorney General is running for Treasurer.
A former Governor is running for Attorney General!

Thanks, term limits! 7 more days until the Statewide Primary Election. I've been filling out my absentee ballot and will have more official endorsements in all statewide races later in the week.

FRENCH OPEN 2006: Day 1

Mashona Washington from Houston, Texas had 3 match points against Maria Sharapova yesterday at the French Open but ended up losing 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 after leading 5-2 in the third set! The match was almost 2 and a half hours long. Through the first two sets Mashona not only had more winners than errors, she had more winners than Sharapova!
This was one of the best women's t matches of the year. Mashona was hitting winners from every corner of the court, oftentimes on the stretch. Sharapova led 6-2, 3-1 before Mashona even had her first break point. Two of the three match points were on Mashona's serve, but were denied by winners from Sharapova. A truly great match.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Director Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand opened Friday. I saw it at the Grauman's Chinese Theaters in Hollywood yesterday.

Clearly, the screenwriters, Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, XXX)
and Zak Penn (X2, Elecktra), took the subtitle "The Last Stand" pretty seriously because the story makes profligate use with some beloved characters' lives and powers by making some permanent decisions about their futures. Usually this is a tactic which heightens suspense in a thrilling way (c.f. this season's 24) but if it is overused then it actually reduces narrative tension because then the audience expects the main character to not surivive (c.f. the series finale of Alias). Unfortunately, in The Last Stand the device is used enough times so that the results are more like the latter than the former.

Almost all the reviews of the film comment approvingly on the stunning visual effects of the film, but those are expected and de rigeur for any summer blockbuster in the post Lord of the Rings movie marketplace. No, what ultimately disappoints is the lack of emotional resonance of the plot.


Saturday, May 27, 2006


Roland Garros, the 2006 French Open, starts on Sunday May 28. It becomes the first major tennis tournament to be scheduled over 15 days. The draw has been released.

World #1 Roger Federer has a rather tough draw, and is scheduled to play unseeded Arnaud Clement in the first round. Others in his quarter of the draw are pulchritudinous Tommy ("Tete") Robredo and blogger Jose ("Chucho") Acasuso who have both won clay tournaments this year. Other interesting first round matches to watch are Gael Monfils versus Andy Murray and Acacuso versus Fabrice Santoro.

On the Women's Side, World #1 and reigning Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo opens versus American Meghann Shaughnessy. Also in her quarter of the draw are Venus Williams (11), Nicole Vaidisova (16) and Patty Schnyder (7). Maria Sharapova (4) has another Slam with a lovely draw ahead of her, beginning with American Mashona Washington in the first round with really only Svetlana Kuznetsova (8) or Francesca Schiavone (9) to potentially cause her trouble. Nadia Petrova (3), the hottest player on clay so far in 2006, was unfortunate to have defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne (5) in her quarter of the draw. In the bottom of the draw Kim Clijsters (2) is even more unlucky to be in the section of the draw with the resurgent Martina Hingis (12). Also in that section is 2004 finalist Elena Dementieva (6) who may face a round of 16 matchup with the Swiss Miss.

First Round Matches to Watch: Hingis versus American Lisa Raymond, Ana Ivanovic (19) versus Samantha Stosur, Sania Mirza versus 2004 Champion Anastasia Myskina (10) and Dinara Safina (14) versus Vera Zvonareva.

Friday, May 26, 2006

CHESS: Topalov Wins M-Tel Super Tournament

Veselin Topalov overcame a slow start to win the M-Tel Masters in Sofia, Bulgaria with a score of 6.5/10 (+3) by winning his last four games decisively. Gata Kamsky was second a half-point behind, having lost (with the White pieces!) to Topalov in the final round. The current World Champion cemented his lead ahead of rival Viswanathan Anand, who ended up 3rd at 5.5/10.

La Opinion Endorses Elena Popp for AD 45

I've been out of town most of the week back East at an invitation-only conference on the Mathematics of Social Justice at Lafayette College outside Philadelphia. However, I arrived with this interesting news: La Opinión has endorsed Elena Popp as the most qualified candidate for the 45th California State Assembly district seat to replace Jackie Goldberg.
La disputa por la nominación demócrata para reemplazar a Jackie Goldberg en la Asamblea estatal enfrenta a cuatro candidatos que ofrecen atractivos distintos y cada uno se ha ganado con esfuerzo esta oportunidad para representar al Distrito 45 en Sacramento. De todos ellos creemos que la abogada Elena Popp es la más cualificada para ir a Sacramento. Por eso: ¡Vote por Elena Popp para el Distrito 45 de la Asamblea!
I believe this can be translated into English as:
The contest for the democratic nomination to replace Jackie Goldberg in the state Assembly features four candidates who offer different strengths and each one has worked hard to earn this opportunity to represent District 45 in Sacramento. Of all of them we think that lawyer Elena Popp is most qualified to go to Sacramento. For that reason: Vote for Elena Popp for District 45 of the Assembly!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Angelides for Governor

As many of you who read my blog regularly must know, I have been agonizing for months as to which candidate to endorse for Governor (I doubt Arnold was holding his breath). I have made my decision, and although it was a tough one I feel good about it. As the title of this post indicates and as you might have been able to tell from the way I have been blogging about the race recently, I have decided Phil Angelides shoul be the next Governor of California. One of the deciding points in his favor was not the Los Angeles Times endorsement but this endorsement by L.A. Weekly columnist Harold Meyerson:

As treasurer, Angelides has been the most influential public figure in determining the investment policies of the state’s two main public-employee pension funds, CalPERS and CalSTIRS, which are the two largest pension funds in the nation. As such, while exercising his fiduciary responsibility to ensure a good rate of return, Angelides has also steered investments into inner-city and inner-ring-suburban development, into densification along transit corridors, into small businesses and renewable-energy technology. And as the main voice for funds that are often among the largest shareholders in corporations, he’s been an outspoken and influential force for reducing CEO pay. (He was the first official, for instance, to demand that the New York Stock Exchange rescind the ridiculous platinum parachute it bestowed on Richard Grasso, its departing CEO.)

In short, like New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (now running for governor in his state), Angelides has used his power to try to curtail the excesses of winner-take-all capitalism, and to establish a more socially responsible capitalism in its stead. For that matter, Angelides and Spitzer are just about the only elected officials at any level of government to have taken on the culture of boardroom chicanery during the past decade, and Angelides stands alone, alas, for the magnitude of his efforts to put capital to remunerative but also socially necessary purposes.

California’s treasurer ain’t nobody’s shrinking violet. During the energy crisis, he called for the creation of a state energy company to serve as a yardstick for the private companies that were then robbing California blind. He criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budgets when no one else was criticizing Schwarzenegger at all. And he advocates raising taxes on the rich and corporations to improve the state’s schools.


Angelides is not the sum of human virtue. He’s brilliant and not shy about letting you know it. He’s micromanaged his own sometime-meandering campaign in a way that might portend problems if he’s elected governor. But the conventional media wisdom, that there’s really no difference between the two Democratic candidates for governor, is deeply wrong — wrong as only the conventional media wisdom can be. In a timid time, Phil Angelides has a clear record as a bold liberal.

Now, let's just see whether California will decide they want a bold liberal to be Governor.

Tommy Robredo Wins Hamburg Masters

Happy Birthday to me! :-) Tommy Robredo won the Hamburg Masters final against Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 on Sunday. Robredo first Masters Series win cements him into the ATP Tour Top 10 for the first time in his career and makes him a real contended for the French Open title which starts Sunday May 28th in Paris. I think that Robredo is probably the best looking men's tennis player in the Top 50 (definitely top 5). Happily, he was so full of joy when he won that he stripped of his rather fey acquamarine shirt and threw it into the crowd.

UPDATE: Check out Tommy Robredo's blog at for the back story of how he came to strip his shirt off after winning his first Masters Series title (and more hot pictures of the man whose nickname is"Tete"!)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Venus Bagels Martina But Loses Match!

Venus Williams won her first ever 6-0 set against Martina Hingis in the Italian Open semifinal in Rome. Venus then proceeded to make 41 unforced errors (20 winners) to lose the match 0-6, 6-3, 6-3! Hingis will be ranked in the Top 20 on Monday regardless of how she does in her second WTA tour final of the year against Dinara Safina who took out Svetlana Kuznetsova 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the earlier semifinal match.
The next major tournament starts on Monday May 29th in Paris: Roland Garros.

Ahnuld's Fake Minimum Wage Increase

Governor Arnold ("Ahhhhnuld") Schwarzenegger proposed a $1 increase in California's minimum wage, from $6.75 to $7.75 an hour on Thursday. Critics reacted with disbelief. In previous years, Schwarzenegger has twice vetoed bills passed by the State Legislature to increase the minimum wage and index future increases to inflation. Geem Arnold's proposal couldn't have anything to do with the fact that he's running for re-election could it?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Is Venus Back?

Thanks to youtube, we can now see highlights of this pivotal Hingis-V. Williams match from the J&S Cup in Warsaw a few weeks ago. Check out this clip and tell me that Venus is not very motivated to be playing tennis and beating her rival.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Angelides Wins LA TIMES endorsement

In Sunday's Los Angeles Times Phil Angelides won the newspaper's endorsement in his race for the Democratic nomination for Governor.
That candidate is Phil Angelides. He may lack charisma, but he doesn't lack conviction, and he has been unwavering in his criticism of quick fixes and false budget promises. He has more experience in state office than Westly, whose "fix-it" approach to government is appealing at first but on closer inspection appears shallow.

Angelides may be dull, but he is not shallow. His commitment to healthcare reform, education, environmental protection and fiscal responsibility are real. We are wary of his quick jump to taxes but acknowledge some respect for his willingness to tell it as he sees it. We are not fans of his website's childish anti-Schwarzenegger cartoon. But we are confident Angelides is better than his website. He is the best Democratic candidate to challenge the governor and debate the future of California.
This is a significant achievement by the Angelides campaign. I know I promised earlier I would have my endorsement by Tuesday the 16th but I am having real difficulty deciding who to back. People I trust and respect have signed up with both camps (Weho City Coucilman John Duran, LA Gay and Lesbian Center head Lorri Jean and Equality California for Westly; Vincent Jones and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and the Democratic party "establishment" for Angelides). I hope to now have a decision by next Tuesday, but I can't promise anything because I'm off to the East Coast for a conference on the Mathematics of Social Justice most of next week. I have received my absentee ballot and will be blogging more about that over the weekend.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

TODAY is International Day Against Homophobia Day

As I mentioned over the weekend, May 17 has been declared the International Day Against Homophobia (cleverly acronymized to IDAHO).

Interestingly, May 17 2006 is the second anniversary of the date that same-sex couples could begin to get legally married in Massachusetts.

The organizers of IDAHO chose May 17 as the anniversary of the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association has made a PSA available on its website for IDAHO. You can access it here.

Pass the word along! May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia!

Chess News: Super-Tournament Underway, Olympiad Begins May 20

The 2006 M-Tel Masters is currently being held in Sofia, Bulgaria from May 10th to May 21. Most of the big boys are there: Topalov (World #1, rated 2804), Anand (#2, 2803), Svidler (#4, 2743), Ponomariov (#6 ,2738) as well as Etienne Bacrot (2708) and Gata Kamsky (2671). With 4 of the top 6 chess players in the world, the tournament has an average rating of 2747, making it a Category 20 tournament. Currently Anand and Kamsky are in the lead at the halfway point, tied at +2 with 3.5/5 each, one full point ahead of World Champion Topalov and Svidler tied at 2.5/5 with Bacrot and Ponomariov at the bottom with 1.5/5.

The 37th Chess Olympiad will be held in Turin, Italy from Saturday May 20 to Sunday June 4. There are several Caribbean countries competing, including my former compatriots from Barbados. The Chess Olympiad is the most prestigious international team chess competition. It is held every two years.
The 36th Chess Olympiad was held in Mallorca, Spain and was won by Ukraine(men) and China (women).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Andy Roddick is blogging

(Hat tip to Pink is the new blog) I discovered that Andy Roddick has a "blog." What thrilling insight does Andy's foray into online journalling provide us? He likes to say "props" a lot. Ewww.

Blue Nation: Bush Has Net Positive Rating in 3 States

The current state-by-state SurveyUSA public opinion poll shows that President Bush has a net positive approval rating in Idaho (52% to 47%), Utah (51% to 46%) and Wyoming (50% to 49%) and has a net negative approval rating in every single other state (and D.C.) in the country! The map above is from MyDD. Here in California Bush has a net disapproval of -43% (28% approve, 71% disapprove). Contrast the above with the presidential election results on November 4, 2004 (graphics thanks to ABC)
Makes you go hmmmmmm!

UPDATE: RadicalRuss from Pam's House Blend has posted a very cool animated map showing the change in the President's approval rating month by month since November 2004 till the present.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Who To Blame For Student Failure?

As I finish up my grading for the Spring 2006 semester while listening to the news reports about a judge blocking the use of the California high school exit exam, thoughts of who should be responsible when students fail a class have been crossing my mind. If a student fails a class, is the person teaching the material responsible, or is it the student or is it some complicated shared responsibility?

Apparently nearly 47, 000 graduating high school seniors or 11% of the total failed the high school exit exam.

However, this means that nearly 90% of the students have passed the two-part exam, which is set at the 10th grade English level and the 8th grade mathematics level. Saturday's Los Angeles Times reports that "of the 46, 700 seniors who have failed the test, 20,600 are designated as limited English learners and 28,300 are poor." Judge Robert B. Freedman said he was "swayed by the argument that many impoverished and minority students — particularly those learning English as a second language — attend low-performing schools that do not prepare them adequately for the test." The judge also believed that at least 160 needy schools had not recieved any of some $20 million specifically appropriated by the Legislature to assist schools with preparing for the 2006 implementation of the exit exam.

My State Senator Gloria Romero was quoted by the Times in a statement applauding the decision to stay the implementation of the exit exam. "The judge's decision strips away the facade of claims that equal education is being provided in every one of our state's schools."

I agree with Senator Romero that it is clear that there is not an equal education being provided in each of the state's public schools, but I disagree that the judge's decision should be applauded. I think the message that is sent by not implementing consequences for failing the exit exam is far more damaging to the state's educational objectives.

Interestingly, Los Angeles Times columnist/blogger and Occidental College adjunct professor Bob Sipchen agrees with me in Monday's edition of the paper.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Books That Bush Can Read

Hat tip to boing boing, comes word of the existence of re-written (Adult literacy pioneer Mary Godolphin, 1723-1764) classic works of fiction like Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson with only words containing one syllable!
I was born at York on the first of March in the sixth year of the reign of King Charles the First. From the time when I was quite a young child, I had felt a great wish to spend my life at sea, and as I grew, so did this taste grow more and more strong; till at last I broke loose from my school and home, and found my way on foot to Hull, where I soon got a place on board a ship.
When we had set sail but a few days, a squall of wind came on, and on the fifth night we sprang a leak. All hands were sent to the pumps, but we felt the ship groan in all her planks, and her beams quake from stem to stern; so that it was soon quite clear there was no hope for her, and that all we could do was to save our lives.

Holy Thesaurus, Batman!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

May 17: International Day Against Homophobia

Hat tip to Doug Ireland for publicizing the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), which is May 17. This is an incredibly exciting development to me, since I was on the board of dircectors of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission for 6 years, from 1996-2002. I have always seen the fight for lgbt rights to be part of a global movement. The activity is the brainchild of a French Caribbean professor named Louis-Georges Tin, who was born in Martinique less than 32 years ago. Doug has an interview with Monsieur Tin which I encourage you to read in its entirety, but here is a highlight I found interesting:
“In 2003, after I published the “Dictionary of Homophobia” [“Dictionnaire de l’Homophobie,” Presses Universitaires de France], I began to work on the idea of an international day of struggle against homophobia,” Tin told me. “For me it was the obvious way to move from thought to action, from theory to practice. Everybody said it was a crazy dream, but I took my proposal for this project to LGBT groups all over the world, to political parties and institutions—and that’s how the first International Day Against Homophobia was observed on May 17, 2005—15 years to the day after the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.”

“This year,” Tin recounted proudly, “IDAHO will be observed in over 50 countries, from Guyana to Sri Lanka to Canada, England, the Ivory Coast, Russia, and Japan. There will be all sorts of actions—public awareness campaigns, conferences, street demonstrations, artistic expositions, film festivals, forums, meetings of associations, and so on.”

Sadly, there are no U.S.-based activities on this list so far, and neither IGLHRC nor Human Rights Watch, or Amnesty International's OutFront have endorsed IDAHO. Sadly, the two largest Americal LGBT civil rights organizations the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Right Campaign have not capitalized on the existence of this great organizing tool to denounce homophobia in the U.S. and around the world. In light of recent violent explicit incidents of homophobia in countries like Jamaica, Russia and Iraq, an increased profile for the International Day Against Homophobia is urgently needed.

Another exciting aspect of finding out about IDAHO is being introduced to Louis-Georges Tin (see picture). He has published several books and is clearly an academic star, but is also an activist. Not only is he working to elieminater homophobia worldwide, but he is also organizing the disparate Black diaspora community in France. As a fellow Caribbean-born person whose business card reads "academic / activist," MadProfessah applauds Louis-Georges and his work. Allez!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mutation as homosexuality metaphor: X-Men III preview!

Wow! As Queerty notes, the X-men movies are "the gayest movies ever made without a single gay character." The latest edition ("The Last Stand") opens on May 26 and is about the reaction when a scientific discovery is found that can eliminate mutant characteristics, which some call a "cure." The parallels between homosexuality (or "Other" status) and mutation are clear and compelling: it's a characteristic which children have but their parents often do not; often the mutant abilities develop during puberty; for some people the mutation is visible, for many others no one knows you're a mutant unless you tell them; and society reacts by treating mutants as diseased pariahs. The movie raises the question, "If there existed a pill which would remove your mutant power (OR homosexuality, dark skin, gender, et cetera) would you take it?" Here's the 7-minute preview (from YouTube):

Mayor Riles LGBT Community with 45th AD Endorsement

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stepped into the hotly contested 45th California Assembly District race by endorsing Kevin DeLeón, who just happens to be the best friend of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez. By taking this action, the Mayor has decided to endorse in a Democratic primary race with five Latino candidates: DeLeón, housing rights attorney Elena Popp, college instructor Gabriel Buelna, Cesar's granddaughter Christine Chavez and former Republican Oscar Gutierrez. MadProfessah has endorsed Popp. This is not only becaise she is the only openly gay candidate in a race to replace an openly gay elected official, but she is also the most progressive and most highly qualified. The last few paragraphs of Dvaid Zahniser's article in the LA Weekly on the race subtly communicate the point that being the most qualified candidate may not be what gets you an endorsement:
“What you should do is look at our qualifications,” [Popp] said. “And if, at the end of the analysis, you think that I am more qualified, and yet Kevin got the endorsement of his childhood friend and other folks associated with his childhood friend, then what is that, if not a boys’ network?”

Asked whether he had placed friendship over qualifications, Villaraigosa provided a two-word answer: “Absolutely not.”

Nuñez gave a lengthier, yet similar, response: “I certainly respect every other candidate in the race. The 45th always produces good candidates,” he said. “But Kevin, in my view, is the best qualified.”
Mmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmm. Right.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Governor Angelides or Governor Westly?

California's largest statewide LGBT political organization Equality California has endorsed Steve Westly for Governor. This is very interesting news in queer progressive circles. State Controller Westly is in a tight, tough race with State Treasurer Phil Angelides for the Democratic nomination for governor, to be decided on June 6, 2006. MadProfessah has been blogging about this race for months and has been polling other activists since last summer and no-one has wanted to make a choice between these two very gay-supportive politicians. Both Westly and Angelides have openly gay staffers, they have both said they would have signed the same-sex marriage bill which passed the state legislature last year but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Recently, after trailing in most published polls for months, Angelides campaign received a boost by winning the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party last week.

I'll try to have an endorsement in the Governor's race by next Tuesday, when we'll be 3 weeks away from the statewide primary date.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

AIDS and U.S.

As Keith Boykin mentions on his blog, I also was at a 4-day conference of Black Gay men in San Juan, Puerto Rico last week. The conference was primarily focussed around trying to organize a coherent response to the AIDS crisis in the Black gay male community from the Black gay male community.

With the news from last summer that 46% of Black gay men in one study ofurban settings are HIV+ and that the more recent news that the rate of syphilis infection for Black males is NOT decreasing (unlike most segments of the U.S. population) the issue becomes more urgent in one's consciousness.

One thing I learned at the conference in Puerto Rico is that the government bureaucrat who is primarily responsible for the Center for Disease Control's Division of STD,HIV and TB Prevention is Kevin Fenton, an openly gay, Black man. The people there who had direct experience with Dr. Fenton seemed to be favorably impressed.

What Keith asked yesterday was "Are We Doing Enough About AIDS?" and I think this is a good question. As Phill Wilson noted in one of his more pointed remarks to the assembled gathering,
"In 2006 we will be marking the 25th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS [June 4, 1981 in Los Angeles], the 10th anniversary of HAART [Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, i.e. the AIDS cocktail] and the first time the World AIDS Conference will be held in North America [Toronto, Canada in August]. If we can't get Black institutions and individuals to pay attention to AIDS this year then it simply can't be done!"

I'd like to hear suggestions from people how we can renew attention on AIDS this year.

Upcoming Elections: 28 days and 6 months before

It is exactly 28 days before June 6, 2006 and 6 months before November 7, 2006. The first date is the day of the California Statewide Primary election. The second date is the day of the California Statewide General Election.

I live on the border of two state assembly districts: AD 44 and AD 45. My residence is technically in AD 45 but I am interested and active in both races. Specifically, Mad Professah endorses Adam Murray and Elena Popp in the 44th and 45th district races, respectively.

Monday, May 08, 2006


You may have noticed lighter blogging than usual this weekend. That's because I've been in the middle of "grading hell" for my classes since final exams are on Wednesday and I like to tell students what grades they have before they are given the last thing which can affect their grade.

Also, I have been attending the Black Gay Men's Mobilization retreat organized by the Black AIDS Institute in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The retreat has been amazing, but there's a general confidentiality provision against discussing specifics of what occurred there. Insigtful readers may be able to detect that my choice of topics of discussion in the near future may have come from issues raised during that gathering.

Regular blogging should resume after Wednesday...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Stephen Colbert's Bush Smackdown

Thanks to Republic of T, I saw a clearer video (than the Cooks and Liars, who posted it first) of the Stephen Colbert's performance at last Saturday's White House Correspondents' dinner, attended by George and Laura Bush. Terrance also links to the "most extensive transcript" of the remarks, available at dailykos. You should go read the whole thing, but here are some too-good excerpts I must post here:

The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will. As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know - fiction!

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

There he goes, speaking truthiness to power! If you agree with him, say Thank You, Stephen Colbert!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Computing The Probability of Gay Marriage in New York

Here is an interesting Combinatorics problem with an application to gay marriage:
Question: What's the probability of getting a favorable majority decision of four "Yes" votes from a panel of six judges?
Answer: Less than the probability of getting a favorable decision from a panel of seven judges.

This is a relevant question, since whether gay marriage will become legal in the state of New York depends on this outcome. According to this article in the Albany Times-Union, Court of Appeals Associate Judge Albert Rosenblatt has recused himself from hearing the oral arguments in the New York state marriage case Hernandez v. Robles on May 31. The highest court in New York State, is the 7-member Court of Appeals. Rosenblatt's recusal reduces the probability of a positive outcome (in favor of gay marriage) from a 50% likelihood (with a 7-judge panel) to a mere 11/32 chance (with a 6-judge panel). There's an equal likelihood of 11/32 of losing the case, and a 10/32 of having a tied result. If a tie occurs, the case is re-argued with a judge selected from a lower court. Of course, this assumes that each judge's decision is a random variable with equal probability of being in favor or against gay marriage.
Of course, no judge would make up their mind before hearing a case, would they?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

REVIEW: Mission Impossible 3

Yes, I know it is called "M:I:III." The third entry in Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise is helmed by Hollywood's latest wunderkind J.J. Abrams (creator of television's popular and cult favorites Lost and Alias and potential saviour of Star Trek) and written by Abrams and his Lost and Alias collaborators (Alex Kurtzman & Robert Orci). I really wasn't planning on seeing this second sequal to the fairly decent original Mission: Impossible since the first sequel was so execrable. However, a friend had an extra ticket to a sneak Tuesday night preview at the Arclight Cineramadome at Hollywood and Vine so I tagged along. I'm glad that I did.

Mission Impossible III is a well-written, impeccably executed, taut thriller packed with action and emotional impact. The plot is convoluted (of course!) but not excessively so, and the supporting players are well-cast and exceedingly capable. Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman is outstanding as the über-villianous Owen Davian and Michelle Monaghan (who looks disturbingly similar to Katie Holmes) is distracting as Ethan Hunt's love interest.

Abrams has eschewed a number of tics which were central to earlier Mission: Impossible films but which also bloated those vehicles. This time there is very limited exposition of detailed plans for the many "impossible" capers Cruise multicultural crew (always reliable Ving Rhames, skinny and sexy Jonathan Rhys Meyers and skinnier and sexier Maggie Q) endeavors. (Kidnap a paranoid, megalomaniacal arms dealer from inside Vatican City without his security detail or his clients noticing his absence? Piece of cake! Steal a cutting-edge WMD from the top of a well-guarded Shanghai skyscraper with 2 hours notice? No problem! Escape from inside the CIA IMF headquarters while shackled like Hannibal Lecter? Why not!?) The much-derided "full-face masks" of the first films are used sparingly but also given much more verisimilitude presumably due to the enhanced special effects of the 6 years elapsed since the first sequel. The new director has also brought along one of his effective touches from his Alias days: show the audience an excruciatingly harrowing scene of our hero in danger and then flash back in time so the audience's raison d'etre is provided for them at the onset: "I wonder how he got into such a mess? I guess I'll have to watch the movie to find out!"

I don't want to reveal too many plot details to spoil the movie for others, but I will say that the script actually does kill off important characters, which I thought was brave. This heightens the suspense and deepens the emotional impact of the film immensely.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Puerto Rico Government Shutdown

So, I'm starting to pack for my trip to Puerto Rico this weekend for the annual Black Gay Men's Mobilization Retreat put on by the Black AIDS Institute when a friend sends me this email with the news that Puerto Rico's government shut down on May 1 due to a budget crisis:

Puerto Rico's government shut down Monday after the U.S. commonwealth ran out of money to pay 100,000 public employees, temporarily throwing them out of work.

About 500,000 students are out of school as the shutdown left 40,000 teachers idle. Forty-three government agencies and all 1,600 public schools on the island were closed.

The closure comes after the legislature and the governor failed to reach a last-minute deal to address the government's $740-million budget shortfall. The legislature and the governor have been unable to agree on a budget since 2004 and debts continue to pile up.

The island has no sales tax. The leader of the Senate offered to implement a 5.9-per cent sales tax to raise money to pay off an emergency $532-million line of credit the government needs to finish the fiscal year.

But the House of Representatives oppose any sales tax above 5.5 per cent.

However, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said both proposals miss the mark, and that a seven per cent tax is needed to pay for an additional $640-million loan. He said the other tax proposals only postpone the crisis until July 1, when the next fiscal year begins.

The governor has said essential services, including police and hospitals, will continue during the shutdown.

Hmmm, this might be an even more relaxing trip than was intended!

45th Assembly District Race Gets Media Coverage

The California statewide primary election is five weeks (35 days!) from today, on 06/06/06. Saturday's Los Angeles Times California section had a rather lengthy article on my local state assembly race: the 45th AD seat currently held by termed-out, openly lesbian Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg. The article was entitled "Family Ties May Falter in Fierce Race."

Home to 400,000 people, diverse even by the standards of Los Angeles, the 45th Assembly District has come to exemplify the city. Winning an election here requires a delicate dance across the city's east-west divide, one that appeals to the hipsters of Hollywood, the opulence atop Mt. Washington and the debilitating poverty of East L.A.


But with the primary less than six weeks away, [Christine] Chavez, 34, who has worked as the California political director of the United Farm Workers for the last eight years, has learned that becoming the first member of her storied family to win state office is not going to be easy. Like her grandfather [Cesar E. Chavez], who saw politicians turn their backs when he walked into the state Capitol, she has not been embraced by California's political establishment.

Goldberg has handpicked Elena Popp as her successor. Popp, 48, an attorney and an activist, has long worked as an advocate for social and economic causes, helping tenants establish cooperatives and helping small businesses get started.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez has anointed Kevin de Leon, a friend since their youth in Logan Heights, a poor neighborhood of San Diego. De Leon, 39, is a top official with the California Teachers Assn. who has long worked on behalf of public schools, crafting teachers' collective bargaining agreements and lobbying for increased education funding, the construction of new schools and health insurance for children.


The district stretches across Los Angeles north of the downtown area, from eastern portions of Hollywood through the southern pocket of Silver Lake, then through Echo Park, Chinatown, Boyle Heights, Cypress Park, Monterey Hills and other neighborhoods, stretching east into El Sereno and portions of East L.A.

While getting the basic facts of the race correct (and also mentioning the other minor candidates such as Gabriel Buelna and Oscar A. Gutierrez) the Times piece focussed on Christine Chavez' purported attempt to leverage her activist heritage into a political post without really delving into the key issues central to the race.

Bear with me, gentle readers, and I will try to give you a better sense of the details which the local paper left out. First, I should mention that MadProfessah, like Equality California and The Victory Fund, has endorsed Elena Popp in this race. This is probably because Elena Popp is the only openly gay or lesbian candidate in this legislative race, which is to replace a termed-out member of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus. Currently there are 6 members of this caucus but by 2008 the Caucus could disappear unless new members are elected in 2006 or 2008. The Times article mentions that Popp is the incumbent's choice to be her successor but doesn't mention that Popp is also openly lesbian.

The Times article mentions that the candidate with the most cash on hand, Kevin DeLeon, happens to be "B.F.F. (Best Friends Forever)" with the current Speaker of the Assembly but neglects to mention that until rather late last year he was not even a resident of the assembly district he hopes to represent!

35 days until the primary election.

Monday, May 01, 2006

"Mission Accomplished" 3 Years Ago Today

Think Progress has a very cool post called "Mission Accomplished By The Numbers" on the third anniversary of the now-infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech given by President Bush on May 1, 2003. Here is a summary of the numbers:
Today  May 1 2003
U.S. Troops Wounded
542 17,469
U.S. Troops Killed
139 2,400
Size of U.S. Forces
150,000 132,000
Size of Iraqi Security Forces
7,000-9000 250,500
Number of Insurgents
5,000 15,000-20,000
Insurgent Attacks Per Day
8 75
Cost to U.S. Taxpayers
$79 billion $320 billion
Approval of Bush’s Handling of Iraq
75% 37%
Percentage of Americans who Believe
The Iraq War Was “Worth Fighting”
70% 41%
Bush’s Overall Job Approval

71% 38%
As Michelle Martin said on Real Time with Bill Maher this weekend "If this is success, what would failure look like?"

Support Ron Oden's Historic Assembly Bid!

Ron Oden is a friend of mine. Ron Oden is the first African American, openly gay mayor of Palm Springs. Ron Oden is running for the 80th California Assembly District seat currently held by Republican Bonnie Garcia. This race is becoming increasingly important statewide (and nationwide) because of its implications for LGBT legislative clout in the largest state in the Union. Due to term limits the California LGBT Legislative Caucus could disappear in the 2008 statewide election. He has been endorsed by Equality California and MadProfessah! Ron Oden needs your support! Check out his website: and donate! I did!

Nadal Reaches 47th Clay Consecutive Win, 12th Consecutive Title

Rafael Nadal of Spain defeated compatriot Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to win his 12th consecutive final and 47th clay consecutive match, eclipsing Bjorn Bjorg's record from 1979 and defend the Spaniard's title at the Open Seat Godo in Barcelona. After soundly beating Roger Federer in four sets last week in the Master Series Final at Monte Carlo, Nadal is setting up his own date with destiny in two weeks in Rome and later in May in Paris.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin